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4.8 out of 5 stars
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DISCLAIMER: This review refers to the UK version of the game, released under the name XENOBLADE CHRONICLES.

MONADO: BEGINNING OF THE WORLD (aka XENOBLADE) is one of those great games that (for some unfathomable reason) Nintendo had initially decided not to market outside Japan. It has been available, fully translated, since August in Europe (where my copy came from). This used not to be true for the US. Luckily, Nintendo North America (finally!) yielded to the pressure of the fans and announced the release of the game: IT IS COMING IN APRIL, 2012!

This is the first thing that hits your senses. The music of Xenoblade reminded me of playing Final Fantasy VII years ago and being mesmerized by its music. The Prelude I can still remember. In Xenoblade, the music will range from atmospheric to epic rock, and all the shades and colors in between.
It will be a familiar companion while you travel and a strengthening presence when you do battle, greatly enhancing the overall experience. Every map has its own theme (most with day and night variations) and you will catch yourself humming them long after having turned your console off.
Sometimes the importance of the music in a game is underestimated and the focus remains on the graphics. Xenoblade is a perfect example of how essential music is in order to achieve a total immersive gaming experience.

Now, all of us who decided to go with the Nintendo Wii, we knew that it was not the most graphically powerful console. Its strengths lie elsewhere. Having said that, Xenoblade is the most beautiful and graphically detailed game on the Wii. Ever.
Set on two ancient biomechanical Titans frozen in mid-battle centuries ago, the world is simply enormous. There are about 20 maps, almost every map is huge and it is all open to exploration. Because there are only few and short loading times, you are practically flowing from one into the next as in a continuous world. And exploring the endless and open Xenoblade world is not only fun to do but also very rewarding.
The grass moves around your feet, birds sweep over your head, clouds roll by day, the galaxy scintillates at night and the whole world comes alive around you. In the heat of the battle the hits and special moves will be accompanied by impressive anime graphical events. Up close the characters may not be that detailed but the characters, their weapons and the environments have all been designed with great artistry. When the limitations of the Wii are reached you probably will not notice it either. Xenoblade has far better graphics than all the other notable Wii JRPG, such as The Legend of Zelda,Okami or Rune Factory: Frontier. My Wii had never produced such a visually advanced game!

As any seasoned RPGer would tell you, the story is equally important to the graphics and the music, if not more so. And Xenoblade excels in this aspect as well. A tad clichéd at times, the story advances with beautifully made cinematic sequences and it manages to feel both reassuringly familiar and surprisingly fresh.
The human colonists (the Homs) are living on one of the frozen titans, Bionis, and are attacked by mechanical life-forms (the Mechons) who occupy the other. So, after the initial battle, it is up to Shulk, your hero, the young survivor from Colony 6 and the new bearer of Monado, together with (up to 3 of) his companions to save their world.
You bond with your companions by the choices you make - and this affects their abilities. Your choices also affect both the conversation options with Non-Playing Characters (NPCs) and the quests becoming available to you. In fact, everyone and their sister seems to have a quest for you. Conveniently, you do not have to go back to them once completed.
Xenoblade will enchant you with its sound vistas and ensnare you with its story.

As with any true RPG, there is leveling up, looting, crafting, bartering and re-equipping your character as well as his companions. Interestingly, the custom appearance you chose for them will not be lost during the cinematic scenes. If you enjoy earning achievements, Xenoblade has you covered. The game allows you to save almost anywhere but it also autosaves at nicely spaced Landmarks - and dying will only take you back to the last one encountered (without any XP or loot penalties).
The battle system is real-time but both the distance to their enemy and your relative position are factored in (hint: for such an oversized sword, backstabbing strangely pays off). Monado has powers that are unleashed after building up normal attacks. The legendary sword also allows you to glimpse into the future in order to avert enemy blows. Moreover, your hero and his companions have special abilities, called Arts (that need to recharge before they can be reused).
The enemies, especially the bosses, will focus on the character inflicting the most damage to it - and this allows for flanking maneuvers by the rest of your party. Most battles are not that hard however some of the bosses will tax your understanding of the game mechanics.
Equally important is that is not a one-ride-pony. Once the game is completed you can restart the entire story with your high level character to complete and explore everything you missed the previous time around.

Xenoblade-Chronicles gives you the option to experience it either dubbed in (in the UK version, British accented and not lip-synched) English or in (partially) subtitled original Japanese. After I had clocked in about half a dozen hours in the game I decided to restart it and opted to keep the original Japanese instead. After all, this is a JRPG and it feels much more authentic.

A classic masterpiece, not to be missed.

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on December 2, 2012
This game took a while for me to warm up to. The controls were a little awkward at first and the character design is a little uninspired, but I gave this game a chance. I really wanted to like it.

And before I knew it, I had 40 hours of gameplay wracked up on it and I thought, "...Where did the time go?" It's so easy to lose yourself in the story and world. It's expansive, beautiful, and rewards you infinitely for exploring it. The story really takes its time, and that's a great thing.


To say it's vast is an understatement. It's enormous. It's also full of landmarks. Not only do you get rewarded in EXP for discovering new landmarks, they serve as waypoints for quick travel. Though the world is enormous, once you've uncovered sections of it, returning to points takes no time at all. Keep an eye out for secret landmarks as well, those not marked on a map until you're right on top of them.

What I really like about it is that it strikes such a great balance between open world gameplay and linear storytelling. There's a main story to follow, and I'll get to that in a bit, but there's never a rush. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of sidequests to do, each raising your affinity and recognition in a certain area. One of the major subplots involve rebuilding a colony that was destroyed by the Mechon - the game's major antagonists. This alone involves dozens of hours of finding building materials, recruiting villagers, and doing quests and errands for the rebuilding crew.


In ways, the story feels very post-apocalyptic. It's a world in which humans, or Homs as they're called, build colonies on the body of a sleeping titan out of scraps left behind by an ancient war. There's other species as well, some more mysterious than others. While the war with the Mechon is initially referred to as a past event, it becomes a very personal conflict for the main characters early in the game.

Shulk, the protagonist, begins to have visions of the near future, which drives him to change the tragedy he sees and create a different version of the future. What makes the story so compelling is that there is such a human aspect to it, with a heavy element of fate. He realizes that he can't always change the future, even if he sees it coming. He can influence the world around him, but in the end, people make their own choices, good or bad.

What is behind the visions? Where does the power behind the Monodo, the titular Xenoblade that Shulk wields, come from? What secrets does the past war with the Mechon hold?


It's very comparable to Final Fantasy 12 in terms of combining action RPG gameplay with traditional RPG active time battles. The frequency of your attacks is dependent on your character's agility, not how fast you push a button or the weapon you use. Skills are leveled up separately from your character's level and can be freely organized on your skillbar - though there isn't enough room for every skill on your bar, so you must choose wisely and adapt a skill set that suits your play style. Each character fits a class archtype - a tank, a healer, a mage, etc - and there is a little room for adaptation through the use of gem socketing. The gem socketing itself is very elaborate and becomes a huge part of your character build and strength later in the game. It involves crafting gems out of mined minerals and inserting them into sockets of your gear, raising your stat perimeters or giving you bonuses, such as a chance to inflict a negative status.

Shulk's visions that I mentioned early also occur in real-time in battles. Occasionally, he will get a glimpse of an enemy's attack seconds before it happens, giving you a small window of time to evade or counter, or warn an ally of their impending doom.

You can gain experience through questing, exploring, or old-fashioned grinding. Any three or a mixture thereof is a perfectly viable way to advance your characters. There's never a shortage of any of them.


The characters are interesting enough, but what really makes them stand out is your ability to shape the relationships and bonds you hold with them. For example, using characters together in battle increases their bond, as does timing attacks properly and encouraging your allies. They're also raised or lowered through "Heart-to-Heart" conversations, special events unlocked as your characters grow closer to each other. The relationships you have affect gameplay in various ways, such as increasing your skill at gem crafting (two characters with a strong bond will work harder together to make stronger gems). It affects battle as well, and stronger bonds allows you to allocate abilities learned by other characters. For example, a bond between Reyn, your tank, and Shulk would give you the option of allocating the ability to equip heavy armor on Shulk.


If you're looking for a great RPG for the Wii, you really can't go wrong with this one. It may be an acquired taste for some players, it was for me, but I can almost guarantee you that it will engross you in the end.
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on December 28, 2014

But seriously, this is one of the greatest Wii games of all time (along with Metroid Prime Trilogy, The Mario Galaxies, Ōkami, etc.)
A heads up though, this is a huge game and will take a very long time to beat so if you're planning to buy this just because f Chuggaa's LP or something, be warned!!
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on July 17, 2014
This was more or less the deciding factor in getting a Wii-U to begin with, and I've not been disappointed yet. The price tag seems fairly steep, more so since I picked up my copy a few months back, but if you can get it for around the 100$ range you won't be sorry. Assuming you're a proper RPG fan of course. I mean I've spent more money on Diablo III and it's expansion, and that's basically just for mindless click-fest gameplay..some story about evil, kill stuff, etc... But Xenoblade actually DOES give you some meat in terms of depth. Once you get used to the gameplay it's great, especially since it's one of those rare Wii titles that didn't try to stuff some idiotic gimmicky crap on us in terms of controls/motion/etc... which seems to be fairly common with the first-gen Wii titles. Better still, Xenoblade Chronicles X (sequel) is on it's way soon, so now is the perfect time to pick this up and see what all the fuss is about.
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on February 22, 2015
As far as JRPGs are concerned, this is one I would put up there with the Persona series as favourites are concerned. The story, scope, and gameplay are all deserving of all the praise people have given it.
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on January 23, 2015
Amazing game. One of my favourites if all time, and well worth the price, while at first appearing steep, it's well worth even before you're five hours in. Tons of content, a perfect masterpiece.
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on February 11, 2016
Wish I could have snagged a copy of this back when it was originally released and wouldn't have had to pay the "rare game" price for it, but it's a pretty good game. Loads to do, lots to learn. Doesn't look terrible for a Wii game. My only gripes are that the controls with the wiimote are a little janky, so you should get yourself a classic controller to ease that. Also, in typical JRPG fashion, the English dubbing is pretty ludicrous but ultimately good for a laugh if you're hot hellbent on complete immersion. 8/10.
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on May 25, 2014
Expansive rpg and decently fleshed out characters. Battle system is easily the best part. Voice actors are all British and kinda sound tge same, especially the guys. I found the voice acting hilarious but that's just me. Overall amazing game 2/10

Kidding more like 9/10. Must have for anyone who likes action rpgs, mmorpgs or maybe even jrpgs and wrpgs. My reason for the 9 is because I would've personally like a bit more out of the story. It was def good but had a few plotholes I noticed.
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on June 11, 2015
The BEST Wii game I own. Over one hundred hours to fully complete. A great visual experience.
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on April 9, 2015
Great RPG. Definitely a top 3 game for the wii library
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