Xenoblade (JP) (commonly known as Xenoblade Chronicles) is a series of action RPG games developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo that acts as the spiritual successor to the Xenogears and Xenosaga series. The series started to obtain fame and awareness in the Nintendo fanbase after Shulk's inclusion in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
Monolith Soft Buyout and the "Monado: Beginning of the World" project
In April 2007, it was publicly announced that Nintendo bought the 80% of the company, making it one of its Subsidiaries. According to Tetsuya Takahashi, the premise for what would later be called Monado: Beginning of the World was over in his mind since mid 2006, however, its only due to the creative freedom and the ressources given to him by Nintendo that he was able to concretise his vision that was originally nothing more than a game centered around civilizations emerging on the frozen bodies of two warring Titans. A model was realized to help the team have a better understanding of the idea. After bringing the idea to Nintendo, the developement began right afterward.
2009 marked the reveal of Monado: Beginning of the World during E3 2009, the game was said to have extensive customization for both outfits and weapons, a "save anywhere" feature and a bonding system that would later becomes the affinity mechanic. The game was later renamed Xenoblade Chronicles by Nintendo's 4th president, Satoru Iwata, as an homage to Takachi's previous works, namely the Xenogear series and the Xenosaga series.
Xenoblade Chronicles would release in japan during 2010, the game would be critically acclaimed and by 2011, Nintendo of Europe would take care of the english voice acting since Nintendo of America had no plan to release the game in North America. This would lead to the iconic British dub featured in the main games of the series. The fact that Nintendo of America refused to release the game in North America added to their shutting down of Nintendo of Europe's wish to have the game featured at E3 2011 gave rise to Operation Rainfall.
Operation Rainfall was a campaign to show that the the North American owners of the Wii also craved for JRPG on the system. The operation consited of a serie of preorder to show Nintendo that the game has a public in America. The operation was a success and Nintendo of America accepted to release Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower in North America. The game was critically acclaimed by the press and would obtain a 92 on metacritic and would be considered by some as a renewal for the JRPG genre that had fallen into disgrace in the years prior to its release, the games of the Final Fantasy series for example were subject to heavy criticism due to its change of gameplay formula and meanwhile, the western RPG genre was raising in popularity.
Affirmation of the Xenoblade brand as a series
During a Nintendo Direct broadcasted on January 23, 2013 a new JRPG developed by Monolith Soft for the Wii U was announced, the game was really similar to Xenoblade Chronicles in term of Gameplay but since it appeared as a Science fiction themed game and was only defined by the title "X", the connections with the first Xenoblade were not clear.
It is during E3 2014 that the game was given the title of Xenoblade Chronicles X, the link was further shown at the end of the trailer where Tatsu, a member of the Nopon species is shown, the Nopons are an emblematic species who debuted in the first game and the presence of a Nopon in Xenoblade Chronicles X cemented the game as a part of the Xenoblade franchise. This trailer also showed the premises of the game: humanity's last stand on Mira.
During a Nintendo Direct broadcasted on august 29, 2014 it was revealed that Shulk, the protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles would be a playable character in the fourth and fifth installment in the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U this would yet again bring fame to the Xenoblade series due to the popularity of the Smash Bros. games. Shulk would not be the only representation from the Xenoblade series found in 3DS/Wii U, Riki would be included as an Assist Trophy and various Trophies inspired by the characters of the first game were also put in the game and Gaur Plain became a playable stage. On the same direct, a New Nintendo 3DS version of the original Xenoblade was announced.
In 2015, Project X Zone 2 was released in Japan, the game is a sequel to Project X Zone which is a strategy game with the particularity of having playable characters choosen across diverse video game series. The particularity of this game was to feature Nintendo owned characters, Fiora serves as the Xenoblade representation in the game. In the same year Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and Xenoblade Chronicles X would be released, by the end of 2016 a Virtual Console version of the 1st game would be released on Wii U.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the creation of the X subseries
During the Nintendo Switch presentation broadcasted on january 13, 2017 a new installement in the Xenoblade series was announced. The new game would be similar to the first Xenoblade in term of gameplay and setting and was fittingly named Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
In the following months, gameplay presentations were shown at different major events like E3 2017, the Gamescom or the Paris Games Week for example. During those presentations, the developers said that Monolith Soft see the Xenoblade series as two separate subseries, the Chronicles subseries would contain the games focused on story and characters while the X subseries would contain the game focused on Exploration.
During a Nintendo Direct broadcasted on september 13, 2017 the game was confirmed to release on december first 2017 and a collectors edition was announced alongside a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 themed pro controller. On november 7, 2017 a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 direct was broadcasted, during the direct an expansion pass was announced and those who buy it are supposed to recieve additional content up until Autumn 2018. In the same presentation, a collaboration with the Zelda series was announced in the form of a Rex costume for Link to wear in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
- Xenoblade Chronicles (2010) - the first entry, for the Wii, that covers Shulk's journeys across the Bionis and Mechonis.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015) - the second entry, for the Wii U, that covers humanity's stand on Mira
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017) - the third entry, for the Nintendo Switch, that covers Rex's journey across the cloud sea in hope to guide his Blade, Pyra, to Elysium.
The battle system is similar in all of the games but each entries has its own quirks that build upon the bases intoduced in the first game to create their own identities.
- The Nopons are a recurring species that appears in every game in the series up until now.
- The Telethia are also a recurring species in the series.
Super Smash Bros.
Shulk and Gaur Plain as well as Metal Face, Dunban, Riki and several trophies make appearances in the fourth and fifth entry of the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U as a playable character and stage respectively.
Project X Zone
The Legend of Zelda
A Rex costume was added as a free DLC in the 19th entry in the The Legend of Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In Pop Culture
The petition to get Xenoblade Chronicles (among other RPGs) for the United States localization spawned a large movement called Operation Rainfall, congregating the community for a single cause and spawning a site that takes a closer look at localized niche games and localization.
Additionally, the British dub and the silly catchphrases of the cast of the original caught on on the internet, in particular, It's Reyn Time and BESTEST are notable memes in relation to the series.