I love Yoda, but you can’t really apply everything he says to real-world situations. Take Xenoblade Chronicles for the New Nintendo 3DS. Monster Games is hard at work porting the Wii masterpiece to Nintendo’s upgraded handheld, and by all means, it looks like a very impressive achievement in the screenshots given its sheer size.
Somehow, though, the tight confines of the Nintendo 3DS’ resolution and smaller screen detract from the grand, expansive feel from the original game. Xenoblade Chronicles thrived on the idea of size. The world was enormous, the monsters were enormous, everything just had a scale to it that felt so gargantuan and just “right” to play on a huge television screen.
Here, the experience seems very cramped. Draw distances don’t expand very far, detail is lost in the grass and other elements. It’s a huge undertaking to put such a massive game in the palm of your hands, but I wonder if the sacrifices made to this sense of scale will ultimately defeat the purpose.
As a pure gameplay decision, it’s a wonderful idea seeing how addictive Xenoblade Chronicles is once you start to get out and explore. All that time on the train spent uncovering the world? Sounds like a blast! As we all know though, games are not totally a gameplay experience but rather all of the elements of game design complementing one another for a balanced experience: Music, graphics, story, characters, art, gameplay.
Each of these is just as important as the one before or after it, and knocking them out of alignment, especially in a port or a remake, makes the experience feel “off.” I kind of felt the same way about Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. Great conversion of the gameplay that never sat right visually.
I’m hoping I’m wrong, but with the sense of scale that is lacking here, that balance might make Xenoblade Chronicles 3D just a good game instead of the masterpiece it was on consoles. It’s the same reasons I struggle to play Final Fantasy VII, VIII or IX on a Vita, and it’s the same reasons why I won’t touch the Dragon Quest VIII port on iPad. Sprite-based games like Suikoden II, Chrono Trigger, and Alundra work because that sense of scale is non-existent, but such a small screen has an uphill battle in recreating a vast, fully 3D world.
Anyway, again, here’s to hoping I’m wrong and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D becomes the technical marvel and console-seller Nintendo is hoping it could be.