Five Questions With Xenoblade Chronicles' Executive Director
After some doubt surrounding its North American release, Xenoblade Chronicles hits store shelves today (you can read our review here). To commemorate the occasion, we asked the executive director, Tetsuya Takahashi of Monolith Software, five quick questions about this anticipated Wii RPG.
(Interview by Phil Kollar)
Game Informer: Many RPGs have used the protagonist having visions of the future as a plot element, but it’s not often that you see it tied into gameplay like in Xenoblade Chronicles. Why did you decide to make that a part of the gameplay?
Tetsuya Takahashi: I decided to make it a part of the gameplay because if the protagonist could see the future but that fact wasn’t reflected in the gameplay, the game would be inconsistent and because I felt that a game would be the perfect medium for replicating the ability to see the future.
Xenoblade features several user-friendly features that I loved, such as the ability to fast travel between locations and being able to save anywhere. These seem like features much more common in Western RPGs than Japanese RPGs. Why do you think most JRPGs don’t use these time saving features, and why did you decide to implement them in Xenoblade Chronicles?
I think it’s just a matter of tradition. I fully understand the strengths and meaning behind the tradition, but in this game, we implemented these time-saving features because one of our biggest goals was to do everything we could to eliminate factors that might cause players stress.
I love how unique the setting is in Xenoblade. Where did the idea of having the world exist on the body of these two giants come from?
All I can say is that the idea came into my head suddenly.
Though the characters of Xenoblade definitely fit into JRPG stereotypes, the dialogue and overall tone of the story seems more mature and subdued than a lot of games in this genre. Was that something you attempted to do on purpose? Do you want to pursue more mature writing in future projects?
Yes, it is something that I did on purpose. I’m very happy to hear that the story gave you the impression that I intended for it to have. I plan on pursuing more mature writing in future projects as well.
Xenoblade’s massive zones and great skill-based combat continue a trend of Japanese RPGs drawing heavily influence from MMORPG design. Why do you think this genre has inspired so many JRPGs in the last five years?
It’s probably because MMORPG design is very interesting and fun. It’s natural for something that is recognized as interesting to influence other things.