Xenoblade Chronicles, which was the spiritual successor to the Xenosaga series, was a critical success and even managed to be released in North America in part because of a fan campaign, Operation Rainfall. While it was its own game, the similarities to the themes and characters in Xenoblade are startling in comparison to Xenosaga. The Monado takes the place of the Zohar, which is an almost unlimited energy source in the Xenosaga world. One of the characters, Alvis, is startlingly similar to the main antagonist of Xenosaga, Wilhelm. Even one of the characters in Xenoblade becomes half machine and resembles KOS-MOS, everyone’s favorite robot from Xenosaga.
It is obvious that Tetsuya Takahashi, the creator of all of the Xeno games, wanted to make a successor to Xenosaga but was unable to because he didn’t own the rights to the characters or the world. But the themes as are shockingly similar to the ones found in Xenosaga. Xenoblade, at its essence, is about killing God. In the end, Shulk, when presented the choice to become a new god of the universe, chooses a world without gods instead after killing the previous god. In Xenosaga, the main characters face an entity called U-DO, who is a being of a higher plane of existence who can be interpreted as God. He tries to communicate with humans, which ultimate drives them mad or ends with death. The end goal in Xenosaga is to seal God away and remove his “influence from this world”, which thematically is almost identical to Xenoblade. Wilhelm and Alvis are even alike in the sense that they aren’t normal human beings and are both the masterminds behind the plot of their respective games. They are one step ahead of everyone else and can be interpreted as the protectors of mankind. They push mankind to its limits in order to force them to make their own choices, rather than rely on a higher power.
While the main characters differ a bit, Dunban is very similar to Jin, and both are swordsman. Rein, Shulk, and Melia don’t really have any counterparts, but this is somewhat irrelevant; the point is, the two games share a lot of thematic similarities that point to the fact that Xenoblade is an attempt to replicate the things that worked in Xenosaga. While Xenosaga had more overt religious overtones, such as Mary Magdalene and Jesus as playable characters in the game, as well as more subtle references to Christianity, maybe it’s a good thing that Xenoblade stayed away from these, as intriguing as they may be and allowed the game to be more open to the general populous. Xenoblade could have benefited from some light overtones from its predecessor, as the very premise is to defy God. Overall, it could have made for a better story if some of these elements were included because thematically it would have fit. One reason they may have chosen to go in a different direction was to differentiate the two titles, despite the similar themes.
Xenosaga and Xenoblade both have a very strong message, and that is that human beings can pave their own path by their own power under their own volition rather than that of a higher power. In the end of Xenoblade, Shulk wields great power, but tosses that power away and desires a future that is not up to fate but the choices that everyday people make, thus a world without gods. Shion and KOS-MOS (now Mary Magdalene) in Xenosaga reject the Eternal Recurrence, and even facing the destruction of the universe would rather allow human beings to make their own decisions and face the current crisis rather than run away from it. Both are incredibly deep, philosophical messages that carry on throughout the Xeno series. Xenosaga may not be a better game than Xenoblade, but its message is just as powerful and profound. The theme of people making choices of their own volition rather than depending on a higher power is what the Xeno games are all about, and it’s about time that the Xenosaga story is finished, once and for all.
Now that Nintendo owns Monolith Soft, a new Xenosaga game is in order. Xenoblade Chronicles was great and Xenoblade Chronicles X will be fantastic, and although Xenosaga was a flawed series, the story it had to tell was fantastic. It left on a cliffhanger, with the characters setting off to find “Lost Jerusalem”, also known as Earth. The final shot of the game is a battered KOS-MOS orbiting the Earth. In fact, development for the fourth game was underway before the series was abruptly cancelled. Although Bandai Namco owns the rights for the title, under Monolith Soft and Nintendo’s supervision, this is the perfect time to revive the franchise and finish the story that they started. Nintendo is a proven winner and will no doubt make sure the game is up to their standards. Xenosaga (albeit flawed) and Xenoblade are fantastic games, but put the best aspects of them together, and it would make one memorable experience. The Wii U is the perfect platform to make this happen because of the possibility of a larger and more expansive world. Xenosaga was incredibly linear, but with technology developing the way it has, a more open landscape is possible with plenty of exploration which is what Xeno fans have yearned for since the original was released. The Wii U or its successor can deliver this.