TOKYO - While rumor has begun to circulate that it may never see the light of day in the United States, Square's surprise release, Xenogears (pronounced Zen-o-geers), is shaping up to be an excellent RPG. Breaking from the traditional fantasy setting that makes most of today's RPG's, Xenogears chronicles the exploits of two mech-riding humans in a future world and their search for truth and God.
Xenogears' design team is a veritable dream team of Square veterans. Produced by Secret of Mana's Mitsuo Tanaka, directed by Final Fantasy 4's Tetsuya Takahashi and with music from Chrono Trigger's excellent composer, Yoneda-san. Xenogears is a first-rate production.
Xenogears is also the first Square RPG to use Anime movies for plot development. As reported earlier by VideoGameSpot, Xenogears' Anime scenes will blend traditional hand-drawn art with 3-D computer animation and will be produced by Production IG, the same company responsible for the excellent Anime feature Ghost in the Shell and the anime featured in the game of the same name.
The game is a technological leap past Final Fantasy VII in some ways and a throwback in others. Xenogears uses Grandia-style, rotatable 3-D terrain in the overworld and dungeons, and uses both polygons and sprites in battle.
When on foot, all battle characters are sprite-based and have fluid animation, while also using a number of elaborate 2-D and 3-D spell effects. When fighting in with mechs, the battles occur in FFVII-style 3-D. A strange combination, but the game has definite visual appeal throughout.
Xenogears is expected to ship in Japan this winter. Square USA was not available for comment on US release possibilities. Expect continued coverage on Xenogears.