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Sleep Deprivation and the Giant Stuffed Animal

It’s 2:00 AM, I’m in college, and I’m playing Xenogears

Yes, I know this dates me. I’m old. We’re moving on.

Xenogears, for those of you kids who are still on my lawn, is a Playstation game. No, it wasn’t called the Playstation 1. The idea of a 2, or 3, or 4 had not yet been conceived. It was simply a Playstation. And on it thrived some of the best JRPGs to have ever been released. Final Fantasy VII (and VIII, and IX), Wild Arms, FFT, and this game. The one I consider the best JRPG to have ever been introduced. Xenogears.

Now, let me be clear, here; what I love, in any medium, is good storytelling. So when I’m evaluating a game like this, I’m doing it based on (1) the story, and (2) the way the story uses the medium to get its point across. Would this have been better if it were just an anime, or a manga, or even just a book? Or did the interactive process really help convey the narrative to the audience?

Xenogears is an amazing story, and it utilizes the hell out of its medium.

What’s it about? Um… Well, without getting all spoilery, it’s about (in no particular order) martial arts, mecha, spies, Soylent Green, demons, sand pirates, sky islands, insanity, interstellar transports, and God.

And, for one shining moment, it is about a stuffed animal. Which brings us back to the narrative being delivered through the medium, and me sitting in my dorm room. At 2:00 AM. I’m clocking a good 36 hours of no-sleep at this point, but I’ve basically got an IV drip of Mt. Dew going and I am going to finish this thing.  

Then, I lose all my mechs. Everything gets destroyed. But I don’t see the end scene. No, this is a scripted loss. I’m supposed to feel like crap here, and I do.  When out, into the middle of this battle of gigantic, metal behemoths steps…Chu Chu.

Chu Chu is the half-mouse, half-dog stuffed-animal-like companion belonging to one of your side character’s cousin. She is in no way significant up until this point in the game, and has only been there basically as bad Japanese comic relief. But then…

SPOILER ALERT

With all your mecha wrecked and no hope left, this little furry thing steps out in front of the threat that has just completely destroyed you. She then performs the “big big churansformation” (sic.) and proceeds to whoop the everloving daylights out of the big bad that just showed you up. From here on, she’s a playable character that requires no fuel. In what is otherwise a pretty dark game, she’s this stunningly innocent character that still brings the heat in a fight, and it’s amazing.

END SPOILER ALERT

So amazing that I did not know if it was happening or I was just hallucinating. (Kind of hoping people actually skipped the spoilers and came in right there.) I was sleep-deprived, I was wired like a power substation, and I couldn’t grok the information coming at me from the screen. I had to wake Esther (then-girlfriend, now-wife) up and ask her if there was really a giant stuffed animal fighting a demon on the screen, or had my brain ceased to function.

I bring all this up now because:

  1. 2018 is the 20th anniversary of the Xenogears release.
  2. In April, Square-Enix put on a Xenogears concert featuring music from the OST, and
  3. Square-Enix has been on a remake kick lately.

I know this is a longshot. All I can say is, please Square. Please. If you are listening, I will purchase whatever bleeding system you make this for. Just…do it. A whole new generation of nerds are out there now, and they too need the experience of staring at their screen at 2:00 in the morning, wondering if their brain is broken.

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