Xenoblade Chronicles is the game that shouldn’t have been. Nintendo of America, the largest Nintendo market by far, had no intention of releasing it in North America. It was only through the demand of fans that the game received an American release. Even worse, it was a limited release and a GameStop exclusive. While Nintendo acquired Monolith Soft from Bandai Namco, it’s obvious their expectations were low. Tetsuya Takahashi’s Xenosaga trilogy was a financial failure, though the games were fantastic in their own right. By that same token, Xenoblade by rights should not have gone anywhere. Despite all odds though, Takahashi and Monolith have managed to transform the game into the greatest RPG series in modern history, and of all-time. Not Japanese RPG series. Any RPG series. Xenoblade, Xenoblade X, and Xenoblade 2 have all distinguished themselves as masterpieces in their own right and have managed to capture the hearts of millions. And this is just the beginning. The special thing about the series is each game is unique, offering something fresh, yet they are distinctly cohesive. Shulk uses the Monado Xenoblade Chronicles was a massive open-world game, while at the same time being story-driven. The characters were memorable and it hit all of the emotional beats of an all-time great game. The game was ripe with exploration and hidden secrets, yet it didn’t sacrifice story (something Breath of the Wild did.) It was one of the most emotionally satisfying games of the Wii era, if not the most. In a time where Japanese RPGs were stale, Takahashi’s visionary approach innovated and transformed the market completely. The combat was also real-time, not turned based, but it was incredibly fun. Not only that, but it had depth. There were so many different strategies and character combinations to choose from, which gave the game, on top of everything else, infinite replayability value; it never got stale. Shulk and Melia, best girl Xenoblade was revolutionary. It reinvigorated a market, and propelled Monolith Soft as one of Nintendo’s flagship developers. It’s even receiving a complete remake for the Nintendo Switch with additional content; that’s how popular the series has become. The main character, Shulk, became a playable character in Super Smash Bros. And the series’ popularity all started with a simple title that wasn’t even planned to be released in Nintendo’s largest market. In a time when JRPGs and Final Fantasy were getting stale, Monolith Soft was innovating and revolutionizing a genre, which no one has been able to replicate to this day. A beautiful open-world Xenoblade Chronicles X was a different kind of game. It was completely open-world, with multiple continents that were all accessible from the beginning of the game. The main character was an avatar and mute, and the story was told through 10 chapters, which could be accessed at one’s leisure. Despite launching on a dying platform (the Wii U), it sold over one million copies. It had deep gameplay mechanics and combat that built upon the first game. It was something new, but welcome. Better yet, there were mech battles, which were tons of fun. There were loose connections to the first game, but it maintained its own identity. Takahashi and crew were on the verge of something special, and this all came together with the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. A fateful encounter I do not say this lightly: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the greatest RPG of all-time and the pinnacle of the RPG genre. It has just the right mixture of exploration, story, and a superb combat system that is unparalleled by any modern-day RPG. The story is enriching and while it could be characterized as a shounen adventure story, it is very much “boy meets girl”, which is the name of one of the chapters. The game is not open-world, yet it does have several continents that are massive in size and scope. It has the best cast of characters in the series (yes, better than Xenoblade Chronicles), as well as the best story. The music is amazing. There are so many unexpected twists and turns, and while it stands on its own, it acts as a successor to the original game, and you can make the argument that it also ties into the Xenosaga games and Xenogears. It’s Monolith Soft’s crowning achievement. Boy Meets Girl The villains aren’t black and white, and while Rex’s optimism can be cheesy, he’s one of the best protagonists in RPG history. It’s refreshing. The entire cast of characters, once again, are incredible. While there are a number of playable characters, each have their own moment to shine, as well as the villains of the story. It’s a touching narrative of a boy and a girl’s journey of self-discovery, and by the end, you’ll have tears in your eyes. It’s the pinnacle of the Xenoblade franchise, yet Monolith Soft and Tetsuya Takahashi aren’t done yet. And why would they be? Xenoblade 2 is one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo Switch, and one of the best games period on the platform. The Xenoblade franchise has not only become a staple Nintendo franchise but the greatest RPG series of all-time. Each entry is unique. Each entry builds on the next. In a genre that became stale, it was, and still is, a breath of fresh air. Final Fantasy XV tried to emulate its open-world and style of gameplay, but failed miserably. It’s the little engine that could, a success story so unlikely that it reminds us that given the passion and the will, possibilities are endless. The exciting thing is the franchise is not even close to being finished. Monolith is coming out with the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and want to make both Xenoblade 3 and Xenoblade X-2. There’s no doubt that Monolith Soft will continue to develop some of the best first-party Nintendo games. The passion is there, and the RPG market is dry. It’s the franchise RPG fans deserve, and the one they need right now. From the single game that shouldn’t have been to what is the greatest RPG franchise of all-time, it’s a success story that’s unparalleled in gaming. It will be fascinating to watch as the series continues to shape the RPGs as it continues to dominate the genre.