Friday, January 6, 2017

Xenosaga Episode II for PlayStation 2 (2005)

Original ad published in the April 2005 edition of EGM (no. 190)

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Beautiful artwork for an overly ambitious game

Long-time RPG fanatics hold the Xenosaga series in high esteem. The story was supposed to encompass an amazing six games, but ended up only crossing three. The second installment of the series is arguably the worst, but you can’t blame Namco for not making the game an attractive proposition to gamers that got to know about it inside the magazines of the era.

Xenosaga Episode II Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) was hammered for its repetitive gameplay, below average music and really unbalanced voice acting. It was a step back from those of us who played the first Xenosaga, which managed to capture sci-fi fanatics with its clunky graphics yet deep story, filled with interesting, complex, characters.

The first game became very famous for its incredibly long cut scenes, longer than the ones featured in Metal Gear Solid, which was the benchmark of the era. Production values made Xenosaga a must-own for any Japanese RPG or science fiction aficionado. Upon its release (2003), gamers like me gave it a pass for its great effort, even if it had longer than average loading times and orthodox battle mechanics.

Those same gamers did not support the second game with the same bravado. It flopped and Namco was forced to cut the series from six to three games. Fortunately, the third and last game named Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra was a fantastic RPG that corrected every mistake of the first two installments. It is still consdiered one of the best RPGs for the PS2 and ranks high up there as one of the best sci-fi-RPGs ever.

The original two-page spread featured in magazines. 

Xenosaga, as a whole, is probably the most philosophical series ever. If you are remotely entered in theology and the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, give them a try. Also, they are considered spiritual successors to the superb Xenogears for the PS1, released in 1998. Today, the series remains dormant. Monolith Soft, which developed the games, is now part of Nintendo. The newer and well-received Xenoblade games, also developed by Monolith, hold indirect relations to both Xenogears and Xenosaga.

The series was also infamous for its heavy censoring. US versions of the three games have quite a few cuts and changes in relation to their Japanese counterparts.

Namco held nothing back when promoting Xenosaga. The two-page spread you see here occupies pages 2 and 3 of one edition of EGM. Those are some most expensive pages you can buy when trying to place your advert in a printed magazine.

Fortunately, the printed material shines. Everything is placed to the sides of the pages, making them stand on their own. As a two-page spread, the publicity is awe-inspiring. KOS-MOS, the female android, is highlighted on the left side, where most of the white tones of the page are kept. It’s also where most of us will start reading, since the colors are brighter and the female figure of her naturally forces your eyes to look that way.

On the right hand-page you see some other, less striking characters, and the actual screenshots of the game, with its revamped graphics. Even though most humans will tend to observe the right-hand side page first, the graphical designers went to great lengths to make you start reading the advert from the left, which is always very difficult to achieve. A true masterclass in editorial design.

Xenosaga Episode II print ad copy

The most ambitious RPG series ever created returns. The epic quest to save humanity from extinction continues in Episode II Jenseits von Gut und Böse. Stunning special effects, customizable characters, non-stop action, and a mystery that’s as magical as it is immersive, combine to create a true masterpiece- a cinematic gaming experience that’s out of this world and ahead of its time.

To save the future you must uncover the past

  • Devastate your opponents with innovative cooperative combat techniques, refined boost systems and a unique zone attack/sone break mechanic.
  • Explore lush, expansive environments and enjoy detailed, realistic character designs
  • Engage your enemies with larger, more powerful mechs, now featuring their own independent, tactical battle system (redirects to Namco USA)

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