How much to read into the newly appended title of a re-release like this? In the case of Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, a splendorous revisit of Monolith Soft’s 2012 Wii RPG for Nintendo’s Switch, it could mean so very much. By his own admission, creator Tetsuya Takahashi has always struggled to finish off the job with his own games, his Xenosaga series petering out halfway through its intended run, while Xenoblade Chronicles only saw it through to completion upon partner Nintendo’s insistence it be done properly.
Even then, subsequent games have seen ambition often outstrip circumstance: Xenoblade Chronicles X’s ambition was served rough, while Xenoblade Chronicles 2 creaked under the weight of its elaborate systems and some anime excess. A Takahashi game that’s refined and one he’s happy to call definitive? Now that’s some prospect.
In many of the ways that really matter, Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition delivers. It takes an incredible RPG – one that could lay claim to being among the best of the last decade – and makes small, considered tweaks in all the right places. It serves the mad, magical majesty of Xenoblade Chronicles’ world, staying entirely faithful to the original while gently polishing it for its HD debut – a little too gently in some places, you might argue.