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    A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

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    Nikkolas

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    A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Nikkolas on Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:34 am

    Well it's no secret that a lot of supposed Xenogears fans from back in the day were not happy with Xenosaga. Their reasons vary but the point is they often act like Gears is golden and Saga is just total garbage.

    Obviously I do not agree with that position. Firstly, I played Xenosaga Episode 1 and 2 before Xenogears. I played Episode 1 shortly after its release here in the States and I didn't play Gears until maybe late 2005.

    Now....which do I prefer... It's a bit tough to compare since you are having one game take on three games. However, given this is Xeno, I tend to ignore things like gameplay and graphics and al that. Let's not kid ourselves - we are into Xeno because of the Plot and Characters. Music too.  So I don't think it's quite as difficult to compare Saga and Gears on those grounds. Although I guess Saga has three OSTS on its side while Gears only has one. Still, I think Xenogears has possibly the greatest JRPG soundtrack in history so it can take on three other OSTS.

    I will make my thoughts on this brief because I really want to read what others have to say.

    For the Plot, it's gotta be Xenogears. The fact is that everything just came together so much more smoothly and was a lot more rewarding. The revelation of Deus and everything made sense and explained things very well I thought. Meanwhile, Xenosaga and its painfully vague "Ancient Civilization That Did Everything" annoyed the hell out of me. While it did do  tie everything up, and it succeeded with things like Old Miltia in EP3, it did generally disappoint me.
    This also plays into Characters I guess but it's still central to the narrative so I'm including it here. I adore Xenogears' love story. The timeless tale of The Contact and Elly was amazing and Xenosaga has nothing like it. Perhaps its' the romantic sap in me but I felt the love story strengthened Xenogears'  narrative.

    Now....to Characters. Saga blows Gears out of the water. Xenogears has many failings but chief among them is just dropping characters into some Plot Void where you never hear from them again or they never do much of anything again. True, what happened to Billy and Maria is characteristic of many JRPGs I've played (Moment of Awesomeness and Development followed by Irrelevance) but the tragedy of Rico cannot be forgiven. I absolutely hate that his whole story was dropped and we never saw Sigmund again after Nortune. And let's not forget how Ramsus kinda just buggers off to have a fivesome with The Elements or something even though he's the second strongest being alive next to Fei. He could have been a big help against Deus ya know.
    I also think the fact Krelian was introduced so late is a big reason why I had trouble giving a crap about him. This is a common complaint in JRPG fandoms. A character entering teh game too late is often just not accepted by the players.

    Now Xenosaga, Episode 1 was a fantastic ensemble piece where everyone had their characters well established yet they were all tinged with mystery. You needed to play the other games to find out what would happen to them! To find out about their enigmatic pasts! Then Episode 2 screwed that all up but Episode 3 was nice enough to give us a lot of very nice closure.  The URTVs, Ziggy, Jin, Shion, KOS-MOS, everyone except I guess poor MOMo had a place in that game and never felt useless or unnecessary.
    In summary, there is no Chu-Chu in Xenosaga. It wins.

    So that's me. Now tell me about you and your views.

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Guest on Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:27 pm

    Oh lord.
    I can feel myself getting into trouble here already. Someone stop me before I actually make this postttt

    If anyone knows me from places outside this forum, you probably know my opinion on Xenogears.
    I hate it so much. I don't mean that in a "It's so painful and perfect, how dare you, I hate you!" way. Like. I actually hate it. I love it too, don't get me wrong! There are things I really enjoy about it! However, as far as I'm concerned, it's kind of a mess of a game...!

    In short, Xenosaga BLOWS XENOGEARS OUT OF THE WATER AND TO THE MOON any day in my book.

    Breaking it down...

    Plot:
    Spoiler:
    Xenosaga, for one, has the proper feeling of an epic-- I like that it managed to become three games instead of just one, and it takes a generally more serious tone than Xenogears. With Gears, I got the feeling that it didn't know what kind of game it wanted to be-- it take a good 30+ hours to get to the real meat of the plot, leaving you to aimlessly wander around a bizarre and painfully stereotypical land of standard RPG nonsense. Even worse, by the time the plot finally picks up, all the characters except Fei and Elly have been left on the side of the road, completely ignored, and the game had suffered such severe budget cuts that the entire Second Disc of the game ended up being more of a hasty summarization than an actual plot. Not to mention, in the time leading up to that point, the game throws some... truly bizzare scenarios at you (like the CHU-CHU BUSINESS) that seem totally out of place in the supposedly "dark" aesthetic the game is aiming for. Not to mention half a million plot holes and forgotten story threads...

    Saga, on the other hand, doesn't hesitate to throw you right into a chaotic and complex world. It unapologetically throws you straight into the "crazy" and I love that! It engages you from moment #1 and consistently holds that attention! Saga deals with many of the same philosophies and and themes as Gears did-- except in a much cleaner and far more prevalent manner. I feel a lot like Saga sort of... took all the good themes and parts of Gears's plot, cleaned them up, expanded on them, and made them into its own, much better, much more refined, story.

    I always tell people that Gears is like carrying a plate of spaghetti into a room of cool people. You want to be impressive and you want to play it cool because DAMN YOU CAN COOK, LOOK AT HOW TASTY THAT PASTA IS! So you enter the room of cool people, but you end up getting completely overwhelmed and nervous, and trip, spilling pasta everywhere, and making a total fool of yourself, as well as a mess of your surroundings....

    Characters:

    Spoiler:

    In summary, there is no Chu-Chu in Xenosaga. It wins.
    AhahahaHAHAHA. Yes. This. There you have it.

    Okay, more seriously now!! I think Gears had a couple of very strong characters-- Billy (especially once you look at his extended backstory and realize he may or may not have some genderfluidity going on there??????), Sigurd, hell, the entire old Elements team, caught my eye in particular, but I'm sure we all have our favourites! Unfortunately, as Nikkolas said, everyone except Fei and Elly and kinda Citan, are pretty much forgotten by the time Disc 2 rolls around. To make matters worse, I found myself not liking Fei much at all by the end (I'll get into this in a second) and found Elly to have... no... personality...what...so...ever. (Another issue I'll get into in a second.)

    So basically, everyone I cared about was all but forgotten by the end of the game. Hard to deal with.

    As for Xenosaga-- I was completely in love with the entire cast of characters. Of course, I have my favourites, as is human nature, but I genuinely cared about EVERYONE and felt that everyone got their time to develop and shine! Not to mention how realistic and unique so many of them turned out to be! I could go on for hours about how relatable Shion is, or how MOMO surprised everyone by being so much more than just a cutesy mascot character! There's so much to say for everyone-- playable characters, antagonists, NPCs... I love 'em all. Even the assholes (coughYURIEVcough) are so well-developed and interesting that I can't bring myself to say I hate them completely... I may hate their actions and behaviours in the story, but I cna' can't deny how well-crafted and understandable every single one of them is.
    THESE CHARACTERS MAN. THESE CHARACTERS. (A silly little anecdote-- I remember the car chase scene in Episode II as the moment where I realized how much I really loved EVERYONE. Like... I already was drawn to two of my favourites (KOSY and Shion) but that scene called to my attention how lovely every single one of them was!)


    This needs its own separate category because it is a major shortcoming of Gears...
    Treatment of Women:

    Spoiler:
    Oh lordy. I think anyone who knows me probably can tell you that this is Gears's final nail in its coffin. Ugh.
    I went into Gears expecting it to be... well, not awesome towards its women, as a 90s RPG, but at least decent. I expected your standard amount of 90s video game sexism. Instead, I found one of the most painfully sexist games I have ever played. The treatment towards women in it is positively disgusting. You have three women on your team-- Elly, Maria, and Emeralda. Two of them are children. At least two of them are Type 2s-- the stereotypically "feminine" and "motherly" type. (I'm not sure about Emeralda...I can't remember, and the death of XenoTensei makes checking a nigh impossible task.)

    Miang is also a Type 2. Every single one of these characters have plots that revolve around the men in their lives-- Elly with Fei, Maria with her Father, Emeralda with Fei, and Miang (she's a little weird, and probably the best of the lot) is a essentially a puppet/tool of Karellen. Elly is a particularly toxic case-- she has the makings of a lovely character (See: her behaviour in the Solaris portion of the game!! Yeah!) but is relegated to the role of damsel in distress at least four times, not even including her massive segment in captivity at the end of the game. Even worse is Takahashi's business about how Elly was supposedly his "perfect woman," a statement that send the nastiness factor just about off the charts. And don't even get me started on the entire scene where Fei asks her to stay behind. It's what killed Fei as a sympathetic character for me, and was full of such concentrations of disgusting and sexist dialogue that I just wanted to put the game down then and there.
    And the entire "Miang Factor" -- a concept that casually condemns all women to being a danger and a liability to humanity and those around them. Miang herself may be an interesting character, but how she comes about is easily one of the most misogynistic things in the game.

    All of this leaves me completely puzzled as to how on earth Xenosaga rose from the ashes of Gears. Saga is... honestly one of the most feminist and progressive RPGs I've seen. That's something that drew me to it-- the fact that we have the brilliant, well-developed female protagonist whose eventual plot in Episode III revolves not around how wonderful her man is, but around how controlling men are detrimental to ones health! It's practically the complete reverse of Xenogears. Holy cow??? How did this happen?? Did Soraya's comments on how Elly was a stereotypical and sexist character finally reach past Takahashi's skull and flourished into something beautiful???? Whatever happened, I'm glad it did. It's not perfect by any means-- particularly in the fanservice/sex appeal department, but the issues are not connected to their actual characters-- the issues are purely aesthetic problems, not things that simplify or stereotype their characters!
    And beyond Shion, there are so many powerful and intelligent women in the game, of all types-- not just Type 2s! There's Juli, a prominent politician, making a name for herself, not just hiding behind her husband! There's Mary and Shelley-- capable women who take on a whole slew of jobs in the Kukai Foundation with ease! KOS-MOS-- a battle android, and (as Mary) a leader of millions upon billions of people. MOMO! That tough little cookie who endures so much pain and abuse, but keeps fighting back at full force! The list goes on and on!

    Also, on a side-note, I prefer Xenosaga OST?? Because I love Mitsuda, and get to enjoy his music in Episode I, but Yuki Kajiura is my favourite composer of all time...!! So having her there for II and III just about seals the deal!! (Plus, having Mitsuda for Episode I gives me the best of both worlds!)

    I do enjoy the Xenogears OST quite a bit though! Particularly songs like "Dark Dawn" and "The Beginning and the End."



    Also-- a little disclaimer... I can understand why some people prefer Gears?? Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and I recognize that some people have that nostalgic connection to the games! So. Yeah!


    Last edited by 134 on Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    katimus_prime
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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by katimus_prime on Fri Nov 15, 2013 1:31 pm

    Oh wow, this topic!  I imagine a lot of people might heavily disagree with me forever and ever on a few things, but I'm used to that.

    I am ancient and I live in North America, so I played all of the Xeno games in the order they were released (Xenogears, XSI, XSII, XSIII).

    Gameplay-wise, I think I enjoy XSI and III on the same level as Gears, though Gears gets some points off for Babel Tower's jumping puzzles.  I wish I could have liked XSII's battle system, because the skills system was really interesting, at least.  But I do agree with you, Nikkolas, that I'm into Xeno for the story and characters.

    I think there's an eternal struggle going on with me over which one has the "best" characters and which ones are my favorite.  Xenosaga has Cherenkov and Margulis, but no true analog to Ramsus, and that's the main big deal for me.  

    Margulis has the scary rivalry thing going on with Jin that Ramsus had with Fei, but he also has the working-for-scary-fake-space-Catholics thing that, by the end of XSIII, points at Billy Lee Black (though he probably spent a lot more time being closer to Isaac Stein).  Margulis also shares Ramsus' charisma stat, which is why I love the crap out of him instead of turn my nose up at him like a lot of young fangirls tend to do with older male characters.

    Cherenkov has Ramsus' physical resemblance and sympathetic storyline.  I think he's a much more sympathetic character than Ramsus in the end because Cherenkov, gameplay wise, is not the jerk who bats you off the top of Babel Tower that you have to fight over and over again.  He's just the jerk that turns into a monster that will break your face if you're not levelled correctly.  And then there's Ramsus and the Elements sticking by him forever and ever versus Cherenkov and his wife and her clone being complete and total bitches.  Cherenkov has no Dominia or Sigurd.  He has double Miangs and half a Krelian (in Margulis), and that just makes everything worse for him.

    I think I end up liking Xenosaga better for its characters, but I'm not sure if I would like them as much had I not played Xenogears first. Xenosaga took the familiar archetypes I liked and expounded upon them, and that's only just with the ones that I liked the most.  Lunch is over, I'll continue this later, tho!


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    Yikari

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Yikari on Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:21 am

    I don't think it's a taboo topic;

    I think we have quite sensible people here to not descend into a flame war.

    I'm afraid I don't have anything to say about GEARS since I haven't gotten my hands on a working copy yet (don't beat me, please! :shaking:), but I do feel I have to say that Jr. (and all other characters that have a role in the URTV subplot) wouldn't have half of the fan following they do if not for Ep. II's portrayal of that.

    Neosmith

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Neosmith on Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:20 pm

    I played Saga first so I prefer it to Gears. It's a cult game series that I adore to no end, which is why I criticize it so much.

    Though in terms of pure gameplay and narrative cohesiveness, I would go with Gears from the little that I've managed to play so far.
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    kare_reiko
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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by kare_reiko on Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:45 am

    Well both Xenosaga and Xenogears have some good things and bad things, I just can't scream :"Xenosaga is better!" because when I think about it's not so clear. The same for me is FF in PS1 generation.

    Let's start with Xenogears, it have amazing love story, true and complex not like it always shown in animes or movies that they meet and "bang" they are in love. They are unsure, trying finding in new situation, fate bring them together but it wasn't very happy in every time.
    Second thing that I love in XG is main story. Deus, creating "humans" on new planet, Miang - mother of all people, Abel last survive person from ship crew, Elly created as his mother. I just love it! This story part is so amazing done from beginig to the end.
    Maria and Billy story was nice until cuts didn't cut them down on 2nd disc.
    I don't mind 2cd disc, I was happy about less gameplay since I hate gameplay in that game. But they could include more animated scenes for it, I really wished to se interaction between Emaralda and Elly since they mother - child relationship in past.

    As for Xenosaga, I can say I care about all characters. When in Xenogears I only main focus was Elly and Fei because they had conection to main story and all others characters were, well like "oh we meet, we will go with you save world". In XS all characters are connected to main core of story or at last to what happend in Militia 14 years in past. They are all important grom begining to the end.
    Xenosaga is story that warm heart. It really bring all kind of emotion from laugh to tears. I know that Xenosaga don't have such love story as gears but story of Shion and Kevin, Feb and Virgil, Ziggy relationship with his old family and now with Juli and MOMO are amazing.
    I like connection to christian religion too and I wish to see more of ancient Lost Jerusalem, but let's say true, main story of Xenosaga is so cuted that it hurts, it's a lot more bad done then Xenogears.
    They focus on characters and thought that they will have time for rest of story later, but it didn't happen, that's why characters like chaos, ziggy in main game, kossy, wilhelm (bleh) was so hurt in the end.
    And gameplay, was nice in every episode, maybe ep3 was too easy but still it no one was hurt me as gameplay of xenogears (I'm don't know if any game hurt me like XG, maybe grandia 3... but it another story).

    I can't say about music because both were nice, I like Kajiura better but Ep1 and XG music fit story too.


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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Guest on Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:22 pm

    I enjoyed them both quite a bit. Xenogears gets the nod with me, I felt the overall plot was stronger and deeper, while at the same time not having concepts as convoluted as Saga had. At the same time I agree that for the most part Saga had better characters and didn't drop ones as much as Gears did.

    Gameplay-wise, Saga wins pretty easily. Xenosaga 2 aside (which as annoying and hard to play as I originally found it to be, having played the game a couple of more times its not as bad as I originally thought it to be there), the Saga games are funner to play. More interesting environments to traverse, a better and deeper battle system, better development and more interesting and simply more mini-games period.

    Obviously graphics can't be realistically compared with one another given the timeframe and different systems.

    Music-wise, Gears wins. The game alone has more great tracks than all 3 Saga games put together. The loss of Mitsuda after the first game definitely hurts Saga.

    Gears will probably never not be my favorite video game of all time, but Saga is quite up there with me as well.

    Nikkolas

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Nikkolas on Sun Dec 22, 2013 11:17 am

    Something I just thought of in Xenogears' favor is that it uses its religious ideas far better. Names and imagery fits in with the plot while in Xenosaga it's rather intrusive and unnecessary. There was no reason to name our ghost girl guide Nephilim. There was no reason to name the Zohars after the Apostles.

    Xenogears' entire plot being an allegory for Gnosticism helped make things flow a lot more smoothly and make more sense.
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    chaos

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by chaos on Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:04 pm

    Its really close for me.

    I think Xenogears probably edges it as it feels like more of a complete experience, despite it being a bit of a broken masterpiece.

    If Xenosaga was complete and consistently presented then it would probably be a stronger game overall.

    I think the main story of Xenogears feels finished whereas Saga is very much incomplete.

    As others have said characters are probably stronger in Saga.

    Id probably need to play the games back to back to really know for sure.
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    Killer64

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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by Killer64 on Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:52 pm

    It is also very close for me when comparing Xenogears and the Xenosaga games although I feel Xenogears slightly edges out with its story, characters and music. I feel the Xenosaga game which comes the closest to what Xenogears was is Xenosaga Episode 3. Although I liked Episode 1 a lot, I remember for me it was very difficult and took weeks of grinding for me to beat Episode 2 but Episode 3 made everything worth it. Although it was still in some ways a difficult game (Omega Id and Erde Kaiser Sigma fights, not doing that again Razz ), I feel Episode 3 was a much more balanced and emotional experience than the first two games. The thing I noticed while playing through Episode 3 is that in many ways the whole game is a reference to Xenogears with similar character design references and themes about what human beings are as a species. For me, Episode 3 is actually in my top 3 favorite games list with Xenogears and Chrono Cross which means it had to be something special for me to affect me so much.
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    Re: A Taboo Topic? GEARS VS. sAGA

    Post by RadicalDreamer on Sat Nov 26, 2016 2:57 pm

    My first Xeno game was Xenosaga 3 so I never had bad feelings towards Xenosaga. Especially as I ADORED Xenosaga 3. I was downright obsessed and it felt so good to feel passionate about a game's plot and characters after the letdown that was FF12 (which I don't hate either, I may even like it more nowadays... but I didn't feel anything for the characters when I finished it and it was the first time I felt this way about a FF game). But Xenogears slowly became my favorite after I played it. And it remains true to this day (even if I do feel like it's the roughest/least user friendly Xeno game to actually play). I feel more inspired by it, I guess.

    However, I do feel sometimes that Xenosaga was a waste as a separate entity (in relation to Xenogears I mean). I'm fairly sure Xenosaga was originally planned to be Xenogears Episode 1 and I'm still sad Squaresoft vetoed the "saga" project. Chances are that characters like Shion, MOMO and Ziggy were already being conceived while Takahashi and his team were still at Squaresoft. Xenogears Episode 1 would have been not so different than Xenosaga, except it wouldn't need to distance itself from Xenogears (copyright issues) while still trying to re-invent it (example, the tragic scene in Febronia's church in XS3 was a clear call back to Racquel's death in Xenogears). Also, if Square had been more supportive of the project, maybe Takahashi and his team would have had less development issues as they build up their "series" (really, Xenosaga was created at the same time Takahashi became the head of the company he created... which seems more complicated to handle than being a Squaresoft employee... Takahashi once said they were all a bit inexperienced when they made Xenosaga and I think I understand what he meant by that).

    As for the soundtracks... Actually, I think Xenosaga has many great tracks... from Episode 1 to 3 (from Mitsuda to Kajiura... minus Hozoe, I think it was a mistake to hire him). Which also means it has MORE tracks than Xenogears. But maybe I guess it's not a fair comparaison considering Xenosaga is composed of 3 games. Xenogears is on its own.

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