Before the Xenoblade series, Xenosaga I & II was the only Xeno title available for any of Nintendo's consoles.
Monolith Soft Buyout and the "Monado: Beginning of the World" project
In April 2007, it was publicly announced that Nintendo bought the 80% of the company, making it one of its Subsidiaries. According to Tetsuya Takahashi, the premise for what would later be called Monado: Beginning of the World was over in his mind since mid 2006, however, its only due to the creative freedom and the ressources given to him by Nintendo that he was able to concretise his vision that was originally nothing more than a game centered around civilizations emerging on the frozen bodies of two warring Titans. A model was realized to help the team have a better understanding of the idea. After bringing the idea to Nintendo, the developement began right afterward.
2009 marked the reveal of Monado: Beginning of the World during E3 2009, the game was said to have extensive customization for both outfits and weapons, a "save anywhere" feature and a bonding system that would later becomes the affinity mechanic. The game was later renamed Xenoblade by Nintendo's 4th president, Satoru Iwata, as an homage to Takachi's previous works, namely the Xenogear series and the Xenosaga series.
Xenoblade would be released in Japan during 2010, and the game would gain critical acclaim. Nintendo of Europe would release a localized version (which was renamed to Xenoblade Chronicles) with British voice acting the following year since Nintendo of America had no plan to release the game in North America. This would lead to the iconic British dub featured in the main games of the series. The fact that Nintendo of America refused to release the game in North America added to their shutting down of Nintendo of Europe's wish to have the game featured at E3 2011 gave rise to Operation Rainfall.
Operation Rainfall was a campaign to show that the the North American owners of the Wii also craved for JRPG on the system. The operation consited of a serie of preorder to show Nintendo that the game has a public in America. The operation was a success and Nintendo of America accepted to release Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower in North America. The game was critically acclaimed by the press and would obtain a 92 on metacritic and would be considered by some as a renewal for the JRPG genre that had fallen into disgrace in the years prior to its release, the games of the Final Fantasy series for example were subject to heavy criticism due to its change of gameplay formula and meanwhile, the western RPG genre was raising in popularity.
Affirmation of the Xenoblade brand as a series
During a Nintendo Direct broadcasted on January 23, 2013 a new JRPG developed by Monolith Soft for the Wii U was announced, the game was really similar to Xenoblade Chronicles in term of Gameplay but since it appeared as a Science fiction themed game and was only defined by the title "X", the connections with the first Xenoblade were not clear.
It is during E3 2014 that the game was given the title of Xenoblade Chronicles X, the link was further shown at the end of the trailer where Tatsu, a member of the Nopon species is shown, the Nopons are an emblematic species who debuted in the first game and the presence of a Nopon in Xenoblade Chronicles X cemented the game as a part of the Xenoblade franchise. This trailer also showed the premises of the game: humanity's last stand on Mira.
During a Nintendo Direct broadcasted on august 29, 2014 it was revealed that Shulk, the protagonist of Xenoblade Chronicles would be a playable character in the fourth and fifth installments in the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U this would yet again bring fame to the Xenoblade series due to the popularity of the Smash Bros. games. Shulk would not be the only representation from the Xenoblade series found in 3DS/Wii U, Riki would be included as an Assist Trophy and various Trophies inspired by the characters of the first game were also put in the game and Gaur Plain became a playable stage. On the same direct, a New Nintendo 3DS exclusive version of the original Xenoblade was announced.
In 2015, Project X Zone 2 was released in Japan. The game is a sequel to Project X Zone which is a strategy game with the particularity of having playable characters choosen across diverse video game series. The particularity of this game was to feature Nintendo owned characters, Fiora serves as the Xenoblade representation in the game. In the same year Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and Xenoblade Chronicles X would be released, by the end of 2016 a Virtual Console version of the 1st game would be released on Wii U.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the creation of the X subseries
During the Nintendo Switch presentation broadcast on January 13, 2017, a new installment in the Xenoblade series was announced. The new game would be similar to the first Xenoblade in term of gameplay and setting and was fittingly named Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
In the following months, gameplay presentations were shown at different major events like E3 2017, the Gamescom or the Paris Games Week for example. During those presentations, the developers said that Monolith Soft see the Xenoblade series as two separate subseries, the Chronicles subseries would contain the games focused on story and characters while the X subseries would contain the game focused on Exploration.
During a Nintendo Direct broadcast on September 13, 2017 the game was confirmed to release on December 1 and a collectors edition was announced alongside a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 themed pro controller. On November 7, 2017 a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 direct was broadcast, during the direct an expansion pass was announced and those who buy it are supposed to recieve additional content up until Autumn 2018. In the same presentation, a collaboration with the Zelda series was announced in the form of a Rex costume for Link to wear in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 had the best launch in the entire series and by the end of its first month on the market became the first Xenoblade Game to sell more than 1 million copies without the need of being ported to another system. Two "Helpful Items Pack" promised in the expansion pass were released during the month of December 2017. In January 2018, a third "Helpful Items Pack" and the first "New Quests" pack was released. In February 2018, a new game plus mode was added for all users and with it came the possibility to resonate with the Blades from Torna. A second "New Quests" pack was released in March and Poppi Buster was made avaliable for those who purchased the expansion pass in April. At the same time, another Xenosaga Character, T-elos, was added as a Blade for anyone playing in new game plus.
Along with the release of the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Original Soundtrack, Koh Kojima, one of the series director mentioned that he wanted to eventually make a Xenoblade Chronicles 3, a Xenoblade Chronicles X2 and an entirely new intellectual property in the future. During E3 2018, the "Torna ~ The Golden Country" DLC was shown for the first time and allow the player to go back to the time of the Aegis War, 500 years before the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Also during this years E3, Shulk and Gaur Plain would come back in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The game later released featuring a lot of the series' main characters as Spirits and Mii costumes inspired by both Rex and Nia in addition of the return of the Dunban Mii costume from the Wii U game.
During a Nintendo Direct hosted on September 5th 2019, it was announced that Xenoblade Chronicles would be remade in a brand new engine for the Nintendo Switch under the name of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The remake would feature brand new content as the first trailer showed a playable version of Bionis' Shoulder, a cut area from the original game as well as never seen before equipment for Shulk and Melia in the same shot. The game was given an estimated release date of 2020.
- Xenoblade Chronicles (2010) - The first entry, for the Wii, that covers Shulk's journeys across the Bionis and Mechonis.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (2015) - the second entry, for the Wii U, that covers humanity's stand on Mira
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (2017) - the third entry, for the Nintendo Switch, that covers Rex's journey across the cloud sea in hope to guide his Blade, Pyra, to Elysium. He will fight against Torna, a mysterious terrorist organization, that seeks to capture Pyra as she is the legendary Aegis and use her incredible power to accomplish their goals
- Torna ~ The Golden Country (2018) - A huge DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that act independantly of the base game and cover in details the backstory of many central characters to the plot of the original game. It takes place during the Aegis War, 500 years before the events of the game where we follow Lora and Jin a Tornan Driver and her Blade who went on a journey to stop Malos the rogue Aegis with the help of Mythra, another Aegis, and Addam Origo, the legendary hero of the Kingdom of Torna. This expansion even got an independant physical release.
The battle system is similar in all of the games but each entries has its own quirks that build upon the bases intoduced in the first game to create their own identities.
- The Nopons are a recurring species that appears in every game in the series up until now.
- The Telethias are also a recurring species in the series.
Super Smash Bros.
Shulk and Gaur Plain as well as Metal Face, Dunban, Riki, and several trophies make appearances in the fourth entry of the Super Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U as a playable character and stage respectively.
Project X Zone
The Legend of Zelda
A Rex costume was added as a free DLC in the 19th entry in the The Legend of Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
In Pop Culture
The petition to get Xenoblade Chronicles (among other RPGs) for the United States localization spawned a large movement called Operation Rainfall, congregating the community for a single cause and spawning a site that takes a closer look at localized niche games and localization.
Additionally, the British dub and the silly catchphrases of the cast of the original caught on on the internet, in particular, It's Reyn Time and BESTEST are notable memes in relation to the series.