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Axe of the Blood God: The Xbox's Checkered History With RPGs

PODCAST | Kat and Nadia recount the Xbox's place in RPG history on the eve of the Xbox One X, then continue their journey through Final Fantasy IX.

Article by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey and Nadia Oxford. You can find the previous episodes here.

In this week's episode of Axe of the Blood God (download link here), Nadia and I talk about the Xbox One X's checkered history on the eve of the Xbox One X's release, and we continue our journey through Final Fantasy IX.

We actually cover a lot in this episode, so buckle up. We talk about Morrowind, KOTOR, the big push to get Japanese devs on board, Path of Exile, and more. The only thing we missed, bizarrely, is Fable. I feel bad now because it's definitely a significant part of the Xbox's RPG history, but it's faded to the point that it's totally slipped my mind. It's a case study, I suppose, of failed potential. Those games looked like they would be so cool back in 2002.

Alas, we also weren't able to include any BlizzCon chatter, as we ended up recording yesterday. Worry not, though: Mike will have plenty of time to gush about WoW's big expansion on our flagship podcast next Wednesday. We may get him on here as well.

Want to share your thoughts on RPGs? Email us at usgamer@usgamer.net. We may read your letter on the show! Keep those Perfect RPG Teams coming, folks!

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Show Description

Kat and Nadia get together to discuss the possibility to Yoko Taro directing a Final Fantasy game, recount the checkered history of RPGs on the Xbox (20:00), and dive into the big battle at Alexandria in the latest Final Fantasy IX Report (1:01:20). Bonus: Kat and Nadia share their favorite Halloween candy, because why not?

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at rpgmaker.net. Check it out!

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 7

  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker 18 days ago
    I really have to hook up my 360, I got Witcher and Lost Odyssey for free on it, and I have Blue Dragon, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Shenmue 2. But I don't have the time, and I am getting the Switch real soon.
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  • Avatar for nimzy #2 nimzy 17 days ago
    I remember when the first Fable came out and the concept that your character could change (physically) based on how you played was introduced. Up until that point (and a month later when GTA: San Andreas came out) game characters had always been static entities to me.
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  • Avatar for bobbywatson #3 bobbywatson 17 days ago
    Thanks again for the great podcast! I always look forward to my Friday evening at the gym knowing you ladies will be there to keep me company while I sweat my butt off on the threadmill!

    Lost Odyssey is the main reason why I got an Xbox 360 way before I ever bought a PS3. It's a shame this game was never ported to anything (though I think it's backward compatible on the Xbox One). For what it's worth, I liked it a lot more than FF XIII and XV (despite the fact that it's as linear as XIII). It really felt like an evolution of VII and VIII, more than any Final Fantasy game that came after it.

    Another 360 game that will likely get lost is Infinite Undiscovery. While it is not an amazing game in any shape or form (it is a Tri-Ace game after all), I still had a blast playing it, and it is a nice, short experience overall (though using the free DLC can break the game and may ruin the experience for some).

    Eternal Sonata got ported to PS3 eventually (which is where I played it), and that was a waste of time. Especially that 45 minute death scene for a character I did not give a damn about.

    Type-0 was definitely weird, but I liked it enough to play it twice (once on PSP with a fan translation, and once on the PS4). If Square Enix went back to it and reworked some of the various sytems, this hypothetical sequel could actually be pretty good.

    (Also, non-RPG related: I found Japanese imports of green tea Kit-kats in a US store called "It'sugar" when I was traveling in MA and FL, but I've never seen them in Canada. I bought a bag and they were actually pretty good.)
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #4 MetManMas 17 days ago
    I'm sure if I tried playing Morrowind today there would be a million li'l ways I'd find it a colossal pain in the ass compared to its sequels, but man how I'd love to play Morrowind again regardless. Barely tapped the surface but I loved just how weird and alien the world is compared to the safer settings of Oblivion and Skyrim.

    Well, I say "safer", but I still appreciate RPGs where dinosaur attacks or a mechanical underground ruins with blind cave elves may happen, as well as the option to play as a lizard or a cat or an orc in a hat. It's just that generic medieval countryside and snowy mountain land feel kinda meh after crazy ashen mushroom bug land, ya know?

    Anyway, I'm still grateful that Skyrim's return to Solstheim had the island get a li'l Morrowindy in the process. They ever do an Elder Scrolls 6 though, I'm hoping we'll get crazy lizard society in the swamplands of Black Marsh. Not really looking forward to a forest (Valenwood) or a desert (Hammerfell, Elsweyr), and the Summerset Isles look more like a DLC-sized place.

    In the meantime, I can always play the MMORPG when I long for more Morrowind weirdness.
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  • Avatar for robertchesley19 #5 robertchesley19 16 days ago
    I have to say I was a little disappointed in this podcast. I understand the original Xbox wasn't the most popular console around, but I feel the games on it were great. No real mention of Jade Empire on the podcast was a shame. Such an amazing game. I know the 360 had it's own share of hardware issues (My original console Red Ringed, got a replacement through Microsoft and it's lasted over 10 years now.) Also I think the Xbox stretched what the term RPG meant. I know it's not considered one in a traditional sense but Steel Battalion with it's giant controller really took immersion with a title to a new place. I understand in the traditional sense of the word there weren't many "RPGs" on the console. But I think there were a lot of quirky titles on the Xbox that had RPG-esque elements to them.

    As someone who was invested in Xbox first before the PS2 or Gamecube really, many of the RPGs of that era that I played were Xbox titles (Xmen Legends 1/2, Dark Alliance 1/2, KOTOR 1/2)

    Anyways I enjoyed the talk about KOTOR and I understand the scope of this podcast doesn't lead too much talk of other parts of what made the Xbox great.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #6 mattcom26 15 days ago
    Random comment, but if you want to spend your money on vaporware, Play Asia is already selling the FFVII remake. Estimated release: Dec. 2017. Like... what?Edited 3 weeks ago by mattcom26
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #7 Kuni-Nino 13 days ago
    Tales of Vesperia is probably the best Tales game and it quickly got glossed over like it was nothing. Lesser games like Lost Oddyssey and Blue Dragon got more time than probably the best JRPG to emerge from that generation. Truth be told, that hurts. It really hurts because Vesperia is probably the only Tales game to get an actual big budget. It was primed to compete with the big boys and ended up ignored by pretty much everyone except Tales diehards.

    The people that actually played it were treated to a game that iterated on the classic JRPG formula to near perfection. You had a great cast, a big overworld and a really good action battle system that had the depth of a decent fighting game (no surprise there because Soul Calibur staff worked on Vesperia).

    But I'm probably getting ahead of myself. What's the one thing about Tales that rears its ugly head whenever someone has to trash it?

    "It's too anime."

    Well yeah, Tales does anime tropes and has been doing them for decades; Just like how sci-fi games can't stop copying Aliens and Blade Runner and how fantasy games crib everything from Tolkien. Doing tropes shouldn't be a knock especially when creators are putting their own spin on things. Plus, Vesperia doesn't even adhere closely to the tropes like say Persona 4.

    One of the things Vesperia doesn't get enough credit for is how atypical it is for what's supposed to be a by the book JRPG. You don't need to look farther than it's humble beginnings to know that Vesperia is on to something when you take control of Yuri who is living life in the slums after walking away from a cozy government job. Yuri is perhaps one of the best protagonist in RPGs simply because he's pragmatic, level-headed and generally doesn't take anyone's nonsense. Typically, JRPG plots center around characters who either accept their role as a chosen one or try to shun it, but Yuri is a guy who kinda rolls with it after he finds himself there. It makes him easier to like on top of being a respectful, good natured person. The rest of the cast is the same way. Actually, I would put Vesperia's cast up against any of the JRPG greats. I think they would match up favorably simply due to their chemistry. By the end they achieve that sense of family that all the great JRPGs do.

    It kind of bums me out how the Tales series never really gets any attention. It's even worse when I start thinking of what could've been if Vesperia had ended up as a PS3 game from the start. The game got a PS3 port some years down the line with enhancements but it was Japan only. The only way Western gamers got to play it was through Xbox, and let's face it, the JRPG crowd was never on Xbox. They will always stay on PlayStation until the day the genre dies.

    Sorry for the lengthy, meandering post, but Vesperia really deserves some recognition. It was unanimously considered the finest entry in the franchise until Berseria appeared. People really love Symphonia (and for good reason!) but Vesperia was really next level. It was the franchise's Final Fantasy X.
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