I’m a supporter of the fan campaign known as Operation Rainfall because I like to think that fans can make their voices heard. After all, it was a fan campaign that convinced NBC to renew a campy science fiction TV series called Star Trek for a third season. If that hadn’t happened, the show would have had too few episodes to be eligible for syndication, and it never would have become a pop culture phenomenon that has endured for 50 years. But in all honesty, if it weren’t for Operation Rainfall, I may not have taken as much notice in the three games they were focusing on in the first place.
Between Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, my feelings about each game has changed over time. Oddly enough, before there was an Operation Rainfall, Pandora’s Tower was the one that I was initially most interested in when it was first announced for Japan in April 2011. Of the three games, it perhaps has the least recognition, since it does not have the pedigree of being made by famous RPG designers. To me, it just looked like a cool action game, and that appealed to me more than the hardcore RPG experiences that the other games provided.
Although, as I have recently written, I was also interested in getting back into RPGs, and on that note, The Last Story caught my attention solely through the name of Hironobu Sakaguchi being attached to it.
Xenoblade Chronicles, on the other hand, I cared the least about. I wasn’t familiar with Tetsuya Takahashi, and I didn’t really pay much attention to Monolith Soft, so there wasn’t really anything recognizable associated with it. Yet, I knew that of the three games, it was the one most likely to make it to North America. It had been announced for the region in 2009 before being conveniently swept under the rug, and because of that, it also had the advantage of having a listing on Amazon.com which allowed fans to pre-order the game to show their support. In fact, this was what initially drove the momentum for Operation Rainfall back when it first started in June 2011.
The more I learned about Xenoblade Chronicles, however, the more interested in it I became. In particular, it had a large open world made specifically for exploration, and it didn’t demand that you be a slave to the storyline. In fact, the developers even stated in an interview that the world was created first, and the story was then made to fit within it. I am a huge fan of this approach with RPGs, and because of this, Xenoblade Chronicles has surged ahead to be my most anticipated of the three games (and fortunately the first to be released).
The Last Story I expect to be a bit more linear and traditional as far as its narrative is concerned, and thus I’m not quite as excited for it. However, both it and Xenoblade share a couple of common traits that still appeal to me. One is the semi-real-time combat that seems to be a good compromise between traditional turn-based combat and full-on action-RPG button-mashing. The other is that the appearance of your characters changes based on what armor is equipped. The Last Story even goes the extra distance of allowing the player to customize the colors. It may be just a cosmetic point, but it shouldn’t be unreasonable to expect games of this generation to feature such detail. (And hey, who doesn’t love playing dress up? …Don’t judge me!)
And finally, Pandora’s Tower. I suppose even now it feels a little circumstantial for this game to be included in Operation Rainfall, simply being in the right place at the right time. The game I was initially the most interested in is also the only game that has yet to be announced for release in North America. But with Xenoblade and The Last Story officially confirmed, Pandora‘s chances are looking better all the time. I’m still interested it, although my focus has shifted to the two games that will precede it.
And those are my current thoughts on “The Rainfall Trilogy.” Aside from my earlier statement, don’t get the idea that I’m buying these games simply out of principle or obligation. I support Operation Rainfall to be sure, and I applaud their efforts and their successes, but they really just nudged me in a direction I was leaning in anyway. I’m not about to take the releases of Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story for granted, and I intend to enjoy each one to its fullest.