The World of Asian RPGs
Xianjian Qixia Zhuan
Known under many names, among them "Chinese Love Story", "Chinese Paladin", and even "Magic Sword and the Chivalrous Youngsters", Xianjian Qixia Zhuan is the most popular Chinese RPG franchise. Its influence on the pop culture of China was so strong, that the name of the series is familiar even to people who never play video games. There was a TV series based on the events of the first game. The popularity of Xianjian Qixia Zhuan can be explained by its melodramatic, emotional, simple stories, which always focused on romantic love. Playing a Xianjian Qixia Zhuan games is like experiencing a classic Chinese love story. While those games lacked the complexity and the depth of Xuanyuan Jian, and were not as innovative gameplay-wise, they were a very important contribution to the genre of Asian RPGs. While Xuanyuan Jian expanded the limits of the genre by adding historical and political background to it, Xianjian Qixia Zhuan enriched it by focusing entirely on romantic relationships and shedding light on different aspects of this theme.
The impact of the first Xianjian Qixia Zhuan on its sequels can be compared to the initial influence of Phantasy Star. The essence of the series was already manifested in this first game, and later installments could do little more than expand its ideas. "Xianjian Qixia Zhuan" immediately gained huge popularity, and was also the only Chinese RPG that was translated into Japanese, and released for the Saturn console. While the gameplay system had noticeable flaws, such as the abundance of repetitive maze-like dungeons, it offered a good variety of special abilities and techniques, and the emotional story opened a new dimension by concentrating on romantic love. The game was later re-made as Xin Xianjian Qixia Zhuan with updated graphics.
Xianjian Qixia Zhuan 2 continued the story of the predecessor, making its popular characters appear once again on the stage. The game was criticized by some fans for being too short and not innovative enough story-wise, but in fact the story had some interesting aspects of its own, and the characterization was in some ways more refined. The gameplay system also had several improvements in this sequel, including reduction of maze-like corridors and some interesting additions to the battle system, such as the ability to summon monsters in battles and upgrade their spells.
Xianjian Qixia Zhuan 3 had no story connection to the predecessors. It introduced a new gameplay system, which required precise timing for executing your attacks successfully. It was possible to see the succession of turns and plan your actions accordingly. You could also learn magic spells and cast them quicker by repeatedly using them. The game was significantly larger than its predecessors, and characterization more detailed. Your interaction with the female members of your party could influence the events of the story line and lead to different endings.
The third game also had a side-story, Xianjian Qixia Zhuan 3 Waizhuan: Wen Qing Pian. The game was very similar to its predecessor, having a nearly identical gameplay system with a few improvements, and the same graphical style. The story was linked to the one of the previous game, and several characters from it appeared in the new game. The basic content has not changed in this installment, and once again dealt with romantic love and focused on personal relationships between the heroes.
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