Bolstered by rave reviews in Europe and a fan campaign for its U.S. release, Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii will finally arrive in North America next April with a limited release via GameStop and Nintendo's site.
Xenoblade Chronicles is an open-world Japanese RPG from Baten Kaitos and Xenosaga series developer Monolith Soft. Nintendo acquired a controlling stake in the company from Bandai Namco in 2007, and made it a first-party studio.
When the Wii game released in Japan last June and in Europe/Australia several months later, it received critical acclaim in both regions (92 average on Metacritic) for its real-time combat system, modernization of the JRPG genre, and other achievements.
Despite enthusiasm for the title, Nintendo of America said in June that it had no plans to bring Xenoblade Chronicles to the States. NOA president Reggie Fils-Aime later admitted the company was watching its reception in Europe closely.
Gamers hoping to convince NOA to localize Xenoblade Chronicles and other titles launched an "Operation Rainfall" campaign shortly after the Japanese release that entailed emails, calls, and Facebook/Twitter messages posted to the publisher.
Though Nintendo now intends to bring Xenoblade Chronicles Stateside, distribution will be limited, available exclusively through GameStop retail locations and its own website. It has not explained why the game will not receive a wider release.
It's a similar strategy the company took in 2006 with Indieszero and Toshio Iwai's Electroplankton for DS, a quirky music game with limited appeal. Nintendo also sold Skip's Chibi-Robo! Park Patrol for DS exclusively through Wal-Mart in 2007.
While Nintendo's first-party release slate for Wii in 2012 still appears slim with just this and Rhythm Heaven Fever, two other Operation Rainfall-supported RPGs remain that are announced for Europe but not the U.S.: The Last Story and Pandora's Tower.