According to the devs, it brought a lot of attention to the series.
The Xenoblade Chronicles franchise just had its latest release, a remaster of the first game in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The series has become one of Nintendo’s most unlikely successes, and is now celebrating its 10th anniversary of 3 mainline releases and one standalone expansion. There’s lots of credit you can play to this interesting development, but Co-producer Genki Yokota points to one thing in particular that jump started things.
In an interview with USGamer, Yokota pointed to Shulk debuting in the Super Smash Bros. series with Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and 3DS as “huge” for the franchise. He said that helped to bring in an influx of new eyes to the brand, and pointed to it as especially important to introduce these characters to an audience unfamiliar with RPGs.
“I think getting to introduce the character of Shulk who typically don’t play RPGs was huge,” Yokota said. “That’s why we added a ‘Casual Mode,’ so that people who aren’t good at RPGs or have never played them before can enjoy the story.”
Producer Shigekazu Yamada also weighed in to say that it was also the presentation of Shulk, saying, “I think this design and the nature of the attacks themselves left a lasting impression on the audience. On top of that, it seems like he’s considered a strong playable character with good performance, so I’m happy about that too.”
There is actually precedent for this, since Fire Emblem was in a similar situation where it was basically unknown outside Japan until characters from the franchise were added in Super Smash Bros. Melee, leading to more localized games in the series, with it now being one of Nintnedo’s staple franchises. While it’s hard to say if Smash had that same kind of impact for Xenoblade Chronicles, it almost certainly helped.