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Page 1:
Introduction
Character profiles
Page 2:
XZR: Idols of Apostate
エグザイル 破戒の偶像
Page 3:
Exile
XZR II : When Trapped Between
エグザイル 時の狭間に

Page 4:
Exile: Wicked Phenomenon
エグザイル 2 邪念の事象
Index

By John Szczepaniak, with assistance from Kobushi, Roushimsx and Vic Ireland
First published October 2009, updated April 2012

A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim walk into a bar. The bartender says to the three: "I've got heroin, LSD and marijuana."

The problem is, religion and politics are very sensitive, very personal topics, and with that opening joke the whole of HG101's readership is now likely alienated, maybe with the exception of atheists and pot-smoking worshippers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But then, the XZR series is one that mixes religious historical figures and iconography, along with prolific drug-taking and a crazy storyline that sees you as a time-travelling Syrian Islamic assassin from 1124 AD. One who opposes the current Caliph, kills several real-world deities and eventually ends up taking out the leaders of present-day Russia and America. Yes, you read that correctly, you play a Shia Muslim who has to kill the president.

Perhaps though I'm just focusing on these elements unnecessarily to court controversy. There's been a sad trend this current generation for people to label media content from Japan as bigoted or offensive - in videogames, this has especially been seen with titles from Capcom, such as Street Fighter and Resident Evil. While it could be argued Japan perhaps has a naive understanding of certain foreign cultures, I can't think of an instance where its motivation has actually been to offend. Besides which, the XZR games found a happy, cult following in America under the guise of Exile and Exile: Wicked Phenomenon, albeit with certain cuts.

Originally released in 1988, the XZR series was developed by Nihon Telenet (or rather its divisions), the same company responsible for the Valis series, El Viento and a long list of other awesome Genesis titles. Telenet was also the owner of developers Wolfteam, which should require no introduction. Two of the US releases were then localised by Working Designs. So all in all, the series has a prestigious lineage, surrounded by some of the greatest games and people of the era. Despite their now mostly forgotten status, the games range in quality from fairly good to absolutely fantastic, blending action side-scrolling stages with RPG-lite overhead villages and anime cutscenes for excellent results. Perhaps they're best compared with Popful Mail, Ys III or maybe even Zelda II - though if you weren't a fan, don't let that put you off. In this writer's opinion the XZR games are somewhat better than Zelda 2.

As an aside, Telenet's Exile series has nothing to do with the British series also called Exile, available on the BBC Micro, Amiga, Commodore 64 and other systems, also first released in 1988. For those interested, it plays very much like a Metroidvania in a sandbox world, free to explore, with its own living eco-system and realistic physics engine.


Exile (Genesis)


Exile (TG-16)


XZR II (MSX)

CHARACTER LIST

Below are the most prominent characters featured in XZR, with those from the first game often lacking portraits, and those in the third game proving unimportant. The majority are based on real-world historical figures, and it seems that the developers grabbed a history book, opened it at the 12th Century, and then randomly grabbed anyone who looked interesting. The XZR plotlines are all insane, but wonderful because of that. Kojima, eat your heart out.

Main Characters

Sadler
Our protagonist, a Syrian assassin and secretly the son of the Caliph. When he was a baby he was kidnapped by assassins and raised as their own. In the first game he sets out to stop oppression and ends up killing his father, then the Russian general Secretary, and the President of the USA. In the second game a scouting mission has him embroiled in searching for the Holimax, to bring about world peace. In the end he realises world peace can never be achieved and so wanders out into the desert. The final game sees him focusing his sights on the nebulous concept of "hatred". He also enjoys a good cigarette, except in the Japanese Megadrive and American Genesis games, where his cigarette is removed.

Rumi
Supposedly Sadler's love-interest and, according to the manual, an expert with knives and fluent in 8 languages. During the first game she's only 16-years-old. Mainly she exists as the game's anime eye-candy, repeatedly getting kidnapped in the first two games and then disappearing from the party to search for items like lost scrolls. Towards the end of XZR II she's supposed to die in a cave-in along with Jofre but, thanks to wonderfully bizarre retconning, is written back into the third game. Patrick Duffy would be proud. When playable she follows the fast-but-weak archetype.

Fakhyle
A sorcerer who teaches Sadler magic spells. Generally though he's lazy and prone to leaving the party to sleep at an inn or a shack. For some reason his face is visible in the computer versions, but console ports have his entire face covered. In the console version of XZR II he also needs to be manually recruited, whereas in the computer version is already in your party. When playable he has homing magic, but isn't very powerful.

Kindhy
A strange giant of a man who never says anything intelligible, yet is apparently Sadler's instructor. In the first game he's gotten himself embroiled in the circus and needs to have his freedom bought back. After that he mostly follows Sadler around and doesn't seem to do much. In the second game he's equally as useless and by the time Wicked Phenomenon came round, he hadn't changed much. Strong-but-slow when playable, but still useless.

Secondary Characters

Sufrawaldhi
A shrewd scientist whose analytical reasoning is not swayed by his emotions. As a result, he doesn't hesitate to disobey Islamic law when he deems it necessary. When Sadler meets Sufrawaldhi later in the game, he tells Sadler that he faked his own death once he discovered his life was in danger. Hence needing to search his gravestone at the start of XZR. Since then, however, he has been covertly tracking Sadler to watch over him and keep him safe. Uses a gun as a weapon. Only found in the first two games on computer - he's missing entirely from later console versions.

Caliph
Sadler's father, who is assassinated by him in the first game, and seen in the opening cinema to the second game. Some speculate he is based on Al-Afdal Shahanshah, grand vizier of the Fatimid caliphs of Egypt, who was allegedly assassinated by the Batinis Hashshashin order in 1121 AD. He doesn't play that great a role in either game.

Yuug D'Payne
Based on the real-life character of Hugues de Payens, Grand Master of the Knights Templar. Information on the real Hugues is scant, but the in-game Yuug plays the role of supposed-ally and then betrayer-turned-antagonist, and resides in Homis Shrine, which is actually the Temple of Solomon. He searches for the Holimax under the pretence of wanting world peace, but actually just wants to resurrect himself, for he is in fact the demon Shimbatha, possibly a reference to Samyaza in the Book of Enoch, a fallen angel of apocryphal Jewish and Christian tradition who is also quite possibly Satan.

Prince Larma
The Prince of India, his localised name is probably a corruption of Prince Rama, meaning he would be based on the legendary Prince Rama found in ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana, by Hindu sage Valmiki. The title literally means "Rama's Journey" and tells the story of Prince Rama (the seventh incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king Ravana. Which kind of ties in with Exile's Prince Larma's fiance being kidnapped by a demon. Except that in Exile it's a giant bird, not a 10-headed warrior.

Milieu D'Payne
Supposedly Yuug's sister, she is engaged to Prince Lahma in India. She gets kidnapped by a giant bird called Garuda, which is based on the same-named mythic Hindu deity, said to be large enough to block out the sun. She ends up marrying Prince Larma, but how she could be the sister of Samyaza is never really explained. She doesn't have much of an impact on the story other than to be rescue-fodder, and it's doubtful she's based on any real character.

Mani
A giant, burning blue face in an Indian cave that reveals the truth of the world to Sadler. But first he has to be resurrected in a special ritual. Some online sources describe Mani as being the biblical Noah, but this is incorrect. He's based on the historical figure of the same name. Born in 216 AD, Mani the prophet founded the major Iranian religion of Manichaeism. Around 240 AD he travelled to India as a missionary, apparently converting a local Buddhist king, and spending several years teaching in India. While history says he returned to Persia before dying, it does tie in with the Exile story.

Jofre Ryudel
A member of Yuug's scouts who are searching for the Holimax. He nearly gets killed by Guruda but ends up telling you the bird's weakness. Shortly thereafter he gets killed in a cave-in. He's based on the real-world character of Jaufr? Rudel, the Prince of Blaye in France, who was a composer and performer of Occitan lyric poetry who died during the Second Crusade around 1147 AD. He's been the subject of much literary work through the centuries.

Ninkan
A Japanese monk imprisoned on one of Japan's Izu Islands. While there is speculation that he's based on Buddhist monk Nichiren (1222-1282 AD), who also upset the authorities, Ninkan is in fact based upon a real Japanese monk of the same name (仁寛, which can also be read as Hitoshi Hiroshi). He was an obscure figure who founded the sexual cult known as "Tachikawa-ryu", and taught that sexual union was a means for directly obtaining Buddha-hood. Most information about him online is in Japanese, but the real-life Ninkan's teachings resulted in mass orgies and were soon outlawed by Japanese authorities. It's claimed he committed suicide by jumping from a mountain in 1114 AD. In the game, he and Sadler attempt to achieve enlightenment.

Pythagoras
Unsurprisingly, he's based on the real-world ancient Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, born around 570 BC (which totally throws the in-game time line out of wack, but it was never accurate to begin with). He's the guy behind the Pythagorean theorem we all learned at school. In the game he lives in the garden of the Eden surrounded by drunk revellers and naked dancing girls. He provides Sadler with information, and builds a time-machine out of a triangular lake.

Lawrence
A mysterious knight with no recollection of his past, found in the third game. The reason he can't remember is because he has no past, and was in fact synthetically created by the ULTIMATE EVIL who you're fighting against. At first he takes the role of a boss, but once defeated joins Sadler and becomes playable. He can jump a little higher and swing his axe a little further than Sadler's sword, but there's not much difference between them. At the end of the game, because of a belief that he owes Sadler his life, he sacrifices himself so you can save your friends and defeat the boss.

<<< Prior Page    

    Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction
Character profiles
Page 2:
XZR: Idols of Apostate
エグザイル 破戒の偶像
Page 3:
Exile
XZR II : When Trapped Between
エグザイル 時の狭間に

Page 4:
Exile: Wicked Phenomenon
エグザイル 2 邪念の事象
Index