Xenosaga Episode I Part 07: Blazing Sword, Blazing Curry

Previously on Xenosaga: "Jan Sauer, space cop. A man barely alive." "We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster. And then, in a century, he can rescue little robot girls or something? I don’t know. I’m retiring in a month."

We now resume our jailbreak already in progress. U-TIC is on the ball, as always.

Good plan, if any of your soldiers were worth a damn.

A second boss-bot is deployed! Surely this one will be more effective than the one that Ziggy scrapped completely alone.

This one dispatches bits to chase down our intrepid heroes.

And what follows is a chase sequence meant to evoke a similar scene of Fei and Elly escaping through the sewers in Xenogears. It’s pretty much just fanservice, though, as you’d have to be playing this game without thumbs to experience a shred of suspense during this sequence. I have no idea what happens if you’re caught by a bit, because I’ve never been caught by a bit.

The only remotely “challenging” part of this sequence is a section where you have to traverse really narrow pipes, and if you fall, you have to… walk forward again, but a little slower. Again, this is one of those weird JRPG “minigames” where the designers assumed everyone playing had the dexterity of a Hutt. Minus the tail.

Clear that area, and you move on to the next problem: a trio of heavily armed AGWS are guarding the exit.

Ziggy notes that U-TIC is a little too connected to be a simple “armed group”, but doesn’t really think too hard about how one solitary, century old cyborg has been able to basically take on (and out) the whole building.

MOMO is pretty consistent about being “a kid”, but she’s also an observational Realian, so every once in a while she comes through with some good ol’ computer-enhanced intelligence.

Ziggy states this with a “hey, good job,” tone. Just to be clear that this isn’t like he’s talking about a toaster.

Ziggy notes that he’s pretty much stuck here. High HP or not, three against one is going to reduce him to cyborg chowder. Also, hey, hard confirmation that he isn’t suicidal on a mission.

MOMO suggests this battle might be easier if the AGWS were suddenly afflicted with storm trooper level accuracy.

Remember KOS-MOS and her Hilbert Effect for pulling the gnosis into our reality? Remember a time in your life when that sentence would have made absolutely zero sense? No?

MOMO, another anti-gnosis weapon, has that same Hilbert Effect ability, and apparently it has a secondary effect of shorting out targeting computers. This… makes a certain kind of sense, as anything that could shift beings through dimensions would likely screw up any device that is supposed to aim at a set point in this dimension. Or something.

Ziggy likes this plan.

KOS-MOS flipped down her visor for her Hilbert Effect, but MOMO just kind of lights up like a Christmas Tree for hers. Happy holidays, everybody!

Ziggy is impressed, and is wondering why everything suddenly tastes like blue.

Considering these waves are clearly radiating from behind a nearby crate, I think these guys are starting to figure out MOMO’s location.

Ziggy had never seen the Hilbert Effect before, but these chunkheads can identify it… by feeling? Maybe there’s like a warning on their AGWS that is explaining it. That would make a certain kind of sense for a machine that is supposed to work in tandem with the Hilbert Effect… so… wait… why would they be vulnerable to it, then?

“Our warbots are malfunctioning, this is the perfect time to attack!”

The whole thing takes a lot out of MOMO, though. Aside from giving the duo an opportunity to be sympathetic (again), this also casually illuminates how tough KOS-MOS must be to set off a Hilbert Effect that hit the entire surrounding galaxy, and then start jump kicking around like a madwoman about three seconds later.

MOMO will be just fine in time for battle, though. Don’t worry, she doesn’t start with 1 HP or something, either.

Decided to play it straight for this battle and stick MOMO in the back while Ziggy attacks from the front lines. As predicted, the battle took forever.

MOMO actually has an ether attack (magic spell) that seems to be made for this battle: she can put any machine class monster to sleep (or, more accurately, puts the pilot of any mech to sleep). Luckily, this can be used from the back row.

And there’s an amusing, unique event during this battle that occurs whenever an AGWS unit sleeps, the commanding officer (the red one) will shoot the poor pilot into being awake again. This winds up doing more damage than Ziggy can do in a turn, and it forces the Red AGWS to waste a turn on attacking its ally. It’s a better use of a turn than having MOMO actually physically attack, but it’s a situation totally specific to this battle.

The battle takes a laborious (almost) seven minutes, and it’s not like it was ever particularly tense, it just took forever because there was a lil’ cyborg man practically alone against three mechs. Those of you that notice details may be happy to find that previously Ziggy was identified as “Ziggurat 8” on all menus and battle reports, and now, since MOMO renamed him, he’s Ziggy for the rest of the series. Have a look at the last update and check, it’s kind of neat.

Just past the charred remains of three AGWS units is that command room we saw from a couple of cutscenes. It’s always fun to explore a place you’ve only seen in movies.

And just beyond there, the building loops back around to the opening area where Ziggy got in his sneaking practice. Welp, just gotta walk a little ways, and it’s back to the landing pad for extraction.

Excuse me, run, do not walk, when pursued by armed terrorists.

Bad news, Margulis and his flaming rapier (!) have come out to greet us.

With a flick of his wrist, he engulfs Ziggy and MOMO in flames. Dude does not mess around.

Ziggy is sparking after shielding MOMO from that blast, but he’s otherwise alright.

Margulis professionally and willfully misses the point of everyone in his immediate area. Ziggy is a determined and skillful man, but Margulis is only going to give credit to the tech.

Honestly? So am I. Ziggy just took out an entire militia on their home turf.

Observational Realian bounces back to scared child.

Here comes a special boy.

Ugh, another one of those dudes that only seems to respect his weapon. Freud would love this guy.

No cutscene battle for this despot, let’s fight!

So, this is sort of a scripted battle. Margulis hits hard, fast, and boosts often, making him the toughest opponent you’ve faced thus far. You’re likely to lose, and, good news, there’s no penalty for a loss. On the other hand, you can win this battle, and if you do, you’ll gain a hefty EXP prize for your troubles, so it’s worth it to try.

If you lose, you lose, whatever. If you “win”, Margulis doesn’t fall, he just suddenly stands stock straight and looks kind of bored. You didn’t win, he just got tired of fighting you.

And, whatever the outcome, you’re taunted. Considering Margulis’s personality, it does make sense.

But Ziggy has something up his sleeve…

Remember those invisible explosives Ziggy planted? He did, and it’s pretty damn convenient that the worst threat in the place just happened to be standing within explosion distance.

Time to go!

Ziggy sense tingling!

Ziggy thinks there’s… somebody back over around the… tanks? Whatever it is they’re stewing over there.

Oh well, no time for that now. Time to hop in this escape ship. It’s an escape ship because they’re escaping in it.

There’s a lot of chaos in the radius of Ziggy’s blasts, so I guess the plan was always to make as much bedlam as possible and make an escape, and Margulis’s presence was just a happy bonus. Well, as happy as anything involving Margulis can be.

Every zig gets launched for great justice.

Margulis is not impressed. Or maybe he is? Hard to tell with that guy.

You know what you rarely see in JRPGs? Fire extinguishers. You’d think they’d be all over the place in universes where people can just sling fire spells willy-nilly. Fire ethers, excuse me.

Margulis sense tingling!

Ah-ha, there was someone lurking around that corner.

Ugh, dammit, you. Don’t say a word! Somebody close the scene! I cannot deal with this guy right now!

Yes! Good. Cut to Ziggy in his escape ship contemplating what just happened.

Seriously, he has a flashback to that bit where he was staring off at the tanks. That was like thirty seconds ago. This isn’t Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, guys!

MOMO is concerned about Ziggy zoning out.

Ziggy gets back to business and asks MOMO to chart a course out of here. Considering the committee that charged Ziggy with this mission seemed to act like MOMO was just an object to be retrieved, Ziggy is sure tasking MOMO with a number of jobs to aid in her own rescue. Maybe he’s just giving her something to focus on.

And we learn that Ziggy has flown like a whole five feet away from U-TIC base. Ziggy? Not the time to be having a flashback. Oh well. Ziggy and MOMO escape into hyperspace! What thrilling thing will happen next!?

Oh, $%&*, these @#%^s.

There’s probably an auxiliary post about this in the far off future, but I’m now logging every bit of incidental animation in Xenosaga that I find completely unnecessary, but actually endearing. Here, Shion has cooked a meal for the crew, and she’s very interested in everyone’s reaction. Shion needs validation badly! (and this is basically how I react every time I post anything on this site, incidentally)

Captain Matthews claims it’s crap… and eats three helpings.

Shion notes that she’s self sufficient. She doesn’t elaborate on the fact that she’s self-sufficient because her entire family died when she was a kid. Well, except Jin, but she’s convinced Jin sucks.

chaos is like the friendliest guy in the universe. Gawrsh, Shion, Jesus Christ never cooked this good, he was all about large portions.

Gender Stereotypes OF THE FUTURE!

Allen begs for some more water as Shion is serving the crew. As usual, Allen is… wait, what the hell is Tony doing in the background there?

Later, Shion and Allen are doing dishes. Really guys? You make Shion cook and clean? You know she’s a brilliant scientist and kind of controls a murderbot, right? Anyway, Shion justifies her stay on the Elsa with a hearty “won’t someone please think of the robots?”

Allen, let’s be real, you were never finishing that “experiment”, and you know it.

Shion is all about the protocol today. She seems to randomly bounce back and forth between being a model employee and problem child as according to how management is agreeing with her this week. Sounds about right.

Allen is a weenie who sneaks around and pokes into the business of people who literally saved his life.

So?

Well that sounds frightening.

Oh, Shion, friend to robots, Realians, and mutants. Genetically-different is the proper term. Maybe?

Anytime someone in sci-fi says “It’s a well known fact…” and then busts into some exposition, drink.

Shion tries to remember the name of the dude running the Kukai Foundation…

And chaos pops in out of nowhere and notes that it’s Gaignun Kukai. At least chaos uses the door this time, and doesn’t just teleport along.

Seriously, most helpful demi-god in existence. Why can’t more religions be helmed by this guy?

He might be an immortal being of pure energy (or something), but chaos does not miss when there’s leftovers about.

Ah, apparently Cherenkov forgot to come to dinner. Monster.

Shion volunteers to hand deliver the loser’s meal like a waitress or something. She likes to keep busy.

chaos is curious about where the super android went. Personally, if I was on this ship, I’d be sure I knew where she was at all times.

“She already went to bed.”

Aw, Shion wants to arrange a playdate between the two nigh-omnipotent beings on the ship.

chaos agrees, and he heads off to see KOS-MOS. Allen sulks off to ponder the cruel deity that made him Allen.

And we’ve got control of Shion here, who will be carrying a steaming hot plate of curry as she explores the Elsa.

Now that we’re back on ship, let’s take a more focused look at that 35 minute cutscene that lead into Ziggy’s adventure.

So, obviously, a big important thing happened when the Woglinde got obliterated, and everything our heroes (Shion, KOS-MOS) knew was turned to dust. That was, basically, the prologue of the game, and despite the fact that it took hours, it was basically just there to establish our heroines.

But there’s a problem with space operas, and it’s that you can’t really have your characters “wander”. In Xenogears, for instance, after Fei loses his hometown, he’s on the world map, ready to venture to the next town. Considering we’re not dealing with Shion: Ace Spaceship Pilot here, the gang needed to find a new base of operations, as it kind of defeats the purpose of introducing the space hurricane (gnosis) if Shion and assorted hangers-on survive just fine out there on their own. So, basically, the writers had to establish the next town (ship) before advancing the plot. And because that ship was going to be the base for the rest of the story (so we don’t have to go through all this nonsense again), they may as well introduce the all new whacky support cast at the same time.

In short, after the loss of the Woglinde, Xenosaga had to reboot its plot, complete with an all new “opening”. Nobody complained about the fifteen minute opening at the actual start of the game (see the first post of this LP, that entire thing), so here’s another similarly paced intro.

And then they introduce another pair of completely new characters and their goals and situation and additional cast with Ziggy and his superiors and goals. And all of them require another 15 minute or so introduction, because this is not at all the kind of story that just says “here’s Ziggy” and cuts right to the action.

What I’m basically getting to here is that, thanks to the general beats of the story, they almost had to do a 35 minute cutscene, or distribute these “reboot” scenes differently. Technically, they could have placed Shion and her crew discovering the Elsa after the entire Ziggy scenario, but there is a benefit here, as it grants Shion and Allen the opportunity to be “settled” on the Elsa (presumably, while Ziggy was running around adventuring, Shion was socializing with the crew, and Allen was showing Hammer his pog collection), so when Ziggy and MOMO inevitably crash the party shortly, they’re joining Team Shion, and everyone is not just coincidentally converging on one ship at one time.

There’s no doubt that a more deft hand could have handled this whole situation better, and actually included some video gaming in this video game, but I can at least understand why there’s a 35 minute cutscene in there, and it’s basically another example of Xenosaga putting its characterization/story above everything else, including the player’s comfort.

Anyway, with Shion towing this curry around, you’ve now got an entry in the UMN database for “curry”. That’s cute. Let’s see what it says.

What? WHAT!? Is this stupid game implying that Americans can’t make a decent curry?! I take back everything I said about understanding Xenosaga, this game is full of stupid, and I hope it dies.

So here’s the Elsa Restaurant area. The backstory explains that the Elsa used to be a cruise ship, so it’s pretty swanky looking in places, and I’d love to elaborate further, but I’m still cheesed off about the curry thing.

Oh, here’s the Xenosaga card game. See how this works is…

Ya know what?

Fuck the card game.

Fuck this game and its boneheaded belief that Americans can’t make curry. My Pennsylvania Dutch Grandma could make some kickass curry, and my father can make curry, and I’ve got my own awesome curry recipe.

Screw this stupid card game, here’s a bitchin’ recipe for curry.

Goggle Bob’s “Screw All JRPG Card Games” Curry

Ingredients
3 Tablespoons Flour
4 Teaspoons Curry (red/green if you like it spicy, yellow for mild)
3 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Oil (Mongolian Fire Oil for spicy)
2 ½ Cups Milk
3 Tablespoons Sweet Red Wine (Manischewitz works well)
3 Tablespoons Ketchup OR
3 Tablespoons Sriracha (spicy version)
2 lbs. Chicken OR
2 lbs. Shrimp
Salt
Pepper
Onion Powder
2 Cups Rice

Cooking Instructions
Cook and dice chicken, put aside. If you need further instruction for this step, please see any recipe, ever. If you’re dealing with the shrimp, peel ‘em, dice ‘em into quarters, and, yeah, cook ‘em, too.
Melt butter on low. Once it’s just a yellow liquid, add curry, whisk, and cook for a minute.
Add milk, flour, salt, pepper, oil, and onion powder slowly at medium heat. Make sure it all gets whisked into one mixture.
Want to add some wine and ketchup/sriracha now? Why not? Blend it all well.
Let it all warm up and mix together. You should be doing well when it begins to thicken.
Add chicken/shrimp, and pretty much call it a day when it is all warm.
Forgot to mention, but you should also cook some rice to serve it with/on. I’d explain how to cook rice, but I bought a rice cooker after seeing it in an anime, and I never looked back.

And here’s a an easy-print PDF version of that recipe.

There, screw you, guy who wrote the Xenosaga database.

Shion got an email! How does she check her space phone while holding curry?

Oh, so here’s Xenosaga’s bonkers video game concession. You may have noticed that basically every “dungeon” up to this point has become inaccessible upon its completion. The KOS-MOS Simulator and the Woglinde both exploded, and Asteroid Pleroma, aka U-TIC base, is not somewhere Ziggy is ever going to go again. And it also exploded, at least partially. So what’s a game to do? Well, you can access all previous dungeons through the environmental simulator, so all those missed secret passages are just a save point away. Thanks, game, for not locking us out of areas just because we’re trying to finish this game before the next Song of Ice and Fire release.

Except…

Well, Shion just got an email granting her virtual access to a place she’s never been that is also the stronghold of a terrorist organization. How does that make any sense?

And the whole point of hitting old areas is to retrieve missed hidden items… but can’t you have the machine replicating these environments (and everything in them) just produce the items in question, without having to waste time running around a virtual environment where you can use real consumables to heal real wounds?

And how do they eat and breathe!? And other science facts!

Here’s Shion’s quarters, where she can just relax.

Here’s the UMN terminal for the ship. This is basically where the entire ship’s crew and passengers can access the space internet. The only available chair has been mysteriously sticky since Allen got onboard.

Note the Gray UMN terminal there, which is an all-purpose shop. It updates with a better selection as you see other shops “in reality”, and occasionally you’ll see one of these in a dungeon so you can stock up on items before a boss.

Here’s the bridge of the ship. Tony is the only one here, steering the ship, while the rest of the crew sleeps off a curry coma.

Of note: you can talk to one of these friendly Combots and literally go to bed, wake up, and Cherenkov’s curry will still be piping hot.

Here’s Cherenkov’s desk, sans Cherenkov. He left his big scary guns just lying around, though.

When Shion hits the elevator to below deck, the POV cuts over to KOS-MOS in her sleepy time space coffin.

chaos, dude, you already met back up on the deck. Unless you think KOS-MOS is a different person when she’s asleep… wait… chaos is all-knowing… this probably means something…

Oh…kay?

See, it’s this kind of thing that convinced me chaos was some anti-force in the series. Shion is always saying, “Good morning,” chaos is noted saying, “Good night.” It has to mean something, right?

Cherenkov comes into the room, and because chaos is shy, he uses his nigh-infinite power to teleport away… as opposed to just saying hi on the way out?

Cherenkov takes a good long look at KOS-MOS and…

FLASHBACK!

Cherenkov is in an U-TIC uniform here, minus the helmet. That’s, obviously, important. He’s chatting with a hooded man, who, let’s not insult everyone’s intelligence here, is Kevin, Shion’s fiancée and KOS-MOS’s creator. You’re not supposed to know that, but, come on, who else has that wild hair that drives all the engineers crazy.

He hands Cherenkov… something.

Looks like it’s half of a controller. Guess who it controls.

Cherenkov doesn’t understand. We’ll learn that that’s a common thing with him. If you can see that sign in the background, it says “Ariadne”. Fun little subtle detail.

Here comes trouble.

Just another quiet day for Vector R&D: Actually on a Planet Division.

And U-TIC invades.

Cherenkov is in charge of this little squad.

Yep, this is going to be a rough day for Vector.

Oh, dang, Cherenkov uses that controller, and Proto KOS-MOS is up two years ahead of schedule.

Think there are still a few bugs in that system.

U-TIC soldiers get slaughtered, Vector employees get slaughtered, Cherenkov needs a wetnap.

KOS-MOS is tearing the place up.

Here she is just soaking a blast from a helicopter. Will nothing stop this rampaging monster!?

Well, it ain’t going to be air support, because KOS-MOS just vaporized them.

And… flashback over. We’ll fill in the blanks on how that ended forever from now, but in the meanwhile Cherenkov is wondering if this KOS-MOS is the same as that unflinching killing machine from two years ago (answer: kinda?).

Cherenkov decides it might be best to just end it all here. Considering his own memories just revealed a KOS-MOS that could shrug off a missile, I think even he knows he’s just doing this to feel better.

But he allens out on the maneuver all the same.

Back to Shion’s Delivery Service, here’s the lower decks of the Elsa.

Note that you can obliterate the entirety of the Elsa’s cargo for cheap-as-free consumables. It’s… not stealing?

chaos is milling about downstairs, and Shion asks how their playdate went. It didn’t.

Alright, here’s why you shouldn’t feel bad about looting the Elsa, apparently they already stripped Shion’s escape pod for parts. Shion responds that she doesn’t really mind, it wasn’t her ship, anyway, just government property. Your space taxes at work!

Down in the hanger, you can see Shion’s AGWS chilling out, and here’s chaos’s AGWS. Or maybe it’s the other way around? Meh, never really paid attention to these things.

Hm, this whole scenario seems vaguely like back on the Woglinde when the game found an excuse for you to explore the ship during peacetime so you’d have a better understanding of the layout during the combat/dungeon scenario. Shucks, I hope we don’t have to fight anybody on the Elsa, too.

Shion finally finds Cherenkov hanging out with KOS-MOS… and his pistol.

Shion is pretty confused all around, but luckily doesn’t have to take a bullet for her trouble.

Well, yeah, we could figure that out.

Ah, Shion is really showing off that genius intellect and curiosity of hers.

“Ya know, I almost shot my dog once. Just can’t seem to kick the thing.”

What?… What!? You’re just… Ugh… Worst mom ever. For the record, she’s talking about her nitwit brother Jin and his tendency to drag a sword around everywhere. It’s because he lives in a JRPG, Shion!

Cherenkov plays it cool and acts like this is the first he’s ever seen the android. Shion is an idiot.

We’re still working on modeling hands that don’t look weird, but I really appreciate this little motion where Shion affectionately caresses the space coffin on her way to KOS-MOS. In a way, yes, it’s redundant, but Shion’s affection for KOS-MOS permeates her movements.

And Cherenkov brings down the room by mentioning one of KOS-MOS’s greatest hits that he’s allowed to talk about.

“But you know a dude is dead, right? Right? Just checking.”

Most people don’t have me narrating their playthrough of Xenosaga, so it’s nice to be overtly reminded that that whole thing really bothered Shion. That was a… hectic time.

You, you, you oughta know.

“Well, yes, but I’m criminally naïve, you see…”

Shion likely does literally see herself as an accessory to murder now.

“Hey, it’s cool, he was kind of a dick, too, right? Probably for the best.”

SUBJECT CHANGE!

This will be important later. That he eats neatly, and considers it part of who he is. Seriously.

“Oh, you know, spying for this and that. Trying to grab that monolith. Seems silly in retrospect.”

“More… terrorist…ish.”

Here’s your “get out of plot hole free” card. Nobody thought to make sure the second in command was secretly a covert operative for a known militia… because it was put together quickly. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Something something soldiers are different from civilians. Can we go now?

Oh, good, back to the Good Ship Ziggy Pop.

Hooray!

This MOMO is going HOME-O!… wait… no… that was terrible. I apologize.

Ziggy’s got bad news.

And MOMO isn’t happy to hear it.

Back where the duo isn’t going, the committee is staying abreast of Ziggy’s status updates.

There are just so many reasons they should be heading home, but, ya know, moms. They’re tough.

“We have to hook her up to the big computer. No, no, the BIG computer.”

Hey, I know, let’s talk about her dad.

There are a few disparaging remarks tossed around, and, guys, the ex is sitting right there. Oh? She’s cool with it? Great! So one time, at the annual Christmas party, Joachim had been hitting the eggnog pretty hard…

“The man inside MOMO” has a firm grasp on the Y Data. It’s the secret to defeat Yamato Man, technology that has been lost for thousands of years.

Oh, wait, no, the Y Data is basically a map to a sealed off sector. It’s a macguffin that leads to another macguffin.

Hey, there’s the big Z word again. Everybody just loves those big, glowy monoliths.

Oh? Do tell.

That’s Joachim Mizrahi and… some kid.

Ah-ha! So Joachim has a robo-daughter, and a human apprentice. If the girl doesn’t work out, we have to look for the boy.

That would be good to know.

He’s the Wild Man of Bormeo.

Kid was an apprentice to the guy that invented half the tech in this universe. I mean, of course he’s smart! We only have one other dude in the cast that invented anything else… oh… wait a tick…

And our mystery boy was doing research on the Hilbert Effect. Is this coming together for you, yet?

Come on, you know this one!

The trail of bread crumbs ends with the fact that the main patron of the Mizrahi Research Center was Vector (and Wilhelm). If you haven’t guessed, Mizrahi’s protégé was also Shion’s fiancée and KOS-MOS’s dad, Kevin. This also explains why he was so keen on collaborating with U-TIC back during that flashback, as the Mizrahi Center basically became U-TIC. Like I mentioned when he was first introduced, Kevin is one well connected dead guy.

Anyway, the previously mentioned Y Data opens the gate back to Old Miltia, Shion’s home planet…

And the spot the original Zohar got left behind. Reminder, U-TIC wants that Zohar pretty badly, too, and we now know the full scope of why MOMO got kidnapped in the first place. And if MOMO doesn’t work out, well, shucks, Kevin is already dead, so that apprentice thing is a bust, but I wonder if the apprentice had his own apprentice, or maybe a neon-haired, robo daughter of his own.

Anyway back to the Elsa.

And here’s Kevin Fan Club #1 President for Life, Shion. She’s being thanked for her cooking skills… and that’s where we’ll stop for the day. The next big action sequence is going to kick in shortly, and we might actually get back to playing the game, so we’ll see that all next time. Let’s get ready to bust some robo-heads!

Next time on Xenosaga: Shion yells at everybody.

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