Xenosaga Episode I Part 08: Invasion Elsa

Previously on Xenosaga: A thrilling adventure was had when Shion, space heroine, bravely delivered a hot meal to some twat with a gun. Also, I guess a cyborg absconded with a robot or something.

Here’s our hero now, being summoned by the mysterious ship intercom. What tragedy has befallen the Elsa that requires the attention of the one and only Shion?

Decided to grab this shot for anyone that is keeping track. Eight updates, and we’re over five hours along. Does it feel like enough has happened? Does it feel like anything has happened?

On the way to the bridge, Shion meets Allen, who admits that he might be a ponce, and is going to try to assimilate with this crew of people who work for mutants, or whatever boneheaded thing got Allen’s panties in a wad.

And Shion retorts by comparing Allen to the Martians of HG Wells’ War of the Worlds. I appreciate the little touches that confirm this is “our” future, and some bits of our pop culture exist in the far reaches of space. Doesn’t explain why every third character has an appropriate literary reference for a name, though…


Speaking of pop culture, on the way over, Shion also receives an email advertising Tekken 4. The most amusing thing about this one is that, unlike the other ad emails, this one is written “in character” by Tekken’s Kazuya (pictured) bragging about his latest fight directly to his buddy, Shion. This means that Tekken 4 takes place in the far flung future on a planet identical to modern Earth. It’s canon.

Alright, finally on the bridge, and something weird is going on.

Incidentally, this is the first we see chaos working on the bridge properly, as opposed to just floating around and being mysterious all the time. I think this update might also be the last time we see chaos doing some actual work…

Shion volunteers to look at the electrical issue, because spaceships are exactly like robots.

On the way back to the basement, Shion has a brief chat with a wandering Cherenkov… who will disappear for the next scenario.

Shion is terrible at her job, and her negligence will shortly endanger lives. Business as usual in Xenosaga.

They just met this woman like a day ago, max. She’s good at making curry, but that doesn’t mean she’s a good engineer! She secretly wants to be a psychologist!

Yep, that’s always good.

Back in Shion’s room, Allen has decided to start stalking early.

D’awww. Creepy.

And with one properly placed adverb, Shion quietly mocks the odds of Allen’s prospects.

Back on the bridge, the crew of the Elsa is dealing with a toll booth OF THE FUTURE.

As we’ve established, the Elsa crewmen are a bunch of space vultures, so I guess there’s some implied tension here about will they make it through the checkpoint or not…

But everything goes well, and I guess we just had to establish that we’ll be jumping to hyperspace for the next action sequence. Stay fresh!

“Welp, that was easy.” “Yep.”

And into hyperspace we go.

Also in hyperspace (and I’m sure this will have no impact on anything, it’s a big universe) are Ziggy and MOMO. MOMO is piloting, and Ziggy is genuinely grateful for MOMO’s abilities.

MOMO literally blushes at Ziggy’s compliment. D’aww, they’re so cute together.

And they have this remarkably easy repartee that just gets tossed in the dumpster by the next update. Stupid rest of the cast…

This is not some leisurely cruise, U-TIC has more than a few ships on their tail.

But Ziggy is an arwing master and taps the Z button just right to circle around and blast ‘em out of the sky. I guess if you’re disassembled in hyperspace, your parts wind up all over regular space, right? Just a bunch of lightyears apart? Seems like a pain to cleanup.

While Ziggy and MOMO are involved in a thrilling space battle… Shion is back on the Elsa arguing with her company via Skype.

Shion is pissed, Allen is pissing, it’s just like back on the Woglinde.

YOU’RE NOT MY SUPERVISOR!

Whoa, Allen, Shion is scaring you? Does that mean she’s more threatening than a fruit fly?

Shion is tossing some future tablet at a perfect angle to peg Allen right in the gut. If Shion had a little more strength, Allen would be bisected, Mortal Kombat style, and nothing of value would be lost.

Here’s Shion’s immediate superior… oh, man, did they just GIS “milquetoast” and model this guy after the first result? He looks like if one Edgar Allan Poe had a baby with another, sadder Edgar Allan Poe.

And we finally get to Shion’s beef: she supposed to drop off KOS-MOS at Second Miltia. THEY’RE KIDNAPPING MY BABY!!!

We just learned exactly why Shion was taking her sweet time with her pet project. Emphasis on “pet”.

Director Whiny begs for mercy.

THE BABY. THE BABY. THE BABY. THE BABY. THE BABY. THE BABY.

Shion offers the excuse that KOS-MOS is acting really weird, and it’d probably be a good idea to get to the bottom of this. This would be valid if KOS-MOS’s secret orders weren’t coming from her boss’s boss.

This is Shion’s other excuse, which is also pretty accurate. She should probably throw in there, “half the people working on this project wind up dead,” while she’s at it.

Actually, she doesn’t have to bring it up, because that is exactly what Whiny is concerned about. KOS-MOS kinda leaves destruction in her wake, and while Vector R & D didn’t lose anybody during the Woglinde incident, it’s probably a matter of time before Shion winds up garroted. Like a good manager, Whiny just wants to see his employees survive.

I’m starting to see how Allen got hired…

Shion successfully stares down her boss, and he relents. Fine, you’re still on the KOS-MOS case.

Remind me to save this image, and throw it up every time Shion makes a decision from this point on.

“Remember when KOS-MOS killed your fiancée? Remember?”

Director flips back to the underling we didn’t see earlier… It’s Miyuki! That woman that keeps emailing us! No, she’s not identified by name at this point in the game, but that’s her. She’ll basically be our link back to Vector proper for the rest of the series. Reminder: this is the woman that built Shion’s arm thingy.

This seems like an incidental mistake, but it’ll actually be important later. Like, nobody really tried too hard to fish out survivors from the Woglinde (though, given the state of the place, I wouldn’t blame ‘em).

D’aww, everyone was concerned about Shion. I’m assuming she’s well liked because no one ever has to actually do any work in her department.

“What about me? What about my fan club?”

“Nobody cares if you’re living or dead.”

Nobody.”

Swinging from the anti-cool to most-cool.

Considering how important MOMO is to the entire government and her mom in particular, you’d think they would have given Ziggy the tiniest bit of backup. Nope.

Oh, yeah, small universe.

Seems like the entire point of people/organizations like that toll taker earlier should be to prevent this kind of thing, but the lousy space government can’t get off their butts and do something about this. Lousy rassin’ frassin’…

That’s not good!

Shion is called into action! Because… she… uh…. has… some skill that would be useful?

I guess she’s consulting on other spacecraft again. Just a reminder that she was actively annoyed at Virgil when he suggested she should understand the layout of the Woglinde thanks to her job.

Shion confirms she is absolutely no help.

Not a big fan of Xenosaga’s persistent and unnecessary flashbacks, but I’d love a quick flash to her boss telling her not to do anything foolish three minutes ago.

Looks like the Elsa doesn’t have much of a choice. Just a reminder, scale wise, the Elsa is an elephant to Ziggy and friends’ mice.

We have established the stakes of this space battle.

Hammer and Allen are kindred weenies.

chaos will be playing the part of Scotty this evening.

Tony and the crew decide to officially enter the fray after taking some U-TIC fire. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine!

Ziggy and MOMO are happy for the help.

Rad hyperspace border surfing is apparently a worthwhile offensive maneuver.

Tony is impressed. This will be echoed later.

Cherenkov is the only guy on the ship not on the bridge, and he’s not all that happy about it. Alright, that’s it for you, Cherenkov, see you in two updates for your big number!

Gee, if only they had the powers of a nigh-omnipotent godling to help them out.

There’s a solemn moment as Ziggy acknowledges that they’re really unlikely to make it out of this one.

MOMO is sad, but appreciative.

“Yes, but I’m okay, because you’re here with me…”

Whoops! Turns out we’re not gonna die. Shion decided to put her crane skills to work. Reminder: she’s a big fan of bunnies, so she’s probably been hitting the ancient 3DS apps.

Big damn heroes.

Welp, problem over. Maybe now we can finally get back to some Allen hijinks.

You have to consider that the Elsa crew is pretty trusting. Like, the other guys winged the ship in a battle, so now Ziggy and MOMO are just invited in with open arms by virtue of being their enemy. Good thing they’re actually good guys…

Ziggy was thinking the same thing.

Whoops! Remember that electrical problem that Shion identified as not a problem? It’s a problem.

“I swear someone said this wasn’t an issue!”

chaos informs ZigMO that it’s time to book it into the ship and try not to breathe all that space out there. Luckily, they’re pretty hearty lifeforms.

Ziggy takes a moment to check if MOMO will be okay with this sprint, and she assures him that she can take it.

See? This? Never gonna see it again, dammit.

Anyway, those enemy ships noticed the giant open door, so time to go.

Here they come!

In an amusing nugget of an allusion, the U-TIC ship asks for surrender through the same window KOS-MOS “negotiated” the terms of her transport.

KOS-MOS was apparently better at it, too.

The U-TIC ship gives the ship a jolt, and apparently that closes the catapult. Just had to jiggle it! Hooray!

But like a plague of frogs, they’ve already gotten into the place and taken over the lower decks. Dammit, Shion.

“Allen! You’re on point, with Hammer and Tony as support. Or… maybe we’ll just send in the actual main party. chaos, you’re up!”

Shion volunteers to join, because it’s not like there’s a trained soldier on the ship or anything. KOS-MOS also decided to wake up and wander over to the bridge at some point in this kerfuffle, so she’ll help out, too.

Try not to blast a hole in the ship. Good.

So, despite being introduced before the whole Ziggy excursion, this is the first chaos is actually in the party. Feel free to equip him or tinker with his tech attacks… but an amusing thing happens with that in a moment.

So Shion, KOS-MOS, and chaos head downstairs to take out the invaders.

Hmph, looks like a lot of ‘em.

But luckily the ship has self-defense measures. There’s an electro-magnetic floor (presumably to keep cargo locked in place), and that can come in handy against an army of robots.

Wouldn’t it be more convenient to also be able to control this kind of thing back up on the bridge? Especially considering the standard crew for this ship is four people?

Alright, good, at least the mechs in that area are disabled.

And as Shion crawls further down into the belly of the beast…

We switch over to the last time we’ll see the dedicated Ziggy/MOMO team.

Ziggy casually dispenses mission objectives to keep everybody focused. He knows how to manage kids.

So just Ziggy and MOMO have to conquer a hallway of enemies. It’s nothing too rough, and pretty comparable to what was going on back in the last dungeon. Also, if you’re good at dodging, you can probably avoid every battle in this area.

Have I mentioned before that MOMO’s attacks have a sorta cherry blossom effect? Maybe peach blossoms? They do, and it’ll be plot relevant in a game or so.

Anyway, Ziggy and MOMO make short work of that area, and head on up into the ship proper and meet…

It would make sense for the captain to come down and say hi, right? But, no, here’s Ambassador Shion.

“I just got here like a day ago. I’m either really important or really expandable!”

Ziggy introduces himself as Ziggurat-8, MOMO chastises him, and he comes back to “Call me Ziggy.” MOMO is pleased.

“We’re very important people. Don’t mess with us.”

“… But we seem to have been invaded by these guys that followed you. Can you clean up your own mess?”

Translation: defeat the boss or endless waves of mooks teleport in. The perfect excuse for an impromptu dungeon!

Well, aren’t you just a nice cyborg?

Ziggy volunteers his and MOMO’s services to help out, and Shion is surprised the female artificial life form is useful in a fight. Go fig.

Incidentally, as you may have noticed, this whole bit is played out in text boxes, and I want to say that this is the only “important” event in the game that isn’t a formal cinema scene. Not sure how that worked out, but it seems like the first physical meeting of nearly the entire party would warrant some voice acting. Probably something cut for more Allen screentime.

Whoops, looks like we have arbitrarily too many characters for a battle party. For a game that goes out of its way to “hard science” explain a lot of battle mechanics (AGWS are summoned to the battlefield thanks to a Vector invention, ether “magic” is predominantly nanomachines, KOS-MOS is using the UMN to teleport in massive chain guns for attacks, etc), there’s never anything made of why you can only have three combatants at a time. Even Chrono Trigger made that excuse about only so many time travelers at once.

So here’s the funny bit: you absolutely can ignore chaos entirely. chaos never had his own dungeon like the rest of the party’s introductory areas, and it’s entirely possible to just ditch the kid and not use him here. In fact, while it’s unlikely that someone would not ever try whitey out, you can ignore chaos for a healthy portion of the game. Remind me later, and I’ll point out how long it takes before chaos is “required”.

Mind you, it does make a certain amount of sense that chaos never forces himself into the front lines. I hear his boss is kind of a pacifist.

Anyway, I want to try out chaos, so we’ve got him, Ziggy, and KOS-MOS in the lead. chaos is kind of the red mage of the game: good, but not great, at healing and offensive ether, though you can transfer some better healing spells to chaos later in the game, and take advantage of his pumped up magic stat. With party member 6 joining later, you basically have three characters that excel at offense, and three characters that are perfect for support. That works out well, because it’s an ideal number for using characters you actually care about, as opposed to always making sure you’re dragging around your dedicated white mage.

So the Elsa below decks are now officially a dungeon with fires and combat and everything. It’s not a very big area, and you technically already explored everything when you were just delivering curry, so it’s basically an excuse to try out different party configurations and characters in a “safe” environment (healing is close at hand).

There is a good reason to stick chaos in your “permanent” party. As mentioned previously, most tech attacks belong to an element, like fire or ice. The problem is that the vast majority of tech attacks across characters seem to be fire, lightning, or beam themed, so if you’re going up against an enemy that is strong against (or absorbs) one of those elements, it’s going to be a much longer battle as you’re then limited to using only basic attacks. chaos, meanwhile, has predominantly ice and Jesus Christ elemental attacks, so he fills a niche not found with other characters. This isn’t the kind of game where there are fire dragons roaming around, so you better have your black mage at the ready, but it is convenient to have Jesus Christ element attacks to speed some battles along. Not necessary, but can help out. That’s chaos.

Note that while the Elsa is in dungeon mode, all the “hidden” items are restocked, so you can re-loot the whole place at your leisure.

As you might expect, chaos has a tendency to summon angel wings and sephirothic symbols while performing his moves. Despite the fact that he’s the only character on the battlefield with no excuse for such abilities (Shion’s arm thingy is her gateway to explosions, and everyone else is some form of crazy machine), nobody ever bats an eye. He is literally just attacking with his gloved hands, and he can occasionally do as much damage as a combat android.

Here’s where we ran into chaos back when we were casually exploring, and there’s a save point for healing. We can disable that electro floor and go clear out the extra mechs from when we first entered this area, but there’s no real advantage beyond soaking up extra EXP or testing different party configurations.

Oh, and chaos’s victory quotes are usually some kind of benediction like, “May all your souls rest in peace.” This is kinda funny, as his entire first dungeon is populated with unmanned robo drones. I guess KOS-MOS appreciates it.

Quick dungeon, and the final area sees everyone milling about discussing…

That thing. The boss of the place, literally.

Hello, DOMO Carrier. Another boss, another gimmick.

How this battle works is that the Carrier “memorizes” a particular battle slot (in this case, the Boost Up slot), and every time the boss acts on that turn…

It will use this brutal, multi-hit quake attack. Since the slots roll in a predefined order (see the tutorial chapter), all you have to do is boost and coordinate your own attacks so that never happens. If it does happen, of course, it’s not the end of the world, but you are going to need to seriously heal, and it’s unlikely you have a multi-heal technique at this point in the game.

I had chaos use one of his ether attacks for this battle, and I’d just like to point out that anytime he uses a “spell”, he shouts, “Unleash some of my power!” Nobody ever asks what that’s about.

DOMO Carrier goes down with a self destruct attack of no consequence, and the ship is saved!

Saved… but maybe a little roughed up.

If you’re wondering why these knuckleheads aren’t part of the “real” party, the answer is that they play poorly with each other, and are unlikely to work well as part of a team.

Testosterone poisoning.

“Hey, guys! We’re back! Did you descend into complete anarchy without us? Yes?”

I’m pretty sure you should have expected to see new passengers after all that rescuing nonsense, captain. Like, did you go through all that trouble just to have chaos toss them off the ship?

MOMO is the winner of the Elsa’s “most polite” title. Not exactly a hard-sought prize around here, though.

Ziggy mentions the U-TIC situation, and it appears they’re rather well-known with certain captains.

The general mood on the bridge is still pretty dour, and crap rolls downhill, so Allen is elected bottom of the pecking order. Nobody really knows what he does, anyway.

But things calm down enough for a meal. KOS-MOS, hardened battle android, is stuck on waitress duty. Mom wants her to learn useful skills.

Tony is still very impressed by Ziggy’s wave-riding.

Whoops. MOMO’s wave-riding. As you can just about see here, Ziggy takes a little bit of pride in MOMO correcting Tony.

Womp womp womp.

Shion probably spends her spare time pouring over Realian manuals and materials, so she immediately identifies MOMO’s origins.

It’s kinda hard to see here thanks to ZIggy’s really black hand, but MOMO starts to provide her origin story, and Ziggy cuts her off with a gesture. Listen to Daddy Bodyguard, honey. Don’t talk to strangers.

Shion is terrible with secrets. The entire crew already knows about Allen’s bedwetting issues.

Shion is also pretty good at piecing together sentences that got cut off after the important information was already provided. Watch the adorable interplay.

MOMO is happy to hear about Vector. Considering Vector is at the forefront of producing her spiritual brothers and sisters, this is kind of like learning someone works at the same place as your parents.

Anyway, it’s mentioned that this is a transport ship, and MOMO almost blabs about their destination, but cuts herself off, checks with Ziggy to make sure she can continue, and then completes her request for a ride to Second Miltia. It’s sweet, and I guess Ziggy has started to trust everybody in the last five seconds.

And Shion notes that it’s kinda weird that she and KOS-MOS are supposed to go to Second Miltia, too. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re six hours in, and we finally have a centralized goal for our party! Yay!

But we can’t head straight to Second Miltia, oh no, we’ve gotta stop at a dock colony for repairs.

Because Shion has been on this ship for a whole day or two, she’s nominated tour guide for the new passengers. Is there a job these guys won’t force on Shion?

Status ailment: Stockholm Syndrome.

Screw you, too, Cap!

Here’s your damn tour: this is the ladies’ quarters, previously occupied only by Shion, but now MOMO can hang out. I bet they stay up all night braiding each other’s hair and talking about boys (“So, chaos, then?” “Yes, just chaos.”).

Here’s the boy’s dorm, where it’s noted that this place is pretty swank for a place run by a boozer. I swear this is all just an excuse because the design team modeled a really cool, really high class ship and were later informed it would be staffed by bunch of neanderthals.

“You’ve already been here, but there really aren’t that many rooms in this place.”

Alright, this tour is stupid, time to turn in for the night.

And we’ve got a “Would you like to save” prompt and a piece of art, so it’s time to take a break as this chapter closes.

I’m kind of surprised this update was so long, because, despite the most important thing happening (the party is nearly together and complete!), not a lot happened. Shion and KOS-MOS got a goal for the rest of the game, and Ziggy and MOMO boarded the Elsa, but the majority of this was just sound and fury over a whole lot of nothing. This, we’ll find, is kind of how Xenosaga Episode I works: the plot basically chills for the action sequences and dungeons, and then later we get back to all the important stuff like white haired dudes saying cryptic things to their buddies. The best example of this is probably the little text bubbles for when the party meets during a combat situation, but we get a full cinema for when they’re casually enjoying dinner together later. Pretty easy to tell what the directors of this game found more important. We’ll examine how this absolutely neuters some parts of Xenosaga in the next update, but for now, I’ll just note that Xenosaga Episode I sure ain’t Portal when it comes to seamlessly integrating plot and level progress.

Next time on Xenosaga: The boy who would conquer the plot.

2 Responses »

  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode II Part 03: Family Matters | Gogglebob.com

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