Xenosaga Episode I Part 09: Here Comes a Special Boy

Previously on Xenosaga: Nearly the entire playable cast got together on the Elsa, so now they’re gonna sit around with their hands under their butts waiting for number six. Number six? Please take the stage.

I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

Then a strange thing happened.

Alright, here’s our newbie, Junior, and he’s riding in a mech the size of an elephant, or something. Scale is terrible out in space, but this thing has a leg up on the meager AGWS I keep ignoring.

From Baum to Shakespeare. At least our new hero is well-read.

“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

Yeah, subtly call your subordinates stupid. It’s the Allen School of Management!


Anyway, Junior is out in space, while Mary (the blonde) and this purple haired woman are on support back in a nearby ship. You can already sort of see that this ship is more Woglinde shaped than the Elsa.

Oh, looks like Junior is investigating that planet that U-TIC evaporated. Finally! Somebody cares!

And here’s our ship du jour, the Durandal. It’s big. It’s bigger than the Woglinde. The Woglinde you could at least walk from one end to the other, the Durandal requires its own monorail. It’s like a floating Disney World. I’m not even kidding.

I guess we’re calling Junior “Little Master” today. Has anyone played this game in the original Japanese? Does Junior’s title sound less awkward than “Little Master” over there? I always get the impression the voice actors are straining under the weight of trying to make that title sound natural or affectionate, but fail every time.

I wonder if this was intended to be creepy… The support crew of the Durandal is exclusively 100-Series Realians. MOMO is kinda technically their big sister, as she was the prototype, “original” 100-Series, and these are the mass-produced models. Guess the peach-colored hair didn’t play well with focus groups.

Alright, I’m not normally one to comment on fashion, but is there even a word for what Mary is wearing here? Boob-window, exposed stomach, but with pointy shoulders, and it flows down like a robe. I think the armpits are exposed, too?

Had the missing planet been named before this point? It’s Ariadne. If you’re scrambling to remember where you’ve seen that name before, it was on a sign back during the Cherenkov/KOS-MOS flashback, so I guess Vector R&D had a branch there. This just goes to show that Shion is bad for planets.

With the particle comment earlier and Junior’s sensor readings, it’s been determined that the planet very much disappeared. There’s nothing left of it, no “remains”, just a big, missing planet.

Shelley is apparently the purple haired… wait a tick. Mary and Shelley? Mary Shelley? Sweet Christmas, all this talk on the nature of AI and man being the biggest monster of all in the galaxy has given rise to two characters just blatantly named after Frankenstein’s creator! It’s alive!

You can guess where that distress signal came from, so we’re somewhere around half a day after the fall of the Woglinde “now”. Unless they’re talking about Ziggy’s distress signal? Lotta distressed ships in this plot.

Oh, yeah, Woglinde. Those guys are toast.

Junior notes that someone is going to be coming along to retrieve whatever the Woglinde was towing. Smart kid.

Have I mentioned that Mary has an outrageous Southern accent? It’s eventually revealed that she’s from the same planet as Shion… but I guess she was raised in a Waffle House.

Hey guys! We’re going back to the Woglinde! Can’t get enough of that place!

And sideways flash to the future (right? I think?) of U-TIC reeling from that whole “a lone cyborg defeated our entire army” incident.

Yeah, let’s “look into” that whole “our secret base isn’t at all a secret” thing.

Oh snap! Margulis is talking to one of those committee members! This goes all the way to the top! This would probably mean something if we knew that guy as something other than “mustache dude”.

Vermin gonna verm.

This is on screen for all of a second, and you might not be able to see it here, but that lit up white part of the screen clearly reads “Andrew”. Lot of detail to “reveal” that Andrew Cherenkov is on hold.

Mustache Dude is up to something. It’ll come up later.

Speaking of vermin, heeeeeere’s Cherenkov

I love that he’s reporting to his secret evil boss on the public terminal just hanging around the Elsa. Like, if Ziggy walked by right now, it would be so awkward.

Anyway, Cherenkov was a complete failure at his assigned mission… but he got MOMO! He did that all by himself! She didn’t fly here herself and is protected by an unstoppable cyborg or anything!

“I know this, because she said something about being rescued from our secret base like ten minutes ago.”

Cherenkov, you’re a failure, stop trying to be more than a failure.

“Ziggy will kill you if you try anything. He killed half the organization.”

“Besides, we… uh… meant to do that.”

Oooooooh, Cherenkov’s in troooooooouble.

“Oh, says here he’s on the same ship where we sent an army of drones that all got trashed. What are the odds?”

Oh, now who’s this?

Great, another white-haired mysterious guy. Isn’t this the dude that was lingering around while Ziggy was exploding everything?

Oh, and he’s got his own Realian… that he’s treating like an object. Bad guy status confirmed!

Trolling?

Trolling.

So he claims that he’s going to be the one to retrieve MOMO, and then he rolls out in his giant mech, seen through the window here.

Oh, good, he has a creepy nickname for MOMO. That’s a great sign.

And away he goes.

“Is it wise to even let that guy in the room? I’ll get the disinfectant.”

Yeah. Uses. Anyway, he’s not named during the scene, but that dude is Albedo. We’ll be talking about him more during this update, but for now, what just happened is that Margulis handed Albedo the plot football. Remember when Margulis was being primed as the threat of the game? Well it’s Albedo now, because now he’s the one distinctly hunting MOMO. Margulis will barely show up from now on, and Albedo’s gonna be running this show.

Anyway, back to the Durandal.

The Woglinde has seen better days, apparently. You know, the gnosis were terrible, but they didn’t really mess with the ship too much…

I mean, not that much, right? I guess it did kind of explode…

Junior and Mary, in AGWS, explore the Woglinde’s Zohar Chamber. Remember fighting the Minotaur? Ah, memories.

Do you suppose they even notice the blood stain that used to be Virgil? Say, shouldn’t his corpse be floating around here somewhere?

Junior seriously wants to pick a fight with the gnosis. Junior is apparently not as smart as he appeared earlier.

Mary is the smart one.

Allen has a list!

Whoops. Trap.

A group of those bots we spent the last update scrapping teleport in.

But Junior’s AGWS has BIG ASS GUNS! YEE-HAW!

Fight scene! Junior’s AGWS is basically swatting flies for this battle, and I think you’d have to dedicatedly try to lose here.

Battle still takes entirely too long, though, as Junior doesn’t have any multi-hit attacks, and there’s a group of four of ‘em.

Two minutes is too long.

And a big, scary U-TIC battleship shows up and attempts to finish the job on the Woglinde.

Kinda? Remember this scene for later.

Hey, Mary, where were you for that battle a second ago?

And that’s the total and final end of the Woglinde. Kapowey.

Back aboard the Durandal… Christ, does the 100-Series absorb solar energy through exposed thighs? Are Realian pants really expensive? Somebody bought Mary stockings, why not these kids?

Whoops, U-TIC Fleet to deal with.

Evidently not!

Now they’re gonna get it!

“We were just trying to find evidence to destroy you guys!”

Here’s our first hard confirmation that Junior isn’t exactly a normal dude. If I have any readers that can channel their energy into computer consoles and then change their eye color, I apologize for that generalization.

NOT ENOUGH LASERS! MORE LASERS!

Big Cores are destroyed.

“It appears to be making Three Stooges noises.”

Junior makes a glib comment about letting them leave before…

Ordering the crew to just go ahead and ram ‘em.

WHAMMO

So I guess that didn’t kill everybody involved, and now Junior and co. are boarding the enemy ship.

Can’t we just kill ‘em with the lasers? Oh fine, I guess we’ll do a little recon.

“Our” boarding team will be Junior, Mary, and Unnamed Soldier #45. Miraculously, there’s no indication US#45 dies during this mission, so he goes on to live a life of complete anonymity.

Is there a word for those camera angles that perfectly frame a character and half a woman’s ass? They happen all the time in comics…

Alright, we’re in the Durandal hangar (this will actually become a pretty frequently visited locale later in the game), so let’s take a break to talk about…

Junior aka Gaignun Kukai Jr. aka Little Master aka Rubedo aka URTV #666 is our final party member (this game). He’s got a big complicated backstory, but the short of it is that he’s a mutant (sorry, Shion, I mean gifted youngster), and specifically, a URTV. Those initials don’t mean much to you right now, but they will, oh yes, they will.

And that’s kind of Junior’s problem.

This is going to require a little… looking into the future to explain.

See, every character in the Xenosaga Saga has an opposite number on Team Bad Guy that is pretty much a bizarro down to the bone, to wit…

Shion and KOS-MOS are directly in opposition to Kevin and the eventual KOS-MOS mk. 2. We won’t learn this until Episode 3, but Kevin’s all encompassing hatred for humanity is rivaled only by Shion’s boundless compassion, and for every time Shion helps in a situation without thinking, there’s Kevin, holding the magnifying glass over the ant farm to see who fries first. KOS-MOS and her evil palette swap both basically occupy the “would not want to have to fight that thing” space for each group, and they’re also in a tug of war over the soul of a Biblical maiden, for some reason.

While Margulis seems like the current rival of Ziggy, Ziggy will be passing that honor on to Shion’s bro, Jin, in the next installment. Ziggy will then acquire Black Testament, a relic from Ziggy’s birth epoch that is, basically, just the bad guy’s Ziggy.

MOMO has the Mizrahi Legacy to deal with. Her enemy isn’t her dad, per se, but it turns out that guy built a new doomsday weapon every other day, and every time one of those pops up, everybody looks at MOMO like she’s supposed to do something about it, or at least apologize. It’s a big deal when your pops has a reputation worse than Professor Wernstrom. Weeeeeernstrom!

And chaos is in direct opposition to Wilhelm, the biggest bad of them all. Of course, this isn’t confirmed until way the hell later, but those two are almost literally day and night, and I’m sure if they ever get left in the same room, a slap fight is totally going to break out.

Junior, as you may have guessed by their conveniently parallel introductions, is the rival of Albedo. As I noted earlier, thanks to the little handoff we had earlier, Albedo is basically going to be the big bad of the remainder of this game… and then he’s never going away.

Take a look at the list of villains I just rattled off. Kevin operates in the shadows, and, for this entire game, you’re supposed to think he’s dead. KOS-MOS’s opposite hasn’t been introduced yet, and neither has Black Testament. Mizrahi is dead, and Random Experiment #231 is closer to Frankenstein’s Monster than ol’ Victor. And Wilhelm’s entire deal is that he’s operating as chief bad guy from the shadows, so he can’t prance around and yell his eeeeevil plans from up on high.

But Albedo can.

You probably already saw it during his introduction, but Albedo loves to get a rise out of people. Even beyond that, he’s just a terrible person, continually hurting MOMO’s “family” for, basically, his own twisted amusement. And he’s overwhelmingly rapey to boot. He’s a perfect storm of “villain you love to hate”, and he has no problem being out and proud about it. He isn’t hiding in the shadows like the rest of these jerks, he’s going to show up to taunt the heroes at every opportunity.

So, since he’s front and center, Junior has to be front and center. And since you have to learn the villain’s tragic past, and Junior is involved there, that means even more Junior screen time. And, naturally, there has to be a grand finale for the grand villain, and you know Junior is going to be the hero there. Basically, as long as Albedo sticks around and dominates the villain corner, you’re going to have to have Junior hogging equal screentime as a counterbalance… and thus Junior winds up dominating the plot.

I absolutely identify this as a failing of Xenosaga, but I can see why it happened. Junior, really, is the first member of our party that seems like someone that would actively seek out a fight, and it’s perfectly natural to make his villain a flamboyant troll that will continually provoke the kid… but in a series crowded with “subtle” villains, those kind of antics are going to dominate.

Anyway, guess my point is that that’s something to keep in mind as Shion (and the rest of the cast) gradually fade into the background and this becomes the Junior show for a game and a half.

Back to the game, here’s our party. Junior is the only one that will be fighting sans AGWS, the other two will be permanently strapped into moderately-large robots. Props to Xenosaga, this is a rather clever way to introduce “disposable” characters. Vicks and Wedge would be proud.

You know it’s a Xenosaga dungeon when you see fire.

“Just in case you forgot what you were doing, I am here to remind you, Little Master.”

Junior has an explosion device the same as Shion and Ziggy, so, as ever, blow up everything.

If you play JRPGs like a bull in a china shop (like I do), your first battle staring Junior will be the result of ramming straight into these security lasers.

This is a dungeon chock full of more U-TIC soldiers and those security droids that Ziggy busted up. Considering you’re now up a party member over Ziggy/MOMO, and they’re in AGWS, well, it’s not a very challenging area.

Oh, this is important. Like his AGWS, Junior attacks with guns. This means, unlike literally the entire rest of the cast, Junior always uses a long range attack. This is huge, because for everybody else, it’s either a close range physical attack, or a long range ether attack, and there are enemies that can only be hit with long range attacks. The designers, aggravatingly, seemed to exploit this by occasionally tossing in a long range monster that is only vulnerable to physical attacks, so, basically, Junior is the only way to go for a quick battle. This is annoying, as, in a game that is otherwise so good about giving you options to exploit enemy weaknesses, there are battles that are completely make or break according to whether or not you had the foresight to stick Junior in the frontlines.

Long story short: always use Junior.

Anyway, this dungeon is pretty straightforward and quick. Mainly you’re just inserting round keys in round holes, like blowing up the generator for that laser trap.

Or pressing the “open door now” button on a console.

Junior usually offers some kind of taunt with his victories, like, “That was too easy!” As dumb as it sounds, he actually has the only plot-relevant victory cry with, “Sayonara, baby!” It’ll come up later.

How ever will we open this giant door with a four on it?

This should do it.

The big boss door is “guarded” by a group of dead bodies. That’s always a good sign.

Exactly one U-TIC soldier has the solid idea of boarding his own AGWS to combat the two hero AGWSs. Fun fact, if you return to this area at the end of the game, you’ll face this same dude, but now he summons a super deluxe “secret boss” AGWS for battle. He’s not fit to clean Ruby Weapon’s tentacles, you get no distinct prize for the battle, and there’s absolutely nothing in the game to indicate the fight even exists, but it’s a fun bit of trivia.

It’s not like U-TIC doesn’t have AGWS, either, as you can play around in their hangar.

Here’s the subtle, important thing for this dungeon. U-TIC is working on some sort of T-ELOS robot. Huh, those parts look vaguely familiar.

Anyway, the keycard we need is chilling in this office area. Looks like there’s a collection of liquor bottles on the top shelf there. Neat.

I like that they bothered to animate the slumped over soldier falling to the floor.

Alright, good to be at our destination.

Despite the stereotype, Mary is actually pretty technologically adept for a southern belle.

Junior is not. Is that supposed to turn red like that?

Guess not.

Boss battle!

Here’s Ambix. He’s not much a fight, which is good, because you basically can’t heal AGWS, and they account for 66% of your party right now.

Haven’t really shown many of Junior’s techs because they’re pretty perfunctory for this dungeon, but here he is being a good little gunslinger. This is generally how all of his techs work, just with different motions and guns. Misdirected Wu.

And that’s the last we’ll see of everybody but Junior (battle-wise, at least). It’s funny that everybody gains all the various Xenosaga Episode 1 battle points, as you’re not even allowed to enter Junior’s upgrade menu for this entire scenario, left alone the rest of the party.

Shouldn’t you be wearing rad shades?

Oh, smack. Acid Burn is going to have to work quickly.

And Mary just goes ahead and plugs a serial cable into her head. Dang, girl, that’s hardcore.

And apparently Mary and Shelley can carry the data load in this fashion. Another point for Team Realian!

Erm… Another point for Team Mutant Gifted Youngsters!

Looks like Junior has a mutant power of his own.

“Last week we got in a ‘Dental plan’/’Lisa needs braces’ loop for twenty minutes.”

Yeah, the two of ‘em spent a solid few hours recently trying to figure out what they were going to dress you up in next, Mary. The phrase “chicken costume” was tossed around a lot.

We’ve got company! Launch into action hero mode!

You know, for a video game where you kill 90% of the creatures you encounter without even thinking, Xenosaga does have a tendency to lean on the “violence only makes things worse” moral.

Well at least he owes up to it.

While Junior is on his way back to the ship, Mary and Shelley share a moment of mutual annoyance regarding the inclinations of Little Master’s little master.

Overcompensation.

“Could you maybe hurry it up with that enemy ship that is also on fire?”

D’aww, Mary cares about the little guy.

And that’s where this whole scenario wraps up. A rather muted premiere for the eventual star of the show, but I have the oddest feeling even the directors of this game weren’t completely aware of how overwhelming Junior would eventually become. At this point, he just seems like another whacky cast member inevitably bound for the Elsa, but we’ll see how that goes down the line.

In the meanwhile, let’s spend some time focusing on someone absolutely nobody cares about. No, not Allen.

Next time on Xenosaga: Recycling kills.

4 Responses »

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