Xenosaga Episode II Part 03: Family Matters

Previously on Xenosaga: Junior and his party heroically escaped a barrage of U-TIC soldiers. Wait, didn’t this series used to focus on some other protagonist?

Right, she used to work for Vector R&D!

There she is! What’s this about the Zohar?

Here’s this guy. Is he supposed to be the same “boss” Shion spoke to during Episode 1? Who knows? Not like either of these guys ever gets a name. “Shion’s Boss #2 (maybe #1)”.

WHAT THE SHIT!?! Okay, the gnosis were really annoying in Xenosaga Episode 1, but the worst they ever accomplished was destroying the Woglinde. When they attacked the Elsa or the Kukai Foundation, they just kinda wrecked up the place and called it a day. Now it turns out the gnosis have destroyed 120 star systems!? … Does that unlock Yoshi? Eh, for reference, in reality, humans currently exist in one (1) star system.

Holy cats, we have to get to solving this gnosis problem! Why are we futzing around with this stupid Y-Data?

She’s an anti-gnosis weapon, Shion. You should know this.

Looks like KOS-MOS is getting an upgrade. Shion, you should recognize this as the harbinger of the exact thing you fear coming to pass.

So she gets wings and a new hat? Big deal.

Remember when KOS-MOS was just serial number 00-00-00-00-1? I want to say we’ve well and truly given up on ever making an army of this gal.

Oh, hey, this is good to know. We finally have a reason for people wanting the Zohar. Aside from “it’s shiny”, of course.

Vector wants the Zohar, too. Got it. Put ‘em on the list.

Oh, and we’ve determined the Zohar to be really powerful. Uh… any reason you said “this dimension”?

And an U-DO primer, too. Look at the monitor, and you will see… something?

U-DO is responsible for Old Miltia plinking out of space. I want to say we knew that, even if we didn’t know the all important why. And still don’t.

Oh, and U-DO is responsible for the gnosis. That’s good to know! So how do we kill magenta?

… Allen is streets behind.

Shion is more interested in KOS-MOS’s new toy than the destruction of the entire human race.

Oh, and this thing was built for Proto KOS-MOS… but she’s not around anymore. Someone blew her head off.

Shion, however, is not exactly willing to fork over the bot.

“You know she’s company property, right?”

“Like how she can destroy an entire gnosis fleet without blinking or maybe spawn angel wings?”

“We kinda want to see the human race, ya know, not be wiped out.”

“Oh, and your dead fiancée came up with the whole thing. That help?”

Yep, that did it. She’s not happy about it, but Shion is willing to relinquish KOS-MOS to the ghost of Kevin.

"Yes! Me Allen!"

Shion steps out and considers this whole “KOS-MOS will save us all” thing.

FLASHBACK to Kevin.

Back in happier, glasses-wearing times, Shion and Kevin surveyed some “transport”.

So this is a craft built for KOS-MOS that allows her to traverse space without using the UMN. In modern day terms, everyone is driving cars, and Kevin just invented a jet.

Given flashbacks happen for a reason, I’m going to guess “someday” will be within a few hours.

Kevin wants to believe that KOS-MOS and her transformer there (I know kibble when I see it) will one day be responsible for focused, not wanton, destruction.

Shion thinks Kevin is talking about some idyllic, we’ll-all-live-in-harmony future. Kevin is talking about a future where six people are alive.

Shion… sees what she wants to see. Maybe it’s good that she lost the glasses.

“I hope it isn’t in the midst of every single person on a giant ship dying!”

Ugh, Allen. Thanks for bringing us back to reality.

Reminder: “today” is like a few hours outside of the entire finale of XS1. What would be normal after that?

Take your mind off things, chat with some people that repeat the same two phrases over and over again.

Of course Allen knows exactly where Shion lives. Play it cool, man, don’t let on…

Incidentally, since KOS-MOS “awoke”, the only time she and Shion have been separated was when Shion was literally inside KOS-MOS’s mind. Now it’s the first day of kindergarten.

Allen is a moron.

Toodles.

“Two days ago when we were in a virtual reality simulation and she watched her parents die, she was perfectly fine!”

Here’s the “World Map” for Second Miltia. There are six or so landmarks, and two of them you’ll be visiting a bunch (if you’re doing all the sidequests). The rest are primarily plot related, and you’ll swing by once or twice.

Here’s the city proper, smack dab in the center.

Second Miltia consists of two very large screens filled with buildings and wandering NPCs.

Incidentally, yes, the much maligned “XS2 town music” plays here. It also played back at the Space Port, but we were only there for two minutes, so the full breadth of this theme didn’t have time to sink in. For anyone that doesn’t feel like giving the song a listen, it was composed by remixing the psycho theme, inserting a brass section staffed by almost entirely men who greenlight Rob Schneider movies, and adding a percussion track provided by a 13 year old named Tommy bouncing a basketball on your street at 3 AM while you’re trying to get some sleep. It is the most hateful song in the universe.

Over here is a savepoint, and more importantly, a dive terminal (it’s blue). The dive terminal allows you to revisit any old areas (except that whole City Escape dungeon from last update). The terminal also allows you to revisit any dungeons that don’t absolutely require mechs on foot, so if you want to see what the opening areas of the Old Miltia Flashback are like sans ES, give it a shot.

Our entire party right now is Shion, though, so screw that noise.

Most of the NPCs in this city are just flavor creatures, so there’s not much interesting going on right now.

Though a few provide excellent pickup lines.

Oh God, are we hallucinating?

No, wait, this is just the kickoff for the game long sidequest system. Pretty straightforward: there are 36 people in this universe with problems, and Shion is expected to help every single one. That should be really easy!

Now there’s a “Global Samaritan Path” link on the main menu…

And at any time you can be reminded how much random crap you have to trudge through to score 100% in this stupid game. Oh, fun times ahead, kiddies.

Here’s the big problem with the GS campaign (and why I’ll be covering it all in one stupidly large update): GS quests become available… seemingly randomly. Here’s Luty. Remember Luty from the Dock Colony last game? Well, she’s back, and, once again, she wants to grow flowers. There are also a number of NPCs wandering around talking about -seeds- and -fertilizer-. It’s really obvious what you’re supposed to do with all this information… but Luty’s quest won’t be available until after another two dungeons. And it’s not because the dungeon contains -seeds- or anything like that, it’s just completely arbitrarily when the quest unlocks. In fact, if it wasn’t for plot flags (and maybe some monster levels), I want to say something like 80% of the GS quests could be completed before this update is out. But, no, half these quests aren’t available until at least the halfway point of the game, and some aren’t available until the final boss is in the ground. It’s aggravating, and, until after clearing the game, you can never be quite sure if a quest isn’t activating (Luty, I know you want me to get your flower seeds, just ask) because you didn’t complete a prerequisite quest, or because you haven’t gotten far enough in the game.

TLDR: beat the game, then worry about these stupid things. Or use a FAQ.

But keep an eye on this woman outside Luty’s room. When I say “go”, complete her GS Quest immediately. I’ll cover it during the previously mentioned sidequest update way the hell later, but the prize is the Secret Key that unlocks Psycho Pocket, aka the Steal command of Xenosaga Episode 2. You’re going to want that for so many reasons. Reminder: there are no shops in XS2.

TLDR: don’t worry about sidequests until after the game is complete, except you should arbitrarily know which quests offer worthwhile rewards. …. Use a FAQ.

Speaking of things that aren’t relevant until after the game is over, here’s Other Professor. Other Professor knows his place in the world. OP will elaborate on the UMN experiments chaos mentioned during the intro, and talk about some mysterious UMN Transport Devices.

Here’s one, locked up downstairs in his office. This will be part of a giant sidequest that becomes available after completing the game. If you want to guess the point of that sidequest, consider the name “Other Professor”.

Oh, and there’s a kid in Luty’s area that will explain Ether Combos. Long story short, like with Double Techs, you can boost an ally into another character’s turn, and if they both use a spell that “combines”, you’ll get a better Ether Combo. For instance, if both characters combo Medica, it restores more HP to the entire party. Or, you can combine Analyze and Psycho Pocket you get a guaranteed 100% steal. And that’s it. That’s why I’m using this kid as an example of Ether Combos, because I barely ever use ‘em.

Here’s some of area two of Second Miltia. There’s a publishing agency, but it isn’t Lumber Maniacs, so who cares?

There is a Red Segment Address Door in there, though. Do… do people in this world just… live with these things? Like, I would not be able to focus if I knew there was a permanently locked door in my building…

Speaking of door curiosity, here’s Sister of Swaim (last seen on the escalator opposite Ziggy), and she wants us to continue the late, great Sgt. Swaim’s work on unlocking every door in the world.

Anyway, she’s got our first obtainable decoder, and it’s for this door right here, so let’s see what we’ve won.

Blast, I was hoping for a robot part. It’s Secret Key 3, which unlocks the Level 1, Subclass H ability Focus. Secret Keys are behind a number of the Segment Doors, so it winds up being a lot like Final Fantasy 12: you found a secret treasure, but I hope you have enough license (skill) points to actually use your newfound loot. That said, if you’ve got the cheddar, Segment Abilities are some of the best in the game.

Hey guys, I wonder if this is Moby Dick’s Café.

Shion is really impressed by the place.

Turns out Shion used to work at Moby Dick’s Café when she was a teenager, and this is the owner/her old boss. I really appreciate the story filling in the details of Shion’s pre-Vector days. How many JRPGs include characters where you actually know what they were doing in their teen years? Steiner was born an old man.

Incidentally, there are like three tables in this place. I don’t know how Ahab here stays in business.

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name…

As they chit chat, it is revealed that a certain swordsdork comes around here, too.

Come to think of it, unless you count Allen (and nobody counts Allen), this is the first character in the game that is talking to Shion and has known her for longer than five days.

Oh, speaking of which.

“I was having a moment! Junior, let me have the plot for like five minutes!”

When Boss asks if Shion knows these two, she responds rather tentatively. Is she thrown off by their chic new outfits?

“Are you guys following me?”

MEANWHILE, Helmer is chilling in his office.

And Gaignun, Mary, and Shelley decide to stop by. Looks like Helmer knows the sisters.

Mary, as usual, is all “wassup?” while Shelley shows some decorum.

And, in a lovely bit of small talk, it is revealed that Mary is trying to get a comedy duo going, but Shelley absolutely refuses to participate. Strange as it may seem, they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names…

Mary and Shelley leave, Gaignun sticks around, and Canaan has apparently been here the whole time, working on his wallpaper impression.

“Look, everybody in the galaxy wants the Zohar. Turns out the most powerful energy source in this dimension is desirable for some reason.”

“The fan is just covered in shit.”

“Good, yes, we need some smiles around here.”

You might be an artificial life form if it takes you a full sentence to get through your name.

Realians represent.

Helmer notes that she looks familiar, and Gaignun elaborates on what will soon become a very tedious plot point.

“Good luck with unlocking your Y-Data, MOMO. But if it turns out there’s a dungeon in your head, we won’t be able to do much about that.”

Helmer ends this meeting by asking Gaignun to do some reconnaissance. What does he have in mind? Well…

Gaignun psychic powers activate!

Clone roll call!

I like that this “recon” is basically, “Hey, Gaignun, call your brother.”

Just a reminder: Japan or America, these guys have the same voice actor, so this is basically a dude sitting in a recording studio insulting himself in silly voices.

See? Told you he was Roger Smith.

And Albedo blows the game’s entire budget by busting out some McCartney. You bastard!

“You sure you’re not just hanging around Rubedo because you’re waiting for the chance to carry out your mission?”

We’ll get some elaboration on what Albedo is alluding to here soon enough.

Gaignun seems to be losing his cool…

So he psychically blows up Albedo’s arm! That skill would have been useful about a thousand times last game, particularly when Junior and the entire party were in literally mortal danger on The Song of Nephilim. Guess he’s gotta build up to those blasts.

Albedo, of course, heals immediately, and continues with the jabs.

Burn?

And he hangs up on his bro. Sorry, no more psychic conversations for you guys.

I guess Gaignun’s takeaway from that round of Dirty Disses was that Albedo will do anything to re-link with U-DO. Or he’s still muddled from the psychic link, and he’s thinking of Star Trek Generations.

Back to Moby Dick’s, the secret origin of Shion’s curry skills are revealed.

Shion and chaos chat about MOMO’s status while Junior wolfs down some curry. Yes, it appears that “the usual” at what is clearly a seafood restaurant is curry. Shrimp curry? Maybe.

Turn over… relinquish… discard… abandon…

“I’ve got my best man taking care of her. … She’s probably dead.”

She probably misses her old glasses.

It’s been like an hour. You can visit her later.

Go ahead and compare KOS-MOS to an object, chaos.

What she said!

Ah, sounds like someone else has arrived. Four people? This must be the lunch rush for Moby Dick’s.

I think we all can guess who this might be.

Someone has certainly guessed.

“MOMO fell down a well?”

As you may have noticed, Jin appears to be the one adult in the cast allowed to age.

We’ve already literally been told that Jin and Shion have a strained relationship, then this scene… you know what? Let’s have another two scenes to drive home that fact.

Aaaand rim shot.

Jin notably introduces himself to Shion’s friends. Yes, this is a complete farce just to keep his sister in the dark, nobody has amnesia.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m an only child? Have I mentioned how much I enjoy that fact?

“Her android saved our lives a couple times. And she can summon a giant robot like a champ.”

I can’t imagine why Shion was dreading seeing her brother again.

Oh yeah, Jin always does this shoulder tap thing. It’s even his idle animation. Can anyone tell me what’s going on there? Is it a Japanese thing? Note that I don’t think this is some “lost in translation” thing, I mean this guy seems to live and breathe Japanese traditions, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s another facet of that.

Shion… was enjoying her meal… once upon a time…

Jin kind of doubles as Shion’s… well… choose the relative in your life that most chastises you for never calling.

“Sorry, no time to spend with you bro! Gotta get going!”

– 12 HP

Incoming call from Allen. Allen always makes everything better for Shion!

This is why you never put Allen on speaker (holo) phone.

Sad trombone.

I love that this entire scene is predicated on the audience wanting to see Shion squirm.

I don’t think Shion has ever been this angry at Albedo.

And chaos and Junior get invited along, because what is an awkward family reunion without some friends forced along for the ride?

Alright, we’re back in control. We’re not railroaded into the next cutscene/area, and we still have the ability to roam Second Miltia.

We also now have a party of Shion, chaos, Junior, and Jin. Now would be the time to revisit the introductory dungeon, if you’re so inclined. I’m not.

Assuming you do not revisit any combat areas, this party won’t see a single battle, so there’s no reason to, say, upgrade Jin’s skills right now.

Exit the city and you’ll receive a notice that you can return to the Durandal/Kukai Foundation now. NOW you can start doing random GS sidequests. Not Luty, for instance, but you can hit up that one woman earlier and nab psycho pocket for yourself. Again, I’ll be covering all these sidequests later, but if you’re “playing along”, I highly recommend taking the scenic route for at least one new skill right now.

We’re focusing on the main plot for right now, so it’s over to the Uzuki Residence. It’s the northwest most landmark on the map. You’d think they’d stick this dude’s house in the east…

See what I mean?

Just a reminder, it’s the future, so “books” as we know them are rare, what with the rise of technology in this far-flung future. NOTE TO READERS FIVE YEARS FROM NOW: A book was once a thing people used to read words. It was made of flattened wood-pulp, and it served much the same purpose as your tablet.

Shion is, naturally, not impressed.

Jin is being delusional.

Also a lie.

Yeah, that kind of thing can get exasperating when you’re on the sidelines.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is the one JRPG in history that acknowledges that when your party can toss around healing “spells” and “potions” willy nilly, doctors instantly become obsolete. As Jin literally states here, doctors are now pretty much just counselors, and all actual illness or injury is solved with nanites. Xenosaga has thought one part of its universe completely through.

And how many JRPG heroes do you know that are exploiting tax loopholes?

Jin, when she asks where all these books came from, she’s not actually asking.

Jin and Shion can fight all they want, Junior has found his new bounty. I empathize.

Meanwhile…. Here’s Dr. Strangelove (who appeared briefly in XS1 via video monitor) on the bridge of Margulis’s ship. Apparently, he got bored and blew up U-TIC’s XS1 base.

Ziggy infiltrated the base… so probably best to nuke it from orbit, just to be sure.

And we’ve got a name for this scientist: Sellers.

Sellers is U-TIC’s resident mad scientist, and while he has a minor role in both XS1 and XS2, he’ll come into his own story in Xenosaga Episode 3. He’s easy to spot, with his distinctive hairstyle, sunglasses, hoverchair, and… wait a minute… They named this guy Sellers? Sellers? Wow, where is the line between “homage” and “let’s just steal one of the most memorable characters in Western Cinema”? Come to think of it, they probably had to give Sellers a backstory in XS3, else Namco was gonna get sued.

Anyway, enjoy this guy’s one scene in the game.

“I’m a helpful kinda mad scientist!”

Not that he’d need to if someone thought to grab the Zohar on the way off the planet…

“Want me to wait on a space station between a pair of black holes? I can do that.”

“Oh…kay? I’m just gonna do that thing I said.”

“Otherwise we’re going to have to produce another three cannon-fodder villains, and this plot is bottlenecking with bad guys as is…”

We now resume the normal narrative of Let’s Watch Shion Eat.

So, after Xenosaga Episode 1, Shion has decided she’s going to become an adventurer. Jin thinks this is a poor, possibly suicidal idea.

“Well, you did slay the final boss. Or does that kill go to Erde Kaiser?”

Reminder, according to the XS1 ending, Jin was just at the grave cliff. Like, a few hours ago.

Shion: absolutely not into this thing.

Absolutely.

There it is! To make it perfectly clear: yes, Shion blames Jin for the death of their parents. Jin was off playing Robin Hood with chaos and Canaan, and Shion got to watch her parents die. It… has an impact on their relationship.

Also, fun fact, Shion only seems capable of admitting her life has been kinda crappy when she can blame Jin for it.

"You guys… uh… tea’s getting cold."

Junior is gonna hop in the Awkwardmobile, a hovercar fueled by pure awkwardness. After today, the tank will be full for years.

chaos needs a place to crash, though. After living on the Elsa, he just wants a bed that doesn’t smell like failure.

Yay! Sleepover permission!

Later, Jin hangs out.

“You… sleep in that, chaos?” “Too many straps, can’t take it off.”

That’s the kind of insight you expect from an immortal apostle.

Going to guess… Kevin’s funeral? I think that lines up. Wow, so Shion has effectively cut off all familial contact while working on KOS-MOS for the last two years. OH MY U-DO Allen is her only friend. That’s terrible.

Jin doesn’t really say anything important here, he just trails off and compares Shion to their grandfather. I’m starting to think Shion and Jin might have a strained relationship.

A metaphor happens.

Well, obviously chaos and Jin only kept up that “nice to meet you” façade for Shion’s sake. The point of that… who the hell knows?

“Steal from a universal terrorist organization, they seem to remember it. Doc Brown and I got problems.”

“I know, Jin, I was there. I mean… uh… nothing.”

“Ah, you’ve heard about Junior eating his old coat.”

“I’m supposed to be the cryptic one, remember?”

So… Is Jin KOS-MOS’s metaphorical grandpa?

There’s probably some important psychological thing going on here. Jin was too late to save the lives of his parents, but he can only see it through the lens of having failed Shion. It’s not like he got her a lousy birthday present fifteen years ago, he literally watched his parents die, too, just the same as her.

“I’m afraid that if I try to get any closer, she might turn me away, shut me out…and cut me off as her brother.”

Abandonment issues, thy name is Uzuki.

She actually did randomly mention Jin a couple of times back on the Elsa, but…

Yeah, that.

chaos rescued Junior, and has now had a heart-to-heart with Jin and Allen. Ziggy, I think it’s time to hop aboard the hug train! Choo choo!

Yeah, I naturally assume my more listening-inclined friends are immortals, too.

“I’m not hundreds of years old. Why would you think that? That’s a silly thing to say. You’re such a silly mortal, what with your aging and basic biological functions.”

HP/EP restored, time to head out.

“Look like a different person.” Cute.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the only consistent part of Shion’s ensemble between two games is her necklace. Of course that’s the key to everything, why would you think otherwise?

“I’m sorry, chaos, were you here yesterday at all?”

Truer words were never spoken.

Reminder: the last time we tried to “analyze” a mechanical being, all of reality broke down.

So chaos scurries off to MOMO’s UMN recital, and Shion heads to Vector. The game follows chaos to the UMN Control Center, but we’re going to take a break before we get to that little adventure. For right now, we’re going to take a respite to consider what it means when the game has two high-octane, breakneck action scenes… and then follows it up with boring family drama that coincidentally reintroduces the series’ heroine. Gosh, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone up there doesn’t like Shion…

Next time on Xenosaga: MO problems.

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  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode II Part 11: Sidequest Roundup | Gogglebob.com

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