Xenosaga Episode II Part 06: Snow Compromises

Previously on Xenosaga: Turns out there’s a dungeon in MOMO’s head! We went through it, and…

Hey! This dungeon looks a lot like the last one! Meet the other chief reason the “Subconscious Domain” is the worst dungeon in Xenosaga Episode 2: you have to run through it twice. Welcome to Subconscious Domain (Winter).

6:13, for posterity.

So not only is this dungeon exactly the same as the “previous” dungeon, it also offers monsters that are just palette swaps of the previous dungeon’s monsters. This, seriously, is a special kind of lazy. Incidentally, aside from color changes, the only indicator I noticed that these were “different” monsters was that they had to be rescanned. Aside from that? They seem exactly the same, though there are likely subtle differences.

One change from the Summer version: most of the “dead ends” now contain treasure. Not any useful treasure, but at least it feels like there’s some reason to go down random paths. I have to wonder if the annoying sidequest I mentioned last update was added later in production to do something with Summer’s redundant dead ends. Not that it helps your first trip through the area…

Ya know, this is usually the kind of dungeon/area I love in video games. In no other medium is there that “joy” of revisiting old areas under different circumstances. For instance, I love comparing the maps of 600 AD and 1000 AD in Chrono Trigger and noting the subtle and dramatic differences. I love the crashed research satellite/ship in Metroid Prime. Here? This is the exact same dungeon with a different coat of paint, and some of the more interesting areas, like the hidden shed/teleporter in the Summer domain, are simply blocked off or eliminated. This is just a lazy, completely unnecessary area.

Can we use the shortcut we opened up in the Summer version? Nope!

Like, seriously, this is a dungeon in the mind of a teenage girl. This could be a floating castle! This could be a soaring pegasus battle! This could be a Sev’ral Timez concert! This could be the God Damned Thunderdome! It could be literally anything a person could imagine… and it’s a nondescript forest. Twice. They didn’t even bother to do something interesting like freeze over the stream, nope, gotta knock over that same tree again.

Slight change from the original area: those infected URTVs are wandering around the whole dungeon now, as opposed to just the finale.

Same stupid log/rock puzzle again. Sigh.

The third area with the jumping cliffs now hides a Red Segment Door instead of a treasure chest. So it’s like a treasure chest, but you need to find a key somewhere the hell else in the universe. Joy.

And, yes, you can reopen that shortcut for easy travel should you ever return to this area. I know I won’t.

Finally! Something new! The final area of Summer was a straight path to the end, but now it’s a series of icy cliffs that form a sort of maze.

Thanks to higher cliffs that allow you to use a little pre-planning to navigate the lower bluffs, it’s kind of a neat area, but for a section that’s merely one whole screen, it’s too little, too late for this dungeon.

Don’t worry, you can’t fall off the cliffs, despite terrible winds and tiny, icy logs to traverse.

Every once in a while you’ll get hit with a pack of five Monster URTVs. This is the worst, and takes forever. It’s not difficult, just the damn things take far too long to defeat for such weak opponents.

There we go, just about at the beach now.

But… looks like the trip was a bust. DAMMIT!

Sakura assures this doomed expedition that it’s just a little longer. Suuuuuuure.

Hella doomed.

Yeah, this is not going to end well.

Monster shadows are never a good thing.


Good, yes, we need another patented Albedo freakout after all that.

Twinsies!

So, uh, fun fact: you’d think this whole incident is pretty damn important, because it ties off the whole “what happened to MOMO’s sister?” plot that was like the whole point of this area…

But it’s kinda hard to tell what is “actually” happening here…

And what is MOMO/Junior’s memory of the events influencing what we’re seeing. Did Junior and Sakura really overreact to an unusually shaped shadow?

Because it looks like MOMO is starting to come out of it thanks to Kiddy Junior’s misery.

And Kiddy Albedo is getting a little… bold for the whimpering coward we see later at the Old Miltia going out of the universe sale (well we saw the event already, but it happens later in this Albedo’s timeline).

And MOMO/Sakura (MOura?) identifies that this whole stupid simulation was a trap anyway.

Kiddy Junior hulks out again, just like on The Song of Nephilim.

And it causes real life Junior to hulk out at his real life bro.

Allen is really concerned! He’s not going to leave that chair, but he’s concerned!

Yeah, see, this whole thing, aside from just being a waste of time, was an Albedo trap. So… how much of what we’re seeing is a living flashback, and how much is just there to mess with Junior’s head?

And shouldn’t Junior, who, ya know, has these memories, have seen this coming? Shion figured it out, at least, and she’s usually the last to know.

Whoops, it’s not just a trap, it’s a door.

Heeeeeere’s Albedo (modern flavor, not kiddy).

He just kinda casually headlocks Junior and starts smelling his hair. Ah, brothers.

Noogie!

Shion (who is currently forcing me to scan the thesaurus for synonyms for “idiot”) still just wants the brothers to reconcile. This is despite the fact that Albedo is clearly here to kill everyone and everything.

Albedo assures Shion that everything is cool. There’s nothing to worry about!

They’re pretty much as close as two people can be.

Albedo really wants Junior to unleash his URTV powers and basically kill everybody in the room. You know, shouldn’t The Brews jack-out or whatever? This is just Albedo telecommuting into a simulation…

Yeah, because his plans have been going so poorly so far…

Junior once again uses his Saiyan aura to repel Albedo. I guess it also heals that hole Albedo shoved through his chest. And… his coat heals, too?

Albedo not pleased…

Boss fight!

So this might be the most interesting boss fight in the game, and may even be the entire reason this battle system was created. See, you may recall that Albedo is almost literally invincible: he heals from anything. This is represented by the fact that you can inflict basically zero damage on the jackass.

However, after hitting the right spots, you will make his arms numb. Oh… kay? That’s… cool?

Keep hammering that same spot, and you will blow up Albedo’s arms. See? There they go.

Now you can unleash all hell on an unarmed Albedo. Hope you stocked and saved up some boost, because now is the time to break the dude and cause massive damage.

Albedo might not be as handy as he once was, but he can still cast ether with his stumps. It’s not like breaking his arms is an instant win.

And, after a few rounds, Regeneration will kick in, and you’ll have to repeat the disarming process.

If you’re not quite getting how this works, “Sakura’s consciousness” will let you know exactly what to do.

Albedo is a troll to the end, so occasionally he’ll erase your status window to make the battle a little more annoying. This only causes you to not know your character’s HP/EP count… so I guess heal if you’re at all worried? Actually, you can “bypass” this problem by choosing a healing spell, and you’ll then get a mini readout of your target’s HP. I’m assuming that was unintentional. Regardless, you can still see Albedo’s HP count and the turn order, which seems a lot more useful.

After a couple of arm regenerations, Albedo will get bored…

He’ll grow back the arms, and go into a sort of berserker mode. Now he’s big on dealing the damage, but takes full damage himself, regardless of arm status. Time to end this thing.

You sometimes see this message after Albedo attacks in his final phase. I have no idea what it means. I will take this time, though, to comment that you should definitely steal from Albedo, as he is carrying an item that will unlock a duel tech for MOMO and Junior. I’ll show that off at the end of the update.

Finally, Albedo down.

Naturally, the boss battle meant nothing, and the scene picks up almost as if the whole battle never happened. Oh well, it was at least a fun way to fight a guy that has two games worth of invincibility established.

Move over Cleopatra, Shion is the true Queen of Denial.

Albedo notes that Junior is actually winning this battle. Well, as much as Junior can win without outright walking away.

But things are starting to tip into Albedo’s regenerated hands.

You may recall that the last time this happened, MOMO put a stop to it. Looks like she’s waking up just in time to do that again.

Time-out!

MOMO powers activate!

Whoops, all according to plan.

This isn’t outright stated, but apparently the final “lock” on the Y-Data was that MOMO had to tap into the data herself… or something… and Albedo or Juli Mizrahi couldn’t just brute force their way in. So Albedo set up this whole ridiculous scenario just to get MOMO to the point where she unleashed her own power and opened the way to the Y-Data.

Albedo makes an oblique reference to this fact, and then grabs the Y-Data and runs.

Now everyone decides to jack-out.

Good news! MOMO is back! Hooray!

Bad news! Albedo got the Y-Data. Boo.

And now Albedo is going to unlock the way to Old Miltia. Double boo.

Albedo was hanging out in the ES Simeon this whole time. Dude kicked all our asses and didn’t even have to get out of his chair.

Guess Albedo is impressed with his bounty.

The whole Simeon starts pulsing with… I don’t know… Y-Data Power.

It all just looks like Greek to me.

And… Albedo disintegrates? Did Albedo just die? It was really unclear.


I guess he did just die! Hooary! Albedo is dead! Somebody order some cake!

Commemorative save!

7:37… Yep, another hour I’ll never have again.

Did I mention that Xenosaga Episode 2 is two discs? Well it is, and it’s weird, because I’d swear there are less cinema scenes in Episode 2 than Episode 1, and Episode 1 was only one disc. Wonder if they were just bad at compression.

Speaking of behind the scene postulation, let’s talk about writers. Kaori Tanaka aka Soraya Saga was a graphic designer for a few games you may have heard of, like Final Fantasy 5, Romancing SaGa, and Final Fantasy 6. She was partially responsible for the characterization of FF6’s Figaro brothers, and is credited with determining Figaro’s setting as well as the brothers’ classes and backstories. This, technically, makes Soraya responsible for Chainsaw Edgar.

Fast forward a couple of years, and Soraya and her husband Tetsuya Takashi submitted a script for Final Fantasy 7 that was declared “too bonkers” and “lacking any and all giant moogle/cat robots”. Thus, that script was modified, and eventually transformed into Xenogears. We all know how that turned out.

So, as you’ve probably guessed, Soraya and Takahashi were also responsible for Xenosaga. Mostly. According to Soraya, she was fired riiiiight aaaaaabout now. Yes, the original mastermind for Xenosaga was “informed her services would no longer be needed” about halfway through Xenosaga Episode 2.

This… would explain why this plot becomes such a mess……. If it wasn’t already kind of a mess.

Incidentally, Soraya has been alternatingly outspoken and then quiet about “what should have been” for Xenosaga Episode 2. Combing the net, I’ve found that a number of plot points would eventually still find their way into Xenosaga Episode 3, like, for an obvious example, the awakening/reveal of KOS-MOS’s “true identity”.

But a few “plans” that were dropped and never get resolved include…

  • The death of Sakura (guess that explains that)
  • Some conversations between chaos and Testaments (probably would have been cryptic nonsense anyway)
  • Some conversations between Nephilim and “Fei” (kid from the ending of the last game)
  • Junior actually physically growing up (!) and being available “older” in battle (!)
  • Gaignun having a battle… or… something?… with the Zohar Emulators stored in the Kukai Foundation

Again, there’s other stuff removed from her “plan”, but most of it resurfaces in Episode 3. Also, there’s one other biggie, but it has a… let’s call it “comparable” scene in Episode 2, so we’ll cover that when we get there.

Also, for the curious, Soraya appears to have been the type that spends five seconds rolling her character, and then seventeen months writing a complicated backstory explaining that AGL of 2. In other words, all the “tragic pasts” of the cast are entirely the invention of Soraya, and anything that lives in flashback land (like our various encephalon dives or Ziggy’s eventual origin story) is all Soraya.

Also, Soraya Saga and I have the same birthday, so clearly this LP was predestined.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind if things seem at all… off… in the coming updates.

The end of Disc 1 would be an ideal place to stop, but let’s get a little prologue going for Disc 2.

Like the XS1 recap that took place during the opening chapter, this montage is narrated by Shion, but not subtitled for some reason. Here’s the narration:

“When Albedo released the seal, the lost path to Old Miltia was reopened once again. In response to this incident, the Federation government and the Immigrant Fleet both began their invasion into Miltian space. Their objective was to gain control over the original Zohar which was still sleeping on Miltia. However, the Immigrant Fleet had anticipated this incident and successfully broke through the Federation’s blockade. The Immigrant Fleet began their descent into Old Miltia. In its confusion, the Federation government’s response was slow and disorganized. Though they deployed ships to try and secure the region, the Federation was unable to stop the Immigrant Fleet’s advance.”

So, basically, The Patriarch’s private army snuck into Old Miltia when no one was looking.

And the Federation Government is about as organized as, well, most governments.

Wilhelm seems to have a new buddy, though. Incidentally, I want to say this is the first we’re seeing Wilhelm in XS2.

“I pray for a quick death for our enemies.”

The Immigrant Fleet has some weird-ass looking ships.

Pretty hefty firepower, though.

So Old Miltia is out of its black hole prison… but it’s not like black holes just go away. Pretty much everything that happens in this section of space is… physically dubious. A wizard did it.

“I see this mostly because I’ve murdered a couple of ‘em.”

Holo-Margulis claims that he’s got this all under control. Dontcha worry, old man.

The Federation is “disheveled” because damn near everything they’ve done since this series began has resulted in like 8,000 exploding ships. They’ve gotta be down to the D Team by now.

The Patriarch claims he has faith in Margulis. Once again, no idea if he actually believes in Margulis, or he’s just a slimeball that tells that kind of thing to his top general as easily as the janitor. “Steve, I have complete faith in your ability to adequately deal with what happened in that bathroom.”

Elsewhere…

More narration!

“Meanwhile, after receiving orders to appear before Vector, Shion and Allen returned to the Dämmerung, stationed in Miltian space…”

Oh boy, Miyuki is back! I want to say the redesign was not kind to her…

Looks like the ES Asher has a new buddy.

“In response to the Immigrant Fleet offensive, Representative Helmer dispatched Miltia’s standing forces to support the Federation. Helmer also planned out a covert operation to acquire the original Zohar on Miltia. This mission was secretly supported by both Vector and the Contact Subcommittee, and would be carried out by the Kukai Foundation.”

So Wilhelm once again appears to be a good guy. At least he’s being generous with these ES crafts.

So, yeah, once again, it falls to the Kukai Foundation to save the whole of the universe, predominantly because of a little universal constant called “plausible deniability”.

“Upon receiving Helmer’s request, Jr. and the others made preparations to descend into Old Miltia in the newly restored Elsa. In addition, to ensure the absolute success of this mission, several new members also joined their ranks.”

Elsa get equipped with Canaan.

And this dork!

Aw, MOMO gets to stick with MO-mom.

But it turns out that MOMO could potentially help the Elsa’s mission with her swank Realian powers.


Juli has had a complete change of heart after the whole “MOMO almost died thing” and doesn’t want to let MOMO out of her sight. Sorry, suddenly caring mom, it’s time to empty that nest (that has been filled for the last, what, twelve hours?).

“She never saved any universes. And she was a terrible pianist.”

… But kind of quiet. It’s an amusing endcap to the whole of the last three updates, because MOMO barely speaks during this scene, and Juli just keeps telling MOMO her personality traits. Maybe MOMO’s brain is still in sleep mode, because, during this entire scene, all MOMO says is “yes” (three times) and “mommy!” (twice).

Anyway, Dr. Mrs. Mizrahi has had too many breakthroughs for this Episode, so time for her to take a powder.

So Jin and Canaan just joined the Elsa crew with Junior and chaos. MOMO is hopping on the Elsa, and you can presume Ziggy will come along, too. That just leaves the Vector crew…

And we’ll pick up next update with the contrived circumstances that get Shion and KOS-MOS back into the main plot.

Oh, and completely out of sequence, here’s that Double Tech we scored off Albedo. No subtitles for double techs, but it’s just “Ready, MOMO? “ “Yes, Junior!” “Silver Duet!” Aside from being visually interesting (and seemingly unrelated to anything), it’s a pretty lackluster dual tech. That is to say, it’s a duel tech.

Next time on Xenosaga: Shion? Shion!? SHIIIIIIION!?!

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  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode III Part 17: URTVogears | Gogglebob.com

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