Xenosaga Episode III Part 03: Like a Romantic Comedy, but with Robots

Previously on Xenosaga: The Elsa got flushed down a space hole, and Shion rode on an elevator all by herself! What an eventful day!

Here we are at the base of the Space Elevator. Apparently, this elevator to out of the atmosphere exists only for Shion, and she can take the (four hour) trip anytime she desires.

This little area is very similar to the Kukai Foundation landing dock of the previous two games. There are a few NPCs milling about, and if you’re in a “talk to everyone” mood, feel free to find out about things that will eventually become plot points.

HaKox? I bet that’s not a complete waste of time!

And here’s one of two “world maps” for the game. To XS3’s credit, this map does make Fifth Jerusalem look like a huge city (check out how far the buildings extend into the horizon), while the Kukai Foundation was just a pile of puke. Second Miltia even looks kind of lacking by comparison.

That red dot up top is where we were in the previous screenshot, and now we’re down south in the hotel area. See? Big city.

Ya know, that’s the name of the planet. I want to say you shouldn’t have to greet someone with that information this far from a spaceport…

First Business District seems more substantial than the previous landing area, and there are kids and shops and… wait? Shops? Shops are back!

Either that, or you live in a JRPG, old man!

So, yes, shops are back after taking XS2 off, and… Well, technically they’re not that bad. They’re more like “part of the problem”, but the actual interface of the shops is alright.

Right now we only have Shion, but, as you can probably guess, we’ll eventually have the full party, and a whole host of items that make numbers go up for individual characters. Unlike the last game that had equipment, now every character can (and should) upgrade their equipment at every shop. Who is selling weapons and armor for a one-of-a-kind android that was recently discontinued? Everyone!

So here’s the downside of the whole “return of equipment thing”. Everyone has a weapon and armor slot. That’s straightforward! There are also Necklace, Bracelet, and Ring slots. This… is a little more annoying.

See, what’s going on here is that you have three separate “accessory” slots. Unfortunately, they’re not interchangeable slots: a ring is a ring, and a bracelet is a bracelet. This combines poorly with the fact that accessories don’t seem to have a dedicated “brand”. I want an item that nulls poison… now was that a necklace, bracelet, or ring? What’s more, it seems like the designers ran out of ideas pretty fast on the effects of accessories, so you see a lot of “upgraded” accessories along the way. This ring nulls poison, and, later, there’s a ring that nulls poison AND adds 300 to your max HP. In a way, that’s kind of good, but I found it more annoying to acquire the new “upgraded poison ring” and then have to sort through seven characters to find the hero still wearing the “outdated”, old poison ring. Just one more annoying step.

Oh, and, with a few exceptions, all the really interesting accessories get dumped on you in the last 10% of the game. Though I suppose that’s typical for JRPGs.

Ultimately, I get what they were trying to do here. The different accessories could potentially lead to a lot of customization, so if you want to dump all the DEF/HP items on Shion, you could potentially make her a better tank than Ziggy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way, because the characters are already pretty well defined from the get go. You could try to raise Slowpoke’s speed stat as much as you like, it’s still going to be… slow.

Additionally, there is no “optimize equipment” command. This kind of makes sense, as 60% of your equipment slots aren’t straightforward anyway, but it does mean that every new chapter, the shops are going to update, and you’ll have to spend a few minutes making sure Jin switched out his +2 sword for the new +3 sword. At least there is a “recently acquired items” tab.

Really, the whole equipment system seems more tedious than fun, and I kinda miss XS2’s “naked” characters.

Though at least the graphics for your weapons update with each upgrade, so that’s neat.

Oh, this necklace increases our Break Limit. Yeah, that’s right, you have to keep up on expanding your Break Limit with every equipment upgrade, or you’ll be broken all the time. Lame.

Other fun fact: I’m human! At this restaurant in the business district, you may hear about a “secret menu”. This is a sidequest! And I completely missed it!

I said from the beginning (or thereabouts) that I’m not playing these games with a FAQ. I feel that part of a videogame experience is sometimes knowing you can miss things, and if you’re trolling through Hyrule with a guide to all skulltulas, you’re not looking at the environs as a whole, you’re just checking out the places you’re told are hiding secrets. Similarly, if you’re writing a LP about a game, and the game does practically nothing to say “Hey, neat stuff here!” then that’s worth noting, too.

In XS3’s defense, it does make it clear that there’s something going on here, just not that there’s a “timer” on events. Unlike every dungeon (and even that beach from earlier), after we’re done on Fifth Jerusalem, we’re never coming back. We’re never allowed to come back. This is a drastic change from XS2, where you were expected to return to Second Miltia repeatedly, and you could solve all those sidequests at your leisure before and after the final dungeon.

So, in the interest of a full LP, I’ll tell you that you can get two completely unique pieces of armor for Shion and MOMO, and they’re both available for finding an old lady and “unlocking” the secret menu of this restaurant, respectively. The old lady quest is very quickly solvable (even if I didn’t bother), and the restaurant quest requires “talking to everybody” at different points after time passes in the plot. Your rewards are the Dive Teddy and Honey Teddy, which sound unsavory.

But I “for real” missed all these event markers, because I’d like to finish this LP before we evacuate Earth. I just wanted to get back to the real plot! Is that so wrong!?

Here’s this dude whining about an egg that could only be found back on Old Miltia. This might indicate to a player that A. We’re going back to Old Miltia for the third time in three games, and B. We’ll bring back an egg to “complete” this side quest. Half right!

This couple is talking about how people may become gnosis. Evidently the public opinion on gnosis is now that they exist, but of course they can’t transform people into other gnosis. That’s crazy talk!

Some NPCs want to steer you into the local park, but we’ll ignore that for right now.

The Möbius Hotel (founded by Möby) is blocked by a dude attempting to negotiate a hover platform full of luggage. Shion helps out by blowing the damn thing up.

Theodore thanks Shion for her act of vandalism…

And gives Shion a Segment File.

The hunt now begins in earnest, and Theodore explains the Red Segment Door quest for anyone that might have missed the first two games. Sergeant Swaim, you are missed.

That bit of mandatory sidequestery done, it’s time to hit the hotel.

Allen is back! He… needs an expanded wardrobe. I wonder what kind of improbable chain of events would get that dork to change his clothes.

This scene goes about as well as you’d expect: Allen is probably inches away from vomiting from sheer happiness at any given moment, and Shion is like, “So, seen any good movies?”

Also, Allen is physically incapable of calling Shion anything but “Chief”. That’s going to make the sex weird.

Four hour elevator ride, walk across town… Yep, Shion needs a nap after all that.

There’s a lot of evidence that Shion knows full well that Allen has feelings for her, and she just willfully ignores it (like, ya know, how she ignores everything wrong in her life… maybe she doesn’t transform into a gnosis through sheer, unmitigated denial). Though, at times, it appears she’s driving him nuts on purpose.

These two could have the most amazing dom/sub thing going on…

Maybe the KOS-MOS project got cancelled because all the team has been doing for the last six months is writing love letters on Allen’s behalf…

You may wander around the hotel freely now. There are a few more places to explore, and the hotel manager (Giddy? Is she descended from dwarves?) will note that Allen is the one paying Shion’s expenses. Naturally.

Here we are in Shion’s (hotel) room. It’s pretty posh. Like, it’s bigger than my first apartment. Second one, too…

Allen notes that other Vector divisions involved in KOS-MOS’s development aren’t happy with KOS-MOS cancellation, either.

Though Shion points out that Miyuki usually only speaks for Miyuki, and not her entire department. Miyuki being some kind of “weapon nerd” is such a weird little fact that I enjoy.

Speak of the devil, Miyuki calls the duo.

“Remember? We were raiding my parent company’s servers just yesterday and… Oh… Right, nevermind.”

It’s nice that they take the time to firmly establish that Shion doesn’t trust Allen enough to let him into her secret dealings. Or maybe she’s trying to protect him? Yeah, let’s go with that.

Miyuki teases Allen about his Shion crush right in front of both of them. Again, Shion is just willfully ignoring pretty much everyone on the whole Allen thing.

“I’m a weenie that is pathologically incapable of asserting myself! Waaaah!”

Incidentally, credit to the voice cast, there is a sort of “Play nice, children” and nostalgia to Shion’s “You two” here. Shion misses being Vector Mom.

You may recall that the last update ended with Togashi finding out about KOS-MOS’s involvement in the weapon demonstration tomorrow. Allen is just now getting the memo.

Answer your phone, stupid!

The universe hates you and you know it, Allen.

Shion’s relieved sigh at this news is heard all the way on Lost Jerusalem.

“If KOS-MOS is involved, I’m suddenly interested!”

“Positive note.” You know, that she was responsible for gnosis terrorism. That sounds positive.

Shion’s XS1 narcolepsy has returned. It’s clearly the middle of the day, but it’s time for a powernap.

And now it’s nighttime. Come on, writers, you couldn’t find a clever way for Shion to while away the afternoon?

chaos calling!

“Space/Time distortion. Ya know, it happens.”

So chaos and Shion decide to catch up at the restaurant we saw earlier. Shion jumps on the chance to socialize with anyone but Allen…

Doctus drops an email and offers what I believe is our last reminder to check that database if you’re ever confused about terms or whatever. Since all the major players have been introduced at this point, it really is the best time for a new player to hit that database and ask who that dude with the scar was supposed to be.

As you can see, we’ve basically just started the game, and the database is 68% complete. This is because the majority of this information is catch-up material from the previous games, and, from about here on, it’s all going to be, “And then Yuriev turned out to have three testicles” or whatever crazy revelations happen. In other words, don’t expect a lot of “here’s a new character” updates.

Oh boy! We get to explore the business district after dark.

Or just go straight to the restaurant. Honestly, at this point in the game, it feels like forever since the last real “gameplay”, so, like during the old days of the Woglinde, I just want to see the plot advance. YMMV and all that.

As Shion enters the restaurant, a newscast is playing regarding the (very public) war between Ormus and The Federation. I believe that is actually Richard & Hermann repping Ormus on the screen.

But Shion and chaos are ignoring the news, because who wants to hear about a silly old war anyway? Even if you kinda maybe were involved in starting it…

“Oh no! Tony! And the other guys!”

“Do you think Professor is building a giant robot to help them get out?”
“… Probably.”

“He made this whole PowerPoint presentation about your adventure together. Called it ‘A Missing Year’. Seems like he spent a lot of time on it. Captain Matthews fell asleep.”

chaos implies that Shion’s Vector contacts might help out with rescuing the Elsa, but he admits the whole thing is kind of a long shot. Oh well, guess he just stopped by to tell Shion her friends are in mortal danger and there’s nothing she can do about it.

The news continues, and explains that, as we sorta learned last game, gnosis are completely wrecking the galaxy.


Shion shows the tiniest bit of concern for her brother who is, incidentally, carrying the hero torch in her absence.

YOU JUST WOKE UP!

Oh, those weird headaches. Right.

“Errmmmm…. Check please!”

You’re in the Magenta Zone, Shion. Everything floats here.

“Yo.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in January of 1993.

“I gave you my name. Be nice.”

Is it just me, or is that the least comfortable bed ever seen in fiction?

“That kid weighs like 100 lbs… but I have seen him vaporize a gnosis with his hand… hm…”

Allen left Shion alone for the evening, so he naturally assumes she’s been killed and/or maimed in that time. I mean, it seems exaggerated, but you have to remember how many exploding planets/space stations Allen watched Shion escape…

All this napping has gotten us to “tomorrow” pretty quickly. Good!

Allen meets Shion down in the lobby to hastily escort her to the weapon demonstration.

“Yeah, didn’t we experience some sort of weird flashback world where he was chief clone daddy? He seemed alright. Oh, and there was that time he broke into a video transmission and told us blowing up Old Miltia was a good thing and we should kill his son. I think I’ve heard of him.”

Allen notes what was implied last update…

Yuriev is basically running the Federation military and its more… apocalyptic projects.

Allen claims it’s basically Yuriev’s machinations that KOS-MOS is getting scrapped, but Shion blames herself. Don’t worry, guys, you’re both right!

And Allen makes some ominous notes about KOS-MOS’s replacement…

In the spirit of Shion seemingly existing only to make Allen’s life more difficult, now that we’re already late for the weapons demonstration, let’s tour the rest of Fifth Jerusalem.

Here’s a cool little showroom dedicated to the newly built Merkabah. I love that what was once an orbiting death platform is now literally a tourist attraction. Branding!

Learn more about Our Friend, The Merkabah. The future is WOW!

Guess Mizrahi has a better public image after Ormus officially got blamed for Old Miltia. By the by, this is a silly little optional area, but I like how much detail was put into making it seem like a real showroom/museum. The layout actually kind of reminds me of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.

And then past the museum is a lovely little park area.

Ah, the showiness of nature.

And an agreeable view… over a highway. That seems less pleasant.

You may find a few errant items if you traipse around the waterway in this area.

Okay, time to head to the CAT Testing Ground. Cute little bit of geographic storytelling with “the place we test dangerous weapons” being its own island separated from the main populated area.

The Galactic Government has the coolest buildings.

To be clear, those aren’t statues, they’re live AMWS. I guess it’s a good idea to have a little protection for your weapon testing area during a war.

“Humanity’s final defense against the gnosis”… that is evidently failing.

Togashi chastises his boss for being late. You can see how Allen deals so well with being Chief #2. … Oh man, I’m even going to ignore the easy joke there.

Second time this update that a subordinate mocks the obvious Shion + Allen pairing.

And, again, this has apparently been going on forever.

So we can explore the CAT Testing Ground a little bit, but it’s pretty much a straight line to our next destination.

Fun fact: while “choice” windows in this game are dedicated windows, the speech bubbles for NPCs talking are “painted on”, which means occasionally, if you stand just right, you’ll cut off the dialogue with the edge of the screen. No, that wasn’t just a bad cropping job on my part!

Lyle Lanley would be so happy with the future.

Oh boy! Oh boy!

Ah, we know this is going to be good, we’re in cinema-mode.

If this leads to mild-mannered Dr. Shion Uzuki becoming The Hulk, I’m all for it.

Again, The Salvator Faction is basically Yuriev’s dudes. They’re… probably pictured here? Other than Juli probably being in there somewhere, we’re basically looking at Federation Randos.

“Unlike with KOS-MOS… probably because we’ve been sitting on our hands for a year…”

Shion is shocked at the sight of the “new unit”.

Yeah, I want to say she looks familiar.

Microsoft presents its brand new, completely original android.

Where have I heard that name before? Oh yeah, the second screenshot, which was from the U-TIC ship Junior investigated during XS1. Hm.

“I guess someone is hacking Vector data. Well, somebody else.”

“The other half is MOMO, but wearing a new hat.”

Shion’s catchphrase!

“Is it like a copy of a copy of KOS-MOS? Is it a boy KOS-MOS? That’d be different.”

I think Allen is just enjoying knowing something Shion doesn’t at this point.

Gnosis are released into the weapons testing area. Well, how did you expect to test an anti-gnosis weapon, Shion? Virtual reality? Phhht.

Vector had a stable of gnosis because… raisens?

Shion actually dons a new pair of tech-glasses to observe the weapons test. They’re like lil’ binoculars.

T-elos starts kicking ass, and, what’s more, she seems to be enjoying it. Remember that KOS-MOS is about as robotic as they come.

While she explodes everything, let’s talk about T-elos. T-elos… is just weird. Like, first of all, she’s the blatant “evil twin” of KOS-MOS, and it seems really… ill-advised that she was introduced after Dark Erde Kaiser, the blatant parody of this overused trope. And Albedo, Junior’s literal evil twin. Been there, done that, guys.

Second, for whatever reason, T-elos winds up becoming the Boba Fett of the Xenosaga universe. Somebody must have really liked her design or something, because I want to say T-elos winds up in more Xenosaga spin-off and advertising material than Shion. This is despite the fact that, while she is technically important to the plot, she has about as much “real” impact on the proceedings as Richard and Hermann. Couple of boss battles, “reveal” of her true identity, and then it’s time for the scrapheap. Weird way to treat the lady bot that was so heavily promoted beforehand.

All that said, taken on her own, she’s exactly what she’s supposed to be: Dark KOS-MOS. She’s cocky and brash where KOS-MOS is stoic. She “knows what’s going on” while KOS-MOS is ignorant of her origins. She’s cruel while KOS-MOS protects. I think she’s left handed, KOS-MOS is a righty. T-elos may as well be named SOM-SOK and originate from Bizarro World, because we’re just about all the way there.

Also, she’s mostly organic, as she’s built from a millennia old corpse. Virgil thinks she smells good, though.

Anyway, T-elos “wins” this demonstration pretty handily. She even uses a laser blade during the battle, and if this whole thing seems evocative of the first time KOS-MOS unleashed on the gnosis during XS1, that’s deliberate.

I bet she’s even mastered Chaos Control.

So… she’s a one-woman party.

Unfortunately, no one appears to know how she was built. Here’s a tip, I think someone may have used KOS-MOS blueprints.

Roth Mantel is the man behind T-elos, though.

Here’s a fun fact, if you rearrange the letters in “Roth Mantel”, it spells “That’s Kevin, you idiots.”

This little scene feels like it was wedged in here at the last second. We have a quick cut to Yuriev, Sellers, and a soldier discussing Roth Mantel and his dubious origins.

“I was chair of MadScienceBiWeeklyHyperMegaCon three years running. I know everybody.”

Yuriev notes that he can feel “their waves from him”. You may recall that we learned from Pied Piper that Yuriev was the “first voyager”, the first dude to interact with U-DO directly. Apparently this granted him the ability to immediately identify people that can interface with U-DO… so basically Yuriev knows this Roth is probably involved with the Immigrant Fleet/Ormus. Or at least that’s his theory.

Keep your friends close and your… Oh, who cares, I don’t think Yuriev is ever going to interact directly with “Roth” anyway.

Now here’s the stuff! Meet V. 3 KOS-MOS, last seen briefly during A Missing Year. Is it just me, or did she get a hips upgrade?

And her opponent… looks familiar.

Yep! Proto Omega might be gone, but Yuriev and Sellers slapped together an all new Omega.

Incidentally, this is one point where the DS game kind of messes things up. It’s not like “oh no, this is the worst”, but in XS2, the party only indirectly fought Proto Omega: it was a sort of backup “summon” for the final battle with Patriarch, and the implication was that if you fought it directly, you’d be dead. Meanwhile, in Xenosaga DS, the party fought (and defeated) Proto Omega in the ESes. This makes more “game” sense, but Omega kind of loses something if you’ve already conquered it once.

Omega Rex!?

Oh, no, wait, Omega Res Novae. Whatever.

“But we’re going to assume something evil was involved.”

This scene is so weirdly edited. I guess they didn’t feel like making “cinema” models for the incidental characters/areas, so we randomly cut to the control rooms for the two “weapons” involved.

KOS-MOS speaks for the first time in her final game (kinda). Gotta build anticipation for your covergirl.

Meanwhile, in Omega’s bullpen, Juli and Random Nobody are discussing “the pilot”. Yeah, I guess somebody has to be controlling that Omega thing from inside.

Juli speaks to the pilot very… maternally.

Discussion as to whether or not the pilot even understands his handlers. Hm.

It’s compared to speaking to a baby in the womb, and Juli admits that she’s just doing it for her own peace of mind. What does it all mean?

And back to Cinema World, where the battle begins.

Shion is super concerned about her favorite bot.

Who is not doing all that great.

She even tries using an aerial tummy laser, but the X-Buster just bounces off Omega’s shields. Remember when that weapon destroyed an entire gnosis fleet?

Alright, change of plans.

I guess Omega is a dark type, because Hi-Jump Kick is super effective.

Back to talking heads. Looks like Omega’s pilot did not enjoy being kicked in the face.

And back to cinema. Omega is freaking out, and shooting lasers everywhere.

A blast is headed right for Shion’s viewing window!

KOS-MOS intercepts the shot by taking one right to the face… and splats on the glass right in front of Shion.

Back to the talking head team.

So KOS-MOS lost, but Omega didn’t really do all that well either. However, there’s no reason the government observers had to know there was so much chaos in the trenches, so everything thinks Omega was an uncontested success.

Roth decides to come over and gloat about T-elos being so awesome.

Roth, you are an incredible asshole. I approve.

Shion is mesmerized by Roth. Just be glad she doesn’t get a case of the vapors.

Roth excuses himself after saying like two things. “You guys suck! Gotta go, bye!”

Allen naturally dislikes him. Can’t imagine why.

We can investigate the area at our leisure now. Aw, it’s another NPC that thinks one of these android weapons is going to be mass-produced. How naïve.

Here’s a character blocking a treasure chest and tapping on the fourth wall. We’re back to XS1 rules, everybody! Hang around an area when it’s “friendly”, and then revisit it as a dungeon later.

Juli and Shion see each other in the hallway.

Everybody loves casually mentioning AMY.

“Nothing too noteworthy, but we may as well leave space for a few more spin-offs if this title does well.”

“I think our dad is worse than Hitler, he disagrees but never elaborates. It’s a whole big thing.”

And in walks a very familiar little boy. This dude was last seen at the end of the Vector raid, the end of XS1, and the entirety of Xenogears.

His name is Abel. Of course it is. Of course it is.

Ya know, I didn’t notice this phenomenon until my friends started having kids, but, man, crayons are like catnip for kids. What is this boundless need for children to create, or just add color to restaurant menus? Where does this desire come from? And where does it go? Would the world be a better place if every company had coloring breaks? … What was I talking about, again?

Oh, right, Juli is apparently the kind of parent that lets a kid just draw on the floor. Well, I guess it’s not her house…

“Hey, is there a woman on staff?” “Yeah, Juli Mizrahi.” “Great, put her in charge of the kid.” That’s how this works, right?

And it turns out that Abel is the pilot of Omega. Gasp and whatnot.

He drew Nephilim on the floor? Are we sure that isn’t just a generic anime face? Nah, let’s go with the more mysterious answer.

“They made me make finger sandwiches. I have a doctorate, dammit!”

Juli tells Shion to go run along and play with her friends… and that’s about where we’ll stop for today. T-elos and Omega/Abel: 1, KOS-MOS: 0. Let’s see if that score improves later.

Next time on Xenosaga: Hey, it turns out the entire universe is in danger. Who knew?

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  1. Pingback: Xenosaga Episode III Part 18: It’s the Little Things (About Giant Robots) | Gogglebob.com

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