Xenosaga Episode III Part 08: What Time is It?

Previously on Xenosaga: KOS-MOS and T-elos got into a bit of a scuffle, and that somehow blew Shion into a forest? Huh?

Shion, dear, I handle the recaps around here.

KOS-MOS!!! Also… everyone else… I guess…”

So we pick back up here at… Forest. Well, that’s not very helpful.

Head west and find a locked tunnel or something, but more importantly, a shop and a save point.

We’ve got a few new items for sale. Huh. Why is this “full revive” item so cheap?

Equipment selection hasn’t updated, though. I like getting new weapons, but I also don’t like spending money, so I guess it works out.

Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be a key laying around for that tunnel, so let’s head back west this time.

Aw, Junior is some kind of human Labrador.

I guess the party is capable of employing stealthy tactics, they just choose not to whenever the player is watching.

Jin and Ziggy creep out of the bushes after Junior, MOMO, and chaos have their fun. I presume the duo was sitting at the adult’s table, maybe reading a newspaper and smoking a pipe.

We’ve got 85% of The Brews, but a missing robot and spaceship. I understand KOS-MOS being hard to find, but I feel like the Elsa should be pretty easy to spot.

MOMO is a navigational Realian, and has proven in previous situations to have the ability to triangulate space at the drop of a hat (beret). Just wanted to mention that for no real reason.

I choose to believe that Shion made KOS-MOS fluorescent blue for this very situation. It’s like owning hot pink car keys.

So… forest dungeon. Wee. The point of the UMN, from a gameplay perspective, is that it allows Xenosaga to have a “holodeck”. We started the entire franchise in “a simulation of a ruined 20th century city”, and since then… Have we had many dungeons that couldn’t exist in any other generic JRPG? We’ve somehow had three nonspecific forests in three games! If we get another basic cave, I am going to scream.

And it looks like we’ve got some soldiers creeping around. Like the CAT Testing Ground dungeon, I appreciate how this (generic) area allows you to observe enemy walking patterns and plan your tactics accordingly.

Ah, this is fairly familiar. We’ve got U-TIC soldiers and small walker mechs. I want to say we lost saw these “monster” groups back during the intro of XS2 and later on Old Miltia Revisited. Yes, that’s significant.

Now that we don’t have to deal with gnosis every five seconds, we can well and totally abuse the break gauge to keep rando commandos from ever acting. You bash that soldier’s butt, Shion!

It might be a short dungeon, but treasure hunting/monster avoiding dungeon rules apply.

Here’s that treasure chest we could see guarded by a soldier a few pics back. Hero’s Bracelet defends against a pair of elements… I want to say fire and ice? We’ll get its matching accessory shortly.

Ya know, we might find out where we are if we just politely ask one of these U-TIC soldiers, as opposed to recklessly slaughtering ‘em on sight.

The targeting hud kind of took over here, but the new monster for this area is the Asterion, a mutant dog thing that assists the soldiers. Those beasts are fast and strong, so it’s probably a good idea to choke the soldiers into submission, and then take out the dogs while the humans are stunned. Or just save your finishing moves for the mutts. Whatever works.

The forest path leads up some cliff. Hey, maybe we’ll be able to see where the heck we are. No… that’s silly, what are the odds that we’re on the one random planet in the galaxy that anyone in the party could identify by landmarks?

Wait…

It’s Labyrinthos, the home base of U-TIC on Old Miltia! Once again, I want to thank the good folks at U-TIC for designing a building willing to throw up the horns.

“Wasn’t it destroyed in the conflict?” Uh, no, Ziggy, we were literally in Labyrinthos last year shortly before the entire planet exploded. Or is that the new “conflict”?

Only one solution! This is another UMN simulation We’ve gone BACK IN TIME!

So.. uh… don’t touch anything… I guess? Alright, don’t panic, we can handle this. I was a Boy Scout, so, for those of you that missed out on the guidebook, here are the five rules for time traveling:
1. Take nothing, leave only footprints
2. Actually, try to cover up those footprints, too
3. Also, try not to breathe, as you’re probably infecting everyone with future diseases
4. Absolutely do not pee anywhere
5. Don’t sleep with your mom

I think it’s safe to say we’ve already well and truly borked the timeline (uh… were those soldiers supposed to die?), but we might be able to avoid any significant paradoxes if we don’t interact with anyone important. This whole stupid planet is supposed to get sucked into a double blackhole in the near future, so… uh… those guys were doomed anyway? Yeah, that should be right…

Oh, a pretty waterfall.

The camera helpfully zooms behind the falls to reveal a treasure chest protected by mutant doggies.

And then the doggies come to say hi!

Aaaaaand then they just mill about on this giant branch. They go to all the effort of jumping across the lake to maul you, and then you can sneak up on them like every other silly monster.

Also, there’s a treasure chest on a branch, and if you accidentally blow up the supporting branch… good-bye treasure. You can exit and reenter the area to reset the branch, though.

Detonate the right parts of the branch, and you’ll get the Warrior’s Bracelet. This protects against the elements the last accessory didn’t, which are thunder and beam.

Save point past the waterfall area, but you can check these other paths before moving forward.

The southern path leads to a treasure chest, and scoot back along the northern path and you can trace your way back behind the waterfall.

That treasure chest that the camera conspicuously highlighted a moment ago contains the EX Skill Key 1, a unique item that is fairly important.

This key allows you to unlock a whole new branch on the skill tree, and grant your characters skills they potentially wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t think there are any truly unique skills on this branch, it’s much like in XS1 when you were capable of jumping from one character’s ether development branch to another. Whatever the case, you definitely want that key, because who wants to miss out on extra HP and alike?

Go back to the savepoint and a little further east to hear gunshots. I don’t know why this is an event, as the U-TIC soldiers have been shooting at The Brews quite a bit lately.

Oh, son of a bitch. Looks like there’s a soldier under attack by Realians, and, yep, it’s pretty obviously Virgil. Let’s call him Soldier Virgil so as to distinguish him from his older self.

God… God dammit, Shion.

We do actually get to fight the Realians. They’re… kind of sub-bossy? They’re more powerful than the U-TIC soldiers, but not full boss-rank.

Virg, man, you got twenty hours?

Good to see that Shion has the skill of basic facial recognition. Ya know, for being so anime, I do have to give Xenosaga credit for having distinctive characters, as opposed to just “big eyes, small mouth, different hair color” all day long.

Shion, having already established that time travel is involved, is somehow still surprised that there would be a younger Virgil here. Virgil is just confused/dying.

“I am trying to heal you! By the way, I might be responsible for your death in fifteen years. Just a head’s up.”

The party actually makes note of Virgil being a Testament (reminder that Shion is the only one here that ever met “alive” Virgil), but Shion insists that they help their future enemy. Past enemy? Damn time travel.

Oh, right, Jin’s a doctor. Like, that kind of doctor. Shion is a robo-doctor.

Ziggy always gets stuck with the heavy lifting.

And so we’ve got Virgil in tow. As per JRPG tradition, you may now reexplore the entirety of this dungeon, take hours puttering around doing nothing, then go back to the plot whenever you feel, and Virgil will still be okay. I recommend doing that, just to keep Soldier Virgil on his toes.

There’s a kind of hidden path in some bushes along the way.

There was a NPC back on Fifth Jerusalem talking about how Cornelian Eggs went extinct when Old Miltia exploded, so, hey, valuable protein. Don’t eat those eggs, they’ll come in handy for a sidequest way down the line.

Little more walking, a whole new paradox to explore.

Yay! We’ve encountered two friendlies on this entire planet so far, and they’re both people we already know.

Wait, never mind. Feb wandered off before we got to talk to her.

“Also, Junior keeps hitting him in the head, and that’s not helping!”

Oh boy, remember the last time this gang went to church?

Shion confesses that now that she’s got the lay of the land, she knows exactly where to go.

Eeeeeyep. Want to know something stupid? This is the forest leading up to the church of Shion’s dreams. That means, technically, the forest dungeon of XS1 and the forest dungeon of XS3 were the exact same forest. I didn’t like it the first time!

Considering this church was one of the more memorable moments of XS1, we probably don’t need the reminder, but it’s nice when XS3 acknowledges that not everyone remembers everything about the trilogy.

The U-TIC van parked outside is new.

And the first person we see upon entering the church is Kiddy Shion. Stupid, stupid time travel. Nnah!

“Was I always such a nerd?”

And here’s “Young Man” with Feb and Kiddy Shion. Young Man, like most “unidentified” characters in this game, is Kevin. It’s pretty obvious, but I guess no one in the party except Shion has ever really gotten a good look at the guy, and Shion…. Shion got issues.

This is also the first we’re seeing Feb as a non-omniscient ghost. She acts pretty much like you’d expect from her previous appearances (caring to the max), but she spouts a lot less cryptic nonsense as a mortal.

Teenage Kevin objects to helping… anybody.

It’s getting hard to keep track of what we already know, but Feb is confirmed as an U-TIC Realian (we know Cecily and Cathe were U-TIC manufactured to interface with the Zohar from Space Pope’s speech, and they were identified as “Feb’s sisters”, so we kinda already knew this), and, by association, Kevin is apparently working for U-TIC. U-TIC is at (or on the cusp of) war with the Federation, so Federation Soldier Virgil is a very unwelcome guest. …. Everybody get all that?

Feb isn’t hearing it, because she is literally a habit away from being the first Realian nun.

Dude’s just name dropping at this point.

But Kevin does eventually relent under lame excuse law.

The love of Shion’s life, everybody!

Welp, he’s doomed. Anybody wanna go out for porkchops?

Virgil has stolen Feb’s heart. Or he’s about to.

Techno babble whatever, but, yes, Feb should be mostly compatible or whatever despite being an artificial life form.

“I’ll be fine! I never liked this liver anyway.”

“Well, okay. Let me get my surgery sword.”

LATER! With Miyuki and Allen not in the immediate vicinity, Shion has to get in her jabs when she can.

Really, Xenosaga? We’re identifying Kiddy Shion as “Young Girl” still? We’ve had the squirt running around in other Xenosaga games, we know who we’re looking at.

Luckily, Kiddy Shion is better at keeping the plot on track than her adult self. I’m… not surprised.

Sounds like the Elsa! Let’s get over there!

Teenage Kevin is still muttering about letting his assigned Realian get her organs torn out.

“Welp, this has been fun, group of random people I don’t know, but could you get out of here? My boss is coming over.”

Really missed an opportunity here, XS. Could have at least had Kiddy Shion ask Shion’s name and leave her stammering, “My name? Uh… Victoria… Secret?”

Kevin told us to leave, but you can linger and explore the church a bit. Actually, let’s take a moment to talk about retcons.

First, the “clever” retcon: Virgil might not be a cannibal. Despite all his talk of hating Realians and despising their odor, it has now been revealed that Virgil survived a deadly injury thanks to a transplant of Realian organs. The description for the fake disease that has afflicted Virgil’s face only claims that it occurs most often thanks to consuming Realian tissue, but a transplant would create the same malady. So, hey, maybe the plan all along was that Virgil wasn’t that bad, he’s just super-duper racist, and not a super-duper racist cannibal. I think we all learned a valuable lesson about not judging a book by its cover.

And then there’s the Kevin thing.

This one reeks of retcon. Shion was hanging out with Kevin when she was a kid, and, despite the fact that he later became her boss and lover, she inexplicably never remembered or thought to mention this little detail. She, technically, doesn’t even remember it now, but it’s pretty plainly slapping the player in the face with the “revelation”.

But, somehow, the crumbs were laid for this shock all the way back in XS1. You may recall there was an entire seemingly superfluous cutscene dedicated to the fact that Dr. Mizrahi apparently had an assistant, and, reading between the lines, it’s clear that’s intended to be Kevin. Also, we literally watched Dr. Mizrahi’s death on Old Miltia during the flashback dungeon, so we know the good doctor was hanging around Old Miltia quite a bit. And, of course, we know Shion’s past in the hospital and apparently hanging with her good buddy Feb, a Mizrahi-designed Realian. Combine all these facts, and the odds are pretty good that Mizrahi’s Assistant would have met Mizrahi’s creation’s friend. And, given Shion was eight and Kevin was a dick, it’s entirely likely that they wouldn’t immediately recognize each other about a decade later.

But…

It still feels like a big ol’ cheat to have Shion and Kevin interacting well before they wind up being “Shion and Kevin”. I guess maybe there’s some sort of “star crossed lovers” thing going on here, but it’s hard to read “I met my fiancée when she was eight” as anything but a little bit skeevy. Maybe this was always planned (I mean, it’s not like the Shion/Kevin relationship appeared 100% healthy at any point in this franchise), but it still comes off as a little…. wrong.

Oh well, at least it gives us an excuse to explore Kevin’s motivations during this “flashback”. Not like we’re getting any more info on actual party members…

Oh, hey! Remember during XS1, and there was that side door, and it was locked, and it didn’t matter? Like, you could unlock it, and it just went out into the courtyard like the regular door, but it seemed like it should be hiding something? Well now that door is back! Oh boy! I bet there’s a big secret here for remembering it exists after two games.

Nope, just leads to the courtyard again. Bah! I’m never going to church again!

Hey, we’ve got an Old Miltia world map. We’re told not to go to the city (must… preserve… timeline…), but we can frolic along this woodsy path. This planet doesn’t look too bad for a place that’s about to turn into a flaming pile.

Man, the Elsa really got separated from the main party… but I guess we were pretty far away by the time KOS-MOS/T-elos detonated.

Dabrye Mine. I guess they mine cotton here?

It’s an old man! Miraculously, this is the first resident of Old Miltia (we’re not murdering) that we didn’t already know.

Ugh… he’s probably Junior’s grandpa or something…

He doesn’t like U-TIC, we don’t like U-TIC… let’s be buds!

I guess the Old Miltia of fifteen years ago is filled with a cowardly, superstitious lot that doesn’t actually touch mysterious ships that drop out of the sky.

But Mai is on the case! … Who’s Mai?

Additional backstory: U-TIC picked the mine clean. Just as well, not like the planet is going to last another week anyway.

There are some loud explosions (is there any other kind?), and we’re told that that’s Leopold.

Mai thinks her parent’s soul lives on in a fighting robot? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

You heard me.

We’re all friends now since we all agreed that U-TIC sucks, so, ya know, just bring back this dude’s granddaughter if you see her. Have a nice trip!

OH MY GOD HE’S REALLY… actually… he’s nobody. And, unfortunately, no, this does not tie Xenosaga to the Chrono Trigger universe, but he might have a connection to a Belthasar…

Explore the… mine… landing… area?… a bit at your leisure. There’s some cash for robbing Aizen’s house, and a save point and shop nearby. Once again, the shop has not updated with anything interesting.

There’s a crane minigame that plays like the drill minigame of XS1. It’s entirely optional, but if you play with it a bit, you’ll earn a few random consumables and MOMO’s swimsuit. I’ll look at it a little more during the sidequest update.

Alright, enough milling about. Time to blast our way into the mine and probably fight a possessed robot.

Oh, look, it’s a cave dungeon. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Cisco feels like he got hit by a truck, truck, truck, and is all like, “What, what, what?”

These are not gnosis! The most common monsters in the mine are U-TIC soldiers and these mutant Byproduct creatures. They’re biological, not salt, based opponents.

The red ones use magic, the blue ones are more physical. Nothing too complicated.

This is a mine, so you’ll get some decent treasure for blasting every rock you find. There’s an ES part in this column. That… raises questions.

Another good time to exploit the break system and reduce the enemy’s turns.

Look, Xenosaga, you can’t just keep adding waterfalls to boring dungeons and expect me to be impressed. It gets old.

More walls for blastin’.

Behind that passage is Red Segment Door #1. We scored the #1 decoder in that stupid maze last update.

So, hey, free treasure. XS3 is pretty good about not making you backtrack all over creation if you’re good at exploring the first time.

Witch’s Eye is I want to say the first obvious “upgraded” accessory. You’ve likely already got a HP+ accessory, but this one has HP+, EP+, and BL+. So, basically, from this point on, always check to make sure you’ve got the best of the best equipped every time you open a treasure chest. Joy.

This dungeon isn’t too long. I think Forest + Mine = One Big Dungeon, but there are enough breaks along the way that the whole experience doesn’t feel too draining.

“I’m different!” “No you’re not.”

Savepoint. Guess we’re getting toward the end.

Wild Roller Coaster? That sounds like fun!

Oh, it’s just a zipline. This isn’t fun at all, just an excuse for robot taunting.

That bot looks vaguely familiar…

I swear Shion has just plain given up on paying any attention to the plot. That was Leopold! The robot! You just heard about it like twenty minutes ago!

At least we’re out of that musty old cave.

Meet Mai.

Yeah, there’s no way this “misunderstanding” doesn’t end in a fight. Comic books and videogames, everybody!

Incidentally insulting Junior just escalates matters.

chaos is usually good at mediation, but I guess he’s a little off his game today.

We’re going to fight! I get it!

And here’s our first good look at Leopold. Time for a boss fight!

But first, let’s address the elephant mech in the room: Mai and Leopold are dead ringers for Maria and Seibzehn of Xenogears. Well, more appropriately, Mai looks like a teenage Maria (assuming she kept her fashion sense through adolescence), and Leopold could be Seibzehn’s extremely little brother. That said, the parallels of the two characters are obvious, with Mai and Maria both claiming to be protectors of their home, dedicated if rambunctious granddaughters, and the odd situation of a mech that may or may not be possessed by a dead father. It is, frankly, the most blatant Xenogears reference in the Xenosaga franchise.

It also means absolutely nothing.

Spoilers, but Mai dominates this little quest, and then she quickly fades into the background. She will be involved in one totally optional and rather speedy sidequest, and then she’s never seen again. Does she die with the rest of Old Miltia? Does she go on to help build giant robots? Does she have an adult counterpart in the “present” of Xenosaga? Who knows, and Xenosaga doesn’t give a flip.

So, for anyone curious, this is just a really enthusiastic “echo cameo” of a character from Xenogears that somehow warranted an entire little area to herself. Sorry, Rico, nobody remembers you existed, but “Maria” gets a comeback.

Dig the goggles, though.

Bah, back to the fight.

Mai is a typical human that is inexplicably stronger than every person we’ve encountered on this planet. Why didn’t they just send her thunder-resistant ass to subdue any rebelling Realians?

And Leopold is the equally strong robot that will be assisting Mai. It at least has a few more weaknesses than its boss, so, since they both have equal HP, it probably makes sense to take it out first.


Both combatants primarily use powerful physical attacks. They’re not too complicated, but I wouldn’t bring MOMO into this battle.

Ziggy! No! The timeline!

I defeated Leopold first, so Mai got a tweak upset about that.

Oh, I guess Heat, the skill that allows you to redirect an enemy’s attacks away from weaker party members, didn’t work up until this point. And now it does. Good to know, assuming you ever use that move.

Just so we don’t think Ziggy has all the cool moves, here’s some Shion judo. Actually, Ziggy does have all the cool moves, but I figured we could pretend for one gif.

Mai goes down.

Well, to the victor go the spoils. I’m sure Shion could turn it into a lovely mobile fridge.

“Do you remember when Ziggy only sorta broke your neck?”

“chaos… What?”
“We were all using nonlethal attacks, right?”
“Um… uh… Yeah. Right. Right.”

Shion points out that they just want to get back to the Elsa and their friends, and come on, you love giant robots, we love giant robots, let’s all get along.

Why didn’t Aizen just come with us in the first place!?

No, the death of you will be in two days when the planet is obliterated. Or maybe a gnosis shortly beforehand? One of those.

“And if you disagree, we’ll beat you up again!”

Hm, seems like the rest of the party has noticed Shion’s… attitude shift.

Yay! Elsa is somehow lodged in this cave!

Yay! Treasure five feet from the entrance!

Yay! These knuckleheads!

“Even though we still don’t know what ‘that’ is…”

“Allen! Great! Now where’s the person I actually care about?”

We’ve got some bad news…

And it’s not that Allen has now become Professor’s Assistant #2.

It’s official: T-elos: 2, KOS-MOS: 0.

Good news: KOS-MOS made the time jump with everybody else. Bad news: She’s mostly dead.

“You know, Kevin? Your dead fiancée? Who you ran into earlier and inexplicably didn’t recognize?”

Shion… not happy.

And that’s the end of the chapter.

7:03, this whole chapter was just about an hour.

We’re going to keep going just a little bit to answer a question that drove me nuts the first time I played this chapter.

Back on the Durandal, Mary and Shelley are upset at having completely lost the Elsa Rescue Party. Juli Mizrahi is dropping in via Skype to check in on the only group of seven people capable of saving the universe.

Oh, and, FYI, Yuriev and the Federation are going to start a massive assault on Michtam. So, ya know, hope you don’t have a vacation home on that burnt out husk of a planet.

War starting, heroes missing, bad times for everybody.

Something is on Michtam, and everybody wants it. And that something is…

Oh, it’s the title of the game. I guess that would be valuable.

“Well… we technically have half of those things…”

This is completely inaccurate!

Meanwhile, fifteen years ago or something…

Alright, here we go. Shion dreams of the original timeline. We do not need a predestination paradox in Xenosaga, so here’s what happened without time traveler meddling.

So originally Virgil crawled his way to the church on his own (I guess without The Brews to defeat the Realians, he may have been pursued as far as Feb flower picking), and it was Teenage Kevin, not Jin, that performed the surgery, probably with much more whining involved. Welp, that fills in that little plot hole! … Wait, why didn’t Kiddy Shion recognize time-displaced Jin in our timeline?

And we still have the plot hole of Shion being completely incapable of identifying a slightly younger version of her greatest love, so whatever! Okay, now I’m going to stop for the day.

Next time on Xenosaga: We’re going to destroy this universe one way or another!

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