Xenosaga Episode III Part 17: URTVogears

Previously on Xenosaga: Yuriev played The Brews again, and the Durandal and nearly everyone on it was destroyed in an attempt to infiltrate Abel’s Ark, a gigantic gnosis that is the current home of The Zohar. Yuriev grabbed that Zohar and began to ascend to godhood, and Junior and pals got… I think they rescued a dog at some point?

Here we are, Bridge of the Elsa, same as it ever was. After everything that happened last time, we once again have a moment to breathe before heading into the latest danger zone. Breathing is overrated, let’s get out of here.

Upon starting this mission, a brief scene between chaos and Canaan plays. I guess we have to get into some character development for other characters, and we’re doing it alphabetically (Allen is, naturally, skipped).

Canaan is having an existential crisis, so why not talk to a buddy. Fun fact: Canaan and chaos have known each other for fifteen years… but I think this is the first they’re talking one-on-one in the present.

I can never tell if Canaan is supposed to be stoic or mopey, but I guess this clinches it. Canaan is a sad Realian.

And it turns out Canaan is starting to remember Pied Piper and being a tool for the last century or so. Guess Doctus unearthed some unhappy memories while we were playing around in the past.

Yes Lactis from Pied Piper was somehow Canaan all along. Or I guess Canaan was Lactis? This is a big revelation for the six people that played Pied Piper. For everybody else, this is basically just place setting for what happens in another couple of updates.

Yes, Canaan sad. Moving on.

So here’s our fun reverse character development. This scene is clearly about Canaan coming to terms with being inadvertently a tool, but chaos’s recommendation of “you could just hide yourself” is actually exactly what chaos himself has been doing for 6,000 years. This is a clever bit of foreshadowing that reveals a lot about chaos (once you completely understand his origins… give it a few updates). In short, chaos has been living in denial of “Yeshua” for a few millennia, and doesn’t see a problem with that. He recommends it.

That would be Wilhelm, and this would be yet another indicator that he’s in opposition to chaos.

D’aw?

Alright, cut it out, Squall, it’s time to fly over to Abel’s Ark now.

I wonder if this is going to work!?

Yep, it did. Has any wild space adventure ever ended with the heroes just teleporting into a wall?

There are a few gnosis abound.

And the inside of Abel’s Ark is… gross. I’m assuming we’re going for a Fantastic Voyage/inside the body motif, as this is a gnosis that is the size of a solar system, and we’re… not.

So the Elsa is just going to park here and wait for you guys, defenseless, while you roll out the giant robots and kill the oversized gnosis around here. If ever there was a good excuse for “you must leave one party member behind”…

And it’s weird that we had that “break” back before zooming in here, as, again, we can just chill on the Elsa and repeat old dungeons at will until we actually leave the ship.

So let’s go! 14:35 on the clock, for anyone that is curious.

Like a lot of “weird” dungeons in JRPGs, the geography of this area is impossible, and navigation is accomplished by using diamond teleporters.

The first half of this dungeon is comprised of a pile of floating platforms. We’re at the top, and we’ve got to get to the bottom.

This area quickly becomes, effectively, a teleporter maze, Final Fantasy Temple of Ordeals style. Has that ever been fun?

Naturally, gnosis style monsters are all over the place.

The random battles in this dungeon have a tendency to take forever, as the enemy bands generally contain five or six members, and usually half the gnosis resist the elements that affect the other half of the gnosis. ES attacks are generally fire, physical, or beam based, and, as you can see from this shot, this creature is resistant to two out of three of those elements. That said, even though the battles are a pain, I feel like it’s “earned”, as everything about this dungeon screams “final area”.

Teleporter maze still sucks, though.

Usually there are two teleporters; one leads forward, the other to a dead end, but with treasure. Since the monsters don’t respawn, it’s not as bad as it could be, just… annoying.

As ever, your ESes live or die (literally) by their equipment, so the upgrades that can be found in this area and throughout the dungeon are likely worth the detours.

Oh, here’s a big damn flaw in the XS3 system: a back attack means that every enemy gets to move first. This happened with four monsters, and they all used their all-party attacks. By the time I finally got a turn, I had maybe a quarter max HP remaining. There are also six-monster mobs in this area. Do not want to see a back attack from those guys…

Moving along.

There’s a five-er group. Note from the turn order that, should I not knock a few down with Jin and MOMO, I’m going to have to wait through four full attacks before my next turn. Ouch.

Hey, EX Skill Key III. That should come in handy for unlocking useful battle skills… outside the ES.

Incidentally, it’s around now that, if you’ve been sticking to the main branches, you should be unlocking the big “final skills” for at least one skill line. These skills are generally useful but situational. For instance, Shion receives a skill like Bravely Default’s Ukemi: she can 100% dodge one attack. That’s great for boss monsters with insane super attacks, but pretty damn useless in most random battles.

The near-bottom of this area gives us a clear view of the Durandal, now split completely in half. Poor ol’ ship deserved better than that.

Still some more teleporting to go, though.

Oh, it’s immobilized? Gawrsh, what gave you that idea?

The last piece of the first half of this dungeon is one stupidly long hallway filled with enemies. At least you can dodge the encounters if you’re generally evasive.

Last stop. Looks like we’ll be teleporting into the remains of the Durandal.

Anybody here make it to the final boss of Xenogears? Well, if you didn’t, here’s what it looked like.

We’re going through hell here for “pretty sure”.

There were twelve Zohar emulators, so three Zohars per sphere rotating around the real Zohar in the center.

“Why is this place so weird?” “I dunno, Zohar.”

So, as you might be able to guess, we have to “beat” each of the spheres to unlock the Zohar area in the middle. Videogames, duh.

There is a shop and savepoint here, though, so at least you don’t have to go back through the first part of the dungeon to refuel.

As you saw in the gif, the spheres rotate, and you can tackle them in any order. Just fly up to the middle area there (finally! Someone remembered these ESes can fly!) and wait for a sphere to rotate into approachability.

We’re going to start with Magenta Sphere, because it rotated in first.

At first, Magenta appears to be a reverse of the previous area: use teleporters to ascend a few platforms.

But you’ve got a multicolored pile of choices on the second floor.

Each of the four teleporters lead to a different, separated series of platforms in another area.

And you need to access some areas to push over platforms to proceed in other areas. Joy!

It’s a simple matter to shove a bridge over, but you still have to use practically every teleporter twice to get your bearings on what needs to be done.

A lot of the time, you’re just looking at dead ends and a need to return and try again. And, yes, there are of course enemies in this area.

But treasure, too! Again, it’s worth it to “waste time” and get all the treasures through thoroughly exploring each teleportation branch.

Even an Update File hiding in there.

And after the first area, there’s a second floor of this madness! Yay!

The second floor isn’t as overtly terrible as the first.

Basically, you’ve got to push these platforms into place in the proper order to form one big bridge.

But let’s take a brief break from puzzling to note another weird tick in the XS3 battle system. You can only target five monsters at a time. This means that a sixth monster is pretty much always invincible. That’s a peculiar quirk of programming, XS3.

Back to the puzzle: it’s just more trial and error, because, happily, a platform will not get stuck if you push it at the wrong time in the sequence.

Here is the completed bridge. Now we just have to remember which color teleporter gets us over to that platform!

Finally, we’re at the top of this silly area.

We’ve got a savepoint and three Zohar Emulators. I guess we just blow ‘em up?

What’s that?

Ah! Giant robot out of nowhere!

Oh, I’m sorry, it’s a giant gnosis that looks like a giant robot. My bad.

Still have to fight it, though. Natus Flamma is red, named “Flamma”, and comes from a big, red ball, so it is naturally strong against fire attacks. Other than that, not much to see here.

Though it is pretty strong, and prone to counterattacks.

It also will inflict the ESes with “Mine” status, which is effectively the same as the “gnosis touch” status effect that turns a hero to (dead) salt in three turns. Probably a good idea to heal that kind of thing.

Flamma has some multihit attacks that are pretty powerful, too.

But eventually it goes down, and simply fades away. I suppose now would be a good time to note that Natus Flamma bears a striking resemblance to Andvari, Bart’s Omnigear in Xenogears.

And, upon Flamma’s defeat, the Zohars in the area shatter.

MOMO feels nothing for the death of her father’s life’s work.

And… time to go. One sphere down!

As you can see, the Magenta Sphere is now dim, so at least it’s easy to remember where we’ve been.

Dark Blue next!

Hey! We’re out of the ESes! What happened? Eh, nothing to worry about, because this room is fun.

Try not to get sick or fall off this teetering floor.

There is treasure to find, and it is a pain in the ass to obtain. Guess the “you’re next to a treasure chest” detector doesn’t do well with this floor.

Fun floor over, next area is one of those “the floor appears as you walk” areas. You can’t “fall off” or anything here, it’s just difficult to know which way to go next.

And there are monsters, of course.

These gnosis are recycled from the final hidden areas of XS2. Since a lot of people didn’t play through those areas, these gnosis are probably new to most players.

Moving on.

One more “hidden floor” room. The previous path was pretty much a straight line, but this area does have some branches (and hiding treasure/Red Segment Door). If you’re in a hurry, head for the teleporter, but you may wish to take some time to explore and press up against every invisible “wall” for goodies.

Dark Blue is almost done.

This is about what I’d expect. Hey, we’re back in the ESes.

Yep. Again, this is a Xenogears reference, as this Gnosis-Gear resembles El-Renmazuo, Billy Lee Black’s Omnigear.

Natus Lumen, as you might expect from the name, is strong against beam attacks. A shame that some of our best attacks are beam based…

Ah yes, one of those guys that gets five feet from ya before shooting. Efficient.

“Sniper Mode” is a pain in the ass that allows Lumen to counter any ether-based attacks with a powerful attack.

You… want to avoid that.

But, eventually, he’ll fade just like his buddy.

And another three Zohars explode.

Incidentally, if you’ve noticed, each Gnosis-Gear drops a different “powerful” ES part, so these battles technically get progressively easier as you get better equipped. If you’re having trouble with one particular Gnosis-Gear, try powering up on one of its easier contemporaries.

Another orb down, time for Greenie.

We’re back on-foot again, and this area looks… like that one forest area from Final Fantasy 10. If I have to catch butterflies, I’m out.

The teleporter we want to use is under the lake and inaccessible.

And there are Yuriev soldiers skulking about. Unlike the gnosis battles of the Blue Sphere, these fights are more like what we found on the Durandal.

The trick here is that, as it says, if you shoot the crystal in the middle of the pillar, the whole thing rises.

So let’s do that a whole bunch!

And then scoot down the spiral to the revealed teleporter. The basic “trick” here is to eliminate all the enemies first, shoot the crystal as much as possible, and then book it on downstairs as quickly as possible. It’s not too difficult.

The second room has two (count ‘em!) two crystals.

Let’s try the one on the right, first.

This spiral is deliberately difficult, and requires some dedicated running (not that “running” is difficult in this game…).

The reason this is difficult is because it hides a Red Segment Door. For the record, this is #2, and its matching decoder is a prize in HaKox!?. If you’re not playing HaKox!? at all, don’t even bother.

So let’s get that left pillar going.

The left pillar requires a lot less finesse, and it’s very likely you’ll get to the crystal with plenty of time to spare.

Huh, I guess the hidden room counted as a room all its own. Only two “real” rooms for Greenie.

But we’ve still got Natus Glacies, a lesser version of Fenrir, Citan Uzuki’s Omnigear. I guess we should use Jin for this battle?

Yeah, you sound like a guy that would be strong against ice.

As you can probably guess from the sword, look out for dangerous physical attacks.

This Gnosis-Gear has two different “stances”, one that counters ether, and one that counters physical.

Just use the opposite and you’ll be fine.

And then it will be dead.

Our last set of Zohars are in Big Orange.

The first room here is a straightforward “walk and fight” area with the ESes. I’m assuming that makes this orb the intended “first visit”.

Though I do want to say there are more monsters in this orb than the others.

There are treasures around, and, given it’s a big, open area, they’re pretty easy to nab. The exit to the next area is hiding down on a lower route.

And now for a Zelda dungeon.

There are teleporters all over this path, and when you use one, you’ll find yourself in the exact same room, just on-foot.

And with regular-sized gnosis monsters.

The trick here is that if you destroy an object in one version of the room, it will be destroyed in the other version. It’s your typical dark world/light world mechanic, but with giant robots. I approve.

And there are treasures in both versions, so if it looks like a dead-end in one dimension, try the other. Unfortunately, there are no heart containers to find.

The exit is on the ES side.

And you know where it leads.

Natus Tellus looks like Rico’s Omnigear, El-Stier. You probably don’t recognize it, because no one ever used Rico in Xenogears.

Don’t bother with bolt attacks, and keep your HP high, because this bull likes to lower your defense stat before powerful physical attacks.

Or whatever that is.

I do like his energy-scythe, though.

And that’s that for the Zohars.

Oh boy, glow time!

“Probably not, but it’s a good excuse for a powerup.”

Thanks a lot, dad.

And, because I guess the game thought you would give up inches before the boss of the final area, you’re given a reminder that the whole universe is in danger. Right, okay, guess we’ll go save it, then.

So now the ES Anima Gauge can reach Level 3. This allows for Level 3 specials, and any lower levels will fill up lightning quick. You’ll have Level 1 specials available after, like, one round. Not that you get to really experience that, though, as there’s no more dungeon left.

So, let’s review this dungeon!

Did you think this was the final dungeon of the game? Did you think that because it deftly incorporated both battle/traversal modes, was double the length of any previous dungeon, featured four sub-bosses, multiple “gimmick” areas, a plethora of previous game references, and the typical bizarro architecture that is emblematic of JRPG final dungeons? Also, we’re about to fight a two part boss fight with a dude that is trying to ascend to godhood. Put that all together, and obviously…

Wait… this isn’t the final dungeon? It’s just the finale of this chapter?

Huh. That’s weird.

Regardless, this dungeon seemed to selfishly horde all the creativity and innovative ideas that could have been used in, ya know, any other dungeon in this game. The orbs each feature different dungeon playstyles, and, frankly, I would have begged to have anything as interesting during the Merkabah or Durandal dungeons. Never mind some of the nonsense in previous XS games…

As with a lot of things in the Xenosaga franchise, this was a really weird choice.

Oh well, moving on…

Time to head for the Zohar Sphere. Incidentally, you kind of have to “dodge” the unlit, lesser spheres, as you will be teleported to those areas if you get close to ‘em. It’s not like you have to complete them again (yet), but it is a pain in the ass.

Yuriev was just chillin’, ya know, waitin’ for The Brews to arrive.

Yuriev: always gotta blame somebody.

Hey, I wonder if this is supposed to carry some kind of theme from the Canaan conversation earlier.

Yuriev, again, plays the “you hurt me, you hurt Gaignun” card.

Yuriev says that he knows his son, and he knows he’s not coming out to play. Though, yes, there was that bit where he shot dear daddy in the face…

Anyway, Junior is pissed, and Yuriev is convinced the only thing keeping Man down is the fear of U-DO. Way to be, Nietzsche.

Yeesh, you still have more holy objects to find? Just be happy with the Zohar and Omega that you have!

Think back to XS2, because XS3 expects you to. Remember how the URTVs were created to resist U-DO, and if they didn’t, they’d become “infected” and go nuts? Well, Junior points out how crazy it was that, of all the people in the universe, the whole lot of them were cloned from the one guy that has been U-DO infected for years. Isn’t that ironic, don’t you think?

“Infected? You don’t mean me? Nonsense! This is power!”

No, you’re the puppet!

Random leader dude standing in front of Omega, blathering about becoming a god… this seems familiar.

Never go full Frieza.

And here we are, Yuriev & Omega boss fight.

Technically, just like The Patriarch final boss fight of XS2, you’re only fighting the man in front of you, and Omega is on support. Incidentally, the mandatory drop for this battle is God’s Experience, an accessory that boosts your EXP gains. One of the few items in this game with a name related to its purpose.

Like the Patriach fight, Omega lies inert for most of the battle. It’s the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, so that’s probably good for us. Also, while I’m thinking about it, the “old” Omega looked a lot like the titular Xenogears, but its evolved form resembles a white version of Weltall Alpha, Grahf’s Gear. Another bad sign.

Yuriev isn’t that powerful for all his talk of being a god, and he mostly just dances at you to inflict status effects.

This update is long enough as is, so I’ll spare you the full play-by-play of the battle, but your general plan is to keep Yuriev’s boost gauge empty, as Omega will only act when it is its turn and there’s boost available. This can be achieved by using heat-style moves to “taunt” Yuriev into prematurely using his boost… and that makes this the one battle in the game where heat is actually important. I’m sure it’s useful in low level runs or something, but I’m a “wounded? toss a potion at it” kind of guy. Save the agro-direction for the next Xeno game.

Appropriately enough, Junior leveled up to his “Red Dragon” special attack. Not that we’ll get to use it in the next battle…

You haven’t even seen my final form yadda yadda.

Remember how Junior was always kind of off his game when fighting family? I wonder if that whole experience prepared him for this paternal beat down… or if it’s just sloppy writing.

But, naturally, our boss battle did nothing, and Yuriev is still amassing power.

Abel is… still here.

“Fear drives evolution. Human beings have used their intelligence to conquer their fears and to obtain power. Oh yes, and this is that power that I speak of!”

Fear drives evolution? Oh man, I’ve been training my Zubat all wrong.

Oh yeah, Albedo. Whatever happened to that guy?

And Omega merges with Yuriev to gain an all new form.

Time to fight Omega Metempsychosis. I’m… glad this isn’t an audio LP. OmMet bears a striking resemblance to the final form of Deus, the final boss of Xenogears. It’s hard to see in these images, but it also has a pair of little “option” mechs hanging at the ends of its tentacles, and those mechs look like Vierge and Weltall, the two “leading mechs” of Xenogears. There, now we’re covered nearly the entire robot cast in one dungeon.

So the battle narrator warns us of… something? I have no earthly idea what this means. Don’t use Anima yet? Maybe?

OmMet is huge and powerful, but keep your HP up, and there shouldn’t be many issues. Remember that you can’t revive a “dead” ES.

Shocking, right?

And, like your party, the stupid thing can go “anima awakening” on ya and become even more powerful. This will be a persistent trait through the rest of the ES bosses of the game, so, if you’re underleveled or underequipped, it’s probably a good idea to defend for a few rounds.

.. Except the dang thing will use its own Special Attack if you don’t use two of your own to halt the operation.

Welp, guess it’s time to try out those new Level 3 Specials.

Can’t go wrong with an X-Buster-Cannon (not you, Canaan).

And a big honkin’ meteor puts this god in his place. Hey, that’s how we killed that stupid plant thing in XS2.

And our victory leads to… Ew, stop that. Can’t you just come down here?

“Probably because you idiots got out of your giant robots! I’ve got a laser that can destroy a planet in here!”

Just for the hell of it, Yuriev taunts Junior about being a useless coward, again.

Abel: still silently upset.

But here’s a Testament to tell yet another would-be dictator that the Zohar is spoken for. Recall that this is exactly what happened at the end of XS2.

Abel has had a big day, and takes a nap.

White Testament (who could he be!?) accuses Yuriev of going mad with U-DO power.

It’s Albedo! Albedo is back, everybody!

Junior is excited! … The rest of the party is metaphorically sharpening their weapons. Literally, in Jin’s case.

Well, he’s certainly in a friendly mood.

“I’m so happy to be able to see you again. It’s rather amazing. I feel like thanking the laws of this universe.”

Ya know, I really did miss having a “villain” around that wasn’t just dour “I know more than you”’ing all the time.

“I was told this was going to be my game! Jin, make those two shut-up!”

Twincest is wrong.

Albedo helps out by teleporting Abel and the Zohar away to parts unknown. Why don’t the heroes ever think of that? “Oh no, bad guy has assembled the omegasphere… let’s just teleport it somewhere else.”

And, Zoharless, Yuriev experiences a literal fall from grace. Kind of a squirm from grace there at the end.

Yuriev is still Yuriev, though, and he’s not going to go down easily.

But Albedo wants to talk to Yuriev’s psychic roommate.

Albedo thinks he can revive Gaignun’s consciousness with the power of taunting.

And he’s right! URTVs have legendarily thin skins.

Doesn’t really solve the problem, though…

These two should have their own sitcom about fratricide.

I really missed Albedo.

And I bet Junior did, too.

“I apologize for asking, but have you killed me yet? I still feel alive.”

Yuriev reasserts control, and Junior is concerned. But Albedo has a plan!

Remember the psychic link between URTV? This was explored in great detail during XS1 and XS2, but has been mostly ignored throughout XS3 (Junior kind of forgot it existed last update, if you recall), so I don’t know whether to chastise XS3 for making this seem like a last minute deus ex machina within the confines of its own plot, or applaud the fact that it just assumes you know all this already. I could go either way.

Here’s the plan! Albedo psychically hops into Gaignun’s body and subdues Yuriev, and Gaignun hops into Junior. Albedo has enough power that he’ll be able to obliterate Gaignun’s body, and I guess Gaignun and Junior will be brain buddies until we stick Gaignun’s consciousness in a robot or something. Oh! He could live in Alby the Dog!

And don’t try to thank Albedo for coming up with this plan.

Psychic link, activate! It’s significant, because the last time they all did this was fifteen years ago. Symmetry!

And they use their dad-given power to subdue dad.

Gaignun hops into Albedo, though, for some reason.

Gaignun-in-Albedo claims that Albedo is on a suicide run (again!), and isn’t revealing his true feelings/motives. Albedo… does not appreciate the intrusion.

“Go back to the brother you like, dammit.”

But Gaignun forces Albedo out, and Albedo winds up stuck in Junior. So, to be clear, Yuriev is alone in Gaignun’s body, Gaignun is in Albedo’s (Testament) body, and Albedo is in Junior’s body with Junior. Everybody got that? Do I need to make a chart?

So now we get a look at the inside of the psychic link, with Gaignun (in Albedo) subduing U-DO/Yuriev, and Junior as an actual (naked) adult.

Gaignun finally “confesses” that he was built to observe/maybe kill Junior and Albedo all along. Also: we’re denied 30-something Junior’s butt.

Theme of the update! Gaignun was apparently always conflicted that he was built to kill Junior/Albedo, but actually loved his brothers. It’s hard being a URTV.

Children with psychic links tend to have separation anxiety.

And, like Citrine before him, he seems a tweak regretful about being born.

Junior disagrees with Gaignun’s general nihilism.

“My duty to keep watch over you is over. No, I want it to be over.”

So he wound up becoming a trillionaire businessman with friends and lovers and family, but he was conflicted because he wasn’t following dad’s orders, so he’s ready to die now. Yeah, alright, whatever.

And Gaignun becomes the child to leave Junior the man.

Yuriev fades from existence as Gaignun-in-Albedo drops dead.

And now for these two. Psychic Junior still sees himself in kiddy mode, and Albedo still sees himself in the cloak… probably because his other character model isn’t in this game.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. You know how he is. Once he gets to where he’s going, he’ll probably spy on us along with Citrine.”

Aw, Albedo, you big softy.

Rest of the party is already walking back to the Elsa…

And Albedo decides to take a snooze. That’s right, folks, Albedo’s consciousness 100% survives in Junior’s head, he’s just going to be asleep for the rest of the game.

Do I smell a sequel hook?

Albedo’s parting (napping) gift is the new location of the Zohar and Abel. I’m pretty sure we were going to Michtam next anyway…

And for a final denoument, Mary and Shelley apparently get a psychic message from Gaignun.

“Thanks for everything you’ve done” is probably referring to that wild night with the donkey.

So let’s talk about team URTV in ascending order of interest.

Gaignun just permanently left the board, and, like his lovers, he was a character with a lot of potential and very little earned payoff. In a way, this is kind of a blessing, as his whole “I am meant to kill Junior” shtick could have gotten real old, real fast. Xenosaga seems to wisely put that plot point on the backburner, and we’re mercifully spared a million little “must… not… murder… brother” cutaways.

On the other hand, this internal conflict only seems to come out at the absolute end of his existence. It’s cool that Gaignun was conflicted all his life or whatever, but he seemed to be living the high life right up until the moment his dad possessed his body, so it’s difficult to, say, revisit XS1 and say, “Yes, this is a man that is conflicted about his fate”. Then again, I suppose that does make him an even more complete Bruce Wayne (so many layers to that bat!), so even that might be deliberate. Eh, let’s be generous and say that Gaignun is an iceberg of a human (URTV).

Dmitri Yuriev is in a similar boat. He’s a late entry machiavellian genius immortal in a franchise already filled with machiavellian genius immortals. There’s probably a neat story in how he was able to take over the entire Galactic Government through a focused campaign of nostalgia for last century and fear (cough), but that all occurs off screen, so we go from “Junior’s evil dad” to “Junior’s evil dad, but with an army”. And did we really need yet another enemy faction with Ormus/U-TIC, Testaments, and Albedo running around?

Come to think of it, considering he mainly takes the stage after Albedo leaves, Yuriev is kind of a lesser Albedo, in deed and the main plot of the franchise. Like Albedo, he seeks out the Zohar and U-DO to attain greater power and maybe conquer the universe, and, like Albedo, he’s clearly the “sub boss” on the way to the Big Bad that has been lurking behind the scenes this entire time. Unfortunately, unlike Albedo, 90% of Yuriev’s dialogue boils down to “ah-ha, I am planning something”, which, fun fact, we already have Wilhelm for that.

Still, his voice acting was remarkably pretentious, so I can’t say he’s a total wash.

That naturally brings us to Albedo. Albedo is, hands-down, the best villain in this franchise, but that’s almost entirely because he’s the only one that shows up. Seriously, go back and check the LP, and investigate how many villains actually deal with party. Margulis fought Ziggy once, and he’s been laser-focused exclusively on Jin since the opening of XS2. Beyond that, we’ve got Wilhelm who has barely left his pyramid, Yuriev who only introduced himself to The Realian Justice Warriors last update, Sellers barely even qualifies, and Virgil was more of a general annoyance than anything. Voyager didn’t even speak before his spat with Ziggy, and Kevin is… kind of a gray area. Albedo wins almost entirely because he does proper villain things, like call Junior fat.

It’s probably for this reason that someone on the Xenosaga design team took pity on the poor guy, and revived him immediately after his earned death at the end of XS2. Who wants to completely remove the best villain in the series? Nobody, that’s who.

And, in the end, Albedo winds up with a very generous severance package. In a way, this whole mind link scenario was an encore for the URTV story that dominated XS2 (and, according to Soraya Saga, some variation on this situation was originally intended for XS2 anyway), and its end result is similar to the finale of that game: Junior and Albedo come to terms while Gaignun has a bad day (possessed in XS2, dead in XS3). Except, in this “bonus ending”, Albedo gets to live on with his brother.

Which seems a might lavish for a guy who raped a party member, psychologically abused and murdered her sisters, threatened an entire planet with destruction, and then nearly obliterated the universe in a bizarrely convoluted suicide attempt. I suppose we’re now supposed to sympathize with Albedo, as Bad Albedo was an Albedo that, like Yuriev, was driven mad by U-DO (and that only happened because of Junior, too), and the reborn Albedo the White (who really only appeared for this update) is a strictly nice (if a might rude) guy worthy of living a new life. Am I being bitter toward a genocidal rapist? Xenosaga has a major forgiveness theme throughout its overall story, so maybe I should just lighten up a little.

And then we’ve got Junior. Unlike the rest of his family, this guy is actually going to stick around until the very end, but this is about where his personal arc ends.

What can I say about the secret (not a secret) second main character of the franchise?

Junior really is the obvious JRPG hero. Hell, he’s even less a JRPG hero, and more of a Western, Marvel Comics hero. He’s got all the traits of the old Marvel guard: he’s got extreme power (but is afraid to use it), fierce internal conflict over his interpersonal relations, a “quippy” exterior to mask a frightened interior, and even the old Marvel staple of a physical disability that doubles as his super power (see also: “monsters” Hulk & Thing, Iron Man’s heart defect, Dr. Strange’s hands, etc.). He’s even got a chatty, interesting villain that is literally his evil twin. Junior has all the trapping of the archetypical hero.

Except… he’s supposed to be just a hero, not the hero.

Obviously, that hasn’t been completely consistent. Junior inevitably dominated XS2, and, despite being the last main character introduced, threatened to do such during much of XS1 as well (Junior winds up with a cathartic battle with his brother during the finale, Shion just gets some hugs). As we just saw, again, when Junior takes the stage at the top of this chapter, he becomes the focus of everything again, and Shion (previously the undisputed heroine of this game) has barely had six lines since this chapter began in earnest. I’ve discussed the reasons for this before (mainly he’s got a lot more interesting villain and support team than… everyone), but, playing the franchise through from beginning to end, it does feel like there’s a testosterone-fueled shonen manga trying to break in to this unique (and, incidentally, surprisingly feminist) space opera.

But putting aside that little “glitch”, Junior is pretty awesome.

Aside from the fact that he’s just plain cool, Junior is one of the most well developed characters in Xenosaga, with a clear starting point (all bravado) leading to learning important lessons (I made a mistake, but I can atone) and making new friends (hi, Sakura’s sister), and then peaking around when he had to kill his brother to save the universe. In a way, this all prepared him for the XS3 plot of killing his father through, again, killing his brother (just a different one this time). And, all through it, he did seem to naturally evolve from child to adult, albeit one that still shops in the kiddy section.



So here’s to you, Junior, you’re probably the best developed character in the franchise, and you looked good doing it. Sayonara, baby.

We’re not completely done yet! We still have some damn Wilhelm foreshadowing left. And there’s so little left to foreshadow!

Don’t get excited or anything, that’s just the name of Wlhelm’s ES.

And then the whole Dammerung, the home base of Vector that we last really saw in XS2…

Goes dark. Man, you do not want to run out of power on a spaceship the size of a planet.

Haha, whoops, guess ES Joseph was powering the whole place, and now it’s gone. Good luck, Vector!

Miyuki knows who will save Vector! … Ah, fiddlesticks, we’re doomed.

And that’s the chapter, folks. Here are Mary and Shelley not looking like creepy dolls, I swear.

16:31, and that’s the next to last chapter. Chapter 9 is the finale (there was a Prologue Chapter, so that adds up to a full ten chapters), but before we get into that…

Next time on Xenosaga: Prepare yourself for the twilight of giant robots. Oh, and there will be a monkey.

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