Previously on Xenosaga: Xenosaga is over, folks! There are no more games left, I’ve said everything about the franchise I want to say, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing Xenosaga HD in time for the Christmas season. It’s done, folks!
But just because a franchise ends, doesn’t mean it’s completely forgotten. Xenosaga has sent its tendrils far past its own release, so we’ll be spending this, the final update for this LP, looking at the games that Xenosaga, in some way, touched.
If you see a game’s title in bold text, fair warning, there are likely to be spoilers.
Now let’s start with the most obvious entry, the immediate sequel to Xenosaga…
Final Fantasy 13 (12/17/09 Japan, 03/09/10 USA) Playstation 3/Xbox 360
Wait… no. That’s… that’s not right. Final Fantasy 13 is an entry in the Final Fantasy series, and has nothing to do with Xenosaga.
I mean, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that there’s a six person party with an even gender split…
Including a suicidal father figure…
A pink haired girl that blames herself for a tumultuous past…
A heroine that is known for being cold and taking no prisoners (who incidentally will always be on the cover)…
A lot of… friendly… hugging…
The occasional mech to ride…
A universe supported by magical, god-given technology (that won’t be around without those gods)…
“Monsters” that are just people that have been mutated into fantastical, terrifying forms…
And by the time you get down to a white haired boy named after an abstract concept, it starts to get a little uncanny. Okay, a lot of stuff in Final Fantasy 13 you could probably attribute to “just where the JRPG was going”, like dropping the “vestigial” towns, a completely mandatory in-game wiki…
Shops being tied to save points…
And a level up system based on pouring tech points into random nodes until you score another +100 HP buff…
But there’s a lot in Final Fantasy 13 that seems to be straight-up Xenosaga, like the “stagger” system that looks a lot like an evolved version of XS2’s “break” system…
And a finale that includes fighting “god”…
To “save” a world that winds up getting pretty damn ruined. But it’s okay! Humanity is in control of its own destiny, now! We’ll get the magical, convenient world back up and running again.
But, more than anything, Final Fantasy 13 seems a lot like Xenosaga because its best bits are not when it focuses on a mythology that requires cliff notes for its cliff notes, but when it focuses on the connections between the people in the party. The whole sprawling story of destroyed planets and ancient prophecies is cool an’ all, but the truly important part of it all are the bonds within the party, and how two women wind up saving everyone through their love.
Just sounds familiar is all…
Okay, enough speculating, let’s look at where Monolith Soft went after Xenosaga.
Xenoblade Chronicles (06/10/10 Japan, 04/06/12 USA) Wii
Xenoblade Chronicles was released (almost exactly) four years after Xenosaga Episode 3. I’m not going to cover that whole game, but we can take a quick look at the Xeno similarities in the title. Like how, once again, the final boss is a “god” that claims to know what’s best for humanity…
Oh, and the main character is Jesus.
Thematically. Not literally this time, sorry. But he’s the son of god, born with unimaginable power that he doesn’t understand, and winds up fighting/saving the world for the good of humanity. Look, I’m not saying the New Testament would have turned out differently if Jesus Christ had a magical sword that could only damage giant metal bugs, but, well, food for thought.
The rest of the party also hues pretty closely to the Xenosaga character templates: Dunban is Jin and Ziggy rolled into one. Mela is our stock “young girl” that is way too smart and far too responsible. Reyn believes he’s an action hero from a totally different genre (but is still generally reliable). Sharla feels kind of original, because it’s not like there’s anyone in Xenosaga that is motherly, concerned with helping people, and is pining after a lost love. Riki the Heropon is clearly what would happen if Bunnie AI escaped and ran up a significant grocery bill.
Oh, and it was mentioned in the FAQ, but Xenoblade for absolutely no reason has distinctly earthly origins, like Xenosaga. The Xeno series seems to have a thing about avoiding the typical “fantasy” universe.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the Faced Mechons bear a general resemblance to the AMWS/ESes of Xenosaga…
Or that the telethia bear a general similarity to the gnosis in looks, purpose (sickening monsters that were once people), and abilities (magically intangible vs. magically telepathic).
As far as “how it plays”, the Xeno franchise is never going to be able to avoid its origins as a cutscene delivery service…
But the battle system in Xenoblade is robust and, most importantly, actually fun. The whole topple system also bears a striking similarity to XS2’s break system, and agro actually making a difference seems to be a natural extension of XS3’s heat abilities.
Also, while “first town gets destroyed” is a pretty stock JRPG event, the opening siege of Shulk’s hometown seems very analogous to the opening siege of the Woglinde during XS1. There’s even the “joy” of every battle being practically impossible before securing the ultimate weapon (Monado in Xenoblade, KOS-MOS in Xenosaga) that reinforces the power of your opponents. Neat!
Also, much like Xenosaga (and Xenogears, for that matter), the world gets absolutely wrecked over the course of the adventure, so don’t expect to be able to revisit every last town by the finale.
Metal Face seems like a stock Xenosaga antagonist: he’s super-powered practically by accident, completely obsessed with a random party member, and ultimately turns out to just be a giant, disposable pawn in the grand scheme of things.
Fiora…. Fiora we’ll talk about more later, but for now, I may as well just say “reverse KOS-MOS”.
And her mech bears a bit of a resemblance to KOS-MOS’s ES Dinah.
And you can’t tell me the same people responsible for Swimsuit Shion fights God weren’t responsible for Half-Naked Shulk saves the World.
I have to say, after disparaging Xenosaga and Xenogears both for “Monolith Soft has no idea how to make a properly paced videogame”, I must applaud Xenoblade Chronicles for being a complete, properly constructed game. Having experienced the previous Xeno games, I’m inclined to believe that someone new “cracked the whip” to forge Xenoblade into a complete game experience, but, whatever the origin, Xenoblade Chronicles isn’t nearly the… mess that defined its ancestors.
Super Smash Bros. For Whatever (09/13/14 Japan, 10/03/14 USA) Nintendo 3DS/WiiU
As you’ve no doubt noticed, I used a few images from Super Smash Bros 4 there, as Xenoblade’s Shulk wound up being part of that cross-over event.
Shulk is a more tactical smasher, which I suppose is supposed to highlight his JRPG roots.
Incidentally, Nintendo owns a controlling share in Monolith Soft, so it’s probably not too hard to guess how Monolith Soft’s latest (at the time) hero made it into the roster.
But I’m sure there’s no ill will against Monolith Soft’s old bosses at Namco.
Speaking of Nintendo, Shulk got his own Amiibo.
And it works not only in Smash Bros, but also Mario Maker…
Where it may always be Shulk Time…
And Yoshi’s Wooly World, where it earns Yoshi a kicky vest.
The main reason I bring this up is because, in a manner of speaking, it seems like Shulk and the Xeno franchise has “made it”. I mean, ya don’t see Final Fantasy headlining new system Nintendo Directs. Xenogears started this whole mess with a Chrono Trigger cameo and some sideways glances at Final Fantasy 6, and now Shulk is appearing right alongside titans of the gaming industry like Mario and Pikachu. Makes you almost feel bad for the Xenosaga cast, as the best they ever got was Pac-Man appearing on an awning.
Oh, screw it. I was going to look at some of Monolith Soft releases from the years and compare them to Xeno releases old and new, but that sounds boring (and I didn’t want to play Baten Kaitos again anyway…). Let’s look at the Xenosaga cast, and see what they got up to during their time off.
Namco X Capcom (05/26/05 Japan) Playstation 2
Namco X Capcom was released about a year after Xenosaga Episode 2. At the time, Monolith Soft was still in Namco land, and somehow they became responsible for this Capcom/Namco cross-over TRPG-lite.
First of all, without question, no game could possibly live up to the excitement of this game’s opening attract movie.
And, look, it’s KOS-MOS! And Mega Man Dash! And Strider! And Captain Commando! And they might have blown up a planet! THE ENTIRE REST OF MY LIFE IS CRAP COMPARED TO THAT GIF!!!
Also, there’s a brief shot of “damaged” KOS-MOS during the intro that seems to foreshadow her final XS3 fate.
Anyway, the game itself is kind of a bummer. It’s a TRPG with pretty basic (re:boring) mechanics, and the main appeal of the game is that OMG Mega Man can fight against M. Bison and then Dig Dug can high five Klonoa. Unfortunately, the minute to minute of the gameplay is boring as hell.
But the game starts on the Elsa with Allen, Shion, MOMO, and KOS-MOS hanging out. Note that even though this game was released after XS2, the general timeframe (and fashion) seems to be based on XS1. I mean, it’s a crossover game, it’s all non-canon and whatnot, but just something to note.
Anyway, the plot of Namco X Capcom kicks off when the heroes of the piece, Anime Boy and Fox Girl, encounter some gnosis in their “generally present Tokyo” setting. The gnosis are just as intangible/invincible as they are in the future, so things get dicey before…
KOS-MOS, Shion, and MOMO are teleported to X-World (or whatever it’s called). KOS-MOS hilberts the gnosis, and the first official level begins.
KOS-MOS attacks as a single combatant.
While Shion and MOMO work together as a combined battle unit.
KOS-MOS has got her X-Buster for special attacks.
And Shion utilizes her Lunar Blade “deathblow”. MOMO just hangs back, I suppose.
And I’d love to tell you more about Namco X Capcom, but its gameplay is boring as hell. And, while I absolutely love that some dedicated fans translated the whole experience into English, the translation is incredibly dry. Again, huge props to the translators for this worthwhile undertaking, but, ugh, I have better things to do than play this TRPG for hours to see if Albedo ever shows up. Let’s assume not, and move on.
SoulCalibur 3 (11/23/05 Japan, 10/25/05 USA) Playstation 2
We’ve got one Namco joint that featured a Xenosaga character, and it’s SoulCalibur, a series practically known for its guest characters. Joining the ranks of Ezio, Yoda, Link, and Spawn…
KOS-MOS makes the scene.
Technically, KOS-MOS isn’t a guest character in SoulCalibur, but all of her “pieces” are available in the create-a-character mode.
She’s KOS-MOS V1 again. XS2 was released at this point…
Though since she’s part of the create-a-character mode, you can take some liberties with the finer details.
Or colors. Can you invent T-elos before her official premiere?
Unfortunately, she doesn’t get her own chaingun-based fighting style. You can get a pretty reasonable punch/kick thing going with the bladed shoes weapon, though.
Or maybe the tonfas would be more appropriate?
Or the scythe? That’s canon!
Whatever the case, you can’t get a proper “robot voice” going, so winning a battle totally ruins the immersion.
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga Endless Frontier (05/29/08 Japan, 04/29/09 USA) Nintendo DS
Back to the Monolith Soft side of things, we’ve got… I’m not typing that title again. This one is relevant for being the first Xenosaga crossover game released after XS3 aka the end of the franchise. This one is actually a JRPG spin-off of a giant robot TRPG. On the plus side, I don’t have to suffer through another slow ass TRPG, but on the downside, no giant robots. Just regular sized robots. Boo.
SRTOGSEF starts off as a pretty typical sci-fi JRPG that seems generally reminiscent of 16-bit adventures like Phantasy Star. It gets a little more interesting when a certain tan android shows up.
And she manages to summon a gnosis.
Oh yes, SRTOGSEF has a pretty amusing sense of humor throughout. Granted, like half the “jokes” amount to “ha ha, that character has breasts,” but you have to respect a gnosis goblin that would like to start the battle now, please.
Eventually, Anime Boy and Fox Girl from Namco X Capcom join the party. And then, about 25% through the game…
The party encounters a certain “coffin”.
KOS-MOS appears! Fox Girl actually recognizes our favorite android from Namco X Capcom.
This time, they actually try to wedge the crossover into an actual bit of continuity. Technically, KOS-MOS is visiting SRTOGSEF after T-elos destroyed her on the Floating Continent, but before she reawakened to defeat Black Testament. It’s… kinda canon?
And KOS-MOS is in a sort of oscillating KOS-Mary state. This is technically before Mary awakens, but you see the ol’ blue eyes switch a lot more in this game that you ever did in Xenosaga proper.
Anyway, KOS-MOS officially joins the main party, and, if you didn’t know her origins, you might think she was just a random android created for this game. Her basic role in the plot seems to be being the Spock/Data of the party, and she spends most of the time as the straight (wo)man and the person constantly telling you the odds.
Though I’m pretty sure she gets in on the fun a little bit with an aborted Avenue Q reference…
But who cares about her role in the dialogue, let’s talk about the battle party. Hey! Who let an Asura unit in here!?
As you might expect, KOS-MOS is pretty powerful.
And she’s got the Hilbert Effect for messing with robots.
And she may have borrowed a sword technique from her best friend, too.
Speaking of borrowing, KOS-MOS’s unique equipment is a bevy of easter eggs for Xenosaga fans. You can’t actually see any of this gear, but here’s Shion’s arm thingy for sale.
This is presumably KOS-MOS’s final swimsuit (which was provided by a guy that claimed it was really sexy).
Let’s assume this is Shion’s outfit, and not Allen’s…
But this is definitely Shion’s.
Oh, KOS-MOS’s collar had a point this entire time?
These are the cat ears that Professor invented during Xenosaga Freaks. We’re never speaking of Xenosaga Freaks again.
And here’s Shion’s necklace. Hey! She needs that to reset the universe!
But the real fun in this game is T-elos.
T-elos gets to be a recurring rival throughout the game.
Obviously, her main target is KOS-MOS.
And she’s just as… T-elos as ever.
KOS-MOS seems a little more… aware of T-elos’s plans this time around.
And T-elos is slightly more transparent about her intentions and disdain for KOS-MOS.
And she gets to reprise her fight cinemas in adorable sprite form during battles.
A lot of battles, as SRTOGSEF is extremely fond of reusing boss battles with slightly different configurations.
Eventually, she joins forces with Sayai, the main villain of Namco X Capcom, and earns a new nickname.
As you might expect, T-elos and KOS-MOS aren’t allowed to resolve anything, because this is a crossover game, and you’ve gotta save the big payoffs for the game that actually concluded their rivalry like three years ago.
We do get a reprise (or preview?) of KOS-Mary’s important anti-T-elos dialogue, though.
So T-elos kind of anticlimactically leaves the SRTOGSEF universe after losing a battle.
And KOS-MOS stays with the main battle party until the ending, as is proper to a JRPG heroine.
And then KOS-MOS returns home during the finale. She barely gets a denouement at all, but it’s not like SRTOGSEF is all about the characters, so no big loss.
I don’t usually do this, but considering I’m just coming off the Namco X Capcom fan translation, I have to really hand it to the localization team for SRTOGSEF. There are a lot of accurate, perfectly translated references to Xenosaga materials that never saw western shores, and even the Final Fantasy franchise can’t seem to keep some of its translations straight on that front. Also, I wouldn’t want to be the guy that had to proofread so many lame boob jokes…
Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Mugen no Frontier EXCEED (02/25/10 Japan) Nintendo DS
KOS-MOS also apparently returns for the sequel, too.
See, there she is, part of the intro.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be an English translation of this game (there’s one for the menus, but not the actual dialogue), and I can’t find any sort of plot synopsizes or what have you. Probably just as well, as the intro seems to portray this game as some kind of bathing simulator.
But KOS-MOS is definitely there! Maybe one day we’ll know what that’s all about.
Project X Zone (10/11/12 Japan, 06/25/13 USA) Nintendo 3DS
And she’s definitely here, in Project X Zone, the sequel to Namco x Capcom, too! Look, I have no idea how videogames get made, but I can safely say I have no idea how this one happened. At this point (2012), Monolith Soft was/is firmly a division of Nintendo in some “controlling share” fashion. However, this is totally a Namco game, with some Capcom and Sega sprinklings in there. There are no Nintendo characters (or management) involved, though it is on a Nintendo system. Maybe that’s the excuse that got Monolith Soft working with Namco again? Whatever the case, I have to assume MS jumped on the opportunity, as it granted them access to old, established MS characters that incidentally are owned by Namco.
Like its prequel, this game’s intro is so much more promising than anything contained therein.
And they finally paired up KOS-MOS with Megaman X! They got my letters!
This was probably established in the previous Namco X game, but apparently all the “crossover” universes are kind of smooshed together by date, so Tron Bonne and Mega Man Dash are contemporaries of Captain Commando and KOS-MOS. Obviously, this is completely insane, as Captain Commando takes place in the future of Metro City of Final Fight, which is on Earth, and Earth cannot be accessible in the Xenosaga mythology and oh God what has my life become?
Like in SRTOGSEF, T-elos is introduced first, and she is the enemy boss for Level 3, a mall that leads to some…
And KOS-MOS isn’t around, but she’s T-elos’s goal. I could see confusing KOS-MOS for Tron Bonne, they’re both from franchises that are never coming back.
And the gnosis are mooks again. Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, yes, Project X Zone is another light TRPG that relies on the crossover cast/situations, and has all the gameplay depth of a game of checkers. That said, I will play a lot of any game that involves servbots and Frank West.
After seventeen stages or so, the cast eventually finds their way to the Woglinde. The whole “theme” of this game is that places and people are coming back from the dead, so the good ol’ Woglinde seems like a fine representative for “places in Xenosaga that no longer exist”. Another option could have been everywhere the Brews have ever been.
Half the party goes to the bridge. The bridge of the Woglinde looks about right. … Man, has it already been over a year since I played that section of XS1?
Oddly consistent across the crossover games is the fact that gnosis need to be hilbert’ed to be viable targets. I’d expect that to be all but forgotten after the first crossover (like it was pretty much forgotten in the franchise proper), but way to be reliable, Monolith Soft.
The other half of the party heads to the Vector R&D lab aboard the Woglinde, and they find T-elos.
And a certain ominous space coffin. Have we found our favorite android?
No, wait, it turns out to be Alisa of the Tekken franchise, who was just using KOS-MOS’s coffin for repairs.
But we find KOS-MOS (v4) immediately afterwards. Turns out she was working as a tour guide for Street Fighter’s Seth. Come on, KOS-MOS, you should know better than this. It’s not like he’s ridiculously, obviously evil or anything.
Oh, uh, thank you, Ken.
So then Seth gets naked and decides to destroy KOS-MOS.
But T-elos comes to the rescue! Gasp!
And KOS-MOS and T-elos become allies. That’s right, T-elos is a playable character in this one!
KOS-MOS and T-elos work well together, and they both use attacks seen in XS3.
And their combined super move is… Weaponized Fanservice.
Anyway, l got much further in this game than Namco X Capcom (maybe because of Resonance of Fate characters), but, like a few other crossover games, there’s about 40 lbs. of content in a 100 lb. bag here. And I’ve still got another TRPG to get through…
Project X Zone 2 (11/12/15 Japan, 02/16/16 USA) Nintendo 3DS
Hey, it’s a game released after this LP started. I feel like that should be against the rules. This one does actually include a few licensed Nintendo Characters, like Chrom, Lucina, and maybe another recognizable JRPG heroine…
Intro better than the game yada yada.
KOS-MOS now and forever yada yada.
Irrational fixation on Mega Man yada yada.
Okay, here we are. Early in the game (Chapter 3? … I want to say Chapter 3) the party winds up at Rennes-le-Château, aka the floating landmass.
And who should they find down there but KOS-MOS. But, wait, then who is in Mary’s coffin?
Hey, it’s Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles! It’s a Xeno X Xeno Xover!
So KOS-MOS and Fiora team up, as they inevitably must. While a Shulk/KOS-MOS teamup seems like the more obvious “here are the heroes” choice, Fiora is kind of clever, as her role in Xenoblade Chronicles is basically that of KOS-MOS’s opposite number. Fiora, by the time she’s all metal and shiny, is a goddess with the soul of a human struggling to resurface. KOS-MOS is the soul of a… kinda human… with a holy woman struggling to resurface.
Together, they fight crime!
And sometimes KOS-MOS steals Shion’s attacks!
Or MOMO’s outfits!
And here’s the Fiora/KOS-MOS special attack. Note that it winds up being an X-strike. Cute.
If you haven’t already noticed, these Namco X games have a tendency to indulge in the whacky.
So you’re going to see KOS-MOS getting in the groove.
Or the side effects of Xenosaga Freaks (dammit).
T-elos also returns as an antagonist. She won’t be joining the good guys for this game.
But she does get her own bad guy team-up with Metal Face of Xenoblade Chronicles.
T-elos is compared to Unknown of Tekken over the course of the story, as they’re both hungry to have a soul.
But who cares? Here’s T-elos knocking the tar out of Strider.
So father and son fighters avenge the fallen ninja.
T-elos isn’t all that important to main “plot” of Project X Zone 2, so, during one of the later stages, she just decides to up and leave. Good-bye forever, T-elos!
I did actually wind up beating this game, not because it’s any better than the other Namco X games, but because I wanted to see if there was a final denouement for KOS-MOS. This is Monolith Soft at the helm, and I was genuinely curious if they decided to provide a real “ending” for a character that seems doomed to haunt random crossover games a decade after her initial finale. Turns out they do at least let her have a sweet moment wishing the rest of the party well during the climax…
And then the final ending features KOS-MOS using her Hilbert Effect to spotlight dancing girls. Classy ending, guys!
And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the last anyone ever saw of the Xenosaga cast. Let’s see here… KOS-MOS and T-elos obviously got the most play, Shion and MOMO got to co-star in at least one game, and even Allen got to cameo along, too. Gnosis seem to make for wonderful recurring monsters, but no Xenosaga “real” baddies made it out of the universe. And Ziggy, Jin, and Junior all got completely ignored. I feel like I’m forgetting someone…
Xenoblade Chronicles X (04/29/15 Japan, 12/04/15 USA) Nintendo WiiU
Oh, right! chaos!
chaos was never seen again.
Thanks for reading, everybody!