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Xenosaga Episode II Part 14: Let’s Review Episode II

Previously on Xenosaga: The Brews sailed into the sunset. “Let’s go home, KOS-MOS,” Shion said, confident in a job well done. … Wait, what the hell did they actually do?

What Happened Here?

The answer is, unfortunately, not much.

A quick summary of the events that occur during Xenosaga Episode 2:

  • Albedo steals the Y-Data from MOMO
  • Old Miltia reappears
  • Old Miltia explodes
  • Albedo dies

And that’s about it. On the plus side, no one is going to claim the plot to this game is too complicated. On the other hand, I checked out my previous Xenosaga “In Review” post, and there’s this bit about “minor mysteries” in Xenosaga Episode 1:

“Who is sending KOS-MOS orders? Why are Shion and KOS-MOS part of the Y-Data? What are the gnosis? What is Wilhelm up to? chaos? Testaments? What does the Zohar do? What did Ziggy “see” when he died? Why is Junior ageless? Why is Albedo invincible? Does Allen have more than one onesie?”

Xenosaga Episode 2’s answers, in order:

  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Dunno
  • Voyager
  • Genetics
  • Genetics/U-DO
  • Apparently Not

That’s a whole lot of plot that XS2 didn’t even bother to address. Complete with Wilhelm making direct reference to unexplained mysteries of the XS1 ending during the XS2 ending, it really feels like not a whole lot happened during this episode.

KOS-MOS and Shion are generally ignored, and everyone always makes the observation that Junior is the “real” main character of Xenosaga Episode 2, but that’s not completely true. Junior just gets the most screen time because the story decided to focus on his past and his relationship with Albedo. If anything, Albedo is the main character of this story, if only because he accomplishes the most (which is to say anything) and grows as a person (mutant). And he was assumed dead for half the game!

HmmmWhen a presumed corpse gets more dialogue than the covergirl of the game, the train has jumped the rails.

In a way, this was already a problem in Xenosaga Episode 1. XS1 had a habit of telling stories (like Junior and Shion’s past, or the prophecy that would never be) that had nothing to do with the actual gameplay. Heck, Cherenkov’s entire stupid history takes place in a fantastic concept for a dungeon (horrible dungeon, neat concept), but 90% of that “story” could have been relayed during, I dunno, a pub crawl rather than a mutant ghost planet. This thinking seems to be dialed up to eleven for Xenosaga Episode 2, though. Did MOMO’s not-so-enchanted forest have anything to do with the Albedo/Junior/Sakura flashbacks? Did the Omega System do anything, or was it just a place for the final boss to hang out? Did Ormus Stronghold have a point at all? Like Xenosaga Episode 1, the fact that this game is a game doesn’t enhance the experience one iota, but now someone forgot to actually tell the story.

Alright, sorry, I’m being a bit harsh here. Yes, there’s a story, and it’s basically two completely separate stories smooshed together. On one side, you have Albedo attempting to reconnect with U-DO, and hurting his brother and others along the way (anything to do with MOMO/Y-Data, the Yuriev Institute flashbacks, Albedo’s return [twice], and the Junior vs. Albedo finale). Ziggy and MOMO are basically the supporting cast for this story. On the other side, you have Shion and her issues with her lousy past (lunch with Jin, Old Miltia and Cecily/Cathe, and avenging Old Miltia through Patricide). KOS-MOS, Jin, and Allen are the supporting cast for this side. Arguably, the stories only truly intersect when Patriarch kills Albedo, thus giving both sides a reason to hate the guy (and, incidentally, Shion helping out with the MOMO dive is clearly a sweeps style crossover episode). So I guess Xenosaga Episode 2 is appropriately named, because there are two plots.

HmmmAnd that could have worked! You’re allowed to tell a tale that contains two stories running concurrently. It’s been done! It’s just not done well here at all. Right about the time you get used to the Junior show, it’s time to run around as exclusively Shion. And by the time Shion is trying to cool off after child murder, it’s time to pick up that Junior/Albedo thread that had been dropped hours ago. It’s confusing for the player, and, coupled with a game that is lousy at explaining why Threat X is actually a threat (what’s U-DO again? I know it’s bad…), you easily get the impression that you’re missing something the entire time, even when the game is congratulating itself on a “mission complete”. Which brings me to my next point…

Monolith Soft has no idea how to make a video game

Wait, no. I should come back to that statement. I should say something nice first…

So Pretty

Xenosaga Episode 2 has a lot of cool stuff going on. The animations seem a little more “canned” than in XS1 (probably something to do with the graphic style or engine or something else I don’t care to look up), but we’ve still got a number of little flourishes…

And on top of that we now have badass action sequences…

And the occasional scene that does its absolute best to emphasize “really important stuff is going down”…

It all looks great. I said it before, but 90% of Xenosaga Episode 1 feels like a stage play, with people talking at each other constantly and, yes, there are evil space ghosts around, but wouldn’t you rather be watching Shion and Allen discuss company protocol? Episode 2, meanwhile, takes full advantage of its sci-fi adventure universe, and features space battles, magic sword fights, and the occasional giant robot fighting time. Xenosaga is still a series that asks you to put down the controller and listen for the next ten minutes, but at least now it’s doing its best to keep you awake.

And there’s dramatic improvement on the music front, too. Not every track is the best (some are so terrible they’re currently being used to subdue terrorists), but at least there are tracks. Half of Xenosaga Episode 1 is scored by footsteps, so, while the last dungeon theme might be a little… off… at least it’s there. And when the score is doing well (mostly during cinemas), it’s doing really, really well. I happily listen to the XS2 soundtrack on occasion, and it’s a great collection of tunes. We even got more than one battle theme! Come to think of it, I should probably address…

Xenosaga learns to fight

Xenosaga Episode 2 features a battle system that is… going… somewhere?

There’s a neat idea here! At its core, the battle system of Xenosaga Episode 2 is basically a war on two fronts: you want to “break” or otherwise put your opponent in a position where they are vulnerable, and then use all your strongest attacks to pile on the damage. It’s basically a precursor to the realization of the “stagger” system of Final Fantasy 13, or (probably more deliberately) the “topple” system of Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s a new and different way to look Hmmmat JRPG battles, and it’s set up in a way that you could “brute force it” if you’re not really in the groove.

In practice, however, it’s terrible. Defending to stock, buffing your characters, debuffing your opponent, and discovering weaknesses so you can layer on the elemental abilities is fun for a boss fight, but when you apply the same preparation to every single random battle… it gets tiresome fast. I’ve repeatedly complimented XS2’s habit of placing a save point about every twelve feet, but when you consider that a battle with a new random mob may take as long as ten minutes (stock, analyze the enemy, find the break zone, buff, finally start attacking the break zone), repeated save points are kind of a must. Yes, you’re rewarded for knowing the exact way to tackle an enemy every time, but if you don’t have a guide handy, you’re going to spend a lot of time finding that perfect solution.

Look, there’s a reason that, when this kind of system was revisited in later games, most of the minute-to-minute was automated.

But I can’t really get mad at the Xenosaga Episode 2 battle system, because, while it’s a mess, it’s an innovative mess. Like, they tried to do something here, and, honestly, in a franchise that you know is going to be (at least) a trilogy, may as well do something a little more interesting than Fight/Magic/Item. I mean, we can always get it right in the next game, right?

So, overall, I like what I see here. I like the presentation of the graphics and music, I tolerate the battle system, and, while the story feels very thin, it’s passable. So why am I saying things like…

Monolith Soft has no idea how to make a video game

Well… because it’s true. I brought examples!

Xenogears is legendary, right? Like, this was Squaresoft working with the team that would one day be Monolith Soft. Xenogears was, in its way, originally intended to be a Final Fantasy game. Square knows how to make Final Fantasy games! They’re pretty good at that! … But, somehow, Xenogears wound up becoming a very fractured game. Even if we didn’t have the designers recounting their troubles through entire books, we still have a final game that distinctly drops its unique world into the toilet for the second disc, and a plot that reads like the writers found out a final draft was due in five minutes. I’m not saying that Xenogears was a bad game for these flaws, simply that it was noticeably incomplete.

Then Monolith Soft broke off and started in on Xenosaga Episode 1. Once again, famously, we were told that Episode 1 was just the first half of what was intended, and the real, complete game would be Episode 1 + Episode 2. Okay, guys, fair enough, but that’s two games in a row now that were, in some way, incomplete. Luckily, if you forgive Xenosaga Episode 1’s obvious “to be continued” bend, XS1 feels like a complete game, albeit a lean one. Hmmm“Bonus content” is barely a thing at all. You’re either advancing the main plot, mindlessly grinding, or playing another game.

And now we have Xenosaga Episode 2. Let’s be real here: there’s no reason the “lost” plot from XS1 couldn’t have been wedged into XS1. If you drop the backstory for Junior/Albedo (so the entire MOMO dive), Jin and Canaan (“Oh, the bad guys are the bad guys we’ve been fighting for two games? You don’t say.”), and areas that were clearly just filler (Ormus Stronghold), you’re left with Old Miltia (super important to everybody) and the Omega System (“the grand finale”). So, Xenosaga 1/2 hypothetical abridged version: Albedo steals the complete Y-Data on The Song during Episode 1, awakens Old Miltia right then and there, the party flies off to OM, bad stuff happens, and then everybody fights Albedo with Proto Omega instead of Proto Merkabah. There, one complete game, and we only needed one more dungeon.

But the directors of Xenosaga didn’t want to make that “rushed” version, and, really, fair enough. I’m clearly hindsight directing this franchise, and, yeah, the relationship between Junior and Albedo probably is enhanced by knowing where they come from. And I like Jin! I’m glad he’s in the franchise, and he would barely exist in the abbreviated version.


You’ll note that “my” version only dropped one dungeon from Xenosaga 1, but 85% of Xenosaga Episode 2. There’s a reason for that: the majority of Xenosaga Episode 2 is clearly unnecessary. As stated by the creators, there’s one complete story between XS1 and XS2, and, unfortunately, the most important parts of that story wound up in XS1. And it’s pretty clear that when the story isn’t driving the action, Monolith Soft has no idea what to do.

Or maybe I’m just bitter because I completed ten hours of sidequests that meant nothing. I completed three different dungeons that were pretty cool and well-designed dungeons and they weren’t really part of the game. It is abundantly obvious that “Factory” and “Desert” were areas intended for the “real” game, but never made the cut. Even Heaven’s Ruins could have made for a more interesting Encephalon Dive than a stupid generic forest. I spent 28 hours on this game, but completed the main story at the 17 hour mark. I want to say the count on cutscenes for the game is somewhere around 5 hours, so… some quick math here… 11 hours of sidequests, 12 hours of gameplay for the “real” game… Hmmmyes, nearly a full half of my time spent on Xenosaga Episode 2 was separate from the main plot. And I don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of Albedo’s past to hang posters.

That has the potential to not be a bad thing. I’ve devoted entire weeks of my life to Pokémon, and roughly 10% of that count is spent on “the main game”. But this isn’t Pokémon, this is Xenosaga, and, as I’ve just recounted, all the good stuff, the amazing cutscenes and OST-worthy music, is part of that “main” game, and absolutely not part of any of the side content. To put it succinctly: Professor still doesn’t have a voice actor, and his quest was responsible for three whole dungeons. There are just as many optional dungeons on the second disc as mandatory ones!

So, yeah, at this point, Monolith Soft doesn’t have a clue how to make a complete video game. They made an interesting story with memorable characters, but fell very short of making a game that does that story justice. One day, Monolith Soft would make a game that played to its strengths, and plainly learned from the mistakes of XS2 Hmmm(why, yes, if you received battle experience for completing sidequests and discovering unique areas, that would make things better), but, for now, we’ve got 10% of a story padded out to an entire game.

If Xenosaga Episode 2 feels slight, it’s because it is. Shion, MOMO, and Junior got closure, and everybody else in this labyrinthine plot got to tread water. A villain was introduced and quickly dispatched. And the guy that should have been defeated last episode got to die three or four extra times.

For the record

I don’t think Xenosaga Episode 2 is bad, just fairly unnecessary. It’s the Ormus Stronghold of the Xenosaga Trilogy: it’s technically mandatory, but after it’s done, you realize it was kind of pointless. I actually enjoyed playing Xenosaga Episode 2 more than Xenosaga Episode 1… and I want to say that applies to when I played the games for the LP and originally years ago. But there’s a reason I spent months pouring over the minutia of XS1 at its completion, and barely gave XS2 another glance until the release of Xenosaga Episode 3. XS2 hits the ground running and doesn’t let up until Albedo gets some new clothes, but, once it’s over, you realize there isn’t much there there. It’s an end to a story that isn’t that different from the “half” ending of the last game.

Really, the ideal Xenosaga game would be the characterization and measured pacing of Xenosaga Episode 1 combined with the adrenaline and action of Xenosaga Episode 2. Dare we hope that that recipe led to the final chapter in the trilogy? Guess we’ll find out…

Next time on Xenosaga: But before we get to that, it’s time for the plot review of Xenosaga Episode 2. If the breakneck speed of Xenosaga Episode 2 was too much for you, this will be an ideal way to catch up on our cast and what they’ve been up to. The entry for KOS-MOS… will be surprisingly lacking.

Xenosaga Episode I Part 19: Let’s Review Episode I

Previously on Xenosaga: Everything. Everything happened. Let’s talk about that in vaguely listicle form.

What Happened Here?

I actually went back and re-read my introduction to this LP (written nearly five months ago now) before writing, and, to quote myself:

“Probably the best known feature of this trilogy was an inscrutable storyline full of religious imagery that could put Evangelion to shame…”

So let’s look at the plot first. Is it “inscrutable”? At this point, I’m going to say no. Yes, there is already an absurd amount of religious imagery (some of the first text in the game is directly quoting Genesis), but the base plot, as it currently stands, is still something you could explain to your deaf granny. To wit:

  • Shion built a robo-person, and is very concerned about that person. Complete with the X-Buster, this plot, at its core, is practically Dr. Light and Mega Man, and the gnosis are Robot Masters. It’s sci-fi 101. KOS-MOS even gets a variation on the typical robot, “What is love?” with her “What is pain?” query when she decided to go all genocide on the gnosis.
  • There’s a bad guy organization, U-TIC, and they menace the heroes in pursuit of some macguffin. Depending on the interpretation, they want a way back to (old, lost) Earth, and/or the Zohar, which is effectively the Holy Grail of space. Kidnap princess, get the treasure: typical villain motives.
  • Speaking of villains, there’s Albedo, who appears to be a wildcard in the bad guy power structure, but is basically there to be the evil twin brother of one of the heroes. His entire job is trolling the universe. Three guesses on how this plot is going to resolve.

And that’s basically it. On paper, Xenosaga Episode 1 is pretty straightforward.

However, the devil’s in the details, and that’s where everything goes a little… Albedo. This game seems to delight in generating minor mystery after mystery. Who is sending KOS-MOS orders? Why are Shion and KOS-MOS part of the Y-Data? What are the gnosis? What is Wilhelm up to? chaos? Testaments? What does the Zohar do? What did Ziggy “see” when he died? Why is Junior ageless? Why is Albedo invincible? Does Allen have more than one onesie?

These are all relevant questions, and, I assure you, I spent roughly ten million hours on Gamefaqs and alike discussing these finer plot points back in the day. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but for me, Xenosaga was my Lost, a series that I spent days pouring over the faintest glimmer of an idea and expanding it into a grand unifying theory of everything. There might not be any polar bears in this story, but those unicorn gnosis have to mean something.

And, come to think of it, that Lost comparison is more apt than ever, because the real show in Xenosaga Episode 1 is the characters. This is something I’m only able to identify with full knowledge of what comes next and not a four year wait for the finale, but the story of Xenosaga Episode 1 really cares about its characters and their interactions. It’s not perfect (“Ziggy? You’re still here?”), but it became abundantly clear over this playthrough that the gnosis, yes, are important, but what’s really important is the relationship between Shion and KOS-MOS, or how MOMO feels about her absent parents. Once you separate out the chafe of all the mysteries that will eventually be solved with varying degrees of satisfaction (“chaos is… an apostle of Jesus Christ? Did anybody guess that?”), you realize this game is much more concerned with the emotional state of its characters than if they ever learn anything interesting. In a way, that makes perfect sense, in another, well, it would be nice if Shion asked why, say, the ship just got covered in angel wings. Does everyone just assume that’s a typical feature of the Elsa?

Shion, actually, is a fine example of how Xenosaga Episode 1’s story sucks sodium. Shion would actually be a pretty neat heroine in nearly any other medium… but she’s the star of a JRPG, and, thus, pretty much the player’s surrogate. She’s terrible for that role. She’s an interesting, independent character with concerns and baggage of her own, but part of her own issues is that she very rarely looks for information below the surface level (because, ultimately, she’s afraid of being hurt worse by the truth), which is awful when your audience wants some stinkin’ answers. The epitome of this would be when Shion is running constant diagnostics during the “beach episode” to see if KOS-MOS was experiencing something like emotions earlier, but she never even attempts to determine exactly where KOS-MOS’s mysterious orders are coming from (which, spoilers, would lead to her undead fiancée, and is not something the good doctor wants to deal with right now). You, the player, are expected to just go with the flow of Shion’s (and the entire party’s) lack of curiosity, and it’s frustrating when every third character is spewing a nonstop stream of mysteries.

On two different occasions, Shion distinctly states that she has no idea what’s going on… and she never does anything about it!

In the end, I feel this goes back to Xenosaga’s original concept, and how this was supposed to be game one in a more-than-three part series, and Xenosaga “Episode 1” was supposed to include a lot of plot from (what we eventually received as) Episode 2, but the team ran out of time, money, or over-highlighted Bibles before “finishing” Episode 1. XS1 is crap for answers, but you’re expected to just go with that (like Shion and co.) because answers will arrive eventually. We promise! Everyone is fine with a complete lack of resolution, right?

So, long story short, as of Episode 1, the “prelude game”, Xenosaga has not yet become “inscrutable”… depending on your interpretation. There are mysteries, but there’s also a story that’s very human, and we’re supposed to just take it on faith that the big mysteries will be solved later. We’ll see how that goes as we proceed.

Points for presentation?

What is wrong with your faaaaaace!?

Aside from featuring PS2 era anime faces, I really have to give high marks to Xenosaga Episode 1’s overall production. Yes, there are something like ten hours of cinema scenes, but the direction does everything it can to make those scenes actually interesting. It was mentioned earlier, but, compared to the modern age of non-Final Fantasy JRPGs, I am downright impressed with how many scenes are more than two heads and a series of text boxes. Once again using “working late” scene as an example…

Or when Shion is affectionately caressing KOS-MOS’s space coffin…

There’s a lot of incidental “acting” from the characters that adds to the story. Shion is downright giddy when she’s working late with her fiancée/boss. Shion tenderly touches KOS-MOS’s bed in the same way a mother might stroke the hair of her sleeping child. It adds something to the scenes without requiring (even more) talky talk.

And, just to be clear it’s not all sunshine and rainbows…

Every damn thing Albedo does is creepy. I’m literally disappointed when he’s strapped into his mech, because when he’s out prancing around…

You know you’re gonna have a fun time. Okay, maybe fun isn’t the right word.

Point is, for a game so lousy with “put down the controller, it’s time to watch a movie,” there’s a lot of reasons to actually enjoy that downtime. So another mark in Xenosaga Episode 1’s win column.

In the “boo” column, however, we have Xenosaga Episode I’s music.

XS1 has a lot of great music… unfortunately, it’s primarily relegated to cutscenes. I’ll admit there’s a number of XS1 tracks that I have had on my playlists for the last fifteen years because, frankly, they’re good tracks. Unfortunately, I just did an inventory, and I realized that only two of those tracks (Last Battle and UMN Mode) are from actual gameplay. Additionally, I saved Battle (the battle theme, duh) and Life or Death (the song that plays through a number of “danger is happening” areas) not because those songs are particularly good, but because they’re practically drilled into my brain thanks to repeated usage throughout the game (This is also the same reason I have Chrono Cross’s abhorrent battle theme on my playlist). Everything else I enjoy about the soundtrack plays almost exclusively during cutscenes, which is a pain because, well…

Click here to listen to the main theme of the Cathedral Ship dungeon

Oh, I’m sorry, does that link not work? That’s because there is no music in the Cathedral Ship. It’s a nearly three hour dungeon (more if you have a lousy sense of direction), and, aside from the battles and cinema scenes, there is no music. None. Just silence and footsteps, the whole stupid dungeon. Sometimes there’s the sound of a door opening. Woo.

This is inexcusable, and I have to mention this is probably a contribution to the “worst dungeon ever” issue of this and a few areas. Xenosaga Producers, did you forget? Was there supposed to be music, and, whoops, never made it in there? And, no, the silent parts are not deliberately moody areas any more than Final Fantasy’s Marsh Cave. I think we could handle a little accompaniment.

Though, to close this section on a positive note, I really appreciate the voice acting in this game, and, more importantly, that it’s all in English. This is a problem I’ve had with some modern JRPGs and Fighting Games, but I get really annoyed when everything is in English… but battle quotes and victory cheers are untranslated (and worse, not even subtitled) (and even worse, KOF-esque lengthy battle intros that are completely incomprehensible). Everything is in English here, right down to the grunts and “Spell Blade!” shouts. In fact, stuff like signange…

Is also wholly in English. This is actually really important, as certain scenes…

Lose something if you can’t read what’s going on in the background. This flashback takes place on the planet Ariadne, which is never mentioned, but there’s a literal sign as to the location in the background. Show don’t tell doesn’t work if you can’t read what’s being shown.

Isn’t this a video game?

So, the presentation is overall good, the plot is bearable (YMMV)… but should Xenosaga Episode 1 be a video game?

Honestly… I want to say no.

Don’t get me wrong, Xenosaga Episode 1 isn’t a bad JRPG. I have played much worse. Much… much worse. Video game consoles as magical girls! Why did that happen!? Why does that keep happening!?! How are there nearly ten of those games? HOW!?!


What I mean to say is that, while Xenosaga Episode 1 might not be a trailblazer in any amazing JRPG innovations (its battle system, when you get right down to it, is barely distinguishable from Final Fantasy 1, and its town/dungeon structure is the same as it’s ever been… Hell, I’d argue that Xenogears is more innovative than Xenosaga), it’s still perfectly competent. Despite some really difficult areas that primarily arise because a boss might not exactly be balanced with its surrounding dungeon, Xenosaga Episode 1 pretty much (emphasis on the qualifier) goes down smooth.

That said, being a JRPG doesn’t really add anything to Episode 1.

As an easy example, I cannot imagine Earthbound or Mother 3 working nearly as well as anything but JRPGs. The conventions used and abused in both of those games come from a place of understanding the genre as a whole, and like Watchmen did for comics, both of those games are practically impossible to imagine working as effectively in other mediums.

There is exactly one spot in Xenosaga Episode 1 that I feel is enhanced by being a video game, and it’s the destruction of the Woglinde. Here, thanks to your fear of death (or a Game Over), the gnosis are perceived as just as deadly to “you” as they are to the common humans of the Xenosaga Universe. You’re panicked, fleeing from terrible, unknown creatures just like every other resident of this ship, and it does a lot to drive home the threat to everyone that is the gnosis.

… And then you spend the rest of the game slaughtering gnosis wholesale. But! In general, the threat of the gnosis going forward is their menace to the common man (like the Kukai Foundation town invasion), so, while you may become empowered, you understand why it’s up to you to rescue survivors.

Other than that, though? I just played through this whole game, and I can barely remember a moment that had to be in a video game. Say what you will about ridiculous minigames in Final Fantasy 7, but slapping around Scarlet did feel good, “resisting” Sephiroth did feel futile, and vrooming out of Midgar did feel appropriately tense. Here, we’ve got a (near) final boss that barely flinches after a heated battle, and it’s back to cutscenes, like nothing ever happened. No omnislash for you, Junior.

And, yes, I’m kinda downplaying the fact that you’re spending a minimum of twenty hours with these guys, so of course you’re going to be more attached to The Realian Justice Warriors and their various and sundry issues than you would with the cast of a 26-episode, 12 hour “passive” television series. But aside from the general attachment one gains through playing a video game, there’s not much cause for the “game” here.

Which circles back to…

Xenosaga Episode 1 and Me (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb)

As I’ve randomly alluded to, I adored Xenosaga Episode 1 at its release. No, I didn’t play the game through any more than once, but I did strive for 100% completion in the “post game”. All segment doors unlocked, all (non missable) equipment collected, and all techs leveled up. I also heavily analyzed the game, not from a “character” perspective, but in an effort to “figure out” all the mysteries of the story, and somehow generate answers before the next release. I truly believed there was some Xenosaga Master Plan at work here, and, with my friends from THE INTERNET, we all mined the game and minutia of random conversations and UMN database entries to attempt to grasp the whole picture.

It… was pointless. But, hey, I want to say this was my first “unknown” fandom. I was already a giant nerd for “complete” works like Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon, and any given Final Fantasy game, but this was my first fandom for something that was ongoing and still a mystery. This wasn’t like the previously mentioned Sailor Moon where the series was already over in its native land, and it was just a matter of talking to some wizened old 30 something about that time he played the SNES RPG, no, we were all in the same pot for this one, with holy wars starting over whether Xenosaga would directly tie to Xenogears, chaos’s true motivations, or whether or not Great Joe was supposed to mean something. In retrospect, it all seems so very, very worthless, but in its time, it was like the most important thing on my mind.

Which brings me to that clear data save. Literally no one knew the purpose of that clear save. Like everything else with Xenosaga Episode 1, there was rampant speculation, but no one could say for sure. Some believed everything would carry over, others, nothing. I wasn’t taking any chances, and I already liked the game, but I wasn’t sure I’d want to revisit it by the time Episode 2 was released (and, in my fantasies, apparently Episode 2 would just drop randomly from the heavens, and I wouldn’t be privy to weeks and months of advertising touting its incoming release). So, in an effort to “be prepared”, I grinded that stupid card game to generate as much in-game cash as possible, bought every last item in every shop, and made sure everyone was leveled up to at least 50 to be ready for the challenges of Episode 2. Whatever that clear save transferred, whether it be items, weapons, or levels, I’d be prepared.

That clear data save… unlocks a pair of swimsuits in Episode 2. That’s it. Finish XS1 at level 1 or level 50, and you get the same, trivial thing.

That would likely be the exact moment I stopped 100%’ing games.

Next time on Xenosaga: The real, final post on Xenosaga Episode 1. For everyone curious about the plot minutia, I’ll analyze all the major players, where they started, where they are now, and what they seem to want. This will serve as a review of what happened that also doubles as a handy guide to anyone coming into Xenosaga Episode 2 without reading everything else, because, what, you don’t have hours to pour over XS1? Weirdo.