If you were enjoying that faux-gospel take on Xenogears, sorry to break kayfabe, but that’s over now. We’re going to take an article to look at Xenogears in a more objective manner: did anything in Xenogears matter?
This Xenogears Let’s Play was recorded predominantly from January to May of 2021. Due to significant executive dysfunctions, it was not posted on this site/”written about” until the fall/winter of 2022 (with a bit bleeding into 2023, as you can see). By complete coincidence, this period also wound up being when I played through Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and revisited my own Xenosaga Let’s Play for general Let’s Play inspiration. So, in a short period of a few months, I crammed a lot of Xeno-nonsense into my noggin.
And you know what I realized? It’s all the same!
Yes, that is a terribly reductive way to look at a few decades’ worth of incredibly distinctive videogame stories… but still! Every single Xeno title dips into the well of well-worn tropes and some not-at-all-disguised references to gnostic beliefs (and you may think outright naming your “monsters” [heavy emphasis on quotes there] “the gnosis” would be the pinnacle, but you’d be wrong!). This creates the unfortunate situation where heroes like Fei, Shulk, Rex, and Noah are all technically distinctive characters with their own motivations, beliefs, and hairstyles… but they’re all the same guy. They’re all going to slay a god because they love an important woman in their lives, and they all discover a heavy predestination/reincarnation history that seems to indicate they maybe never had a choice in the first place. And while Shion of Xenosaga is the odd woman out here, she still winds up being the reincarnated religious figure that loves another reincarnated religious figure that then work together to punch (a) god in the kisser. And, hey, at least there was a little sexual variance there! The Xenoblade Chronicles series has been so militantly heterosexual, Square Enix had to produce Final Fantasy 14 to balance out the universe.
But even though Fei and Elly may as well be Noah and Mio, they do have distinct supporting players. Or, put another way, Bart may be the Proto-Zeke, but it is hard to say if Billy’s whole deal is ever truly seen again within the franchise(s). And, with that in mind (and the admission that Xenogears: Disc 2 was the Fei an’ Elly Show [with special guest that other guy with the hair]), let’s see how the finale of Xenogears worked out for everybody else that grabbed an Omnigear.
Who was he? Fei and Elly are the undisputed stars of Xenogears, but Bart is our #3 protagonist. He even appeared in the demo (see, we can tie this article to the actual stream)! He is brash, headstrong, and generally myopic. And he’s got whips! That probably says something…
What did he do? Turns out the pirate king was an actual prince, and he fought to reclaim his country throughout Xenogears. When he finally regained the throne, he called for a democratic nation… but then immediately got voted back in as ruler. Baby steps, Bart.
But did it matter? Nope! Bart’s entire nation and most of its subjects are super duper dead or zombified about 60% of the way through Xenogears. Bart is certainly welcome to become a leader of the last remnants of humanity, but that whole “world wide war” thing that kicks off the plot is a nonfactor at this point.
Was Bart ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Like Fei & Elly, it is easy to identify Bart as another recurring archetype. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s errant Prince Zeke is the obvious (and already mentioned) descendant here, but we also have Junior almost immediately in Xenosaga. The concept of “immature royalty that wants to be seen as a hero” is pervasive, and it doesn’t matter if that “royalty” is a literal prince or a CEO: it’s all about learning to be a better man. You know, because this archetype is universally male…
Billy Lee Black
Who was he? A dedicated man of the cloth who not only eliminated zombies creeping around the continent, but also managed a delightful little orphanage. Billy had a rough time with his immediate family, but he was such a pious man that he was likely to be the next Holy Father… should such a position exist for someone with marksman proficiencies.
What did he do? The good news is that Billy reconciled with his father, and it looks like his little sister is going to be in a better mental place as a result. The bad news is that Billy discovered his entire religion was a lie, and he may have been killing innocent people for the Red Skull.
But did it matter? One could argue that Billy is in the best place to be important in the Post-Gear world of the finale of Xenogears. He is still good and saintly as of the finale, and he is 100% aware of the “true” history of his world and its religion (what with the fact that he was present for and actively shot and murdered god. Twice). Also, as near as anyone can tell, his entire family survived, so their reunion does actually mean something. So, basically, if Elly wanted to retire as Holy Mother after having a rough couple of weeks, Billy is right there and ready to lead Neo Ethos.
Was Billy ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Either every single time or not at all. Billy is unique as an acknowledged man of the cloth who has some family issues that pair nicely with a loss of faith… Or I just described damn near every character in the Xeno franchise that ever had a modicum of faith. Organized religion always turns out to be evil! Every time! And whether this is revisited with the bad guys (Xenosaga’s Margulis) or the good guys (practically the entire cast of Xenoblade Chronicles 3), Billy’s general beats as a person are revisited often in the god-killing franchise. He may have had the most unique gun-fu, though…
Who was she? Once mistaken for a stuffed animal, Chu-Chu is a bounding ball of pink fluff that earnestly believes she is helping. She can heal Gears, at least, so she certainly has her uses.
What did she do? She mostly tagged along with Margie, but she had her moment to shine when all the Gears were disabled, and she was able to grow to gargantuan size and defend a city of her fellow chu-chupolin. Unfortunately, that was about it for her moment, and she didn’t even get the catharsis of delivering the final blow to that man-monster. But at least she eventually got crucified!
But did it matter? Nothing about Chu-Chu mattered. She may be in a position to lead her remaining chupanions into the new age, but the majority of them may have taken a dirt nap right around the time that Shevat hit the ground. She at least survives all that wizbiz.
Was Chu-Chu ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Infinitely. Chu-Chu is the proto-Nopon, and some of her more idiosyncratic behaviors are echoed in her descendants. Remember how XB2’s Tora was a brilliant scientist but horny all the dang time? Well, please recall that Chu-Chu was introduced with a bizarre crush on Fei, and advocated for him to go get his mack on when Elly was upset (which aggravated BEAT to no end). Every annoying creature with a squeaky voice in this franchise had its origin here.
Who was she? The granddaughter of one of the great sages, Maria narrowly escaped Solaris and became Shevat’s number one defender with her distinctive Gear, Seibzehn. She fought the party initially, but joined the common cause when she was promised an opportunity to become the wings of death. She… may have issues.
What did she do? But she is allowed to have issues, because she was forced into an epic battle where her choices were let her friends and makeshift family die, or kill her father. She ultimately chose fratricide, and… that was that. Aside from her Solaris breaking and entering, Maria is all but ignored for the remainder of Xenogears.
But did it matter? She was the greatest defender of Shevat… before Shevat mostly became a crater. And she really loved her giant robot… before all robots on the planet lost the ability to function. With her father/grandfather’s research, if there is anyone on this dirtball that could get a Gear going again, it’s Maria… but in the meanwhile, she has zero accomplishments or hopes for the future.
Was Maria ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Aside from the time that she pretty much outright transported herself into Xenosaga? Maria is a “girl and her horse” archetype with a dash of daddy issues, so she may or may not also be every Xeno character ever. You want to hear some hard truths? It is a short trip from Maria and Seibzehn to Shion and KOS-MOS, and “Mai Magus” appearing in Episode 3 there may be an acknowledgment that Shion is more of a repeat character than anyone wants to admit. MOMO is Maria with all the parental trauma and responsibilities, but none of the rage. And then we move forward to Melia…
Who was she? The daughter of Fei and Elly from another age, Emeralda is a nanotech colony that has taken the form of a green-haired girl. Her potential as a lifeform is unlimited, and she can turn into an angel or a buzzsaw. There are probably appropriate uses for both forms.
What did she do? At her introduction, she was little more than a macguffin to be pursued by both teams. Once Solaris/Krelian learned all they needed about her biology/technology, she was released to the good guys on a probatory basis. Shortly before the finale, she was allowed to explore the ruins of her old city, and she spontaneously matured into a teenager to better rescue the woman that was mostly her mom.
But did it matter? Emeralda’s tech was integral in the “evolution”/destruction of the human race, so she gets bonus points for inadvertently aiding the apocalypse. Beyond that, she did wind up being on the rescue team for Elly, so she did set a goal and accomplish it without any pyrrhic modifiers. And, assuming there is anyone left that knows what they are doing, Emmy’s nanotech might be the key to reviving this dead ass planet. Gray goo for a better you!
Was Emeralda ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? The precocious child that is a living weapon seems to be a common Xeno theme (say hi again, MOMO), but once you get into “nanotech” and “artificial lifeform that learns how to be human”, you could be describing some of the most important characters across the franchise. Ignoring your usual compliment of KOS-MOS or the entire concept of the Blades of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, let us simply focus on Pyra and Mythra. What was their final form’s hair color?
Who was he? He… um… oh… This is embarrassing. Was he the weasel guy?
What did he do? Oh yeah! He was the wrestler dude that helped you fight your way out of prison. And he had a whole arc there about being abandoned by his prestigious father, and fighting his way up through the slums, and learning to trust his new/true friends, and… Then he didn’t really do much. Granted, Billy was in much the same situation (have one dedicated arc, never be relevant again), but at least that guy’s whole family stuck around for support. By the time Hammer is betraying everybody, “the champ” is barely even mentioned.
But did it matter? No. Very firm no here. Rico turned to the light to save a town that eventually got obliterated anyway. Hammer exploded. Fei probably could have escaped prison on his own entirely thanks to the help of Citan. And it’s not like Rico’s brilliant mind was ever utilized across the breadth of this team’s journey. If there is some kind of line of succession over in Kislev, Rico might be in line to be the emperor of exactly one (1) battle arena.
Was Rico ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? It is hard to say if any particular character is a reference to Rico in later games, as there really isn’t much to Rico to emulate. We’ve certainly seen the “strong guy” archetype more than a few times, and we had “king of the prison, let’s all escape” appear again as recently as Xenoblade Chronicles 3 with Ghondor. Hell, Ghondor even gets her own “Hammer”, too, so maybe she is a little Rico.
Who was he? The only member of the party that doesn’t have daddy issues because he is a daddy, Citan seemed to exist as the wise mentor figure for the party (and particularly Fei). He knows every “old man” on the entire planet, is directly responsible for more than a few Gears running around, and has a wife and daughter to come home to (assuming Fei didn’t obliterate his home in the opening act). He also has a rad sword and an even more rad helicopter robot.
What did he do? What didn’t he do? Hyuga Ricdeau was born a slave in Solaris, was blamed for a local plague (accused, never convicted), worked his way up to the elite Elements squad, became a direct subordinate of Solaris’s Emperor Cain, met his wife attempting to sabotage a rival country, got a new(ish) job spying on Fei, kept Fei out of trouble for a solid couple of years/adventures, helps his friends infiltrate his former (current?) home, facilitates some cannibalism, plays psychologist for 66% of Fei’s personalities, performs minor surgery on the entire party, and… Well, he didn’t do much in Disc 2. But he was the only member of the party that wasn’t an immortal reincarnation that narrated things, so that counts for something.
But did it matter? Or maybe it didn’t count for anything. Despite being integral to Fei’s awakening as the XenoChrist, Citan doesn’t get much in the way of development in his own story. Or, put another way, everything interesting happened in Citan’s life before the game started, and now he is just coasting on mentorship clout. It is telling that one of the greatest debates in the Xenogears fandom at release was whether or not Citan’s wife was even alive anymore, and that somehow did not impact the plot/character one iota.
Was Citan ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Aside from the obvious answer of Jin Uzuki (and, arguably, Shion, too), Citan’s position as adult aid for the party has been revisited a number of times, just most recently without the character being a permanent member of the party. And that’s fine! That’s a very well-worn archetype, and whether we are referencing Obi Wan or Dunban, there is always room for the smart old (29-year-old) man in a videogame. And if you want someone of the opposite sex, Special Inquisitor Mòrag Ladair of XB2 sure does feel like the chaperone for the kids of that party.
Who was he? He was a military commander at the Aveh-Kislev border. He had a purple cross tattooed onto his face, and loved giant cannons.
What did he do? Vanderkaum was replaced by Ramsus as the Aveh commander, but he still fought Fei and friends when Bart attempted to liberate his home country. After losing his beloved cannons, he pilots a gear, loses, and is then granted -the power- by Grahf. Powered Vanderkaum kills a bunch of people, which pisses off Fei, so Fei-Id sends Vanderkaum to an early grave.
But did it matter? Vanderkaum was an object lesson in why you do not want to see Fei angry, but he otherwise barely impacted the world at large.
Was Vanderkaum ever revisited in the Xeno franchise? Yes. He reappeared in one form or another in every other Xeno-world. If anything, the Xeno franchise is a constant retelling of the story of Fei, Elly, and this bald dork. There has never been a reasonable explanation for this, and I am not thinking about Xeno games any more out of protest.
Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 18 Part 2
Original Stream Night: May 4, 2021
Night of Xenogears
Random Stream Notes
- We’re doing the demo! The Square 1998 Collector’s CD Volume 1, a pack-in for Parasite Eve, contains a demo for Xenogears, a game that would be released like a month after PE. So fanboymaster, BEAT, Jeanie, and Kishi are ready for the beginning at the end.
- Enjoy flashy words! Elaborately Planned World!
- This was recorded on the same night as the ending of Xenogears, so we are discussing that a little bit during the retread of the intro.
- Ample Vigour stops by for the start of the playable demo.
- “Ye shall be as butts.”
- Oh, this is where fanboymaster talks about the terrible intro to Final Fantasy Zero for the first time. That will come up again for other games.
- Let’s discuss the incredible racism of the PSP advertising campaigns as we get to actual gameplay.
- “I’m not okay with leaving Baby Herman around my wife.”
- Elly and Bart join the party a tweak early. Oh well, it worked for Chrono Cross’s demo.
- Ample Vigour asks how long we have been playing Xenogears. The answer is, apparently, from January 5 – May 4. There were a few breaks here and there, though, so this wasn’t… how ever many weeks that would be.
- Keanu Reeves is allowed to be a middle-aged man.
- What happened to Citan’s wife, Yui, over the course of Xenogears? Who cares.
- Kishi once believed that Dan’s face would make sense when they were older. Such a sweet summer child…
- And the demo officially ends at the destruction of Lahan with a lovely “next time on Xenogears”.
- After the Xenogears sizzle real, we check the Final Fantasy 8 preview video for the hell of it.
- Thanks for waching Xenogears! If you need Even Worse Streams continuity, we started the Mega Man Legends trilogy after this. Those segments were posted on the site quite a while back.
- And we close with Kishi’s appeal to the watcher to play Xenogears divorced from all of our nonsense. I am only moderately offended.
Next time on Xenogears: You dig giant robots? I dig giant robots.