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Xenogears 16: Know Thyself

Everybody has got oneKnow thyself, know thy god.

Krelian was an assassin 500 years ago. Unfortunately, he was not a very good assassin, and fell in love with his target, the 13-year-old Sophia. Krelian had a good seven years with Sophia before she became politically active and started hanging out more with her “childhood friend”, a pretty boy painter. But, potential infidelity and/or grooming aside, when Sophia was permanently lost to a suicidal combat maneuver during the Shevat-Solaris War, Krelian karened out. His anger at a manager that would allow such an injustice was so all-consuming, he vowed to create a new manager that presided over a world where the good would never be sacrifices.

But Krelian was not honest with who he really was, so this plan had a few hiccups. For one thing, his plan to create a new god would sacrifice nearly every human living on the planet… which is a bit of a hypocritical move when you are doing this “for” one dead lady. He also gained the ability to control who lived or died through nanotechnology, and unilaterally “sentenced” a few random Shevat and Solarian leaders to immortality. Did he use his ability to grant eternal life for a good reason? Nope! And, in pursuit of his goal, he tortured and experimented on people for centuries. He even tortured Elhaym Van Houten, who was the living reincarnation of the woman he purported to love! And he tortured Chu-Chu, too! Which is just unpleasant!

In short, Krelian wanted to create god, but he ignored how he had turned from the divine long ago.

Watch the pointsThen we have Lacan, that painter that Sophia seemed to dote on. Lacan had significant self-esteem issues, and thought painting a portrait of “the Holy Mother” that happened to be his friend/potential paramour was beyond his capability. Then, when Sophia died, he blamed himself, and decided it would never have happened if he was tougher. In pursuit of -the power-, he hooked up with a purple-haired war criminal, and attempted to steal strength from god. However, this ended poorly, with 98% of the planet’s surface population being obliterated in the ensuing chaos. And that wasn’t enough! This was right about the time that, thanks to a gross misunderstanding of some well wishes, he vowed to live to see the end of the world. And if that apocalypse wasn’t happening anytime soon, he would help the world get to the last page all the faster.

And considering he then spent the next 500 years manipulating everyone within a 500-yard radius into similarly and fruitlessly chasing -the power-, it is easy to see how he could bring about the end of everything. He even manipulated a traumatized child into being a living weapon. Which is all the more tragic when “old” Lacan had power all his own all the while…

But that brings us to that traumatized child. Fei Fong Wong was a mere babe when Lacan attempted to steal -the power- from Fei. But Fei’s father, Khan, fought to protect his son, and, in the ensuing melee, Fei’s deific power was released. This instantly killed Fei’s mother, Karen, and left the youngster in a mental quagmire that plunged his “normal” personality into hibernation. This left us with a Fei identifying as Id that seemed to live for death and destruction. And when this Id hooked up with Lacan (now known as Grahf), the two of them got up to a few hijinks that involved a surprising amount of genocide. Eventually, a third personality in Fei emerged to suppress the murderous Id, but this third persona had no access to the memories of the previous two. In short, Fei was a third of the person he could be, with memories that only stretched back a few years.

But, despite/because of more recent traumas, Fei was able to come to an understanding with all of his personalities. Even if this process caused him untold pain, Fei was able to reckon with his true self. As a result, Fei was able to make true contact with god, and obtain the fabled Xenogears, a Gear that was powered by an extra-dimensional energy source entirely separate from Krelian’s machinations.

And were Krelian or Lacan ever able to find their god? Well, considering Fei killed that giant slug before he even achieved enlightenment, outlook is not too good there.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 16

Original Stream Night: June 1, 2021
Night of the Bravest Fencer

Random Stream Notes

  • Beat, Fanboymaster, Jeanie, Caliscrub are here at the start. Kishi is on their way! At the very least, we’re gonna fight god!
  • That’s our god?”
  • Kishi arrives for the start of our militant atheism.
  • “The god bug thing isn’t hot enough.”
  • We discuss exactly what Grahf is wearing. I feel Xenoblade Chronicles 3 eventually answered any questions about what we are supposed to be looking at.
  • BEAT sees Chu-Chu crucified live for the first time. Why would that puffball even inflate for that?
  • Look, this game was translated by Richard Honeywood sleeping under a desk. Please excuse any typos from Wiseman.
  • “It not only has two heads…
    What is even happening here?

    It has two torsos.”
  • “I’m Gyro Man.” “Here’s five dollars, please give me a sandwich.”
  • Let’s talk about the most expensive brisket Caliscrub has ever seen.
  • Please enjoy the great blue vs purple debate over Miang/Elly’s hair color. I’m with purple.
  • “That frog’s not a pervert.”
  • “I’m really proud of Fei for remembering who Rico is.”
  • There is a lot going on in flashbacks here. So, naturally, we discuss whether Fei smells bad.
  • Dan’s forehead is back! Hooray!
  • Nice dye job“What do I do to get that motorcycle?” “You pay twenty dollars, little Timmy.”
  • All the xeno-heads are “excited” for Fei’s imaginary journey through his subconscious. Buckle up!
  • Lacan is Grahf who is also Fei who is also Wise Man who is also Khan. You get all that?
  • “Look, we all killed mom. Together.”
  • “Is this going to turn into a rhythm game?”
  • Jeanie realizes how Xenoblade is related to Xenogears. Go fig!
  • “So how do I use the Zohar to mine for bitcoin?”
  • Let us always remember to store data in our introns. … Wait, that is a real part of DNA!?
  • If you want our first discussion on how the ending sucks, here it is after checking out Fei’s introns. To be clear: the ending as an ending isn’t bad, it is just that literally the entire world is dead.
  • Oh, I guess we’re never streaming Final Fantasy 8. Shucks…
  • “May we all be brave enough to be Goku.” “Oh! It’s a save point! My favorite character!” Thanks for watching!

Next time on Xenogears: What is considered optional in this universe?

I blame you, Dan

Xenogears 15: People and Power

Let's go, ratToday we will (rapidly) examine people who came from nothing, but eventually obtained -the power-.

First, we have Hammer. While Hammer was friendly with one future god-slayer and one future popette, it is hard to say Hammer was ever a good person. He did good things, and he did help people in the prison of Kislev District D, but he was also an arms smuggler, which is decidedly not the most altruistic of vocations. Then, when the chips were down, he was easily coerced into threatening an innocent(ish) woman’s family. He failed at that (while incidentally killing the future holy mother’s mother), and was then rebuilt as a weaponized robot rat. Unfortunately, even with this power at hand, he still attacked his old comrades. And, when he had been summarily defeated, he found that his new masters had boobytrapped his body, and he was rigged to explode. While his former compatriots were able to escape, Hammer died bursting with agony in a pit in some forgotten cave. He came from nothing, gained -the power-, used it for selfish ends, and returned to nothing.

And on the subject of Hammer’s homicidal superiors, we have Ramsus. Ramsus was born to be something more, but was treated like trash since the womb(/tube). He worked his way up to a standing of some nobility, but then had a win-loss record of 60-1 for a solid six years with a “trash” martial artist (that would have rather been a painter anyway). As a result, despite clearly proving he has -the power- (just not all -the power-) Ramsus was convinced he was a loser, and would literally do anything to demonstrate he was something more. In a mad attempt to get the attention of his rival, he endangered an entire town of people, and even threatened to crush their holy mother (who, admittedly, was his hated opponent’s girlfriend). When that proved to be so pointless that it was barely worth mentioning, he then moved on to killing the Emperor of Solaris. And, yes, Solaris was mostly a smoking crater at this point, and it was hard to say what Emperor Cain was even ruling, but still. It was not a nice thing to do, and only served the purpose of further endangering the like sixty people that could be defined as humans at this point. Ramsus, like Hammer, used -the power- only to help himself, and even failed at that.

This is grand funBut this world is not so dark that you cannot see the light. Ramsus had a group of subordinates known as The Elements. Dominia Yizkor, Seraphita, Tolone, and Kelvena were all considered to be have-nots, as they all had disadvantages such as random etheric disabilities, cybernetic parts, or elf ears. However, they pooled their abilities to become a force that could threaten -the power-, and literally combined their strengths into a gigantic robot. And, like Hammer or Ramsus, they initially used this force to bully those that they blamed for their difficult lives. But after speaking to the woman that would shortly thereafter be manhandled by a raging Ramsus, they decided to use their vigor not for selfish reasons, but to help the man that had raised them up to -the power- in the first place. And, while this change of heart was partially facilitated by being beaten bloody by a team of giant robots (two of them piloted by former Elements that now had better jobs), everyone else mentioned at this point were defeated by Gears and still didn’t learn their lesson.

So use -the power- for good. And if you cannot bring yourself to do that, maybe use your own power to find something good. It will reduce the odds of self-exploding.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 15

Original Stream Night: May 18, 2021
Night of the Frontier of Sagas

Random Stream Notes

  • Never call me Microsoft Bob. Welcome back to Xenogears with BEAT, fanboymaster, and Jeanie.
  • And Caliscrub arrives as we are discussing super exciting spelling bees.
  • Do we have a tally of how many times we talk about Final Fantasy 7 on this stream? Let’s discuss concepts for Vincent Valentine.
  • The N-Gage is gross, but Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2’s team getting recycled in “Triple-A development” is grosser.
  • As the Elements appear, BEAT reveals he did not know the Sailor Moon cast was related to particular elements. How do you miss that?! You are experienced in JRPGs, man!
  • And then I lose power! In real life! What the heck!?
  • Who would even make this?Seeing the Playstation 3 boot screen may have been when we officially decided to play all the Mega Man Legends titles. That’s some more Even Worse trivia for you!
  • We’re back to playing the exact same thing! And talking about how Metallica proved they were squares.
  • We need more JRPG bosses like the Turks who will give up immediately.
  • And the Elements combine! Woo!
  • This was the first I heard of Voltron not being notable in Japan. It broke my heart.
  • Joe & Mac is announced on virtual console with Spanky’s Quest! Best stream ever!
  • We talk about Skies of Arcadia a lot on this stream, so let’s remember the dearly departed noises of a grinding Dreamcast as we hit our second dungeon.
  • “There are plenty of people that are just jackasses.”
  • All the puzzles ever intended for Xenogears wound up in one dungeon, and now we have to deal with that.
  • Let us all lament the loss of Hammer, the one character we unanimously liked.
  • Cain is dead. “Do we ever get an explanation for what is going on in that room?” “No.”
  • That's grossWould you take the Pope with you to fight street toughs? Would you have sex if a mascot monster told you to?
  • Yes, it was Ashley in Wild Arms 2 that got his Playstation 1 mack on, too.
  • We’re finally back at the Eldridge! From the intro! It would have been a nice dungeon! But we don’t have time for that now! Let’s take a break.

Next time on Xenogears: We kill God, and then get to some actually important stuff.

Enjoy yourself, kids
Chicka wow wow

Xenogears 14: Time is Running Out

My robot!Phew… Okay… So I have been informed that things are going a bit long, and we only have time for a total of five more sermons (including this one). That is going to truncate things a bit, as all the important things happen in Fei’s journey from about this point on… And… dang… Did I really waste two entire lectures on Fei doing nothing in prison? Woof. I am sorry. In the future, I hope I can pace these things a bit better.

Let’s see here… what to focus on… what to focus on…

We covered Solaris exploding last time? Oh, good, so we don’t have to…

Oh! Id! Yes. Id was secretly Fei all along. That is interesting, right? And, while Fei does not immediately grapple with his “inner” Id, he does gain a limited kind of control over his Weltall’s ability to enter Id mode. Given he successfully destroyed a centuries-old fortress the last time he let Id loose, this is something of a game changer for the man that is gathering more and more of -the power-.

And speaking of which, Ramsus was able to defeat Fei in one battle shortly after the fall of Solaris. We will talk more about Ramsus later… uh… if we have time… But his Omnigear leads to one of his few clear victories, and that is important to a man that has previously spent his entire life losing. … But we will not dwell on the fact that he was a significant loser about ten seconds after Fei got that Id upgrade…

HUGS!Oh! And Elly! Her parents are killed before Solaris is detonated (which, let’s be honest here, they would not have survived that explosion, so this was a delayed death at best), but then she successfully talks Fei/Id down from the rampage that destroyed her home. And then when Fei is caged for the crime of committing a genocide shortly thereafter, it is Elly that aids Fei in a daring escape. Thereafter, they reconnect emotionally before separating so Elly can join her step/real/magical daughter in a raid on the Mass-Driver Facility. And that was likely a pretty amazing adventure all on its own, but we don’t really have any information on that, because the population of the world is transformed into zombies shortly thereafter.

Oh, but before that, there was a Fort Hurricane, and a town that turned into a giant, transforming Gear, and that Gear used a flying ship as a cannon, and… Crap. Did we not even mention Grahf and the Executioner at this point?

Gah! We’re out of time!

Look, we will pick it back up with the Anima relic next time. Uh… For now… Um… The moral is that knowing how much time you have left is really important.

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 14

Original Stream Night: May 11, 2021
Night of the Jumping Flash

Random Stream Notes

  • Do you like horny bunnies 2? How about robots? Welcome back to Xenogears. Caliscrub and Kishi are here with the usual crew.
  • “Is Billy Bart? Are they different?”
  • BEAT actually cares about Hammer! It impacts our reactions to his betrayal.
  • Hey, remember Executioner? Remember!?
  • “Why is there an FMV here?” Welcome to Weltall turning red and solving some mysteries.
  • BEAT is bound and determined to never address Xenogears, even as the most interesting parts of the game happen.
  • Good little dudeMags thinks we are old enough to be nostalgic for “He-Man and Betty Boop.” Let this be our epitaph.
  • We will live the rest of our lives hearing nerds talking about Neon Genesis Evangelion, and there is nothing we can do about it.
  • “Citan is there to make sure nobody starts a food fight in the cafeteria.”
  • Let’s talk about Legends of Tomorrow being good while Krelian talks to the TV sphere.
  • INSERT DISC 2! We’re here!
  • BEAT demands more games based on Queen songs. Ogre Battle is right over there…
  • Do rejuvenation tubes exist in real life? I keep asking this.
  • Aw, we all talk about our COVID vaccine experiences. Memories…
  • Please do not notice Weltall 2’s lack of a pelvis.
    We need more joints
  • While Fei is fighting Vengeance again, Caliscrub is losing at Street Fighter.
  • “Enjoy these JPEGS, because that’s it.”
  • As the plot really kicks into high gear (after a gear skirmish), we attribute this breakneck pacing to a really intricate plot… that doesn’t work. “They’re super over scope” is the best explanation.
  • For our giant zombie fight, Kishi once again makes great battle recommendations after the fight has already started…
  • “By the way we’re just in a dungeon now.”
  • Really good plots can sound terrible if you’re just reading a wiki of it… And that is basically what we have here. Welcome to the remaining Wiki of Xenogears.

Next time on Xenogears: We’re all gonna get laid!

Take that
This could have been an entire game!

FGC #649 E.V.O.: Search for Eden

LETS EVOE.V.O.: Search for Eden is an excellent Super Nintendo title that sees a generic “lifeform” evolve from a meager fish to the dominant species on Earth (if you are reading this, I am talking about you). It was an unusually ambitious title for 1992, and, with a protagonist that could grow and evolve in so many different ways, it made “Mario can wear a cape” look like clownshoes. But, while you can evolve through a variety of forms and shapes in E.V.O.: Search for Eden, you cannot evolve into everything. You are limited by the preprogrammed choices available, and if you want to evolve into an elephant for a period longer than a few minutes, too bad. So what are some evolutions that could have made E.V.O. better? Well…

Location-Based Variation

Here we goOur good friend Charles Darwin got the whole evolutionary theory going thanks to visiting the Galapagos Islands nearly 200 years ago. Basically, he saw a bunch of birds and lizards bobbing about, but, from island to island, they all had biological advantages that were specific to the conditions of their private islands. This jumpstarted the theory of biology adapting to specific environments, and toddled down the trail to evolution as we know it today. Unfortunately, E.V.O. does not reinforce Charlie’s elite beliefs. The best jaws are the best jaws if you are in the ice and snow or a desert, and the best jumping legs do not care if you are on a cliff or a plain. What’s more, the most effective way to eat your meats is always a meager press of the A button, and not adapting a prehensile tongue to slurp out snacks. Adapting to individual situations is exactly what evolution is all about, so it is disappointing that all we get here are a series of evolutions with price tags that are just like buying the best armor in Dragon Quest. This would be the best excuse for why we need an E.V.O. 2.

Carcinisation

Look!  A crab!Everything must become crab.

You have seen a crab before, right? They are those red things that Mario fought that one time. Big ol’ pincers, flat little body, and a bunch of skittering legs that carry their crabby selves all over the place. Well, it has been determined that carcinisation is real and powerful, and, given enough time, nearly every crustacean just goes ahead and evolves into a crab form. Hermit crabs used to be little spider-looking dudes, but they went whole hog on the crab to become king crabs. Hairy stone crab figured out camouflage and how to be a decent crab. And even squat lobsters apparently made the jump to be porcelain crabs when they decided crab was the way to go. Crab-shaped is the inevitable and enviable goal of so many creatures out there, but crab-form is wholly unobtainable in E.V.O. Where mah crabs at!?

Luck of the Spineless

E.V.O.: Search for Eden starts with a lifeform that has just become a fish. From there, the basic sequence of fish – amphibian – lizard – bird – mammal is followed. And, while you do battle a Queen Bee (and her less dangerous mate), you never get to dip a toe into the insect kingdom. What’s more, you aren’t allowed to transform into a single creature without a spine, so spineless monsters like spiders, squids, and President Donald Trump are all completely unavailable. And, despite level 1 being entirely underwater, this includes an awful lot of marine life. You could make an entire game out of a create-a-character where you can customize a nautilus shell, or base an adventure on the exploits of a horseshoe crab. … Dangit! We’re back to crabs again. Need to get away from those.

Viral Evolution

Virii may be involved hereHere is a branch devoid of crabs! E.V.O. starts too early, as the Ocean of Origin with its bespined fishies is far too late in lifeform development. How about we work our way up from some amoebas? And, hell, that would make a whole lot more sense within the framework of E.V.O., as breeding is wholly ignored on this evolutionary journey. Every upgrade is simply purchased, and you don’t have to spend a half hour wooing Mrs. Weird Horn Monster with Angry Jaws. But amoeba would be great for that kind of gameplay! You can just cellularly divide at will, and spend your EVO points at will as you do it. And, hey, maybe society at large needs a reminder on how viruses can change and mutate over time, as I seem to recall that has been relevant to current events of late.

Best Birds

FLAP FLAPIt is a “secret”, but you can become a bird in E.V.O. In fact, given the mammalian upgrade is optional, with a little skill, you can steer a bird creature straight from prehistory to the Garden of Eden. And, while the aerial advantage is always… uh advantageous, the bird options are limited. Practically every evolution is limited to influencing your flying ability (with strength and size being the only other options) and every other potential route in the universe falls by the wayside. And this makes sense, because this is a 2-D action game, and granting the power of flight sends the traditional gameplay balances off the side of a cliff. But! Real-life birds are not just about flight or beak strength, they are about aesthetics. There are some damn pretty birds out there, and it is a tremendous missed opportunity that you cannot peacock-out by transforming into a flamingo. The blue crowned pigeon is right over there being majestic, but forever out of reach.

Mermaidloution

Everybody knows that the ultimate goal of all evolution is to become a mermaid, and…

swimmy swimmy

Oh. Well. I guess E.V.O.: Search for Eden gets some things right.

FGC #649 E.V.O.: Search for Eden

  • System: Super Nintendo. If it is anything else, you are thinking about a different game.
  • Number of players: Evolution should not be such a solitary activity.
  • Favorite Temporary Evolution: You can turn into a dragon in the secret cloud area of dinosaur times. This looks radical… but there isn’t anything around to actually attack in that bonus stage. A temporary dragon powerup that cannot be used for anything is a crime that should be punished thoroughly.
  • More like the Ass AgeFavorite Age: The age of the stegosaurus feels like a point where the game opens up, as you can be a terrible thunder lizard, or find the secret area that grants bird powers. And, unfortunately, that much variety is never seen in E.V.O. again, as the only choice you’ll see later is the mammal upgrade, and, come on, who would choose not to be a mammal? You’re a human playing this videogame! You know how this thing is supposed to end!
  • For the sequel: While those waters are muddier than a mudskipper’s natural habitat, E.V.O. is basically a sequel to the PC-98 game 46 Okunen Monogatari ~The Shinka Ron~ ( 4.6 Billion Year Story: The Theory of Evolution). That sucker never had an official translation, and is basically a JRPG that borders dangerously on the territory of visual novels. That said, it is arguably a more interesting game, as you are directly standing against Lucifer, who is portrayed here as either a pretty blonde lady or a spider. Oh, and you have less control over your evolution (more just stat manipulation ala Final Fantasy Adventure), and your ultimate evolution will be a humanoid elf. Elves fighting the devil on the moon is the finale, which I am pretty sure was something Darwin himself predicted.
  • An end: Speaking of endings, the finale of E.V.O. sees whatever your creature happens to be being accepted by Sexy Mother Gaia and ushered into Eden. The implication from there seems to be that “you” will be the basis for whatever substitutes for the human race on this version of the world (you are distinctly granted man’s intelligence… even though there was never any indication you were anything but the smartest thing around anyway). As a child, I was always disappointed that this did not lead to a custom “the end” graphic with your armored jaw-monster walking around a modern city wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase.
  • Watch it, buddy: Oh yes, this article was inspired by the recent Even Worse Stream of E.V.O., featuring Dallas of Take That Darwin as a special guest commentator.


    Original Stream Night: November 8, 2022

    If you can believe it, I have been trying (poorly) to get that stream together for the site since roughly 2019. I am slow!

  • Did you know? According to BEAT, the subtypes of evolution are, “you know, mermaidloution, marvevolution, crabforming, triple reverse crabforming, your basic micromaloevolution subsets, apeforming (v rare), alolan forms, smolboiing, etc etc.” You should listen to him. He is a scientist.
  • Would I play again: E.V.O. is a lot of fun… when you cheat your way into infinite evo points. When you don’t do that, the fun is hampered somewhat by looping 2-screen wide levels repeatedly as you eat the meatiest monsters available over and over again. But a version of this game without grinding thanks to a Game Genie is pretty alright! So I’ll play it again.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Haunting Starring Polterguy for the Sega Genesis! Let’s get our Halloween content out of the way right here in January! Please look forward to it!

ALIENS!