Tag Archives: faq

Xenosaga Episode III Special 1: The Xenosaga FAQ

Why isn’t Shion a gnosis?

The question that became so irrelevant, even the LP forgot about it.

In Episode 1, it was established that everyone who is touched by a gnosis becomes a gnosis. Also, we got to see Cherenkov, ya know, become a gnosis. Logically, it must only be a matter of time before Shion herself becomes a gnosis, as she was nearly saltified back on the Woglinde before KOS-MOS’s rescue.

And then… it’s never mentioned again.

… Or is it?

Xenosaga Episode III Part 23b: TEotU Explained

Previously on Xenosaga: That’s what we’re here to talk about!

Let’s address the finale of the Xenosaga franchise in easily digestible, FAQ form. First question!

What in the name of chaos just happened?

Basically, the Xenosaga Universe got killed. All of the gnosis were sucked into a Nephilim-hole, many populated planets were destroyed, and the UMN, the “space internet” that allowed people to experience fabulous virtual reality and travel through space, was obliterated. In the end, all that’s left are a few planets (20%? Probably still a lot), the Dammerung (mobile center of technology for the galaxy), and approximately half of The Brews.

Is that supposed to be a good ending?

Kind of. It’s better than what Wilhelm had in mind.

What was Wilhelm’s plan?

FGC #132 Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall

My first impulse for this article was to simply throw up some images of these horrid polygonal graphics from the year 2000, like so…

High Fidelity

And gaze into the abyss of licensed games and how they can go so totally wrong, particularly when “real life” celebrities are involved. Heck, we’re not even dealing with a pair of celebrities that chiefly stand for something, so unlike a Spice Girls game that could focus on music, or an Arnold Schwarzenegger game that could feature some Danny DeVito based minigames, all we have here is, basically, Teen Girl Squad: The Game. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were always marketed with a sort of nebulous “girly girl” aesthetic, and it’s kind of hard to base an entire game around, what, talking about cute boys and going to the mall? Never mind that the twins were television stars almost literally from birth, they’re just like you, average teenage girl consumer!

Anyway, I was getting my cynicism all up and ready to go (haha, like my cynicism isn’t always ready to go) when I decided to do bit of googling to see Weee Mall!if there was any extra info on this game. And you know what I found? Nothing. Sure, I found a couple of winking “ha ha look at how bad this game is” Let’s Plays, and the usual “where to buy” sites, but aside from that, all I turned up was a Wikipedia entry not for the game itself, but for all the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen video games. First of all, there’s apparently nine of those games, which is mind boggling. But once I got past that bit of insanity, I felt an unusual emotion.

I felt bad for Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall.

This is FGC entry #132, and I have a tendency to do the same googling for any given featured game. Sometimes I find entire histories, some games have multiple dedicated sites, and some have massive wikis all of their own. Kid Chameleon, a game that I consider almost completely forgotten by the general gaming consciousness, has its own, fairly complex wiki.

Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall has a bullet point on Wikipedia, and one lonely FAQ on Gamefaqs.

So, for all the lost souls out there, here’s a complete guide to Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall.

Hub Area: The Mall

Much funAlright, here’s the deal: Mary-Kate and Ashley went to the mall, but they only had five dollars, because they’re broke teenage girls like you or me. They purchased a broken piece of jewelry, and were warned by the mysterious mall kiosk woman never to combine the two halves. They did it anyway, because no one in the history of the world has ever cared what someone working a mall kiosk thinks. Turns out that was a bad idea, because the combined necklace (or whatever it’s supposed to be) broke all of time and space, and now Mary-Kate and Ashley are stuck at the mall for all eternity. And it’s not even a good mall! It doesn’t seem to have a single video game store! … Actually, yeah, that makes sense, teenage girls don’t play video games.

There is a way out of this predicament, though! If Mary-Kate and Ashley collect the seven five chaos emeralds, they can use chaos control and bust out of this hellish purgatory that doesn’t even have a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Each magical emerald is locked behind a series of challenges loosely based on typical mall venues, like…

Lizzie’s Lunch

YummyWe’ll start with the most typical “video game” level: Lizzie’s Lunch. MKaA:MMM interprets popular teenage hangout spot the food court as some kind of retro 50’s diner. Fair enough, it beats having to shred up newspapers for a Taco Bell entree. Lizzie’s Lunch sees the twin of your choice roller-skating around and fulfilling orders for customers. Somebody ordered a pizza? Roll over to the pizza conveyor belt (or… something?) and then zoom that inevitably terrible mall pizza to the waiting customer. The first level only features customers that all want the same thing, but as the challenges progress, customers will demand different entrees. This, luckily, is wildly easy, because each customer always has the “I want this” speech bubble hovering overhead, so if you have the mental acumen of a three year old, you should be able to slide the circle into the round hole. The greatest challenge is that Mary-Kate and Ashley control like there’s no such thing as traction, which I would blame on the roller skates if they didn’t control exactly the same way on any other mall surface…

Oh, and you have to complete five levels before obtaining the emerald. This takes all of ten minutes, but it’ll seem much longer.

Just Say Snow

WeeeeAfter the game that would one day be Diner Dash, we’ve got the second most video game-y stage, Just Say Snow. The ski shop store (every mall has one of those, right?) transforms into a complete snowboard racing level. As far as snowboard games go, this one ranks somewhere around Final Fantasy 7’s infamous minigame, and lags far behind Snowboard Kids, the preeminent snowboarding game of the era. … It was a weird era. Regardless, once again, the twins control like they just finished up a job in Raccoon City, and, while this whole racing thing isn’t all that difficult, it’s clunky as all get out. That said, it’s pretty typical snowboarding, with “booster plates” and sweet jumps and an ever-present need to be rad at all times. The whole thing kind of plays like an early precursor to Sonic Riders, and… wait! That’s not good at all!

One nice thing, you have the ability to choose your snowboarding opponent, so you can effectively pick your difficulty level. Of course, there’s no real choice at all, as one of your possible opponents is named Slash McCoy. I hope to one day be as cool as Slash McCoy…


Next we have what one would likely expect from a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen game: trying on clothes! Oh boy! Fash (which certainly sounds like what a forty year old game developer would think the cool kids are saying) is a trendy clothing store that transforms into a complete fashion show. You’ve got to pick out the outfits for the twins, and then the game portion occurs when you have to take perfect pictures of these newly discovered models.

I assure you, being an adult male playing a game wherein I dress up teenagers and then take their pictures does not in any way make me want to die. I’ve played Senran Kagura, I can do this.

Anyway, I want to say Fash is the easiest level in the game, as I have the fashion sense of a mutant, and I still managed to score the emerald on the first go. I guess you just have to take pretty pictures? I don’t think my Saint’s Row character would win any fashion shows. She’s always running around in a bathrobe…

Music Nation

Rock out!Oh man, remember when there used to be music stores in malls? Or music stores at all? Good times, good times.

Anyway, this is part 2 of “what would you expect from the Olsens”. You get to make a music video! Kinda! Pick out Mary-Kate and Ashley’s dance moves, arrange them in some sort of coherent order, and then step on to the stage, where you can control camera angles and pile on the special effects. And I do mean “pile on the special effects”, because the win condition for this section is based on filling up a number of gauges with as many flourishes as possible. Shoot the confetti cannon over and over again! Change camera angles constantly! Lasers upon lasers! MORE LASERS!

Incidentally, this is the most toyish section of the game. While you are trying to earn that emerald that will release the twins from this waking hell, you can actually use the Playstation’s Monster Rancher capabilities to use your own CDs and get MK&A dancing to whatever tunes you’d like. If you want to choreograph some teeny boppers to dance along to Lyle Lanley’s Monorail Song, have at it. Nah, forget it, that’s more of a Shelbyville idea.

Overall, it’s dumb, but this might be the most unique part of the game. Though it does still lose points for making videos without Kris Kross.

Catch a Wave

Finally, we have Catch a Wave, the surf shop. Now, you would be forgiven for imagining some kind of surfing minigame, or perhaps something where the twins play the part of lifeguards, and have to rescue drowning swimmers, or maybe even a simple beach treasure hunt using a metal detector and the controller’s vibration function. Nope all around. This is a stalking simulator.

See, apparently the Olsen Twins spread a little rumor that they were dating a pair of hunky lifeguards…


Well… “hunky” lifeguards, and, whoops, that’s a complete lie. So you’ve got to do the typical teenage girl activity of falsifying evidence and creating pictures of Olsens with cute boys.

The game here is like… I don’t know… Pokémon Snap? The boys are wily and random creatures, so you’ve got to scan the streets for their presence, find ‘em, and then snap a picture before they cower behind a What is even happening?trash can or something. Make sure everything is centered and lined up, and be sure to not run out of film. Why, if you take perfect pictures, you should have photographic proof of your fake relationship in a week or so when the pictures come back!

Complete all of these challenges correctly, and you’ll collect the five emeralds and be able to escape this mall of horrors. If you for some reason enjoy this game, you can save a New Game+ File, and replay your favorite activities. There’s also a slot machine where you can expend “bonus tokens”… but you’ve already got plenty of Skinner Boxes on your phone, so I wouldn’t bother.

And that’s a mall game, folks!

FGC #132 Mary-Kate and Ashley: Magical Mystery Mall

  • System: Playstation. I wouldn’t expect a rerelease anytime soon.
  • Number of players: One. Huh, you would think twins were made for two player games, and the food court and snowboarding levels are practically made for competition…
  • Favorite Level: Catch a Wave gets bonus points for being just plain bonkers, but I actually kind of enjoy the Lizzie’s Lunch stage. Okay, that’s not really true… I dislike Lizzie’s Lunch the least of all the games.
  • Just don't lookAbbreviate this: MKaA:MMM would make a pretty good onomatopoeia. “Oh no! That bird is firing a machine gun!” “MKAAMMM!!!”
  • Fuller House: That’s right, Olsens, you can try to avoid the stink of worthless cash-grab nostalgia shows all you want, we know you’re responsible for nine video game atrocities.
  • Did you know? In any of the stages with a monitor in the background, if you pause the game, a tinier version of the pause menu will appear on the distant monitors. I can’t be certain if this is a glitch or an amazing bit of detail. I want to say it’s the former…
  • Would I play again: I feel bad for this game, but I also feel bad playing the game, so… no.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Ultimate NES Remix! Time to play all your favorite games for seconds at a time! Please look forward to it!

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #01: Ansem

A man to be laughed atQ. Who is Ansem?
A. That’s a very simple question! Here’s a succinct, 1,200 or so word answer on “Ansem”, in chronological, Kingdom Hearts history order.

In the beginning, “Ansem” started out as Xehanort, a terribly named young man who became a keyblade master. Fun fact: Xehanort is from Destiny Islands, the same home planet/island as the KH protagonist, Sora, and I’m sure the series will never use this fact as a last minute plot “twist”. Anyway, Xehanort was granted time travel powers by his future self, in a lovely predestination paradox that seems to be the only crossover with Gargoyles that KH is going to commit to. More about Young Man Xehanort will be covered later, but suffice it to say he somehow fails (despite having time travel powers and seeming control over, basically, the universe), and grows up into…

Portrait of a keyblade master as an old manOld Man Xehanort, as voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Since the entirely of Birth by Sleep is basically the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy (obviously foreshadowing Disney’s eventual acquisition of the Star Wars Universe) Old Man X is basically Emperor Palpatine. OMX spends the entire game as a “kindly old keyblade master” who is so dripping with evil he is literally followed by unimaginable monsters, though the heroes of the tale kind of don’t notice. Over the course of the game, the mysterious Mr. X first tried to pull Keyblade Apprentice Ventus (the original Sora) over to the darkside, but failed, and simply created a bizarro clone of Ventus named Vanitas (the first clone of Sora). Vanitas was a bust for some reason, so then Darth Xehanort moved on to tempting Keyblade Apprentice Terra over to the world of evil. This actually succeeded because Terra loved his friends so much he just had to kill Obi-Wan (as played by Mark Hamill).

Why don't you cry about it?Now this is where it gets complicated: Old Man Xehanort was using Terra the entire time so the old man could gain a young man’s body. Wait, phrasing, Xehanort wanted to literally possess the body of Terra, and did so. So Terra’s soul got suppressed, and Old Man Xehanort became Terra-Xehanort for a hot minute. This led to Keyblade Apprentice Aqua beating Terra-Xehanort so hard he literally could not remember who he was. Amnesiac-Terra-Xehanort is then discovered by Ansem the Wise, who immediately disproves his own name and hires Amnesiac-Terra-Xehanort as his assistant, thus transforming the villain into Lab Coat Xehanort.

Looking scienceyLab Coat Xehanort basically becomes the magical Dr. Mengele of the Square universe. In an act that can only occur in backstory and must never be seriously analyzed, Lab Coat Xehanort turns Ansem the Wise’s entire staff into a bunch of crazy monsters, tosses Ansem the Wise into the Realm of Darkness, steals Ansem’s name despite the fact that he is surrounded by people who knew the original Ansem, and then “unlocks the darkness in his own heart” or whatever and splits himself into two separate beings, Heartless Ansem and Nobody Xemnas. Then he went out for smokes for a decade.

By the era of Kingdom Hearts 1, Heartless Ansem, calling himself Ansem, orchestrates the entirety of Kingdom Hearts I, attempting to swallow the total KH universe into darkness, because that’s what you do when you’re the pure darkside of an already bad guy. Heartless Ansem clashes with the newest keyblade wielder, Sora, who has the sleeping soul of Ventus in there for whatever reason. Sora’s rival is another keyblade wielder, Riku, who once received the key-blessing of Terra. Riku is eventually totally possessed by Heartless Ansem, because Ansem-Xehanort can’t seem to get enough of this whole You recognize this one“possessing random teenagers” bit. At around that point, Sora is transformed into a Heartless by Heartless Ansem-Riku, but Sora recovers; however this random bit leads to the creation of Nobody Roxas, which will be important (sorta) later. Anyway, Sora beats Heartless Ansem senseless with his keyblade, Riku is freed of Ansem’s control, and Heartless Ansem is evaporated by the light that is Kingdom Hearts. Heartless Ansem is dead and gone forever.

Meanwhile, toward the end of KHI, Nobody Xemnas (the seventh “Ansem”) grabs Nobody Roxas (the fourth Sora) for his own nefarious purposes. Xemnas has this whole group of Ansem the Wise’s former trainees, called Organization XIII, and they’re all interested in turning the moon into a heart or something, because they’re Nobodies without emotions, and that makes them sad and angry. Sad lil dudeSo Sora is led into Castle Oblivion, where he must fight another Sora clone, about half of Organization 13, and then have his memory erased, because amnesia is the grease that keeps the Kingdom Hearts wheels rolling. Riku is thrust into the basement of the castle, and finds that he now has the ability to transform into Heartless Ansem. So, to be clear, Riku is another Ansem. Riku also meets DiZ, which stands for… seriously? Okay… Darkness in Zero. DiZ is secretly Ansem the Wise, now cosplaying as Batman’s lesser (least) nemesis, Hush.

But while this is all happening, Xemnas has inducted Roxas into Organization 13. Roxas is, ya know, doing whatever, chilling, eating ice cream, hanging with his buddy Xion, that kind of thing, for about a year. Then all heck breaks loose when it turns out that Xion was secretly a failed clone of Roxas (so, Sora #5, #6 if you count that other clone). Because you can only photocopy a photocopy so many times, Xion kind of breaks down into nonexistence so hard no one even remembers she was ever alive, and Roxas has a giant freak-out that leads to Riku going full Dark Ansem just in time to make the opening of Kingdom Hearts 2 really confusing.

Air Boat?Roxas is now trapped in The Matrix by DiZ and Dark Ansem-Riku. Roxas realizes he’s The One after a very exciting essay on “what I did on my Summer vacation”, and then pretty much ceases to exist just in time for Sora to come back to be the hero. The remaining members of Organization XIII go stomping around the universe, generally stirring up trouble, and Sora beats them down in turn. Finally, Nobody Xemnas reveals himself as being behind everything, and it’s all another ploy to create Kingdom Hearts, or find Kingdom Hearts, or something or other. What’s important is that DiZ, aka Ansem the Wise, sacrifices himself to transform Dark Ansem-Riku back into Shadow the Hedgehog Regular-Riku, and then Riku and Sora just straight up murder Nobody Xemnas, because he didn’t have a heart anyway, so it’s okay. This means that, finally, the last Ansem is dead, and the galaxy is at peace.

You're gonna be eternal, all rightExcept not so much. Death in the Kingdom Hearts universe is kind of confused: If someone is split into a heartless and a nobody, and then the heartless and nobody are killed, it becomes some kind of double negative thing, so the original “person” comes back to life. In Xehanort’s case the whole of the universe had a compile error or something, and it spat out another twelve or so Xehanorts. Seriously, Old Man Xehanort came back to life, and then used previously-never-mentioned time travel abilities to stock his all-new, all-better Organization 13 with at least four other versions of himself (“himself” now being a word that has absolutely no meaning). Two other Org XIII members are hangers on from the last Org, and the other six are mysteries because we’ve gotta have something to speculate on before the release of Kingdom Hearts 3. Xehanort (the young one, I think) tried to possess Sora and make him member #13, thus joining the great line of Too Many Soras with The Ansems All The Way Down, but he failed, as Xehanorts are want to do.

And now we’re all gearing up for the final KH chapter as the forces of light (Soras) battle the forces of darkness (Ansems) for the final fate of… wait… there are Disney characters in this franchise?