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Xenogears 17: Better Living Through Death(s)

The good bookFei Fong Wong discovered late in his journey that his “true” personality had been fractured into separate pieces, and he only obtained Xenogears when he reckoned with all of the parts of himself. While such an ordeal would be confusing for anyone, this was particularly crazy for Fei, as he had also lived multiple lives through the centuries. And now he had memories of all of those lives. So can Fei (and us) learn from his multiple lifetimes of adventures?

Abel was Fei’s first incarnation. At the dawn of humanity, there was Cain and the Gazel Ministry. This gang advocated for the resurrection of Deus, and the majority of the freshly hatched population was into that nonsense. Abel opposed it, because he believed man should be more independent… which makes a certain amount of sense, as Abel was literally the only “real” human in this solar system. Of course, this led to some conflict with Cain and friends, and Abel was murdered. But an incarnation of Elehayym attempted to save Abel… before taking a fatal energy blast to the chest. So Abel and Elly died more or less together, though Elly likely bled out on the prehistoric floor first.

About 6,000 years later, “Abel” was reborn as Kim Kasim. Kim was an accomplished scientist and horrible date. Despite being a brilliant man who invented nanotechnology and could literally create life from nothing, he was one of the most cantankerous people in the Zeboim civilization, and spent an entire Deusmas dinner talking about how everyone on the planet was a jackass (except him, of course). Luckily, that era’s Elly was a nurse, and she fell hard for the misanthropic Kim. Together, they went on to birth/build an immortal nanotech woman named Emeralda. Unfortunately, this process was fraught with political danger, and, when Kim attempted to hide his new lifeform with a terrorist organization, that era’s government showed up, and murdered the heck out of everybody. Oh! And Elly died horribly in a hallway attempting to defend Kim that time, too. Presumably, Kim died slightly later than her, as he sealed himself in a room with Emeralda, and likely just mundanely starved to death inches away from where his baby mama’s blood painted the walls.

Don't make eye contactBut do not worry, as the wicked society that led to Kim and Elly’s horrible deaths was wiped out by nuclear annihilation anyway. The survivors went on to establish the nations that were more familiar to modern Fei and Elly, and, about 3,500 years later, Sophia was born. Sophia was the latest incarnation of Elly, and, with her metaphysical connection to Deus, she possessed high etheric abilities. Unfortunately, she was also sickly, and… Well, we covered this before. She met Lacan, the reincarnated Abel/Kim. She met Krellian, the man who would go on to try to create god. She met Roni & Rene Fatima, who were just a pair of good dudes. But, in the end, this Holy Mother decided she had to sacrifice herself to save everyone (Lacan particularly included), and she died in the fiery, suicidal crash of the Excalibur. But this time her “Fei” lived much longer… which led to him killing 98% of the population in pursuit of -the power-, and then trying to kill everybody left a few centuries later. So, in this case, Sophia/Elly sacrificed herself for her friends… but most of her friends turned out to be murderous dicks, and the world she loved mostly got obliterated by those same friends. Kind of a downer for a generational martyr.

About five hundred years later, we reach the final incarnation of these star-crossed (usually) lovers. Fei and Elly now lived in a world that was generally obliterated by the previous generation (though, now, a whole new obliteration was on the table. There were zombies!), featuring the final remnants of humanity shambling around and maintaining a giant robot battle arena for some reason. The most interesting place on the planet is a desert containing a dead dragon (that really should have been mentioned somewhere in history), and the most prominent remaining human is a centuries-old Elvis impersonator with amnesia. But Fei and Elly have a chance for a happy ending this time, as at least they are both still alive as Fei enters the belly of the beast in an attempt to rescue his millennia-old damsel. Have they finally learned that martyrdom has only ever made things worse? Will there be a happy ending for these two? Well, the scripture tells us about the tale in the next chapter…

Even Worse Streams presents Xenogears
Night 17

Original Stream Night: June 8, 2021
Night of the Schools’ Rivalry

Random Notes on the Stream:

  • Fanboymaster brings us the best introduction in this whole Xenogears project with Kishi and BEAT also immediately available.
  • Caliscrub arrives shortly thereafter with a welcome to the open/destroyed world of Xenogears.
  • And then Abby Denton! And Ample Vigour!
  • Let’s talk about our favorite Lou Bega moments!
  • “This is Big League Chu.”
  • Duuuuh?Jeanie joins as we visit the completely wrecked world of tomorrow.
  • Welcome to an underground city that Hammer apparently mentioned once! Let’s see Rico and Emerelda’s Gears in use for maybe the first time.
  • Fanboymaster mentions that he is surprised the Golgo 13 author, Takao Saito, is still around. He died three months after we recorded this stream…
  • “Please tell me the full story of Big Joe.”
  • “Who the hell is Kim?” “Fei’s Kim!” “Fei’s Kim!” “Fei’s Kim!” “Fei’s Kim!”
  • We’re heading to the desert triangle island. And maybe Gogo is Adlai Stevenson. It really cannot be disproven.
  • “They’re trying to steal our precious sand!”
  • Ample Vigour discovered that Breath of the Wild is good once he started running around and doing nothing. We’re also doing nothing while exploring this desert, so it’s surprisingly relevant.
  • It momentarily appears that I managed to get the glitch where I parked my airship on the Duneman Isle, but we overcome.
  • We get a history of BEAT being blocked on twitter as we revisit the fighting arena to see all the Gear weirdos.
  • The last man of the sea“Nobody would try to make Xenogears nowadays. Because game development costs money!”
  • When did we rescue Ramsus!? I have been paying attention! And I don’t remember it happening! Don’t lie to me, Xenogears.
  • Is Violent Ken more violent than regular Ken? Who knows. Let’s talk to Dan.
  • Did I mention Bongo Bill has been here for most of the night? I can’t remember when he showed up.
  • At least he sticks around for dolphin family relations. It… is hard to explain.
  • Oh, hey, there’s that sword forge/unequip thing just like we would eventually see in Xenosaga.
  • And then we close with a entering the final dungeon. Get ready for a big ol’ finale!

Next time on Xenogears: The end! Part 18/20

That's gonna happen

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

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!