The Xenosaga Saga

_At the start of August, I had a whim. This whim was “Replay the Xenosaga series.” I’ve long wanted to replay the series as I wondered how the narrative would feel like taken in in a short period of time. I wanted to see if XS2 was as bad as people make it out to be of if it was simply bland like I remembered it being. And thus…it was done. These are my thoughts on the matter. Spoilers follow.

_In Ep.3, Shion claims that she’s horribly alone and that nobody ever tried to help her, despite deflecting everybody’s worries about here all series long.

“Shion, are you ok?” “I’m fine, it’s nothing.”

“Are you alright, Chief?” “Hm? No…it’s nothing.”

“Is something bothering you, Shion?” “It’s nothing…don’t worry.”

What a horrid bitch. She basically spends 3 entire games telling everybody nothing’s wrong and refusing help, then tries to run off with her dead boyfriend saying he’s the only person who ever tried to help her. G fuckin’ G, Shion.

_Allen Ridgeley is the best character in the series.

_Xenosaga I is better the 2nd time, XSII is worse. III is still really good and is just as hard to follow as it was the first time. You catch a good deal of foreshadowing in Ep.1 for events that happen in Ep.3…Ep.2 is just kind of there.

_Xenoblade NPC interactions and side quests are a kind of hybrid between XS2 and XS3. It’s kind of weird that they actually used elements from a game so despised. Sure, they made it work, but most people would just totally distance themselves from something so widely loathed when it was released. Just look at what Weezer did with Pinkerton, despite the fact that the album went on to gain a huge cult following and is now regarded as their best work. Or what Capcom did with DMC2. Ballsy move, Monolith.

_I think XS might be related to Xenogears…but only in a distant way. As in, like… “Takes place in the thousands of years before any of the events of Xenogears Ep.2-5” kind of related. My thoughts on the likelihood of Xenosaga Ep.5 being a Xenogears remake went up from “-100% chance” to” 0% chance” though. Keeping in mind Takahashi’s original vision of Xenosaga being a 6 episode series, divided into 3 “parts,” each part taking 2 episodes, in all likelihood Part I was the only one finished, and ended up taking 3 episodes to play out. Unless the original intention was like 2001 and shit, and games 3+4 or 5+6 were totally gonna shift from “Space opera” to “Dawn of man crushing skulls with bones and a giant monolith appearing out of nowhere with no dialog at any point in time in a 30 hour RPG,” I get the feeling that the series was going to mostly take place in space, but with different thematic foci and characters. Think about this: If Xenogears WAS going to be Xenosaga Episode V…what’s the point of Ep.1-3? To introduce the Zohar, the Animas, the U-ave-Do-xistence, space travel and high tech robotics, just to fast forward 10,000 years and ground the series on a planet? 4 entries into a series that serve solely to introduce a couple core concepts for the later games? Maybe if the games were normally numbered, but it’s episodic. I don’t buy it. Add on top of that the actual events of Xenogears…by the end of the game, you kill god and have resolved personal conflicts for every main character except maybe Rico if they didn’t bother fixing that…so…where do you go from there in Ep.2 of THAT 2 episode story arc? Are you suggesting that the RPG that would have been Ep.6 would be the RPG equivalent of Book 6 of Lord of the Rings? Fei and Elly meet up with their friends, then walk back to Lahan Shire at an extremely leisurely pace, only to find that Dominia is still a bitch and keeps kicking down Dan’s new house? Sorry folks, I will NEVER buy into the “Xenosaga V was gonna = Xenogears remake” theory. It’s god damn stupid. XS & XG = same universe? Sure, very plausible. But reading into the episodic titles of the two franchises and saying they would’ve been the same thing is like saying if they made Vagrant Story 2 that it would be a Final Fantasy Tactics remake because they’re both in Ivalice.

_Ep.3 is really character driven, but it doesn’t do a great job at showing it. A lot of events happen out of the blue. “Let’s go through Labyrinthos to save young Shion…and on the way, chance upon Joachim Mizrahi so that MOMO can get some closure.” “Oh shit, Voyager and Ziggy are gonna settle things! I wish they had properly explained their backstory in-game, but still! Oh, also there’s Canaan to explain some stuff and elaborate on some things. I totally forgot he was even with us!” “We’ve seen Kevin act like a massive dickhead for 40 hours in various flashbacks, and then act like a dick in the present…then he does a 180 and I guess DOES genuinely care for Shion!” Things tend to happen so fast and in such huge doses, it’s often hard to get a grasp on what’s actually going on.  My first time playing Episode 3, I was never sure what was actually important to plot events, and when I looked back, I said “Boy, Jin and MOMO sure played zero part in anything integral to anything.” Replaying it now, knowing that they’re not important to the story, I could just focus not on their impact on grand schemes [none] but on why they’re there from a character driven basis. And they serve their purpose. They’re like Billy in Xenogears. And he’s an alright guy.

_XS1 is the only game with any real focus on the gnosis. They’re constantly running around, being all up in people’s grill…then in Ep.2 and 3…they’re just…around. It’s like…after they establish that “Gnosis exist and are a frightening thing that people are constantly in fear of,” they’re content with having them simply exist in the background. “You know gnosis are a thing, right? Good, good…just…know that.”

_I still hate the voice direction of XS3 Pellegri.

_I geeked out at the ability to travel on the map in giant mechs at the start of XS2 when I first played it and again after finishing XS1. Methinks I’m a little too easily swayed by Xenogears-ish things.

_It was just as sad playing XS3 now as it was the first time. Right when everything seemed to fix itself and start heading towards greatness…it was over. Never to be revisited. Actually, not even that…going INTO the game the first time, we already knew it was going to be over. And playing it the first time, knowing there wouldn’t be anymore from the outset and getting sadder and sadder as you progressed forward and it was good…it hurt. But playing it now, it actually hurt more. Back then, Monolith was still owned by Namco. There was still a possibility, slim as it may have been, that Monolith could have gotten a chance to revisit the franchise. Now they’re owned by Nintendo. That ship has sailed and sunk, swallowed up by Neptune’s mighty fury. The same sorrow that I have long felt for any chance of there being a new Xenogears anything when Monolith formed under Namco’s banner also exists for Xenosaga, albeit it stings a lit less, seeing how Xenosaga isn’t my favorite anything of all time.

_XS1 is pretty easily breakable. It made me feel bad to know that I had a lot of trouble with this game my first time through.

_It felt good to replay Xenosaga, though the disjointedness of the series is more apparent when played back-to-back-to-back then it was playing them upon initial release. It’s kind of crazy that they all feel so different when only 2 years separated each game. Though a bit uneven at time, it was still worth revisiting. I just wish that they’d have been able to continue on after coming so close to making something truly great.

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