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  -Part 1 :: [07.21.03]
  -Part 2 :: [08.06.03]
  -Part 3 :: [11.22.03]
  -Part 4 :: [02.10.04]
  -Part 5 :: [07.14.04]
  -Part 6 :: [08.05.04]
  -Part 7 :: [10.12.04]
  -Part 8 :: [01.23.05]
  -Part 9 :: [05.24.05]
  -Part 10 :: [01.20.06]
  -Part 11 :: [10.12.07]
  -Part 12 :: [06.30.11]
  -Part 13 :: [02.17.12]

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"I make my way over to Mina and the other generic villager, who stutters 'M-M-Mina...w-w-would you like to s-s-spend some time with me?' I think he's supposed to sound nervous. 'I don't know!' Mina replies weepily. So, what exactly have we established from this little interlude, aside from the fact that half of McNeil wants a piece of Mina's poontang pie? Anyone? For fuck's sake, Capcom don't even try to disguise the filler in this game."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire III Part 2

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Xenosaga : Part 5
By Sam
Posted 07.14.04
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
In the last recap, there were plenty of explosions--the real, bullet-in-the-gas-tank kind, and the wanky, self-righteous kind on the part of one Shion Uzuki. I also had my first encounter with The Wang of Tomorrow and lived to tell the tale.

Trembling in renewed terror yet? Well, buck up, little readers! Because this recap is one hundred percent Shion- and Wang-free! I see it not as losing the source of my snark, but as temporarily recovering my sanity.

Somehow, the game designers will ruin this for me. But I'm going to stay positive! No Shion! Whoo!

In Space!, a serene blue planet not entirely unlike Earth is rotating on its axis. The atmosphere is entirely too quiet and tranquil, so Something Bad is certainly about to happen. Sure enough, before you can shout "What the fuck is going on?" the planet's surface soon becomes permeated with a bright blue glow, which progresses into--for lack of a better term--a bright blue sucking chest wound. Then, with a flash, the entire rock is silently winked out of existence into a black (blue?) hole. That wasn't random or anything.

Somewhere else in the universe, this weird event is playing on some large monitors in a control room. A deeply tanned, platinum-blonde woman with a cross (!) on a black choker and a Wonderbra watches, looking a little troubled. To her left, a deep male voice is saying, "What's one and a half billion people to us..." If you're super-astute, you might pick up on the idea that this guy is evil. But Wonderbra does not possess your cleverness, so she tries to lecture her boss from her moral perch. "They're innocents!" she shouts. "Surely they deserve more respect." See, now we know she's on the bad side but is a good person, since she's all worked up and righteous. Isn't it great how dialogue can subtly provide characterization?

'No, they don't. And don't call me Shirley.'

Evil Guy is revealed on camera as he replies, "Respect? For what?" Evil Guy turns out to be Margulis, the ambiguously sinister mofo who yelled at Commander Jerkinov earlier. "Save your philanthropy for someone that cares," he tells Wonderbra, as if not wanting an entire planet's worth of people to die is extremely charitable. Hell, while she's at it, she should just go crazy and put some change in the March of Dimes tin at the grocery store!

So we understand why all those jerks on that planet over there had to snuff it, Margulis lets loose with some exposition. "The experiment may have been a failure," he admits, "but I've taken steps to recover the Emulator." Thanks to KOS-MOS we know that the Emulator is the Golden Penis Plate, meaning that the planet got the Middle Finger of Death so someone could covet a phallic object. Or something. "If the need arises," Margulis adds, "I'm not against using the Original, either." Maybe Penis Plates attract other Penis Plates? Like opposite ends of magnets? I don't know, I'm just the recapper, and you guys know I've given up on this train wreck this game is way too deep for me to understand.

Margulis drones to Wonderbra that they'll keep killing folks at random until they get what they want. "Is this all too much for your conscience to bear, Pellegri?" Ooh, really natural way to slip in her name. Way to not force it. But Pellegri, who I will continue to call Wonderbra, is actually willing to stick with her moral objection. Unfazed by Margulis's threats against her job and livelihood, Wonderbra calls her boss on his own, much more tangible, culpability for the killins. You go on, girlfriend!

Not that Margulis gives a shit, what with the unblinking evil and all. "Me, tried in a court of ignoble commoners? Don't make me laugh." Ooh, evil and a snob. Is he going pull off the Hat Trick of Predictable Villainy by being a master swordsman as well? I think he just might!

THE must-have for a good RPG villain:
Superior attitude
Homocidal insanity
Penis Sword skills
Cool clothes and hair


Oh, oops, he's still talking. Something about he and Wonderbra being "the ones who determine life or death." And such a modest fellow, too! Then it occurs to him to ask Wonderbra if she's conveniently blocked out what they've been doing--and what she's been a part of--"these past 14 years." Wonderbra shuts up, only able to withstand criticism from a big scary man for so long before buckling. But she held up longer than most attractive ladies in videogames. I'm somewhat impressed.

'You mean the dental plan?'

Before marching over and giving Wonderbra an open-handed slap in the mouth for her insolence (see? I can hold back women's lib, too!), Margulis is interrupted by a grunt in a very manly purple bodysuit, with a message from "Lieutenant Commander Vanderkam, sole survivor of the vanguard force." For those of you playing along at home, Vanderkam is Strickland, the cool guy who called Shion a bimbo. Ah, that memory puts a smile on my face. The grunt relays that the Commander's unit was taken out, and the Golden Penis Plate was "unsecured." Well, there goes Margulis's posturing about recovering it. Ass. When asked were the GPP is, the grunt answers, "Location unknown. Possibly seized by the Gnosis." Margulis poutingly says, "I see," and then orders the grunt to notify the 47th Division. In case they need backup expositors, you know. He adds, "We may need to implement Plan 31. In which we talk and talk and talk until the player's eyes cross and they pass out in front of the TV."

Wait, I'm complaining! And if I complain in a recap that has no Shion, the game designers will think I like her and then they won't kill her off in Episode III! Nononononono! I! Must! Enjoy! This!

Thankfully Margulis is done yapping, YAY, and the setting changes to the - Federation Capital Fifth Jerusalem - Orbit Tower. This location must be - important -, as there are - dashes -. Inside the top-shaped headquarters, in a room resembling the Jedi Council chambers on Coruscant, an Important Meeting is taking place. I'm sure that means more exposition, and of course I'm ecstatic beyond words about that, because everything is great when there's no Shion!

The Jedi are in the middle of discussing someone. "He was a Special Forces agent with the Federation Police," one Jedi in a frilly Keith Partridge shirt says. "A counterterrorism specialist." I am, like, so offended that there is talk of terrorism in this post-9/11 videogame. Honestly, how insensitive! "Of course," Jedi Keith adds, "that was over a hundred years ago." In the interim, this guy has become a freelance cyborg. Another Jedi snickers, "A cyborg? How anachronistic." Remember, everyone, this is the Future!, so things which may seem extraordinary to you and me (i.e., cyborgs) are archaic now. Don't forget that. It's kind of important.

To be one hundred percent sure that we're getting the inherent anachronism here--because we don't already, as we're dumbheads--a lady Jedi adds, "He's a relic from the days when they reanimated the dead. They didn't have disposable Realians like we do now." Her obviously low opinion of Realians becomes important in a bit, hence my helpful boldfacing. See how I'm always thinking of you guys?

Back to the cyborg himself, another Jedi mentions his impressive cred, and that "Rumor has it he deliberately seeks out missions with low odds of success." Hmm, I wonder why that is. Maybe I should wildly speculate about it, since they're certainly not going to beat the reason into my sensitive brain matter. Heavens, no. A chain-smoking Jedi (what characters these council members are!) wonders, "Is he insane? Or just fascinated with death?" Nope, not a crazy, according to Jedi Keith, and not a bloodthirsty death-junkie, either, as he's been "given a clean bill of health." So what could his problem be? Oh, won't they ever tell us?

"Hmph," snorts one more Jedi, a bald guy with white eyebrows. "Advances in science have placed thousands of drugs on our shelves, and yet we still let psychiatrists wield their influence over us." Say, is that the quacking sound of pseudointellectual ranting I hear? It is? Oh, rapture! He quacks on, "They use these 'assessments' to validate their existence. I don't believe them one bit." Okay, two problems. One, Jedi Clean could have just said, "I think shrinks are full of horse-honkey," and left it at that, instead of making a big pretentious deal out of it. Two, his train of thought smacks to me of "We've sent a man to the moon, so why are our sausage prices so high?"

On the other hand, nothing pleases me more shoot me than talking heads waxing philosophical in the head about the faults in modern psychiatry please. That's exactly the sort of thing that makes videogames so fun and engaging I'm suffering.

None of the other Jedi have any desire to contradict Jedi Clean's broad generalization. One of them shrugs and says the cyborg should be fine; he has a high success rate. With that, a soft ping! sounds in the chamber and the Jedi are informed of the cyborg's arrival. A hole opens in the middle of the floor, and as the guest of honor rises through it on a platform, the Jedi shush each other and try to look like they haven't been gossiping about him. I'm kidding. I mean, what would they care? He's just a rusty old cyborg!

Speak into the microphone, baby.

Mr. Cyborg, who is escorted into the room by a hologram of the receptionist, is quite an odd-looking fellow. He was apparently made of old telephones or jacked car stereo systems, because he has a speaker for a crotch. I wonder if chicks dig that. Otherwise, he's obviously made of a lot of heavy metal (including perfectly round, shiny metal buttocks), save his head and nearly-bare chest. His hair is blond and slicked-back, giving him that ultra-sexy Nazi Lieutenant look.

"Ziggurat 8, isn't it?" one Jedi asks him. Another one explains for my benefit that Nazi Cyborg here donated his post-mortem body to Ziggurat Industries, hence the model name. I run a Google check on "ziggurat" and am wholly unsurprised to discover it has religious connotations (!). Now that I know ziggurats are temples, I could probably spend the next few paragraphs or so fanwanking my little heart out in an effort to explain the significance, but I'm sure I'll get a few dozen emails on the subject, which will also inform me of how sadly ignorant I am because I didn't already know what a ziggurat was. So let's just move on.

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