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  -Part 1 :: [07.21.03]
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  -Part 11 :: [10.12.07]
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"Two giant phallic pointy things erupt from the front of the Convenience and shoot Sin's left arm off in an explosion of sparklies. I would expect a lot of splattering blood and gobs of flesh, but no. Sparklies."
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Xenosaga : Part 11
By Sam
Posted 10.12.07
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7
Last time: Hot spaceship-on-space-station action and completely not-hot Shion bikini action. There was more, but the latter seared it all out of my brain.

I bailed on the game immediately after Shion's Thunder!!! Incident, and now our heroes are all ready to walk around the Kukai Foundation and talk to every stupid NPC they can find. But first we have another boring cutscene to deal with, this one starring Gaignun. He's still in his posh office, but now talking to someone on the videophone instead of playing grab-ass with Jailbait.

Gaignun immediately identifies the man on the other end as "Representative Helmer." Helmer is a smooth-voiced, bald black man in flowing robes. In other words, he's Mace Windu. Sorry to any Helmer fans who think he's the most original character in the history of videogames (I'm sure there have to be a few), but the game designers clearly watched Phantom Menace a few too many times while baked and got all excited about their "new idea" for a character model. Given the weed, they probably don't even remember where this notion came from. But still. And of course, I am going to call him Mace for the duration. Yeah, yeah, I know he's not in this game's Jedi Council, and that I am taking a two-by-four to my own recap's continuity, but I want to be able to make lame, tired Samuel L. Jackson jokes--you wouldn't want to deprive me of that, would you?

Okay, with that out of the way, I guess I could try actually recapping the scene. What a novel idea. Mace greets Gaignun, calling him "Nigredo," a name we haven't heard yet but will hear plenty before this train wreck of a story is over. Gaignun insists that he doesn't like that name. "My apologies," says Mace, "I'm still not accustomed to calling you Gaignun." So now we know that not only is Gaignun more than he appears to be, but he may have a Mysterious Past™. Yawn. Wake me up when someone in this series doesn't have a mysterious past.

When Mace asks why Gaignun wanted to talk to him, Gaignun says cryptically, "We're currently headed your way and we're carrying an unusual package, so I thought it best to inform you." I immediately think of CHAOS!!! at the words "unusual package," but that's not where this is headed. Gaignun goes on that he picked up this package from "an unexpected source," the Hoglinde. Of course, Gaignun is referring to the Golden Penis Plate, the twelfth and final one in their collection. Mace says that that matches up with U-GEE records. I like that Mace has access to the bureaucratic paperwork of a terrorist organization. Then, as now, you can really find anything on the Internet.

Gaignun is sure that the GPP found on the Hoglinde was responsible for planet Ariadne turning into a massive, irritating plot device. The two men agree that this should be the last of the GPPs floating around, since "the only man who can create them is no longer alive." That would be Joachim Mizrahi, of "Crazy Joachim's Discount Realians" fame. That name drop reminds Gaignun to mention the other thing on his mind: "We have the [Jedi Council's] 100-Series prototype." That takes Mace by surprise. "How did that wind up in your cracka-ass hands?" he asks. Gaignun relates what he knows of MOMO's rescue from U-GEE, leading Mace to wonder if this mass, seemingly coincidental acquisition of important characters at his crib is one of Gaignun's "special powers." No, silly. Gaignun's special power is to facilitate scenes in which the characters do nothing but relate exposition which the exasperated, likely alcohol-poisoned player has already heard. Now where did I put my beer?

The conversation turns back to U-GEE and what these two men can do to keep tabs on what the organization is up to, including Mace spying on the U.M.N. to detect any "large-scale gate jumps." So take note, U-GEE guys: just travel around in small numbers and no one will have a clue what you're doing! But that would be asking guys like Margulis to avoid large ships that compensate for their tiny penises, and that's just not going to happen.

Gaignun is sure that U-GEE will be attempting to recover the original, sparkliest and most phallic Golden Penis Plate, apparently found somewhere on Old Miltia. If someone had told me, back when I was playing this game the first time, that it would take until nearly the end of the next game for our band of dysfunctional heroes to reach the point in the plot Gaignun is speculating about right now, I would have said, "Fuck this, if I wanted to waste dozens of hours on a plot that goes nowhere, I'd read the Wheel of Time books," and turned the game off. But no one told me this would happen, and here I am, wanting approximately four years of my life back.

Mace and Gaignun also make sure to mention something called U-DO, which, I must disclose, makes me giggle for no reason every time I hear it spoken, since everyone in this game can't help but pronounce it, "UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO." I'm easily entertained, leave me alone. Anyway, Mace and Gaignun are both worried about what would happen if UUUUUUUUUUU-DOOOOOOOOOOOO were to "reawaken." It must be an improbably large, fake-looking great white shark, for Mace to be so afraid of it. With that, Gaignun and Mace say their farewells to end the scene. A boring scene with two talking heads--what a great way to start out my recap! Thanks, game designers! And yes, I'm blaming them even though it's my fault for ending the last recap right before this scene. Hey, look over there!

'And to jack it.'

Of course, the best way to make me long for more mind-numbing cutscenes with talking heads is to present a worse alternative: spending time with Shion. Back at the beach, Corey is telling a mercifully clothed Shion that he's going to return to the Elsa. He's reluctant to go, though, after Shion made a complete basket-case ass of herself earlier. If he leaves her alone and she hears any thunder, she might get so scared that she ends up sleeping with Gaignun to stave off her fright! Oh noes! Shion tells Corey, unconvincingly, that she's fine, just fine. She even apologies for freaking out, with the caveat, "I don't...have very good memories of thunder..." Oh, gag. She may as well have "ASK ME ABOUT MY TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD" tattooed on her boobs. That'd be a good way to get Corey's attention, that's for sure.

Corey's still all worried about her, the poor pathetic sod, so she appeases him by promising to get some rest at "a hotel in City Sector 27." Why would she rest at a hotel when she could just go back to the Durandick and sleep in the free room she's been provided? I'm sure hooking up with a seedy male prostitute in the city has nothing to do with it. Before he leaves, Corey asks Shion to please not "push [herself] too hard." There are so many directions I could go with that. And they all disgust me.

When I am released from cutscene hell and given control, Shion is out of my sight and Jailbait is the lead character, making my world just a little less dark and miserable. But Jailbait barely walks two steps before Shion's inbox pings and vibrates and generally makes a giant nuisance of itself. Lucky me: it's another hacker email! My life is now complete. The email is from Snake Charmer, and the first thing it says is that Shion should be surprised to be getting an email from someone by that name. Like it's just impossible that he could be emailing from prison. I know that, in a logical universe, an imprisoned computer hacker would not be given computer access, but since when is this a logical universe? Exactly. Anyway, the email goes on, "There are two Snake Charmers, you know. One is my older brother, whom you and Vector's security agency worked so painstakingly to catch." Again, I am forced to take the game's word on this one. "And there's another one, Lev Vandevorst's clone and younger sister, Raz Vandevorst," the email continues. "That's me." Yes, kind of got that from "my older brother," but thanks for the clarification. Such as it is--how can you be a clone and a sibling?

So why would this "clone and younger sister" bother emailing Shion, anyway? Just for the record, I don't care, but I get to find out anyway. Snake Charmer II: This Time It's Female says in the email, "Lev died you know, I can FEEL it. He killed himself by setting his internal nanomachine into motion." Um...that's nice, but again: why tell Shion this? Well, it's obvious! "How could you?!" the very next sentence screams petulantly. "You killed Lev, didn't you?! You did, and it's all your fault." Go ahead and read through that again. Lev killed himself...and Shion killed him! Wow, that makes a ton of sense! And this is coming from me, a person who would happily blame the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby on Shion if she were so much as in the same country at the time.

She goes on, "If that damn Ange Roppa hadn't stuck his head where it didn't belong, Lev would still be alive today. Who the hell do you think you are anyway?!" I am unclear on who this Ange Roppa person is, which I admit is entirely my fault for not memorizing all the previous emails or playing the stupid side story game. Not that it matters, since Snake Charmer II, despite this name-drop, still thinks this is all on Shion. "I'm sure you were happy when you heard Lev got arrested, weren't you?" the email continues. "I'd like to wrap my hands around your little neck and then tighten my grip another notch." I have to admit, I'm a little annoyed that the only people in this game to side with me on the Shion Is a Bitch issue are obviously completely fucking insane. It's not helping my cause.

So this crazy person thinks Shion is a murderer and will not be happy until...I don't know, really. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out the purpose of this email. Which makes recapping it in detail all the more irritating, but here we are. I'll let her flesh out the details: "Shion Uzuki, you murdered the person I love most! What are you doing just standing there?! Come on, try and catch me this time! Otherwise, you will never be able to recoup what you are about to lose." I'm not sure why that entire thing needed to be in boldface, but I'm not paid to be Monolith Soft's typographer, either. It's easier for me, of course, to mock the boldface, as I'm not sure what to say about the content of that statement. She's emailing Shion to give Shion a chance to catch her? I...I don't get it. At all. The email says that "if she understands"--yeah right, if I don't understand it, our girl Shion is doomed--Shion is to take a gander at the following passage and use it to foil Snake Charmer II's plans. I have no words. Good thing for me this game provides plenty for me at all times.

"All the colonized planets, colonies, and large space ships falling under the Federation government's jurisdiction have nanomachine maintenance stations set up for their bio filtration systems," Snake Charmer II drones at me. "You are aware of this, aren't you?" Well, we know she is, as she talked about them with MOMO earlier. At least that stupid conversation has some level of context now. Hours later. Anyway, she goes on, "All of the nanomachines have a program installed in them with the same effects as the deadly virus. If I send a specific signal, the deadly nanomachines will be released simultaneously from the release slot of every maintenance station." If you've been paying attention, you may have just smacked your forehead and exclaimed, "That seems to be a parallel with Realians and their suicide chips! This game is so deep and thought provoking!" Or you may have smacked your forehead and exclaimed, "How in the world did this self-indulgent piece of shit become a bestseller?" Guess which one I did.

So anyway, blah blah blah, Snake Charmer II is using nanomachines for galaxy-wide terrorism, yadda yadda just try and stop her, Jack Bauer Shion Uzuki. There's a load of blathering about the medical effects this will have on the citizens of the Federation, like it really matters. I'm sorry, game designers, if you are trying to create some suspense here, but if the galaxy's populace were in anything approaching mortal peril, it would not be documented in a goddamn side story in Shion's fucking email inbox. The fact that we are encountering this "threat" in this format is basically telling us straight-up that it's trivial. And if that weren't enough of a hint, Snake Charmer II informs Shion that these nanomachines will be wiping out all life in the galaxy...unless Shion solves a totally challenging riddle! Let's just say that even Shion won't struggle to answer, "What's long, hard and full of semen?"


Sadly, this "riddle" is even easier than the aforementioned one. Shion has to use Snake Charmer II's clues to name a location. Snake Charmer II explicitly states that Shion has visited all three possible choices before. That's right--it's multiple choice. Jesus. I screencapped the provided hints so I wouldn't have to type them all out, but suffice it to say I can't imagine even Shion is stupid enough to fuck this up. Granted, had I not gone through the motions with all Shion's other emails, these hints would be encrypted and I wouldn't be able to just read them. But even so: one of these hints would be sufficient to deduce the correct answer, let alone the five Shion gets. Her options are the Durandick, the U-GEE Battleship, and the prison planet Pleroma. Of course, Shion has only actually visited one of these three locations, but that should make this even easier for her, as it's the correct one and she stands zero chance of confusing herself. Snake Charmer II awaits Shion's immediate reply--"There's no time to waste thinking about it," she adds, making me actually laugh out loud--and promises to turn herself in to the police should Shion answer correctly. I'm starting to understand how Shion could have a hand in apprehending all these criminals--they're somehow even more retarded than she is.

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