Xenosaga (ゼノサーガ シリーズ Zenosāga Shirīzu) is a series of video games released for the PlayStation 2 platform. The first game in the series, EPISODE I: Der Wille zur Macht, was released in February 2002 in the Japanese market, and then in February 2003 in the American market. Released by Monolith Soft and published by Namco, it is the first episode in a six-part series, which "began" with the game Xenogears, the fifth installment, released in 1998 for the PSOne. Xenogears was originally released by Squaresoft (now Square-Enix). The series' creator, Tetsuya Takahashi, left Squaresoft in 1999 along with his group of game designers. Using funds from Namco, they started Monolith Soft.
Because Squaresoft continues to hold the copyright for Xenogears, they could not continue the Xenogears project as Takahashi intended; instead, Takahashi completely reworked the Xenogears story into what became the story for Xenosaga, leading many fans to believe that Xenogears will be re-written and re-released sometime in the future.
EPISODE II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse was released in June 2004 in Japan and February 2005 in North America. An anime based on Xenosaga premiered on TV Asahi in Japan on January 5th, 2005. A Nintendo DS game is also said to be in the works.
All episodes of Xenosaga are named after the books of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a reference to existentialist themes present in the games.
It is the year TC 4767 (4,767 years after mankind abandoned the "AD" calendar, somewhere in the 2400's AD; "TC" means "Transcend Christ"), and mankind lives almost entirely in space, or on artificial colonies. The capital of all known space is Fifth Jerusalem, where the Galaxy Federation supposedly keeps watch over mankind. Nanotechnology is commonplace, but new frontiers are still being reached using it. Nanotech's largest use has come in the last ten years, when a mysterious enemy known as the Gnosis began to attack man's colonies seemingly indiscriminately. It is largely believed that the Gnosis were brought into the universe by a madman named Joachim Mizrahi, but there is more to that story than the public really knows.
Vector Industries, the largest corporation in existence and the primary arms manufacturer for the Galaxy Federation, is currently researching new ways to use nanotechnology to build an unstoppable battle android, code-named KOS-MOS. This is quite controversial, since androids have been replaced for many, many years by artificial life-forms known as Realians, which have proven far more effective in combat. However, Vector Industries and their head of R&D, Shion Uzuki, have other ideas. Shion, a simple researcher traveling on the starship Woglinde, becomes involved in a conspiracy not only to control the mysterious Gnosis, but to reshape the destiny of all mankind.
Like Xenogears, Xenosaga liberally (and often superficially) uses religious metaphor and references, especially of the Western World. Obvious examples are seen in character names: 'Shion', roughly equal to Zion; 'KOS-MOS', suggesting cosmos; and most obviously 'chaos' (whose name is consistently left uncapitalized).
One of the many themes in the series include the fate and decay of humanity, as some of the main characters challenge and subvert conventional definitions of humanity.
Xenosaga EPISODE I: Der Wille zur Macht
The Japanese title of the game is ゼノサーガ エピソードⅠ 力への意志. "Der Wille zur Macht", lit. "The Will To Power", is a reference to Nietzsche's concept of survival instincts and controllability as the main drive of human existence.
While the timeline of Xenosaga does not correspond completely to that set out in Xenogears -- some fans speculate that Xenosaga's creators wanted to avoid any legal battles with Square Enix -- the two are largely synchronous. TC 4767 is indeed the year that this all goes down, according to the Xenogears Perfect Works Book, but in that same year the Eldridge is supposed to have been launched and no mention of that is made in EPISODE I. The most common explanation is that Xenosaga is the rewrite of Xenogears, and the story of the original Xenogears will also be reworked and re-written in a future episode of Xenosaga, featuring familiar characters and story elements under different settings and names. However, everything is up for speculation, as there is no official word on how Monolith Soft plans to deal with the story of the original Xenogears.
Many believed that the artwork in Xenosaga was not quite up to par with expectations, with the characters often suffering from what some call the "glass eyes" phenomenon that poorly-drawn anime suffers from. EPISODE II will offer a noticeably different art style.
Others were not quite satisfied with the battle engine, or the use of the large mechas known as AGWS (Anti-Gnosis Weapon Systems), the "gear lookalikes". Many were also frustrated at the game's casual name dropping without in-game explanations, arguing that the in game searchable glossary was a cheap device to avoid exposition.
Others were quite content with the game, and it sold very well as a sleeper hit.
Xenosaga: EPISODE I Reloaded
In mid-2003, Namco also released a special version of EPISODE I in Japan called Xenosaga: EPISODE I Reloaded, which featured the English voice-acting and a few special features.
On April 28 2004, Namco released Xenosaga Freaks in Japan, a supplementary game including a Xenosaga-themed word-puzzle game called Xenopittan, a comical adventure game Xenocomi, the complete dictionary of terminology from EPISODE 1 enhanced with audio and video clips, and a playable demo of EPISODE II.
Xenosaga EPISODE II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse
Download the Xenosaga EPISODE II E3 Trailer Size: 63.6 MB
The Japanese title of the game is ゼノサーガ エピソードⅡ 善悪の彼岸. The subtitle, "Jenseits von Gut und Böse", is taken from a major philosophical work by Friedrich Nietzsche of the same name.
In June 2004, Namco released the long-awaited Xenosaga EPISODE II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil). Continuing where the story left off in Xenosaga EPISODE I, players play the role of the heroine Shion Uzuki. Almost every character received a face-lift, with the most debatable and notable being KOS-MOS, whom many players complain look worse in EPISODE II than EPISODE I. Although Xenosaga EPISODE II answered many questions related to the U.R.T.V. and the Miltia Conflict in EPISODE I, there has been no word on just how connected Xenosaga is to Xenogears, except a slight revelation towards the end of the game relating to Abel's Ark. The rest is shrouded in mystery -- such as chaos and Nephilim's true identities. The story of EPISODE II leaves off many threads of mystery and can almost be considered as a marketing ploy to entice players to purchase EPISODE III to find out the story, which is almost certain to feature the same cast of characters from EPISODE II and EPISODE I, despite Monolith Soft stating that this would be the final episode featuring Shion Uzuki et al.
Featuring an upgraded battle system which involved the extensive use of STOCKS and BOOSTS, battle pace was said to have improved ten-folds from EPISODE I. AGWS has been replaced in EPISODE II by powerful robots known as E.S., which are equipped with Anima Relics, powerful artifacts that players of Xenogears may be familiar with. Battles in E.S. are now completely independent from character battles, like most of Xenogears, and players may also use E.S. to explore dungeons as well. Xenosaga EPISODE II features movie scene music composed by Yuki Kajiura.
Although the new and improved battle system and the upgraded graphics were well received by players, EPISODE II has its share of flaws, with the biggest complaint coming from its slow loading and saving speeds. Many also complained that the game is shorter than EPISODE I; it can be completed within 25 hours, not including the movie scenes, despite the game being two-discs long. Other common complaints include the over-simplified skills system and the removal of shopping/money system. Players can no longer shop for weapons and items, but instead must pick up items from breaking obstacles, opening treasure boxes, or after battles. Others have enjoyed the removal of this system, stating that one barely needs to buy items during EPISODE I.
Xenosaga EPISODE III
There have been rumors that the title for EPISODE III will be Xenosaga EPISODE III: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (or Also Sprach Zarathustra, depending on which translation is used.) This title remains unconfirmed, despite being highly possible, because the final sentence of EPISODE II, spoken by Wilhelm, CEO of Vector Industries, is 'Welcome, weaver of the eternal circle of Zarathustra | The Eternal Link.'
The title has also been rumoured to be EPISODE III: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, after yet another Nietzschian concept.
So far there are no words of a release date for Xenosaga EPISODE III.
Xenosaga EPISODE IV
This title is considered to be the bridge between the (figurative) universe of Xenosaga and that of Xenogears, which is believed to be the fifth installment of Xenosaga. There is no information at present.
Xenosaga EPISODE V
This title has been rumoured to be some sort of Xenogears remake. Whether or not this will actually occur is speculative, due to the pacing of Xenosaga so far and the constant changes to its management team (including the series' creator, Tetsuya Takahashi, stepping down.) If there were to be a re-write, the changes would nevertheless be drastic. There is no information at present.
Xenosaga EPISODE VI
This title will be the concluding episode of the series. There is no information at present.
Xenosaga: The Animation
An anime based on Xenosaga, titled Xenosaga: The Animation premiered on TV Asahi in Japan on January 5th, 2005. The anime itself follows the story of Xenosaga closely, albeit removing several scenes (for example, Jr.'s first appearance in EPISODE I) and adding others (before the destruction of the Woglinde, Shion makes good friends with Albedo's "personal assistant" Realian.) Some scenes were entirely re-written for the show's purposes (the Encephalon dive being a major example.) The pacing has the viewer running through the first ten to fifteen hours of gameplay of EPISODE I in the first five episodes. Jin Uzuki, Shion's brother and a major character in EPISODE II, can be seen early on in episode eight of The Animation. Despite the changes, many fans prefer The Animation over the movie DVD of EPISODE I given with pre-orders of EPISODE II, saying that the DVD was a poorly assembled group of cutscenes.
The ending theme is "in this serenity", performed by Mayumi Gojo .
This section contains internal links to various characters and references found within Xenosaga. For those relating exclusively to Xenogears, see Xenogears terms.