Huge Xenosaga Episode II Update
05.30.04 - 6:50 PM

One month before the release of the highly anticipated RPG sequel, Namco has released some new information on Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Boese (Beyond Good and Evil) for PlayStation 2. Just like its prequel, Episode II will feature two different kinds of battles: Standard character battles and mech battles. While the two were interconnected in Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht (The Will to Power), the development team at Monolith Soft has drawn a clear line between the two types in the new game. Players won't be able to board or disembark their mechs during battle.

The Xenosaga series' basic gameplay mechanics will remain intact, as players can either select different chain attacks by combining triangle and square button sequences, or charge for one turn to unleash a more powerful circle button attack during the respective character's next turn. If an enemy's status is "down", it will be possible for a charged-up character to unleash a special attack. The usage of these special attacks as well as ether (magic) is limited to character battles (the exception being M.O.M.O.'s mech, which will be able to use ether). During mech battles, only powerful deathblows can be executed in their stead. Furthermore, the development has implemented three special features in the character battles: First and foremost are the new combination techniques, known as Double. They will require characters to have at least one point on their boost gauge. Next is the event slot, which will return from Episode I and still offer the same functions, such increasing the odds of a critical hit or filling the boost gauge faster. Last but not least is a feature called Zone. It will allow players to aim their characters' attack at a specific point, ideally the enemy's weak spot. Hitting a weak spot will result sending the enemy into either a "down" or "air" condition. Attacking the enemy in either condition will result in your character's critical hit increasing and the damage inflicted upon your foe increasing by a factor of two to ten (compared to a standard attack).

The number of participants in battles has also been changed. While you can still use up to three characters during character battles, during mech battles you are limited to two robots. Just like in Square Enix's Final Fantasy X however, it will be possible to switch active and passive party members during battle. Mechs will not be piloted by one, but by two characters. Depending on the sub-pilot, the robot's Special (deathblow technique) will change. It will also be possible to unlock secret Specials by equipping special equipment.

Character growth in Episode II will center around skills. While mastering skills, a character's stats will gradually increase and he or she will learn new ether spells.

As previously announced, proud owners of a clear save data of the prequel can look forward to a special "reward" in Episode II. Thanks to a special skill, KOS-MOS and Ziggy will wear swimsuits in battle.

As a new location, Namco has revealed the headquarters of Vector Industries. The gigantic space colony hosts the development facilities of the conglomerate's first research and development division as well as Shion's residence.

In addition to these latest gameplay details, today we also bring you a preview update of Xenosaga Episode II, thanks to Chris Holzworth. Our media gallery for the game has also grown by 42 screen shots and 6 pieces of artwork worth checking out. Enjoy!

Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Boese will be released in Japan on June 24th. The standard edition will be available for 6,980 yen ($62.38 US), whereas the limited edition Premium Box (seen below) will carry a price tag of 17,800 yen ($159.09 US). Fans who pre-order either version will receive a DVD containing all CG movie sequences of Episode I (a total of four hours and 46 minutes) as well as a 15 minute long report focusing on the series' three main female voice actors. The game is set for a North American release sometime in 2005.

Xenosaga Episode II Premium Box

Chris Winkler