Xenosaga Is Art, Technically

One can’t accuse Namco of skimping on the hype for their PlayStation 2 RPG Xenosaga. Not only has the publisher created a promotional group for eager geeks to join, but pre-ordering the game from Electronics Boutique or GameStop will net you a selection of bonus merchandise: a T-Shirt, a miniature art book, or two lithographs.

At least that’s what Namco’s in-store displays call it, though what I picked up doesn’t resemble a lithograph so much as it does artwork printed on an 11 X 14” piece of poster board. But why quibble when it’s free, and relatively nice at that?

The art in question is a pretty CG rendering of bright-eyed Xenosaga heroine Shion Uzuki leaning on a red A.G.W.S., which is presumably what game designers call giant robots when they’re intent on coming up with a mecha moniker that no one has ever used before. (Gear? Taken. Variant Armor? It’s been done. Grand Chere? Strangely enough, that’s also off the market.) Amusingly, the word is pronounced something like “Eggs” and stands for Anti-Gnosis Weapons System; not gnosis in the traditional definition of “deeper wisdom,” mind you, but Gnosis as in the invading race of aliens that harrows the remnants of humanity in the Xenosaga universe. There’s irony in there somewhere, I suspect.

The render work is fairly impressive, and it’s interesting to note that Shion goes against the stereotype of RPG protagonists by a) being female, b) not being a dedicated warrior, and c) wearing glasses. I’ve seen a few role-playing games in which the main character met the first two criteria, but for the life of me, I can’t recall an RPG heroine who sported glasses.

I’ve yet to play a minute of Xenosaga, but any game than contravenes genre standards in its main character has already scored a point with me. The art print, however, presents a problem: I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s not the sort of thing that you’d thumbtack to the wall, yet it’s not high in quality to the point where you’d frame it or anything.

As useless game junk goes, this is truly without purpose, but I’m somehow compelled to preserve it, and even seek out the other art print, which features an extensively winged image of chaos (who’s apparently the e. e. cummings of the cast) another of Xenosaga’s cast. Am I a stupid, materialistic game dork? Probably, though I’d like to consider my fondness for this “lithograph” an example of how expertly Namco is appealing to its audience.