Lost Odyssey was the second of two Japanese-style RPGs developed for the Xbox 360 by Mistwalker, the other being Blue Dragon. The game was produced by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, scored by Nobuo Uematsu, written by award-winning novelist Kiyoshi Shigematsu, with character designs by Takehiko Inoue, the manga artist who single-handedly popularized basketball in Japan with the Slam Dunk series.Lost Odyssey is a Japanese RPG, centered around Kaim Argonar, The Hero, an amnesiac mercenary who is apparently immortal. As the game opens, he is serving in the army of the Magic Republic of Uhra, a nation still in turmoil from the abolition of its monarchy, in their war against the beastmen of Khent. The game opens with the final battle of the war, which is concluded by a meteor strike (which takes the form of lava pouring out of the sky) that wipes out nearly everyone on both sides save Kaim and another amnesiac immortal, a woman named Seth Balmore.From the moment he meets Seth on, Kaim's memories start coming back. At the same time, Uhra is convinced that the meteor was the result of some finicky wiring in their new Magitek tower, and send Kaim off to investigate. The plot thickens as Councilor Gongora schemes to restore the inept Prince Tolten to the Uhran throne and restore the monarchy. All of this is set against the background of the "Magic-Industrial Revolution," as the nations of the world are struggling to incorporate Magitek into their daily lives. Prominent characters include:
Kaim Argonar, The Hero; begins as The Stoic, but gradually becomes more emotional as he recovers his memories.
The gameplay is classic turn-based combat based around a skill system. Mortal characters, which form most of the party, learn new skills by gaining levels, and can temporarily gain new skills by equipping items, while immortal characters can learn skills from the items they equip and by "skill-linking" with the mortal characters. Magic is divided into four categories - Black offensive magic and White defensive magic, which are obvious holdovers from Final Fantasy, as well as buffing-focused Spirit magic and Composite magic, which is a fusion of spells from other schools. General gameplay resembles NES- and SNES-era entries in the Final Fantasy series, but with the benefit of the Xbox 360's graphical power and much more elaborate Boss Battles.Another gameplay feature of note is the "Thousand Years of Dreams" - as the game goes on, Kaim starts to recover his memory in the form of dreams. These dreams are displayed in the game as short stories. Read these at your peril. Tearswillbe jerked. The game can be played with dialog in both the original Japanese and in English, to satisfy both sides of the Subbing versus Dubbing debate, and both are very high quality performances. The game was not much of a fan favorite in Japan due to the 360's unpopularity there, but enjoyed much greater success in the West. The opposite occurs with critics reception, scoring a 36/40 from Famitsu but mixed reaction from Western review sites.
Afterlife: The game is actually rather agnostic on the subject of an afterlife. Kaim appears to believe in Cessation of Existence on account of having never found any proof of an afterlife but there are quite a few implications that Lirum is watching over and protecting the team as a spirit - and Seth seems to be able to sense her on some level. The game avoids explicitly stating anything one way or the other, though.
Anti-Grinding: Leveling is handled in an interesting manner. Every area has its own level cap and anyone in your party below it will get a level up every battle until they hit it. Afterwards you only get 1 exp per enemy killed in battle, regardless of where or who you fight, but since every level is 100 exp apart and you can get up to 14 exp per battle even if you vastly outlevel the enemy, you're still guaranteed levelups at regular intervals. The real point to battles is to get Skill Points for your immortals to learn new abilities.
Apocalyptic Log: The spheres the group finds scattered through Experimental Grand Staff, especially the entries detailing what happens to the security guards ordered to "test the prototype's interceptor skills throughout the facility" by Professor K.
Badass Boast: When Kaim remembers what Gongora did to him and his family, he vows that, even if Gongora can't die, that Kaim will fill his life with so much pain that he'll spend all of eternity wishing that he could.
Badass Grandpa: Sed. Kaim is both badass and a grandfather (several times over, according to A Thousand Years of Dreams), but his eternal youth makes him not an example of this trope.
Can't Catch Up: Beyond a certain point, the mortal characters in the party will pale into insignificance in battle compared to the four Immortals.
Character Level: Works the same way as most RPGs. EXP raises the level, AP helps the immortals to master skills.
Chekhov's Gun: Wandering around in Numara's Ghost Town early in the game, you can see one of the petrified monsters that Gongora used to hold the country hostage, which you'll have to fight much later on.
Chivalrous Pervert: Jansen, who is introduced not only drunk, but with women in his arms. Nonetheless, he is a rather decent person.
Cool Old Guy: Kaim counts, despite not looking all that old. Sed fits this trope perfectly.
Cool Ship: Both White Boa and Nautilus qualify: the former is essentially a gigantic luxury cruise ship filled with weapons that doubles as an icebreaker, while the latter is a transforming boat-submarine hybrid that can fly.
Creative Sterility: Mixed with Mega Manning. Immortals learn new skills by copying them from mortal party members or from support accessories they've got equipped, but will never come up with new skills of their own. Mortals learn new skills on their own, by leveling up, but can't copy skills.
Justified Trope: they already learned all those skills: as their amnesia fades away they start remembering their lost skills when they see their mortals companions learning then using them.
Doomed Hometown: The Immortals. Their planet was dying of a virus. The Immortals came to the mortal world to find the cause for the virus. The cause itself is the power of human emotion and magic energy.
Driven to Suicide: In the dream, "Letters from a Weakling" a girl named Myna marries into a judgmental, possibly racist, and closed-minded family and community. Their lack of acceptance eventually drives Myna to commit suicide by hanging herself in a barn.
Averted by the fact that the immortals simply can't die, so Gongora's plan involves them making them wish they were dead.
Drowning My Sorrows: Mentioned in Kaim's dreams and quite expected of him; he's seen a lot of horrible things in a thousand years.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Notably, uses the Western elements but with strengths and weaknesses defined by an Eastern cycle, which can be hard to memorize unless you think about it logically: fire consumes air, ie. wind, wind erodes earth, earth holds back water and water douses fire.
In the Thousand Years of Dreams, which happens before Laser-Guided Amnesia, Kaim is shown to have an excellent memory. In one case, he hasn't visited a village for 80 years and when someone in the village calls his name, he searches through his memory of the last time he was there(80 years ago!) and concludes he definitely doesn't know the person calling him. He knows the person, but can be forgiven because she was only 6 then, making her 86 when he returns. He remembers her after some prompting.
Foreshadowing: Early in the game, Gongora is shown inside his mansion using magic while laughing evilly. As it turns out, he was creating a mud puppet that resembles Roxian so that he could murder him and trick Tolten into believing that he had done said act out of self-defense.
Friend to All Children: Kaim, surprisingly. It's mentioned more than a few times in A Thousand Years of Dreams that Kaim has made friends with children during his travels, and he gets along very well with his grandchildren Mack and Cooke.
Functional Magic: As standard for an RPG. Magic is also used in every day life, to create and power cars and weapons.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: The immortal characters are still immortal in gameplay, in the sense that they revive after about two rounds if knocked out, but they can be knocked out and otherwise injured and if the entire active party is KO'd it's still Game Over, even though Kaim and Seth withstood a catastrophe that obliterated two armies in the opening cutscene and weren't so much as singed. While one can suppose that the Game Over is due to failure to complete the party's objectives rather than death, they're not always in situations where that should reasonably be the case, and there's no justification given for the divide between the immortals' cutscene invincibility and the way their immortality works in actual play.
Grind Boots: Played with early in the game - at Grand Staff, Kaim and Seth slide neatly down a slope without missing a beat. Jansen, meanwhile, tries to do the same and ends up sprawling at the bottom of the slope.
Handsome Lech: Apparently Jansen can turn this on and off at will. When it's "off," he's a talkative comic relief. When it's on, watch out, ladies.
Harmless Freezing: Horrifyingly averted when Gohtza and all it's inhabitants are killed in a freezing holocaust.
Hermetic Magic: When casting spells, characters will stand still with their eyes closed, concentrating until it's their turn. Some spells take two turns to cast, depending on the spell and the person casting it.
Homeless Hero: Kaim never stays in one place long, to avoid revealing he is immortal, or forging close bonds that will inevitably be broken.
Hopeless Boss Fight: Gongora in Disc 2. It seems winnable at first, given that he doesn't do too much damage, but then he decides to stop playing around and, by using Pain Surge, instantly kills your entire party. No question.
I Love Nuclear Power - Magic, for the most part, is treated as an energy source that allows many complex machines (like cars) to be built, but, well, being magic, it's capable of so much more. Your first major quest is going to a giant magic reactor, Grand Staff, which is leaking magical energy and mutating the local wildlife into monsters.
Immortality: Kaim, Seth, Sarah, Ming and Gongora are effectively immortal.
Impractically Fancy Outfit: Where to start? There's a possible Lampshade Hanging during the opening scenes in which a pair of soldiers wearing headgear with giant rings on them are surprised that Kaim - possibly the least fancily dressed character in the game - managed to survive, "especially in that outfit." In fact, Kaim, Seth, and Sarah all have relatively modest outfits, all things considered. Everyone else... not so much.
Ming is one of the worst cases. Seriously, that outfit is definitely one of the more Stripperiffic outfits in the game. And she's supposed to be a queen?
Fridge Brilliance: given Ming's immortality and enormous power and cunning (at least when she's not crippled with amnesia), she's basically reached a point where regalia has become superfluous: her subjects fully expect her to remain on the throne for centuries to come, so why would she need to maintain appearances?
Infant Immortality: Both Cooke and Mack can die in battle (or Ko'ed, but either way they get hurt pretty badly) and Mack Can actually die if you bring his HP down to zero in the boss battle where he's possessed in the Crimson Forest. Cue Tearjerker of Cooke sobbing over Her Bothers Corpse. Worse when you remember this is basically right after Lirum's funeral.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kaim comes across like this at the start. Jansen has his moments, but it's always clear that he's a pretty nice guy.
He's actually a very good physical attacker (the strongest out of the mortals). However, he's outclassed by the immortals Kaim and Seth, they can both learn his abilities, including the one that allows them to equip the strongest swords exclusive to him. His usefulness is also brought down by his low accuracy which causes him to miss annoyingly often and lack of MP required to use most of his strongest abilities.
Kleptomaniac Hero: While nearly every pot, bookshelf, chest, and drawer in the visitable parts of town has useful items in it, the game has a hilarious Lampshade Hanging for this trope, in that the inhabitants of houses and proprietors of inns want you to take them for some reason. The innkeepers say that all the gold and potions lying around their businesses are "complimentary," while private citizens consider it a favor if you removed some of the clutter... you know, those piles of 100 gold coins that just do nothing for the flow of the room.
Last Lousy Point: The game's infamous "Treasure Trove" achievement requires you to obtain every single item from all the lootable containers in the world. This includes not only treasure chests, but also every single pot, canister, rock pile, rammable tree, poster, underwater bubble, and other sorts of hidden stashes. Even with a guide, it's an incredibly arduous task. If you missed even one thing (and it's not for sale at the Auction House), good luck scouring the entire world for that Last Lousy Treasure.
Let's Split Up, Gang: Used very briefly for a pair of bosses at the end of the game. You separate into two teams of two characters and both parties must defeat their respective boss on the same turn.
Also used in the Eastern Spirit Temple in Disc 4.
Done by force in Disc 3
Limited Wardrobe: Kaim and the other immortals are shown in flashbacks ranging from 5 years to 1000 years, and with only a couple of exceptions from Kaim and Sarah, they all are wearing the same exact clothes. Aren't they worried about not being in fashion anymore?
The loading times are successfully mitigated by loading the game onto your system's hard drive (to the point where it's hard to take in the party member stats that quickly)... of course, that takes up over 24 gigs of memory for the four discs. Unless you just install the disc you're currently on, then delete it and install the next one when you reach the changeover point, of course.
Lost Forever: Averted. Any items missed in one-shot dungeons show up in the auction house.
Played straight, however, with the Shieldus and Barricadus spells (likely a developer oversight). If you didn't purchase them before Gongora freezes Gohtza, you won't ever be able to get them. The front gate of Khent is also inaccessible after that point, though there's barely anything to do there.
Lull Destruction: The voice actor for Jansen clearly strove to fill every second he could with chatter and wisecracks, at least on the English track.
Magitek, and lots of it. Magic has sparked what the game calls a "Magic-industrial revolution," allowing cars and all sorts of flashy technology to be developed. For some reason, guns are the one thing they don't have in abundance, but all sorts of other bizarre machines abound. Maybe it's the fact that you don't need a gun when you can shoot fireballs from your fingers.
Male Gaze: When Ming has to prove her identity as the Queen of Numara, she removes the silver emblem on her chest to reveal a royal crest. The camera focuses quite intently on her breasts during this.
Mini Dress Of Power: Seth wears a short yellow dress, in addition to the armor on her legs and arms.
Motor Mouth: Jansen. Has the remarkable ability to pack over five times as many excuses, commiserations, and complaints into a sentence as the average person. And every word is solid gold.
New Game+: Beating the game allows you start over with all your immortals at level 50, which isn't that much of a reward since it means you still need to do all the sidequests over again for the accessories that teach them all their abilities as well as grinding the mortals to equally high levels to get many unique skills off them as well...not to mention the fact that by the time you've taught every immortal all their skills, they'd be far past level 50 to begin with.
NPC Amnesia: Played with: thanks to Jansen throwing an amnesia-causing magic pearl at the guard of their cell and convincing him that they've been wrongly imprisoned, he'll release the party every time you get caught in the Stealth-Based Mission segment.
Obviously Evil: Gongora is so obviously shifty (just look at that Beard of Evil!) that the leader of the council keeps revising his position within the first half hour of the game. First he wants the construction of Gongora's giant magic tower, the Grand Staff, temporarily halted so he can send investigators, then he says he definitely wants it suspended and sends two unkillable people to check out why nobody's reported back from it, then he orders Gongora under house arrest, all in the same day. Sadly the heroes don't tumble to his evil until after the damage is done.
Our Immortals Are Different: The Immortals aren't technically immortal; it's just a difference in the passage of time. One year on their home world is equivalent to one thousand Earth years. It's more than Year Inside, Hour Outside, though, since not only do they continue to age so slowly as to be effectively immortal, they're also functionally unkillable by any method available within the game world.
Out of Focus: Sarah suffers this somewhat; at least in comparison to the other Immortals. Justified however, as her bio mentions that she generally doesn't like to bring attention to herself.
Papa Wolf: One wonders if Kaim wouldn't have hated Gongora so much if he hadn't been involved with Lirum's disappearance.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: Numara Atoll. Accessible when you get your first boat, the enemies here can level you up into the late 40s, roughly the level you're expected to be at during the endgame.
Pet the Dog: The first clue that Jansen is a better person than he seems to be is when he saves a bird from getting blasted with hot steam in the White Boa's engine room. Ming, observing, remarks that he's really quite kind.
Petting Zoo People: The Khents, a race of dogpeople resembling dobermans. Hey, it's a JRPG, what did you expect?
There's also a white-skinned little girl in a dress with fox ears and a tail named Chuchu whose race is never elaborated upon and her father that she mentions is never shown either.
Finally, there's Aneira, who's never shown either but is described as having wings and a bite strong enough to break iron shackles, although he might as well be dragon of some sort.
Pirates: Seth and Sed. Cooke wants to be a pirate when she grows up.
Point of No Return: Subverted twice with Grand Staff 1+2 and then played straight with the Tower of Mirrors. A particularly egregious example in that while you are warned both times you try to enter Grand Staff, the actual point of no return gives no warning outside of an automatic save point that's rarely seen beyond disc change prompts.
Prison Episode: Kaim and company are at one point obliged to escape from the brig of a royal yacht, dodging security drones and pussy-footing across pressure-sensitive floor tiles. Hilariously, they begin their escape by wiping the memory of their guard and convincing him that they were jailed by accident, so even if the player makes a mistake and the party gets caught again, the guard will apologize and let them back out.
Smug Snake: Gongora. He has enough power, intelligence and "interpersonal skills" that you'd think he'd make a fine Magnificent Bastard... but he's so obviously evil and completely lacking in charisma, pummeling the slimy little git is all you'll think about.
Also done literally when Gongora turns into a giant snake to kill the head councilman.
Take That: The rhetoric of turning Numara into a great military power that General Kakanas spouts makes him sound an awful lot like George W. Bush. The trope applies even more when considering that Kakanas talks big, but is an inept loser in the end.
Two Lines, No Waiting: Compromises a majority of the plot development in disc 3. Seth accidentally gets teleported to Uhra with Tolten and reunites with her son, Sed, Cooke and Mack hijack a train trying to find a violet aurora that can reunite them with their deceased mother, Kaim and Sarah chase after them, and Gongora's weather machine separates Jansen and Ming from everyone else.
Underrated And Overleveled: The game appears to be a pretty horrible offender. Seth and Kalm are immortal beings who spent the nearly a thousand years fighting and developing as warriors, Jensen was picked by the strongest mage in the capital to be an ally for them, and Queen Ming (who is received only shortly later) is an immortal queen known for stopping an invasion of powerful magic beings single handedly with her powerful magics. Fighting along beside this team are... two little kids with no combat training at all. However the kids do join the party early enough that the main party isn't made too powerful by Level Grinding. Also, Cooke is a White Mage who's physical combat skills are just as bad as one would expect from a little girl, and when Mack joins the party he is a Magic Knight who's magic ability at least is justified as it's heavily implied that he was given spirit magic as a side effect of being possessed by the remains of a tribe with a gift for spirit magic. However, Mack is still a little too powerful physically for a little kid with no training running up and hitting you.
Some Fan Wank can help justify this further. It could be assumed Cooke's power with White Magic is from her wanting to heal her sick mother. Presumably she started studying to try to help her mother recover, it would be in character for her even if it's never explicitly stated in game. As for Mack, well since spirit magic has a heavy emphasis on strengthening yourself and weakening enemies one could possible claim that Mack's physical combat ability is actually partially a result of the same experience that gave him his magic, ie. his magic is making him hit stronger/faster then a young child should be naturally. Though that's pushing the limits of Fan Wank a bit.
Completely, and skillfully, averted with Tolten. As a prince who presumably received training in combat throughout his upbringing he would be expected to be competent with a sword, and indeed the first time he is used in combat he is about equal to the rest of the party in strength and shown being capable of defending himself when forced to. However, by the time he becomes a regular party member he is the exact same level, making him far weaker than the others, who have been growing steadily stronger for another fourth of the game. He has to be placed in the back row where he can be protected to keep him alive through the first few battles and he can barely dish out worthwhile damage...luckily the combat system (ie, the ability to easily guard low health and vulnerable allies in the back row from damage temporarily) prevents his low level from making him a liability that dies all the time, and the leveling system ensures he gains levels absurdly fast so he will catch up to a useful level in very little time. This fits very nicely with his characterization, he is depicted as too afraid to fight, or stand up for himself, alone, and has to learn how to be a stronger/braver man just as he has to gain xp in combat before he is an equal to the rest of the team.
One of the things that makes Tolten not really worth sticking with in the endgame once you've taught all the immortals his skills is the fact that his base accuracy is noticeably lower than the other physical fighters', which makes him miss annoyingly often and tends to carry over to his other skills, which he doesn't really have the MP to use on a regular basis to begin with.
Unwitting Pawn: Tolten is such a well-meaning idiot it's almost painful to watch.
Useless Useful Spell: Averted for the most part: while you won't cast them on normal enemies on a regular basis both due to lack of innate multitargetting, high MP cost and lack of access to sufficiently nasty status-causing spells until later into the game, they still hit any enemies that're not innately immune to them with 100% accuracy and there's at least 2 boss battles where using disabling spells is a major part of defeating them.
War Is Hell: A number of Kaim's dreams deal with the horrors of war.
Warp Whistle: The world map acts as this, there's no over-world to speak of.
We Are as Mayflies: Immortality is not genetic, so Kaim outlives his daughter and Seth looks younger than her own son.
We Have Reserves: General Kakanas' attitude towards his troops, as shown when he decides to shoot arrows at the party even after his advisor warns him that his soldiers would get caught in the crossfire.
That's the consequence of her amnesia: her dream segment and what the party can learn by talking to her subjects shows us that without her memory loss she is a ruler with over nine centuries of experience in leadership under her belt who's frighteningly good at her job and is able to see whether a person is trustworthy from their eyes far before they've ever even considered of betraying her yet remain exceptionnally casual with her subjects outside of her working hours to the point that they treat her like their favorite aunt: the Queenly Mask is meant to hide her crippled memory.