Abnormal Ammo: Guns that shoot healing bullets, among other things.
Achievement System: The game has a large variety of internal achievements that grant Non-Combat EXP when completed. They're split in 2 categories, Trials and Records, with the former largely relating to the various sidequests and latter being mostly combat based. Only the latter carry over to New Game+, possibly because the former are more tied to the overall story progress and the latter generally have further stretching goals.
Action Commands: Burst affinity. Occasionally in battle the player gets the opportunity to press a button to increase the team's tension and affinity, without major consequences besides the possible tension loss should the player fail. The same mechanic is also used to extend chain attacks, Dunban's "Blossom Dance" attack, and for triggering the visions in the final battle against Zanza.
Alliance Meter: A very simple one, but still counts. The more side quests you complete in each area, the higher the citizens' trust for you becomes. Higher trust allows you to trade for better items with the NPCs and unlocks more sidequests, some of which are necessary to unlock 2 extra skill trees for each character.
All There in the Manual: For most, Fiora's restoration from cyborg to Homs seems to come out of left field, but it is detailed in the Japan-only short story, Monad: The Secret Files. Luckily, someone translated it to English, which is posted here.
And Man Grew Proud: The races living on Bionis and Mechonis thrived after the two titans killed each other in battle. In fact, they did even before they waged battle.
Animation Bump: During the majority of the dialogue cut scenes, the game uses pre-recorded animations and the lip movement is reduced to open-close-mouth. The characters' faces are rather motionless, the camera angles are pretty simple, and the shots are a little static. However, in the more dramatic and spectacular ones, the characters become more expressive, both in face animations and body language, the lip movement is animated accordingly to the spoken lines (at least with the Japanese dub) and the shots become way more dynamic.
Most of the collectables are available via trades, which is great as some areas are unavailable after certain points and a few collectables are hard to get due to randomness. Some enemy drops are also available via trades. Finding out who can trade for them when and where can be a chore, though.
Fast travel and time changing. Easily saves you dozens of hours of pointless wandering, and even with them, 100% Completion still takes well in excess of 100 hours. Now if only they'd let you change the weather too...
Unlike most JRPGs, there are no consumable healing items; outside of battle, your party members recover HP automatically, and during battle, all abilities (including healing) are tied to a cooldown instead of a mana system, so they can be used as often as you want so long as you're willing to wait for them to recharge. This means your party will almost always be at full strength going into most fights, reducing the need to backtrack to a town to rest and restock on items.
Apocalypse How: A freaking Universal Class 4! Zanza tried to get an experiment that would turn human beings into gods and he ended up destroying the entire universe except himself, Meyneth, and the computer AI's consciousness. After that, they create the universe of the game. Zanza is turned into Bionis, Meyneth into Mechonis, and the computer's AI into the Monado's spirit, which can take the Homs form of Alvis. Yeah, I know what you may be thinking, but it's better than it sounds.
Arc Words: "Seize our destiny." It starts as a sort of Catch Phrase for Dunban, but later becomes synonymous with the party's struggle to change the future.
Art Books Always Lie: A promotional art book sold with the game depicts the party standing on a lush part of what appears to be Bionis' shoulder, overlooking the heads of the two titans. The problem with this scene? Fiora is still in her Homs body, which she only got back during the epilogue, long after both titans were destroyed.
Art Books Always Spoil: Even if you didn't get that far, the fact that Fiora is in the same scene as Melia and Sharla, who only join the party after her "death," spoils the fact that she is still alive and rejoins the party at some point.
Shulk had this twice. First he technically came back after Zanza started using his body as a vessel; and later, after Zanza leaves his body making him die again, he comes back for good.
Back Stab: Several characters have at least one move that deals more damage when you attack from behind the enemy (for example, Shulk's Back Slash). You can sneak behind enemies and start the fight with these attacks, which usually gives you an advantage, or even a One-Hit Kill.
Beautiful Dreamer: Twice. First, Shulk watches Fiora sleep when the Machina are about to fix her Mechon body. Later in the game, the roles are exchanged and Fiora is the one who watches over Shulk. Although this time, she's waiting for him to come Back from the Dead.
The Beautiful Elite: Surprisingly, WAY below the levels one would expect from a JRPG. Yeah, Shulk, Fiora and Sharla would be top models in the real world (especially if you see them in a swimsuit), and Melia is pure Fetish Fuel. But Dunban, while still physically attractive, is within levels reachable by the average person, and Reyn would be unthinkable in most Japanese fantasy media. The NPCs attractiveness varies a lot throughout the game, too.
Become a Real Boy: During the ending, Fiora goes to sleep for six months in an ancient machine called the Regeneration Chamber, which regenerates her Homs body.
Beware the Nice Ones: You would think Shulk, being a modest engineering student and nice guy, would not harm a fly. Or Fiora, a sweet girl and loving younger sister that takes care of her Handicapped Badass older brother, wouldn't be able to hurt anyone, right? WRONG!
Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Arachno/Antol and Caterpile enemies are the major ones. Wisp, Apis, and Fliers being a tad big but not even close to the size of the the Archnids and Caterpiles. Wisp and Fliers also tend to not be violent unlike the spider based enemies.
The giant Fortress-class Mechons are a robotic version, looking like a cross between a praying mantis and some kind of wacky Victorian exercise machine.
BFG: You can't help but wonder how Sharla manages to carry THAT thing around.
BFS: The Monado itself. It starts out almost as tall as Shulk is, and can grow to three times its normal size for special attacks. Dunban also has some BFSs of his own, which he wields one-handed.
Bilingual Bonus: The characters that appear on the Monado's glass pane remain unchanged from the Japanese version - "machine", symbolizing that the blade will take apart Mechon, "person", given by Zanza at Prison Island, and finally "god", at the start of the ending sequence.
Blessed with Suck: The Machina. They live longer than any other race but get sick far more easily than Homs and need to be fixed/upgraded to function properly and only if they can find the parts needed to fix them otherwise they can suffer from the problem for thousands of years such as being unable to mentally or physically age. If they also let a certain emotion consume them or begin obsessing over something like a incident in the past can cause them to begin to malfunction enough that if it isn't attended to soon will cause serious damage to them.
When Melia is introduced, she has a contingent of Mook bodyguards to help her track down a monster she's hunting. They all die in the fight, but she manages to beat it off and injure it with one big ether attack.
Likewise, much of Reyn's character development deals with him trying to keep his promise to protect Shulk, even as Shulk grows far more powerful than him.
The game includes 5 bonus bosses whose levels are above the player's cap of 99. They are Final Marcus at 100, Ancient Daedala at 105, Despotic Arsene at 108, Blizzard Belgazas at 114, and Avalanche Abaasy at 120. The last one is especially nasty because he only spawns in snowstorms, meaning that in addition to being strong enough to rip apart even a maxed out party, you have use nightvision gems to have any expectation of even touching him.
A long sidequest chain leads to a boss battle against Bana, the Nopon kingpin; the only battle outside of the main story under the tune of "Tragic Desicion". Thought it's not an overleved battle, it takes quite some effort to reach it, since the quests that lead to it cover almost half of the game and can be Lost Forever.
Brick Joke: The fallen arm from the Mechonis seen in the intro, and totally unmentioned until Shulk and company literally fall on it. Interestingly enough, the fallen hand in the logo for Mechonis used for introducing places is directly underneath the sword. Even that can go unnoticed.
The High Entia largely speak Received Pronunciation, also known as "the Queen's English".note In the real world, RP is a highly cultivated accent that was once standard in all British broadcast media, lending it an internationally recognized air of propriety and high class. But it's also increasingly socially irrelevant in an increasingly less classist Britain, as virtually no one speaks it in unrehearsed life without having been meticulously speech-trained. In-dub, this helps reinforce the High Entia as stilted and austere in their cold opulence, helping localize the awkward social barrier that Melia initially suffers with Shulk's party and non-High Entia in general.
Bug War: Several sidequests eventually reveal that one had happened between the Spiders and Giants. The Giants originally won the war and kept the powerful white spiders under control thanks to their Soothesayer. Eventually he died and the Spiders began to grow in power once again with no way to stop them. The Giants then resorted to Giant Sacrifice in order to keep them under control. Which worked until their numbers dwindled to the point that nothing they do could stop them. It's suggested that the Spiders might have caused their extinction. There's also a war between the Chilkin and the Antols on Valak Mountain which keeps both sides in check.
Humans by Any Other Name: The Homs also get this treatment. They're pretty much identical to humans with the exception that they need ether presence to survive in a similar way plants need sunlight. Turns out they really aren't humans, as actual humans used to exist long before the game's events.
Can't Drop The Hero: Averted. As long as you have more then 3 people in your party, Shulk does not have to be one of them. However, his Combat Clairvoyance and Monado powers prove to be invaluable assets throughout the game, so there aren't many reasons not to have him at least in the party if not the leader. This is especially true against Mechon, which the rest of the party will have trouble damaging until their equipment gets upgraded later on.
Camera Screw: When using the Wiimote + Nunchuk and in combat, the camera will always face you toward your target. This becomes a big issue when fighting Giant Mooks or trying to speed through narrow spaces. Using the Classic Controller allows you to control the camera manually, but you still have to deal with Camera Screw in small, confined spaces.
Can't Have Sex, Ever: This is a Nintendo game, so we weren't going to see it anyway. Nevertheless, you can't help thinking that Shulk and Fiora would never have been able to get "too touchy" if the Machina hadn't fixed Fiora's body.
Cast from Hit Points: Shulk's Battle Soul, Dunban's Final Flicker (both fill some of their talent gauge at the cost of half of their HP), and Melia's Healing Gift (which sacrifices some HP to heal another party member)
Cast of Snowflakes: every NPC on the affinity chart has a unique character model, and there are about 40 or so unique NPCs per town.
Chainmail Bikini: Actually not the most practical thing around. Fiora gets some at the beginning of the game, where they aren't too great stat wise, and they pretty much fade from that point. Late in the game, they make a reappearance for multiple characters, albeit with better stats.
Chekhov's Lecture: In Agniratha, Vanea explains to the party that the Monado isn't just a sword. It's the light within everyone, the will to survive no matter what. This light manifests itself as the True Monado during the final battle against Zanza.
Clipped Wing Angel: After Xord is defeated and thrown into the ether river on the Ether Plant, he jumps back into action while the party is on the mine's elevator. This time he's rusted from the direct exposure to the ether, and unlike the first time around, he can be damaged just fine by the Monado.
Combat Clairvoyance: What the Monado does in gameplay, often showing lethal attacks aimed at the team several seconds before they actually occur.
Combat Medic: Sharla has a wide arsenal of healing and support arts, while still having some offensive potential with her gun arts (one of which, if set properly, is a One-Hit Kill)
Combination Attack: Called "Chain Attacks" in this game. It allows the three members to perform a special attack each, even if it's not charged yet, and that attack will have it's full effect unless the enemy is 100% immune to it. The highest the affinity between the members, the more attacks they will be able to execute before the Chain Attack ends, and the more Arts of the same color you perform in a row (with Talent Arts acting as a wild card that allow you to change colors in the middle), the higher the damage multiplier.
Cool Down: One of the main combat mechanics. Most powerful attacks have long cooldown periods to prevent them from being used more than once per battle and ending combat instantly makes them useable in the next battle, with the Chain Attacks resetting their timers for its duration so you can use any of them during one. There's also another form of Cool Down for Sharla, whose abilities overheat her gun, increasing the effectiveness of her offensive attacks and reducing the effectiveness of her healing; if you don't vent the extra heat before her gun overheats completely, she's forced into an automatic heat venting animation that takes much longer than doing it manually. In either case, Sharla can't move or attack during the animation, which is really bad of if she's got high aggro. The former variety can be reduced by leveling up the said attacks, and the latter variety can be reduced with the right gems and skills.
Curbstomp Battle: The final battle turns into this after Shulk gets his true Monado. It's pretty much this in gameplay terms as Zanza is the same is he was before Shulk had the true Monado, but now Shulk has the best weapon in the game.
Dead All Along: Shulk, who died 14 years ago next to the Monado. Zanza used his body as a vessel. When Zanza leaves Shulk's body, he dies again. He comes back later to kick his ass.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: You just return to the last landmark you visited and, if you were killed fighting a mob, any loot dropped by those you did kill is still there when you return. It is averted in certain cut-scenes.
The only reason Shulk was alive these last 14 years is because Zanza was using him as his vessel.
Whoever holds a Monado can be taken over by the soul of a god that rests within, like the giant Arglas, who became Zanza's puppet when he grabbed the respective Monado. Although the Demonic part is pretty non-existant on Meyneth's side.
Taken to even greater levels with Alvis, Monado itself, who used to be a computer AI in the previous universe before it was destroyed.
Dialogue Tree: They appear in some side quests and are a key feature in the Affinity Dialogues. Unlike other JRPGs, the different options really make the quest go through a different route and show different dialogues.
Divergent Character Evolution: Inverted with Dunban and Reyn gameplay-wise. They both start out as varieties of Stone Wall, but with plenty of noticeable and meaningful differences. But they later learn arts that are quite similar to each other's. For example:
Dunban starts with Electric Gutbuster and Worldly Slash, which have added effects when used after Gale Slash. Later, Reyn learns Dive Sobat, which has an added effect when used after Bone Upper.
Reyn learns Last Stand, which revives him if he dies while it's active. Much later, Dunban learns Jaws of Death, which does exactly the same thing.
Colony 6 is completely destroyed before Shulk and Reyn arrive. Reconstructing it forms part of a huge sidequest.
Agniratha, the Mechonis capital. A former bustling metropolis attacked by Telethia and the Bionis millennia before the game's events. Now a lifeless Mechon-infested ghost of what it used to be.
Alcamoth, after Zanza transforms all pure blood High Entia into Telethia.
Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Alvis. For the majority of the game, we have no idea whose side he's on. At first he just appears as a mysterious helper who can use the Monado, so we think he's good, but then we see him talking with Lorithia, so we think he's in on her plot to assassinate Melia, but then he's genuinely helping the party later and helping the allied forces fight the Mechonis, but then he jumps to Zanza's side once he's resurrected, though he never verbally states he's sided with Zanza, and then finally he screws Zanza over and refuses to intervene in his fight with Shulk. It makes more sense once the game's over, but all throughout, it's impossible to know what he's playing at.
Fiorung is called "Fiora" in the European localizations. At the same time, Carna is called "Sharla", which is more difficult to justify, unless it was because of copyright issues or because it sounded too close to "Carnal" for Nintendo's liking.
Kyoshin and Kishin, on the other hand, were more rightly localized as Bionis and Mechonis respectively. Mechonis kept the pun in Kishin, which contains the kanji for "machine", while Bionis is a full departure from Kyoshin, which means "huge god".
Metal Face was originally called "Black Face" (黒いフェイス), which has no meaning beyond sounding cool in Japanese, but for fairly obvious reasons wasn't going to fly in western countries, especially America. "Metal Face" does end up being a bit of a non-sequitor of a name, since all of the Faced Mechon have "metal faces" (when inside their frames, anyway) but it's really just a nickname that Shulk and crew give him since he was the first Faced Mechon they encountered.
Dynamic Loading: Although it's impressive how much visual data the game is capable of load at once. We only get to see a Loading Screen before a big Cut Scene or when going from one big area to another.
"End of the World" Special: At the end of the game Alvis gives Shulk full control over Monado to create a new universe. He resolves most of the issues of the old one by both avoiding what Zanza and Meyneth did by becoming a god: he allows everyone the freedom to expand to the stars.
Epic Tracking Shot: The Action Prologue ends with a tacking shot that goes from Sword Valley to Eryth Sea, then to Makna Forest, and finally a complete shot of Bionis and Mechonis. The whole scene gives a good idea of the huge scope of the game world.
First Girl Wins: Fiora ends up beating Melia in winning Shulk's affections. No surprise since the whole first half of the game was him avenging her supposed death.
Fanservice: You can strip all your party members down to their underwear. So you have fanservice in spades for both genders.
In Dunban's case, he even gets a buff (pun not intended) for wearing no clothes, a skill that can be shared with other characters. Covert Pervert much?
Fantastic Drug: The red pollen orbs the Nopon manufacture. If they are processed correctly, they can have some good potential uses, if not, they are very addictive and dangerous for health. There's a group of Nopon that have been selling these variety illegally to Alcamoth citizens, and a huge sidequest arc involves finding who and where they are and putting a stop to their bussiness.
Fantastic Racism: Some side quests hint that some High Entia consider the Homs and Nopon to be inferior beings; and those tend to not have a high opinion on half-Homs High Entia either, especially the Bionite Order, that pretty much hates anything that isn't a pure High Entia. That said, there are many High Entia both named NPCs and regular NPCs that accept and want to live in harmony with the other races.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: An option in the menu allows the player to skip to any time in-game. This greatly helps to find the non-player characters that show up at specific times for the loads and loads of sidequests.
Near the beginning of the game, after Fiora dies, Shulk remarks how he feels part of him is telling him to be rational, while another part of him is crying out for revenge. Even Reyn remarks on how that doesn't sound like something Shulk would say at all...
After defeating Xord, he gives the first hints about his past as a Homs. The information is vague enough so the player doesn't know what this will lead into. Speaking to a certain NPC after his defeat will give much less vague information regarding this.
Then about 2/3 of the way through the game, we get a dream sequence which sets up the biggest holy shit moment of the whole game.
When Melia enters the High Entia Tomb, the "spirit" within speaks to her about Homs integration into the bloodline, and something about escaping a curse. Turns out that half-Homs High Entia are the only ones immune to regression into Telethia.
When Zanza offers to release the Monado's true power, he says that, if he were allowed to release its power, "Only a god could stand in your way". Turns out, a god is exactly who intends to stand in Shulk's way.
The fact that Shulk isn't very interested in food is the first clue that he's really a reanimated corpse.
Dickson's Wham Line early on ( "Can't say I feel good decieving these kids like this.") is a surprisingly subtle one. For one it's your first clue that Dickson isn't as trustworthy as he seems. But further, the fact that he calls everyone in your party "kids", even Dunban, clues you in that he's older than he looks. Much older.
Right after killing Fiora, Metal Face shares a meaningful glance with Dunban, cluing the player in to Metal Face's identity as Mumkhar.
Also of note is Metal Faces main weapon aside from that cannon on his back, his claws. Mumkhar also used claws as his main weapon. Subtle, yet easily noticed once you meet other unique faced Mechon and see that their weapon is based on what they used while they were still Homs.
Grey and Gray Morality: Shulk is a Nice Guy and well meaning, but openly preaches genocide against all mechon, even those that weren't involved with Fiora's death. On the flip side, Egil is a brutal, ruthless dictator, but turns out to have been doing everything he's done in an (misguided) attempt to defeat the real villain.
Black and White Morality: Zanza's appearance changes it to this. He's a heartless, selfish bastard that cares about nothing but himself and kills everything on Bionis, and his Disciples, apart from Alvis, reasons for having anything to do with him are entirely selfish. Doesn't get much more black and white than that.
Fur Bikini: The jungle-themed armors look like this when worn by the women.
Gainax Ending: Starts off like this, but it's ultimately subverted.
Gainaxing: Done by Sharla and Vanea, very noticeably during cutscenes.
Gameplay and Story Integration: Visions of the future play a key role in both story and gameplay, and new Monado Arts are often introduced in cutscenes (e.g. Purge, Speed), not to be forgotten 5 minutes later.
When Melia first joins Shulk and company, they don't realize she's a High Entia because her headwings are covered by her hat. To keep up the ploy, you can't remove or replace Melia's helmet until after the High Entia Tomb, long after her real heritage becomes known.
It's established earlier that The Monado can't hurt "the sentient beings of Bionis." Naturally this doesn't come into play when fighting random monsters, but later you end up fighting a High Entia assassin in the High Entia Tomb, and if Shulk is in battle the Monado will only do Scratch Damage to her.
It is implied in the story that Riki is lazy and weak, and can barely scratch enemies, with the implication that he is only the Heropon as a punishment for being in heavy debt. In actual gameplay, Riki can solo bosses.
A side effect of having your characters' current equipment shown in cutscenes is that some dialogue regarding particular weapons (Dunban's anti-mechon sword, and Gadolt's rifle after Sharla picks it up) becomes nonsensical when that weapon isn't the one they're currently equipped with. This reaches its peak when you start a New Game+ and Dunban treats whatever sword he was equipped with last in your first playthrough as the Monado, while Shulk talks about wanting to learn about the Monado when he has the Monado III. And then you reach the cutscene where Dunban drops the Monado and Shulk picks it up, and suddenly Dunban is carrying the Monado III so that Shulk can pick it up later and have it again to fight with it.
Gameplay Automation: Auto-attack is the only form of normal attacking. Everything else requires input from the player.
Genre-Busting: Probably one of the many reasons why people love it so much compared to other JRPGs of its generation. The game has the look and feel of a JRPG, with a storyline to go with it. However, it contains several gameplay elements from WRPGs, with an overworld structured more like The Elder Scrolls than anything else, a combat system inspired by World of Warcraft, and a sidequest system that even comes with a planner to deduce which sidequests are better to do at your current level. The UK voice acting even has more in common with Dragon Age than the voices usually used for JRPGs. Word of God even said that WRPG's heavily inspired the game's mechanics.
Giant Mook: There are numerous monsters that are scaled-up versions of smaller ones. Most are Uniques, but there are a few actual mooks like the house-sized baboons in Satorl Marsh. The mantis-like Fortress Mechons all qualify, the smallest, mass-production ones being about two stories tall with a massive boss-class in the factory level that's at least four.
Grimy Water: Mostly comes in poison swamp variety, but there's also some at the bottom of both Bionis and Mechonis in lieu of a Bottomless Pit. The patches around Fallen Arm don't really seem to serve any real purpose besides forcing the player to take the long way around to find the way forward, which is somewhat annoying since the intended path isn't immediately obvious.
A God Am I: Zanza was already a Physical God, but when he gets control of Meyneth's Monado, his arrogance reaches entirely new levels.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Variation. Zanza and Meyneth would wither and die if their creations, which are made from their life forces, leave their bodies and expand to the stars.
Goggles Do Nothing: Sharla wears a pair hanging of her neck in her default costume. However, she never puts them on nor does anything with them, for that matter. This is the same for some headgears of other characters.
Dickson and Mumkhar at the beginning of the game. Afterwards, Dickson comes back for a reprise at the end of the Ether Mine chapter.
Alvis, who only appears in the party for first fight against a Telethia.
Guide Dang It: Many sidequests have later consequences that aren't immidiately obvious. Giving one seemingly inconsequential item to an NPC early on could lead a whole branch of later quests being Lost Forever. Also, the game clearly points out to you which quests are timed, but never tells you how long you have until they expire. A timed quest could mean anything from that NPC moving to a different location later to an entire area being destroyed.
It's minor, but knowing which NPC trades what requires either massive trial and error or a guide. Even worse, some items aren't offered up for trade until you reach a certain affinity with the area, and certain NPCs who move locations offer completley different items afterwards. Not to mention many of the High Entia you can trade with become Lost Forever after a certain event. Good luck completing the "Other" section of the Collectopaedia without a guide, whose items can only be obtained by trading with specific people.
Good luck unlocking each party member's two extra skill trees without a guide, or even knowing that they have more than the default 3 skill trees in the first place. Unlocking each tree often requires the completion of several prerequisite quests, some of which may require that you first gain high affinity in the quest area. Even if you've done the prerequisites, the quest which unlocks the extra skill tree can only be initiated if a specific character is the lead member in your party.
Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Played straight for all but one character. The guys use swords or clubs in Riki's case, Sharla uses her rifle, and Melia is a Squishy Wizard. Fiora is the exception, using her knives at close range.
Half-Human Hybrid: Several of Alcamoth's inhabitants are half Homs, including Melia. This becomes crucial as only full High Entia are vulnerable to Zanza's Telethia regression.
Handicapped Badass: As a result of using Monado, Dunban has lost the use of his right arm. It doesn't stop him from kicking ass with a katana or BFS.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: There are around half a dozen of these throughout the game, specially during the first third. They're normally against a Faced Mechon. You have to survive their auto-attacks and arts until they use that one art that may not actually kill your party but ends the battle and advances the plot.
Made even sillier in New Game+ in that even if you equip Machina damaging equipment or use the Monado III, the damage done caps at a certain point. Even though you can easily crush them, they're "not working."
Heroic Sacrifice: Fiora (at least apparently), Gadolt, Lady Meyneth, Egil, Kallian...
Heroic RROD: Dunban after using the Monado. It costed him a good deal of his health, almost killing him the second time around, and it left his right arm out of commission (not that he needs it though...).
Hopeless Boss Fight: Quite a few of them, in the form of a fight against a foe that's either overleveled or very hard to damage. These battles end after a certain amount of time passes, enough damage is caused, or, in some cases, the party is completely wiped out. Between them there are the first encounters with Metal Face and Xord, the first two encounters with Yaldabaoth, and the first one against Zanza.
Hope Spot: Despite Shulk's anger over what the Egil's mechon did to Fiora and many others, and Egil's equally potent anger over what Zanza (and by association, Shulk) did to the Machina, for a moment it really does look like the two might be able to set aside their differences after the battle in the Mechonis Core. And then Dickson shoots Shulk in the back.
HP to One: While your main character can die from falling damage, it will only ever reduce your party members to a minimum of 1HP, even if they fell further than you did.
Specifically, the entire game takes place on two titans (one of which is a giant mecha) that are at least the size of large continents. Can't get much more humongous than that.
However, unlike the other two games in the series, Fiora is the only party member who actually gets to pilot a mechon, and then only in cutscenes before she rejoins the party. After that, she fights on-foot like everyone else for the rest of the game.
Hybrid Power: Half-Homs High Entia, despite their usually smaller head wings and lack of Pointy Ears, are just as long-lived and capable of manipulating ether as their pure-blooded cousins. What really sets them apart is that they are cured of the genetic "curse" that can eventually turn pure High Entia into mindless Telethia.
I'm a Humanitarian: Mechon in general appear to be this during the initial attack on Colony 9, and Xord plays this up later on. It's later discovered this isn't actually the case. The Mechon are actually harvesting Homs to create new Face Mechon.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Does anyone have a theory of why a bunny-sized monster leaves behind a glowing golden chest twice its size when it's killed?
Infinity+1 Sword: The Monado III. By far the highest damage in the game (this thing will have a higher auto attack with no gems than many late game weapons will with three), and with 75 percent critical hit rate, and three gems slots. Only available in the Final Battle and in New Game+, though.
Injured Vulnerability: There is a chain of these. Several attacks inflict Break on its target, which does nothing except opening them for a Topple attack, which causes its target to become defenseless and open to attack for a while. In turn, Daze can be inflicted on a toppled enemy, further weakening them. Finally, Sharla'sHeadshot art has a small chance of One Hit Killing a dazed target (which increases to 100% if triggered during a chain attack).
When you go though the Bionis' Interior, there's a collectible page yet no collectibles when you go through. Looking at the map of the area also reveals several ether crystal deposits extremely out of reach.
The Achievements page also lists numerous achievements involving Fiora long before it's even remotely possible to get any of them.
If you look at the party slots after Riki and Melia join you, there's still room for another character...
Any quest that will automatically fail if not completed before reaching a story event is marked with a clock to indicate such. You know that something is going to happen to Alcamoth when every single quest that you get in the city is marked this way.
In the Back: Dickson shoots Shulk in the back after the latter refuses to kill Egil.
Irrelevant Importance: You can't drop nor sell Gadolt's rifle, even though it doesn't take long before you get far more powerful weapons for Sharla. The same holds true for Melia's Emperor and Empress Staffs.
Jump Scare: Many Unique Monsters who attack on sight can and will ambush the party while you're fighting smaller enemies or just walking around. In particular, a Giant Spider called the Clifftop Bayern takes a little while to climb over a cliff before attacking, which may lead to the player not knowing they're being attacked from behind until the mini-boss theme kicks in.
Justified Title: The Monado is a blade that is deadly against the mechanical invaders. Much later, you learn that it's pretty much xenophobic.
If you go for the literal translation of Xenoblade as "strange blade," then the Monado still qualifies, being vastly more advanced than anything the peoples of Bionis ever produced on their own. Even the Machina can only make a pale imitation of it.
The True Monado obtained at the end of the game qualifies even more as a "strange blade" than the original. Even Zanza is shocked when Shulk pulls it seemingly out of nowhere.
Joke Weapon: The Monapon, obtained after defeating The Nopon Kingpin (a level 78 enemy, mind you), only has a damage range of 1-1. It does have a 30% critical rate though.
Large Ham: The battle dialogues are FILLED with this.
Laser Blade: The Monado itself. Dunban can also get some of these courtesy of the Machina.
Last Chance Hit Point: The "Unbeatable" gems give their wearer a up to a 50% chance to turn any lethal attacks into this, with the catch that it can work even if the wearer is already at 1 HP, and the Monado visions will inform in case that happens. All Guest Star Party Members wear a special version that gives them 100% protection, effectively making them invincible.
Layered Metropolis: Alcamoth and the Frontier Village. The former is an advanced muti-level city that floats above the Eryth Sea, which is located atop the Bionis' head. However, the Frontier Village is a whopping 9 level monstrosity, connected by stairs and rope bridges, that's so big that you can literally fall to your death! The same is true, if you fall from the upper ring, or either of the observation decks, of Alcamoth.
Lazy Backup: You can only switch the party members outside the battles.
Leitmotif: Some of them. Even a variation of the Main Theme is used as Shulk and Fiora's love theme once.
Lethal Joke Character: Riki may seem like a joke when it comes to cutscenes; but in gameplay he has the highest HP, a steal ability, healing, and several enemy debuffs. He is by no means a waste of character.
Long Song, Short Scene: The themenote (or at least, the first one) for Bionis' Interior also fits somewhat. The area it plays in is rather small and has no enemies, so it's entirely possible for the player to rush through it on the way to Makna Forest without hearing the whole thing. There's a Dark Reprise of that theme which plays when the party revisits the area after finishing the Mechonis Core.
Straight after Fiora's death but before finding out she's Back from the Dead, but turned into a Mechon and she doesn't recognize her friends and brother.
A minor version can happen in gameplay when the party is getting wiped out. The team starts to lose their morale, and the battle music changes to a quite somber tune until the team manages to get back on their feet.
Melia starts to get pretty close to Shulk... until Fiora comes back.
If we take the Ship Tease seriously, Sharla, Reyn and Gadolt would also count.
There are also some love triangles scattered throughout the side quests for good measure.
Lucky Seven: You unlock an achievement for performing a single attack for 777 damage.
In GameFAQs and other websites, you will occasionally see "7th" as a character (such as 7th's armor). This is because the seventh character is Fiora, and she's been very lucky over the course of the game.
Mad Scientist: The High Entia Naroth. Not only is he called one on the affinity chart but he also expresses a desire to experiment on Riki if he is in the party before you accept one of his quests. Especially after he finds out that Riki has a wife and kids.
Manual Leader, AI Party: You can only control the leader unless it's a chain attack or after warning a party member, after one of Shulks visions.
Mercy Kill: A rather common objective of the endgame quests given to you by the High Entia refugees. Their pure blooded friends and family who devolved into Telethia act on fragments of their memories as instinct, mindlessly roaming the places they frequented prior to their transformations, and as such, you're asked to put them down.
Mickey Mousing: A minor version occurs in some of the cutscenes, where the moment the background music reaches its climax syncs perfectly with the most intense moment of said scene.
Mythology Gag: Magic is called "Ether" in this game. You have three guesses for what magic was called in Xenogears and Xenosaga. The first two don't count.
New Game+: Saving after you beat the game allows you to keep any equipped gear, up to 30 pieces of other weapons/armor, 60 items, all gems, crystals, collectibles, levels, and party affinity. Quests, maps, and location affinity are reset. You also get to keep the Infinity+1 Sword as well.
There is one notable (non-?)exception: When Shulk has a vision about future events, and later flashes back to that vision as the moment approaches. In the vision-flashbacks, he wears whatever he had on when he first had that vision, rather that what he is more likely about to actually be wearing (i.e.: his current gear) when it comes to pass.
No Endor Holocaust: When the Bionis begins moving, EVERYONE on it should have died from the earthquakes and floods from the falling Eryth Sea alone; once you return to it, however, everything is fine beyond the High Entia turning into dinosaurs and largely no one cares about their goddamn continent suddenly springing to life and swinging swords. Total annihilation only occurs if "Bionis Slash X" is allowed to succeed.
While there are a bunch of generic non-named ones, another huge group of the non-plot important NPCs are named. Those form part of the global affinity chart, and tend to play huge roles in sidequests and sidequest arcs.
Non-Combat EXP: The game awards the player EXP for simply exploring the world map, by discovering landmarks and hidden areas. It also awards EXP for successfully completing sidequests and completing key points (called "Chapters") in the game's story. Being that it's easily over 80 hours in length (up to 100, or more, including sidequests) it's not hard to see why that is.
Non-Mammal Mammaries: Female Machina have breasts, which can be justified by the fact that their creator used to be human.
Non-Standard Game Over: If you don't prevent Egil from using the Bionis X Slash, he kill the Bionis, ending the fight with him.
No Sell: The Mechon are highly resistant to normal attacks and need to be toppled before they can be damaged, except for the Monado, which damages them like normal enemies. Then you fight the first Faced Mechon who can no sell the Monado and needs to be defeated the hard way.
Not Growing Up Sucks: A Machina quest with you fixing a child whose growing algorithms have been malfunctioning for a thousand years. It's left him mentally and physically as a kid when he's in the equivalent of a Machina's twenties.
NPC Scheduling: AND HOW! Every named NPC has a different schedule, and all non-named NPCs have at least a selected time of the day when they're active. And to top it off the game has tons of NPCs, and many of them either give a quest, or are involved in one somehow. Needless to say, this makes keeping track of where that one NPC is going to be when rather hard. Thankfully, one can turn the in-game clock to whatever time they want whenever they want, so if you're in a hurry to meet an NPC with an odd schedule, it's easy.
Number of the Beast: You even get an achievement if you perform a single attack doing this amount of damage.
Mumkhar. The guy is a complete Gonk with a Guttural Growl who runs away from battle to save his own skin within the first two minutes of play time. Dunban may be Genre Blind, but the player needs only to look at his Japanese voice actor to get a clue that he's a bad egg. The only surprise is in how bad he turns out to be.
Even if you couldn't tell that Lorithia was bad news from her red and black, stripper/dominatrix outfit, she has maybe 30 seconds of screen time before she starts telling the player about her plans to have Melia killed. Like Mumkhar, she's later revealed to be even worse than she seems.
One-Handed Zweihänder: Shulk and Dunban wield the Monado with one hand pretty often. Dunban knocks it up a notch with his late choice of weapons, some of which include axes, polearms and zanmato, which he wields with his left hand.
One Hit Kill... Or Something: Sharla has the Headshot art, which has the chance of doing this on dazed enemies (a chance that increases to 100% if she pulls it off during a chain attack).
Our Elves Are Better: Ultimately subverted. High Entai live longer than Homs, can use ether freely but it turns out they're just the temporary form Zanza gave Telethia on a whim, and whenever he or his Disciples choose, they turn into Telethia unless they're half-Homs.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: Thanks to Challenge Monsters, it's particularly encouraging to come back at any point in the game and train against what were once Demonic Spiders. (Just don't expect them to be easy even if you're on the same level)
Perplexing Plurals: Almost every major race in the game uses the same word for its name's singular or plural form: the singular for Homs is still Homs, while the plurals for the other races are still Nopon, Mechon, High Entia, and Machina.
Averted with Giants, for whom the singular is "Giant."
Plotline Death: When Metal Face kills Fiora, the rest of the characters are completely paralyzed, so no one can go to "revive" her. And when Shulk regains his mobility, Fiora's body has been taken by the Mechon. And of course, there's the whole thing about Fiora coming Back from the Dead.
Plot Triggering Death: The protagonists start their journey to destroy the Mechon to avenge Fiora's death. As time pases, stuff becomes more complicated than that.
Point of No Return: Minor ones where certain areas become inaccessible, usually after boss battles, which you aren't warned of. The game does warn you before the ultimate one though.
Power Walk: Shulk and Fiora get one hell of a Power Walk during the battle against Disciple Dickson.
Poor Communication Kills: Defied during a cutscene in the Ether Mine. Once it's clear that Shulk can see the future using the Monado, Reyn convinces him to let the rest of the party know whenever he sees a vision, so that if Shulk can't change that future in time, someone else can. Case in point, when Shulk fails to stop Otharon's fall into the ether river while fighting Xord, Reyn steps in to finish the job with a Diving Save.
Prehensile Tail: Buniv tails work just like a fellow Nintendo monster, the Pokemon Aipom.
Gadolt remembers his past as Homs thanks in part to talking to Sharla.
Kallian is able to mentally speak with his sister after they defeat Lorithea. Something that was believed to be impossible as a Telethias transformation erases almost everything of the individual. Other High Entia turned Telethia also keep something of their self that keeps them from harming or protecting certain individuals they knew/loved from other Telethia.
The High Entia race as a whole. They have a lifespan quite longer than Homs. For example you meet a father who is playing hide and seek with his two children. The father looks like a middle-aged man but is really 208 years old while his two kids who look like they are somewhere around ten are actually 36 and 56.
Taken even further with the Machina, who're all at least 1000 years old, and ultimately taken Up to Eleven with the Nopon Sage and Machina Neonik, whose ages are listed as 9999 and 9892. Some of the characters are implied to be even older than that, although you don't get them on your Affinity Chart.
Regenerating Mana: Special attack uses restore over time, with more powerful ones restoring more slowly.
Regional Bonus: The cap on the play time was increased to the triple digits in the European release.
Relationship Values: The Affinity System, which allows you to become closer to various NPCs in order to open up new story options and sidequests.
There is also one for party members. The closer party members are, the more skills they can share with each other, the more turns they have when crafting gems and higher the chance for extra Combination Attack turns, up to 15 compared to the default 3.
Scenery Porn: The game thrives on this, offering utterly massive fields of exploration, rewarding you for finding new scenic vistas to explore. The incredible OST only serves to enhance the experience.
Climb up to the Distant Fingertip secret area of the Fallen Arm. We'll wait while you collect your jaw from the floor.
Schizo Tech: The world is shown to have technology that is equivalent to or exceeding our own, such as buggies, airplanes, Humongous Mecha, and gigantic mine-strippers. But there are no highways for people to drive on, meaning they walk everywhere, and swords and melee weapons are still used prominently.
Screw Destiny: Not only one of the main themes of the story, but one of the main gameplay mechanics as well. In battle, Shulk will get visions of lethal enemy attacks ahead of time, giving him a few precious seconds to kill the enemy, stop the attack, or defend against it, shattering that future.
The scene when the High Entia are turned into Telethia for merging again with Zanza is almost identical to the scene in Xenogears when almost the whole human kind is turned into Wels and go back to Deus.
A similar scene occurs at the end of Xenosaga III, only this time with humanity reverting to Gnosis.
If you do the Getting to Know Dorothy quest with Melia in your party, you'll hear the line "Excuse me, Princess!"
In addition, when she is inside of the face unit, Fiora's head resembles the visor that KOS-MOS from Xenosaga sometimes wears.
Fetch Quest: Many are like this. Although, since you don't need to take the items back to the person who gave you the mission (most of the time, at least), they're pretty bearable. See Twenty Bear Asses below.
Sleeper Hit: The game didn't receive a lot of advertising or recognition by Nintendo upon release in Europe, but positive reviews and word-of-mouth (courtesy of Operation Rainfall's efforts) made the game sell rather well, to the point where they had shortages of available copies because of the surprisingly good sales. Operation Rainfall hopes to do this again in America, despite a limited release.
Not only because of Operation Rainfall. Xenogears and Xenosaga are JRPG cult classics, so the fact that Tetsuya Takahashi and Monolithsoft were going back to the genre was more than enough to have a very vocal fan base right from the start.
It seems like they did it again, with pre-orders overtaking both Europe and Japan's total sales and sitting at number 5 on the pre-order charts. Not bad for a semi-obscure RPG with a limited release.
Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: The game follows a mostly linear narrative, but the game practically gives you free reign on what to do and where to go. The general largeness of the environments and the huge amount of sidequests certainly help.
Small Girl, Big Gun: Sharla may not be a small girl, per se, but her guns are pretty damn huge.
The Smart Guy: Surprisingly, all main characters have traits of this to different degrees (Even Reyn and Riki have their moments). However, Dunban would be the closest one to play the role straight, followed by Shulk. And he only falls behind due to his lack of experience.
Soft Water: Not only is the gradual falling damage from falling too high which can and will kill you negated by landing in deep water, you also get an ingame achievement for doing so for the first time.
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear: Played straight and averted at the same time. When Fiora gets killed, she keeps whatever she had equipped for New Game+ while any gems equipped are automatically removed from her equipment. Since her early equipment is quickly outclassed and her weapons can't be equipped by anybody else, it's not a big issue.
Melia is a partial example, in that she does permanently join you at some point (and thus you can eventually recover anything you gave her), but there are a few stretches during Makna Forest and Alcamoth where her equipment is not available from the party screen, which can make it annoying if you decide to follow a sidequest or two without her.
Although in the end, the game still has its share of long cutscenes, the longest having a combined total of ten minutes. The ratio is balanced by increasing dramatically the amount of exploration and Western-RPG-like sidequests. And it works!
Subtitles Are Superfluous: Battle dialogues don't have subtitles, so people who don't speak either Japanese (most people) or English (a lot of people outside the US and the UK) will be left out during those. Whether that's a shame or a relief is up to the player.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted. Even the most vicious predators will stop attacking you once your strength surpasses theirs by five or six levels. Unique monsters however will attack you no matter how powerful you are.
Sword Over Head: Shulk does this to Egil after his boss battle, hesitating to kill him even as Zanza is screaming in his head and telling him to do it. In the end, Shulk refuses to take Egil's life and sits down to have a chat with him. Dickson takes this chance to shoot Shulk In the Back.
Symbiotic Possession: Between Fiora and Meyneth, getting to the point that both are essential for the other's survival.
Take Up My Sword: Non lethal example. Shulk gets the Monado when Dunban can't wield it any longer. Later, Shulk even tries to give it back to Dunban, but he refuses, saying that Shulk wields it better than he ever could.
Take Your Time: Specially jarring in moments like when the characters are getting inside the Mechonis while the Bionis alliance try to fend off the Mechon army in Sword Valley. Even in those moments it's perfectly fine to go back to Colony 9 and keep doing side quests.
When you have to leave Mechonis after the Mechonis Core, you're still not blocked from going to the rest of the Central Factory and Agniratha. The normal music even still plays in the latter area.
A Taste of Power: For the tutorial, you start the game with some characters whose levels are in their twenties before the main game gives you your obligatory level one characters.
And again in the early game when Dunban rejoins you with the Monado during the attack on Colony 9 and is likely to be a much higher level than Reyn and Shulk. However, this is only for a few minutes before Shulk picks up the Monado and starts wielding it himself.
Time-Limit Boss: Once Egil's Mechon HP is reduced enough, he starts charging up for Bionis Slash X, which does infinite damage to its unfortunate recipient, and needs to be prevented by destroying all targets around him in 2 minutes.
The Medic: Sharla as she is the only character who specializes in healing arts. Otharon even calls her medic occasionally.
Tsundere: Fiora could be considered a Type B, while Sharla has traits of a Type A.
Tykebomb: The entire race of High Entia, which at Zanza's whim can regress into the mindless Telethia.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: The appearance of the sliding segments caused many a player to stop and question what they were doing.
Unexplained Recovery: The Colonel of the Colony 9 Defense Force, nicknamed "Squarestache," is apparently crushed to death by a Mechon flinging a vehicle during the attack on Colony 9 at the start of the game. He's not seen or mentioned again, leaving the player to assume he had, in fact, been killed...then shows up during the Alliance's assault on Sword Valley, perfectly healthy and back to being comic relief.
There's an NPC in Colony 9 who will tell you after the invasion that the Colonel survived and is in the infirmary. Reyn and Shulk just assumed he was killed because they were in a hurry and didn't have time to check.
Unrobotic Reveal: Hinted at by Xord during his last battle with the party, and played straight when Face Nemesis blocks Shulk's killing blow meant for Metal Face. The Face Mechon are, in fact, mechs piloted by Homs — specifically, Homs given mechanical bodies by Egil.
Useless Useful Spell: Totally inverted! Status effects are immensley useful when used by you, in fact they're part of what makes Riki the Lethal Joke Character he really is. Not only do they work on just about everything, even bosses, but there are at least four separate damage-over-time effects (Bleed, Poison, Blaze and Chill), and they all stack with eachother. Riki is caplable to taking major advantage of this, stacking all four on enemies quickly and re-applying them when they wear of ad-infinum, to the point where he's considered one of the best boss killers in the game. The other main status effects, Break/Topple/Daze, render enemies not immune (and only flying monsters generally are) completley immobile and vulnerable to damage, and at higher levels the party can spam these to make sure they never have a chance to get up! On the other hand, the same status effects are only mild annoyances when used by enemies: damage-over-time effects are easily out-healed, and active party members can snap eachother out of Sleep, Topple of Daze. Moreover Sharla's status-curing ability actually has the additional effect of making the target immune to further debuffing for a short while, (and she can hit your whole party with it later) making them all the more useless!
Vicious Cycle: Every time the Bionis races grow advanced enough to travel into space and leave him to die, Zanza enacts the apocalypse to reset everything. The entire game follows everyone's attempts to stop him from doing this again.
Villainous Breakdown: Zanza starts losing it after Shulk and co. kick his ass twice and he still cannot see their future, while they can.
Displayed nicely in the final battle, the first time you manage to have a vision in his presence.
Zanza: No! How can you still have visions?!
Visible Silence: Sometimes. And it's funny, since the "silence" is actually a sigh or a hum.
Virtual Paper Doll: Any changes to armor and weapons are visible even in cutscenes, and the game even remembers what you were wearing at the time during flashbacks.
Walking Shirtless Scene: You can make every single playable male character do this. Dunban even gets a huge statboost when he's naked.
Walking Spoiler: Half the cast, to different degrees. But two characters deserve special mention.
The first one is Zanza. His trope list in the character page is huge, and 95% of it is covered.
The second one is Fiora, who takes the cake, the shop and the whole freaking baking industry! It's almost impossible to talk about the game's plot beyond the first two hours without mentioning the (FIRST!) Wham Episode involving them.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Subverted. Shulk is horrified once he discovers that Faced Mechon have Homs inside them, and when he discovers later that there is actual life on Mechonis in the form of the Machina. This makes him forget about his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mechonis, as he would be taking sentient life. Later the Telethia are played for all the horror they deserve.
Played straight with some of the species of monster. They use tools, have goals and, the side quest with the Nopon kidnapped by the Igna in Satorl Marsh clearly implies, can speak (she was taken because they wanted information from her). Kill as many as you want, no one ever questions the morality.
Not even the Monado itself, which is said to be unable to hurt sentient Bionis life at first yet cuts through these creatures just fine.
Melia even goes into speculation about who built the ruins in Valak Mountain in a sidequest and thinks the Chilkin birdfoik might have built them.
Let's not forget when all the High Entia are transformed into Telethia.
They even keep something under the sleeve for the ending. We find out that the current universe was created after Zanza DESTROYED the previous universe, and that previous universe was OUR universe. As in the "real" world.
Wham Line: "Can't say I feel so good about deceiving these kids." It's subtle, but it makes you go, "Wait....what?"
There's also this one from Miqol
Miqol: "He [Egil] is my son."
In a flashback where Egil appears to be speaking with Zanza.
Egil: "Yes. I, too, desire this, Arglas."
What the Hell, Hero?: The rest of your party will have something to say when you decide to attack a red-named (6+ levels higher than you) monster.
Reyn: Are you NUTS?
Sharla: Are you trying to get us killed?
Shulk: Do you really think this is a good idea?
Kallian is given one berating the High Entia for not lifting a finger to help the Homs in the first war against the Mechon. He admits that was a mistake with them to stay out a way they felt wasn't their problem.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: The focus of a sidequest, where an elderly Machina is about to die: you can either go get her some Machina Energy from the wreckages near Colony 9 to allow her to live another 20 years or so, or go hunt for some rare revitalizing eggs which instead cause her to outlive everyone in Colony 6 and be left all alone. Strange that the lazy option has better end result even if it makes sense in context.
Wide Open Sandbox: One of the game's main selling points is the positively vast overworld, and the game pretty much gives you free reign to stray from the main quest to do plenty of other sidequests. And considering Monolith Soft has said that its about the same size of the Japanese archipelago, better get exploring.
Thankfully, the game allows for teleportation to important locations around the overworld, meaning you can stray off the path to complete a sidequest or two and teleport back to the main path.
World Shapes: The entire universe is composed by an endless ocean and two titans where its inhabitants live. It is returned to its natural form of spiral-shaped galaxies full of stars and round planets in the ending, although the head and a bit of one shoulder of one of the two titans is still sticking out of Earth's ocean.