While all the Star Ocean games take place in the same universe and timeline, there’s another factor that ties them together. A single character known as Welch Vineyard. This unique individual, whose race and age is unknown, has now made in an appearance in every Star Ocean game, thanks to the recent PSP remakes.
Welch’s real identity and true intentions may not have been revealed in any of the games so far, but there’s certainly enough to go on to make some valid assumptions. If you haven’t played Star Ocean 1-3, there will be definite spoilers as we look back at Welch’s possible origins.
We first encountered Welch in the PS2 game Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. Here, she was an NPC who happened to be working in Peterny’s Craftsman’s Guild. While she doesn’t join the party, she does appear often if you decide to get into Item Creation. She gives Fayt the Compact Communicator after you meet her, an incredibly advanced communication device that lets Fayt register new inventions with her. The game describes her as being incredibly intelligent, even more so than the Peterny Guild Master, and the Compact Communicator she provides is something that really shouldn’t exist on the planet of Elicoor II.
At the end of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time we learn that the entire world of Star Ocean is essentially a MMO for residents of Fourth-Dimensional Space called the Eternal Sphere. While in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, the only possible evidence for Welch being a 4D being is her incredible intelligence and the fact that she has a Compact Communicator, her presence and actions in Star Ocean: First Departure, Star Ocean: Second Evolution and the forthcoming Star Ocean: The Last Hope, prove that she’s a 4D resident.
In Star Ocean: First Departure, Welch can join your party if you have an open space while gathering the various Emblems. After you have the Silvant Emblem, you can find her in a forest between Ionis and Van City. Your party will happen upon an isolated shack, filled with all sorts of advanced inventions. Welch is there, and she immediately is caught up in the idea of traveling around, meeting a dashing gentleman and getting caught up in dramatic situations. Ronyx and Ilia immediately see Welch for what she is, catching that she isn’t a denizen of Roak based on her astute and quick assessment of the party, the advanced machines around her and her odd manner of dress. It’s also blatantly obvious that she isn’t a Fellpool, Highlander or Featherfolk, one of the three races found on Roak.
Welch returns as a playable character in Star Ocean: Second Evolution. Here, she literally drops out of the sky during a Private Action in Lacour if you enter the town with four party members. She once again is caught up in the idea of going around experiencing love and adventure, and is accepted into the party. In Rena’s storyline, she notices Welch is unusual. She doesn’t identify her as someone out of the ordinary though. When Rena introduces Welch to the rest of the party, Welch seems enamored with Claude, and Claude refers to Welch as potentially being trouble, but doesn’t immediately pick her out as a fellow foreigner in Rena’s route. Welch is also scheduled to appear in Star Ocean: The Last Hope. She’ll be an NPC again, like in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, and once again she’ll be involved with Item Creation.
Since Welch is appearing in all four games, she must be a 4D being who is just jumping into the Eternal Sphere at random times to take part during major events in the “game’s” storyline. Since the Star Ocean world is just a game to 4D beings, they can choose what time period, area and parts they want to play in. So, time isn’t a factor for Welch, especially since time moves differently in the Eternal Sphere. She can play anytime she wants for as long as she wants.
This is seen in Star Ocean: Second Evolution, during a Private Action on Virtual Expel in Arlia. Welch is talking to some kids, telling them the about some Elicoor II events. Since she’s discussing events of the third game in the second, she’s skipping through the game’s timeline as she pleases. However, her involvement in these games may be as more than a player, due to the way she interacts with people in the Eternal Sphere, the level of technology she is able to bring/smuggle in and the way she talks in the games – Star Ocean: Second Evolution in particular.
Also, something Welch says in Star Ocean: Second Evolution hints that perhaps Welch is more than just a player. Welch refers to herself as a creator in this entry. Whether this is to reference her being an inventor and her hand in Item Creation in other games, or a hint that she was somehow involved in the creation of the Eternal Sphere is unknown. Welch’s finishing moves in both Star Ocean: First Departure and Second Evolution could even be seen as a little “hint” about how big a role she plays in the Eternal Sphere.
In both PSP games, her ultimate move is “Nibelungaling,” a play on Valkyrie Profile Lenneth’s finishing move Nibelung Valesti. Lenneth is a goddess. If Welch is able to use a variation of this move, perhaps it’s a way of suggesting that Welch is a “goddess” compared to people of the Eternal Sphere. Admittedly, this is a stretch, but this move could also suggest she’s involved with the creation of the Eternal Sphere. Perhaps, Star Ocean: The Last Hope will offer even more information on who Welch is, why she’s involved in the Eternal Sphere and what her motives are. Is she simply an enthusiastic gamer girl? Or did she help create the game? We’ll have to wait and see, if we want to know for sure. At the very least, her insertion into the PSP remakes has provided players with some hilarious new PAs.