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Welch Vineyard (ウェルチ・ビンヤード, Weruchi Binyādo?) is a mysterious recurring character in the Star Ocean series, first appearing in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time and every installment of the series since then. A cheerful inventor, she is connected to the Item Creation system, but also appears as a playable character in several games.

Dictionary/Profile Entry

Spoilers, plot and/or ending details follow. (skip)
Till the End of Time
Welch Vineyard
A young woman who runs the Craftsman's Guild in Peterny. This working woman is smart, good-looking, has a good personality, and even the Guild Master who leads the Craftsman's Guild is no match for her.
The Last Hope
Welch Vineyard
A beautiful, if tomboyish, young operator who provides external support for the Calnus from the USTA's Earth headquarters. She appears in holographic form on the Calnus, but since nobody has ever met her in person before, the question of whether the image is authentic or a fabrication remains up in the air. What can be said for sure is that, for better or for worse, her presence on the ship is indispensable.
Integrity and Faithlessness
Welch Vineyard
This young inventor is simply overflowing with enthusiasm for item creation... but has not a drop to spare for doing the legwork of gathering necessary materials.
Given the chance, Welch will immediately launch into a self-encomium praising her unparalleled intelligence, breathtaking beauty, boundless largess, and immaculate work ethic. While she may or may not actually possess those traits, they are basically the only clues anyone has to her identity, for the details of her life remain veiled behind a curtain of ambiguity.
Anamnesis
Welch
Birthplace: Myiddok, Faykreed IV
Birthday: April 1st, 519 S.D.
A self-proclaimed inventor who, day in and day out, conducts research at her laboratory in the port of Myiddok.
She can be troublesome to deal with, as she has a tendency to view all her customers as aides, even referring to Fidel as "Assistant #1."
While Welch is a very talented individual, this often goes unnoticed due to her rather eccentric personality.
There are a few individuals throughout the universe who, despite their uncanny resemblance to her, are completely unrelated.
Weepy Welch
???
Dream Welch
A self-proclaimed inventor who, day in and day out, conducts research at her laboratory in the port of Myiddok.
In addition to being beautiful and clever, this Welch is also mature and attractive. Many have been bewitched by her ideas and achievements so she has gained a large following in the Kingdom of Resulia.
The question, however, remains of whether this lady truly exists or is simply a figment of the imagination.

Story

Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Welch appears as the head of Item Creation, working as a support member for the Calnus crew at the Space Reconnaissance Force base back on Earth. She communicates with the crew via a holographic chamber in the Calnus, which she uses to great effect to mess with the others with things such as appearing to fly or utilizing the transparent nature of her projection. She also has a touch of a romantic interest in her, convinced that Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji are a couple and showing interest when Lymle Lemuri Phi and Faize Sheifa Beleth accidentally share a kiss in one Private Action. She is very tomboyish but she does not seem to mind this and that much and loves getting into other's business. She is very kind at heart and wiling to help out the crew of the Calnus even when the Universal Science and Technology Administration abandons them.

Star Ocean: First Departure

Welch is found by the party in a remote hut, working on her inventions. Ronyx notes that most of her inventions are far more advanced than anything they have found on Roak, making him wonder who she is, exactly. Welch doesn't care to give any details, and asks Roddick if she can travel with him. Roddick agrees, and Welch is more than happy to tag along. This is the first game where she starts showing a change in personality that differed from her Till The End of Time counterpart.

In the end, Welch is back in her hut, busy working on her inventions, where she says that her work is now done. She then laments letting Roddick get away from her, and gets angry at the thought of him getting "busy" with Millie. She then wonders how Ronyx and Ilia are doing, thinking about what would happen if they had a child, and commenting on how tough that kid would have it with Ronyx as his dad. She is often creating potions, including one that makes people fall head over heels for the user. She accidentally spills it on Roddick, causing strange side effects, annoying Roddick greatly.

Star Ocean: Second Evolution

Welch can be recruited in a PA in Lacuer Castle, immediately after the Lacuer Armory Contest. She does not have a significant role in the story, mainly speaking in private actions and random events.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness

Welch appears in the town of Myiddok where she works as an aspiring inventor in a tiny workshop. Each time Fidel Camuze visits her, she has an interesting PA introducing a sidequest where he must gather materials or defeat enemies to save her shop and allow her to invent new things. Her quests grant the party all of the various item creation skills available in the game. She refers to Fidel and friends as "Assistant #1" (and up to #6) as she meets them in various PAs.

Star Ocean: Anamnesis

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Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Welch is found working in the Craftsman's Guild in the Trading Town of Peterny. She is found sleeping at her desk, but is thrilled when Fayt asks to sign up to be an inventor. She gives Fayt a run down on how to be an inventor, and then hands him the Compact Communicator, a device far more advanced than anything found on Elicoor II.

Profile

Of unknown nature, Welch always appears as an eccentric young woman, normally blonde and dressed with blue garments (Star Ocean: The Last Hope being the exception, where she exchanges blue and blonde for purple). She is always friendly and helpful to the party, in opposition to the arrogant Puffy, of similar mysterious origin. She often flirts and spends time looking for single men, due to her obsession with love. In First Departure, she flirts with both Roddick and Ronyx to annoy Millie, possibly Pericci, and Ilia the most. In Second Evolution, she does the same to Ernest, Dias, and Claude, annoying Opera and Rena the most.

It is never directly confirmed, but strongly implied, that the entity known as Welch is being controlled by or is a Fourth-Dimensional Being. This is alluded to both by her recurrence and knowledge extending beyond the game settings she is found in, though perhaps the most telling is her status as a Roddick "fangirl". Given her anomalous presence in the games compared to other such beings, she is likely operating in a capacity that other 4D beings are forbidden to.

Welch's favorite food is chocolate banana.

Spoilers end here.

Gameplay

Welch is usually connected to the recurring Item Creation feature. In Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, as a non-player character, she introduces the player to the Craftsman's Guild and explains about Inventors and their role in the creative process. In Star Ocean: The Last Hope she is in charge of fulfilling Item Creation requests from the party from inside the SRF-003 Calnus. Again in Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, she is a non-playable character but this time she offers a series of sidequests.

Welch is a playable character in the remakes, Star Ocean: First Departure and Star Ocean: Second Evolution, as well as Star Ocean: Anamnesis. In this spin-off, she has several variants: "Welch" (her incarnation from Integrity and Faithlessness), "Weepy Welch", "Dream Welch", and her Twin Eclipse variant.

Gallery

First Departure
Second Evolution
Till the End of Time
The Last Hope
Integrity and Faithlessness
Material Trader
Anamnesis

Trivia

  • Regardless of the year, Welch's given birthday is April 1st, the date for the annual celebration known as April Fools' Day, likely alluding to her being a joke character.
  • At the end ofStar Ocean: First Departure, Welch has what appears to be the Eye of Truth, an Out of Place Artifact that was found during the main story, that possesses the ability to open portals to different locations. In Star Ocean: Second Evolution, she appears falling from the sky in Lacuer. It could be a possibility that she uses the Eye of Truth to move around in the galaxy, not to mention that only 4D beings can use these artifacts. Additionally, Welch could be traveling between worlds looking for her "perfect man", as per the ending scene of Second Evolution if she is present in the party.
  • Welch's ultimate skill, Nibelungaling!, is a reference to the recurring Purify Weird Soul/Soul Crush, Nibelung Valesti, belonging to Lenneth and the other valkyries in the Valkyrie Profile series, another game developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix. It is not uncommon for both game series to contain references to one another. 
  • Welch is the only character in Second Evolution to have a special recruitment requirement having to do with how many party members (i.e. four) the player has. Every other character has to do with the plot or Private Actions.
  • It is interesting to note that her name reminds one of the company Welch's, known for their grape juices, among other items. This amusing connection is reinforced due to grapes coming from vineyards.
  • In Second Evolution, Welch alludes to events that happened in both Star Ocean: First Departure and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, meaning that her time spent in Second Evolution happened after she traversed the timeline into S.D. 46 and S.D. 772.
  • Welch's level-up quote in Star Ocean: Anamnesis is a reference to a Simpsons episode where an alien, posing as a presidential candidate, said "We must go forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!".


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