Welch Vineyard is one of the most recurring characters in the Star Ocean series, first appearing in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time as a non-player character, then making appearances in Star Ocean: First Departure and Star Ocean: Second Evolution as a playable character, and finally reappearing in Star Ocean: The Last Hope as a non-playable character.
Of unknown nature, Welch always appears as an eccentric youth, 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 controlled by 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". Her entire reason for joining the party in First Departure is to get closer to him, and during a private action in Second Evolution she can be found in Fun City shopping for doujinshi that he stars in. Given her anomalous presence in the games compared to other 4Ders, should this be the case she is likely operating in a capacity that other 4Ders are forbidden to. (i.e. "hacking")
Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Welch appears as the head of Item Creation, working as a support member for the Calnus crew at the SRF 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 and Reimi are a couple and showing interest when Lymle and Faize accidentally share a kiss in one P.A. 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 USTA abandoned 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
- "A young girl with a peculiar sense of style who always carries around a big pointer. A self-designated creator, she claims that she builds various useful items, but the details are unknown. She semi-forcefully decides to join Claude and the others on their venture."
- —STAR OCEAN:Second Evolution Official Website.
Welch can be recruited in a PA in Lacuer Castle, immediately after the Lacuer Armory Contest. You must have a total of 4 members in your party. She does not have a significant role in the story, mainly speaking in private actions and random events.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
Welch is found working in the Craftsman 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.
- "Nibelung-something or other!"
- —Welch, upon performing Nibelungaling
Welch's weapons are "handy sticks", which are exactly as the name implies. It should also be noted that none of her handy sticks have elemental affinities or special powers. Unlike other melee female characters, Welch can actually wear heavy armor that many of the male characters do, making her quite resilient. None of her Special Arts are really notable, however her true power lies in her normal attacks, being very fast, making her excel against single targets.
Star Ocean: First Departure
Star Ocean: Second Evolution
The Symbol of the Gods item, which teaches Welch the Nibelungaling move, can be acquired by having Welch use Crafting on the Smooth Crystal. In First Departure, the Smooth Crystal is obtained at the lowermost level of the Cave of the Seven Stars; in Second Evolution, the item is obtained in Eluria Tower (via VR Expel only).
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.
- At the end of Star Ocean: First Departure, Welch has what appears to be the Eye of Truth, an OPA 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 used the Eye of Truth to move around in the Galaxy. She could possibly be a 4D being, since only 4D beings can use this OPAs. This would also explain how she can appear in every entry in the series despite the entries being hundreds of years apart.
- Welch's favorite food is Chocolate Banana.
- Welch's ultimate skill, Nibelungaling!, is a reference to the recurring Purify Weird Soul/Soul Crush, Nibelung Valesti, belonging to Lenneth and the other Valkyrie characters 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 you have. Every other character has to do with the scenario or PA's. Welch requires 4 party members to have her recruited.
- It is interesting to note that her full name reminds one of the company Welch's, who are known for their grape juices, among other items. This amusing connection is reinforced by the fact that grapes come from vineyards.
- To a certain degree, her look in Star Ocean: The Last Hope is similar to the character Kei from the H-manga Take On Me.
- Welch could be traveling between worlds looking for her "perfect man". She said this during the ending scene of Star Ocean: Second Evolution if she is present in your party.