Saturday, November 17, 2018

Wild Arms 3, Part 5 - The Gloaming

Sounds like the bad guys are bundling up their own Mana Fortress...of Doom.

In Memoriam

We begin this episode with a petty shot at the Clintons. Bill Clinton had been out of office for TWO YEARS when this came out! Hasn't the man been hassled enough?

Enough about Bill!

Continuing onto the next dungeon... wait, what the hell is that? There's a green alien thing lurking behind that wall! Seriously, game, EXPLAIN WHAT THAT WAS

After another fairly quick dungeon (they're quick if you avoid random fights), we meet the Huskarls. These guys are real pieces of work. I don't know if they're robots or knights or what, but I gotta say they've got a lot of attitude.

Virginia's constant horrified looks are the best thing about this game. Well, besides Gallows and how damn peculiar he is.

The Huskarls wield lightsabers! Is this a Darth Vader reference? Either way, as is tradition, you have to fight these guys multiple times in the same dungeon. I've never seen a game re-use bosses and stack up boss fights in dungeons the way this one does.

And regroup they do! See ya'll again in about five minutes.

The Sand Canal turned out to be a pretty inventive dungeon. It's full of sand, which is coarse and rough, and incidentally Darth Vader's least favorite thing.

Moments later, the Hulksters are back. And this time they've brought the Secret Fourth Hulkster: The Green Hulkster.

This guy is the strongest of the four, but he's susceptible to Sleep. Matter of fact, after casting it on him, he didn't do much of anything during this fight. The biggest threat came from the red dude, who has an insta-kill attack he spams on single targets. Usually the same person over and over, like that other boss earlier. This time it was poor Gallows.

After another boss fight interruption, the dungeon continues. It's full of moving platform action. I've always liked that the Wild Arms series makes use of slightly platform-y action outside of battles, with various tools that you use to solve puzzles. It isn't as action-y as a Zelda game, but it's definitely a continuation of the lineage of Lufia II.

As the dungeon progresses, the block puzzles get more and more obnoxious. This one has you running across platforms as they rise and fall from the sand (by color).

The Big Bad shows up, and he's...a Jehovah's Witness? Man, if this guy showed up at the door, I'd hide behind something.

The Advocacy proceed to explain their evil plans for the world.

It's the plot of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Well, the Act 3 plot. The first two acts already heavily influenced Xenogears.

"MAVERICKS!" spits Jet like an angry racist.

Wait! HOLD ON! That green alien I saw earlier is hovering behind the bad guys! It's just lurking there and nobody is saying anything or acknowledging it! WTF is it?

DAMN, SICK BURN! Virginia unleashes the harshest insult she can think of as we battle Janus...again.

It isn't much of a fight this time, as he stands there for a couple of turns and then knocks everyone's HP down to 1 with his new move. The bad guys again fail to finish our heroes, though, and he just sorta leaves.

Next stop, the home of the Clintons. Also the Secret Service codename for Bill's peen.


The game's SOLE ITEM MERCHANT, who is NEVER around when you need him, finally makes an appearance again. Thank goodness, I can get the healing items that I've been sorely missing. You can never have enough Heal Berries, especially in a game like this where the one healing spell is super-weak.



…..he doesn't sell Heal Berries? WHAT? He sells everything except Heal Berries, as a matter of fact. I had to look this up, and it's true. You can't buy healing items in this game, only win them from fights (or grow them yourself, if you want to really trivialize the remainder of the game).

Either way, for a large part of this game you have to be super-careful not to waste Heal Berries or use them faster than you get them. Ya know...I kinda like this. It teaches resource management. Using the Mystic power (Virginia's 25 FP ability) regularly is a must, since it gives you four heals at the cost of one berry.

We arrive at the next dungeon, and it appears that the Esper here was already claimed by the villains. Our objectives are starting to come into focus now: Get the Espers before the bad guys do.

They're wrong, though. The Esper is alive and well. This one is the Light elemental, which will give us a pretty strong beam attack and the ability to reflect enemy spells. But first!

MORE BOSSES! This dungeon takes a cue from Zelda by having the bosses all be eyeball enemies. Note how low my HP is in this shot. I don't think I've mentioned this previously, but every time a character gets knocked out in this game they lose some percentage of their max HP. This dungeon - which I completely glossed over - was brutal. Luckily, the bosses aren't very difficult. Staying at an inn will fix everyone's HP, so don't worry.

At this obelisk, we get the light elemental. Just in time too, because...

...the next boss is weak against its own spells, spells we don't have yet. So I use the Reflect spell from my new Esper and watch as the boss completely obliterates itself every turn.

Meanwhile! Back at the evil base! The Hulksters may have turned out to be no match for our heroes, but it turns out that the Advocacy has another trick: An actual terminator. It's a little bit like the Judge from Season 2 of Buffy, with Janus here playing the role of unimpressed Spike.

We'll worry about that later though. As we pass the 10 hour mark, I detour back to the dungeon from Jet's intro. That's right, we're back in the neighborhood. I like when games double back on their own intro levels. Dark Souls makes a whole thing out of it, with a new palette-swapped boss there and everything. So does Secret of Evermore with Thraxx, come to think of it.

Our heroes increase their migrant level for the first time in a while, meaning I can... repel more and stronger fights in every dungeon now.

Cool name for the next dungeon, which is a creepy laboratory.

This game really does turn into a big procession of dungeons as it goes on. Between that and the very brown color-scheme, it's beginning to feel a little bit redundant and drab. I can see why it isn't held in nearly as high regard as the first two games in the series, but I still like it for the most part.

Jet starts freaking out, man. He feels like he's been here before, like he knows the place. Is he going to turn out to be a laboratory experiment or something?

Turns out this laboratory hasn't been inhabited for quite a while. It's like exploring a Vault in a Fallout game. Except 76, the new one. I don't think that game has dungeons or NPCs. As a huge Fallout fan I'll be skipping it. Mainly because the commercial is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. But I digress. Back to the creepy laboratory:

Jet gets his second tool. This detects nearby treasure chests, key items, and poontang. For some reason it keeps going haywire whenever it gets pointed at Gallows.

What a creepy place. As the wheels of time rotate, so too churn the gears in the background. Jet finds himself re-thinking some of the choices that brought him here.

Speaking of being brought somewhere, this laboratory is full of theories on the origin of humans on Filgaia. I think it's going for a Xenogears vibe here, but it has yet to fully flesh-out these ideas.

Yes? Well tough! Cause you can't! Though apparently if you get to migrant level 18 (clever) your character actually does read it.

And now for some key information about this entire series: What ARMS actually stands for.

So...ah...yeah, it sounds like they're stirring in a "their past is our future" kind of deal too, which is also Xenogears-y.

There are also these weird computers that explain how two humans were created on Filgaia after the mothership arrived from Venus or wherever.

Adam Kadmon is the male of the pair, no mention of the female. They went on to make all Filgaia-native people via lots of incest. It's worth noting that, per the Kabbalah, the first world that came into being after God created the universe was called Adam Kadmon. The eagle-eyed may also remember Kadomony from Xenogears, the living brain of Deus which was capable of creating life...on the world it "created" by crash-landing on a planet. I'm onto you, Wild Arms 3. Next thing you know I bet we'll find a room full of empty containment pods.

Yep, there they are. Let's just move on quickly. One thing is for sure: This is the most interesting location in the game so far, not unlike the Tower of Babel in Xenogears. Jet's reluctance to be here and feelings of remembrance of the place basically completely give away that he was created in a lab, though the game is still treating it like a big secret. I guess we'll find out.

This dungeon is where a walkthrough of the game begins to become a must. It's really easy to miss clues here, like the several passwords you have to enter to progress.

And then there's this one room that you can't leave until you figure out what to do with this creepy picture. Turns out you have to go to your inventory and use...

...this other half of a picture that I didn't even realize had been dropped into the inventory. I can imagine someone being trapped in this room for a while if they didn't have access to a guide and didn't think to check the inventory for this (it doesn't give you much of a hint).

Putting it all together, NOW it seems obvious...but it isn't. In any case, these are the scientists who may or may not have created life on Filgaia. Gotta say, this series has always had a creepy edge to it, right back to the first game. That game gave us menacing tunes like this:

So far Wild Arms 3 has had a very excited/peppy soundtrack in comparison, and could use more menace like this. This track would have fit well with this laboratory.

Turns out one of the guys in the picture is Virginia's father, a BRILLIANT SCIENTIST.

We're given a quick recap, because Virginia's dad hasn't been brought up in like ten hours.

But wait! A shocking revelation follows, as our heroes piece together that...

...Jet is, in fact, Virginia's half-brother. Well, it's a good thing they never had sex!



And wait, pump the brakes, he wasn't created in a lab? Are we sure about that?

Since he's the noncommittal douche character, he's unfazed by this revelation. Virginia on the other hand is freaking out for some reason.

She realizes that him being her half-brother means her father has had sex with... that's right... more than one person. My God.

That's right, Virginia is slut-shaming her own father because she found out where babies come from.

I still think Jet will turn out to be a laboratory creation. What if Virginia is too? On the bright side, imagine her relief when she finds out that her father didn't actually mate with anybody.

Thank God, the bad guys are here to stop Virginia from embarrassing herself anymore. I haven't seen that kind of man-shaming since Love Hina. I'm convinced that Virginia either thinks male sexuality doesn't exist or hates it with every fiber of her being, or both. If you looked up the expression "eww, they're kissing" in the dictionary, it'd be right next to a picture of Virginia with the description "The reason why the team can't ever get through a movie"

Oh, right, Melody is about to sic her terminator on us. What's worse, he gets stronger after every fight, like a Saiyan. Well, more like Cell since he's an android... sorry, Artificial Person.

Man, what a weirdo. All I can think of with that name is the Thor series.


Long story short, it's another fairly easy fight, though it incapacitates the heroes afterwards. Yes, you win, but then you lose. I kinda hate when games do that. Either have the fight be unwinnable (or near-unwinnable till New Game +) and beat the heroes down, or let the player win. These fights where I win handily and then it goes to a cutscene where the boss murders everyone are starting to become a bit of a trend in this game and I'm not crazy about it.

But wait! The Schrodinger Gang has arrived, and they promptly save our heroes from the terminator. This doesn't mean we're friends, though, as sassy blonde Maya is sure to point out. I hope I get to play as this group at some point.

The return of the gang also means the return of...

...Shady, who quickly scampers off to mark his territory.

Maya offers Virginia some "friendly" advice. I think it'd be interesting if these two had some sort of gay frenemy thing going on where they despise each other... but also care about each other's well being... and also may or may not secretly want to bang each other. However, the odds of that happening are nil with the way Virginia makes the Mormons look edgy.

Now Virginia wants to leave the team to look for her father. Is she on drugs? Isn't this like, her side-objective during this whole quest, to find her father? I mean, her dad?

A campfire meeting follows, where Gallows lays some pretty thick praise on Virginia's leadership abilities. Our heroes decide to stick together, even if they aren't exactly making much money from this partnership and most of them haven't showered in weeks.

That what? Oh my God. Virginia and Jet boned, didn't they? WAS SHADY INVOLVED TOO?

That'll do it for now, as things have officially gotten pretty weird.

In the next episode: Cats that run bipedally on their front paws like maniacs, Maya slips into something a little more comfortable, Virginia judges her for it, and we meet Citan Clive's family. In the meantime...

 Here's another striking track from the original Wild Arms. When I think of this series, this is the track that immediately springs to mind. The scenes that this played for were so atmospheric. If Wild Arms 3 can, at any point, recapture some of that atmosphere that the first two had, it could yet be an outstanding game. So far, I'm finding it teetering between "dull" and "a somewhat fun way to pass the time". It's moving though. We're probably about a third of the way through it now.

Progress should be a lot faster from here on out because I've figured out the secret to progressing quickly in Wild Arms 3: Step 1) Avoid random fights by using your migrant points and pressing circle just before the fight begins. I didn't do that for a while because I thought A) I need the exp and B) I don't want to run out of migrant points. Well, the dungeons supply you with enough crystals to replenish your points, and you don't need the exp because of Step 2) Use Lucky Coins and Gella Coins to boost your exp and gold from boss fights, which is where the REAL rewards are. Do that in every boss fight and it kills the need to grind levels from regular enemies. There's also a tremendously good level-up method once you get the Sand Ship, and grinding before then is a waste of time in comparison. I'll point it out when I get to it.

More on this game shortly.

1 comment:

  1. "Ultranegative Rainbow" is quite the name.

    Ah, this game has the same max HP penalty that Breath of Fire 3 does. ...that sure was fun in the desert.

    Even Wild ARMs 1 does the same thing where you later return to Jack's intro dungeon.

    I hadn't seen that commercial before, that's pretty bad. Sounds like the whole game is a mess.

    Nice Xenogears reference of your own there.