Friday, February 1, 2019

Wild Arms 3, Finale - Radio Berlin

This is a cool game and a worthy PS2 RPG for the time, but it'd be so much better without all of the padding and tedious segments that it throws your way. Repeating bosses, lots and lots and LOTS of dungeons that are all kinda indistinguishable from one another... for a little while playing this I was considering going onward to Wild Arms 4 afterwards, but I think I'll call it a day with this series after this game. Loved the first two games.

The next dungeon is actually interesting, and features a rare sight in Wild Arms 3: Primary colors!

I've been waiting for this game to ratchet up the creep factor. The earlier games in the series had a lot of weird stuff like this, especially towards the ends.

This dungeon has some good puzzles that force you to think three-dimensionally and use different tools in tandem. Here, I have to use Jet's jump boots to push the floor down, then use Virginia's Changecrest to switch places with that crystal on the left.

Gespenst has a rad name and look, but he's the easiest boss in the game. He's undead, and falls to one shot of the undead-banish spell. What's with those wheels? He looks like Johnny from Chrono Trigger on meth.

At the end of the dungeon...

::screeching heavy metal plays as Beatrice appears:: "GIVE ME GIVE ME BLOOOODY!!!"

"YOU CAN GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES IF YOU'RE NAUGHTY!" she screams as our heroes look on with their best "WTF" faces. You better get used to that music, because Beatrice is EVERYWHERE.

Beatrice retreats, leaving us to face Asgard. This last fight with him is one of the toughest in the game because he can insta-kill everybody at random. Yeah, just like that. You can equip the Fallen Ward skill on a character to block it from hitting them, then unleash Finest Arts to one-shot him. Time for his last Perfect Cell monologue:

That's pretty cool, dude, but it would have been cooler if it were a haiku. See ya around.

That's it for Asgard.

Heavy metal screamo plays as our heroes get attacked by tentacles in a nearby town! In the new world of Beatrice, THERE IS NO SANCTUARY.

Actually, this is Kraken, one of the hidden uberbosses of the game. He's the second and final one I'll be fighting. Much like the other one I defeated, he can be gimped by equipping characters with wards against his elemental attacks. In this case, water. Since he counterattacks everything with a tidal wave, this requires some finesse.

Specifically, have a character use the Copy Ability spell to steal his moves, Eugene-style. Turns out Kraken is super-weak to water. What? Yeah. He takes, no joke, like 5x damage from it. Between that and water wards, this is an easily-winnable fight. Why bother with it, you ask?

Because it gives up one of the best Personal Skills in the game, ATT Plus. This randomly makes that character's attacks do like 4x damage. I equip it on Clive, making him even more OP.

I don't know, but considering that Val Venis' theme played the entire time, I have my guesses.

At this point in the game Clive actually leaves the party. Since I was ready for the game to conclude at this point, this was just a momentum-staller. He'll be like 10 minutes. We can't miss you if you don't actually leave, bro.

In the next dungeon, our heroes get trapped inside of a giant testicle while Beatrice's theme blares.

What follows is one of the weirdest bosses in the game. This thing asks you how you want to die at the beginning of every turn, then uses a big elemental attack that corresponds to your answer. So you could just give everyone Fire Ward and respond "in a fire" every turn and have no chance of losing. The boss fights in this game remind me of Donkey Kong Country 3, where every single level had some sort of gimmick that didn't appear anywhere else. I prefer game design that sticks to a few ideas and lets you get better at them rather than presenting a new idea in every area that you figure out and then never see again.


::scream-o continues low-volume in the background as we cut back to Clive, who has decided he needs to go rejoin the party and help them::

Clive: "I've got to go help my friends. It's the right thing to do! For our future, and the future of our child, and the futures of children all around the world! I must go right now!"

Catherine: "Oh! That sounds good, I'm so proud of you! Oh, this? I just bought this Catholic schoolgirl miniskirt and some handcuffs to surprise you with when I got back, since it's been so long. It's okay though, I'll just return it. Go save the world!"

Clive: "...….."

Clive arrives at the dungeon. This is kinda interesting, because the two "teams" are basically going through the dungeon from different sides, using their respective tools. Here, Clive uses Bombs to go through a door the others couldn't reach.

The reunion! Yep, Clive was gone for such a short time that I wonder what the point even was. Let's beat the game now.

"please give me BLOODYYYY!!!" 

Our heroes visit Virginia's mom's grave, and we find out about Mimir's Well. It's where the real world connects to Hyades, the internet-world. Or something.

Mimir's Well is an extremely short dungeon that ends with more weirdness. What does any of this mean anymore? The story of this game has flown completely off the rails. 

Beatrice has extended an invitation for our heroes to come to her "grand ball" in the "Nightmare Castle". Couldn't this game have just ended with Siegfried?

::in the distance, punk metal can be heard:: 'give me give me bloody

What follows is a scene where Virginia's Dad makes her shoot him, because nobody can be happy.

"I can't mourn forever!" says our hero, and we're off to the races. I wish I could explain all of this a bit better, but...

Since Beatrice is a Dream Demon who can manipulate people's memories, everyone stands around for a bit asserting that they control their own memories. It's like when some celebrity/politician/president makes an offhand dumb Twitter comment and America spends the entire week reacting to it.

That's right, Beatrice! OUR DREAMS ARE OURS!

Here we are...the final dungeon. In here, screaming punk music plays in every room.

She sends out the Disasters, a bunch of elemental-themed bosses that are like something out of late-game Chrono Cross. There are seven of these guys altogether. One guards Beatrice, and you can run straight to him from the beginning of the castle. However, he's basically uberboss-status because he gains power depending on how many of the other Disasters are still standing. He's physical-element, while the others are water/fire/earth/wind/light/dark. They're all at the end of various wings of the dungeon, each of which is basically its own dungeon. The idea here is to play through these wings, defeat the various elementals to lower the strength of the 7th, central boss, then defeat him to reach Beatrice.

Kinda reminds me of the last dungeon of Final Fantasy VIII. It also had a mechanic where you needed to defeat bosses in order to make the finale easier (by restoring the power of your characters, rather than disempowering a boss). Interesting.

Here's what the Disasters look like in battle. an effort to wrap things up, I went STRAIGHT TO THE BOSS. That's right, no going to the six wings for me! I'll be darned if I do six more dungeons and six more boss fights at this point! Gimme the uberboss!

The 7th Disaster is a pretty standard fight until you take him down, then he goes into powered-up mode and gains the powers of all the other Disasters that are still standing.

This is kinda like when Zarbon changed forms and proceeded to kick the shit out of Vegeta. Gird your loins, everybody.

...or don't, because I won. Tiamat is a super-fitting name for this fight, since Tiamat in AD&D was famous for having control over all of the elements at once. And also for being a multi-headed dragon. She's shown up in everything from Final Fantasy to Everquest at this point. But I digress. This fight...was extremely difficult, but I was able to blunt a lot of the damage by having all those elemental wards equipped that I've been collecting all game.

Tiamat has seven (7) attacks per round, one for each Disaster, and one for each element. Since each party member was resistant to 4 or 5 elements, this massive onslaught wasn't as bad as it could have been. The most damaging attack was the 7th Disaster's neutral-physical AOE, which I would have had to deal with anyway even if I'd taken out all the others. Finest Arts made short work of him once I got it set up, and in the interim the main challenge was not falling asleep during his seven turns.

The game tries to trick me into saving after opening the door to the final boss. Not sure if it'd start me back at walking into the room or at an earlier point, but I didn't go for it. You can manually save anywhere in this game as is, and I've been through Velius in Final Fantasy Tactics.

::"GIVE ME GIVE ME BLOOODY" plays faintly in the background::

No, I wasn't held up by the Disasters, because I skipped them. You Twat. 

Beatrice's battle form is exactly what you'd expect. For some reason she's surrounded by a giant scissor-hacksaw, which is probably how she got covered in blood in that music video.


So ah...after a super-easy fight (she only has 8,000 HP, less than a fifth of the last several bosses), our heroes get warped out to the overworld. Only now...there's no music. Everything's just...quiet. This feels like I'm about to get a Bad Ending to a game...

You can go around talking to people, and everyone's different. Is this the memory-less new world of Beatrice?

Even the save robot doesn't know what he's doing anymore. Though there's one important thing to note here: His name is Berlin.

Funny thing is, I was going to call this post Radio Berlin from the very start of the game, and hoped it'd give me some reason for the name to make sense. Sometimes I wonder about things.

One person who is unaffected by all of this, besides our heroes: Maya.

Please be talking about Virginia's eyes.

...oh. Please don't. You're not really qualified for office, and...yanno, nevermind, let's go back to the Nightmare Castle and see if Beatrice is still there.

::shrill screamo kicks in::

Wait, what? Whatever let's just do it

Beatrice warps us to the birthplace of Nega Filgaia, the new world that'll spread across the old Filgaia and obliterate everything in the name of making the place hospitable for her. What follows is the exact same fight with her that we just had, as is Wild Arms 3 tradition.

But wait! Defeating Beatrice was just phase one, as she already set into motion the seed of Nega Filgaia. ...which is apparently also a creature in addition to a world. Maybe this seed is like the Nega Filgaia Avatar.

What follows is actually a really cool final boss. It starts in larval stage and morphs over the course of the battle, with ten (10!) forms altogether. It seems to have been designed with Finest Arts in mind, as some of these forms can't be brute-forced with it.

The second stage goes from being a floating jelly-creature to being a shelled mollusk-larva. And I thought Asgard was Cell-like. I recorded a video of the entire fight, link below, but here are a few more notes on it:

Several of the forms actually split into multiple foes, and these fights are like puzzles in and of themselves. In this fight, one of them will always heal the other.

This form is a bit more impressive. Now it's starting to look more like a final boss.

Another form, they get a lot of credit for imagination on these fights. There's one form that shields itself until the very end of turns, and the only way to damage it is to give one character the buff that lets them have a bonus turn at the end of a combat round.

Later it becomes more reminiscent of the final boss of Chrono Trigger, with multiple moving parts that revive/restore the others.

This form had me stumped longer than any other form. It's a matter of figuring out the right order to defeat the enemies to prevent their revival.

While Beatrice (?) drones on, all I can think of is how much this ground looks like melty cheese pizza.

Hold that thought, because here's the final form of the final boss. This form starts out weak and gets stronger as the battle progresses, with four tentacles appearing (one each turn) that all have their own devastating attacks every round. This is one time where you want Finest Arts ready to go as soon as the boss shows up, and it quickly ends what could easily be a protracted fight.

Beatrice(?) gives the Zeromus speech before her and Nega Filgaia go away.

We get a cool scene with Virginia and her dad in limbo.

This results in Virginia being able to restore Filgaia to its original state.

There were rough times alright, but I like these characters. Well, I like Virginia.

The Ethos attacks our heroes during the final scenes. I KNEW they'd turn out to be the real villains! ...except it's some kind of mixup and resolved quickly this is weird why is the game still going

Nice credits scenes, and...

...that's it for this one. I kinda regret that I skimmed over most of the lategame stuff and didn't explain what was going on in more of it. Fact is, a lot of it I don't even understand enough to satisfactorily explain, and this was one game I desperately wanted to wrap up towards the end...including the post series. It is what it is.

Final time, which is 5 hours lower than the average on HAW! From here you can use your EX File Keys to do a few things, like start a New Game Plus. As much as I'd like to roflstomp all of the foes in the game, going through all of those dungeons ever again is just a no-go for me. Chrono Cross really had the right idea when it gave you fast-forward buttons during New Game Plus.

Here's the complete final boss fight. I really like the music that starts at 2:03. All things considered, this was a great boss series reminiscent of Lavos in quite a few ways. I'll leave it on that note, because it's time to move on to the next game!

1 comment:

  1. "Zemus out of nowhere" in the form of a child is a new one on me.

    Oh NOW Clive wants to be a dad.

    Hell, I'd vote for her.

    Congrats on finishing!