Previously on Wild Arms 2: ARMS is on a pretty solid murder rampage. Not only have they banished the entirety of Cocytus, but they also killed a ghost! Or a geist. Sorry, I don’t mean to offend any of my spectral friends.
But no time to be ectoplasmically sensitive now, we’ve got a Death Star to raid!
First rule of storming the enemy base is that you can always leave if you want to. This… probably won’t happen, because the enemy encounter rate for this area is low, and the only boss is behind a point of no return, but it’s nice to have options.
And we’re off!
I guess Vinsfeld set up a bunch of black lights? Some villains know how to decorate.
Here’s the signature puzzle of this dungeon: there are many doors, and they’re all color coded. Our choices are red, blue, and green. There aren’t any green doors around here, but red appears to be locked, and blue is open. Let’s go check out that blue door.
And now red and blue are unlocked, but green is barricaded. You can see where this is going.
For now, let’s hit those red doors.
Yep, our next goal is unlocking green (and presumably locking blue).
So the other red door leads to a darkened area. Hey! Vinsfeld! You forgot to beautify here!
This area is a maze, and the place most likely to toss a few enemy encounters your way. These Odessa Man 3s are exclusive to the area, and are the natural evolution of the Odessa Man 1 and Odessa Man 2 breeds.
Remember when we promised Ptolomea that we’d be merciful to his men? We’re the good guys! With knives!
This light switch is about as far from the entrance as it gets. Vinsfeld is a masochist.
But it does make the maze a little easier to navigate.
Ah, a teleporter. I’m sure that’s the only one we’ll find in this dungeon.
And now we can unlock the green door, backtrack through that whole maze, fight a few battles, and…
Ready to go!
Enemy variety! Doppelgangers return from the Alchemic Plant, and they presumably want revenge on Brad for his plot cheating. However, these dittos don’t transform very quickly, so go ahead and smash ‘em before they have a chance to dopple.
Oh dammit! Teleporter room!
Alright, this is one of the least aggravating teleportation puzzles in gaming. There are basically two rooms, and the teleporter relative locations match up perfectly between the two rooms…
But the teleporters are not necessarily on the same planes between rooms. So this is the time that you’re gonna have to go with whichever teleporter is gonna get you the highest.
Once you’re walking around atop walls, you’re pretty much set.
Okay, maybe we’re not completely set.
There. Needed to bump around the maze a little more to find the switch that will let us proceed.
A save point! Now we’re making forward progress. Incidentally, thanks to the constant teleporting of the previous room, there have barely been any random encounters in this dungeon.
A few rooms later, and we’re about to bar our way backwards. That switch panel will enable the green door, but lock the red door. No going back now!
And there’s a good reason for that.
“Trying? Dude, we have julienned your ideals.”
Oh yeah! I guess this is the first ARMS has actually encountered Vinsfeld. We’ve seen the Cocytus members over and over, and Vinsfeld appeared once in a projection, but, other than that, he’s been pretty good about hanging back at HQ.
“Vinsfeld, this is as far as your treachery goes! I, no we, are going to put a stop to your foolish ambitions. I promised ‘Him’ and Ptolomea that I’d stop you before you run wild. I’m going to stop you for the Liberation Army you betrayed as well.”
Brad made a damn list of reasons he has to defeat Vinsfeld. And considering “him” is a clear reference to Billy (or… given the capitalization… God?), Brad has been curating that list for a while.
Aw, Vinny remembers when Brad was but a babe.
Does it have something to do with the fact that we’ve foiled, like, every plan you’ve ever hatched?
Oh, that. Congratulations, Antenora, your whole life’s ambition amounted to one box of dialogue.
Mad Mountains? Yeah, I want to say that is a crazy translation of something that could sound much cooler. “Rage of the Earth” or something, I’d suspect.
Have at thee!
Mad Mountains does cut a pretty cool silhouette.
“Where did they come from? And where are they going?”
“We” is just you at this point, buddy.
“Why does this ‘dril’ fellow have more followers than I do? Why? This world should burn.”
The future bites!
I just realized that you could interpret Vinsfeld’s hairstyle as emo, and that is wonderful.
Anyway, time for a fight.
Fun bit of potential storytelling: Caina’s strongest attack is one of Vinsfeld’s “regular” attacks. He probably taught his lil protégé the move, and that’s adorable.
So anyway, Vinsfeld is mostly manageable, save this one scary move. Incur my Wrath seems to summon angry ghosts to attack, and it’s powerful all on its own. But it also has a chance of instant kill (technically the status effect), so every hit is a gamble as to whether or not it will wipe out the whole party in one shot. Or it could just sting. Who knows?! Luckily, there is a save point literally steps from here, so if the RNG is feeling salty, it’s not too big of a deal.
And Kanon learned another new technique! She’s on fire!
If you can keep up on healing the damage incurred by Incur my Wrath, you should be fine. Vinsfeld is really only a threat if you’re particularly unlucky.
Nobody asked you. Like, literally.
Going to just go full anime villain now?
Monsters like you?
Oh, wait, he wasn’t speaking metaphorically. He meant monster-monsters.
Yeah! Still! Monsters like you!
“I dunno. JRPG rules?”
Oh, what the hell, Vinsfeld? You’re telling us you’re the mini boss?
It’s that last “ha” that gets him really excited.
Welp, ARMS has been in the same place for longer than a half hour. Time for it to explode.
Stupid suicidal mini boss…
And he teleported away! What a dick!
Well, at least we’re succeeding at destroying this Death Star. Only problem is we’re still inside…
“Can’t we just teleport like Vinsfeld?”
“No! For some reason!”
So gameplay/plot synergy, we locked the exit on our way into the room with that stupid door puzzle. Time to go rustle up an escape pod or five.
Luckily, they’re not that far away.
Party splitting time!
But someone has to work the control panel.
Ashley! What did we say about suicide missions?
This sounds stupid, but it worked for Brad.
“How about saying you’re not going to die at all?”
Well, gosh, wouldn’t want to piss off Lilka.
Ashley really is the best man for this job. He successfully tossed himself out of an airship and survived once already, so this should be no big deal.
Yes, it might seem convenient that there are exactly five escape pods, but there are also five Odessa bigwigs, so it makes sense. Well, there were five until about a day ago…
“We’re all counting on you.”
Dungeon Part 2: The party is separated, but there are no random encounters, so hooray for that.
But Brad isn’t going anywhere.
So just as easily as we can switch the party leader during a normal dungeon, we can flip between the different party members and their separate locations.
So, to start, only Lilka can exit her room.
And it becomes readily apparent that Dungeon Part 2 is going to be a complete puzzle dungeon all on its own.
First important thing: switches need to be permanently depressed to lower blocking walls. Sometimes there’s a block to make things easier, sometimes you need a body.
Lilka is able to find a switch to unlock some doors.
So now Brad is free!
And is immediately blocked again!
Let’s try Tim.
Tim’s area will remind you that a person works as well as a block to lower a wall.
Also, for no reason in particular, Tim’s area has some dummy switches and blocks that don’t do anything. Window dressing? Another excuse to screw with the orphan? Who knows.
Tim seems to have a lot of freedom.
But it ends at this point. Pretty obvious we’ll need a couple of friends to lower that gate.
So how’s Kanon doing?
Yay! She can release Brad!
And then Brad can help Kanon make progress.
This dungeon is designed very well: the way the various gates work guarantee that you can’t accidentally “trap” a character, as you “need” to hit the right switches to jointly proceed. Additionally, some of the blocking walls exist to bar you from backtracking, so that way you’re not covering the whole dungeon when you’re “lost” and looking for the next switch. It’s all surprisingly meticulous.
And Kanon has reached one of the Tim switches.
And Brad… is blocked by a blue door. That guy just can’t catch a break.
So, in another Tim area, the Air Ballet may be used to move a block…
Which can work for giving Lilka a little room to breathe.
And now Lilka can reach the second Tim switch.
So Tim can use Pooka to reach a console.
Which finally lets Brad out of his temporary prison (don’t worry, he’s used to it).
Then Brad can make some solo progress.
Play with a few switches…
And hit this area. It’s kind of hard to see, but that block needs to fall down to a lower plane/switch, and Brad has no way to move the block horizontally.
But if we get Tim to Air Ballet from another angle…
Then we’re good!
Now Tim has to deal with a switch that is all the way up there. What’s a boy to do?
How about getting Kanon to help out?
That will lower the switch properly…
And now Tim can flip that switch, and be the first to make it to his escape pod.
Tim is briefly stymied by the tiny barricade that he could clearly just step over, but he’s not giving up!
Thanks, magical floating purple stuffed animal!
Oh yeah, we still have those telepathic rocks.
“Go! Do it for Tony!”
Tim’s final switch impacted everybody, so now Brad can reach his pod, too.
I want to say this is the only time Brad refers to “Vins” in a familiar manner. An old “hero” getting nostalgic, or a localization error? You decide.
No need to die like every other one of his compatriots.
“Stop reading my mind, Ashley!”
Yeah, I guess taking a nap in your escape pod is a fine plan.
Lilka is up next. She really bought that pep talk about everyone being “good when we’re together”.
Curse this miniscule guard rail!
“Lilka, dammit, don’t you lilka this up.”
Lilka is the only party member that maybe has an issue with this whole telepathy thing.
“It’s cool. It takes my mind off Brad’s telepathic snoring.”
Kanon, you’re the best.
Kanon has already had enough character development over the last few updates, so she reveals the plot relevant bit that the Heimdal Gazzo is apparently ascending, not descending.
Ashley isn’t thinking too hard about it, though.
Yeah yeah, hearts connected as one, let’s get moving.
Oh, right, Ashley’s heart has a demon pumping in there, too. Well, Kanon will be glad to take care of that.
Okay, Ashley, time to go.
Gasp! Incidentally, Vinsfeld came directly from the room he teleported away from… so… Maybe he just teleported to the ceiling, and nobody noticed?
“Uh, because I’m alive, and you’re not, Vins?”
Ashley gives him the ol’ “I fight for my friends” speech.
“Wait, let me get this straight. You’ve been fighting terrorism because you have a girlfriend?”
“Well it sounds silly when you say it like that.”
“Had a really good pizza once, but other than that, nothing.”
So, oh man…
One-on-one battle to the death.
Vinsfeld versus Ashley! A battle for the ages! They just met a half hour ago!
So this battle is thematically interesting, but not necessarily mechanically interesting.
Vinny has all the same skills, except they do less damage, and, obviously, you no longer have to worry about healing the whole party simultaneously.
Ultimately, the battle seems tense, because it’s one-on-one with a big bad boss, but there really isn’t much to it. It still winds up more exciting than every single final Cocytus fight, though.
To take a quick moment to discuss this “Dungeon Part 2” area: this whole section of the game is weird… but a good kind of weird. There’s a save point, then a very difficult boss, then a complete puzzle dungeon, and then a solo boss battle. The whole thing becomes surprisingly stressful, because you have a lot to lose in the event of a party wipe… but that’s probably not going to happen. But false tension is good! It makes this “End of Odessa” finale more stirring and memorable, and you (the player) are really anxious for a reprieve as the members of ARMS are more and more anxious themselves. And each section of this area is pretty carefully designed, too, so bonus!
On the other hand, what amounts to a four-way block puzzle dungeon on the way to an escape pod is a really weird bit of pacing. Why the heck is there a block puzzle path on the way to emergency exits? And, if we’re supposed to be in a ship that is rapidly hurdling toward destruction, why wedge a puzzle area in there that could take a healthy amount of time to solve? From a plot perspective, this whole section seems oddly placed.
But it works out, so let’s not worry too much about it.
Also, if you ever wondered what it would be like to play the ending of Final Fantasy 6…
We now resume the death of our villain already in progress.
Oh. Right. That.
Rock out with your sword out.
Hey, Heimdal Gazzo? You’re pointed in the wrong direction. Filgaia is down there.
Or space is good, too. I guess.
Yeah, I’d like an answer to that, too.
Fun fact: “The Grauswein” returns in Wild Arms XF, the Final Fantasy Tactics of the Wild Arms franchise. Also, if I know my German, “swein” means “piggy”. The Gray Piggy?
But in this case, the Grauswein is just going to hang out in space, and, when it gets bored, belch out a nuclear bomb. When will that happen? We don’t know! Please look forward to it!
And, having doomed Filgaia to the worst random number generator in the universe, Vinsfeld dies, leaving Ashley with little time to escape.
… At least make an attempt to step over a corpse and reach a control panel?
Or go super saiyan. Whatever.
Really, localization team? Really?
I like that this justifies the bakery having roof access.
Marivel apparently just hangs out with Marina when ARMS is off on missions. Secondary characters unite!
“Don’t get your hopes up. Ever.”
Your wish is granted!
Yep, this certainly seems familiar.
“Maybe there was a doppelganger that…”
But don’t give up hope yet!
If we zoom out a bit…
Maybe a lot more…
What’s that over there?
No. There was a bubble…
No, not quite…
There we go!
And… time for a break. First save point since before the intial Vinsfeld fight.
ARMS Mission #18:
Notes: Let’s try not to die in space!
I haven’t been tracking the game counter too much because technically this save file involves me re-speeding through the opening chapters (thanks to the incident), but we’re officially at the 12 hour mark. And consider this something of a speed run.
And I note that because it’s time for Disc 2! Was everything involving Odessa only the first half of the game? Guess we’ll find out!
Next time on Wild Arms: Never meet your heroes.