Wild Arms 2 Part 36: Everything Is The Worst

Previously on Wild Arms 2: The last Reypoint was activated, and now I am free from typing that word ever again. If we need to refer to those dungeons again, I’m just going to say “those spots”. We clear on that? Good. Moving on.

So Irving just gave us the word that the whaddyacallit trapped baby universe is hanging out in the Zone of Death, so let’s head over to the most deathly place we know.

Quick teleport over to the salt flats of Slayheim…

And we’re one quick dragon trip away from the Trapezohedron.

For the first time, we receive a phone call before entering the dungeon.

Long story short?

We are warned that we will not be able to leave the dungeon after entering. This is not the final dungeon, but it is kind of nice that the writers provided this feint to make you think it might be the final dungeon.

So we’re given the option of wandering off and doing literally anything else. Frankly, I’ve read ahead, and I can tell you that entering this dungeon is a mistake. Please, go. Go enjoy your life.

Ugggggggh.

So this is the third and final Millennium Puzzle-style area (like Lilka’s intro and that one at the start of Disc 2). For some reason, the Wild Arms 2 people really loved these trippy background, teleporter-maze based dungeons. Personally, I hate teleporter mazes worse than I hate pickles (and I really hate pickles), so this whole area is just nails on a chalkboard to me.

The big deal here is that there aren’t any real “puzzles” like the magic blocks in the previous similar dungeons, but there are paths that need to be activated by standing in particular spots. In this way, new routes are opened, and you better hope you don’t randomly miss stepping on the right “activation” square.

There is some thought put into this area: there are HP crystals that you can use as breadcrumbs to determine whether or not you’ve used a teleporter before. It’s not a perfect system, as you do need to go in some odd directions and outright ignore some teleporters to get around, but it’s a step in the right direction.

But, otherwise? This dungeon is a lot of branching paths and branching teleporters all in very same-y corridors without any landmarks past “this area is green”. I just wound up teleported back to the entrance, and… why did that happen? I don’t know.

Here’s a map courtesy of psycho_k41@hotmail.com at gamefaqs. Technically, the dungeon isn’t that complicated, but seeing this bird’s eye view really does reduce the sheer confusion that occurs when bopping between different areas that are poorly distinguished within the game itself.

Anyway, back to the opening area again, for some reason!

There are monsters around, and, for better or worse, they don’t pop up very often. The encounter counter seems to reset every time you enter a room, and the frequent teleportations seem to serve the same purpose.

I think this is the blue area? It better not be the green area again!

Did I mention there are absolutely no treasures in this dungeon? Because of course there aren’t. It’s just all teleporting and monster fights.

Did I just get teleported back into the same area? Who knows!

Can the rest of this update just be “insert dungeon here”?

The save crystal does indicate the halfway point. At least you know that if you see this again, you’re going backwards.

I am about seven seconds away from ignoring this whole stupid area and just posting passages from Moby Dick.

Was this dungeon a late addition to the game? Needed to pad out that second disc with more content? Most WA2 dungeons contain some interesting puzzle or design elements, but this is just a slog from start to finish. We just got a whole new set of tools! Four of ‘em! We could use those! But, no. A teleportation maze does not a fun area make.

Okay, and here’s a(nother) reason I hate this dungeon: the final area has three branches: one branch leads to the finale, the other two branches lead you back to earlier in the dungeon. There’s no benefit to backtracking, as there are no treasures to miss or secrets to re-explore. This is just dungeon design via spite.

At least one of the random monsters is this butterfly-centaur-manticore.

So, as you can probably guess, I took a wrong turn in that final area, and wound up spending another half hour bumbling around the place.

Okay, finally hit the boss of the area. There is probably some way I could relay to you, gentle reader, how much this area took way too much time and was way too annoying… but I respect you, and I’m not going to post 75 pictures of the same stupid hallways.

“It’s probably just an optical illusion from spending all day in a psychedelic dungeon. Don’t worry about it.”

The… larva? Uh… the universe had a baby?

Oh… okay.

Universe had an ugly baby.

Extra credit to whoever animated that cone mouth. That is unnatural.

Oh, cool, we get to punch it right in its cone.

Larva seems to spam Arc en Ciel, a status attack that can inflict like six different status effects on your poor party.

It’s unlikely to outright kill anybody, but it is annoying to have a character (like Ashley here) poisoned and paralyzed and sleeping. Hey! The annoying dungeon has an annoying boss!

Here is Ashley’s Full Clip Level 3 Force Skill in action. Ashley uses every bullet in his arm to do pretty much all the damage.

I mean, we won the fight, right? That’s… something?

Thank you, Dr. Kanon.

Yeah, we knew this going in. We “captured” less than 1% of the universe with this plan, did you think we were going to successfully capture its vital blowhole or something?

“Screw you guys! Eat my larva!”

“Kate and Amy made cookies, and it would be a shame to watch the world be destroyed and waste cookies.”

That’s it, I’m calling it…

Wild Arms Mission #25
Capture an errant dimension and kill it good.
Status: Failure!
Notes: We did everything right, but that wily dimension was too much for us.

Brad temporarily slips into his Shakespearean accent.

“Which, coincidentally, we are also losing.”

Let’s do the same thing again, and hope it works differently!

All the energy stored up in the entire planet, and we blew it all on one crappy dungeon.

“And we’ve got… until Tuesday.”

This entire exchange was guest translated by Sideshow Mel.

“Guys, just chill. We’ll fight another universe another day.”

“If we’re all going to die, I should probably call my not-boyfriend.”

What’s that, Irving?

Not going to share with the rest of us? Is that because… you have the worst idea ever?

Yes, we have already established that.

The general plan was that it takes the living planet of Filgaia to trap an entire universe, but, now without the rey-energy, Filgaia wouldn’t be able to take it.

Oddly enough, this was just a plot point on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, currently streaming on Netflix. Netflix: it’s where the party’s at!

There, now I’m going to start getting paid for this Let’s Play… right?

Yeah, sure, we already crammed one random demon in there. I’m sure he can take a whole damn universe.

Uh… this is some seriously mangled translation here, but I think he’s trying to point out how Lord Blazer was a giant disaster, and he’s trapped in Ashley…

So the universe should be able to be trapped in the same way.

But the problem is that Ashley is kind of an accidental case. If you recall, everyone else that got “possessed” by Lord Blazer transformed into a monster creature, so Ashley is special (helped along by the spirit of the Sword Magess and her magical sword).

Aw, my dude, you missed Kanon’s whole special dungeon. That won’t help!

What are you up to, Irving?

Oh f$^&, it’s this scene.

So, uh… this is up for interpretation, but I’m going to go ahead and throw out the worst interpretation of what is happening here, as it seems to be heavily implied to be the reality of the situation. And, to be clear, I mean “worst” as in “Irving is the worst person ever.”

Go back and check, but Altaecia, Irving’s twin sister, has done practically nothing up to this point. She stood around being sad with Ashley’s girlfriend at the start of Disc 2, and, other than that, she’s mostly just been chilling in the background (and literally the kitchen).

However, it seems she knows about Irving’s general… everything.

Though she seems to have a little more a conscience.

It’s silly little sprites, but this blocking is important. Altaecia backs away from Irving…

And Irving is pressing the situation.

That’s never a good phrase!

You can’t spell “anime” without “incest”.

Take a bow, Altaecia, you’re going over the borderline and getting into the groove.

Yep, just go ahead and press her up against the bed.

And Altaecia… is into it.

So, yeah, the basic implication here? Irving is planning to straight up impregnate his twin sister, and the fetus will then “capture” the rogue universe. Logically, the biological merging of two people with the blood of the Sword Magess mixed with a little “demon” summoning should be able to deposit the Kuiper Belt straight into Altaecia’s womb, and then we’re going to go ahead and have a boss fight that is part abortion.

Holy shit, Wild Arms 2.

Holy shit.

Dude. Dude I cannot even look at you right now.

“Does it involve incest? No? Not interested.”

Ashley, to his credit, suggests basically what Irving thought of a scene ago (give or take the rape), and Irving goes ahead and ignores him.

World’s going to end! Seems important!

“I need you guys out of the house.”

“Just get the hell out of here! Do some sidequests! I don’t care!”

You just keep telling yourself that, buddy.

Okay, we have to go explore a random “dungeon” by Halmetz, but we’re going to play with some statuary first.

Well, actually, first we’re going to check on Altaecia, who is still chilling in the kitchen being ominous.

Okay, now back to the statues. Marina has been staying at the chateau since the kidnapping/bomb incident.

There were three completely optional statues we picked up back in Tim’s guardian dungeon way back near the start of disc 2. You can return and grab them any time you’d like, but once an appropriate statue is in your inventory, talk to the appropriate person from this point on and…

Light show!

D’aww, it’s baby Ashley and Marina.

Hey, lil’ Marina. You seen big Marina around?

I guess these two have known each other for a long time. How long has Ashley been renting that room?

So, basically Marina has always wanted an ordinary life, and her boyfriend is a mercenary that can transform into some kind of robot lizard monster.

It… strains the relationship.

Looooooove hurts.

“Can’t we just be boring!?”

“Is Ashley going to acknowledge that I’m standing right here?”

“If time didn’t move forward, I’d never get enough punches to earn my free sub from Subway!”

“Free subs! Dammit, Marina, I am really hungry, and I wasn’t expecting to wind up in your mind right now.”

“I didn’t actually say that, but sure.”

If Marina bursts into song, I am all in.

Hope good! Stasis bad!

COMMENCE HUG ANIMATION

Okay, fine, just hold hands.

Wake up, Dragon Statue.

Zephyr is the Guardian of Hope and is one of the sacred trinity (or quartet) that appears in many Wild Arms games. Zephyr/Hope is traditionally held as the highest of the high, and is often directly associated with the main character of the game du jour.

Aaaand we’re good. Marina has an epiphany regarding love and hope for a better future where Ashley isn’t just monster chow, and we get a new guardian. Not bad!

Let’s talk about our newest Guardian. Zephyr is another golden medium, and that means he confers a ton of stat boosts to anyone, but can only be summoned by Tim via his Level 4 Force Ability. As you can see, his status as the franchise’s Bahamut means that his summons might be biting on the ol’ Final Fantasy 7 dragon summons a little hard. Zephyr also grants Tim the Apocalypse spell, which, like Zephyr’s summon attack, does massive all-elemental damage to all opponents (if a monster has an elemental weakness, it hits it). Unfortunately, it requires 99 FP, and maintaining 99 FP (and not using it all on something that is 100 FP) is rare. However, Zephyr’s skill (usable by anyone that has Zephyr equipped) will instantly charge 25 FP… which isn’t a bad way to spend a round for any character.

Long story short: you can’t go wrong with Zephyr.

Now we’re going to teleport over to Baskar Village…

And stick Tim in the lead for no particular reason.

Colette, never change.

Aw, Colette and Tim in the flower field redux.

You might have an idea where this is going if you’ve experienced any fiction in any medium ever.

D’awww, again.

Colette is frightened and happy and… can we just skip to the obvious here?

“I like having you around.”

“And sacrifices, which come up surprisingly often in our line of work.”

… translation notes?

“It saved me when I was being judged by an uncaring god!”

“It’s something to do.”

Yeah… “like”.

Yep, Goddess of Love, checking in.

Raftina is our second high guardian of the sacred trinity (or quartet). Feel the power of love!

And now Colette is back to worrying about every damned thing.

First, we’ll talk about Raftina, the Guardian of Love. What do we have here… Ah, yes, her very confusing summon (what is going on there?) will either kill all your opponents (rare) or heal the whole party (consolation prize). She confers the skill Invincible, which will make the user (and only the user) invincible for the entire turn. This can potentially come in handy, but, in general, if it’s the only thing keeping you alive, you’re just going to die on your next turn anyway. But it can come in handy on some of the super bosses and their onslaughts. She also allows Tim to learn Full Heal, which will restore a character’s entire HP pool, but can only be used on one character at a time. It’s rare that you need that much of a fill up, but it is good to have handy.

And now let’s talk about Tim Rhymeless. Tim certainly had the furthest path to travel of any Wild Arms 2 character, as he started out as a random NPC child that was robbed by a kitten, and eventually became a champion of the gods with a cute lil’ girlfriend and everything. Was it worth it? Overall, Tim does have an interesting journey from “victim” to “proactive protagonist”, and the mercurial way the plotting pulls this off is fairly impressive for an older JRPG. Tim goes from child to teenager (“adult” sounds like a stretch) before our very eyes, and, while JRPGs require a certain level of bombast for literally everything everyone does, it feels measured, natural, and earned. Tim gets his own little story about growing up, finding his place in the world, denying the “old ways”, and maybe even falling in love.

Good job, Tim! Good job, Wild Arms 2!

Last stop on our quest to rid us of these awful statues: T’Bok Village.

Merrill is a little less cheery today.

Hey, Brad’s addled wartime buddy!

Things are going well, I see.

But the statue of a lion breaks, and here we are in the brainspace or whatever.

This is, like, your one chance to speak, Billy!

Brad has sure learned a lot about heroics over the course of this game.

There it is! Welcome back, Billy!

Billy, I’ve moved on. I’m thinking about becoming an accountant.

No more heroes, because oops, all heroes.

Brad is more or less letting his friend Billy know that he’s learned his lessons.

And Billy is, uh, cool with it.

Aw, they’re best friends. They know each other so well.

Brad thinks heroes are the real heroes. … Wait.

Being a hero is the real courage! …. Look, I’m getting tired of seeing the word “hero”.

And, yes, all the heroes in ARMS are heroes, too. Remember that time we failed to save the world?

Thanks, Billy.

D’awwwwwww.

Brad is really into his new(ish) philosophy.

And now it’s time for a lion to wake up.

Justine, the third high summon. Courage is key!

Unfortunately, Billy does not remain lucid. As a result, you could interpret Brad’s “Courage Dream” as a conversation he was having with an imaginary Billy… but the other pairs involved in guardian awakening impacted both people, so that’s kind of a cynical reading. Regardless, the horrors of war are not going to be quickly healed with Billy.

So, new Guardian that just happens to be a transforming robot for some reason. I cannot believe every LP I do involves a transforming robot summon, but here we are. Justine Attack is a summon that deals non-elemental damage to all foes, and teaches Tim Bold Lance, which deals non-elemental damage to one foe for 80 FP. His custom command is Branch Zap, which makes your traditional “fight” command hit all opponents. It’s useful if one character has an absurd attack stat, and you want to spread that damage around. Overall, of the three high summons, Justine is the least-abusable/essential… but being a transforming robot does count for a lot.

And, incidentally, that’s our last Guardian Medium. We caught ’em all, Ash!

And now for Brad Evans.

Ultimately, at the core of the Brad Evans character is the hoary old trope of the “mentor” character that is meant to offer sage advice to the new generation of heroes, and then heroically sacrifice himself in a duel with Darth Vader. And he did that! But he got better/a rail gun. And, since he decided to stick around, he managed to pick up a few lessons of his own on the nature of heroism that informed his decisions earlier in life. And that’s great! The problem with the wise mentor trope is that it presents a man (it’s always a man for some reason) that might be a little sad about a difficult past, but is otherwise past learning anything new aside from “maybe the kids are alright”. Brad actually has some growing to do over this story, and, considering he’s coded as a grizzled old war veteran, that’s a pretty neat trick. Does his story go anywhere? Well, the whole “hero is a word given to people” thing seems to be a central theme of the story itself, so it’s debatable on whether not Brad is really bringing anything new to the table, but tying a character directly into the themes of the story is never a bad thing.

Also, you may have noticed that the other statue scenes all occur between “couple” pairs. Ashley and his girlfriend. Tim and his girlfriend. Brad and his boyfriend? A lot of people have taken this scene and Brad’s complete romantic disinterest in any other character as proof that Brad is gay, and Billy and Brad had a very close relationship. Sony of Japan apparently stepped in and outright stated that Brad is straight, but we all know that authors died a long time ago. There’s really nothing contradicting a homosexual reading of Brad and Billy, and considering the dialogue in this scene alone, it seems fairly likely. And, oh yeah, there’s that part where Billy nearly died just to save Brad…

Anyway, statues shattered, back to the mission: Halmetz is that town that was completely kidnapped by Odessa back when Ashley first unlocked his Knight powers, and now near there…

Is a big pile of Fiery Wreckage. What’s that all about? Find out next time!

Next time on Wild Arms 2: The whole damn reason I started this Let’s Play.

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