Previously on Wild Arms 2: Ashley saved the day, but he saved everyone in spite of orders, so he was sent to his room without any porridge.
It’s appropriate that we ended with Ashley, as he’ll be the first guy we’ll be seeing shortly, but you may recall that you had your choice of opening chapters and their order. After you clear ‘em all, this little interlude kicks in regardless of initially chosen character.
Though that doesn’t mean this intermission should mean a damn thing to a new player.
A girl (?) is concerned about lights and comets and whatever. Also, she has a neat hat. Moving on!
Moving on specifically to the Town of Meria. Looks like a nice place.
And one familiar kid(napping victim) has decided to visit a bakery with a pair of buddies.
And inside the bakery… Wake up, Crono, it’s time to hit the fair.
Incidentally, she’s identified as the “innkeeper’s daughter”, but this is a bakery, and according to auxiliary materials, she’s actually the niece of the wife of the baker, and… Oh never mind.
Let’s actually talk about Marina Irington. Here’s the Skyler White of Wild Arms 2: Marina has the perfectly understandable desire to not see Ashley die horribly in a tragic giant skeleton-related accident, but, since that would mean Ashley retiring from being the star of a JRPG, Marina kind of comes off as… anti-player. Marina reacts to the events of Wild Arms 2 in a pretty legitimate, reasonable, human way, but, again, she’s completely against you playing Wild Arms 2 and putting Ashley in random battle-based danger, so she can come off as something of a nag.
It’s also unfortunate that this “killjoy” thing winds up being the label for one of the absolute few sincere relationships in a JRPG… uh… ever. Most JRPGs go for the action movie cliché of “these two characters have been fighting together for a few hours, and they have complimentary genitals, so they’re in love now”. Either that, or the rare “they were married before this game started, kiss kiss, off to kill monsters now, dear” thing. Wild Arms 2 does its best to actually develop the relationship between Marina and Ashley over the course of the game, and it’s never because the two characters thump monsters together. This ain’t Romeo and Juliet, but it’s at least more believable than Zidane and Dagger (and please let this paragraph inspire a Greatest Romances in Gaming thunderdome).
Anyway, I suppose the takeaway from Marina is that whenever she’s around, watch how the Marina x Ashley romance develops, as it’s one of the more relatable through lines for the game. Or at least it’s as relatable as possible when you’re talking about a guy that lives in a town with apparently only one woman his age…
Oh, and to be clear, Ashley and Marina’s current relationship status is: it’s confusing.
He’s confined to quarters! That’s almost literally all he can do!
But apparently some wiener kids showed up, so may as well get this JRPG going.
Lilka had a quasi-town, and Ashley had the dungeon entrance that was mobbed with musketeers, but this is our first real town. Let’s get to exploring!
First stop, Marina’s communal family bedroom. Why did I stop here?
Because rotate the camera around, enhance, zoom, and you’ll find that Marina is a giant Trigun fan. If you’re wondering what kind of Western we’ll be seeing here…
Anyway, we still haven’t made it off the second floor of the bakery, but here’s a ladder up to the roof that we’re not allowed to use quite yet. Also: how often does Ashley hang out on the roof?
Okay! First floor ahoy! This update is going to take forever!
Questions to ask: How long has Ashley been living in this bakery? Why does Ashley come off as anti-social? Is the baker’s wife a gossipy little $%@^?
“Helping out” as in “saving my life, twice.”
Tony… has kind of a weird way of talking. I suppose he’s supposed to sound like “a kid”, but he kind of lapses in and out of… I guess like a 90’s surfer dialect? It’s… different.
I’m not going to show every naming prompt, but you get the option of naming Scott and Tim here, too. Scott Summers, who dresses in blue and yellow and is friends with Tony Stark, has a “nerdy” speech pattern, but his character description pre-naming is “vacant-looking boy”. So I don’t know if the translation made him sound smart, or he’s supposed to be weird, or… whatever.
But, for all the localization “quirks” we’ll eventually get into, I do appreciate that the English script makes the three kids sound distinct in rapid dialogue. You won’t mistake Tony’s “dudes” for Scott’s “In my humble opinions”, and Tim…. I guess we’ll address Tim more later.
Orphans… always wanting handouts…
Tony was there when Ashley got confined to quarters, right? Answering “I’m busy now” is a major dick move.
“Actually, it has three legs and is blind… but we’re really bad at catching kittens.”
“Was your treasure a can of sardines? Because that’s gonna happen.”
You got robbed by a wee kitten. That’s like a step below losing your lunch money to a turtle.
Three of you. Robbed. By a kitten. Aren’t there any decent bullies in this town?
Okay, so we’ve got the cat-chasing task ahead of us, but we’re also free to explore the town at will. Let’s do that. Kitten is probably asleep on her pile of pilfered treasure, anyway.
Let’s go in this shop. It’s maaaaagic.
Awesome! Except… we don’t have any wizards in the party yet. Pass.
But next door is the ARMs shop. Here you can upgrade any ARMs you might possess. Note that ARMs are not sold, they’re only found in treasure chests, so this is strictly an upgrade shop.
Each ARM can be upgraded in three different parameters: Attack, Hit Percentage, and Bullet Load. You really can’t go wrong with upgrading any particular way, though you may recall that Brad has a 100% hit percentage skill, so that might be less of a priority for him. Attack power is obvious, though bullet load can be really useful in a few key situations. Also note that you are limited to a set number of upgrades per ARM, so don’t think you can grind for infinite money and upgrade to ridiculous parameters.
Ooooooh, mystery shop.
Here’s another unique system in Wild Arms 2: Personal Skills.
Basically, you earn PS Points, and can redeem them at the Personal Skill Shop to customize your character. PS points are limited and non-refundable, but if you’re willing to part with some points, you can kit out your characters for more effective battling. Want to restore HP when you do damage? That’s doable! Counter until the cows come home? Also available! And there are more traditional upgrades, too, like resistances to various status effects, and general “X Stat Up” buffs.
For my money (PS Points), I recommend taking the Pokémon path, and upping already good stats to great levels. Make your physical attacker a better physical attacker, in other words. But the whole point is that it’s up to you, so make your own decisions according to your play style. WA2 isn’t a difficult game, so have fun experimenting.
There’s also an item shop over here. These are all pretty standard shops available in every town (I’m saying this so I don’t have to screen shot every shop in the WA2 universe).
Note that there aren’t really weapon shops in this town, as equipment is sold by the item shop.
This is the actual inn in town. It is not where the innkeeper’s daughter lives.
This will be important later! Not much later!
Other residential homes in town reveal that apparently this world has a France, or at least people that speak French.
Hey! There’s a castle in the back of town! I love sightseeing!
There’s pretty much no reason to visit the castle at this point… but it beats chasing a kitten.
Oh, hey, good to see that someone bought all the soldier equipment during the Kingdom of Guardia’s going out of business sale.
Books! Oh, by the way, I don’t think it’s come up yet, but the “Earth” of Wild Arms 2 (and I think all Wild Arms games) is called Filgaia. Though, to be clear, it’s not all the same Filgaia. Fun fact: In Japan, the name of the WA world is “Fargaia”, which seems somehow more appropriate.
The books here offer more off-kilter world building, like the theory that Filgaia is a living organism that will one day transform into a giant humanoid to fight the dreaded Unicron.
There’s a tale of the Sword Magess (and her pet werewolf. Way to bury the lead, book). We’ll get into that soon enough…
Sword Magess’ sword is named Argetlahm. I’m always happy when a JRPG doesn’t generically reuse Excalibur.
There’s a book on Brad’s little revolutionary army from his intro. The book doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know, other than that apparently there are already books being written about Brad and his buddies.
Is that supposed to look like Cecilia of Wild Arms 1? Or is Margaret supposed to look like someone in this cast? I genuinely don’t know. I’m bad with anime faces.
Oh, the candelabras in this game are 2-D art imposed on 3-D environments. Once you notice it, you can’t stop seeing it.
Damn, I need new pillows. I should look into the military.
Apparently Ashley’s troop from the previous update deployed from a hangar in the castle. Given there are no roads anywhere in Filgaia, you have to wonder how often those vans see use.
See! Fall Down a Hole Immediately Guy survived! For now!
You can wander around the castle at will, but you can’t see the king, because I guess it would just be too much to give him three lines of canned dialogue.
Back out into town, and…. Shut-up, old man! I’ll go where I want!
This house features two silent cats staring at each other. Are they the parents of the larcenous kitten? It is a mystery!
Speaking of which, let’s get back to that quest. Time to use that ladder in the bakery that is totally not an inn.
Just because we can get to the roof doesn’t mean we can catch the kitten. Lil’ bugger runs off immediately.
And if you chase her all the way around the roofs, she’ll leap across the fountain area, and leave Ashley in the dust.
No following that cat. Time to head back to the bakery and scoot back onto the roof.
And the whole situation just loops again. What’s a musketeer to do? OH, GEEZ, DON’T SHOOT THE CAT, I WASN’T SUGGESTING THAT!
Remember that hole in the roof of the inn?
Well the guy repairing that hole is happy to help with the kitten situation, because apparently catching this cat is a five man job.
No animals were harmed in the making of this Let’s Play (though I did just kill a cricket).
NPCs ask for so little recognition.
Hop in the hole, and here’s a kitten. Let’s assume the kitten stayed in this room because of a locked door, and not because heroic Ashley just broke a kitten’s legs.
And this world has Spanish, too! ¡Ay caramba!
Considering Ashley had to recruit additional help and was repeatedly running around on the rooftops, I want to say your honor is good and tarnished.
And after all that, the “treasure” that now smells like kitten spit was given to Ashley anyway.
A Crest Cap is basically a one-use spell for someone that can’t use spells. Considering magic is kind of useless in this game, crest caps are pretty useless, too. Fun Fact! You actually can refuse to capture the cat, but then you won’t get this swell bit of vendor trash.
But whether you participate or not, Tim will hand over…
A Grudiev Medium.
Mediums are equipped like weapons and armor, and each one offers some minor stat boosts. They also grant the equipper one new command of dubious usefulness. In this case, Grudiev grants the Defencer command, which is basically the Final Fantasy skill Cover. Take a hit for your buddies, if you feel like it. Note: Ashley currently has no buddies.
Mediums also offer other benefits later in the game, but we’re a ways off from that at the moment. Speaking of which, it is not insignificant that little Tim provides our first medium at large.
But, for now, Marina!
“He was also confused that you weren’t in your room which is like your one job right now.”
And then we cut to Ashley in bed being excited about his special status.
I don’t know, maybe because you singlehandedly defeated a giant monster? Just a thought.
This cut to Ashley “afterwards” is odd because…
Flashback to five minutes ago!
“Achieving your life’s dream should be a somber occasion!”
Ashley is denser than a neutron star, and the kids slowly back away from the angry lady. Also, the kitten ran off.
“And the last mission somehow involved explosive saliva!”
Point is that Marina does not take it well.
“I should really look into that. Oh well, time to go die now!”
Looks like the entire town (population: twelve) turned out to see Ashley off.
What? Ashley is a knight now? Okay!
Hey, Sir Ashley to you, pal.
Pay attention! This is your reminder that locations do not automatically “appear” on the world map, so if you forget these directions, you could be wandering around the wilderness for a while.
Marina decided to thaw out just long enough to see Ashley off.
“I guess I just don’t want to see you die for some reason or something. Anyway, I watched some of my Trigun tapes, and I calmed down about it.”
“I’ll come right back here one way or another. I put you down as my next of kin. I want to be cremated. Toodles!”
“I’ll just be here… uh… doing whatever it is I do!”
World map! We got a little preview in Brad’s chapter, but this is the official start of using the WA2 map. No more shortcuts from now on!
But first! Let’s check out that System menu on the main menu.
Remember when screen savers were new and novel? Wild Arms 2 remembers.
You also have your choice of window designs. This was appreciated in Final Fantasy 3, and it’s nice to see here, too.
I guess if you really need your icons to be rounded, you’ve got options.
Okay, enough of that. Back to adventuring!
Brad saw some Balloons, and now they’re menacing Ashley. Again, they’re basically Wild Arms slimes, so they’re not particularly threatening.
Now scanning for giant ass cathedral.
Here we are. If you’re curious, the white dot is our current location, and the red dot is where we started. It was a short walk.
No time to explore, let’s get right to the ceremony.
Well, I guess there’s time to restate the name of the place.
“A squad of knights trained in guerilla tactics was established to fend off terrorists… and increasingly strong, brutal, and fearsome monsters as well as an unstable world. (Editor’s note: huh?) The Knight squad organized as a backup for Meria Boule has… The advantage of independent authority allowing it to respond rapidly to a variety of situations.”
So, to be clear, Ashley wields an ARM, which is repaired at the ARMs shop, and he’s a member of an elite group called ARMS (acronym for Agile Remote Mission Squad). Got it memorized?
I bet Unnamed Commander is going to be very important to this story.
And then they bring out the sword in the stone. No, seriously, that’s pretty much what we got here.
Sword Magess might not be around, but her sword is. Who wants to give it a go?
“Basic Thor rules apply. Ye not guilty and all that riot. If anyone here spoke to a strange woman in a lake within the last week, you have to check that box on the entry form.”
Ashley talks to some rando in the rear about how the whole thing is rigged, man.
Ashley is optimistic, though.
Rando is a dick.
Winds up dislodging the opening credits. A gorgeous series of “slides” appear here with the credits explaining the story of The Sword Magess, basically WA2’s “ancient hero”. It’s a fun way to introduce the backstory and get the mandatory cinematic credits out of the way.
Pretty standard story here: The Blaze of Disaster showed up, wrecked the place, and then The Sword Magess appeared with her magical sword. Seven days later, she and the Blaze of Disaster both disappeared, and she left behind her sword in a stone.
Sword Magess is distinctly noted as being a nobody before she started wielding a magic sword. Also, this telling of the story leaves out any potential companions, like the previously mentioned werewolf.
But giant wolves have a way of sneaking in, even if the script doesn’t give ‘em a mention. Incidentally, it’s just a trick of the “lighting”, but this shot of Sword Magess really reminds me of Virginia Maxwell of Wild Arms 3.
History flows like a river, and all JRPGs are the same.
Wild Arms 2 starts now! Everything before this was crap!
And it turns out Ashley failed. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll never see that magical sword of destiny ever again.
Well look whose genre savvy.
And, again, we gently nudge into one of WA2’s big theses: there can only be a hero if there is a crisis that calls for a hero. In other words, wanting to be heroic is maybe not the best thing for the world at large.
So we’ve got some downtime here, may as well wander around the banquet hall and see what the other recruits have to say.
“I don’t know, I just see the same two guys copy and pasted across the room.”
Oh, wait, are you the same commander from the last update, too? I’m not going to check. You’re not worth it.
Ha ha ha what a taskmaster.
Oh, thank God, something is happening. I thought we were going to have to make small talk for the rest of the game.
Guess a black hole is opening up in the banquet hall. This is why you always get singularity insurance.
And it’s causing people to… start smoking?
Shouldn’t have had the salmon mousse, guys.
“Anyone that is not a monster, follow me. I repeat, non-monsters only.”
Except…. Monsters all over the place. Escape is not going well.
Ashley has a brief freakout inside his own head (or something).
If you ever hear that voice, don’t listen to it.
Ashley notes that, yes, those “monsters” are friends. This will be important in a moment.
“I hear what you’re saying about your companions, but how about you… just follow me here… kill them all?”
Aaaaaaand Monster Ashley. And he instantly obliterates one of his “friends” to boot. Our hero officially has a kill count, now. Sorry, random dude that may have been that guy that was talking to us during the ceremony.
And I think we’ll stop here for today. I guess…. Hm, I guess Brad is going to show up and kill Monster Ashley? That’s probably what’s going to happen. Please look forward to blood and carnage and Marina crying!
Next time on Wild Arms 2: Monster High Fright On!