Previously on Wild Arms 2: ARMS asked to have free reign of an entire country, and Queen Whatshername was like, “wut? lol no.” But then a town got attacked, so ARMS had a chance to prove their collective usefulness.
Of course, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, because the whole place is deserted.
Nobody asked for your opinion on the nightlife, Lilka.
Great, everybody got raptured, and we missed it. Nora is going to be so pissed off that this happened again.
And then the bell rings. Ominous.
What? It’s just a ringing bell, how could that be…
Hey! It’s Judecca! That guy who said he was going to kill all of us!
What gave it away? Was it the explosion?
Hey, Judecca, don’t make it bad.
“And don’t remind me that all of us have really powerful ranged weapons!”
This is a complete lie.
So Judecca purples up his own pocket monster.
Trask, I choose you!
I’m guessing this is… water/steel type? Nah, maybe water/rock.
Yeah, going to say water/rock. Trask loves to shoot its shell spikes as missiles.
Have I mentioned how much I like the monster design in Wild Arms 2? You gonna go Gamora, you go full Gamora.
I guess I should actually talk about the fight. Trask is about what you’d expect from a turtle: really defensive, and really slow. Oh, and it bites. Turtles do that. Regardless, you should have no trouble taking advantage of Trask’s speed, and Lilka should be able to immediately heal every turn. If this sounds like a similar strategy to previous boss fights, congratulations, you discovered why WA2 battles are kinda boring.
Just be careful Trask doesn’t poison the entire party. That would be a good time for Lilka to mystic up an antidote.
I’m not certain, but I think you can actually lose this fight and still advance. I just know that, even if you win, Trask keeps standing around (though you do score some nice EXP).
And Judecca explains that Trask is a defensive turtle, and you’re screwed.
Oh no! Now we’re in a cutscene! We’re super screwed!
Trask goes all black hole bomb on the party, and… this won’t end well.
Oh, hey Inner Voice. Went a whole update without ya.
"Take the power! Nintendo Power! Order now and receive a free strategy guide!"
Come to the darkside, Lu…. Ashley.
And so there’s a really brief flash of white, and Ashley and company are unconscious, but still breathing. Trask isn’t so lucky.
Wait, the terrorist mutant turtle was just meant to subdue them? Where are your terminal poisonous bio weapons?
And Judecca takes a moment to contemplate his own mortality.
So let us take a moment to contemplate Judecca Ducet. Here is our second featured member of Cocytus, and this one is the most villainous of the lot. As you’ve no doubt noticed, Judecca is the “cool one” who always has a quip ready for friend or foe alike. He also has guns ready for said friends or foes, because he’s apparently a raging sadist. That’s basically his entire character: he really enjoys seeing people in pain. This makes Judecca the most heinous of the gang, but also the most one dimensional. He’s basically Kefka minus the will to power (and stellar wardrobe), and that can only take you so far. Also, sadistic guy with glasses and guns is kind of a played out trope (even back in 2000).
Were this another universe, Judecca would pilot Red Lion, but only after starting on Blue Lion.
But now we catch up with our heroes who… Dammit! Another prison!?
Brad has already made himself at home.
And Ashley wakes up screaming? That has to be a translation error.
Did ARMS get caught in a scene transition?
Ashley has been sent to two different prisons in the span of a week.
“Not like she could wake up and use any magical healing spells or anything.”
Somebody’s got a case of the sleepys.
And Lilka is apparently seeing Ashley as her older sister. That’s healthy.
Yeah, let’s put together a plan and…
Oh, guess it’s up to me. Yeah, that’s fine, too.
There is a switch and treasure on the other side of this heavy steel gate, but Brad’s kickin’ boots are not going to cut it for demolishing this door.
Oh, a block that is slightly ajar? This should be useful.
Hooray! We’re shawshanking our way out of this joint.
I just like how our secret passage and block blend into the scenery. Good modeling, some random person from twenty years ago!
Golgotha Prison is a dungeon’s dungeon. There are traps all over the place, and practically all of them will eat off a chunk of your HP. It’s not enough to really “kill” the party, but we’ve got kind of a death by a million cuts thing going on here. Our first general obstacle is floor spikes.
You don’t even have to run over the floor spikes: so long as you walk briskly, all will be well.
In fact, walking is recommended, as, if you run, you’re likely to fall into the pit. Falling doesn’t deal any damage, but it does mean you’ll have to start the room over from the entrance.
The next room involves a switch in the middle of a row of spikes. Just remember how to walk, and you’ll be fine. And, yes, there are monsters about. This is a great place to start cancelling annoying encounters while you’re trying to avoid being stabbed.
Now we have spear traps. These lil’ pointers come from the walls (not the floor), and you do need to run past them to avoid damage. Note that getting stabbed by any trap will trigger some recoil, which will usually Ninja Gaiden you right into a pit. Luckily, our first area with spears is deliberately all on solid ground.
Run to the treasure!
The next spear room introduces pits. This area is ultimately training you to gain the skills to really control the wonky Wild Arms run. And that skill will… pretty much never be useful. Ever.
Here are some emblematic yetis of the prison industrial complex.
The next area has a “Ashley tosses a dagger” puzzle. I guess they had to throw the prime protagonist a bone.
And save point! This is one of the few dungeons where there isn’t a save point right before the boss, so be sure to save.
I’m on the edge of my seat…
Oh… great. So the trick here is that you have to open a door, and then move the heck out of the way.
Though you’re welcome to Booty Call and find out which door hides a crest graph.
At least “correct” doors stay open. If you have any kind of dexterity (and can remember what happened in the last room), you shouldn’t suffer any damage here at all.
Well, assuming you don’t have to fight any random skeleton dinosaurs, at least. Skeleton dinosaurs are the new black.
The proper exit door is the second from the left.
Okay, the next room is just messing with ya.
There is a minor puzzle here. You have to kick this board back and forth three times (see?) to open the door. Don’t dash over the spike squares, and you’ll be on your way in no time.
Next room, next puzzle.
Do you know about timed hits?
The next room tosses you a few mercy health crystals. Usually, these crystals are used in more interesting ways in dungeons, but here, it’s basically just an easy fill-up.
Hi, guy blocking the doorway forward.
…. You’re pathetic.
This switch is actually more difficult to pull. You have to press the X button, like, ten whole times!
Door’s open, and we’ve got a room full of villagers.
“We… meant to get to your village earlier. Sorry ‘bout that.”
“Are any of you worth any exp? Anybody? No? Okay, then you should all make it back okay.”
“… Was the weapon a turtle?”
“Does anybody here have a truck? Or a bus? Did you park close?”
Lilka and Brad volunteer to coordinate the evacuation, and Ashley is stuck going it alone to scout ahead.
You can chat up the locals before heading out. It’s like an entire town in one room!
*Cough* Uh… about that bell tower…
Nope, not gonna touch this one. Let’s just assume this is shorthand for “is scared and praying”.
Oh, we have an explanation for this prison-out-of-nowhere, too. This is one giant death row. Hm, I guess that explains all the fatal traps. I mean, assuming the Filgaia prison system works like a game show.
Damaged guillotine blocking the hallway. That’s always a good sign.
One last “prison puzzle”. This room has horrible lighting, and…
A new kind of spike trap. The spikes that rise from these plates permanently block progress forward, so you just have to navigate this room while avoiding any of those metal plates. In the dark. Alone.
It’s not that big of a deal, though. There aren’t any monsters for the solo Ashley to fight, either.
Back to that hallway. What’s in here?
Oh, it’s an entire roomful of Odessa soldiers. Better be quiet.
Apparently the chatter amongst the randos is that Judecca is up to something. Also: where did Odessa get all these uniforms for their prisoner army. Is Ptolomea a tailor?
And our exit is just a short stroll down guillotine row.
“Dude, did you see how many guillotines I just blew past? Duh.”
What? Just… what!?
“I leave you guys alone for five minutes!”
Ah, the old “heroes will never endanger the innocent” trick.
Ashley, there is no way you have the ups to pull that one off.
Oh, now what have you got?
Dammit! Trask 2: The Traskening!
Okay, no big, we’ll just use the defend command for the next forever.
Honestly, this is a pretty good plan… assuming you’re okay with the logistics of capturing an entire town. Basically, use the villagers as shields to make the heroes docile, and then make said villagers watch as said heroes are murdered by a giant turtle. That sounds like terrorizing to a T.
“I have to murder you now. Please understand.”
Never go full Gendo.
So turtle dodging brings out our old friend Inner Voice again.
I feel like Inner Voice has an agenda…
“Hey, Trask! Put on your helmet!”
Judecca was distinctly afraid for his life after his first light experience, so this reaction seems appropriate. You know, for a murderer.
But Marivel has swooped in out of nowhere and saved everybody! Also, I have no idea what she’s saying!
Though this is pretty straightforward. Marivel knows something.
Okay, this at least makes sense from a foreshadowing perspective. Alpha and omega and nothing about the lady consort’s child.
Yeah, this was a good plan except for deus ex mystery girl and Ashley turning into a light bulb. I can understand not foreseeing that.
Judecca flees, and the zoomed out view shows off this monster pyramid off to the side. This is like your one and only indicator that you should come back to this area after completing most of the game for a super secret boss. Good luck noticing that and then remembering it, though.
So an official battle with Trask begins, and Ashley is looking a bit different. Yes, we have seen this form before, albeit briefly.
Ashley has become… a polygonal power ranger.
Cool scarf, though.
He’ll officially get the name next update, but this is Ashley in Knight Blazer form. Knight Blazer ups all of Ashley’s stats, but also locks all of his “natural” abilities, like his Accelerator and Arms attacks. Of course, that isn’t a great loss, as Accelerator isn’t as necessary when Knight Blazer has upped speed, and Arms have a nasty habit of running out of bullets. Ashley’s Knight Blazer skills are Hot Fencer and Banisher. Hot Fencer is a fiery light saber attack that, for a whole 4 FP, is generally a great choice to burn monsters to a crisp.
Though Ashley’s default attack is pretty fancy, too.
I’d love to tell you more about this Trask fight, but Ashley used the banisher, and that’s all she wrote. The Banisher is an all-or-nothing attack that will deactivate Knight Blazer form at the expense of blasting Ashley’s opponent into orbit. Dropping Knight Blazer mode is a bummer, but there isn’t a whole lot that won’t be instantly banished.
Access is Ashley’s Level 4 FP skill, and, as you’ve probably guessed, it will activate Knight Blazer mode whenever you please. Of course, Level 4/100 FP is literally the max FP any character can acquire in a battle, so this doesn’t exactly happen every day. Knight Blazer is basically there to make boss fights easier (and a lot of boss fights seem to be balanced with KB in mind).
Also, we didn’t skip any other abilities, everyone else still only has their initial Level 1 FP skill. We’ll fill in the blanks later.
“Ha, ha, ha! It’s finished. ………… No. That’s wrong. It’s started. Woa! My… strength… is… disappearing.”
Yeah, it’s hard to be a power ranger.
Back to normal.
“And… uh… do we get super forms, too? Please?”
Oh, think there was supposed to be a “why” somewhere in the last statement. ARMS is all about having crippling mental problems.
And, as Marivel leads the villagers to safety (without getting captured, I might add), we close the book on yet another prison.
Back at the castle.
“Heard you turned into a…. it says here a… black metal man? Is that right?”
“I morph all the time. It’s cool. Let me tell you about the time I turned green. That wasn’t easy.”
Oh nooooooow we’re buddies.
Well, okay, that’s good stuff.
ARMS Mission #6:
Open diplomatic channels with Sylvaland to freely use their sweet teleporters
Notes: Was nearly crucified. Literally.
“This makes my job sooooo much easier.”
And Irving out of nowhere!
“Even though the entire reason a complete town was kidnapped was just to get to you.”
… Trolls? Rats? Trolls eating rats?
“Queen and I are gonna catch up. We used to date. You wouldn’t understand. Rich people stuff.”
“Yes, let’s eliminate our entire military and replace it with three dorks that nearly get killed on a daily basis. That should work wonders.”
So we can explore the castle again for whatever reason.
But the important thing is waiting at the castle entrance (“below the castle”?).
We’re heroes! Normal heroes! Yay!
DON’T DATE HEROES.
And Irving knows a photo op when he sees one.
“That’s right! Only ARMS! No one else in the world! All glory to ARMS! … We’ve got some t-shirts over at the merch table.”
Wild Arms 2 can’t let you enjoy yourself too long, so let’s see how Odessa is doing.
“He has failed. Destroying the ARMS isn’t so simple. It appears not a single person was killed. Our casualty list reports ‘Trask’, the anti-human monster, as demolished.”
Dammit! Trask was one day from retirement!
Vinsfeld is really taking the loss of Trask poorly.
“Like, literally a flash. I just want to be clear on that. Not a euphemism.”
Ashley is our trump card? Filgaia is doomed.
“We can’t let it go. With our operating funds, secure energy for the ‘Heimdal Gazzo’. Then there’s the ‘ARMS’ gaining influence. We’ve got problems. The ‘Secret Evil Society’ is so terrible. Ha. Ha.”
Vinny has a brief nervous breakdown. Being a terrorist is hard!
So here’s a fun question: is Caina just summoning demons out of nowhere, or is he converting Odessa soldiers into monsters, like during the ARMS ceremony?
Anyway, what’s important is that Vinsfeld has some major greed issues.
Gasp! “That boy”? Could that be one of the only three named boys we’ve seen on this entire planet?
But first, Vinny is gonna get some.
Antenora… doesn’t sound thrilled.
Actually, let’s talk about sex, baby. It’s a silly thing, but have you ever noticed that JRPG villains have a tendency to be fairly… sexless? Like, of the Final Fantasy pantheon, we’ve only got, what, Seymour? And he was mostly just rapey to advance his own political clout. Beyond that, we’ve got the likes of Golbez, Kefka, Sephiroth, Ultimecia, and… did any of these people ever get laid? I’m not saying every supervillain needs to be macking it at all times, but it’s kind of weird that world domination rules out having a sex life. Did you see Sephiroth’s abs? Dude would have no problem getting anybody’s attention. I mean, I know he’s a bad dude, and that masamune is probably overcompensating, but… I have to admit even I wouldn’t immediately say no…
But I’m not drawing attention to sexless villains because I want to discuss Sephiroth’s topless antics, I’m noting it because it creates a sort of weird moral for the player. I discussed this at length in my Persona 5 review (warning: link contains spoilers/animes), but, given our current political climate, I feel like we, as a people, have a hard time identifying “bad guys” if they’re not moustache twirling supervillains. One of these factors is the obvious “Trump isn’t so bad, he hasn’t summoned a meteor to destroy us all and ascend to godhood” excuse, but the other is that we have a tendency to completely dehumanize our bad guys in media. Kefka is a great villain, but he is just about as likely to be seen on the street as It. Ultimecia terrorizes the entire world of Final Fantasy 8 for ages (even upending some of its political institutions), but it all comes down to trying to capture one random girl for time travel antics (or something). Nobody wants to just score a mint in real estate deals at the expense of millions suffering; completely impractical global conquest or annihilation has to be on the table for some reason. And villains don’t do anything human while they’re working on their wicked plans.
While Wild Arms 2 still has a limited “graduated 16-bit JRPG” perspective on storytelling, I appreciate the little details that humanize Vinsfeld. He had a rough day, his favorite turtle got trashed, time to bring it in, and bang a redhead. I’m not saying this is somehow noble (and we’ll get into Antenora’s perspective on the situation later), but it does come off as human. And we could use a few more human villains. Helps us identify the other bad guys we might see around.
And on that note, we’ll close for… Oh, wait!
I always forget about this: we’re fast forwarding a bit, but you can revisit Halmetz after the prison experiment. There’s not really a reason to do it, plot wise, but it’s worth a trip.
Halmetz would be a fine opportunity for that one JRPG mechanic where you’re always repairing the town or sending aid or…. Nah. Sounds annoying. Let’s cherish our rubble.
Just nice to visit some villagers with PTSD. Actually, the main reason to hit Halmetz is because it has a fully stocked equipment shop, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen an upgrade.
But you can also discover another fun monster pyramid.
At least this fellow offers a helpful hint on how you might unlock these pyramids.
Okay, now that’s it for today. Join us next time to see some Knight Blazer fall-out and the introduction of the greatest character finds of 2000.
Next time on Wild Arms 2: Ard ard, ard ard ard. Ard ard ard ard. Ard? Ard ard ard ard ard!