Previously on Wild Arms 2: ARMS was bogged down by their colossal inventory, got lost in the snow, and was never seen again. But in another, more narratively tight dimension, ARMS made it to Sielje, and got to embarrass Lilka for a solid day or so. Now we’re off to chase Odessa and the stolen (reclaimed?) data tablets.
Our first stop today is the Gate Bridge. It’s a bridge. Pretty exciting stuff. Should be a quick walk over to where we’re going, nothing to…
Oh, screen is shaking for the ten billionth time.
That’s a really weird way to phrase… anything. That reminds me of…
Our old friends Liz and Ard! They’re back! And exploding stuff!
And whatever Ard said!
Teen Lizard Squad is go!
They raised the bridge! Oh no! How will we ever walk across the bridge now!?
There could just be a boat passing, we don’t know if this is really a “trick”.
Brad meanwhile has no time for this nonsense, so he just, ya know, flips a switch to lower the bridge back down.
Another problem solved!
Some days it is just tough being a lizard-man.
And the gate bridge having a low battery saves us from a half hour of Liz pressing a button and Brad pressing the anti-button.
Lilka, a bridge went up, and then it went down. This is not brain surgery.
So timed dungeon! We’ve got five minutes until Liz lifts the bridge again and generally inconveniences everybody. I don’t know if letting the clock run out leads to a game over or simply having to restart this area (as we can just press that “close” button again, presumably), because it is nearly impossible to run out of time for reasons that will become obvious shortly.
This area does not have random battles, but these floating orbs that will instigate battles.
These orbs are really easy to avoid. Navigating Golgotha Prison and its narrow pathways was a lot more difficult than dodging the typical gray orbs, and you have to wonder what the designers were thinking here. Maybe they assumed the player would have suffered significant physical trauma just before this point in the game? I don’t know.
The next room has a puzzle that you must speed solve. Can you remember to throw a dagger at a switch like in every other dungeon we’ve completed?
The red orbs move faster, so I bonked into one in an act of pity.
Huh. The timer disappeared for the battle. I guess they didn’t want to clutter up the UI with additional information and…
Oh. Time doesn’t advance during a battle. So even if you hit every last orb from start to finish, it wouldn’t impact the countdown. So, basically, assuming you know how to aim Ashley at a door and can solve two lame puzzles (look forward to #2!), you pretty much can’t lose in this area. Completely fake, lizard-based tension.
Here is our second “puzzle”. There’s a pressure plate that will reset the door switch, so you have to angle your dagger toss effectively. Grant DaNasty would be proud (but only in the Japanese version).
Lil’ more walking…
A completely empty room? Did… did someone forget to throw in the last puzzle?
And we’re done. Took about a minute and a half (according to the timer), and it’s hard to conceive of making the trip take any longer.
Nothing can stop you when you’re blastin’, Ashley.
Speaking of which.
Ard has opinions on the current situation.
I think we could all learn a little something about life and love from this alien lizard creature.
I didn’t expect the Liz & Ard sections of this LP to be so difficult, but they are, because, seriously, how could anyone possibly add to that?
Liz has figured out ARMS diplomacy.
This would one day be an entire season of Boardwalk Empire.
The game couldn’t telegraph a boss fight any harder without one of its signature silhouette intros, so you’ve got a “room” to prepare and refill health or whatever before the inevitable lizard confrontation.
Wonky translation aside, I choose to believe that Liz & Ard annoy Ashley so much, some sort of switch flips in his brain, and he starts talking like Dr. Doom.
Maybe you guys should get more dedicated uniforms for that kind of propaganda.
I’m not skipping any dialogue here. This makes exactly as much sense as it appears.
“I’m the brains! Ard’s the power! And, I’m cool! No matter how you look, we’re first rate. You Filgaia guys are second rate. You won’t get away with just a little burn.”
Ashley? Could you rephrase that so it doesn’t sound like you’re encouraging your own destruction?
Whatever. Liz and Ard boss fight. Nothing much has changed here since the last time, except now you have a multi-target healing spell, so Liz’s homemade bomb is much less of a factor.
Also, my whole “Level 99” thing seems to have an impact on this battle. That was the first attack! I didn’t know my own strength!
Let’s missile Ard into the grave and call it a day.
Good night, sweet princes.
Naturally, they’re resilient blokes.
The greatest tragedy in Wild Arms 2 is that Liz wants to be Ashley’s Vegeta, but he’s barely even Emperor Pilaf.
Aren’t we all?
I feel like noting a misplaced apostrophe is just sneezing into the wind at this point.
Hey! I’ve seen that purple ball before!
It’s Trask 2.0! You might remember OG Trask from our battle with Judecca.
This Trask is a little more metal than the previous version. It’s dumb, but I love the subtle storytelling here that Liz and Ard are responsible for all of Odessa’s mechanical monsters (and, as we already know, Caina with the key summons up the biological entities).
Anyway, if you consider that our two battles with Trask 1.0 were basically story events, this is our first real Trask battle.
But he’s not too much of a monster. Again, we’ve reached the point where Tim healing the party is really easy, and it’s very easy to outpace any turtle-based damage.
What are you trying to do, Trask? Some sort of status attack? Who cares? You’re dead now.
Trask got nothing on us, Liz.
Second mention of Liz’s Canadian girlfriend robot, Bulkogidon.
Hey, that’s how I start any wedding speeches.
Liz, dude, too much info.
Dammit! This was all part of the plan! … Yeah, it seems Odessa is well aware of Liz’s limited usefulness.
Is this why you mentioned you were naked a second ago?
And Hanna Barbera run outta here.
How!? How is it like that!?
Anyway, here we are at the other end of the bridge. There’s a crystal for saving, and the control panel Liz was using (and some treasure) is behind a lousy chain link fence that is somehow immune to all of our tools. Guess we’ll be back later with bolt cutters.
So let’s blow this stupid bridge and… Where were we going again?
Good thing we can globally track hard drives we fished out of the bay!
… Yes, Brad. Northwest is northwest from here.
Nobody names a place Greenhell because it’s pastoral.
Greenhell? Bloodhound? Why does this all sound so familiar?
Huh. Looks like Greenhell is already on the map, too.
Brad, where do you know this place from?
Oh! It’s Brad’s intro forest. Neat!
“Yeah, their barns stink.”
Brad, please share with the class.
“Come on, Brad. We just had my embarrassing origin story. Your life can’t be any worse than ‘ran away from dueling some nerd’.”
So! Flashback scenes! No dialogue, but a couple of scenes that now should make a little more sense. We still haven’t introduced Bandana Joe, but Brad is recognizable, and that fellow in the middle sure looks like big evil Vinsfeld in Brad’s outfit.
And here are a couple of buddies going for a relaxing jog.
Sure looks like Vinny was an integral member of Brad’s resistance.
Incidentally, there is some official art of Brad’s time in the liberation army. Hey! There’s Bandana Joe!
But Brad isn’t going to fill us in on any details. Dammit, Brad. Incidentally, if you go back and check out Brad’s intro again, you’ll note that we already saw all of these scenes, but with dialogue. The odds of a player remembering that at this point are low.
This is Brad’s intro dungeon. It is exactly Brad’s intro dungeon. You can even pick up any treasures you may have missed the first time.
Monsters are still crawling about.
At least they have leveled up to meet the party.
Honestly, this dungeon is fairly disappointing. I love when a videogame repurposes an old area for a later point in the game, but, in this case, nothing has changed.
This would have been a fine excuse to show how things are different five years after a civil war (or whatever), or how releasing the hounds to catch Brad screwed up the local eco system, or something to make this area distinct. But, nope, it’s just the same mandatory dungeon that you already completed. Nothing is different, and even some of the stuff that only made sense because you were a party of one has not been changed to match the presence of a full ARMS. There isn’t even some dude in a shed complaining that someone stole his kick boots five years ago!
And no boss. I could have lived with Son of Gremalkin.
Back out on the world map. We found a town up north once, hopefully it’s still there.
Yep! Nothing ever changes.
… I just said that!
That dungeon seemed pretty damn similar, Brad.
Never share introspection with your friends.
Come to T’Bok Village! See the fabulous nothing!
And a doggo is excited to see Brad.
Do not disparage doggo, disembodied voice!
This girl seems familiar.
And we’re expected to remember a dog’s name? From five years ago? It was Rush, right?
BUT! Fun fact: you can answer anything, even the right answer, and Brad will be chastised for forgetting his beloved dog (of about a half hour). This seems unfair. … Wait… Did I just get confused by a font?
And our lady here is obviously Merrill, the precocious child that saved Brad (and was also apparently 12).
Stop showing off your whirling ability!
Brad, my man, don’t even think about it.
You grow up fast when you inadvertently get a random dude arrested.
Reminder: Brad has a freaking bomb strapped to his neck.
So, hey, turns out Merrill found another stray. All those dogs searching for Brad, and they completely missed some other dude.
Brad recognizes the latest human flotsam.
This game takes “dog tags” literally.
Billy Pilder is an interesting and controversial character in Wild Arms 2. … Wait. We don’t have any official art of the guy? Just that random shot of him in the war? Bah. We can do better, right? Hey, internet, give me a good pic of Billy.
Thank you autumn-sacura of deviantart (possibly NSFW) for that Billy art. Where were we? Oh yes, Billy (previously known as Bandana Joe) was in the resistance with Brad. We’ll get some more information on the dude in the next couple of updates, but there is strong evidence that Billy is Brad. Also, there is generally circumstantial evidence that Billy and Brad were fairly close. How close? Pretty. Anyway, we’ll discuss that in laborious detail when it becomes relevant toward the end of the game, but, for now, keep an eye on these two.
Okay, so here’s the unanswered question of Wild Arms 2: is Brad Brad? It will be distinctly noted by a NPC next update, but no photographic evidence survived that Slayheim civil war. Additionally, if you remember Brad’s introduction, Brad does not introduce himself, the pursuing soldiers just find his wallet and start calling him Brad. Billy here is out of his gourd, but he claims to be Brad. Billy is only Billy because he was found with Billy’s dog tags. Put this all together, and there are good odds that “Brad” grabbed “Billy’s” Brad-tags, and took on the identity of the Hero of Slayheim after something terrible (coming soon!) happened to Billy. Carrying on the name of a hero to inspire others and all that riot.
The kicker here, though, is that this mystery is heavily implied, but never “solved” within the story of Wild Arms 2. There is a very deliberate reason for that, and it’s that none of this matters. Brad is a hero. It doesn’t matter if he’s Brad or Billy. (And Billy is a hero, too, for that matter.) Whatever the situation, we’ve got a Brad, and he was either the hero, or a guy who thought he should continue the lineage of a hero, and became a hero.
And that’s kind of cool.
Anyway, Brad is happy to see Billy, even if Billy is confined to a wheelchair and appears to be reduced to jibbering insanity. At least he’s comfortable?
So, presumably inspired by Billy and Merrill, Brad decides to finally share his past with the rest of ARMS.
And it turns out Brad’s old commanding officer was Vinsfeld. This is absolutely not news for anyone that read those books laying around the prison library a bunch of updates back.
Unfortunately, the rest of the party is illiterate.
“You been to Slayheim lately?”
“Well you’ll understand when we get there.”
“I heard people in my village say it was Vinsfeld’s… charisma and the bravery of Brad Evans and his companions that enabled the Liberation to defeat the military despite their small numbers.”
Merrill chimes in with info that Vinsfeld was pretty well liked among anyone that was supporting the Slayheim Resistance. Basically means that Vinny has a lot of on the job training for his current position.
“He and I were always fighting side by side. But he disappeared during the Final Operation. When the fighting was over… we Liberation Army veterans were blamed for the entire war. We were treated like war criminals. That’s right. It was all a clever trap set and sprung by Vinsfeld.”
I’m not certain what exactly Brad is saying here. Yes, Vinsfeld is a dick. Yes, he absolutely betrayed his comrades. But what is Brad implying with his intent here? Vinsfeld started a civil war as a dry run for Odessa, and then got his old men locked up because he wanted to make all new friends?
Thanks Merrill! And Alby!
So, point is, Brad is not going to be supporting Vinsfeld anytime soon.
“You’re normally so talkative!”
“But with you guys maybe tagging along to help with the monsters.”
God. It took forever to get to that pun.
“Let’s focus on the present. The thieves who stole the data tablets were traced to this village. Just ahead is the ocean. They must have crossed the sea to the continent. Makes sense?”
Oh yeah, right, there was a reason we were here.
Sounds like Odessa might be working on a drama bomb.
Okay, time to meander over to another town. Maybe then we’ll get Alby’s thrilling backstory.
Hey, we’re about to kill a day for no reason, and absolutely nothing bad or introspective will happen! ARMS just needs a nap!
Billy ain’t doin’ great, but he does get unique (crazy) dialogue if he speaks to Brad.
Legitimately, you have to compliment the townsfolk that took in a guy in this shape, and have dutifully cared for him for five years. Excellent social safety net, T’Bok.
“Hey, no prob. Prison was aces.”
Odessa is just a bunch of jerks.
Here is Billy’s non-Brad dialogue. It shall be relevant shortly.
Gotta see the dog on the way out. What’s that, boy? Billy fell down a well? We already knew that.
He would collect nice things if this town wasn’t such crap.
Whatcha got there, Alby?
That’s one good dog!
Dammit! Those things fell out of a plane, sunk in the bay, were manhandled by lizards, and retrieved by a dog, and somewhere in there they were destroyed? ARMS claims this was deliberate and malicious, but, come on.
ARMS Mission #13:
Retrieve important information from recovered data tablets
Notes: In the future, please keep an eye on your data tablets at all times.
Are we going to march across the ocean, Brad?
Also, don’t forget we got that Teleport Orb (currently covered in dog saliva). The orb works the same as any random teleport crystal, but is a permanent item, not a consumable. It basically just saves us 100 bucks a teleport, and is the game’s way of apologizing for railroading us into a geographic dead end here in T’Bok.
So let’s get to teleporting! Lilka, you have any experience with these things?
… Why is the screen changing color? That’s… not normal.
Remember how we chatted with that one guy in the magical library who said his partner had teleported somewhere far away to study magic? Well, after gaining that information, if you let Lilka, Mistress of Teleportation, use the teleport orb, she’ll “find” a secret area.
Hey, don’t discount us being really tiny, living in the floorboards, and then magically being enbiggened to meet you.
Can we have some?
“Know”? Screw that, I want some Firaga up in this place.
Ugh, fine, we’ll do your stupid errand. But only because we’re trying to get the dog spit off our new teleport orb.
I’m sure this is a reference to something…
Oh boy! New magic! New magic!
I really want to know how this guy got a whole house and a bunch of books to this remote island. Magic? Nah, that can’t be it.
Also, behind John’s house is a treasure chest containing a Weather Vane. This item prevents monster surprise attacks, and should be equipped on Tim immediately. I hate those ambushed, one person battles.
Teleporting over to Sielje…
Dammit, where is that one nerd I need?
Here we go. Have your crest or whatever, I’ve got some primo ice spells to learn.
You can teleport, too? Why did I even bother?
And back to the magic island. Yes! Gimme my magic now!
Okay! Now we can create Level 2 crest magic. This vastly increases Lilka’s damage potential. It’s also really great for learning the “remedy” and “life 2” WA2 spells, which are also very useful.
You can “break down” your old spells and reuse their crests for Level 2 magic, if you’d like. In general, Level 2 magic is always stronger than its Level 1 counterpart, but requires more than double FP to activate. Recall that FP is earned on a battle-by-battle basis, so , basically, it might be useful to keep the old spells around for more basic mobs. Unlike many MP-based JRPGS, in this case it’s not a matter of conserving resources, but building up your FP in each battle. The average random battle isn’t going to last longer than a round or two, and if you don’t gain enough FP to use your super wind spell in that time, what’s the use in having it at all?
Yes, Wild Arms 2 actually found a way to keep Fire 1 relevant when Fire 2 is available. Not bad.
Okay, there’s a little more to that sidequest, but I will forget about it until the end of the game. We can teleport directly to our hovercraft, so let’s hit the beach and get back on track.
“We do have some information about Quartly here. To reach Quartly, go up the Lilikis River, which flows into the southwest part of the Inland Sea. You should be able to reach the desert from the coast. Quartly is a town on a bridge spanning a huge rift valley known as Big Valley. That’s all the information I have. Over and out.”
Irving has some deets on how to reach Quartly. I’m not good at identifying rivers, though. This looks kind of desert-y. This it?
Oh, no, but I’ll take a Thunder Lion Cage.
This is an optional area that is technically available as soon as you earn the hovercraft. Speaking of optional, I have highlighted a block in the screenshot above that is very important, hard to see, is frequently forgotten, and shall be revisited in a good long while.
And if we sling Pooka around, we can find the AlbumCoupon. Take this back to Odd HQ, and we’ll gain the ability to look at our monster album anywhere we can open the menu. Unfortunately, we can’t look at the album during a battle, but it could be useful to review monster data randomly in a dungeon.
Anyway, this update is long enough, so I won’t feature Thunder Lion Cage too heavily. It’s a pretty basic three branch dungeon where two branches lead to switches that unlock the third (and middle) route.
And, yes, there are thunder-based monsters around.
Hey! Our first duplicator chest! Assuming you have a duplicator (consumable item), you can open this chest. You will note that duplicator chests are a slightly different shade of red from the standard issue chests. For the record, this chest contains a Spell Cap, which is useless and not worth it.
Flip the switches, take the middle path, and you’ll find this big ol’ rock.
This is our first optional guardian. Well, first optional guardian that gets its own dungeon. Guardians are usually hidden in out of the way areas, like this giant cage. They’re also fond of introducing themselves before becoming inanimate rocks.
Thanks for the rock! Noua (Nova?) Shax imparts the Aiming ability, which grants any basic attack a much greater accuracy rate. I don’t think it’s a guaranteed 100%, but it’s right up there. It Tim wants to learn some spells from Shax, he’ll naturally earn a pair of lightning-based abilities, Lightnin’ and Plasma Tap. Lightnin’ is single target, Plasma Tap hits everybody.
Is Shax a hair god?
It’s hard to see in Wild Arms 2, but Noua’s other WA appearances are a little easier to decipher. He’s basically a lion with a lightning rod helmet/horn. He isn’t a buffalo. I… I always thought he was a buffalo.
Back to the hovercraft. Looks like we’re on the right track!
This looks like a fine desert.
And here’s Quartly! We started this update with a bridge, and now we’re ending with a bridge town. Fearful symmetry!
Next time on Wild Arms 2: Exorcists are so gauche. Anybody ever try using a cyborg exorcist?