Previously on Wild Arms 2: Ashley fought his way back from the darkness with the help of Marina. And just Marina. To be absolutely clear: nobody else helped. At all.

I don’t think we get a distinct timeframe for Ashley’s absence, but let’s assume that it’s been a while since Irving said that.

Nope! Moving on.

“We will be transforming the chateau into a hotdog stand. Kanon, you are now responsible for relish deliveries.”

“We’re out of napkins.”

“What’d I miss? What’d I miss?”

Irving loves his dramatic tension.

“Stop using aerosol cans? Got it! Can I get out of here now?”

You kind of have to wonder about pre-monster infested Filgaia. Is there a decent reason for every village being twelve houses, and then a hundred miles to the next town? I could kind of believe it as a response to centuries of monsters stalking the planet, but that’s a recent development, apparently. Are Filgaians lazy?

So the ecology of Filgaia is trying to kill everybody? Are we going to become exterminators now?

“Seemed like something they’d do.”

“But now we know we have to blame space.”

I love this reveal…

Yep! From now until the game is completed, the sky has been transformed into… something unpleasant. This won’t impact any actual game mechanics or inhabitants of Filgaia (save one gal that might be happy to see the sun gone), but the overworld sky is now stuck in ominous mode. Incidentally, this only impacts the “world” graphics, individual towns look exactly the same as before (and dungeons are predominantly indoor affairs).

So the sky is coming to eat us. Time to fight the very heavens themselves!

“Do we look like scientists?”
“Look, it’s this or unemployment.”

So this will be the status quo for the rest of the game: Filgaia has some serious bad stuff going down, and we’re responsible for stopping it. And, side note, we barely even have a name for this phenomena. “Stain Paradigm”? Lame.

Oh yeah, when Tim was recruited, the Baskars were talking about a prophecy regarding “the sky being devoured”.

Maybe we should look into that.

So ARMS proper exits, but Ashley decides to have a discussion with Irving regarding the revelation that he’s a descendant of the exalted Sword Magess. I appreciate a story that involves people that actually get those “surprises” out of the way before someone is literally dangling off a cliff.

Also love that Ashley is on a first name basis with -The Sword Magess-. Hey, I heard from Anastasia that you were bros.

And Irving reveals… that it never really came up. I don’t buy this, as one of my friends is a direct descendent of Alexander Hamilton, and she only mentions that every seventeen seconds.

Ashley also discloses that he knows the identity of his demon tagalong. Again, glad Ashley is discussing this with his boss now (and not, say, five seconds before he turns into a murderous demon), but I can’t shake the feeling Irving already knew this.

“A descendant of the Magess and the embodiment of the… ‘Blaze of Disaster’. In other words, we are enemies.”

Irving notes the dichotomy, and hopes he’s not going to get punched in the face again.

“Welp, guess you’re my mortal enemy now. You already have a giant flying castle, so you wanna be the super villain here?”

This is typical, narratively insincere “oh no I don’t want to hurt anyone” JRPG hero dialogue (does anyone ever buy that the main character is going to flip out on his friends?)… But Ashley is possessed by the number one murder god in the history of Filgaia, so maybe he does have reason to be concerned.

But Irving retorts that, hey, play the cards you’re dealt, demon boy. Just because Lord Blazer destroyed the planet once doesn’t mean he’s going to do it again.

And Kanon was lurking right on the other side of the door (because of course she was), and she’s here to remind Ashley that there’s nothing to worry about.

She’ll kill Lord Blazer/Ashley but good!

ARMS should be renamed AUIAB: Always Up In Ashley’s Business.

“Look at all of your wonderful friends perfectly willing to kill you!”

I’m not certain what “records of the wars” are going to relay that Anastasia, who fought in said war, couldn’t tell us, but it’s somewhere to go.

So now we’ve got options: go to Baskar to talk to a bunch of old people, or explore a musty old dungeon. Which option lets us visit Colette? We’ll go with that one.

So the gang is back together and we’ve got free reign of the planet for the first time since before we raided Odessa’s final dungeon. Oh, the wonders now available to us.

Amy, you’re bringing down the mood.

Kate is that idiot that accidentally reveals every plot twist as a joke.

So we might have the brand new World of Disc 2 ahead of us… but nothing has changed. From a gameplay perspective, the world hasn’t changed since we got the teleporting hovercraft. The Stain Sky didn’t even drag stronger monsters into the picture!

But we’ve got places to be, so let’s just teleport over to Baskar.

Yes yes, we’ve all looked up at this point.

“Sacrifice Tim, or the sky gets it. The gods were pretty clear on this one, and since someone decided to continue breathing…”

“Kill. Tim. How many times do I have to remind you guys?”

But I guess dream divination is unreliable.

Lousy, lazy Guardians.

“Sure, Tim! You prefer crucifixion or immolation?”

Oh, hey, remember how this guy is secretly Tim’s grandfather? That’s never going to be addressed. Ever.

“And by ‘we’, I mean ‘you’. I have a load of laundry to do.”

Oh ho ho. You almost had us there, Village Chief, but you’re back on your bullshit.

“Sacrificing children is the one thing I’m good at!”

Lilka reclaimed her ability to speak in emoji. Been a while!

Ashley, this is what happens when you keep sacrificing yourself for the party and surviving. Children are watching!

“If they try to sacrifice me, I’m just going to politely decline.”

I have no idea why!

“Back when a bunch of old farts were talking about dreams of the sky being eaten, I didn’t buy it. But now the sky actually is missing, so maybe they’re on to something.”

Thank you for that vote of confidence, magical flying stuffed animal.

Them’s the breaks when your entire existence is to channel ancient gods.

Pooka has no real feelings of his own, and that makes him sad.

And Tim wants to find himself with the help of his friends! … Not his old friends that he apparently forgot about, but his new friends!

Guess it’s been a while since the last sacrifice. Time to talk to everybody!

Let’s go sacrifice a child! Yay!

Wild Arms has its traditional fire/water/earth/wind Guardians, and then there are the High Guardians of human emotions: Zephyr the Dragon of Hope, Justine the Lion of Courage, and Raftina the Goddess of Love. They were major players in Wild Arms 1, and they can be expected to return for this title in some capacity. Unfortunately, every Wild Arms game is supposed to take place during a time when hope, courage, and love are in short supply, so they might need a little coaxing.

Ah! The Urartu Mountains! Now I… have no idea where to go. Actually, we’ll get this Urartu Mountains tip from a couple of different NPCs, but nobody actually tells us where to find said mountains. So, once again, the answer is “look at a FAQ”.

Colette volunteered for the same job as Tim, again! Or the localization is as wonky as ever! Either one works!

So off to find the Urartu Mountains. On the way out of Baskar, we discover this cave. Doesn’t look much like a sacrificial altar…

But maybe we can grab some ancient Hot Pockets while we’re here.

My favorite gods can often be described as quiet, sleeping refrigerators.

So this is an optional mini dungeon. As is my wont, we’ll just do a brief overview of this area.

The “cold stone” room in the rear of the dungeon is protected by a “press the switches in the proper order” puzzle.

Any clues around here?

Yes! There’s a sort of creation myth inscribed around the dungeon, and each plaque incidentally reveals clues. The three plaques read:

"Today is the beginning. The endless blue sky and spreading deep forest, essence of a tranquil golden era."

"On the 2nd day of battle, roaring flames burn the earth. A dark era of overflowing grief visits."

"On the last day, a rough, wild snow blows covering the world in white as if returning it to nothing."

Can you figure out the proper order?

It’s blue, green, yellow, red, black, and then white. Now I’m writing a Wild Arms 2 FAQ! Yay!

“Guardian of Snow” sounds like a really ephemeral job.

Yeah, snow is going to save the world. Whatever, Mr. Freeze.

Aru Sularto is, naturally, our ice elemental summon. It teaches Tim Ice Beam and Arctic, a pair of ice type attacks that will really damage Dragon types. Or maybe I’m thinking of something else. Aru also confers the custom command Power Charge, which will double your attack on your next turn.

Also, Aru only appears in Wild Arms 1 and Wild Arms 2 (and Wild Arms 1’s remake, if we’re counting that as its own thing). As a result, it’s kind of difficult to determine Aru’s, uh, species. Best I can figure is “bishonen yeti leopard”. That sounds right.

Note that, had I been on the ball, I’m pretty sure we could have scored this ice dude back when we first received the hovercraft, or after it started teleporting at the latest. But we didn’t have Kanon radar then, sooooo…

It turns out that the Sacrificial Altar is way the hell north of Baskar, up past Slayheim, and pretty close to Guild Gallad territory.

We probably passed it once on that train ride.

According to a random Baskar nerd, this site has been abandoned since the Blaze of Disaster a thousand years back. In spite of that, the whole dungeon is in pretty good shape, so maybe it is protected by the gods.

Though someone could stand to repair the walkways.

Nothing a dagger and a switch can’t fix.

The next gap is where one of Wild Arms 2’s faults comes to light. There are too many tools!

It’s clear that this out-of-place ornament is part of the key forward, but, at this point, there are too many tools that could be the solution. Bombs? Nope. Throwing knife? Apparently not. Fire Rod? Ice Rod? Air Ballet? Grappling Hook? Negative on all of those. There are a pile of tools that fall into the “used to hit things” category, and it turns out the answer in this case is simply “kick it”. This isn’t some kind of game-destroying “bug”, but it does unfortunately remind the player that about 80% of the puzzle solving tools in this game are, arguably, all the exact same thing but with different colors. And we don’t even have a full set of tools yet!

But back to good things: Sacrificial Alter is an interesting, one-of-a-kind dungeon. There’s a path you must follow to complete the zone, but there are three entirely optional side areas across this dungeon that spice things up. To my knowledge, there are no other dungeons in this game that so deftly weave mandatory and optional content. In fact, your average player might miss the optional content entirely, but three separate statues (this dragon being one of them) should tip you off that something is up in these otherwise nondescript hallways.

In this case, you may find a secret passage by ducking below one of the nearby pillars.

Puzzle room! You may recognize these panels as representatives of the astrological zodiac. I guess Filgaia has the same constellations as Earth/Ivalice.

Four eyes? Anybody got four eyes on that zodiac?

It’s Gemini! So stand on the panel directly opposite the twins (I think it’s Sagittarius?), and we’re in the clear.

Away we go!

And we’ve earned the key item Stone Drago(n). This will automatically activate toward the end of the game, but grabbing it now will save us a trip back later.

Completing each optional fork will deposit you back at the matching (big) statue. Moving on!

The next room is just some switches and a few treasures.

Another gap?

This time, we have to drag blocks into place. This dungeon’s “theme” seems to be presenting the same problem over and over again, but with a different solution each time.

Well, usually a different solution.

Use blocks to complete a staircase, and then flip a switch to move on.

The next room has a platform that is too high.

Time to do some remodeling!

(Man, I used this exact same joke for the exact same reason a few updates back, and I just do not care.)

A statue! That’s supposed to be a lion, but I’m getting more of a monkey vibe.

And that statue means you’re supposed to backtrack a lil’ and check under the other raised platform for a fresh secret passage.

Looks like a clock puzzle, right?

Well, the trick here is that you’re supposed to ignore the “puzzle panels” entirely.

Use the nearby scaffolding to get some height, drop on to one of the statues, and peg the higher statue with fire. The roman numerals around the room are a distraction!

And that will earn us a Stone Lion. For new players, these worthless statues are pretty confusing, but when has a stone lion ever been completely useless?

Back to Stone Lion Prime.

Save point! I’ve barely mentioned the random encounters up to this point, because they’re barely worth mentioning. This is an easy dungeon for combat, and the constant puzzles mean encounters are generally rare, too.

This room could be complicated, but it’s really not.

There are multiple levels in this area, and some spots have treasure.

And you access these levels by raising and lowering blocks with nearby switches. This really looks like the kind of puzzle wherein you may raise a block to make progress in one area, but that raised block blocks your way forward on another level, so you have to juggle switches and carefully work out your next trip.

But it’s actually just a matter of pressing, like, two switches, and then just not falling off of anything. Surprisingly easy!

Next room has another statue, so you know what that means.

In this case, there are some discolored blocks obviously hiding a passage, and the answer here is to use those Brad Bombs.

Rainbow puzzle? Didn’t we already have one of those this update?

The solution this time?

Again, we completely ignore the floor tiles, and push the stone heads into nearby wells.

One stone head per well, please, but, other than that, I don’t think you have to worry about which head goes where, just so long as they “dam”.

That should really be “Stone Goddess”, but considering we couldn’t even wedge “Dragon” in there…

Okay, that about does it for the optional area and mandatory areas.

Time for a boss?

Nah. Guess the Guardians didn’t need a… guardian.

The Guardians are going to hop on party chat.

“How may we direct your call?”

Anybody else hear Whoopi Goldberg in their head?

Et tu, Pooka? (I have no original material)

This would be more relevant if Pooka had actually guided us to this location, and not Old Man Murderkids.

You have not!

Thanks, Chaos, you want to get to the point?

“That’s right, Tim, boy of the ‘Pillar’. Everything is a part of destiny spinning on a wheel. It’s a planned accord. Accept your fate, as the ‘Pillar’. Filgaia is now being confronted by an unprecedented crisis. The only ones who can stop it are us, Gaia, and… one who can deliver our power. The boy of the ‘Pillar’. You, Tim.”

Please look forward to Wild Arms 2: Unprecedented Crisis, coming this Fall never.

“Yeah, hey, that’s great, Gaia. Want to tell us what the hell is happening, though?”

“Kid Sacrifice wants to know why he’s a sacrifice? Yeah, okay, that’s fair.”

Gaia says “The Other World” here, but it’s more like “An Other World”.

Cliff notes: You know how some scientists proposed there are multiple dimensions/universes? Well, one dimension’s planet is trying to butt into Filgaia’s space, and there’s only room enough for one sphere supporting life in this solar system.

If the world of Filgaia is Gaia (oh, hey, just got that), then the “stain” is, like, Nega-Gaia, complete with its own “Guardians”.

But it’s not an “all at once” kind of takeover. The monsters are, more or less, denizens of Negagaia, and they’re the first wave.

The other world is basically taking over the sky so it can try before it buys (the planet).

But since the whole thing is kind of a metaphysical takeover, it is very difficult to punch.

Despite being the strong guy of the group, Brad continues to be the smartest guy in the room.

So Gaia is convinced that the only way to beat back Negagaia is by channeling power through Tim. This would have the unfortunate side effect of Tim, ya know, exploding.

Tim isn’t into it.

“Look, we told you why you have to die. Now die.”

Tim just doesn’t believe it.

“We are that we are. Are you saying you’re smarter than us? Have you even hit puberty yet?”

“What’s that, Pooka, our most trusted advisor?”

Pooka is now vouching for Tim. This stuffed animal is all over the place today!

“Well, we guess if Pooka is onboard, we can’t really argue with that.”

On one hand, I enjoy any story where the omnipotent gods are actually fairly pliable, and not Old Testament “you all turn to salt for disagreeing with me” wrathful. On the other hand, the very spirit of the world flips its opinion on the fate of the planet on the word of a preteen and his pet teddy bear. The gods must be crazy.

So Gaia agrees to let Tim find another way, but notes that Pooka having a will of its own is pretty unusual.

“Pooka, we’re saying you shouldn’t be able to generate an ‘I’ statement at all.”
"I know.”

And Tim gets a new ability for communing with god!

Divide is Tim’s Level 3 Force Ability, and it will cut the enemy’s level in half. In some cases, this will transform your opponent into a completely different monster (with different rewards and stealable items). If I were a more technical Let’s Player, I could probably spend an entire update fooling with this ability, as it is very Final Fantasy 5-esque in the ways it can subtly break the game. But WA2 isn’t that complicated of a game to begin with, so… not gonna do that. You’ll be lucky if I ever remember to use the skill at all!

And that’s it for today. Filgaia is being threatened by an encroaching rival universe, and the grand spirit of the planet just told us how to beat it, but we’re going to look for another way. I guess there’s no reason we can’t just sacrifice Tim anyway if we can’t find an alternative, right? It’s good to have a murderous backup plan!

Next time on Wild Arms: The Fatima Jasper.

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