Wild Arms 2 Part 31: Sleeping Volcano, Hidden Dragon

Previously on Wild Arms: Ashley turned into a raging monster, but Marina talked him down, so now he’s just a regular monster. Also, Kanon totally flaked, which I believe officially makes every member of ARMS a complete failure.

But we did destroy a nuclear dragon, so our approval ratings are soaring.

“Sitting here watching while a gang of five or six people saved the world.”

Gosh, isn’t that an interesting way of looking at things.

Something someone said strike your fancy, Irving?

Have you seen half the monsters on this planet? There are giant, mutant rats living right outside your castle.

This was mentioned in a random book earlier, but, yes, most of the mechanical weaponry in this Filgaia comes directly from dragon fossils.

Ha ha, Irving. Don’t you think people would notice if there were dragons running around. I mean…

Oh. Never mind.

“Lombardia, the Dragon Caliber”. We’re going to be hearing that title a couple of times, and, while it might be another Wild Arms gun reference, I’m of the opinion it’s a mistranslation of “dragon carrier”, which would make a lot more sense. Or maybe it’s something even crazier!

Irving doesn’t let his filthy mercs touch the furniture.

“I don’t know, Ashley, maybe we’ll have to find the dragon’s girlfriend to calm him down.”

Ashley, God, the Over Knight Blazer incident was like five minutes ago. Don’t become one of those guys.

Odessa didn’t fail because they misused ancient technology. Odessa failed because we whacked ‘em with our weapons but good.

But Irving retorts that we need this power because… uh… maybe we’ll have to kill Ashley again?

Yeah, killing Ashley is looking more and more like a good idea.

“Guys, this dragon that has only been a rumor for hundreds of years could disappear at any moment! Chop chop!”

“According to our intel, he betrayed the Irregular Hunters and hid himself inside a volcano.”

Disappointing fact: we are returning to the Raline Observatory, but we will not be encountering Liz & Ard. Also: there’s no Tooth Fairy. It was your mom.

“So, do we need to know his name to, uh, distinguish him from all the other dragons?”
“No, I just thought it sounded cool.”

Let’s go dragon hunting!

“Kate, you’re fired.”
“But I’m Amy!”
“Doesn’t matter!”

This might be my favorite bit of direction, as it actually guides you based on a previously visited location. Most of the time we just get, “an island west of… eastern stuff.”

Teleporting over that way seemed to work well the last time.

Here we are. Finding the entrance to the volcano is a lot more intuitive than finding the observatory 17,000 updates back.

If I ever become a super villain, remind me to start my career by spreading rumors about magical dragons sleeping in volcanoes. I’ll have any meddling heroes barbequed by dinner time.

I didn’t really notice it until this very moment, but a lot (if not all) of the dungeons thus far have either been man-made structures (like towers, castles, and Death Stars) or man-modified caves (like a dedicated mine). The Sleeping Volcano distinguishes itself by being almost entirely organic, and very… inhospitable.

There are a lot of confusing pathways, and they loop and intersect in a properly confusing way.

And some paths require a little coercion.

Where’s that flammable magician girl?

It’s a good thing ignoring warnings about flammable gas always works out!

Moving on.

Youch! Yes, this sleeping volcano has a lot of hot lava flowing around.

So it’s time to put Kanon’s rocket skates to work. Blade on!

The first lava area has a four way fork to start. We’ll head toward the furthest branch.

These lava areas get a little more clever as we move forward. Randomly skating here will likely see you soaring off this improperly placed cliff, and right into a lava bath. Lava just drains your HP a little, but it’s something you should avoid if at all possible.

But there are treasures on some plateaus, so keep an eye out.

Save point! There’s another fork in this area, so remember that in a minute or so when I get hopelessly lost.

Dammit, Kanon! A little more to the left!

Local volcano flora and fauna includes a bulbasaur that has gone horribly wrong.

So that path we followed deposits us on this cliff that is clearly a “no way back” situation. Wild Arms 2 players! Heed my warning, and do not act as foolishly as I once did!

I jumped off that cliff immediately, and torched this nearby gas deposit.

But, as you can see, there’s another gas spring above us, and I could have nailed it from that cliff, but, no, I’m a dumbass.

And it looks like there’s no way back up there from here. Time to repeat what has effectively been 75% of the dungeon!

Also, this room deposits us back into the original lava-fork room. So I could have just saved myself an entire trip by entering this door first, and blasting that black smoke first.

But it’s not a total loss, as checking up on the top fork leads to a new arm for Brad.

Mini Scud is a personal missile launcher. It’s one of Brad’s more effective arms, but there isn’t much that really distinguishes it.

Now back to dungeon skating.

An inordinate amount of walking later, and we can now detonate that cliff-based target.

And, like an idiot, I toss myself off that cliff again, only to find that there’s another gas spout up there, and a door (cave door?) that apparently comes from another area.

I could have just walked backwards from that cliff, but nooooo, I jumped off, and now I have to repeat most of the volcano again.

Now we can take the second path around the save point.

Mostly just lava dodging…

Oh, this is… medium interesting. It’s basically a maze of rocks and treasures, but the design of the area does give the impression this “dungeon” is a series of natural rock growths (or the results of random lava flows? I’m not a geologist).

And some HP crystals in case you need a fill up after all that lava.

Now we can blast that final spout.

And, since we hit the other two spouts earlier, we can walk around with impunity. Progress in our time!

Sure, random slate in the middle of an inactive volcano. Whatever you say.

Whipping out “the power of destruction” (aka Brad’s bombs) will blast that monolith to pieces.

And leave a natural fart behind.

That final blast opens what appears to be our first doorway leading inside the volcano.

And this is our final destination. If you know what you’re doing, the Sleeping Volcano is a pretty quick dungeon. If you’re me… things take a little longer.

Please tell me ARMS isn’t just tripping on carbon monoxide poisoning…

Hey, that sounds familiar!

Knowing his name did come in handy!

Guys! Oh my God! Guys! He’s not a dragon! He’s a transformer! We’re gonna get a transformer! It’s Christmas!

“Am I doing this right? Is this thing on? You guys are pathetic. Did you understand that?”

This raises all sorts of questions about that dragon we killed yesterday.

Hey, remember when Ashley turned into a monster, and, despite being an intelligent creature, all he could do was communicate through grunts? And remember how we have killed 70,000,000 random monsters since then?

That’s what I thought.


Dragons are cool, but rude.

So Cybertron got eaten by Unicron. Got it.

Well, this all sounds very familiar.

So the good news is that if ARMS fails, a few humans might actually survive in the “new” universe. The bad news is they’re likely to be just as helpless as the dragons, and… that doesn’t end well.

“Couldn’t save your own universe, but why not give ours a shot?”

“I understand. Hanging out alone in a volcano sounds like a much better use of your time.”

“And my programs are on…”

“Unlike some dragons.”

“Saving the world is just like learning to play the trumpet! We’ll be the Mighty Mighty Bosstones in no time!”

Score!

Okay, I’m going to talk about this three second GIF for a minute. Tim and Lilka are the two youngest members of ARMS, but, by and large, they barely ever interact. I think their biggest scene together was when Tim found Lilka on Ashley’s steps, and, for that bit of drama, Tim could have been essentially any other character. Or a particularly verbal chair. However, even though we don’t get reams of Lilka/Tim dialogue, we get adorable little moments like right here, where we have successfully convinced a freaking dragon to join the party, so high five! Brad, Kanon, and Ashley are as professional as ever, but the kids are freaking psyched, and, in a one second animation, we’re rapdily reminded of party dynamics.

It’s a pretty rad way to sneak some character moments into the script, and it would be nice if the talky JRPGs of today could remember this simple shortcut to making characters relatable and interesting.

Oh, but now, we fight.

Cool pose, caliber.

Official game art gives Lombardia a sort of Sonic the Hedgehog vibe.

“So you just want us to hit you?”
“Yes! That!”

Whoops! Kind of forgot to heal after all that lava…

And Lombardia isn’t going to wait around while we break out the berries.

Lombardia’s “belly” is clearly that jewel in his middle, and, while I don’t know much about dragon physiology, I’m almost certain you don’t want to hit a potential ally in that spot.

Lombardia’s strongest attack is some manner of party-wide dragon laser. Fortunately, this is Lombardia’s only threatening attack, so if you heal after each blast (which doesn’t happen that often), you should be fine.

We get 15,000 EXP and gella, which seems to imply Lombardia had a stash of cash.

Because, if you’re good, one day, you might tame a transformer.

“I feel like we really had a breakthrough when Brad hit you with that missile, but I’m still going to recommend continuing counseling for everyone here.”

Oh, right, fighting in a “sleeping” volcano always leads to an active volcano.

How will ARMS get out of this one?! Is anyone here secretly a jet?

BAD END

Oh, no. Lombardia. Right.

So where does the party fit in Lombardia? It’s unclear!

Meanwhile, back at the chateau.

Lombardia basically confirms what we learned from Gaia: a world is trying to eat our world, and it’s difficult to punch.

But apparently Lombardia provided info on where the parallel universe originated. So we know where to aim our rail gun now?

Irving reveals that Ashley gave him an idea: if we can “trap” the encroaching universe in a physical shell (like how Lord Blazer is trapped within Ashley), then we can stab that universe until it… can a universe die?

Guess we’ll find out!

Ley lines are hypothetical alignments of a number of places of geographical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths. Their existence was suggested in 1921 by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, whose book ‘The Old Straight Track’ brought the alignments to the attention of the wider public.”

So the newest plan is to manipulate our planet’s energy into forming a magical cage to trap the other universe.

Wonder why nobody thought of this sooner!

“Just make sure that ‘mortal conception’ has limited HP, okay?”

And that includes…

Our brand new dragon buddy!

Wild Arms Mission #23
Gain the power of a dragon.
Status: Success!
Notes: And it turns out the dragon was a chatty cathy, and we now have a brand new objective, too!

Seek out the reypoints! For great justice!

We finally have a legit airship! Hooray!

A quick word about Lombardia: we now have a sentient airship equipped with marvelous laser weaponry… but that volcano bit was the last that will ever matter. Lombardia is going to just stand around while we’re off exploring dungeons, and doesn’t join us for a rad dragon-based battle even once. Lame! This will be rectified when a version of Lombardia returns in Wild Arms 3, so please look forward to that game I am absolutely not LP’ing.

Oh, also, WA3 Lombardia is female. There’s really no reason to assume this Lombardia is male, but I’m going to do that anyway, because I suspect this Lombardia is Starscream in disguise.

So let’s talk about why the Wild Arms 2 world map kind of sucks. For the first time in the game, we have Kanon’s radar and an airship that can land (almost) anywhere. So that means, for the first time in the game, we can go anywhere, and find all of the hidden dungeons scattered around the map. Why couldn’t we do this before? Well, because the varied requirements for “landing” in the other vehicles are very limiting, and that can make exploration very bewildering.

Remember Judecca’s Diablo Pillar from a while back? We were told it was on that island, we could see it on the radar, but we couldn’t actually reach the tower through traditional means. We could park the hovercraft nearby, but, thanks to some random cliffs, we just couldn’t make it to the actual pillar. It was eventually revealed that we had to go to a ghost town halfway across the world, and use a hitherto unmentioned teleporter to find our way to our actual goal. And that was an interesting way to frame one mandatory dungeon, but applying that same thinking to optional content is absurd. We can’t get up this cliff to reach that tantalizing green dot? Well, does that mean we don’t have the plot mandated latest vehicle upgrade, we’re not supposed to go to this location yet, or that we’re simply missing a random hill on that cliff that we’re supposed to climb? Without a FAQ or a very dedicated map, there’s no way of knowing!

And, what’s more, with the “activate landmarks” system, even if you do find an “unusual” location where there is clearly supposed to be something hidden, if you don’t find anything, there’s no way of knowing if that area is waiting for plot activation, or if you’ve just encountered a particularly weird bit of geography. The Sleeping Volcano from this very update was clearly always going to be a dungeon, but we first found the area hours and hours ago when it was inert. Which, if we killed some time on foot looking for this impossible entrance at that time, we would have just been rewarded with a bunch of aggravating random battles.

Basically, what I’m saying here is that the world map of Wild Arms 2 is interesting, and it’s nice that it contains secrets that are available as early as Valeria Chateau’s first take off, but actually exploring this world is a pain in the ass if you don’t already know where you’re going. Without Lombardia and Kanon’s radar, determining whether you’re exploring a potential secret, an area waiting to be unlocked in another few hours, or a dead end is nearly impossible.

But now we have our airship, so everything is hunky dory. We’re supposed to be aiming for those four reypoint dungeons (which will remind us of Diablo Pillars soon enough), but we can also tackle a lot of optional content, too.

And our first stop? Well, this castle looks like a lot of fun…

Next time on Wild Arms 2: What crazy thing will we recruit next?

One Response »

  1. Pingback: Wild Arms 2 Part 33: Luck, Wind, and Fire | Gogglebob.com

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