This was first posted on Gogglebob.com on April 18, Filgaia Day. Some extreme people holler, ‘Be kind to Filgaia!’ But I prefer a more restrained approach. I’d rather be seen with a laid-back attitude than having people going out of their way to be kind.
Prologue: Let It Roll
According to Wikipedia, Writer’s Digest described this sentence as "the literary posterchild for bad story starters". Hell yeah let’s do this thing.
… Look, we’re two pictures into this Let’s Play, and I just stopped myself from making a second reference to seminal 90’s band Train. This… this is gonna be a long LP.
Now it’s time to meet…. OH GOD DAMMIT.
Introducing a main character as an avid reader? You have my attention, Wild Arms 3. I am not 100% sure Cloud Strife even knows the alphabet.
Raytracing my ass, the Playstation 2 handles reflections perfectly.
The night: it is dark and stormy.
And our obvious heroine is all tuckered out.
But something is happening!
… To once again confirm, this LP is definitely going to be GIF heavy. The animation is a big part of why I’m bothering with this LP at all (well, that and my audience apparently voted for it to happen).
Virginia: already standing up. Mission failed.
Virginia is not someone to just sit there on a train and dream about being a moron or something.
It’s the fuzz!
Virginia decides she is not going to deal with the local authorities… but she might be a bit of a klutz.
“Tony” is a recurring name in the Wild Arms franchise, usually assigned to some hapless kid. Virginia is aware of this, and does not respect Tony’s authority.
Oh no! The lock on the next train car has been bypassed! Also, that door clearly opens inward, so I’m not certain what that lock was supposed to do…
She’s been listening to you so well so far, Tony.
Virginia immediately retorts with, “Come on! Adventure!” This is her catchphrase.
Tony emphasizes how he is wholly failing at his job.
This will not be the first time I say this: the dramatic direction on this game is unparalleled, and I do not care who knows it.
The crate is the only thing anyone cares about and you know it, Tony.
Somebody is about to get the Hylian Bow.
Oh, my bad, it’s just the briefcase from Pulp Fiction.
And then: people!
The term “Mexican Standoff” first appeared in writing in 1876, and was used in reference to a Mexican bandit robbing an American in a typical “your money or your life” situation. So I think it’s racist. This is a… Four Player Standoff. Can we get that phase going?
Okay! So here is where the gameplay first kicks in. Like in many Wild Arms games, you may play the characters’ introductions in any order you’d like. As a first for the franchise, all the stories are told in flashback leading up to this dramatic moment. Neat! “The Girl in First Class”, our POV character for this intro-to-an-intro, is the obvious choice, and her listed difficulty is one star out of three.
We also have a suspicious intruder at 2/3.
A drifter guardsman at a full 3/3.
And the boy who broke in back at 2/3.
For the record, despite the difficulty ratings, these are all “tutorial dungeons”, and you would kind of have to try to actively fail at these initial offerings. The drifter guardsman’s area is technically less easy than Virginia’s little romp, but we’re still talking about one-on-two random encounters and “should I use a heal potion now or later” being the only real challenge involved. If you have ever played a JRPG before, nothing about this opening is difficult.
So we’re definitely starting with Virginia first. It just flows best.
After selecting you character, you are given the option of naming them. You may have noticed that Virginia was not formally named by dialogue boxes before this moment… so I probably should not have been so freely calling her Virginia. But she is Virginia! Virginia’s Virginia.
To my knowledge, there are no filters on naming these heroes, so you can name Virginia Maxwell something insane like Maxwell Maxwell, or give “Jet” a stupidly mundane name like “Adam”. You are in control!
Actual Chapter 1: Sweet Virginia
Maybe she was on that train longer than we thought…
Virginia is one of the few 18-year-old protagonists that I would accept as, like, 14. She starts off pretty immature in a very teenager way, so I would allow the JRPG trope of her being somehow 12. That said, I was pretty damn immature at 18, too, so…
Sweet! That usually lasts forever.
Stupid Fire Nation.
For the record, these are Gobs, and they are usually the Lvl. 1 baddies of opening Wild Arms areas. So just imagine Virginia’s town is being robbed by slimes here.
Tesla is a massive, life-threatening failure that is going to lead to harm and misery for everyone. Also, this chief of the village has some problems, too.
I have not drawn attention to the changing character portraits in dialogue boxes yet because Virginia’s “what did you do” face is amazing.
Gob’s live by a strict “I do not axe questions” policy.
Man, this is like having to pay protection money to a toddler.
Uncle Tesla is headbutted by a gob. Dang thing forgot it had a weapon right there.
You just got robbed by a creature that can’t figure out horses. Or large dogs.
Man, I wish that was Tesla’s motto.
Yes, Virginia, there is a gob hideout.
See? It’s right there in the name.
Wild Arms 3 is so considerate. Here is your excuse for why there will be random encounters every five feet. No Metal Gear Maxwell for you.
Virginia is equipped with a pair of revolvers. Thanks to the art style, they are occasionally cannons wider than her head.
Hooray! We are officially playing a video game, and not just advancing text boxes! Also, there is a continual gella (money) and time count on the screen that bothers me so much.
Before we take a step, let’s take a look at the menu. Pretty spartan affair here: our opening menu tells us everything we need to immediately know our party (currently one member). An instant HP count is always useful.
The first icon is items. Wild Arms 3 starts you with 10 heal berries (potions… with a twist we’ll cover later) and 10 Gimel Coins (we’ll get there, too). We also have a Sheriff Star, which is proof this is a New Game+ and that I am super cool and handsome. And, yes, the Sheriff Star is the only item you get to keep on a New Game+.
But you do get to keep levels! And Virginia is currently a level 99 powerhouse. This is not as tremendous of a boon as you may imagine, as your equipment is still metaphorically level 1… but… yeah, nothing is going to be able to touch us for a while. Literally! That Evade stat is going to pump up the enemy misses.
General stats are typical JRPG faire. MGR is “magic resistance”, RFX is “reflex” or speed, and “aim” is used in damage calculation when using an ARM (which should be all the time). The bottom left is basically our equipment… but we don’t really have what qualifies as equipment yet.
Regarding Virginia in particular, you can see from her stat spread that she is generally more magical than physical (but not significantly), her speed is tops, and her defense isn’t all that great. Give or take the magic/physical switch, she is your typical JRPG protagonist.
Auto battle options are available. The game will literally have something to say about this shortly.
Here are our ARM specs. Everyone in Wild Arms 3 is equipped with one weapon they will have for the whole game. Said weapon can be upgraded… which we will examine more when we can actually do that.
Okay, let’s get this show on the road!
Dammit! I hate unnecessary exclamation points!!!
Dungeon 101: if there is a locked door, pull a nearby switch. This is the worst security system ever.
And away we go! Again!
Making significant progress here…
Gobs! In the Gob Hideout!
First battle! As you can see, there is a difference between “map model” and “battle model”, but it is not as pronounced as in previous Wild Arms titles.
The Wild Arms/Lufia battle cross returns. The middle, default option gets the battle going, but you can switch party positions (below), adjust options (right), play with equipment (top), or manage auto battle commands (left) if you want. In general, only the top option will ever be useful.
One menu deep and we get to the good stuff. Items up top, force abilities to the left, magic to the right, and basic “fight” is in the middle. There’s also the defend command on the bottom, and that is going to see a lot more use than in your typical JRPG.
Enemies are generally grouped together and then lettered. We will eventually gain an “analyze” spell, but for now we are just hitting stuff.
As previously mentioned, everyone has an ARM… and that’s basically a marginally fantasy firearm. In this case, Virginia is using her “shoot” command to gun down a gob. The other Gob attacks… and whiffs, as may be expected for Super Virginia.
So you’ve got guns, and that means bullets/ammo. Every character has a limited bullet count, and it decreases by one with every “fight” command. I realize that sounds straightforward, but keep in mind Virginia is using two guns simultaneously, and a later character has what is effectively a machine gun. Regardless of the weapon(s) involved, “one fight command = one bullet” just to keep things simple. Bullets are not consumable items (or they’re infinite, however you want to look at it), and a clip is refilled with every battle. If you run out of bullets during a battle, you are limited to a physical attack (that may not even work on a flying enemy), or you must use the defend command to refill back to max. This is, obviously, a much more common practice in a boss battle, and rarely happens in the usual random encounters.
There are other “techniques” involved in your bullet count, but we’ll get there later.
Also, the battle camera is all over the place at all times. As you’ve probably guessed, your “aim” stat impacts the number of hits you will do, and more hits equals more damage. And, once again, even if you somehow score a million hits on a target, that is still just one spent bullet.
Battle results! Items that boost the EXP multiplier have been a standard in the Wild Arms franchise from the first game, so now it is easy to remember if you are getting extra stuff at battle’s end. Additionally, won items are pretty common, and every enemy drops EXP and Gella (probably?).
Your level and “Next Level Up” EXP count are displayed after every battle. VIT is a stat I have not addressed yet that automatically caps off your HP after every fight. VIT drops to zero, and you are stuck using healing items to stay healthy after a victory. VIT can only be restored by special items (that may appear as giant, glowing gems) or staying at an inn. Stay well rested, and you’ll be fine.
“Condition Green” means you do not currently have any status effects.
Aw, it was really Virginia’s first battle.
You can do it, Virginia! You’re a gob-wrecking ball!
Okay, not certain you can fly… but good goals!
And time to move forward!
But we’re not getting too far, because we’ve got another blocked door.
From that Gob fight on, random encounters are enabled. Wild Arms 3 is following Wild Arms 2 rules, and encounters appear initially as exclamation mark “warnings”…
You can hit Circle to cancel an encounter if you don’t feel like dealing with it. However, that drops a point off your encounter gauge (top left), so you can’t dodge forever. Note that encounters are ranked based on your Migrant Level, which can be upgraded by Migrant Seals. As you can see, I’m level 1. Migrant Levels are not carried over with New Game+, even though that would make a lot more sense. This system is like if games with F.O.E. style encounters always based warnings on your plot progression, and not your actual stat-based level.
We can access one unlocked room, and it contains the Wild Arms traditional throwing crates. If you see something, toss something.
I managed to toss a crate into the “ceiling” of the room, and its containing item is now stuck in an unreachable position. That’s not great, Wild Arms 3! If I really wanted to, I could leave and “reset” the room to toss that crate somewhere more accessible… but I feel I should live with this mistake.
And besides, the real prize for this room is in a treasure chest. Our first tool! The Tindercrest! We will use this shortly.
There are also some bookcases in this room. I appreciate that the prompt notes that a particular book “catches your eye”. I am still waiting for Pokémon games to acknowledge that a bookcase may contain more than one book containing more than three text boxes…
The Wild Arms franchise has a weird (what I presume to be) translation issue wherein every game has a different name for “whaddyacallit, mercenary dudes”. In Wild Arms 3, those that roam the wastelands are called “Drifters”. They were the much less vagrant sounding “Dream Chasers” in Wild Arms 1. Regardless, “Drifters” are occasionally called “Migratory Birds” in WA3, and seem to attract flight imagery like pigeons attract bread.
A brief lore explanation of “the world sucks because of a giant monster war” is also available. Digging how the presumed first dungeon snuck in some town-like NPC explanations through a mini library.
Between this and the “dark and stormy night” opening, it seems like someone on the staff was a giant trope nerd. Alan Smithy is “the first Drifter”, but it’s more of a pseudonym signature for the many Alan Smithy “tips” that could not have all come from one person that you’ll see around the world. Cute.
One of the books explains how to use the “defend” command to reload. I think there is also a tutorial prompt for this during the upcoming boss battle, too.
Further lore fill-in: the Gobs definitely did not build this house, it was a mansion for the Whateley family, but their fortune dwindled to nothing, and the Gobs took over at some point recently. Excellent explanation for why a bunch of weird little green things own something that contains a foyer.
Tools! After exiting the library, we have an opportunity to use the Tindercrest. This allows Virginia to toss fire in a straight line anywhere in a dungeon. This is usually used for lighting torches, or maybe generally burning stuff. Wild Arms 2 had a “fire rod” tool, but Wild Arms 1 stuck to a lighter, and this seems to split the difference between magical and mundane. They probably could have overtly drew a connection between this and the Western motif of lighting moody campfires, but I don’t think they ever get there.
So lighting the torches opens that locked door, and now we can explore further into the dungeon. You know you’re walking the long way around when rubble blocks a treasure chest.
An upstairs room teaches “sneaking”. You can hold the circle button to move slowly, which is essential when dealing with traps that activate after heavy footfalls.
If you don’t sneak cautiously, you’ll fall! Falling does literally nothing to your heroine, but it does mean you have to restart the room from its beginning/entryway. A slight annoyance of a punishment.
Excuse me, “tiptoe”. Adorable.
Tiptoeing isn’t all that slow, at least.
Moving right along!
Our ultimate goal is to get downstairs, but, for now, we’re going to open more doors with fire.
White crystals are scattered about any given dungeon. They refill your encounter gauge, which can be useful if you are a coward (says the guy cheating his way into invincibility).
We’ve got another “library” room, and this book all but says to not worry about the random encounters. Without exaggeration, this book states that you should be able to set a proper autobattle standard for random dungeon encounters, and then turn it off for the more complicated dungeon bosses. Talk amongst yourselves whether or not the tutorial telling the player “90% of these battles should just be on autopilot” is either brilliant or terrible. Please answer in the form of a Final Fantasy 12.
Heal Berry acquired! Lore/gameplay mix that is not evident here, but I’ll mention it now: the world of Wild Arms 3 is a wasteland where resources are rapidly running out. As a result, Heal Berries and all their upgraded forms are in short supply, and are not sold in shops. So the most basic healing “potion” in the game is not readily available in infinite quantities. Between the VIT system and how many monsters drop useful items, this isn’t as big a deal as it would be in some JRPGs, but it is worth noting a treasure chest containing a “potion” is still worthwhile.
Also, a random lore reference that won’t be relevant for a while. Stone statues may not just be art in the Wild Arms universe.
Orange gems restore VIT. Battles have cool transition effects.
Eventually we snake around to this big room on the first floor.
There is one mundanely closed door, and one magically sealed door (Doorways are Magic pictured).
Because I’ve just been bumbling around in the dark up to this point. Where do you think you got your new fire tool, Virginia!?
I very much appreciate this new feature. If you don’t know what to do, but you know there has to be something here, try using R2 and X to automatically highlight objects that can be manipulated. I would have killed for this feature back in the lower-res SNES/PS1 days (though that may have been impacted by the fact I was playing videogames on a TV sized for a viewing audience of gerbils).
Looks like we are supposed to deal with that lever thing over there.
Remember how having an analogue stick on the Playstation 2 was new and novel and somehow always mandatory in every game? Roll the stick to turn the valve to open the door. I am having Xenosaga flashbacks, and I don’t like it.
The mechanism opens one door, but the other door is still “sealed by magic”. If you’ve played other Wild Arms games, you’re likely familiar with this message. (Or Chrono Trigger… but that has a different solution.)
But the valve room apparently contains all our crap, so hooray!
… Did Virginia just rob her hometown?
Gimel Coin acquired! Gimel Coins allow you to save literally anywhere, but they are also limited in quantity. Dungeons do not contain save points, and, without a Gimel Coin, you can only save in towns. But, that said, as long as you don’t save every other room, you should have/find enough Gimel Coins across the game to never run low.
And, as the game literally tells you, if you find a Gimel Coin, you are probably just about to hit a boss or other reason to save right the heck now.
Our save screen, ladies and gentlemen. Slot 2 there contains my original Wild Arms 3 saves, and “used” 15 on Slot 1 is the clean New Game+ file in case I ever want to start over. I… will likely never showcase this screen again past the prologues.
In Dragon Quest tradition, after saving, Wild Arms 3 always asks if you would like to hold reset while powering down.
Duplicators are consumable items that have appeared since Wild Arms 1. They open magic doors and magic treasure chests. Seen any magic doors lately?
But there is something else in the treasure chest, too.
Virginia inexplicably finds half a photograph of some nerds. And her dad is one of those nerds!
Flashback! Wee Virginia learns to use an ARM.
Okay, yes, it is supposed to be “ARMs” for this game. Thank you, Werner Maxwell.
“Werner and Virginia” makes more sense if you do that Eastern European thing where W’s sound like V’s. Also: Wee Wirginia is adorable.
Wee Virginia wants to grow up to be some kind of heroine that dual wields pistols and goes storming into enemy strongholds with guns blazing.
Everything is so wholesome and great and will be awesome forever.
Meanwhile, back in the present of two weeks in the past, Virginia is bawling her eyes out over a treasure chest.
Yeah! That’s the ticket! Go show those Gobs who’s boss!
Now we can use that duplicator on the magic door, which promptly disappears. Progress!
The next room obviously has something going on…
And that something is a Gob who has the high ground.
Do not underestimate Virginia’s power!
So battle! Hobgob Boss seems to just use physical attacks… and that’s about it.
We haven’t talked about Force Points, so let’s give that a go. FP is accrued after doing pretty much anything during a battle, like being hit, hitting, or even dodging. Your FP starts the battle at a number matching your level (which is why my party is always going to have FP starting off in the 90s), and it fills pretty quickly during any fight that takes longer than two rounds. FP can be used for a variety of things, but our focus right now is Force Abilities. We can’t summon yet, and Mystic is a great skill that spreads an item’s effects to the whole party… which is useless in a one-on-one battle. Oops.
So while Hobgob Boss attacks again, we’ll talk about Gatling. Gatling empties your entire bullet clip for one giant attack. You absolutely have to reload after using it, so, while it is not the end of the world, it is implied to be something more “risky” than your usual fight command. But Gatling has the advantage of a slightly different damage calculation from just using fight: Gatling does more damage the less your ARM weighs.
So, whereas Virginia’s Mystic ability is almost entirely support based, her light pistols make her the best Gatling user in the game. Hobgob Boss just learned that the hard way.
Though, granted, it did take a lot out of our heroine.
Big Boss may be dead, but the soldiers live on.
(Also, you can totally do this on your own, Virginia, you killed like ten times this many Gobs in random encounters.)
Here comes the cavalry!
The entire town wasn’t going to fight back when they were being robbed, but to save Virginia, they rally.
Everyone repels the Gobs, and Virginia is no longer in mortal danger. So Tesla slaps his uppity niece but good. I get it, but I get to say this again, too: I hate Tesla.
Later, Virginia has retreated to her sad cave.
“YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MOM!!!”
Can I just say how much I enjoy how Virginia has the olde timey equivalent of a teenager’s row of posters on her bedroom wall?
A+ for saving the town, C- for execution.
“I’ve decided to become a Gob.”
“I read about it in a book I found ten minutes ago. Sounded nice.”
This seems dramatic, but Aunt Shalte had this reaction to an asymmetrical blintz last week. It’s a thing with her.
The hero of the piece wants to be a hero. Shock.
“I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot do things on my own. So I have decided to pursue a career where I am continually alone.”
“I wasn’t learning how to shoot Gobs to get closer to my dad, if that’s what you’re thinking!”
One of those dudes that just parrots something he heard five minutes ago and acts like he’s totally insightful.
“I’ll think of you when I am hopelessly outnumbered and lost in the wasteland.”
“Yeah, but you also believe in a magical cat that wears a suitcoat and controls all of time.”
“He’s real I tell you!”
Is… is that an extremely polite way of telling someone to “go to hell”?
The entire town just rallied around saving you from a Gob fight, so I want to say literally anyone is capable and caring enough to leave flowers on your mother’s grave. Don’t think about it too hard.
Strike a pose!
“The young girl heads to her mother’s grave to bid farewell to her childhood. Her expertise in ARMs, taught by her father, bolsters her resolve. That is all she needed. That is all… Her dreams of seeing the world have become her strength, and lifts her wings. But the path to the future is often a winding one. It tires some and leads many astray. “
“ARMs alone cannot overcome adversity, nor are they the only source of strength. The moment the young girl realizes this, she will have truly become a Drifter.”
And we get an opportunity to save. Wee.
Okay! That’s it for Virginia’s opening story. Pretty typical “coming of age in a dangerous time” story about a girl becoming a woman through some light genocide. Obviously, the threads of her missing father are going to become the tapestry that drives a lot of plot, and, other than that, we just have a good handle on our heroine. She does what is right because it is right, though there may be a tinge of “adventure ahoy!” to her decisions. She also rocks the purple.
But what of the men on the train? Will we investigate…
A suspicious intruder…
A drifter guardsman, or…
The boy who broke in?
Find out next time!
Next time on Wild Arms 3: What did I just say!?