Wild Arms 3 Part 04: Gallows Humor

or
Staring at the Rude Boy

This is initially being posted on May 16, Fortune Telling Day. “Read people’s minds and tell them what they want to hear.” Those are the words of a famous fortune teller… Sounds like a scam to me.

Previously on Wild Arms 3:
Clive protected a town against an avian enemy that was filled with poison. Please don’t lick its corpse, kiddies!


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And now we have our final character, a suspicious intruder. Note that you will wind up back at this “character select” screen after completing the other three introductory stories… even though you literally cannot select anything but your final choice.


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The Wild Arms franchise has a tendency to either go with “real” Western names (like Rudy, Brad, or Virginia), or names that evoke weapons (Kanon) or both (Ashley Winchester). Gallows is a legitimate last name (that has fallen out of favor for some reason), but it is going to be a first name here, because I think it is supposed to sound “foreign” (think Tina/Terra here).


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Almost… there…


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I appreciate how the average age of our heroes in Wild Arms 3 is at least old enough to get out of high school. Not that Jet would have passed…


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Gallows Carradine, age twenty-four. He has turned his back on his lineage and destiny, and recently took to the wasteland as a Drifter. Yearning to escape his fate, he harnesses his inherent strength, so that he may live freely. However, he has yet to realize the true meaning of his actions. Little does he know that it is his very lineage and destiny that gives him such strength…

Yes yes, we’ve all heard of the hero’s journey. He’s at the point where he tells Obi Wan he’s just a farm boy. Got it.


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Who cares about Gallows, someone please tell me this is all in English in the original Japanese. Let’s crowd to the wilderness!


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If you zoom in, most of the text for these articles is just item descriptions. Still impressed they didn’t just go with random squiggles, though. This game was originally produced when your average television was the size of a potato. And not one of those fancy pants baking potatoes!


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Seems this Ark Scepter has caught Gallows’s attention. And, hey, this is the first story that reveals what might be in that glowy box from the intro! We already knew a train was involved!


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Yes! We just covered that!


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But Gallows has his own Ark Scepter! Where did he get that?


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Oh, thank you for explaining.


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So we’ve left the generic breakfast stop of Gallows and flashbacked to Gallows at home. Note that, with Virginia and Clive both flashing back to conversations with older mentors, Jet has the only opening that does not contain a flashback within a flashback. Couldn’t remember to have an origin story, Jet?


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Meet Shane, Gallows’s brother. Shane not only has a real name, but he is also a good boy.


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“Heck, yeah…Those of the priestly lineage must enter the priesthood, right? Well, not me. Why the heck do I have to follow some stale, old tradition? I’m gonna live freely. No one’s gonna tell me what to do.”

Follow your own dreams! And tell that stupid owl that keeps dropping off letters about some stupid magic school to eat a stupid vole.


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Gallows does not want the responsibility of his heritage. He does want the material goods of his heritage, though, so he’s getting into thievery.


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Though is he really a thief if he’s stealing his birthright? A question for the ages.


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Okay, yeah. He’s a thief.


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And half the reason he is doing it is to piss off his grandma. Endearing!


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Shane accepts that his brother is going to heist family heirlooms and actively infuriate old ladies. I don’t know if Shane is meant to be innocent and good, or exceptionally apathetic.


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It is hard to hate a guy whose selfishness is so all encompassing.


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But where’s granny? Probably at the very place Gallows intends to rob.


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“Always foiling my plans…”


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Important information: Shane has the ability to see the future. If you ever need to get the plot going with some prophecies, give the kid a call.


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Spoilers: Oh, you sweet summer child.


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“Let me know you’re okay! Send me some messages on AIM!”


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Our first town! Wow! There are people to talk to and everything! Gallows gets the only 100% “friendly” area in the intros. The only remote competition is Jet, who gets a room of NPCs.


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Meet the save doll! These inexplicably sombrero-clad little dudes are the dedicated save points of Wild Arms 3. You need a gimel coin to save anywhere in the world except villages, where you will usually find one of these guys hanging close to whatever counts as the inn for the town du jour. They inexplicably speak Spanish sometimes even though there is no Spain/Mexico anywhere on Filgaia. They are basically an aesthetic nod to the fact that Mexicans exist in Westerns, and somehow that nod wound up translating to living vending machines. This is not the most improbably racist thing that will appear in this update.


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Since we’re at a savepoint, let’s look the status screen for Gallows. His weapon is a Coyote M17F Mod that is basically a fantasy sawed-off shotgun. It is as useless as wings on a slug. As you can see from those contrasting Attack and Magic stats, Gallows is a destined shaman and your party’s prime spell caster. This is the converse of Clive that was mentioned last update: Gallows is huge and muscular, but he is your mage. And, yes, this means that he is one of the rare ab-bearing wizards in gaming.


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Hell yeah! Gaming!


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Anywho, here are everyone’s “starting” (nearly level 100) stats all together so you can compare and contrast at will. Note that Gallows and his miserable AIM stat puts him far behind the other guys (and gal) on ARM damage


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Gallows is the only starting character to bear a medium. These items are basically the main equipment of Wild Arms 3 and your conduit for utilizing magic. They will be officially introduced and explained in much greater detail in about two updates, but starting your mage off without any kid of spells would be cruel, so Gallows gets a freebie for his introduction. As such, Gallows has two offensive spells, a healing spell, and “analyze” for funsies. We’ll get into it more later, but this is an ideal setup for introducing magic gameplay.


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But before we get to thwacking monsters, let’s chat about town. Ellen here is one of the few villagers that seems remotely sympathetic to Gallows.


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You actually get a bit of interactivity here with conversation branches…


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And if you are honest about your dishonest intentions, you’ll score some heal berries for the trip. Hooray!


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You can speak to chickens, but they don’t give a cluck.


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Cordell offers a tutorial on the signature Wild Arms world map radar system. We’ll see that in use in a few more images. Fun fact! Cordell is programmed to activate your radar: if you don’t talk to him, your radar literally does not work, and you cannot proceed.


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Love that you can use “Gallows hates this place and everyone in it” as an excuse for all the townsfolk to do the introductory JRPG thing of “as you know because you have lived here your entire life, the terlet is over there”.


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Virginia got a random book, Gallows gets a random dude that gives you the same basic “there was a big demon fight, things went poorly, and now the world is absolute crap” story. The Baskar version gets a little more into the weeds on the Baskar and how some other magical race was involved, but same basic deal.


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“… Their followers sought refuge from the material world and formed our village in nature. But look at you! What ghetto did you crawl out of? Your ancestors roll in their graves!”

Screw it, let’s talk about Gallows and race.


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I don’t want to make this a “thing” every time Gallows gets a featured bit or whatever, but there is just… a lot going on with the design decisions that went into Gallows.

To start, there’s the whole Baskar thing that has been going on since Wild Arms 1. Wild Arms heavily draws from American Westerns, so it seems natural and vaguely expected that the series would dip into the “cowboys and Indians” tropes. In Wild Arms 1, Baskar village is a mostly “primitive” area that dedicatedly ignores the “new religion” of a literal abbey with nuns and follows the “old ways” of living with nature and in harmony with the guardians (gods). In Wild Arms 2, they were featured more because Tim, a party member, is a Baskar that was smuggled away by his mother… because they wanted to sacrifice the poor kid. Hmph. But once you get past the whole “child sacrifice” thing, they are once again a generally well-meaning group of people that are “magic”, but a different “magic” from the more established (and technologically advanced) magic users of Wild Arms 2 (the “real” magic village of WA2 exists in its own magically domed city with teleporters). Wild Arms 3 generally follows this pattern by making this “tribe” technologically primitive, but abundant in spiritual and “harmony with nature” power. Pretty typical stereotype for a Native American tribe in media (see also every fighting game character that uses a tomahawk), but it at least seems to empower the people involved. In all three Wild Arms games mentioned, there isn’t a pervasive “oh those terrible Baskars” sentiment from anyone but bad guys.

But then you’ve got Gallows. For some reason, Gallows is black.

Like, this is weird to examine, but even when you look at official art of Gallows next to his little brother Shane, it is clear that Gallows has much more of a tan. And those lips! Nobody else in the game has such prominent lips! Gallows has the typical “Native American feathers and flare” outfit going on, but it sure seems like he is meant to appear African American. And that’s before you get into some weirdly racist tropes that are definitely there. I am convinced Gallows’s (excellent, expressive) battle stance of standing there swinging his gun below his waist is meant to be evocative of a “gang banger” with his sawed off shotgun. And, oh yeah, you get random dudes (like in the screenshot that prompted this) that call him a “thug” and ask which “ghetto” he crawled out of.

And couple this with the fact that Gallows is the only playable character with something darker than a practically translucent skin tone (Jet may qualify as albino) and also…
1. Consistently “the dumb one” in conversations where everyone must comment on a subject
2. The one who is introduced via stealing from his family/people
3. Will consistently be the one talking about “hangovers” and “let’s grab a drink”
4. Literally initially nicknamed as “suspicious”

And… yeah… it’s a little… let’s say “suspicious”. Jet is there to steal things, too!

This is just being noted because it is something that this humble Let’s Play author noticed quite a bit across the breadth of Wild Arms 3, and I don’t want to point out “this is problematic!” every time. Gallows is overall a great character that I personally enjoy, and he definitely does improve from his initial state of general selfishness over the course of the story. Given the choice, I would take the more fascinating (and fun!) Gallows of WA3 than the good boy Tim of WA2 (and Shane seems to be a deliberate echo of Tim, too). That said, it is still going to be noted that the one character from a fictional-but-based-on-reality fantasy minority and designed based on a real-world minority is introduced with the main character trait of “kinda shifty”. Or maybe he is meant to be “street smart”? Either way, it is not a good look.

Representation is cool. But maybe don’t use that to reinforce some hateful stereotypes.

(Though, for the record, there is one other clearly African American character that appears eventually, and he is demonstrably the most competent person on his team, so…)


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Okay, back to talking about good things. You see how the roof canopy here gently sways in the breeze? Pretty cool.


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We can’t leave town quite yet. We have to check on a nearby shrine (not the one we’re looking to rob) before we go.


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And who should we find here but…


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Hi Granny! For the record, there is literally nothing to do in town, so if Gallows has been avoiding this altar, it was a premeditated move.


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Gallows explains that he thought Granny Halle might be at the other shrine he never visits.


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Guardians dammit.


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Remember how I said Gallows is characterized as the dumb one? Yeah.


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Granny warns Gallows against going to the temple. This is a flashback! We know he’s not gonna listen!


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This little lair has a pretty interesting mural that we can barely see. Could someone bring a lightbulb in here?


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Dumb and lazy.


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Okay, now we can leave town.


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It’s the world map! Gallows gets his own town and access to the world at large. Exciting!


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You cannot use tools on the map, but you can use your radar. Like Wild Arms 2 (like, exactly like) there is technically nothing available on the world map beyond locations you have already left (like Gallows’ hometown there in the previous shot). You must use your radar to discover signposts, treasure, towns, and dungeons. Treasure or signposts will pop up whenever you are in range and trigger the radar, but towns and dungeons usually have some kind of “plot trigger” to allow you to find them when the time is right. In general, if you see text in red, it means you have just heard information that allows you to find a related location.


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The radar system is fun for setting the mood of “exploring the wasteland” and doing your best to stumble around in a world where you must actively discover your next destination like a proper explorer. However, in practice, it usually just means you hammer the square button every few steps, and all you find is a stupid sign.


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Credit where it is due: putting this sign immediately south of the village is genius. Of course a player is going to go south of the village to find the Southern Sanctuary. Guess we have a little more walking to go.


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There are battles on the world map. Are you surprised?


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Gallows gets three bullets per clip. Also, if you are using Gallows’s fight command for anything other than FP accumulation, you are doing it wrong.


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The humble balloon is right up there with the Gobs for being opening Wild Arms monsters. This balloon is a little more horrifying than its PS1 brethren.


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This Gallows is Level 100 (or whatever) jacked, so his ARM does a lot more damage than otherwise. Time to pop, balloon.


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The “ocean” of Filgaia is a bit dry at the moment. You cannot traverse it on foot, though. Gigantic monsters living in the sands are an issue. Something something Dune reference.


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Destination!


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But first, let’s use some honest-to-guardians magic.


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Once you’ve got a medium, you can use magic. The whole party will have access soon enough, but Gallows is the only gent with magic out of the gate.


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Magic requires FP, but does not use FP. It does not acquire FP, either, but using magic will not deplete your FP gauge. Force abilities, like accelerate or lock on, absolutely use FP. Using magic does not. This just means that your mage probably has to throw out a fight command or two to accumulate enough FP to cast in the early game, and, once you level up a bit, you’ll always start with enough to toss spells right off the bat. To use the example here, once Gallows is level 10, he will always start a battle with the FP to use Refrigerate.


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Analyze is available from the start for a reason. The main reason you use magic is for the purpose of hitting elemental weaknesses. The other reason you use magic is that it will “transform” any defeated opponents into an elementally matching gem. Kill with an ice spell, get an ice gem. Elemental gems are the JRPG trope of “item that casts spell”. Note that you will receive this item reward in addition to any item rewards you would have won otherwise. Not an “or” situation.


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We’ll talk more about magic in a minute, but now let’s get to exploring.


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Gallows, do you even know what the dang thing looks like? I mean, I would assume it is kind of scepter shaped…


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Oh yeah…


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Guess I could have done the magic explanation after the magic tutorial.


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Whatever! Into the Southern Sanctuary/Fallen Sanctuary (but that title doesn’t help newbies find the place).


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First of all, you have to “fall” into the Fallen Sanctuary, and then it looks like there is no way back. But there is a switch immediately thereafter that generates some easy-return stairs. Huh.


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Two paths immediately available after entering. A doorway further into the sanctuary, and a staircase leading up. Up is always good!


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Unfortunately, this leads to a dead end with eight altars all in a circle.


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Four of the altars are inaccessible, but the other four are reachable. The open ones are all dedicated to the guardians of the four basic elements. In case you’ve never played a JRPG before (or even encountered any kind of fantasy magic), there is the battle “clue” here that fire stands opposite water, and earth stands opposite wind.


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Anyway, nothing to do up those stairs right now, time to head back and down into the dungeon.


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Block puzzle! Gallows is getting all the tropes.


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Blocks can be moved. Put block on switch. You understand.

At least Wild Arms 3 is one of those games where you can reverse-push a block backwards. … Pull? What the hell is that?


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Next area has some treasure! Oh boy!


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There’s a heal berry and a gimel coin, but more importantly, Gallows’s first tool!


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The Freezer Doll is the icy alternative to Virginia’s fiery tinder card. Aside from the obvious elemental difference, the other change here is that Gallows stands motionless and can rotate around with an ice “beam”. Virginia just tosses her fire sticks.


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Some bookkeeping here: Gallows is equipped with a medium. Gallows cannot unequip or change his medium, so the section of the menu in or out of battle for changing mediums is unavailable. In battle, the “no” message is also unexpectedly insulting for Gallows.


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Let’s analyze why that is.


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Analyze is pretty robust in Wild Arms 3. You get a complete breakdown of elemental weaknesses/strengths and the various ways they can impact things, the reward for a defeated opponent, and its HP. Naturally, this was back in the day when bosses were forbidden from sharing their HP count, because JRPG designers were masochists. But HP is available on any other random mook.

Analyzing is important when you only have Gallows on the team, because you want to know whether something is weak to Water or Ice, which are two separate elements in Wild Arms.


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Now let’s get back to using that elemental doll that is inaccessible during battles for some reason. Virginia had to light a bunch of torches with her tool, Gallows has got to put ‘em out.


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Wow! The door opened! Good thing the Fallen Sanctuary apparently based its security system on eternally burning flames.


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This dungeon is mostly a series of puzzles and extremely boring hallways. Either Virginia or Gallows has the dullest dungeon structures, and I am leaning more toward Gallows.


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You are supposed to stand in the middle of this room and rotate around to all the candles, but I just came through the door and started blastin’. Oops.


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Whatever! It works! Moving on.


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More like the Repetitive Sanctuary, amiright, Gallows?


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Move block to pressure plate, step on other plate to open door.


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The ol’ ancestors here didn’t imagine future generations would be able to figure out puzzles for kindergarteners.


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The next room has a pressure plate but no blocks around. Guess we’ll have to come back to this dungeon later with the Cane of Somaria.


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Just trying to give you some idea of the scope of this dungeon…


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There! Some actual ice rotating. Happy?


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Looks like we’re here.


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I really appreciate how Gallows has such a distinctive voice. I could not see Virginia referring to herself as “papa” at any point.


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But it looks like we have…


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Boss battle! Multiple boss battle!


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Kesaran Pasaran, like Clive’s (first) boss, is something of a tutorial/puzzle battle.


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This creature is weak to water. Write that down.


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This fight is four against one, but that is more so there can be four targets, not four attackers. Generally, you do not see a round where every Kesaran Pasaran attacks, as they predominantly just float around and measure the situation.


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Not to say at least one won’t attack per round, though.


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The trick here is that every time you kill two KPs, they will revive. As you are controlling a party of one, that means it is literally impossible to simply beat down four monsters in four rounds. They would all be back faster than you could admit that Granny was right.


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So what’s a Gallows to do? Well, our final unique force ability is Gallows’s own Extension. This allows a spell to target a group of enemies or allies. Basically, this means that everyone may eventually use magic, but only Gallows will ever have the ability to “select all” on a spell. The healing/buffing options for this are obviously tremendous, but it also means Gallows could potentially hit an elemental weakness, and wipe out an entire enemy mob in one move.


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Like this! Like Clive and Lock On, the solution to this fight is to use extension on a (your only) water spell.


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Extension only targets a group, so it is kind of useless offensively when there are multiple “gangs” of monsters. But if all your opponents have the same name and are only distinguished by single letters, you’re in the clear. Bye bye, Ark Scepter Guardian Thingies.


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There could have been a little tension in this quest if it wasn’t a flashback…


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It appears Virginia is the only protagonist that got to shortcut right from her boss to her finale. Everybody else has got to hoof it out of their starting dungeon like a peasant.


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And, while Gallows doesn’t have to deal with poison or Pike, he does have to avoid invisible walls.


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Looks like our hero is trapped.


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And considering his solution to the problem is “try hitting it,” we might be here for a while.


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What’s this?


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Shane! Such a good boy!


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Dude is psychic…


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Or… just has common sense.


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I always appreciate when two characters that are brothers act like, ya know, brothers. They love each other, but they both know they’ve got problems. Problems like being stuck in an invisible box.


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We’re in a box! What can we do now? Take cute cat pictures?


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Our one tool doesn’t do diddly, and running into the walls is what got us into this mess…


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What would a priest do?


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Well, the Ark Scepter we just recovered is technically an item in our inventory, so we can use that and… hear voices?


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Cool thing: when the guardians (essentially the gods of Filgaia) speak, they get their own font. Uncool thing: they are cryptic and useless.


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Maybe that little divine pep talk will help us figure things out with Shane.


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Shane? Bro? Yes. Yes, get us out of this box we are begging you.


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Gallows is shocked Shane would suggest such a thing!


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Shocked!


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So Gallows decides he will solve this problem with math!


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2 Apprentices = 1 Whole Master


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“The science is sound!”


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This is Gallows’s whole deal: he is kind of a dummy, and he often looks for shortcuts, but this does seem to lead to unique solutions.


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Hooray for solutions!


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And since we’re having a heart-to-heart, Gallows explains that he isn’t just doing the whole drifter thing to spite Granny or have a different life or something, he simply needs to be free.


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Shane understands.


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Brotherly love for the win!


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And the walls come down.


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Presumably after a lot of crying and hugging, Gallows hightailed it out of there. A few weeks later, he is back at the Waffle House considering this whole “other Ark Scepter” thing.


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Welp, gonna have to rob a second Ark Scepter. Who knew he’d have to do that twice in one season?


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A Drifter who soared over the wasteland, liberated from all restraints. His next target–another Ark Scepter. Verifying which of the two treasures is real will determine his self-value. It may be regarded as a small sense of pride. The dangers involved are many, but it’s all so he can break away from his lineage and destiny. Little does he know, however, that unseen tracks already lie before him. An article obtained by desire…This can be considered a ticket to freedom…But it’s a one-way ticket, and the destination is unknown.


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You know, not much of a color transition there.


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And we are back at the save screen. All introductions completed! Now we can finally get back to the great train robbery next week. Will we discover the secret of the multiple Ark Scepters? Will somebody else try to rob the train? Will we ever address Tony again? Find out next time!

Next time on Wild Arms 3: From one to four in thirty seconds.

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