Wild Arms 3 Part 22: How Does Your Garden Grow

I ribbon-promise that today is September 26, Abnormal Weather Day. The professor’s abnormal weather ran away from him, because it felt that the professor’s love was too much of a burden. For the sake of the professor’s eternal love for her, abnormal weather returns to Filgaia once every year.

Previously on Wild Arms 3: We met Clive’s family, and resolved to explore the nearby gem mine or Fortune Shrine.


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But remember Ricardo? No? He was the old man who noted a deep forest by Baskar. And, while Clive’s adoring wife and child gave us clues to plot-relevant locations, I am pretty sure this Ricardo guy is on the level. Did you see his hat? Kaitlyn doesn’t have a hat…


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So we ride! We were already at Jolly Roger at the end of the last update, so we’re pretty close to Baskar.


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You need a horse to jump that chasm by the forest. You can’t just wander over here when you are first visiting Baskar.


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And if you scoot around the perimeter of this forest, you can radar-up what looks like a town. Jackpot! Thanks for the tip, Ricardo!


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The Secret Garden? Let’s Burnett!


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One house, one girl, and, yep, that’s a garden right there.


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Virginia is the official ambassador of our party.


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Unfortunately, the audience is not very receptive.


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This is just what happens when you live in a solitary house on the other side of an impassable chasm.


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“Not everybody talks. Let’s stop menacing this little girl.”


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Jet would say that…


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And that, too.


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Mom and Dad are not pleased.


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Welp, this place was a bust. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.


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!?


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Stealthy little silent girl.


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Aw, it’s so nice when two people start a toxic relationship so fast.


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“Ha ha! You said a word! Idiot!”


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She’s verbal!


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She’s crazy!


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“You hear crying, Jet?”
“Oh, you’re gonna hear crying.”


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I’m sorry? Is there good soil on this planet?


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“Girl, please note that I said ‘investigate’. Nobody here knows how to… un-corrupt soil.”


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*Nod*


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And here’s a present from the flower girl.


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I want to say that this is the biggest haul of Heal Berries since the opening when Clive received five and was told it was most the village had ever had.


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This would explain why a little girl can live alone in a world mobbed with monsters…


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So we get more heal berries if we investigate some dirt? Score.


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It was implied!


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“Jet, you are a stupid baby.”


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Gonna have to put a bell on this girl…


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Florina? You been involved in the same conversation here?


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Baka.


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So Florina doesn’t have a complicated life. She will stand around and restate your basic quest if you need directions or have a memory like Jet.


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And, naturally, you can loot Florina’s few worldly possessions, and come away with a Duplicator.


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Not much to the Secret Garden at the moment, but now we can gallop over to the source of the rot or whatever Swamp Thing is so worried about.


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Note that the monsters around the forest are more difficult than the literal starter enemies that populate the other side of the gap.


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And, hey, remember how I said Dragon Fossils could be regular drops now? Here’s one!


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Our dungeon du jour is just on the other side of the forest, a short hike from Florina’s place.


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So since I haven’t distinctly stated it yet this update, this whole quest is optional. You can technically start it as soon as you have a horse (possibly acquired as early as Claiborne, just before you meet Maya), but the game/Ricardo seems to guide you back here when you first visit Humphrey’s Peak.


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I personally see this as Wild Arms 3’s “DLC dungeon”. There will be one weird gimmick to this place that will reveal itself shortly, and it gives the impression of a modern DLC challenge. And what am I talking about? Well, technically, no matter your level or place in Wild Arms 3, the trick to this place is a tremendous equalizer, and it can create some challenging content whether you are level 1 or level 99.


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Kind of like DLC challenges in modern games, right? Designed to be played whether you’ve already beaten the game, or just cleared the opening tutorials. Well, anyway, here’s the dungeon, try not to fall off the path.


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Now, it was noted that you can challenge this dungeon anytime after obtaining the horses. However, the Wild Arms 3 FAQ community seems to agree that the earliest, most viable time to do so is after obtaining light magic from the Guardian Shrine a couple updates back. Literally everything in this dungeon is weak to light magic, and it makes these battles go a lot faster.


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However, if you do want to do this dungeon immediately after obtaining the light shrine, you must double back through that stupid sand dungeon. I just wait until the train station opens up, and come back to murder creepy doll monsters when there is less walking involved.


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Don’t run with scissors, kids.


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These creapazoids also cast “slow” on your party members. That normally isn’t an issue. I wonder if we’ll see speed make a difference in the near future, though…


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Simple block puzzle here. The path is limited, and you have to leave the entryway, trigger that switch, and then find the exit while pushing boxes around so they don’t block your progress.


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Falling off the ledge at any point will reset the puzzle, but you’re good with walking at this point, right? Toddlers can do that.


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Moving right along.


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Simple little U-shaped room. I’ve got Jet in the lead because I am using his radar repeatedly. You don’t have to make the same “mistake” I did: Turns out there is only one treasure chest in this dungeon, and you can’t miss it.


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And we’re getting there!


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Looks like we reached somewhere important, as the door immediately closes behind us.


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And we have to drop down a ledge to reach that treasure chest. Making it really clear that this is a point of no return…


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Anyone else got a bad feeling about this?


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“Part of the seal that decorates the chest is chipped. Could it have faded with time, or is someone responsible…? A strong stench of death creeps out from the small crack! The stench slowly transforms into a human shape and begins to unleash death!”

Good news: whatever was causing flowers to cry is here in this chest, and we successfully found it. Bad news: something or other is ready to “unleash death”.


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Calling this thing “human shaped” is kind of a stretch…


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Not certain exactly what we’re going for here. Ring Keeper has bandaged, bloody “monkey “ arms, tusks, and… pants? I’m not certain if this is supposed to scream “ancient evil” or “angry orangutan”. Should have sent a Lich…


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When I said everything in this dungeon was weak to light magic, I meant it.


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Ring Keeper is more or less scaled to the possibility you will fight it early in the game.


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Its strongest ability is a party-wide dark attack. You can equip a Guardian to protect against dark magic, or just make sure Virginia or Gallows are always ready for a party heal. Though, again, if you are here after clearing a few dungeons, it won’t do much damage.


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The other trick to this battle is that Ring Keeper may nullify all magic when its health gets low. This hampers your ability to heal with magic, and completely drops your ability to do extra damage with light magic.


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But it also means Ring Keeper cannot use its most powerful attack, so kind of a wash.


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And ARMs are always available.


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Eventually, Ring Keeper keeps no more.


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I wonder if this is a consistent drop, or if that Dragon Fossil will not appear if you did not beat Diobarg.


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Now the fun begins.


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Probably could have noted you should save before fighting Ring Keeper…


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So this treasure chest comes with an explanation. The reason for the sad garden is apparently the Corpse Ring, which has been “leaking” out of the chipped treasure chest. You can purify the Corpse Ring by taking it to sunlight… But doing so means you have to carry the Corpse Ring, and that will drop your HP to 1 (and VIT to 0).


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In other words, you are going to have to dash out of this dungeon under the condition that a single hit will kill your party.


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Also: saving is forbidden until the curse is lifted. You know, just so you can’t get stuck.


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And, if you recall, the way back from the treasure chest was blocked when we entered the room. The path out of here is a whole “new” dungeon experience.


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The gimmick is now a test of how well you understand the encounter triggering system of Wild Arms 3. Obviously, having a higher Migrant Level and ECN gauge is going to help you to avoid as many battles as possible.


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All the pits and entryways are a way to avoid encounters, too. If you are in a situation where you cannot spare the ECN points to cancel a fight, you can drop into a hole. It will mean you respawn at the start of the room, but at least you won’t have a threatening exclamation point over your head.


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The block puzzles are also another option. Any time you “grab” a block, an encounter is canceled, so you can “camp” the blocks if you are living in fear.


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And that shouldn’t be too much of an ask, as this room has so many blocks and switches to deal with.


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Moving right along, stealthily.


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You could have a much higher Migrant Level/ECN gauge, but ol’ Level 99 party is running low on points.


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Almost… there…


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Fine! I’ll get in one fight for demonstration purposes!


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All the monsters you saw earlier still stalk these halls, but Rat Monkeys will also appear while you are escorting the ring.


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Rat Monkeys must have 255 speed, because they always go first, even against my super-leveled party. Luckily, they don’t seem to have high accuracy, as they never actually hit my PS2 or PS5 party members. I am pretty sure they exist solely to give you a heart attack.


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This is for scaring me!


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One more block/path puzzle for the road.


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This one is really annoying. Honestly, this whole dungeon challenge (complete with its music) isn’t all that difficult, it is just very… stressful.


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I have no idea how I got a preemptive strike against the fastest thing in the game (technically, it was thanks to the luck stat), but I will take it.


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Are we out of this room yet?


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Rat Monkeys can poison your party members. Can poison drain your HP to zero in Wild Arms 3? I wasn’t going to find out, as I used an antidote immediately.


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Okay, last big stupid room with a lot of pits…


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Game is just trolling you at this point. Take it easy, encounters work on steps taken, not a timer. No need to rush.


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They put a switch at the end here just to see if you would accidentally dash into any of those pits.


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Great! Now we’re at a balcony over the entrance. So close!


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I wonder if you can double back and do a whole dungeon loop with 1 HP. I wasn’t going to find the answer to that…


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Sunlight!


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The ring has been purified.


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We don’t even get to keep a souvenir?


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And we’re back to normal. Nice of the purified ring to give us a fill up after all that nonsense.


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You don’t technically get anything from completing the dungeon, but now we can go tell our client the job is done.


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Is it still a secret?


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“Do these words mean anything to you? We assumed the ring was an issue, but there was this monkey thing…”


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Good. Glad to hear we don’t have to go through another bonus dungeon.


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Like she’s some kind of magical elf?

Florina only appears in this optional area, and has no further impact on the plot or lore or whatever. But, for anyone that played Wild Arms (1), Florina is very familiar. She seems to share a purpose, demeanor, and general look with Mariel. In Wild Arms, Mariel was the last Elw (WA elf) on Filgaia, and she had extremely similar interests to Florina. Mariel also looks identical to Florina when she appears in Wild Arms: Alter Code F, the PS2 remake of Wild Arms (where she also got upgraded to temporarily playable character). And additional fun facts: Mariel’s brother from Wild Arms was distinctly named as a historical figure a couple updates back; and, in the Japanese version of Wild Arms 3, “Florina” is not named at all. So couple this all with the fact that Mariel’s trademark elf/rabbit ears are potentially hidden under Florina’s hat, and there is a strong implication that Florina straight up is Mariel of Wild Arms. Elves are immortal, right?


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Jet doesn’t give a damn about all that, though.


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“Actually…If you don’t mind, I have one more reward for you. The soil is corrupt no more. Now I can share with you the bounty of the harvest: goods for your journey.”

Okay! Stuff! We needed more of that!


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In case you missed it through subtle NPC dialogue, Clive plainly notes that you cannot buy healing items like Heal Berries or Revive Fruits anywhere in Filgaia.


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“And this place is kind of out of the way, and we really don’t want to be stopping by every…”


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Quid pro quo, gang.


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Jet knows how to listen to a lady.


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“I have to yell at him three, sometimes four times a day.”


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“Naw, we just like going through dungeons and gunning down guerrillas.”


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Ack! Did Gallows just speak Mr. Saturn!?


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Jet getting all sensitive in front of his new girlfriend.


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“This is all the tutorial you’re going to get, people, so listen up.”


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Quest complete, now we can reap the rewards. Literally.


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There isn’t much of an explanation for all this in-game, so I’ll give you the lowdown.


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First there is the sowing. As everyone knows, sowing is the best part. You need only one type of plant-item to start sowing. Anything you have never sown before is grayed out (hey, we did just start), and this list does not expand. This is every item that can be gardened, regardless of if you have ever found one in the first place. For the curious, the three berries at the top are different quantities of “potion”. Revive Fruit is self-explanatory, and Holy Root is a cure-all for status ailments. Tiny Flowers up your luck, and carrots of various sizes boost your FP during battle. We get all that?


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You have eight different spots where you can sow seeds. You never have more than eight spots, and you obviously have more than eight options, so choose wisely. As far as I can tell, it does not matter where you plant what. This isn’t NieR, you don’t have to worry about cross pollination or breeding or whatever.


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And then we wait. Every plant grows at its own pace (and we will get into improving that pace in a moment), but that growing does legitimately take time. For the record, it appears the main things that count as time are…

· Actual, real game played time
· Talking to NPCs
· Battling
· Entering towns (though you have to “switch” between towns, you can’t just walk in and out of the same place)
· Staying at an inn/sleeping

Technically, the “real game played time” has the least impact on things, but it accumulates by the minute, so that one happens without trying. The greatest thing you can do is take a nap, and there is a free inn right down the road at Baskar…


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(Some screenshots may be from later in the actual game…)

Reaping your bounty is always a good thing, too. There are no “expired crops” or flowers that die if you do not swing by the Secret Garden often enough. The longer you go without visiting the Secret Garden, the more berries, flowers, and carrots you will acquire when you return. Of course, having a glut of healing items is always a boon, so you probably want to visit as often as is possible (and, luckily, the plot takes you back to nearby Baskar a number of times before you get your fastest modes of transportation).


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And then there’s breeding. This is a totally misnamed system that is the “challenge” of this little gardening minigame. In short, every plant type has, basically, a HP gauge. Or maybe it is best represented as a percentage chance? Whatever. What is important is that every seedling has a gauge from 0-100, and the higher the number, the more plants you will yield from a harvest. Every plant starts at a predetermined level, and you can increase that level by “breeding”… which is basically just using up more of any given item by giving Florina additional amounts. As an easy example, the humble Heal Berry has the highest starting value of about 70, and if you “breed” another 30 berries with Florina, you’ll hit 100. This means you will get much higher yields of Heal Berries when harvesting for the 30 heal berry initial investment.


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Also, for making any item hit 100, you will receive the additional accessory Dried Flower, which boosts the effectiveness of items during battle. And on top of that, if you 100 any of the berries or the revive fruit, you will then be able to purchase them at a secret shop found later in the game. Note that these sales will only happen if the berries are maximum bred… which likely means you already have every berry you will need for the rest of the game at that point. But it’s the thought that counts!

And, like a lot of things in Wild Arms 3 (many of them mentioned last update), if you 100% breed every flower to maximum, you will receive a special “sidequest complete” treasure. However, I checked my original save file, and, despite pouring hours into the game, I never bothered to complete that quest on my first go round. Do not expect to see it happen here…


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If you are curious, the berries and revive fruits start with the greatest breeding/harvesting levels. From there, you’ve got the holy root, and the carrots both behind that. Starting at a dismal level of 5/100, the Tiny Flower is the hardest crop to grow, and if you are interested in getting a legitimate flower garden growing, well, good luck. Sorry about tiny flowers being plot relevant in this blighted wasteland. They are a right pain in the ass. If you need to know a plant’s current "level", Florina’s description of the seedling gets progressively more optimistic as it improves.

Anywho, the gardening quest offers a lot of options. Do you focus on breeding as many healing items as possible? Maximize breeding returns by growing only one crop, pouring your bounty back into the gardening, and then earning prizes? Take the ol’ “super boss challenge” and harvest as many full carrots as possible? Buy a turbo controller exclusively so you can auto-sleep at a free inn and maximize harvests? There doesn’t seem to be a right answer to exactly what can be done with the garden, so have fun with it.

And on a personal note, I won’t be consistently mentioning the Secret Garden again during the Let’s Play, but, like upgrading the ARMs, know that I am stopping back here randomly to grab additional berries and whatnot.

And that’s that for this update! Sidequest complete!


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Now we scoot across the world for plot-relevant challenges…

Next time on Wild Arms 3: It is always lucky to see an old friend.

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