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  #31  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:24 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-1

Previously on Wild Arms 2: We had a vote, and the former hero, now war criminal won!



So let’s meet the hero we all deserve! Time for… five years ago? Considering we have absolutely no sense of time in this game yet, this is an odd choice for an introduction.



Ah, here’s our hero now, hiding out by a cliff in the rain. For the record, despite the “time skip”, this dude’s sprite/look will not change in the intervening five years. This is Garr, not Nina.



And it appears he’s hiding from a pair of soldiers with really poor hearing.



Yep, they’re looking for him. And I guess rain makes people tired? Never heard that one before.



Wild Arms didn’t invent the monster “barghest” (basically a demon dog), but they are the creatures we’ll be fighting in this area. I guess these hell puppies are domesticated.



This is a flashback to “five years go”, so, naturally, we need…



Another flashback! We’re getting a narration of “hero” talking about his time with Shadow and Clyde or something or other.



These scenes are deliberately confusing, as, even if you played through the other stories at this point, you’re not supposed to have a damn clue what’s happening.



Though, given the current situation and the general tone of these flashbacks, I want to say nothing went according to plan.



Yeah, put the past out of your mind and start shooting stuff! Explosions are the only solution!



Yeah! That’s the perfect introduction for naming “Escapee”.



But, no, we actually get the name out of these soldiers out… wherever they are.



Great, on top of everything else, our hero dropped his wallet.



Here we go, our first name entry screen for the game. For whatever reason, you have the option of naming a lot of characters in Wild Arms 2. Well, “you” the player. You, reader, don’t get any options, because I’m dictator of an LP’er.



So let’s take this moment to introduce Brad Evans. Here’s the short description: he’s basically the living embodiment of that one line from that Batman movie. No, not the one about not being able to get rid of a bomb. Although I guess that might apply, too…

To go into a little more detail, I’m not one to declare one character or another as “best” or whatever (this is a lie), but Brad is certainly the most complex character in the opening trinity of Wild Arms 2. Boy starts out as something of a well meaning blank slate, and Girl is pretty much just here to be peppy all the time. By contrast, Brad is a weary war veteran, and his general realism in the face of his firmly JRPG “genki” teammates is really appreciated. Brad is basically holding down the adult table for much of Wild Arms 2, and his more innocent comrades seem overly juvenile by comparison.

Unfortunately, Brad is also a victim of the translation woes that will become apparent as we go. Brad has a very complex backstory that may involve covert dealings and well-intentioned assumed names and… it gets a little difficult to parse at points, so I’m going to mention this now, so hopefully someone can keep an eye on things. Speaking of which, there’s also a strong implication that Brad is actually gay, which would be kind of amazing if it also isn’t the byproduct of a weird translation. Again, keep an eye out.

Other than that, we’ll get more important details on Brad as we go, but, suffice it to say, Brad really is the best pick from the opening trio.

And from a strictly JRPG party standpoint, he’s the “strong guy”. But you probably already figured that out.



Oh, and if you didn’t notice, all last names are hardcoded, so no “fully” renaming a character. Whether it’s Brad or Ivan or Pants, this guy still has the same surname.



Anyway, with that, we now have actual control of Brad Evans. Oddly enough, this scene starts with Brad coming from the right (North, according to that arrow on the screen), and you have to return in that direction to proceed.



So… walking. That’s fun, right? See those little gem dealies? They actually restore your HP. Wild Arms 2 doesn’t restore your health after every battle like some games, but picking up these crystals will bring back a little. In general, they’re a pretty cool idea, as it limits the need to open a window and heal after every damn battle. And the gems can work as “coins” in some dungeons, leading our Mario in the right direction. Or you can use ‘em like bread crumbs, and easily identify an area where you’ve already been. Look, I’m saying that the crystal gems will always save the day.



And, in case the crystals aren’t enough, there are a pair of chests containing heal berries in this area. This is the basic “potion” of Wild Arms, and we’ll get bigger, better berries as we go along. Wild Arms tries to stick to a “wasteland/desert” motif (we’ll talk about it more later), so the idea of healing items being a grown consumable (as opposed to a generic potion or other magical healing “object”) has always been thematically appropriate for the series.

Oh, and we’ll address why I already have too many Heal Berries in a moment.



But we got all those healing items before our first battle! Those crystals would have been totally wasted if I grabbed ‘em all early (not that I’m ever coming back…).



Welcome to the battle screen for Wild Arms 2! This is pretty similar to Wild Arms 1 (and Lufia before it, incidentally), and we’ve got five initial choices. The middle (and default) choice is “fight”, which opens up more options. Above that, we’ve got an option to change equipment mid-battle (always nice to see in a JRPG), to the right is your typical “run”, and below is the option of changing the party order (which is obviously completely useless right now). The left option allows you to cede control to the AI…. Which has never been a good idea. I don’t think I’ve approved of AI controlled allies since a few bad experiences during Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. Stop wasting your White charges, Phoebe!



Choosing that center Fight command gives us some real options. The sword in the center is your basic “hit the enemy with whatever” command, so that’s going to get used about 99% of the time. To the right is defend, which, as ever, is situational and rarely used. The star below isn’t going to do anything for us right now, but let’s just call it the “special” command for right now. To the left is items, and you all know how that works. And the green burst above allows you to use your FP for your character’s specialty.



So let’s look at that… assuming you can see it at all. Brad has two options for his FP: using his special gun, and using the Lock On command. As you can likely guess, the gun is going to do a lot more damage than a typical attack, and the Lock On ability grants that gun 100% accuracy. Unfortunately, we have a whole 1 Force Point (FP) at the moment, so we can’t do a damn thing. Where do we get FP?



From fighting! Let’s go ahead and target… Oh, see, those are the Barghests that were released earlier. There are apparently hundreds of them, as they’re the only thing we’ll fight in this forest.



As you can see, fighting fills the FP gauge pretty quickly. You gain FP for landing a hit, and you gain FP for getting hit. Considering Brad is the only party member at the moment, his FP will sail immediately.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #32  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:31 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-2



Now we’ve got the FP to use that Bazooka! Hey, Brad said not to be skimpy on the ammo.

Lock on is great and “unlimited”, because it just requires an easily replenished 25 FP to guarantee a hit, and nobody likes to miss. However, the major disadvantage of the Bazooka (and all arms) is that it has limited ammo, and only a fairly rare item (the bullet clip) will fill it back up while in the field. Because Wild Arms 2 doesn’t offer any sort of dungeon maps or any easy way for a neophyte player to know the length of any given dungeon, this generally leads to bazookas and alike being saved for bosses… and that’s just as well. There are rarely any monsters in a WA2 dungeon that are worth “wasting” the ammo.

So, long story short, Brad doesn’t get to effectively expend his FP yet.

Incidentally, all characters start with FP equal to their level, thus Brad beginning this battle with 1 FP. Obviously that will get more useful as numbers go up.



And here’s our federally mandated victory pose. Most battles result in EXP and Gella (cash) gains, but sometimes you’ll earn an item as well. Pretty straightforward.



Since we just completed our first battle, let’s take a look at the menu. Full disclosure, I actually played through all the characters before Brad, because I wanted to make sure I could actually play this game before starting the LP (and thus before hosting the vote). That’s why we’ve already got 47 minutes on the clock down there, and some extra gella from other adventures, too. Brad is still at Level 1 regardless, and this is one of those nice JRPGs where you always know how far you are from the next level up. Only 7 more EXP to go!

At the right, we’ve got some basic choices, like items and equip. Auto determines how your computer AI works if you’re into that, and form is the same “rearrange the party” command from battle. Status is pretty straightforward, and I’ll tackle the System menu (basically “options”) during an update where I’m not already explaining the entire rest of the game.



For now we’re hitting the equip menu, so I can confess my sins.



I hacked the entire inventory into my game. Basically, I have an impossible 127 of every item in Wild Arms 2. This means that I can immediately equip all the “ultimate weapons”, and basically obliterate everything in my path.



Also technically hacked in some items that don’t exist. Considering this also means I have all the key items in the game… well, here’s hoping the whole LP doesn’t glitch out of existence at some point.



Incidentally, all gear (except accessories) are character specific, and, for whatever reason, each character is not noted by name in these descriptions, but “vocation”. Girl is, for instance “A crest sorceress”. Brad is “Prisoner 666”. … He’s #666?



Huh. I’m having second thoughts about this LP.



Okay, back to escaping… or whatever Brad is up to. He’s getting away from those dudes that stole his wallet. We know that much.



The Wild Arms series has this weird, one directional run thing going on. It’s not just a matter of holding down a generic “go faster” button, and… Uh, does the GIF explain what’s going on here? It’s hard to describe running in this series.



A treasure chest behind a big rock? Guess we’ll be returning to this area at some point with some heavy artillery. It’s not like Brad has a bazooka on him or anything.



Crates? I can deal with crates.



Crates can be picked up and tossed by any character. They’re just boring obstacles in this dungeon, but sometimes you need to use a crate to hit a switch or something, so get used to the fixed arc of a crate toss.



Oh, and sometimes crates include items like heal berries, so go ahead and destroy every crate you ever see (until you realize that you’re in a room with a switch, and you just inadvertently destroyed all your ammo, and you have to reenter the room to reset all the boxes).



A little past the crates is a cliff.



There is also literally no reason to go backwards in this dungeon. Well, unless you suddenly picked up a giant rock buster.



Brad psyches himself up for breaking his legs leaping off a cliff in the rain.



So you’ve got complete control of the camera in Wild Arms 2, and I guess you’re supposed to swing that puppy around so you can effectively jump down to the treasure chest we saw a moment ago.



Buuut I screwed that up, and missed it completely. Whoops!



So you may have noticed the red exclamation point over Brad’s head at the start of our first battle. That red bubble actually indicates an unavoidable random battle. A white exclamation point means you can actually cancel the random encounter, and just get on with your life. Thus, each dungeon becomes a sort of resource battle between “do I take this battle and gain the EXP, or do I avoid it and save on healing items?” Also, I guess the fact that most random encounters in WA2 are boring as sin is a factor, too. Anyway, point is that you get a choice of battles most of the time.

Oh, also there is a green exclamation point, and I believe that means you are stronger than the enemy trying to fight you. And, additional fun fact, I think you encounter more red exclamation points while running, but that might just be confirmation bias, as I am always running. Gotta go fast.



Anyway, I cancelled that battle, and then smashed up some boxes. Yay! Another heal berry!



Moving forward, Brad is startled by…



A puppy! We have now confirmed that Brad is a good guy, because he is a friend to animals.



Whoops.



Brad hides behind a tree and shouts… “Namumi”? Uh… let’s just go ahead and assume that’s what he named the tree.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #33  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:38 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-3



So Brad’s new puppy took one for the team and played interference for our favorite outlaw. Somebody has got some belly rubs in their future!



“Yes, I saved you, Human that Smells of Sausages. I had no ulterior motive.”



And he brings back another Heal Berry! It’s the thought that counts!



Now we’ve got puppy power on our side! Puppers will follow us through the rest of the dungeon, but he does not participate in any battles. He probably has objections to Brad killing every other dog in the forest.

Anyway, there’s a fork in the road, so we’re going to try going north.



I’m not going to show every random battle, but suffice it to say we’ve already missed a couple, and there are certainly a few more on this path.



And this path leads… nowhere. There’s a trolley car thingy or something…



But it ain’t helping.



Oh, guess I should note the difference in damage output between the default weaponry, and, ya know, cheating. I think I just knocked that barghest into orbit.



Back we go.



Let’s try the other fork.



Ah, an abandoned shed on a rain soaked night. This should end well!



Hey, it’s our first save point. There are two separate kinds of save points in this game, but the only real difference is that you only see these save rocks in dungeons, and we’ll encounter save “people” in towns. It’s strictly a cosmetic difference. And, no, this is not a game where you can save anywhere, or even on the world map. Sorry, we’re stuck with Dragon Quest rules here.



For the heck of it, here’s the save screen. Each save file is represented with a book, and an “active” save file is an open book.

… I’m sorry, every time I look at this screen, I’m reminded of the bad old days of memory card management, and how every slot on there better be used for something important, or I have to go spend another fifteen damn bucks on another damn memory card. God bless our hard drive based future.



Like Dragon Quest, you can “quit” from every save point.



Which will activate a little animation of Girl set to some soothing music. This, of course, activates whether you’ve played Girl’s portion of the opening or not.



Coupled with the opening that plays every time you boot up a save file, it’s like Wild Arms 2 is trying to present a sort of “episode” every time you enjoy a play session, complete with canned opening and ending. That’s clever! Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work out that way, as it’s a lot more likely you’ll quit by powering down after a Game Over or similar circumstance. Oh well, it was a nice concept.



But we’re not quitting yet, because the next (and only other) room contains Kick Boots!

Kick Boots are our first “tool”: an item that may be used while exploring dungeons or towns. Note that tools have absolutely no impact on battles, and you’re not allowed to kick over demon dogs. Boo.



Kick Boots allow Brad to… kick stuff. As it says in the description, this “will cause all kinds of things to happen.” This is accurate! Try kicking stuff in your daily life! All kinds of things will happen!

NOTE: This LP does not condone kicking all kinds of things to see what happens. Please do not take any advice contained within this LP.



Hi-ya! Brad’s boots don’t look different at all!



Back out in the rain, let’s see what kind of thing happens when you kick an old gate. … Well, just about what I’d expect.



There’s a Big Berry hiding in the back room. This will provide better healing than a typical Heal Berry, and is probably best saved for later, more intense battles. Well, in games where you’re not cheating your way into a hundred of the lil’ buggers.



Also in the backyard is a Bullet Load. This is the item that will refill an arms’ ammo, and these should be horded like precious gold. Otherwise, the only way to refill an arm is to hit an ammo shop in town. Even inns won’t do the job!

Oh, have I mentioned that all firearms in Wild Arms are called arms? They might even be called ARMs, but I may have to use that denotation for something else later.



Fun fact: kicking crates does nothing. All kinds of things will happen my ass.



Okay, now that we’ve got kicking power, this tower suddenly becomes a lot more useful. Jump with me, puppy!



Right past the man and dog zipline course, Brad decides it’s time to be stealthy again.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #34  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:45 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-4



Gee, I don’t know, maybe it’s that guy you’re supposed to be capturing.



I wonder, what does being an NPC pay?



Oh, guess not much. These dudes are conscripted locals trying to bag the Brad reward for… a horse? Wow, aim high, little bandana dude.



Brad realizes these two nimrods were recruited recently, so there must be a town nearby where our hero can at least get out of the damn rain.



But out of nowhere, a scary monster appears. Well, I mean, that’s “out of nowhere” assuming you don’t live in a JRPG world.



And Brad blows his cover to save these two strangers that were literally discussing what to do with the “capture Brad” prize ten seconds ago.



I think he knows who he is, stupid.



And Brad rushes into danger!



Every boss in Wild Arms 2 gets a dynamic intro. Time to meet the Gremalkin! I’m not sure if they were going for “Grimalkin”, but that’s an old word for cat… and this ain’t no cat.



Brad starts the battle by talking to himself.



Are you talking to your arm, or the two guys that have inevitably already fled to the next county?



Strike a pose!



So it’s some kind of purple monster with a bee hive for a chest. I’m moderately certain this creature was part of the Real Ghostbusters toy line.



Here’s Wild Arms 2’s big contribution to JRPG boss battles: every (big) boss has multiple targets available, and, assuming you kill the “optional” targets, you’ll get bonus EXP/Gella. The downside is that, aside from just plain wasting turns on draining the HP of an optional target, bosses generally get more powerful without their extra parts.



Case in point, Gremalkin will attack with its Chest Buster attack as long as its belly is intact.



And will only use the more powerful Roaring Burst rarely. Once you defeat the belly, it will use Roaring Burst every turn, and this will drain Brad’s HP much faster.



Of course, this is still basically a tutorial boss, so it’s not like he’s that difficult. Use a few of those healing berries and lock-on with the bazooka a few times, and you’re golden.



Gremalkin had so much to live for! He was going to get new glasses next week!



As you may compare to earlier shots from after the barghest fight, you get a whole lot more EXP and Gella after a boss fight. This is kind of important to maxing out level ups, and we’ll talk about it more later.



Post battle, Brad appears to be limping. I guess punching straight into a belly full of bees isn’t the best idea.



Wow it is like he is some manner of hero.



The Possee Leader, whom you should imagine talking like that one guy from that one scene from Space Balls (you know the one), makes the scene.



Of course, he stands around discussing geography while a wounded Brad escapes.



Welcome to the world map!



Brad, you can’t live in a sign. Unless… No, no, bad idea.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #35  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:53 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-5



The sign has directions to a place where we can rest! Brilliant!



This is the only opening chapter with the world map, and we receive a brief tutorial on Wild Arms 2’s other big change to the JRPG formula.



Basically, you can’t really “see” any landmarks on the map. It is your responsibility to activate this sonar-like circle to “find” your next objective. This allows the game to “hide” important locations until it’s time for them to be properly unlocked by the plot or a friendly NPC. Regrettably, this is kind of ridiculous, as you may spend a half hour wandering around a clearing trying to find your next dungeon, and it turns out to be a gigantic tower that should have been pretty easy to spot from about ten miles out. Oh well. I suppose this whole thing is supposed to be less “realistic” in relation to the world map, and more a simulation of exploring unknown territory in a wide-open expanse. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

[IMG][/IMG]

And there are random battles on the world map, and they work exactly like they do within dungeons. Incidentally, the on-screen map is not normally seen at this point in the game, but, ya know, cheating.



Here’s an action shot of our sonar discovering… another sign. In addition to the obvious towns and dungeons, you may also find signs and treasures on the world map. This will lead the average WA2 player to activate the sonar command about every other step.



Almost there!



Incidentally, the world map provides our first non-barghest random enemy. These balloons are basically the slimes of the WA series, and it’s good to see their return.



They are not creatures made for hugs.



Here’s T’Bok Village, right where I guess that sign said it would be.



Time for a nice rest.



Unfortunately, Brad’s cutscene malady is acting up again, and we’re back to limping. Puppy is fine, though!



Brad is not.



“Didn’t I have like a hundred Heal Berries? Couldn’t I have eaten one?”



Aaaaand we’re back.



So Brad Evans is down on the farm?



It’s kind of amazing that we don’t wind up naming lil’ Merrill here.



… Yes?



Oh, we actually get a choice? Look, I’d love to pick the contrary choice, but, come on, how can we not be a friend to a puppy?



Little girl can talk to puppies. Noted. Also, considering Brad passed out like six inches from a house, I guess nobody looks out their windows at night.



And we get to name the dog? Okay. Rassyu is a stupid name and I hate it. And here I thought Dr. Light was the worst at naming dogs.

... What would #666 name his dog?





There we go.



It occurs to me that Brad is barely conscious at this point. Be glad the puppers didn’t get named “Incomprehensible Grunting”.



Anyway, gotta go, Dog Whisperer, kind of an escaped convict or something.



Nobody will notice a you taking breakfast to an abandoned barn.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #36  
Old 06-17-2017, 04:59 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 1-6



Not pictured: the half hour it took a little girl to drag a fully grown adult into a barn. At night. In the rain.



I always like how people that can talk to animals immediately trust said animals. I guess a puppy would be pretty transparent, but have you ever imagined a conversation with a cat? I bet they lie all the time.



Uh-oh, sounds like something is going on outside.



This is an obvious as lie, as Merrill leaves all of a second later.



See! Also, Merrill’s twitter status immediately announces her web of lies.



So Brad decides to wander outside.



Stay cool, Brad.



“Dude, I found your wallet.” “Really? Rock.”



I fucking miss situational JRPG sprite work.



Brad makes the point that he will wreck these soldiers, but oh ho ho, you wouldn’t want anybody to get hurt, would you, Brad?



So Brad surrenders peacefully. Do it for Alby, Brad!



“Look, I’d just really rather not shoot my dad this morning. We’re watching Orange is the New Black together, and… Oh never mind.”



And so, Brad is taken away to… did you see anything that looked like a jail on the way here? Wait, what’s stopping Brad from going nuts after he’s like thirty feet away from innocent bystanders? Does he just like those mooks in the bandanas that much? Bah, trying not to think about it.



Merrill, come on, you already know the answer to this one. The dog told you he was fine.



“Can you hear me adding quotes to the word ‘hero’? Good.”



Yes, let’s all have a hearty laugh about it.



And let’s close this puppy out with some good ol’ hero soliloquizing.

“Perhaps its... better this way. All I know is fighting. If I kept on going, all I would find is more blood and death. There are few places for someone whose only true home is on the battlefield. I'll consider this a vacation. After all, heroes aren't needed once the shooting stops. If peace means a world that needs no heroes, then that has to be better.”



And that’s the end of Brad’s introduction. Five years ago? Not a good time for Brad. Guess we’ll find out what he’s been up to in the interim later.

Next time on Wild Arms 2: Little boxes made of ticky tacky.
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  #37  
Old 06-17-2017, 07:10 PM
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Incidentally, all gear (except accessories) are character specific, and, for whatever reason, each character is not noted by name in these descriptions, but “vocation”. Girl is, for instance “A crest sorceress”. Brad is “Prisoner 666”. … He’s #666?
That's a spoiler caused by cheating . If you checked the status screen during this part, Brad would have a different title - something like "Former War Hero," I think?

Quote:
Oh, have I mentioned that all firearms in Wild Arms are called arms? They might even be called ARMs, but I may have to use that denotation for something else later.
Yeah, the guns are always ARMs. I think there's a different acronym in each game, but I only remember the two(!) acronyms from the first game.

Also, the thing you're hinting at for later is actually ARMS (or possibly even A.R.M.S., I forget).


I promise I'm not gonna keep nitpicking every update.
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Old 06-17-2017, 11:29 PM
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Why isn't his name Pants?!

This is a terrible LP! Also, I want to see more of that dog. Please tell me there will be more dog.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:09 AM
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Look, I’m saying that the crystal gems will always save the day.
This thread peaked too soon.
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by GoggleBob View Post


Every boss in Wild Arms 2 gets a dynamic intro. Time to meet the Gremalkin! I’m not sure if they were going for “Grimalkin”, but that’s an old word for cat… and this ain’t no cat.
This is one of my favorite little touches in the game, and the game does have a lot of little touches.

I loved this boss demo sequence so much I did pretty much the exact same thing with my old RPG2k game from way back when, used the same music and everything. (Then I did it AGAIN for the sequel I made for Zaidyer's RPG forum contest thing from a few years ago, though I used the Scott Pilgrim boss demo there)

Speaking of music, the actual boss theme is kind of short and repetitive but I think it works. I seem to remember most bosses that use this BGM don't tend to take too long. If this were the only boss battle BGM for most of the game it might be a problem, but as we'll eventually see, uh, Wild ARMS 2 has absolutely no shortage of battle themes.

Also my memory is hazy, but I think this is the BGM used for most of Brad's starting area? I always dug this track.
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by GoggleBob View Post
Welcome to the battle screen for Wild Arms 2! This is pretty similar to Wild Arms 1 (and Lufia before it, incidentally)
You know I've never actually dug into what connection if any there is between Lufia 2 and Wild ARMs. Is there any actual dev team connection or did some unrelated people just heavily, heavily inspired by it?

There's a similar question to be asked regarding the original Wild ARMs and Trigun come to think of it, where one clearly owes a lot to the other but I'm not actually sure which.

Also is the inventory cheating just to get boss fights over with faster? I know the series as a whole has a reputation for being maybe a little grindy but I distinctly recall this one being one of the easiest RPGs I've ever played... in no small part due to the mechanic I'm sure we'll get into more once Girl shows up.
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Old 06-18-2017, 07:39 PM
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Let's see here...

First of all, yes, sans cheating, it appears that Brad is merely "Deserter".



Though the manual does list Brad's "class" as "Prisoner No. 666". Also, his favorite insect is the beetle.

And I don't object to nitpicking! I don't claim to be a WA2ologist, so I appreciate any additional details anyone can provide.

Yes, Dungeon Front Battle 2 is the theme of Brad's opening area. Spoony, you're officially on music duty for this LP. Again.

And regarding the cheating, basically, it's a kind of "escape hatch" for my own JRPG OCD. As it is, I'm playing the game with a very focused look on the plot and going through every area with a running tally of "what does this mean" and such. If I were also playing this game "for real", I'd also need to open every single treasure, maximize EXP gains, and never ever use a "rare" healing item, because that might be useful later. This would drive me insane. When cheating, hey, it's all gravy, and I can better enjoy the experience (which drastically increases the odds that this project will actually finish).
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:08 AM
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Excellent update Gogglebob! And Excellent Nitpicking Breakman! Looking forward to more!

The idea of an RPG set in a "Western" is immediately facinating to me. I'm wondering where it will fall on the sliding scale from The Good The Bad and The Ugly to Trigun.

Probably closer to Trigun.
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Old 06-20-2017, 05:49 AM
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I won't spoil that for you, but I'll just say you won't have to wait long to find out.
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  #45  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:15 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 2-1

Previously on Wild Arms 2: Five years ago, Brad Evans was arrested for seventeen counts of gem theft, gate damage, and the extinction of an endangered beehive-based creature.



But that’s all behind us, and it’s time to check in with Palace Village. Come for the village, stay for the palace (note: there is no palace).



This appears to be some village elders’ meeting regarding hiring a mercenary. Oh, wait, excuse me, “Merc”. That’s the deliberate term for hobos adventurers in the Wild Arms universe.



There’s some random crosstalk here, but apparently these guys need a merc for something.



And then a girl dropped in.



Without anyone even responding, Apology Girl realizes she’s in the wrong place. I guess the Valeria household would never have a carpet pattern on a dining room table.



The confused villagers ask the girl her name, and that’s when this familiar screen pops up.



So let’s take a moment to introduce Lilka Eleniak. Lilka is kind of an odd duck for a JRPG. She’s one of the first characters introduced (technically the first named character, assuming you choose her adventure first), and she will be with the party right through to the finale. However, Lilka has nothing to do with anything. Lilka is not the chief hero of the story, she is not the romantic lead, and she is not in any way related to the villains of the piece in any significant way. But she’s the magic user, right? That’s her whole deal, so she’s got to have some sort of mystical connection with the…. Nope. By the time we get into the whole “magical gods of Wild Arms” plot, Lilka will be ignored for a new party member that actually has connections to the spiritual side of this world. Sorry!

On one hand, this could lead to some interesting storytelling, as without a more overt Uncle Ben or supervillain for her superheroism, Lilka is free to be a hero just for the sake of being a hero. Unfortunately in practice, as one of three (and eventually even more), she basically gets lost in the shuffle, and it’s really easy to forget Lilka is even there half the time.

(Incidentally, it’s possible Lilka’s relatively unmoored characterization is in response to Wild Arms 1’s Cecilia, who is a magic user, princess, god-whisperer, and chosen one all in one. Also, I feel this “problem” directly lead to Virginia Maxwell, Wild Arms 3’s lead who is the best.)

Anyway, as Lilka has nothing to do with anything, she basically exists to be the peppy, optimistic character that perks up every time the party acknowledges they’ve somehow gotten stuck on another suicide mission. Other than that… well, let’s watch and see if she ever does anything interesting.



“Oh, boy. I messed up again. But at least I came to a place where everyone seems so nice. I know I should hurry, but I guess there's no harm in resting here for a while.”

So Brad has to flee for his life through the woods, and Lilka is going to chill at some village. I wonder which character makes a more significant first impression.



Welcome to ACTION DINNER CONVERSATION!



Okay, I’m going to talk about this again: I really love old school sprite animation. I played through Persona 5 shortly before starting this LP, and that is a game released in 2017 on the friggen Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. And, early in the game, there’s a moment when the characters have to pull a grate off a vent to make an escape, and the scene cuts to black, and then the grate is on the floor. Nobody wanted to spend the time animating a dude pulling a grate off a wall! Come on, guys! It can’t be that hard! And if you didn’t want to animate the grate-pull, why not just have the vent be open in the first place!? And don’t think I didn’t notice the same problem ten hours later when a blanket was pulled off a painting with a quick fade to black!

I realize that money and time and resources can be spent elsewhere in videogames. I realize that pulling off that grate means we get a slightly less detailed model for Mara. I realize all of that, but it still bothers me when no one decides to give Joker a “pulling” animation. It could be used elsewhere! You could use it all over the place! It might fun! But… no… the days when companies dedicated time and resources to “incidental” animations in JRPGs (and other games!) are long gone, and we might never see a witch girl reach for a hot cuppa ever again.

Bless you, pre-polygon JRPG cinematography.



Here’s your homework for the week: I want everyone to spend one day talking to other people like they live in the opening chapter of a JRPG. When someone asks what you’re doing, reply, “I am speaking like I am in the opening of a JRPG, a Japanese role playing game that traditionally takes place in a fantasy setting. I got the idea from reading a Let’s Play on a forum. You know, one of those online communication boards available on computers, the modern electronic devices that function like an advanced abacus.”



And then she burned down the village. The end.



And then I burned down the village. The end.



Practical magic is no magic at all! And I can never pick out my own name in a noisy room! I always get distracted by people screaming for their Goggle Mom.



This brief discussion on the nature of magic leads to a flashback. Unlike Brad’s sepia flashbacks, we’ll be “playing” this flashback (and it’s in color!).



We’re apparently in the Millennium Puzzle.



Diagram provided for clarity.



So I guess Lilka lost a d-d-d-d-duel, and now she’s stuck. But we’ve got a telepathic sister to help out!



Lilka’s Sister suggests chucking some magic at this big box.



But no effect. Lilka admits that she has the magical aptitude of Mailbot, the Mail Robot.



Uh… yes? I guess the statement here is that Lilka got herself into this box-based mess.



So Lilka decides to go for the gold and chuck another six fireballs at the box.



No dice.



Remedial magic for dummies.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #46  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:22 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 2-2 (The Second)



Lilka: the most appreciative mage.



“Well” isn’t an answer! “Well” is where you drop a rock and hope it opens a passage to the underground!



So Sissy suggests lobbing some fireballs at the smaller box.



Success! A crystal appeared!



Dungeon where you have to hit three switches. Got it!



Lilka starts the game with her “tool”. Like Brad’s boots, press the square button while exploring, and you can launch a fireball. The fireball has good range, and is used in a number of puzzles for general “hit that” purposes. Also, disappointingly, the fireball does not ignite everything you can find, nor does it barbecue hapless villagers. Lame.



Lilka doesn’t need a tutorial!



So here we go, Lilka’s intro dungeon starts in earnest. Basically, what we have here is one of those general “hub” dungeons. Here is the main hub, and there will be three different branches that all circle back so we can hit those currently inaccessible switches. It may be hard to tell from the shot there, but the three blue blocks are on a much higher plane than Lilka.



Make your way to the gem that Lilka summoned and Sister Gabby has more to say.



Or… she doesn’t.



The green gem teleports Lilka to her first challenge.



Oh, never mind, it’s just a save point. Unlike the other tutorial chapters, Lilka has ready access to saving at pretty much any time. It’s very easy to return to this point, so feel free to abuse this spot if you’re nervous about Lilka’s tiny HP pool.



This whole dungeon is basically a giant puzzle dungeon with an emphasis on movement puzzles. Hit the switch, see that a block moves, and then use that block in some way to move forward. Please see the above gif if that didn’t make any sense.



And, once again, we encounter HP restoring gems before our first battle.



There we go!



Brad had ARMs, Lilka has magic spells. That makes sense! We’ve got three basic spells to start (Fire, Ice, Cure… what do you mean this isn’t Final Fantasy?), and, once this dungeon is complete, we can customize the hell out of our spell list. We also… can’t use any spells right now.



Spells, like ARMs, require FP. FP, like always, is accumulated by fighting, whether it be taking damage or dishing it out. This means that Lilka is kind of a slow starter: at the beginning of the game, she never starts a battle with enough FP to cast spells, so she has to take some damage to get going. On the plus side, magic being powered by FP means you have effectively infinite “MP”, or at least a magic pool that charges without having to chug your ether supply. This means that, unlike ARMs, Lilka has a special command that she can use without fear of “running out” before the end of the dungeon.

Oh, also Lilka has the Mystic command at FP Level 1. This allows Lilka to use one item on the whole party. This can be really helpful (and downright game-breaking)… but fat lot of good it will do you in a party one.



So after a round of battle (that left the monsters still standing and Lilka down about a third of her HP), we have enough FP to launch some magic attacks. Eat fire, bug monster!



Unfortunately, this ain’t Pokémon, and these bug things are resistant to fire. A gray number means the attack was not very effective.



Another round, time to try some ice.



That’s the stuff! Red numbers mean super effective, and this is one stomped bug.



And here’s a win pose for Lilka. Have I mentioned that her melee weapon is an umbrella? Because it is, and I only know one tough cream puff that can pull that one off.



So, incidentally, the opening chapters technically have a listed difficulty curve. Blue Boy, the obvious protagonist of the story, has the easiest chapter, Brad is considered “medium”, and Lilka is saddled with the most difficult opening chapter. This is almost entirely because she’s fragile (you will note her HP count after a whole one battle), but it’s also because if you don’t pick up on the “use magic, hit weak points” thing going on here, you’re pretty much done. Heck, if I kept trying to use fire in that previous battle, Lilka would be dead after her first battle. This is something of a dramatic contrast from the other two characters, which I’m pretty sure can just use the fight command and never encounter an issue.

On the other hand, you do get a cure spell, so I guess that’s something.



And that cure spell doesn’t work outside of battles, because of the whole FP thing. Oh well, at least there are a few HP-granting gems around.



Those roaches are the primary enemies here, but there are also malevolent books floating around. Just to be annoying, bugs are weak to ice, books are weak to fire. It makes a certain kind of sense…

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #47  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:27 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 2-3



The earth element attack spell in Wild Arms is Break. This is not the second enemy in Lilka’s game attempting to turn my sole character to stone.



Anyway, moving on with the dungeon portion of our adventure (and, by the way, I reequipped Lilka so she is now practically a tank), more blocks spells more… spells.



The Millennium Puzzle does not have guardrails. Technically, you can fall off a whole lot of places in Wild Arms 2 (back in Brad’s chapter, you could fall off that cliff by the trolley), but there isn’t much of a disadvantage to falling: you’re just teleported back to the entrance of the room. In some rooms, falling is even advantageous, as it’s faster than walking back to the door. However, it is kind of a pain in the ass if you fall inches from the exit, so, ya know, exercise caution.



Lilka can use her fireballs for a diagonal blast. Note that Brad’s kick rarely has a reason to go diagonal.



Some of the “puzzles” require the player to properly rotate the camera. Probably a good practice for finding treasure, too.



Each of these subareas ends with an elevator to a higher location. I guess teleporters only work horizontally or something?



We’re back in the central hub, and it’s time to take out Box Numero Uno.



Another teleport crystal, and another conversation with sissy.



So Lilka is stuck in a garage door opener. Noted.



The second area has a number of switches that require a little forward thinking. It’s difficult to become “trapped”, but you can loop around this area a couple of times if you hit the wrong switches in the wrong order.



And I guess there are ghost squids around, too.



Sometimes you even have to fall down to a lower level to proceed. Be sure to rotate that camera as necessary!



Overall, the second area seems to go by the fastest… assuming you don’t get lost.



Box Number Two is in the can.



That… is not a short title. I’m sticking to Sissy.



“Lilka, I’m a phenomenal success, and you’re…. you.”



“You need to believe in yourself more. Lilka, from now on you need to believe in the magic that is yours alone. No matter how hard things get, you'll be able to overcome it with your magic.”

“Huh? What? Finding faults now? Later! Leave it 'til later! If I can do things with my magic, I'll listen to anything!”

Lilka understands… about half of what she’s told.



Third and final area… Hm, this spot seems a little more filled out than the other narrow paths.



So there are these blocks that rise when you stand on them.



And I guess the solution to the puzzle isn’t to stand on the blocks until they’re all three blocks high. Damn, could have saved us all a lot of time.



Okay, let’s backtrack a little and check out these lil’ teleporters.



Ah, here we go. Each of the four teleporters in this area features a different column of blocks. Match the number of raised blocks to the appropriate color back in the main room, and we’ll be all set.



So after hitting four different rooms, here’s the solution. The biggest challenge here is just remembering the right number sets while also engaging in random battles. … Or checking Gamefaqs (also available in 2000).



That puzzle is the only obstacle in the third area, so now we can knock out the final block.



Hooray! We reset the door or something! Let’s blow this popsicle stand!

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #48  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:34 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 2-4



“Hey, you wouldn’t shut up earlier. Where’d you go?”



I suppose the Lilka sisters were not brought up in a barn.



Ah, now Lilka’s getting it.



Lilka, tune your sister in a little bit more.



Just turn up the volume!



Aaaaand that’s it. Say good-bye to Lilka’s unnamed sister. Speaking of which, this brings us to the first edition of…

BAD STORY OR BAD TRANSLATION?

We’ll get a scant few more details later, but Lilka’s sister was apparently a magic user of some renown. We’ve already seen that Lilka holds her in high esteem, but we’ll eventually find out that Sissy was fairly legendary in the mage circles, and was apparently the Magic Johnson of magic.

Emphasis on “was” though, as she’s apparently dead now.

Sissy is a disembodied, helpful voice for the entirety of this dungeon, but we never see her at all. Then, after one or two random bits of hesitation on Sissy’s part, she seems to disappear forever when Lilka exits the Millennium Puzzle. And that, basically, is all we will ever know. Lilka’s Sister does not appear again, and, when asked about it, Lilka says shes unavailable. I believe we eventually hit Lilka’s hometown later in the game, and, at this point, it’s just noted that Sissy was lost in an accident.

So what was that accident? Well, it appears Sissy may have sacrificed herself for Lilka’s sake. We do not know how Lilka wound up in that Millennium Puzzle, but we do know that Lilka didn’t have the juice to open the door the real way (with that giant block at the start of scene), and, since the door couldn’t be left slightly ajar, Sissy had to do something… and maybe got forever trapped in the process. The brilliant Witch Girl had to sacrifice her life for her bumbling sister, and now Lilka has to live her life knowing that it came at the cost of the “better” sister.

Except… that isn’t ever made explicit. Lilka makes a big point of holding her sister in high regard, and later characters will comment that she was “lost in an accident”, but… that’s kind of it. This is arguably the most important event in Lilka’s life (and that includes everything that eventually happens in this plot), and the audience never gets a clear picture of what happened.

Was it because of a bad translation or bad plotting, though? You decide!



Back to reality!



In case you forget, Lilka was reimagining that entire dungeon from the safety of some random town. And now daddy’s home!



Lilka is all about the helping.



This… is remarkably straightforward.



“Three!”



Lilka is objecting to a subtle jab by the kid and… she can speak emoji?



Okay, back in the driver’s seat! This is technically the only (usable) town in any of the prologues, and we can now explore at will. Our goal is to gather data on the recent monster attacks.



Wild Arms 2 is one of those JRPGs where you can investigate a bookcase and read one book that is like four paragraphs long. I have never quite understood how that works. Regardless, we can learn important science facts here, and I bet the difference between a comet and a meteor will never be significant to anybody. (For the record, a comet orbits a celestial body, while a meteor is the natural enemy of the vegetarian)



Okay, back to the town. It’s nighttime, but we can still explore and…



Aw, nertz. Yeah, we’re in a town, but everything (except “our” house) is locked, so it’s just window-dressing. Fake town! Boo!



But we can meet our first Memory Service Lady. In dungeons we have save rocks, in towns we have the Memory Service, a group of identical women that have been dispatched to every town to record memories. She’s just here to listen to your memories. So... Wild Arms 2 features a world that involves universal, free psychiatry?



Also, if you try to leave, Lilka psyches herself up with memories of her sister. No running away to wherever you were supposed to be in the first place!



So all we have to do here is talk to three or four townsfolk and gather enough information to trigger the flag to move forward hunt the monster.



I’m not going to showcase the “talk to everyone” here, because it boils down to…



That. Just that.



See if it can recognize its name in a crowd!



Oh, turns out it’s just one monster. Meet Olivier! Please sir, may I have some more... pain?



What a lovely night to kill some weirdo bug monster.



Olivier enjoys traditional activities like eating grain and puking all over magical girls.

CONTINUED NEXT POST
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  #49  
Old 06-27-2017, 04:39 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 2-5



This battle is pretty easy (even if you’re not cheating). Lilka effectively has unlimited charges for her heal spell, and she always goes first. Assuming you can ration your HP correctly, you’re never in any danger.

… Which is good, because if you save within town, you have no way to revisit the dungeon and grind on weaker enemies for EXP.



Olivier is weak to fire, but his legs are weak to ice. What a complicated guy.



What a dead guy.



And the day is saved!



Lilka is… kind of surprised at her victory. Aw, first battle without sisterly backup.



“Way to summon fire from Hell and destroy a human-sized insect!”



Lilka is into it!



The next day, the village decides to see Lilka off to her next destination.



“Thanks for letting me level up both physically and mentally! And the coffee!”



The town offers Lilka all sorts of prizes, but she only takes a single teleport gem. Once item shops open up in this game, teleport gems are sold for 100 gella.



“Big Sis, will you come visit me again?”
“Of course! I promise!”

D’awww



Cue laugh track. Let’s get out of here.



Teleport gem activate!



A black cat wanders into town in Lilka’s absence. I think that’s supposed to tell us everything we need to know.



“I tried to be cool about it, but I might have blown it. I don't think I'd have been cursed if I had accepted a bag lunch. That reminds me... I still haven't had breakfast yet. I'm so hungry! I'm sure it'll be OK! If I get to the Valeria home. I'm sure they'll feed me! Now that that's settled, I'll be fine, just fine! ...at least that's what I thought.”



Brad ends his prologue being carted off to prison, Lilka wraps things up slightly hungry. Hers is a hard life.

Next time on Wild Arms 2: Boy Blue and the exploding goo.
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  #50  
Old 06-27-2017, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
This appears to be some village elders’ meeting regarding hiring a mercenary. Oh, wait, excuse me, “Merc”. That’s the deliberate term for hobos adventurers in the Wild Arms universe.
I don't know if there was any consistency to this in Japanese, but in WA1 they're "Dream Chasers," in Alter Code: F they're "Wanderers," and in WA3 and 4 they're "Drifters." I don't have WA5 anymore, so I can't check the manual for that one.

Quote:
We’re apparently in the Millennium Puzzle.
That name was used again in WA3 for a series of block-pushing puzzle rooms hidden around the world map. Alter Code: F had them too, but they changed the name to "Puzzle Box."

Quote:
Wild Arms 2 is one of those JRPGs where you can investigate a bookcase and read one book that is like four paragraphs long. I have never quite understood how that works. Regardless, we can learn important science facts here, and I bet the difference between a comet and a meteor will never be significant to anybody. (For the record, a comet orbits a celestial body, while a meteor is the natural enemy of the vegetarian)
I love this about the Wild Arms series. There's backstory for all kinds of things all over the place. In WA1, Cecilia's prologue dungeon is a library, and the room before the boss has a ton of bookshelves in it, and some of those books have no context whatsoever at the start of the game - one is about the second hardest endgame optional boss.

Quote:
Oh, turns out it’s just one monster. Meet Olivier! Please sir, may I have some more... pain?
Olivier also appears in WA3 and Alter Code: F. Maybe in other ones too. There's a lot of recurring bosses.
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  #51  
Old 06-30-2017, 05:07 PM
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Lilka even comes with her own quirky theme music! None of the other main characters get their own music (of this first three anyway).

And again on the music front, the music for Lilka's opening dungeon is weirdly titled Dungeon Horror. It doesn't sound particularly horrifying, but it is oddly catchy.

(I used both of these BGM tracks in my old RPGMaker 2000 game, incidentally. Between these and the tracks from the previous update it's pretty obvious that I was working on that shortly after playing this game, isn't it?)

I don't recall using Lilka much in the later game as she got pretty outclassed by other party members. It's strange to consider, since a character that effectively has unlimited MP and can cast any spell indefinitely in battle once they reach a certain level sounds broken on paper, but I just don't recall her magic being all that powerful.

I AM a fan of the way you acquire her magic, though. It was a nifty little system.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by breakman View Post
Yeah, the guns are always ARMs. I think there's a different acronym in each game, but I only remember the two(!) acronyms from the first game.
Wait, two in the first game? I thought they were only Ancient Relic Machines in that one.

I love this game, and I'm glad to see this LP because I really don't have the 30+ hours of gaming time to replay it at this point in my life.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:22 AM
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Blue-haired Main Character McMain-Character-son gets at least one (though it's a battle theme) depending on how you classify things.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Beowulf View Post
Wait, two in the first game? I thought they were only Ancient Relic Machines in that one.

I love this game, and I'm glad to see this LP because I really don't have the 30+ hours of gaming time to replay it at this point in my life.
There's a book somewhere that gives the original acronym: Artificially Rebirthed Matricide Machines (maybe machine wasn't capitalized, but either way they don't call it ARMMs). It's possible that was only added in the remake, but I think it was in the original.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:42 AM
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Isn't that an oblique reference to Rudy's backstory? Pretty much every weapon-type ARM in 1 (regular, been forever since I've played AC:F) goes by that other acronym.
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Old 07-05-2017, 01:52 PM
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I don't remember Rudy being called an ARM - they always mentioned the Holmcross (sic) Project or whatever when talking about him. It may have been in reference to Rudy's ARM in particular, but I think that was just the meaning of the acronym at the time they were made (i.e. before they were 'ancient').
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:34 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 3-1

Previously on Wild Arms 2: Lilka solved the Millennial Puzzle! Kinda! And it got her sister killed! Maybe! You know, it was really unclear.



But no time for that now! Now we’ve got some manner of military vehicle shipping out. Did you know there were cars in the Wild Arms 2 universe? There are! Makes that guy who was saving up for a horse look like a chump.



Can you spot the main character?



“They are extra ruined ruins, thus the name.”



Musketeer B has worries about being chosen. But who is Musketeer B?



Zack? Cloud? … The other guy?



What? Britney wasn’t available?



Okay! Time to talk about Ashley Winchester. Actually, maybe I shouldn’t talk about Ashley Winchester, as he pretty much is Wild Arms 2. In the same way that telling the story of Ansem and Sora effectively summarizes the entirety of Kingdom Hearts (the joke is that there is no effective way to summarize Kingdom Hearts), telling Ashley’s story is basically telling the human side of the Wild Arms 2 story (the political side… is something else). So let’s just leave it loose here, and let his story unfold naturally.

I guess I should mention that he is a JRPG protagonist with actual agency, and isn’t just another mute kid with blue-hair that is meant to be the player avatar. He is Ashley Winchester, and not a generic stand-in for “you”, so try to keep that in mind.

Oh, also Ashley is the heroest hero that ever heroed, but, if you haven’t already guessed, “heroism” is a major theme of Wild Arms 2, so we’ll just watch and see how that plays out.



See? Ashley is going to showboat like it’s nobody’s business, and you’ll like it!



Time to settle down for the real plot: some kid has been taken hostage, and the kidnappers fled into the nearby Withered Ruins because, I don’t know, they like the smell of the place or something. Technically this whole team of Musketeers is being dispatched to rescue one kid, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that all those identical dudes are going to have a hard time getting anything done.



So welcome to the Withered Ruins. For a lot of people, this is the first dungeon in the game, and it is clearly the dungeon best designed to be that starting point.



You leave your ruins to rot, you’re gonna get monsters. The first couple of rooms in the Withered Ruins are monster-less, and you’ve just got a bunch of NPCs milling about that provide tutorial tips. Note, again, that nothing like this exists in the other two introductory segments.



“Hey, Ashley, shouldn’t we leave kidnapped children to die?”



You actually get to choose whether or not Ashley is a sniveling coward. This impacts nothing, but it does immediately encourage the player to see Ashley as the most noteworthy digital avatar in this game.



And if you choose to portray Ashley as more Allen than Ashley, you’ll learn that Ashley is pretty well respected by this one guy that believes kidnapped children should just rescue themselves.



Son of a



This is the only introduction that explains…



The Gimel Coin. This is an item that you can’t buy, but is found in a lot of treasure chests. As long as you have a Gimel Coin, you can continue immediately after losing a battle. Unfortunately, if memory serves, you just restart the battle immediately, so if you’re underprepared for the fight in the first place, you’re still out of luck (though you may change equipment during any battle, if that’s a concern). WA2 is fairly generous with its savepoints, but it’s still nice that, in a time when most JRPGS punished the player for losing with a great big waste of time, WA2 introduced an item that makes life a little bit easier.



Bad hombres!



There are a few other treasures in the waiting area, so screw you, that one guy!



And there’s a “Health Official” that will automatically top off your HP any time you need him. Again, nothing like this exists in the other dungeons.



Finally, after talking to a bunch of other completely useless musketeers, we hit the dungeon proper. Ashley technically doesn’t see anything other than this dungeon for his entire intro, but he somehow still got a more populated “town” than Lilka.



Ah, the answer to this conundrum is obvious…



Don’t fall in the hole. Got it.



Exploring the dungeon while not falling into a hole like a big idiot yields some more random treasures that shouldn’t exist. Who puts a berry in a box in a dungeon?



And down some stairs, we find that poor idiot who couldn’t identify a big, gaping hole. Of course, he’s on a plane slightly above Ashley’s, so…. Dammit, this is going to be rough on the knees.

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  #58  
Old 07-16-2017, 04:41 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 3-2



Yeah, there’s a locked door ahead. It’s pretty clear we have to deal with this doofus.



Oh, hey, a battle. Look, it’s a barely visible bat!



A… stirge? Roll a D20 to see if you recognize that word.



Ashley is not a musketeer in name only, he attacks with an actual (fantasy) musket. No rapiers for this hero.



Like Brad, Ashley is an ARMs user, so his basic attacks are stabs, while his FP-powered special attacks employ some bullets. Again, like Brad, he has limited ammo that can only be reliably restored in towns, so be mindful of your resources.



Ashley also has the Level 1 FP ability Accelerator. This is a Wild Arms staple that allows the user to move first during one turn, regardless of the speed of everyone else on the field. This is amazing, and allows for some ridiculous exploitation. For right now, just consider that Ashley can always use a healing item first thing in a round, assuming he’s got a piddling 25 FP.



I’m pretty sure he could cut down a tree with that musket.



Back up some stairs, and it’s time to take the plunge.



Falling allows Ashley to access that dork that fell down here in the first place. Luckily, Ashley does not land directly atop the hapless nerd.



Fall Guy reiterates the previously mentioned “Ashley wants a promotion” thing…



And then shows Ashley what a knife is.



Whoa, I’m totally going to hurl… a knife! (Do not try this at home)



So Ashley scores his first tool. This knife works almost exactly like Lilka’s fire spell tool, but with one tiny difference that we’ll cover later.



So Ashley moves on, and leaves Fall Guy to have a nice rest. Note that this poindexter isn’t dead, as he does appear later (and he doesn’t have a broken spine or anything).



Further dungeon exploration, further crap restorative treasures.



Also: a monster or two that may eat your baby.



So here’s a fun fact…



All ARMs have accuracy ratings. Even though ARMs are supposed to be high-powered attack moves that make short work of regular monsters and do extensive damage to bosses, they can still miss, and likely will miss pretty frequently. You can upgrade ARMs to have better hit rates, and Brad has a skill that guarantees 100% accuracy, but most of the time, there’s every chance that your super weapon with a mere seven shots is going to miss. This is particularly demoralizing when it happens immediately in the first dungeon, as a neophyte player may accidentally learn that ARMs are… kind of useless. They’re not! But they are useless when they miss…



So back to stabbing.



Back up some stairs again, we can use our newly acquired hurl knife to hit a switch and move forward. Thanks a lot, guy I left alone in a ditch!



Now we can really start our dungeon exploring. The next area has a high and a low branch. The basic idea is that you may fall from the high area, and then have to retrace your steps through the low area… but since the low area is a dead end, you might accidentally choose the low branch first and waste some time. I hate wasting time!



Particularly when there are monsters about. I might be crazy, but Ashley seems to have the highest encounter rate of any of the starting chapters.



It also takes him the longest to see any life restoring gems, too. Then again, he does have that doctor at the entrance.



“If you fall down here to talk to me, you’ve already failed. Just a head’s up!”



For no other reason than an excuse to mock Playstation 1 graphics, here’s a shot of Ashley’s win pose, and confirmation that no one knew how to model a loose-fitting belt.

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  #59  
Old 07-16-2017, 04:46 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 3-3



Watch out for falling rocks. In general, the shortest route is always the most booby trapped.



And the route outlined with pretty glowing crystals is perfect forever!



“Sure, I’ll take it slooooooooooooooooooooooow.”



The trick here is that you can pretty easily see the blocks that are about to fall (like right in front of Ashley in the above shot), and, ya know, just go around. Again, as ever in WA2, there is basically no penalty for falling. Additionally, fallen blocks will not respawn until you leave the room, so you can just mind the new gap and be okay.



Sneak your way to a treasure room and find a valuable Bullet Load. Don’t waste it on the intro dungeon!



There’s a block ready to fall just ahead of this switch, but no worries, we’ve got knife hurling to get us through.



Just past the falling block chamber is an obvious (and unnecessary) point of no return.



But the doctor somehow got here ahead of us, so no need to worry about healing.



And then we’ve got Ashley’s first save point. Since I technically tackled Ashley’s story first, this is where I first loaded up the “cheat” save we’ve been using for the other files.



Just for the hell of it, here are a few of the fabulous accessories that are now available to Ashley. That Sheriff Star is a recurring WA2 item that is your reward for defeating the Omega Weapon of the series…. And I’ve got 127. That just warms my heart.



Moving on… hey, why do we need crystals here? The doctor is like five feet away.



I guess they do indicate the way forward. Again, Ashley’s dungeon seems to go out of its way to hold the player’s hand.



Ah, here’s where we get to show off the specialty of the Hurl Knife. See, we’re on a different plane here, so any attempts to hit the switch with the knife (or Lilka’s fire, were that available here) go sailing overswitch.



But the Hurl Knife will fall if it hits another object, so the switch is easily switched by tossing the knife at the nearby wall. This eventually leads to a few puzzles wherein making sure there’s an object behind a switch is more important than anything.



And now we’ve got a room where Ashley can practice falling. Maybe I can actually score that treasure chest in memory of Brad’s failed cliffside adventure.



Rad! STR Apples permanently boost your STR (Strength) stat. There are other apples for every other stat available (and flowers for luck…. That’s not just an expression), and they’re obviously very valuable for maxing out your characters’ stats. On the other hand, like tabs in Chrono Trigger and seeds in Dragon Quest, I’m never going to use ‘em, because I’m neurotic about hoarding and claiming that I’ll eventually need them for… some reason. Lilka’s test of strength? I don’t know.



Incidentally, SOR is Sorcery, for magic power. VIT is Vitality, aka defense. And RES is Resistance, basically your magic defense. LCK is your lick stat, which measure how effectively Ashley can taste the rainbow.



And now that I’ve got Ashley loaded down with his end game weaponry, these kobolds don’t seem so threatening.



Just a few more steps, and there’s a doin a-transpirin’!



Kidnap child, stow ‘em in monster-infested ruins, and then profit. Tale as old as time.



Ha ha, stupid Zook. Gangal sure does have that Zook’s number.



“Hey, Greg, what’s a good fantasy name?”
“I don’t know… How about Gerg?”
“Brilliant! Now we've gotta work on those lizard guys' names.”

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  #60  
Old 07-16-2017, 04:52 PM
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Default Wild Arms 2 3-4



“That’s what all hostages say! Why, by the time your parents hear about…”



“…. Oh.”



Well, this was a poorly researched caper.



Ashley plinks a knife against a nearby torch to get the kid’s attention.



“There were like twenty guys with me, but they’re all hanging out in the foyer for no apparent reason.”



Please introduce yourself, victim.



The kid is named Tony. According to the Wild Arms Wiki, his full name is Tony Stark. Wait… what? Seriously? Let me just corroborate…. Yes, apparently the kid in red and yellow is named Tony Stark. I… I’m frozen with the sheer number of ways I can utilize this knowledge. I think I have to lie down…



Call your warg! Wait… wrong Stark.



Kidnapping 101: Don’t just bind their hands, also remember that hostages have legs.



Given the hairstyles, I think these guys are legitimately supposed to be based on the three stooges. I don’t care if Moe is wearing a hat!



In retrospect, there’s really no reason Tony couldn’t have rocketed over to Ashley, as opposed to backing into a corner atop a glowing switch.



A glowing switch that is apparently opening a door emblazoned with dragons.



Fin Fang Foom in the house!



Oh, no, it’s just Kalivos. A weaponized monster? That’s gonna smart.



So Tony is untied, and everyone runs away from the rampaging Kalivos. Good plan!



Wouldn’t want anyone to hurt themselves!



Well, except that guy.



This leads to a vaguely Indiana Jones-esque scene of Ashley narrowly escaping the clutches of Kalivos while the rest of the dum-dums run on ahead.



Stooges to the left, Tony to the right. Ashley chooses to go right, and Kalivos goes with the bigger group on the left.



“Which one of you is the tastiest? It’s okay if you don’t know, I’m willing to run some tests.”



But Ashley is a hero of heroes, so he distracts Kalivos while the trio escapes.



Tony! Use a repulsor blast!



Meanwhile outside, we get an explanation on that whole “monster weapon” thing. Apparently this thing bleeds (or spits?) liquid nitrogen. This is similar to how sometimes sharks explode. I saw it in a nature documentary once.



“Nuke it from orbit.”



“Yep! Hey, you seen the lunch cart around here?”

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