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  -Part 1 :: [10.24.04]
  -Part 2 :: [09.25.05]
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"The game opens with a scrumptrilescent FMV of a weird fortress that looks kind of like a Jenga game with some dragons stuck on the side. The camera does all these fancy angles because, you know, it's CG and they can do things that are more difficult to do in real life movies and we're supposed to be impressed."
     -Jeanne, Chrono Cross Part 1




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Wild ARMs : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 09.25.05
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
During our first visit to the Mild West, we met our three protagonists, complete with varying levels of vitriol-spitting on my part, and learned a lot of confusing shit. This time, absolutely nothing dramatic, deadly or destructive will happen. No siree. Instead, pixie dust and flower petals will rain from the sky, shining rainbows will light up the horizon, and Filgaia's inhabitants will all link arms and skip down the Yellow Brick Road while singing John Lennon's 'Imagine'.

Just kidding! For a more accurate description of impending events, simply replace 'pixie dust and flower petals' with 'lightning and shards of the sky', and 'shining rainbows' with 'blazing walls of fire'. (The Yellow Brick Road part still may happen, however. Hey, anything's possible when you consider the amount of blatant drug references in the game already.) Yup, we're in for crappy pyrotechnics, sky-related destruction and deaths-a-plenty (though not before a Brahne-sized portion of wankery and dungeon-crawling), so grab some popcorn and join me for the ride! Mine's extra salt, no butter.

If you cast your minds back almost a year, you'll remember that Rudy was about to head off on his First Big Adventure to rescue a poor widdle chyyyuld from the extremely menacingly-named Berry Cave. After changing his underwear and buffing his PENIS, Rudy is ready to depart. Exploring the village and talking to the multitude of wasters occupying it results in nothing much, except useless information and crappy healing items, so I'll spare you all the details. Not that I ever go into much detail anyway, of course. Before heading to the Berry Cave of Death and Doom (hey, just trying to make the dungeon sound a little more interesting) I save my game by having Rudy speak to the handily-placed talking pink parrot. And no, I have no fucking idea why the save points in this game take the form of talking pink parrots. Maybe they were fashionable pets to have in the Wild West or something. Work with me here, readers.

Talking pink parrots as save points...why?
Pink is so Rudy's colour! And every RPG hero needs a feathered friend!
Makes a change from books and glowing crystals.
Why are you complaining? Parrots could be used in a far worse capacity.
A game designer saw one in a 'vision' *cough* and decided to include it in the game.

 

I step out into the big wide World Map to discover, to my delight, that the Phantom Whistler from the intro is back, treating me to a thoroughly catchy tune. The Berry Cave of Death, Doom and Destruction lies just a short distance from Surf, which means that Rudy is in there and battling monsters before I can say "Hmm, if the villagers are so concerned about the kid, why is Rudy the only one doing something about it?"

 
'OK Mr. Ominous Sign! Turning around and leaving!'

The Berry Cave of Death, Doom, Destruction and Devastation is a nice easy dungeon, littered with non-sensical implements such as sliding huge statues (forming the basis of puzzles an amoeba could figure out within half a second) and gigantic wooden crates, completely empty except for single Heal Berries. (On a completely random note, whenever I see a reference to a "Heal Berry", I automatically think of Halle Berry, which gets quite annoying after a while. Especially when it makes me think of the diabolically awful Catwoman.) But hey, all these crates are ripe for the explodin', giving Rudy a chance to play around with his new Bombs like the little pyromaniac he is. He continues to lay explosives all around the cave for the next five minutes, purely because the guy on the business end of the controller is apparently 12 years old.

One moment of excitement arrives when Rudy comes across a sign warning: "Be Quiet! Footsteps may wake bats! Take it slow and easy…" Heeding this warning, Rudy blows the sign to smithereens and proceeds to stampede down the tunnel. My rebellious streak almost proves to be my undoing when I hear the sinister chittering of bats, who then swarm towards Rudy like fangirls to a Hobbit at a LotR convention. I'd wager that the bats are less scary, but I digress. And fangirls - hold the bitchy emails. I love Hobbits too. As it turns out, the several black fangirl!bats do nothing other than flap in an annoying manner around the cave, while one distinctive red bat sticks to Rudy like shit to a blanket. In fact, it signifies the 'Curse' status effect, which ups the random battle count by a considerable amount, as if it weren't high enough already. For the record, I have no idea why the curse takes the form of a bat flying irritatingly around Rudy's head, and I can't help feeling that it would be more appropriate for said curse to appear in the guise of Tidus, or herpes, or an embittered former forum poster who just can't let go.

Thankfully, another helpfully-placed sign a few battles away tells me that "The Holy Symbol will remove the curse of the bats". Well, that's peachy. Or it would be if I actually had a Holy Symbol. Luckily for me, one can be procured from a chest sitting right next to the Sign of Helpfulness. It may just be me, but I don't like how generous the Game Designers are being at the moment. It unnerves me.

 
Sure it will. *puff*

Now footloose and curse-free, Rudy skips down another tunnel. And another. In case you hadn't guessed, The Berry Cave of Death, Doom, Destruction, Devastation and a little Darkness isn't exactly the most thrilling dungeon in the world. But I'm not complaining too much - in a few recaps' time, when I find myself wasting whole hours of my life examining treasure chests in a completely fucking non-sensical certain order just to proceed, I'll be screaming out for more dungeons of this type like a junkie needing his next fix. You have been warned.

A little further along, Rudy spots a suspicious-looking wall, which he bombs the hell out of to reveal a hidden room containing...apples. Yes, the three chests inside the sealed cave hold stat-increasing magic apples. I'm not even going to begin to analyze why the hell someone went to the trouble of sealing some fucking apples inside a cave, although, suffice to say, if somebody in the real world said to themselves "Hey, I know! I'll take my magical apples to a cavern in the middle of nowhere, lock them inside treasure chests and seal up the entrance!", they'd probably soon be the occupant of a nice padded cell. Soon enough, Rudy penetrates the deepest sanctum of the cave (HURR HURR) where he finds a Bullet Clip (for reloading his PENIS) and a pentagram-esque save point. I'm sure there isn't a boss battle coming up. It would be totally out of left field. Incidentally, I'm wondering why the save points in towns and villages take the form of pink parrots, while the ones in dungeons resemble magic circles.

Why are dungeon save points different to those in towns?
Who cares? Isn't one save point poll more than enough for one recap?
Every self-respecting RPG needs to meet a glowy-magic-circle quota.
The talking pink parrots can't survive in the claustrophobic air of a dungeon, so suitable replacements needed to be found.
The game designer saw a glowing pentagram in his 'vision', too.

 

Past the save point, Rudy runs into Tony, the little brat who has his entire village so sick with worry that not one of them made any effort to come and find him. It must be good to be so popular. Tony reveals that he came to the cave to "look for berries for [his] father". His father, although I neglected to mention it in the last recap, is a bedridden man wracked with an unknown disease. It seems he needs the magic berries to help deal with the pain. Hmmm. So that's what they mean by 'berries'. I should have twigged sooner, considering the plethora of thinly-veiled drug references in the game so far. "The pot berries are on the other side of this blocked passage," Tony continues. Ah, this blocked passage, the one waiting so impatiently for Rudy to blow it sky-high!

Rudy gets to work with his bombs, then steps into the newly-opened cavern. I'm wondering if Tony was planning to wait around there until someone with bombs happened to come along. Also, something doesn't add up. Rudy couldn't access Tony's part of the cave without completing a puzzle to move the statues that were blocking the stairs. The statues cannot be moved back to their original position from the other side, but Tony seems to have gotten in there just fine, without moving the statues. Do they magically move aside for over-curious brats, while keeping robots heroes at bay? I'm stumped. But thinking about this shit for too long is worth neither the time nor the energy, so let's move on and blame it on the crack.

Inside the cave, which is slightly waterlogged and has weird firefly things everywhere, Rudy discovers a Bandanna hidden behind a rock (I just hope it's another red one, so his outfit doesn't clash) before examining an ominous glowing monolith inscribed with an eye motif. The weed berries grow at the foot of the monolith. Rudy, deciding to pick one, obtains a 'Holy Berry', which he then hands to Tony, who in turn practically humps his leg. The pair make like trees and leave the cavern, not a care in the world after completing their perilous quest for pot. Ah, if only things were that simple. But this is an RPG, and in RPGs nothing is ever that simple. Ever. The screen pans up, shaking to indicate an earthquake as the monolith, emitting a strange sound and glowing even more than usual, suddenly splits down the middle. This ain't lookin' good. How funny would it be if Rudy and Tony went back to Surf with no trouble whatsoever, and the cracked monolith was never mentioned again?

The ground continues to shake as though a Goddamn volcano is about to erupt at any moment. We see the camera pan across the chunk of World Map we've explored so far, taking in The Berry Cave of Death, Doom, Destruction, Devastation, Darkness and Drugs, another random cave, the town of Adlehyde (it's where Cesuelia and Indy are headed, remember?) and Mary Sue Abbey. Whew. That is one far-reaching tremor.

When we return to the thrilling action in the Berry Cave of Bad Alliteration, we see Rudy and Tony emerge near the entrance, where, it seems, the entire fucking village of Surf has arrived to greet them. Nice of you all to show up as soon as your darling brat is rescued. "Why do you always cause so much trouble?" Tony's Mom bleats to her offspring. Yeah, like you were worried. Incidentally, I'm getting a distinct 'Entitlement Moo' vibe from her, and after just one line too. And the rest of the damn village follows suit. Like cockroaches from a hole, they swarm en masse, spouting lines like "Are you two OK?" and "I have always told you not to come here!". It infuriates me that they're sending Tony - who did, after all, have good intentions and his father's interests at heart - on a round-the-world guilt trip, when not a single one of them lifted a finger to do anything about his predicament. God, if all NPCs in this game are like Surf's inhabitants, I think I'll give up now.

Mayor Pifer - seemingly the one villager who isn't being a complete wanker - tells Tony that he's safe now, and that's all that matters. But as the villagers turn to leave, the dog who came along with them starts barking at something deep inside the cavern. The music turns tense and ominous as a monster - looking like the Wild ARMs version of Chewbacca - emerges from the darkness. If Rudy whips out a Lightsaber, I'm turning the game off. It turns out that my fears are unfounded, as Rudy decides instead to unsheath his PENIS. One guitar riff sound effect later, Rudy is set upon by Chewbacca.

 
That is one fast makeover.

In an exemplary show of consistency, the battle version of Chewie looks completely different to his usual self. Here, the poor thing looks like something from Digimon. What was, literally seconds ago, straggly brown fur is now eye-catching scarlet skin, complemented by bright yellow and purple patches. Not to mention the fifteen-thousand spikes and horns protruding from his back. Has he been given some twisted Wild ARMs version of a Fab Five makeover, or what? This inconsistency is a positively minor detail compared to what game designers usually throw at us, so I'll let it go.

Poor Chewie is so devastated by his new look that he lashes out at the first thing in sight - namely, Rudy. But our plucky hero stands his ground, enduring several strikes and blows before coming back with a few blows of his own. So to speak. But Chewie isn't intimidated by the long, hard shaft of Rudy's PENIS. Instead, he lets loose with a mouthful of "Rotten breath", sending Rudy's HP plummeting into the danger levels. Things, folks, are looking grim. But, as the battle reaches its climax, Rudy realises he has a last resort. Using the 'PENIS Lock On' command to maximize the accuracy of his shot, he aims his PENIS at the monster's mouth and shoots his load. This vigorous shot has enough power behind it to almost blow Chewie's head off, getting Rudy out of a nasty situation and earning him a substantial Gella reward. Rudy doesn't usually get paid for doing stuff like this, but hey, as far as he's concerned, it's all good.

Why does the pot have monster-slaying powers?
Why are you reading into things so much? You're taking all the fun out of the game! *goes to work on Xenosaga paper*
Hey, they don't call it "wonder weed" for nothing.
Duuuude...*puff*
A wizard grew this particular batch.

 
 
Money shot!

After their brief (but satisfying) encounter, it's apparent that Chewie managed to reverse his impromptu makeover - back in regular gameplay mode, he's the same shaggy brown creature he was before, with not a phallic spike or violet underbelly in sight. I guess he just couldn't pull the rainbow look off. For no fallible reason whatsoever, Rudy "casts the Holy Berry at the regenerating [Chewbacca]!", and "The healing light from the Holy Berry reduces the [Chewbacca] to sludge". Obviously. Who would've thought that pot had magic monster-killing properties? Chewie does indeed turn to sludge, which instantly vanishes into the ether, sparing some unfortunate soul the task of having to clean up all the mess. Monster sludge is such a persistent stain.

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