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"An elderly, kindly-looking nun by the name of Sister Lyta tells Ruley that she'll be more than happy to talk to him, just as soon as she's finished seeing to all the kids. Wait, that sounded wrong."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire IV Part 5




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Wild ARMs 3 : Part 1
By Ben
Posted 05.07.10
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6
Wild ARMs 3 is a game I never planned to recap. After getting to grips with the cliché-tastic first game in the series, I figured one game with characters wielding PENISes in a tenuous Wild West setting would be enough for any snarky website. However, after recently replaying this fine game and coming to the realization I was practically recapping it in my head as I went along, I finally recognized the untapped potential in this trainwreck, so here we are. Don't say I'm not good to you guys.

Just for the record, I'm starting one of those new-fangled New Game+ things for the purposes of this recap -- only because the game and its random, obnoxious difficulty spikes and distinct stinginess on the Gella front are fresh in my mind. So all the characters will now start off with a huge stash of Gella and their levels in the mid-seventies. Call me a cheater if it massages your e-penis, but this way, I'll be able to get through however many recaps this game will require with my controller and sanity relatively intact. Note that this is an estimation, not a promise -- we all know how fragile both controllers and sanity can be, especially when faced with such a challenge as this game provides.

The final pre-recap point I must make is that, as in the Wild ARMs recap, the ARMs of the title (really just another name for guns) are now referred to as PENISes. This will surely result in much immature innuendo during dramatic scenes, and we recappers have to take any small pleasure we can get.

The first WA adventure on the PS2 begins with a gorgeous anime intro, but since I don't believe it appears the first time you start a completely new game, I'm not going to recap it yet. I will say, though, that whoever sings the English version of the theme song has a nice enough voice but really needs to learn some pitch control ("And I will make it through this desert stoooooorm, safe and WAAAAUUUUAAAUUUURRRRRMMMM!"). The actual game starts with the sounds of distant thunder as we fly through stormclouds. Just in case we didn't get this, the Phantom Text God swiftly makes his WA3 debut by daubing "It was a dark and stormy night..." across the screen in fancy white font. Looks like he's either been taking calligraphy classes, or grew as sick of his usual plain text as the rest of us. A jangly guitar number kicks in as we move below the clouds and see the long, phallic snake-like shadow of a train thundering through a barren landscape. The camera moves closer and closer, appearing to be particularly enamoured of the train, seeing as it lingers on the front end (the head?) for about ten minutes. As if this weren't tedious enough, whoever is manning the damn camera now decides we haven't seen enough of the train's steely glory -- we now experience an endless scroll past a million identical carriages. Curiously, all of them seem to be empty, as there are no silhouettes in the windows, which makes it even more baffling that we have to endure this prolonged metaphorical blowjob. Finally, the camera operator finishes fellating the train, and we stop at the single carriage that seems to have anyone in it.

Penis!
 

The occupant is a young woman in a foofy purple dress (hey, an RPG female who isn't half-naked! So far, so good!). We cut to an interior shot of the train to get a closer look at her, and as we do, receive our first experience of this game's...interesting cel-shaded graphical style. Basically, while the environment of the train itself appears to be rendered fairly normally, the girl inside the carriage looks like a cardboard cutout someone left on the seat. She also has freakishly large clown hands, which aren't really flattered by the white gloves she's wearing. But hey, she's reading a book, so I'm going to cut her some slack -- judging by this precious little evidence, she isn't a braindead bimbo. Cardboard Girl clasps one of her giant hands to her mouth, and I can't tell if she's yawning or reacting to a shocking plot twist in her book. Hell, maybe she's reading Breaking Dawn, in which case I retract my earlier comment. CG looks out the window, and the camera operator hungrily seizes the opportunity to provide us with another lingering exterior shot of the train. I'm starting to think he's actually Selphie. Yes, it's a train. It rides on tracks. It's long and made of metal. Enough already!

After approximately three days, we cut back to Cardboard Girl, whose head is now drooping sleepily against the window. Looks like she really was reading a Twilight book after all. This new full-body shot allows me to determine that she is, in fact, a three-dimensional person, so we can chalk her distinctly flat appearance down to the cel-shaded character models in this game. We also get a clearer look at her clothes. In addition to the purple dress, she's wearing a tan-coloured belt, a blue corset, black tights, a huge red bow on her chest and a matching red band in her brown hair. In short, this girl is either blind (in which case, she was reading the Braille version of Breaking Dawn), or completely lacking in fashion sense (in which case, I can totally empathise). The train's whistle suddenly wakes her up, and she springs to her feet in surprise, just in time for someone to apply the emergency brakes. The completely hilarious and unexpected result of this is CG falling flat on her flat face. As the poor girl dusts herself off, the Phantom Text God reappears. Disappointingly, his fabulous new font is no more, as a distinctly plainer text box appears: "Attention all passengers: we are currently decelerating from our normal speed. Please remain seated for your safety". CG, being the curious sort, completely ignores these instructions and makes for the corridor.

CG opens the door of her carriage as one of the train guards runs past in a hurry -- it appears Something Is Going On. The random train guard meets a second random train guard at the end of the corridor and makes some frantic gestures before furiously pointing towards the far end of the train. There's no dialogue yet, so I can either wait for the game to tell me what the hell's going on, or let my imagination fill in the blanks. At this point I'm not sure which outcome would be more disturbing. As Cardboard Girl decides to investigate further and turns to run in the direction Random Train Guard #1 was pointing, she collides headfirst with yet another random train guard. For fuck's sake, how many guards does a train carrying a single passenger need?

Unlike his identikit brothers, this guard actually has a name -- Tony. "I-I'm terribly sorry!" he stammers, even though it was Cardboard Girl who ran into him. Before CG can reply, we abruptly switch camera angles, and I scream out loud at the sight of Tony's enormous hams waving directly into the camera. I guess I'll have to get used to the sight of ridiculously-disproportioned mitts sooner or later, as they appear to be a peculiar biological trait shared by the entire cardboard population of Feelgayer. "Are you all right?!" Tony continues. "I was in a rush, and..." Jesus, she suffered a slight bump to the head, not a freaking life-threatening injury. CG has evidently had enough of Tony's overblown concern as I have, as she nicely tells him to cut the crap -- she just wants the lowdown on the sudden halting of the train and the million guards flapping around like headless chickens. Tony replies that he doesn't know what the hell's going on either, and was just on his way to find out. He tells CG to return to her seat, and she seems ready to comply. However, as she's --altogether now -- curious and strong-minded, she fakes him out and runs underneath his outstretched arm (narrowly avoiding decapitation by his colossal paw), making for the end of the corridor. Tony shouts that the end carriage is a super-classified car holding precious cargo, only serving to reinforce CG's rampant curiosity. "Thanks for the tip!" she yells behind her, miraculously managing to reach the door without suffering another headfirst collision or comic pratfall.

By the time Tony catches up with her, Cardboard Girl is scrutinizing the heavy steel door of the classified carriage. Tony again tells her that the car is off-limits, to which she duhs "That's because there's something important in there, right?" No, the guards just use the classified car to store their beer and gay porn collection. Tony confirms that there is something important in there, to which CG muses "Then...if something were to happen, there's a good possibility it might happen in there, right?" She draws Tony's attention to the broken padlock lying in front of the door. Tony can't believe this is happening, and produces the key from his pocket. "The fact of the matter is..." he snits, "I have the key to the car in my hands here, see?" "Well, if it's true you have the key, then it's also true that the door is already open," CG retorts. If it's true that this game has over 40 hours of playtime, then it's also true that I'll be a raging alcoholic by the end of it.

 
Cardboard Girl's first acid trip was an interesting experience.

Cardboard Girl persuades Tony to investigate, and so they proceed into the unlit carriage, in the middle of which sits a suspicious-looking wooden chest. Tony is relieved to see that its contents are apparently untouched, which feeds CG's inquisitiveness even further. He ignores her excited questioning as to what is inside the chest, but decides he should open it anyway, just to be absolutely certain that whatever it's holding is safe. As soon as he opens the chest, a cloud of sparkly lights float out, complete with a shimmery sound effect. Clearly, the chest's contents are indeed magical and mega-important. However, their exact nature will have to remain a mystery for the time being; three other people rudely interrupt the scene by simultaneously entering the carriage, PENISes at the ready. The first is a moody-looking teen with silver hair, who enters through a window -- feet first. Showoff. The second gatecrasher is a muscly Native Feelgayan guy wearing an outfit made out of animal skins who rushes out from behind a pile of crates, while the third intruder is a green-haired man with glasses and a trenchcoat, who makes a more conventional entrance by coming in through the door. Silver-Haired Teen does an unnecessary commando roll, then all three men point their PENISes at each other while Tony and Cardboard Girl look on in shock. Well, that's one way to make an entrance.

At the conclusion of this shocking development, the screen freezes. I'm asked to select the characters one-by-one in order to play through their introduction chapters and find out how they came to be on the train. All of them apart from Tony, that is -- I imagine his scenario would be the very definition of boring: "Tony gets on train, apologizes to people who bump into him, takes a few tickets, goes home. Repeat until the fateful day Cardboard Girl and three other mysterious strangers decide to board train." Speaking of Cardboard Girl, I decide to pick her first, for two reasons: she's the main protagonist of the game, and her scenario is supposedly the quickest and easiest to get through. I'll be the judge of that, thanks.

Choosing 'Girl in First Class', I'm presented with the Name Character screen. We finally find out Cardboard Girl's name -- Virginia. I am now left with a dilemma. Knowing our heroine's name, I am faced with an opportunity I may never see in another seven years of recapping -- the chance to give a character the nickname of 'Vagina'. Come on, this is too good to miss -- a character with a name beginning with 'V' and ending with 'a', with even a 'g' in the middle? On one hand, it's immature, doesn't really fit Virginia's character, and could potentially hold back women's lib. On the other hand, the amusing dialogue resulting from this name change could well prevent me from going completely insane while recapping this juggernaut. Besides, we already have at least two characters named after male genitalia, and I'm all about equality in the recaps. So, it could go either way. Can I possibly resist the temptation?

As it turns out, no, I can't. So if you're offended by my decision, feel free to click the handy Back button on your browser. Alternatively, you can send me a flame email or wish for my death on a message board of your choosing. It's all good!

Over a Black Screen of Immature Nicknames, the PTG hastily scribbles "Two weeks before the fateful encounter..." Some tension-filled music hits the speakers as we fade in on a ramshackle village which, according to a rusty sign in middle-distance, is named Boot Hill. A bunch of worried-looking cardboard villagers, Vagina among them, are standing on a patch of dirt ground near the village entrance, facing off against a group of diminutive goblin-like creatures. "Vagina Maxwell, age eighteen," the PTG informs us. "Her life and the village where she lived had always been graced with peace and tranquility. That all changed the day the village was invaded by demi-humans from a neighboring settlement. Her life as she knew it ended that day." With that cheery contribution out of the way, we get to find out what this scene is all about.

An authoritative-looking gentleman wearing a cravat (but not, unfortunately, a fuchsia suit) tells the goblin dudes that they have already taken everything of value from the village, and begs to be left in peace. "Uncle Tesla!" Vagina yells, apparently for no reason in particular. Tesla motions for his niece to stay quiet, but the leader of the goblins (who are actually called 'Gobs' and 'Hobgobs') has already taken exception to his outburst: "Gob-gob! Tough words from loser! Me teach you lesson. Might is right! So you are wrong and me am right! Me am right, so me am cool! Gob-gob!" Apparently, the Gobs usually reside at the GameFaqs message boards. The Hobgob Boss continues, in his annoying parlance, that he and his buddies are still hungry despite the buttload of supplies they stole from the village last time. Tesla replies that the villagers will all starve if they give up any more of their food, and Hobgob Boss's civilised response is to headbutt him in the groin area. Tesla falls to his knees, and we are subjected to a horrifying new choice of camera angle -- look at the mind-scarring handy image over there, and imagine such dialogue from Hobgob Boss as "Gob-gob?! Taste good?" and "You have no food, then eat some dat!" Because that's exactly what he says. I wish I were making this up.

Forcing a guy to perform fellatio in front of his wife and niece is just WRONG.
 

After I've finished cleaning up the vomit from down my front, we continue with the scene. Thankfully, the nightmare-fuel camera angle has changed by now. Fully satisfied, Hobgob Boss clambers into this weird cart thing, like the ones traditionally pulled by horses, only this one is pulled by another Hobgob. There are two other carts filled with the swag they've stolen from the village, and it looks like a fairly large amount. Keep note of this fact. The Hobgobs ride away, and Tesla raises his head, covering his face in shame. "I'm all right. Don't worry about me," he insists, surreptitiously wiping his mouth. "Everyone is safe, and that's all that matters." But something seems wrong. Taking a quick glance around the area, he realises his headstrong young niece is no longer there. Hmm, I wonder where she could have gone. Well, I don't, because that would mean I had never played an RPG before in my life. "Vagina...? Where's Vagina?" Tesla panics. I think he's the first man in RPG history who's actively seeking out Vagina, if you follow me. We pan across to a young blonde girl named Armengard, who seems to be looking in the direction Vagina went. Either that, or she's completely spaced out.

We now find ourselves outside a large, dilapidated house an unspecified distance from the village. It seems the Gobs are using this place as their hideout, as we see two of them enter through the back door, not noticing Vagina sneaking up from behind. She follows the Gobs into the house, and unlike in any game, movie, or TV show EVER, the door creaks loudly. Fortunately, nobody seems to hear it apart from Vagina herself. She pulls out one of her PENISes and decides now's a good time to give herself a pep talk. "There's no turning back now. I've got to push ahead and prove myself. It's time to fly." As much as I like her, I roll my eyes so hard at that last part that I get a pretty decent view of the back of my head. See, as well as having a militant dedication to the notion of justice, Vagina is scarily obsessed with the concept of spreading her wings and learning to fly (metaphorically, of course. Not that a flying Vagina holding a pair of PENISes wouldn't be funny). Therefore, I'm going to start a Vagina Avian Reference Count, or VARC for short. And believe me, it'll hit double figures before her enemy kill count does.

Before Vagina can go about taking her village's stuff back, someone spends about half an hour dicking around in the various menus, making sure all the available configurations are set to my his/her satisfaction. I only mention this because it's hard to comprehend just how much time it's possible to waste on this kind of shit until you actually have to watch it back. After this, I'm never changing anything in a menu ever again. Finally able to resume her mission, Vagina easily overcomes her first obstacle by opening a locked door using a crappily-hidden lever. In the next room, she walks in on a Hobgob duo, who swiftly jump on her from the top of some stairs. Not about to fall at the first hurdle, Vagina steels her Level 74 self and puts a cap in each of their asses with her handy twin PENISes. After this exhausting battle, she feels the need to give herself another motivational speech, which concludes with "I'm going to have to fly on my own!" (VARC: 2).

Just a few steps further, her progress is further impeded by another locked door. Fortunately, she doesn't need to talk herself through this head-scratcher -- a pair of suspicious-looking torches stands before the doorway, one of them unlit. The Tool that Vagina must use to light it is not, as one may expect, a titan's cigarette lighter, but something called a 'Tindercrest' which she finds by rummaging through an adjoining room. The Tindercrest, according to the PTG's younger cousin the Phantom Item Describer, is "a highly-flammable Crest Graph". Vagina can light torches and fires by flinging one of them in a straight line, which raises a few questions:

1) Is the Tindercrest is a re-usable singular item (which seems pretty impractical, not to mention impossible, for a flammable object made from paper), or does she now have an everlasting supply in her back pocket?

2) Does Vagina have ridiculously-high levels of luck, or the superhuman precision necessary to throw a sheet of paper and have it travel in a completely straight line?

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