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"Meanwhile, Blocky Orange Lion's tail is sticking straight up and vibrating. I did not need to see that."
     -Jeanne, Final Fantasy VII Part 5




Absoludicrous.net
Alterra



Link to VGR!


Wild ARMs 3 : Part 2
By Ben
Posted 02.17.12
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
Hey people! As I write this, VGR's tenth birthday is rapidly approaching, so I thought I should mark the occasion with a few brief words. Having been a fan of this site pretty much from its inception, I'm still beyond grateful that Jeanne was foolish kind enough to offer me a recapper position and the opportunity to pull apart some of my favourite games for your enjoyment. Though I'm not able to contribute as often as I'd like, I still very much enjoy writing these recaps, and will continue to do so for as long as you guys are willing to read them.

So, join me in raising a glass (I'll probably be raising several more before this recap's end, for completely different reasons) to VGR, my fellow recappers, and of course, the twelve year-old British homo who made all this possible in the first place. Here's to another ten years of penis jokes...

And now all the mushy stuff is out of the way, back to my relentless negativity!

Last time, I brought you the flashback-packed opening hours of this cel-shaded colossus, which saw far too many phantom monologues, dumb characters and repetitions of the words "fly" and "wings" than I was able to cope with in one go. On the bright side...OK, let's just move on quickly.

Vagina and the other three party members inside her (ew) pick up on the world map, which means I get to spend a fun ten minutes trying to remember where their destination, Baskar Colony, is. It's at this point that I notice the clock on the lower-left of the screen, which claims that my total play time so far is approximately 21:40. Including all the shit it took me six full pages to recap in the previous installment. I have no idea whether the clock was stopped during all the flashbacks or something, but to save my own sanity I'm just going to assume that the recorded time is in hours instead of minutes. It certainly feels that way.

Eventually, the party reaches the Colony and dives headfirst into a cutscene. Vagina stands around gawping in amazement, wondering if this is really Gallows's hometown. Clive pulls exposition duty (trust me, he'll need the practice) and reveals that the Baskar tribe believe in "the powers that sustain the world", otherwise known as the Guardians. See, normally I'd be screaming "I played through Gallows's scenario -- I fucking already know this!" but, well, it's been a while and my Baskar knowledge is a little rusty, so I actually kind of appreciate the recap-in-a-recap.

Once Clive has finished filling me the rest of the group in, Vagina sets her eyes on the ever-surly Jet. "You sure don't react much..." she observes, causing him to understandably roll his eyes and then stare moodily at his feet. If you've read the last recap, you'll know I'm not about to defend the little shit, but I'm not sure exactly how Vagina wants him to react to their surroundings. I mean, they're essentially standing in front of a cliff face with a few huts dotted around nearby. This shit's hardly Machu Picchu, you know?

I hope they're all prepared for a crushing disappointment.
 

Clive hastily jumps in to prevent a tantrum and asks Gallows to direct him to a lady named Sophia, seeing as she's the one who petitioned him to retrieve the Cock Scepter...well, one of them at least. "Who, me?!" Gallows dumbasses, because there are apparently fifty other Baskars in the group who would know who Sophia is. "Introduce you to Granny!? I ran away from here three months ago! Everyone thinks I'm dead!" Ah, that would explain the balloons and the party atmosphere. One person who is glad to see him is Shane, who runs up waving frantically at the sight of his big brother. Poor, misguided Shane.

"This is like a dream come true!" he cries, continuing that he didn't even foresee his brother's return in his dreams (or nightmares, for that matter). Apparently Sophia predicted he would show up, though, which means that either the gift of prophecy runs in the Carradine family or Sophia made the not-inconceivable assumption that her prodigal grandson would soon return from his quest for glory with his tail between his legs.

"So...he is family, as well as Sophia?" Clive wonders, compelling Gallows to do a massive facepalm. Dude, you're the person least entitled to make that particular gesture at this point, so just take your new BFFs to see your granny and get it over with.

 
This is what I'll be doing for the next hour or so.

Cut to Casa Carradine. Sophia scrutinizes the Cock Scepter like an antique dealer, before finally confirming that it is indeed the real deal -- presumably there are a lot of papier-mâché imitations in circulation. This scene, despite its outward simplicity, is a little confusing in that Gallows doesn't see fit to mention the second Cock Scepter he took from the Fallen Sanctuary during his flashback sequence. Then again, Gallows is an idiot, so maybe he's just forgotten about it. "Looks like I caused you more trouble than I bargained for," Sophia continues, slipping Clive a reward of 1,200 Gella. "Not only did you deliver the Cock Scepter, you also brought home my incompetent grandson." God, I love this woman.

Taking affront at being burned by his granny, Gallows starts wigging out and protests that his homecoming was just a coincidence, but Clive reveals that Sophia "did mention [he] may also have to deliver a troublesome package..." Sophia admits that she knew Gallows would go after the other Cock Scepter if she released the information on its whereabouts, so she figured she could kill two birds with one stone and have both Scepters returned to the Colony intact. Who said mental faculties decline with age?

While the rest of the group basks in Sophia's awesomeness, Gallows wonders if this means the Cock Scepter in his possession was the real one all along, and the one on the train a fake. While that assumption is quite astute for him, it's also wrong -- Shane now enters the room, carrying another two Cock Scepters. Christ, those things are going to outnumber the characters at this rate.

As Gallows takes on the expression of a lobotomized donkey, Sophia spills the beans -- all four Cock Scepters are genuine articles, and each works in conjunction with the others. Apparently, if Gallows had paid any attention during his studies he would have known this already, like that's a surprise. Frankly, I'm amazed he even knows which tribe he belongs to.

After some more back-and-forth between Gallows and Sophia, the scene cuts to the interior of the Colony's shrine, where Sophia reveals that the holder of a Cock Scepter is able to call upon the power of a Guardian. However, they also have the power to kill the Guardian in question, which is why the Scepters can't be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. Because, you know, Feelgayer will supposedly go to shit without the Guardians, as if it's currently some kind of utopian paradise as opposed to a humongous sea of sand. As the four cohorts try to take all this in, Sophia reveals that she has another job for them, should they wish to accept it. "You want us to kill the Guardians?!" Vagina screams, causing everyone else to look at her like she needs to be certified.

"Not exactly..." Sophia replies cryptically, before handing the stage to the grandson who got the brains. Shane explains how his "dream sight" developed while training to become a priest. Over the past year or so, an imminent apocalypse has made itself known through his dreams, and it just so happens that this very same catastrophic event was painted on a mural just behind him by the Baskar people's ancient ancestors. Vagina basically insinuates that Shane could just be the Feelgayan equivalent of a TV evangelist, but Gallows is quick to reassure her that Shane's dreams always come true. That must really suck if he has the same kind of random, fucked-up dreams as everyone else; I mean, finding yourself ice-skating with a psychotic clown who starts talking in James Arnold Taylor's voice while Tingle throws cream pies at you is bad enough even with the knowledge it's not really happening; if that's the kind of shit he has to put up with for real, on a daily basis, then he has more problems in life than simply being Gallows's brother.

We now receive a word-for-word recounting of the prophecy: "A blue shadow will rise from the ancient dead on our planet, [Feelgayer]. The resurrected blue shadow will wield a sharp, cold sparkle that will eat away the planet. People, animals and all other life-forms will be devoured, and eventually the planet itself..." So...something blue and sparkly is going to come to life, pig out for a while and destroy the world? Got it. "I call it...the Blue Menace", Sophia interjects mysteriously. As great as the woman is, she clearly needs to work on her apocalypse-naming skills -- "The Blue Menace" sounds like a second-rate Marvel villain. As the party tries to suppress a collective snicker, Shane continues that, unusually, the prophecy also foretells how the Blue Menace will be defeated: "The blue shadow shall be expelled by releasing the chains which bind the Guardians. [Feelgayer] will eventually rejuvenate, and a little girl will bring about peace and tranquility..."

I hope they won't have to renew it every ten years.
 

Wait...if Feelgayer isn't actually fated to be destroyed by the Blue Menace, does it still count as an apocalypse? I'm not quite sure how that works. Sidestepping this question, Sophia tells the group that their next mission is to release the Guardians. Clive tries to object, pointing out that three of the quartet aren't even Baskars, but Sophia reassures him that anyone can do this, provided that they're powerful enough. Their aim is to face the Guardians in combat, hopefully not getting killed in the process. Once they've proved themselves worthy, the Guardians will submit themselves to the party in the form of magic crests known as mediums. Of course, someone has to ask what the hell a medium is, prompting Gallows to show them his fruity Aqua Wisp talisman. "It can be considered a passport that allows mankind to shape the planet, and manipulate various powers," Sophia lectures. But, she continues, the Aqua Wisp is a fake medium, "made from Baskar technology by extracting the breath of the planet like water and wind". OK, if I was in any doubt before, these Baskars are clearly as crack-addled as their ancestors.

Sophia suddenly dissolves Gallows's fake medium, ignoring his protests, and tells him that the real mediums they'll get if they manage to defeat the Guardians are much more powerful than the Styrofoam coaster he'd been carrying around previously. "You wield the [Cock Scepter], do you not? Prove yourself to the Guardians!" she says crankily, as her grandson's expression grows ever more bug-eyed.

Once again it falls to Clive to inject some logic into the scene. He reasons that they're not a real team, having only met by chance, and have no apparent reason to prove their strength to the Guardians. However, money talks, so he asks Sophia what their reward would be should they choose to accept the mission. Sophia's all "duh, your reward will be the mediums themselves", then, because Clive doesn't start jumping for joy at hearing this, she tells him to "wipe that stern look off [his] face" or his good looks will go to waste. Clive takes a step back, never having received a pick-up line from a granny before.

Sophia isn't done yet. For the benefit of those in the group without a basic grasp of arithmetic (i.e. Gallows) she points out that there are four Cock Scepters and four Drifters, meaning this is fate, or something. She goes as far as to say she doesn't care what they do with the mediums after they've obtained them, which is just asking for trouble; what if the power turned them all into megalomaniacs with aspirations to rule Feelgayer? Wait, that would require some degree of brainpower, and only Clive has demonstrated that particular ability thus far. Moving on.

At this point, Gallows -- the feckless flibbertigibbet who eschews tradition and doesn't care about his lineage -- starts freaking out because his granny is willing to entrust the power of the Baskars to a bunch of strangers. Sophia wisely retorts that the mediums will be of no use to anyone if they stay holed up in their shrine, especially with the apparent threat of the Blue Menace approaching. By now, it should be clear to pretty much everyone that Sophia knows more than she's letting on, and presumably has good reason to trust the party in carrying out this task, but Gallows is still griping like a toddler in the supermarket. God, I think I'd rather be recapping a bunch of Jet scenes right now, and that's something I never thought I'd find myself typing.

Just as I'm about to slip into a coma, the scene finally ends and we fade back in on Vagina, Gallows, Clive and Jet standing around discussing the pros and cons of accepting Sophia's mission. Gallows wants his medium back, and he wants it NOW, dammit, so he's in. Clive is intrigued by Sophia's motives and Shane's prophecy, so wants to get involved. Jet figures he can sell his medium as soon as he gets it (for MONEY, in case we'd forgotten one of his two character traits), and Vagina, as usual, is pretty much along for the ride. How convenient that there isn't a single dissenter among them!

Sophia shuffles into shot, wondering if they've decided yet, and Clive tells her they accept. She tells them they've made a wise decision, but the important part is not that they've accepted the mission, rather, that all four of them will be doing it together. Well, this is a JRPG, so I guess the "power of friendship" theme had to worm its way in somehow. She then spends about five minutes warning them that facing the corporeal forms of the Guardians won't be a cakewalk (uh, at Level 70+ it will), and advises them to "learn more about the Guardians here at Baskar". You know what time it is, kids!

 
What she means is 'Level up and Talk to Everyone'.

Before Vagina can begin her round of Talk to Everyone, though, the Phantom Text God decides to butt in and tell me all about one of the game's nonsensical exciting new gameplay mechanics. Apparently, words in green will sometimes appear in dialogue boxes. These green words hold an "important meaning", and pressing Square will allow me to view expanded information about the highlighted word (instead of, I don't know, just giving me the information automatically). This is called the ASK System (Activate Specific Keyword, though I prefer Asinine Supplemental Knowledge), and Sophia now breaks the fourth wall by demonstrating it in action: "Instead of reading the explanation, why don't you give it a try?"

She reveals that the Guardians are sealed "at the base of the Southern Foothills", a location otherwise known as the Southern/Fallen Sanctuary. Activating the ASK system procures a text box full of exposition on how each of the four Guardians sealed at the shrine represents one of the four elements. How positively enthralling! And certainly not something I'd otherwise be finding out for myself in less than ten minutes' time!

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