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  -Part 1 :: [02.13.02]
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  -Part 11 :: [02.17.13]

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"Black screen. About a minute passes by. More black screenage, which gives me horrific mental images of what special games CT and the dragons kids could be playing away from the cameras. I rush off to rinse my mind's eye with bleach, and return just in time for our old friend, MysteryExposition!Man to wake up, pull his finger out of his ass and finally start doing some work. 'And so, spring came at last. Spring came to the mountain, and to woods [sic], and to their inhabitants' he (badly) writes across the screen."
     -Ben, Breath of Fire III Part 2

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Skies of Arcadia : Part 11
By Jeanne
Posted 02.17.13
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4
After his defeat, Gordo and one of his frightening chefs remain on the deck of the ship. The chef still wears his unnerving grin. I think he rivals SunOfAGun for second creepiest grin ever. Gordo is gracious in his defeat, and he chooses this moment to make some small talk with Vyse. When he mentions he's never seen Vyse in these here parts, Vyse admits it's his first time visiting the splendid and scenic North Ocean. Although Vyse has previously learned a very hard lesson about trusting strangers, it turns out he didn't really learn anything at all. "For now, we're riding aboard Captain Drachma's ship, the Little Jack..." he informs Gordo without a second thought. Why not just give him your credit card and social security number while you're at it, genius?


But this awkward blurting of specific details allows Gordo to realize that he has heard of Drachma before. So Gordo and Drachma each know of the other -- I'm probably not the only one who gagged a little bit at the possibility they have a secret sexy past together. To my relief, it doesn't turn out to be anything of the sort -- I don't care what your fanfiction says. "You're the sailor that is chasing the arcwhale, Rhaknam. If I remember correctly, it was to avenge your son, right?" Gordo squeals excitedly. The music changes to something a bit more somber, underscoring that this exposition is not consensual. Violently swinging his arm around, Drachma tells Gordo to stuff it and then threatens to throw him overboard. I think Drachma is overreacting a bit here. He's acting like Gordo just accused him of molesting children instead of repeating a rumor that is apparently common knowledge to everyone in the area. Gordo eeps and agrees to skedaddle with his scary-ass chef pal. Seriously, the fucker is standing there in the background with that horrible grin. I'm not going to be able to close my eyes tonight without seeing that shit. The two of them head quickly back to the ship with all the awesome food and alcohol. Lucky assholes.

Vyse, Pippi, and Fina continue standing on the deck, staring at Drachma with blowjob mouths. Predictably, Drachma doesn't react well to this. He's all, "What are you looking at, buttheads?" and threatens their lives, too. They run like he's about to shove that big metal hook up their buttholes. But Fina has to stop, turn back, and bow first. She's pure and kind and must be submissive to everyone! Or else she's trying to convey the message, "Okay, stick that hook up my butthole first!" His tantrum over, Drachma harrumphs, then murmurs Rhaknam's name as he looks up to the sky. That would probably be romantic in any other situation. No, I said I don't care what your fanfiction says. Why do you people insist on pairing Drachma up like that all the time? Leave the poor man alone.

After that uplifting and optimistic scene, I have control of the ship again. I fly around some more, looking for some kind of landmark. Jesus, I don't learn my lesson either, do I? In a nondescript part of the area, I trigger another cutscene aboard the Little Jack. Vyse, steering, mentions that they've entered Valuan airspace. You don't say. I would never have guessed after being attacked by that Valuan gunboat in that area covered with stormclouds. Vyse and Fina discuss the Yellow Moon Crystal, most importantly that both it and the Yellow Gigas are sealed somewhere in this area. The twists are just coming at us left and right here. Pippi makes some obvious comment about being careful, but Drachma doesn't respond. He's got something on his mind, something powerful enough to block out Pippi's shrill voice. Or he could be hard of hearing due to his extreme old age -- the dialogue could really be interpreted either way here. The three young people stare worriedly at Drachma like they think he's going to commit suicide at any moment. The camera fades out on this dramatic tableau.

That was the entirety of the cutscene. Character development and plot reminders are all well and good, but they don't help me find my way through monster infested skies. There's a landmass ahead of me, so I fly into one of its canyons. The land here isn't the lush, tropical forests of Ixa'taka, which is awesome because I hate that fucking place. Everything is cold, black, and barren, just like the hearts of the terrible Valuan people. Metaphors! There is an odd yellowish tinge to the ground and the base of the mountains here. Oh, right! This is the area under the Yellow Moon, and the Yellow Moon Crystal and Yellow Gigas are nearby! Also, it looks like the Yellow Gigas peed all over the ground.

Eventually, Vyse and his crew happen upon some enormous craters, and after my last sentence, I don't really want to know what caused them. Whenever the ship flies over one of these craters, there's a flash of light and a crack of thunder from the dark clouds overhead. Ohhhhhh, so yellow means lightning. Except that this isn't like the Thunder Plains in FFX where actual bolts of lightning strike my characters. Although there are many times in this game where I would be thrilled to see Vyse electrocuted by a giant bolt of death, it still wouldn't be as therapeutic as watching Tidus get painfully fried, over and over. Man, that was amazing. In other words, I don't feel too cheated here. For once.

It's in danger of being trodden on by a dwarf!

After flying over the barren landscape long enough, Vyse finds Stonehenge. Well, technically it's called the Maw of Tartas, but it's clearly been ripped off from Stonehenge. Vyse enters the area, causing Stonehenge to grow from 18" to 18'. Vyse runs toward the center of this area, and finds a depression in the center of the stones containing a large pentagonal glowing seal. Stepping onto this glowing surface triggers the Desolate Piano of Desperation. I guess this is good, because if it were the Pounding Piano of Anxiety, I'd know that something terrible was about to happen. The seal has grown even bigger for this cutscene, and it now dwarfs the quartet. It's also very decorative, which means the game designers spend another ten seconds allowing the camera to linger on it before the dialogue actually begins. But it's not penis-shaped which might be a first.

"That chunk of metal is huge!!!" Vyse freaks, like this entire game doesn't consist of encountering chunks of metal at least as huge as this one. Fina once again has the exposition lowdown on this place. This giant manhole covers the Maw of Tartas, something that was already spoiled for us on the world map screen. This pretentiously named hole is actually "an entrance to a series of caverns" where both the Yellow Moon Crystal and the Yellow Gigas are located. As is obvious from the glowy, futuristic nature of the seal, the Silvites built it to imprison the Yellow Gigas. This is good, but also bad, because it means that the Yellow Crystal can't be collected by the good guys -- it's stuck down the hole, too. But man, I am just crying my eyes out over not getting to navigate a maze of caverns right now. Stymied for the moment, Vyse asks the others to come up with their next course of action. But he's the man of the group! He can't expect the ladies or a crusty old geezer to do any thinking!

Before any of the others can come up with a plan for penetrating the barrier, a voice from offscreen orders them to stay where they are. The camera pans up to show a group of Valuan zippo soldiers looking vaguely menacing. "The punishment for trespassing near the Great Seal is death!" the lead soldier informs them. Now that's a creative name for the place, says the person who named her website of videogame recaps "Videogame Recaps." Not that I'm complaining, but if the Great Seal is so very forbidden, then why are there no ships guarding it? And where did these guys come from anyway? If they're the local seal patrol, they're not very effective.

It's time for a four-on-four battle against these soldiers, whose proper title is "Enforcers." Again, none of my characters die in this battle, but it's still way harder than it should be against these random scrubs. Did I neglect to build levels somewhere? God, that would be just like this game. Now, you might expect that loyal soldiers of the Valuan armada would, upon their defeat, refuse to give away secrets and die with honor. Not these motherfuckers. After the battle, only one of them remains, kind of like the roofie chef in the battle with Gordo. I will never figure out the rules of how in-battle deaths translate to actual in-game deaths. The surviving soldier cowers on his knees with his hands clasped together, groveling like he's getting paid for it. He begs them not to brutally end his life. This band of bleeding heart hippies is obviously not going to kill the guy, but Pippi takes advantage of the situation and says they'll spare him if he tells them how to open the seal. "That's impossible! Our entire army couldn't open it!" he says. The magical wizard power of the Silvites made it immune to penisy weapons. Eager to be as helpful as possible to the intimidating Ass Pirates, the soldier adds that their army doesn't currently give a crap about the Yellow Crystal because it's under their control, being in Valua and all.

This seems logical to Drachma, who muses that the Valuans will concentrate on collecting the non-Valuan crystals first. "Something's not right... You'd think that this area would be more heavily guarded. Where are the rest of your men?" Vyse wonders in an astonishing moment of insight. I had to rewind this just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. The lack of soldiers is more than just not giving a shit about the Yellow Crystal -- the Valuan armada is currently planning an attack on Nasrad. Man, this guy is just full of information. I would say that it's almost too easy, but no, this guy is just a huge chickenshit. I guess that's what you get when you live under the yellow moon.

This news of an impending attack is a shock to Vyse and the others, and Pippi wants to know if Valua is trying to start a war with Nasr. Suddenly the pathetic soldier doesn't know the details, as he's just cannon fodder. Well, he sure seemed to be in the know for the last few questions. Plus, what else would Valua be trying to do by attacking Nasrad? Make Nasr pay attention to them because it's been so distant lately? But the supposedly not-in-the know grunt isn't finished with his information dump: "And there was a giant arcwhale... It destroyed a few of our ships recently. One of our Admirals is hunting it." This triggers another fit of anger in Drachma. Pointing his metal appendage at the frightened squealer, he demands to know if Rhaknam is in the area. Drachma needs to calm the fuck down -- it's not like he couldn't find out the information by asking nicely. But in case you haven't noticed, Rhaknam is a bit of a sore subject with the elderly captain. I bet he's fun at parties -- accidentally mention arcwhales, and half your guests get a hook hand up the butthole.

The Valuan soldier cries and pees himself some more as he says that all he knows is there was a bunch of fog before the "huge creature" made its appearance the day before. Drachma believes this to mean that Rhaknam is still nearby, although "huge creature" could also refer to the VERY VERY FAT GORDO. After fucking around with all this Moon Crystal shit for the last several recaps, Drachma says he's done helping out these whippersnappers for now. It's time to take care of his important personal quest. Vyse can agree to help, or try to dissuade Drachma because "it's too dangerous." Right, because fighting against armada ships and rampaging Gigas is a much better alternative in terms of safety. I choose the first option to bump Vyse's swashbuckler rating. His reasoning is that they have nothing better to do, since the Yellow Crystal is out of their reach for now. Never mind that they, like the Valuans, could go after the other crystals. I'm not saying that's what I want to do. The camera zooms in dramatically on Drachma's scarred face as he reiterates his desire to harpoon the giant purple whale -- and I don't think that's a euphemism. "He was the reason that I got the Harpoon Cannon in the first place... I'm going to kill him... or die tryin'," he reminds us helpfully. And I'm actually serious about that being helpful -- after using the Harpoon Cannon to impale numerous phallic ships from behind, I had forgotten its original purpose of impaling a phallic whale from behind. The camera fades out on this declaration.

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