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  -Part 1 :: [10.24.04]
  -Part 2 :: [09.25.05]
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  -Part 4 :: [03.14.10]
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"I'm so amazingly amazing at this game. Wouldn't it be funny if this dungeon was only easy to highlight just how difficult the dungeons are going to be once we start Hard Mode proper? That probably isn't the case, though."
     -Ryan, Valkyrie Profile Part 2




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Wild ARMs : Part 4
By Ben
Posted 03.14.10
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3
My, doesn't time fly? It's been just over four (count 'em) years since our last journey into the frontiers of the Mild West. As the events of the last recap were so thrilling and memorable, I'm sure none of us has forgotten exactly what happened, but I'm going to be kind and include a short recaplet for those who were a) not paying attention, or b) stoned out of their minds during the last installment. Do you like the way I took every precaution to include the game designers there?

After the completely unexpected demon attack on Adlehyde, the Robot (oops, spoiler!), the Indiana Jones impersonator and the Insipid One decided to set out to reclaim the latter's mega-important Tear Drop trinket. So far, this quest has seen them navigate the most annoying cave in videogame history in order to reach the town of Milama, where Cesuelia provided us with enough excruciatingly-bad dialogue to make my inner writer curl up and die in protest. When we left the Cliché Trio, they were scratching their heads and trying in vain to decipher a cryptic riddle given to them by the local barkeep. With that pesky reminder out of the way, let us continue!

Before we do so, though, a word on the land of Filgaia itself. A change of name is in order, and I actually can't believe I haven't already done so: from this point on, Filgaia shall be known as Feelgayer. Yes, I know the "gaia" in Filgaia is pronounced "guy-a", but I'm sure you can indulge the twelve year-old in me. I assure you that wasn't intended to sound as dirty as it probably did. Also, the eagle-eyed readers amongst you may notice that the two protagonists I decided to rename once again have their original names in any screenshots they appear in during this recap. I would like to come up with some convoluted and far-fetched explanation for this curious phenomenon, but the truth is, I accidentally erased my saved game just before I started this recap and was therefore forced to continue from a different save on another memory card. Unfortunately this earlier save originated from that long-forgotten time before I joined the ranks of VGR and started seeing penises everywhere, giving characters immature nicknames and receiving hate mail from fap-fapping fanboys. As such, Indy and Cesuelia are now stuck with their decidedly more boring given names, in screenshots at least. If memory serves me correctly, there's a secret rename vendor later in the game -- I'm not kidding -- who will allow me to restore said characters to their VGR aliases, so hopefully you guys will be able to cope with the confusion until then.

Armed with the barkeep's Holy Medal, the Trio leaves Milama and heads roughly ten paces to the Northwest before practically falling over the Guardian Shrine. Holy shit, I know I keep complaining about the difficulty of finding places on the Feelgayer World Map, but I don't believe locations should be within spitting distance of each other either. It's like each new location in this game has to be either signposted to death, complete with neon light shows and tour guides, or situated in some far-flung corner of the map that takes me hours to find, by which time the mournful whistling in the World Map music has driven me to self-flagellation using the strategy guide (possibly the only good use for it). There must be some middle ground here!

The décor of the Shrine could best be described as "Wild West Gothic". There are a bunch of dragon statue torches (which are all burning away merrily despite this place supposedly having been abandoned for so long), along with creepy-ass angel statues armed with spears. The monster set for the area includes weird purple-plumed chickens and zombie-grinned, scythe-wielding scarecrows. I don't like this place. I mean, I love all things macabre and am a rabid Silent Hill fanboy, but there's a time and a place for all this creepy shit. Then again, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the sudden change in environment, given the variety of settings (Wild West, steampunk, sword 'n' sorcery, sci-fi) that the game designers have shoehorned into the game already. Using the Holy Medal to open the doors of the shrine, the party finds 12 unlit torches arranged in the rough shape of a clock. Less than 2 minutes ago, they were given a riddle involving the numbers on a clock face. HMMM. I WONDER WHAT THE SOLUTION TO THIS PUZZLE COULD BE. After Indy lights the 4 torches mentioned in the clue (2, 10, 6 and 12, in case you cared) with his gargantuan cigarette lighter, the remaining torches flicker on by themselves and a rumbling sound indicates a door opening in the room below.

After another lame torch-centric puzzle which I don't care to recap as it's nonsensical and boring, the Trio reaches a dead-end room containing a large mirror. Sadly, it doesn't crack when Cesuelia looks at her reflection. Instead, a ball of light emerges from somewhere in her region (I don't care to find out exactly which region) and flies into the mirror, creating a ripple effect in the glass, complete with water-drop sound effect. "I understand, Stoldark..." Cesuelia breathes. "We must go there". Heeding the voices in her head sacred words of the Water Guardian, she steps up to the mirror and practically shoves her face against the glass. Indy's all "WTF, bitch?!", but before he can stop her, Cesuelia has stepped into the mirror and disappeared, as is the norm in this kind of situation. The remaining members of the Trio decide to follow her, despite not knowing where the hell she may have ended up.

Two down, one to go!
 

Indy finds himself in a "strange landscape", with only a sad, vaguely wistful piece from the soundtrack for company. "Each character will be played separately from here," the Phantom Text God helpfully reveals. "Please, switch characters and play them one by one." I'm not sure the "please" was necessary, considering the fact I don't have any other fucking choice, but whatever. It soon transpires that each character must pass his or her own trial, involving the Tools they've each acquired so far. Indy's are fairly simplistic (to say the least) puzzles involving switches in the floor, most of which are activated by hurling poor Scabbers around the vicinity. During one of these puzzles, I discover to my chagrin that each character must continue to fight random battles...alone. That's it, I might as well just turn the game off before I even attempt Cesuelia's section if I want to preserve the single tiny shred of my sanity that remains. It's times like these that I lose any modicum of goodwill towards the game designers that I may have foolishly allowed to build up.

 
Compared to some of the brain-busting shit that comes later, this level of 'puzzle' is almost insulting.

After completing more lame switch puzzles than I care to count, Indy enters a new area and finds himself in a room whose focal point is not the creepy angel statues, as one might expect, but a large sword embedded in the ground. Indy practically ejaculates when he sees the impressive shaft of the blade, and squats over it as he exclaims "This sword contains the power I've been seeking! Now I can have my revenge! This is 'Absolute Power'." As he tries to pull the sword from the ground and claim this supposed 'Absolute Power', Indy makes this obscene repetitive thrusting motion that I probably wouldn't have even noticed if I wasn't a recapper pervert recapper. Seriously though, the graphics make it look like he's trying to have his wicked way with the sword. I just hope he doesn't use the wrong end by mistake. Eventually he manages to pull himself off the sword out of the floor, complete with a ridiculously-misplaced sound effect that I can only assume lost its way en route to a Megaman soundtrack and ended up here.

Suddenly, the sword becomes red-hot (I'm just trying to interpret the sprite graphics here; basically the sword flashes and Indy drops it) before the room fades away and Indy is left stranded in a Black Screen of Doom. "Gggh...where am I? Vast nothingness...It's like a dream..." he wonders.

"Gggh...where am I? Vast nothingness..." So, where exactly is Indy?
The void where forgotten RPG series go to when they die.
The inside of Shion's brain.
The inside of a game designer's brain.
It's an abstract space conjured up by a combination of the Guardians' power and the doubt in his mind, transporting his subconscious to another plane where he can confront his issues. There's a chapter dedicated to this scene in my revised Plot Analysis!

 

After a few seconds a glowing turquoise circle appears under Indy's feet and he starts to spin around on the spot. I think if this was a movie, it would be time for one of those fancy shots where the camera circles a stationary object. But here, it just looks weird. One by one, six indistinct figures shimmer into view on the outer edge of the circle, surrounding Indy. He obviously notices their features a lot more clearly than I do, as he whispers "No way...it can't be!" Looks like our favourite happy-go-lucky Treasure Hunter has a Mysterious Past. Well, I guess it was only a matter of time before it reared its ugly head. I can barely keep up the energy to play dumb about Indy's true identity anymore, so fuck it -- he's totally Garrett from the intro-that-wasn't-an-intro in Part 1. From this, we can conclude that the six shadowy figures represent the rest of the doomed Fenril Sprites. One of the six finally decides to speak. "Coward!" he/she/it cries. "You're the one who ran. You seek power, but you refuse to use it."

Indy refutes this claim. "I've never run from anything before! [apart from Blankie back in Arctica, one presumes] I've accepted every challenge I've faced." The mystery speaker isn't going to let him off so easily, however. "You ran from your friends and responsibilities," it chides, "But most of all, you ran from yourself. Don't you get it?" A 'Coward' can destroy, but true power is the power of protection." Get it, mystery speaker? Indy's so bad at getting things that he probably wouldn't even catch swine flu if a pandemic swept across Feelgayer. Indy replies that he knows this, and that protecting something important to him is the only reason he's seeking power in the first place. "Please be patient," he finishes, sounding like a doctor's surgery receptionist as opposed to a power-crazed explorer. Seriously, this game.

The shadowy six are evidently as tired of this bullshit as I am, as they disappear one by one. We clearly see that Elmartyr the Sword Princess is one of the six, and to the scriptwriter's credit, we don't get a sledgehammery "OMG SHE LOOKS FAMILIAR! CAN IT BE?!" moment. Indeed, it seems that for once, we're expected to join the dots for ourselves instead of having the minutiae of the plot explained repeatedly in detail. Holy shit, this game is full of surprises after all. Indy sinks to his knees and begs not to be left alone again, before the screen fades out and he reappears on a raised platform inside a small room with a large, ornate emblem on the wall. There's nowhere else for him to go, so this seems to be the ideal place for us to switch to character #2. Which I will undoubtedly regret within the space of a few moments.

 
This is like choosing between AIDS, a world inhabited by giant spiders, and a night with Tidus.

Maybe I'm a masochist, but for some ungodly reason I decide to pick Cesuelia next. I have no idea what was going on in my brain while recording this footage, so I'll just put it down to wanting to get her section over with quickly. Everyone's favourite princess is faced with a set of puzzles even easier than Indy's head-scratchers, if that's even possible. It seems somebody couldn't be bothered to think up some puzzles involving Cesuelia's magic pocketwatch, so she has to settle for some simple block-pushing -- the operative word here being 'simple'. Well, if we're to assume that the difficulty level of each character's puzzles corresponds directly to their own intelligence level, I suppose this makes some kind of sense.

'DURRR! THIS PUZZEL IS 2 HADR!!!11'
 

You know how I just praised the game designers for their lack of Plot Mallet usage regarding Indy's past? Well, I just remembered that we are indeed blessed with the requisite obnoxious flashback sequence later in the game, so it looks like they didn't give our intelligence any credit after all. Oh well, even after all these years, you can't blame a guy for hoping. Back to the thrilling action, Cesuelia finishes up the last of her mercifully short sequence of puzzles before walking into a room that suddenly segues into the throne room of Adlehyde castle. Cesuelia's dialogue would indicate that this is the last place she wants to be, since, you know, she hates being a princess and yearns for the chance to live among the mere mortals. Someone should dump her in a rat-infested hovel in Buttfuck Surf and see how long she holds to this view.

As Cesuelia tries to make sense of her predicament, Minister Johan appears, babbling about the princess coming to save Feelgayer. He's closely followed by a random courtier who remarks: "The princess is responsible for being a princess. Remember that." No shit, Sherlock. I think the script in this game just reached a new low, something I didn't think possible. Not content with vomiting out cheese-drenched monologues or abusing the laws of punctuation with gay abandon (more on that in the next paragraph), it appears that some characters have now decided to start making completely redundant statements. It's like me declaring "A recapper is responsible for being a recapper", or "A wanker is responsible for being a wanker". Good lord.

 
She's responsible for a lot of things, least of all the bile in my throat.

A second random NPC appears, hopefully bearing a more necessary line than his partner. "Have you noticed that no one calls you by your name?" he asks. That's probably because people usually call her a certain four-letter word instead. Oh, right, he means everyone calls her 'princess'. Uh, maybe because that's exactly what she is? Cesuelia responds with something I can only assume represents confusion, as it appears in her dialogue box as "...!?!?!?". Yes, it actually appears like that. Somebody teach these fucking people how to correctly use punctuation, or I'm going to drown myself in my tea.

By the time an apparition of the dear-departed King Adlehyde appears, we can safely assume that each character's test also encompasses a therapy session in which illusions of people from their past force them to confront their inner demons. I suppose it beats paying thousands of gella to spend half an hour with a patronizing old geezer with wandering hands who insists that everything bad that happened in your life is down to your parents. "You knew no one loved you," Not!King Adlehyde tells his only daughter, "So why the surprise?" What we're supposed to get from this scene is that Cesuelia secretly feels that all those around her -- even her loved ones -- view her as little more than a symbol. Which is all well and good, except we already had the whole "Princesses are people too!" thing smacked across our heads multiple times already. I suspect I'm being manipulated into sympathy for the devil here, but I'll be damned if I let that happen.

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