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Wild Arms 2 may not be the best RPG I have ever played, but it well may be one of the most thought provoking. In the course of the story, especially nearing and including the endgame, a thought that has permeated the entire game is brought into focus and conclusion. Because the entire story line, in all its intricacies, is much to long to replay, I will concentrate only on high-points and three concerned individuals: Irving, Ashley, and Tim.
Irving Vold Valeria: instigator and benefactor of the problem, questing for the solution. Irving has known of the existence of the Encroaching Parallel Universe (EPU) longer than anyone else. In his wisdom and foolishness, he sets out to find a way to counter this threat to all humanity.
What is he to do? The solution is readily obvious to him, one descended from the ancient "Sword Magess" herself: the sword Argetlahm. With no doubt of his success, he sets out to pull the sword from it's long resting place and embrace his role as hero of all humanity. In his determination, he is shocked to discover he cannot draw the legendary blade. Anger and hurt pride drive him to a decision he would regret for the rest of the course of his life: he tries to take the sword by force, and is wounded beyond recovery.
The Argetlahm has rejected him, so what is he to do now? It is certainly the only hope for humanity. Some way must be found to force the sword into taking a wielder, to force the power into the hands of someone who could save them all. Brief study and a knowledge of his line lead him to a conclusion that easily solved his problem: summon back Lord Blazer, the "Blaze of Destruction."
Which brings us to Ashley Winchester: a gifted young man with a caring heart. From the moment he is possesed in the Cathedral, he is the sacrifice to Irving's hero. What is the life of one man, their very soul, to the survival of the many? The power forged through the union of Lord Blazer and the Argetlahm, hoped for though unexpected, showed promise of being the very power Irving sought after. By sacrificing Ashley, Irving obtained the power to destroy the threat to all but, in the end, not the means.
But what of Ashley? Daily he struggled against the demon within him that sought to end his very existence, only the balancing power of the Argetlahm keeping him sane. Yet every time he called upon that power, to defend his friends or his planet, he destroyed a bit more of himself, he lost a bit more control. His selfless actions, his willingness to sacrifice, eventually lead to a meeting with the original weild of the sword, Anastasia.
In his time spent with Anastasia he learns the truth behind the legend of history. Anastasia's strength was not enough to destroy Lord Blazer, only seal him away. The power of the Argetlahm and Lucied, the manifestation of her desire to save her world, were not enough to destroy him, but she knew what was. No "hero" had the ability to save the world from what they feared -- the only way to win that battle was in standing together and facing it. But did anyone understand, would anyone understand? Perhaps Ashley would, but Irving did not.
What now? Irving had found a way to obtain the weapon he needed, but there is more to saving the world than having the power to do so. How do you get the world to realize there is a problem, one so important that if everyone does not try to stop it together, it will destroy you? You give them a common focal point? Witness the birth of Odessa. How now do you bring the world together behind that focal point? Witness the birth of ARMS, with Ashley as the key component.
They struggle, they fight, and eventually with the last threat of Odessa literally falling upon them, they unite. Now it's time to present the real problem: the EPU. But how do you fight a concept? How do you destroy an idea?
Enter Tim Rhymeless, a young orphan raised in the town of Meria. Through the course of the story, we learn of his true heritage, and of his "destiny" to become a Pillar. What does all this mean? According to his "destiny" he is to be sacrificed to become a new Guardian, an embodiment of natural and supernatural forces to save the world. His struggle is an important one, but I will simply state that in the end, he decides that there must be another way. His struggle, along with the twin key of Ashley's possession, gives Irving the answer he is looking for. How do you fight something that has no physical form? You give it one.
At first, perhaps already seeing what his methods have cost, he decides to try using raw power to encage the EPU. Draining the raypoints of their energy, he constructs a trap to catch it. After the ensuing battle, it is discovered that their attempt was nothing more than cutting off a lizard's tale, and then getting to watch it grow back. What options does he have left now? Did not the "Sword Magess" give her life to save them all? Could he do any less? But . . . would his sacrifice alone be enough? He wouldn't have another chance. A plan forming in his mind, he takes Altaecia with him and heads to the center of Filgaia to create his "Madonna of Madness."
What happens? Ashley and company follow him into the center of the earth. There, they encounter the creature that once was Altaecia and Irving, which houses the essence of the EPU. They fight and it is destroyed, taking the EPU with it. Irving has his hero, and his sacrifice. But wait, the battle is to much for Ashley, and now Lord Blazer attacks him at his weakest so as to gain full control and wreck havoc upon the world once again.
Now what? Kill Ashley? If it had been Irving, the answer would have been yes, but Ashley understands what Anastasia was trying to tell all of them all along. He knows that he cannot defeat Lord Blazer on his own, so he turns to the ones he loves, and who love him, for the strength to fight. Fight he does, and wins.
Ok, I've rattled on, so what is my point? Irving thought that he alone could save the world, noone else. Ashley did save the world, and he didn't do it alone. I won't tell you the *very* end, I'll let you be surprised, but if anyone ever finds the key to Irving's diary, let me know . . . .
As for the contest, I can't help but feel that this has been sent to the wrong section of RPGamer by mistake. It feels more like it should be in reviews rather than anything else, because that's all the editorial does - it merely reviews the plot, not particularly making any point other than "Play Wild Arms 2!" which apparently isn't what he's trying to say. [The title and the last paragraph imply this] It's original, too, I'll give it that - I've never seen anyone make their point (be it non-existant or not) by making a synopsis of an entire game. An editorial requires a /point/, a focus to concentrate on or to view from different sides, and this editorial simply doesn't seem to /have/ one, leaving little other choice but to give it an E. If nothing else... this editorial has at least won the wooden spoon.
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