Developer: Media Vision Publisher: Sony Genre: RPG
Players: 1 Memory Blocks: 1 Discs: 1 Analog:
No Dual Shock: No ESRB: Everyone Difficulty:
Easy/Intermediate (depending on your RPG experience)
Take the amount of stuff you can do in battle, for one thing. In Final Fantasy 7, you could Limit Break...and that was about all the unique features each character had that separated them from each other. In Wild Arms, however, the amount of commands in battle is astounding. Fast Draw, ARMs, cast magic (yes, only one character has this ability, and the way you get spells has more innovation than finding Materia), use Guardian Force, Mystic, Force, and some abilities that I haven't even discovered yet (due to the fact that I'm only about 2/3s of the way through the game) are all here. And these extra battle commands make fighting a whole lot of fun.
As far as dungeons go, Wild Arms's are well designed and fun to explore. Puzzling, er, puzzles caused me to go out and download Fritz's FAQ off of GameFAQs, and the layouts were a joy (wow, a REAL dungeon!) after playing Breath of Fire 3. Heck, I even began to get attached to the monsters (DIE, little Christine dolls, DIE!) after a while!
Finally, the extra things in battle have to be connected somehow with the
rest of the game, and WA is just so. For each of the three characters (Rudy,
Jack, Cecilia), you collect each of their specific special abilities as you
go. Rudy uses ARMs, the extremely powerful weapons (actually, they're just
guns, but...) that only certain people can use, and you collect ARMs, upgrade
their stats, and reload ammo from ARMs Meisters. Jack uses Fast Draws,
which are a lot like limit breaks (they even look like them), but he doesn't
just level up and learn them, you have to accomplish certain tasks to get
all of them. Finally, Cecilia uses magic, my favorite ability. Throughout
the game, you'll find Crest Graphs, which are essentially the power behind
spells, but they don't do anything yet. When you walk into a town, you can
walk into shops that let you bind spells to the graphs. You choose from
either white or black magic, then combine 2 of 4 elements (on a 4x4
chart) to make spells. Finding the right combination to your tastes
is fun, as is actually NAMING the spells yourself. I don't know about
everybody else, but calling Revive "Lifromabov", or Slow Down
"Lethargy" is just plain funny.
The awful battle graphics. Ouch. I think the developers were trying for something new (or maybe it was the dawning of FF7's battle graphics), but unfortunately, they failed miserably. The characters are super-deformed (which is the opposite of FF7, where characters were SD'd outside of battle, but regular inside), blocky, and fight monsters that aren't too good-looking either. The hit effects are pretty weak, and I was hoping for a lot more special effects when you cast a spell. However, these all are just minor gripes, and they don't detract from the rest of the game (unless you're a spoiled newbie who decides to quit playing the game after beating FF7).
At the start of Wild Arms, there's an anime cutscene that is
my favorite point in the game. I wouldn't have liked it as much,
though, if its main driving force was the beautiful music. Just about every
time I play the game, I sit back and watch this to get myself in
the "RPG Mood". Yeah, this sounds stupid, but if you liked the
theme as much as me, you'd understand. I've downloaded a
MIDI of it, recorded the opener
on a VCR, heck, I've even recorded the music onto a tape, and listen to it
about every night. Sad? Yes. But I can't help it! It kicks spoony! I'm
even listening to it right now as I write this!