Wild Arms

Wild ARMs

...Must...rid...brain of...anime...opener...

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)

I knew absolutely nothing about this game when I saw it, but it had been given a 10 by Fritz Fraundorf, and it had Hanpan, but that was enough to make me buy a copy (preowned, that is...mwahahaa...). From the first time I saw the kick-spoony anime opening scene, I knew this game was more than I expected it to be. And when I actually began to play, I knew this was going to be the RPG I had been waiting for.

Gameplay--Not-too-surprisingly, Wild Arms plays like most other RPGs. You go to towns, find stuff to do, complete them, go someplace else, get new equipment, etc. However, the game is chock full o' cool features that other RPG developers should take a look at.

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. 

Graphics--Well, RPGs have never really depended on the graphics department to carry them along (well, with the exception of Parasite Eve and FF7, maybe), and Wild Arms is a good example. WA features plain, simple 2-D graphics, and while there aren't really any HUGE PRE-RENDERED BACKGROUNDS, they get the job done. I like some of the little nuances, though, like dust coming from a skid after running, and footsteps that appear after walking through a puddle. However, these aren't enough to save us from...

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).

Music--Well, the sound effects are all right, I guess (except that annoying sound when you defeat a boss), but Wild Arms has terrific muzak, as far as I'm concerned. The overworld theme is outstanding, the dungeons sound pretty cool, the towns have a couple happy little tracks (I especially like the one that sounds like Cosmo Canyon), and overall, the music is nice to listen to. My only gripe is that the overworld restarts after each battle, and the battle and boss themes could have been better. Wait. Have I mentioned the anime opener yet? No? Okay, here goes.

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!

Storyline--Wild Arms may "look like all the others" (as my dad said), but when you begin to play, you'll be compelled. Starring three "Dream Chasers"--or heroes chosen to fight against the demons that have inhabited the planet--named Rudy (Crono in my game), Jack (Locke in my game), and Cecilia (called "Cecelia" in my game--it's a long story. I changed it back to "Cecilia" later in the game, fortunately), the plot pits them against the Quarter Knights, four demons who do all the bad stuff for their leader, Mother (who looks a lot like a Metroid). During the game, you'll engage in side quests, learn more about the war between Guardians, Humans, and the mystical race called Elws versus the demons, save towns, protect statues (with no luck, unfor--oops..), and the like. I began to feel attached to the characters after a while, since  they each had their own distinct personalities (with Rudy as an exception, maybe ^_^), something not found in that OTHER Square RPG for the Playstation.

Fun Factor--Every time I pick up this game, I know that I'm about to have fun. Everything, from the dungeons, to the creativity in battle, to watching the terrific scenes take place, is fun. There were very few points in the game where I was frustrated (just a couple puzzles, since I have an IQ of 20), and some of the diverse things to do (like run around a town and save survivors of a demon attack while it takes place, and memorizing facts to say for a fake wedding) kept me happy and refreshed.

Overall Satisfaction--Let me just say that if you're an RPG fan, pick this game up, or Stone Cold Hanpan's gonna open up a can of whoop-ass! And that's the bottom line!

Highs: Kick-spoony anime opener and music, innovative battle, good old fashioned RPG action
Lows: Awful battle graphics
Score: 9

Back to Reviews
Back to the Midgar Swamp