"A video game comic and blog that would have been awesome and relevant 10 years ago. Maybe." -Famous Website
Today we visit the classic Playstation RPG Wild Arms. This week's comic mainly revolves around the idea that the save spots in the game are stationed talking parrots; Bear and I always thought it was a really memorable, cool, and fun touch to the game, kinda like how Earthbound's save spots are telephone shaped objects, whether or not it being an actual telephone. XD
The original Wild Arms came out in North America on April 30th, 1997, four months before the release of the infamous Final Fantasy 7; and was thought as by many gamers at the time as "the game that will hold you off until Final Fantasy 7's release" since it, like FF7, was one of the first polygonal console JRPG's of its time. I first got wind of this game by a friend spouting that reason in fact. XD
I think Wild Arms is a rather unique game (and series) in that it's an RPG with a very strong Wild West theme. I know of no other console RPG with this setting other than Live A Live for the Super Nintendo which is only 1/9th wild west themed. It's a great change of pace compared to the many types of RPG's out there. The series also sports some really amazing wild west inspired music, which again you probably can't find many RPGs having.
The original game on the Playstation sports the traditional RPG random encounter/turn-based battle system with turn order being determined by each character's agility stat. You only get three characters, each having a very high and a very low stat. It's a very simple idea, but it's important because it makes the characters strongly stand out amongst each other in battle and adds personality to their gameplay. In battle you are also given a force gauge which accumulates when damage is dealt and taken. You can expend quarters of the gauge to perform character specific super skills and will cure you of all status ailments if it is filled to full.
I believe a large part of the fun in the game comes from exploring and running around on maps. You can switch between the three characters as you traverse the land, each equipped with four tools with unique functions. The pre-rendered sprite work, animations, and backgrounds are beautifully done and mesh together very well, especially with the amazing music score. =D There's no loading time between maps and menus and I just LOVE the visual transition of when you walk into buildings during which the roof smoothly fades away revealing its interiors. Dungeons are littered with simple small puzzles and are never too large or monotonous.
The dash function for the traversable maps in the game is an amazing and unique design decision. In many RPG's, you hold down a "dash" button and it simply lets you move faster. In Wild Arms, holding down the dash will cause your character to run in place for half a second, then speed forward; you can only dash in a straight line. Letting go of the button will cause your party to slow to a stop, but not so soon as to now allow you to drift a bit. The restriction of movement while going at high speeds and drifting as you stop makes it feel similar to playing with a tightly controlled on-screen vehicle. It adds fun to a very normal and common RPG mechanic.
I'm not sure what to say about the plot of the game because I don't want to spoil it, but I personally really like it and think it has many cool and unique elements to offer. =)
A remake of the game was released in North America on November 2005 for the PS2 called Wild Arms: Alter Code F. I only played the first few beginning hours, but I can't help feeling that they took out a lot of what I felt was cool in the first game. The game adapted many mechanics from Wild Arms 2 and 3, including the style of dungeon design which I didn't feel was as fun or as enjoyably paced. You also get three additional characters in the remake, but I personally thought it was really cool having the team as a simple trio; it felt tightly knit and I guess more heroic having a team of three take on the dangers of the world. XD I know this is sounding a lot like an argument of a fan who just doesn't like change which possibly might be true; though I admit the Hex battle system introduced and used in the 4rth and 5th games is awesome!
Anyway, I'm obviously a pretty big Wild Arms fan. XD I keep thinking it'd be nice if there would be more to the series, but considering how long it's been since the fifth game's release (Autgust 2007), I think I'll have to accept the fact the series is probably dead like Breath of Fire and Suikoden. =/ -coincidentally all ending on the number 5... o_<