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WildArms is an early ConsoleRPG for the PlayStation. It uses 2d, sprite-based graphics for normal walking around, and 3d for the battles. 3d effects are also thrown in at various points in the game outside of battle. The music is pretty good, although some themes get repetitive. Most sound effects are pretty horrible - enemies sound like demented cats when they get hit. The gameplay is reminscent of Lufia and LufiaII? - there are different Tools you can use, like bombs and a pocketwatch that lets you reset puzzles; the battle options are given in a plus-shaped grid; and people build up Force over time in battle and can use it to execute special moves. The three characters are somewhat cliched but reasonably well-developed, the plotline is nothing special but not terribly hackneyed or on crack, and the translation/dialogue is fair but slightly cliche in spots.

The game lets you pick one of the three characters (Cecilia, Jack, and Rudy) to start with. (You'll go through all their scenarios, so it doesn't matter much who starts off, although inventory is shared between your characters.) Each character gets their first Tool (or starts with it), and there's also a little cutscene introducing the character. Jack is a treasure hunter searching for the "Absolute Power"; in battle he's a decent attacker, is the fastest of the three, and can heal once he picks up the skill. (Really, what do we need everyone else for? ;-) ) Rudy is a "Dream Chaser" (i.e. adventurer); he has no MP at all but can use ARMs (can't remember what the acronym ARM stands for right now), which are kind of like special guns that synchronize with the user. I think Rudy's supposed to be the main fighter of the group, but I had Jack doing more damage... Rudy's a bloody good tank, though. Cecilia is the princess of Adlehyde and a newly-graduated sorceress and the only real caster of the group. Ahem. Anyways. After you get through the starting scenarios, all three of the characters meet up to investigate some problems in the excavation of a golem near town. (IIRC Cecilia is sent, and then she talks to the others to recruit them.) Some stuff happens and they meet and fight a Demon. Credits roll, accompanying a cutscene. Then Cecilia sets off, accompanied by Jack and Rudy, on their quest to Save The World (TM) and defeat the Demons. I noted the thing about the credits because most games don't put credits in the beginning-middle. Along the way they garner the support of the Guardians of their world, which they can then use as summon-spells in battle. Like I said, the plot's nothing too special. There are a couple more situations later where the characters are split up and you have to coordinate between them. You can also always change who the visible party member is so you can use their Tools.

Main equipment choices (weapon, helmet, and armor) are pretty much no-brainers - if you can afford it, you buy the newly available ones because they're better. It might not be a good idea to sell off Cecilia's old equipment, though, because her first Force ability, Mystic, lets her unlock the powers of certain items; most of her equipment duplicates spell effects. Accessories are more interesting - if you stick with the shield-type things, there's not much to think about, but there's a slew of special-purpose accessories, from ones that block certain status ailments to ones that make you regenerate HP or MP. Guardian Runes are also interesting - equipping a particular Guardian's rune lets you summon that Guardian in battle, but it also gives bonuses to certain stats. (So you can choose to either shore up a characters' weaknesses, like giving Cecilia a strength/vitality increasing rune, or emphasize their strengths.) Choice of Guardian Rune is reasonably interesting once you have more than 3 of them, but a lot of later runes affect the same attributes as earlier runes with higher bonuses. And of course, once you have the 3 "ultimate" runes, they're obviously meant for a particular character. (The final Runes are for the Guardians of Love, Hope, and Courage, and each character is also meant to represent/exemplify one of those 3 attributes.)

The systems for acquiring more "skills" for each character's special ability are reasonably interesting. Cecilia's spells are made by binding 2 elements to a Crest Graph (you can find them in various treasure chests). There are 4 elements (the usual ones), and you can choose a "Dark" or "Light" version of the spell. Later, you also get access to advanced magic, which gives you 32 more spells. In the beginning you have to choose your spells carefully since you don't have the Crest Graphs to get them all, but you can always Dissolve a spell and free up the Crest Graph. You can also rename all your spells to whatever you want. Jack gets hints for his "Fast Draw" technique; you have to use them in battle until they succeed (if it doesn't succeed, it acts as a normal attack and uses up no MP). There are also Secret Signs you can pick up (and there are some enemies you can steal them from) which reduce MP cost for one Fast Draw by one point. Theoretically you could get all his Fast Draws to 1 MP, but I really don't have the patience for that. Rudy picks up ARMs in dungeons; only he can open the boxes they're stored in. He can also upgrade their attack power, hit rate, or clip size, which is kind of expensive in the beginning, but when you're at endgame running around doing sidequests for the ultimate equipment, there's really nothing else to spend 1 million gella on.

A pretty neat feature of the game is that a lot of things are customizable. As in, there's a simple paint program so you can make your own icons for battle and menu options, and change the backgrounds for the menus/text boxes. And it's the first console game I've seen with a built-in screensaver. As a side note here, pretty much all items have different icons - none of Cecilia's wands or Jack or Rudy's swords look quite alike. (The screensaver is flying item icons.)

Oh yes, I should mention Zed since he got mentioned in the WildArmsTwo node. Zed is a returning boss in the game. He's not too bright and is very hyper, and was definitely thrown in for comedy value. He has a cool battle theme that fits him perfectly.

I'm blabbering about the game... Please, if you think this should be cut or rephrased, do it.

Review of the game

For some reason, the first word I think of to describe this game is "charming." It's not flashy and doesn't have an overly convoluted plot. The characters are pretty stock, but I found them endearing. The music I think is very good; it has an Old West feel to it (a lot of the game does) that actually works quite well. The cel-animation intro is, in my opinion, well-done and has awesome background music (although not as awesome as the ChronoCross intro), although looking at it after playing the game, some of it really doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, there's another intro that you only get if you wait at the title screen that actually explains some of the more immediate backstory and how Jack fits in to the whole crisis with the demons, and helps a lot at understanding some the references to it later in the game.

WildArms is one of the few games that I've finished. This says a lot, given my very bad track record with finishing games. The ending has a nice, conclusive feel to it that wraps everything up, unlike, say, the end to FF7, and I think it was worth the effort to finish the game. The game is also a bit on the easy side, although I was killed a couple of times by various bosses, or ended up using up a lot of Revive Fruits or Goat Dolls (Goat Dolls are accessories you can equip; if you're dealt a killing blow, they take it for you and disappear). The game's puzzles were also generally not too annoying or tedious, except for one puzzle that I sent a message to Schmack complaining about. And some puzzles with hard-to-think-of solutions. One of them I thought was clever, though - you come to a door that's sealed, and trying to open it gives a message along the lines of "a couple of hours ago, this door was open". You have a pocketwatch that lets you reset puzzles, ostenibly by turning back time. Therefore you use the pocketwatch until you reach the time when the door was open. :P (There was a kind of nonsensical one where there's a room with 4 colored blocks and 3 plates you have to push them on to... From clues you know where to put 3 of the blocks, and the REAL puzzle is that you have to blow up the fourth. >_<) For the sake of posterity, the puzzle that was annoying me... I was in a room with blocks and void. If you walk off a block, you fall into the void and get moved back to the entrance of the room. You have a grappling hook, and there are posts you can use the grapple to jump to. Problem 1) the blocks with posts in them have slightly more space to move around in than the width of your sprite. (i.e. you have to "nudge" the character to position him without falling off). Problem 2) several of the grapple posts are placed such that you have to face diagonally to reach them. Problem 3) facing diagonally involves pressing two directions on the game pad (this is not an analog-controller game), at exactly the same time. Facing diagonally is somewhat difficult in ordinary circumstances. It was nearly impossible for me to do it on those blocks without falling off.

I got the Sherriff Star, though! Yay! Jack totally kicks ass now. ^_^ It's an accessory that raises all your stats a LOT and makes you regen HP and absorb elemental magic. (You can equip it on anyone, but Jack's my favorite character.) The boss battle for that optional dungeon was anticlimatic, though, because I leveled like 4 times just trying to get through that room I was stuck in for an hour and a half, and I'd previously leveled a fair bit in the process of stealing enough Secret Signs to bring the cost for Jack's ultimate Fast Draw technique down to 1 MP.

Listening to the soundtrack makes me want to play the game again. Isn't that a good sign? :P


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Last edited June 3, 2003 16:38 (diff)