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Retro Review: Wild Arms (PS)

This game, released in 1996 for the PlayStation, was one of my favorites growing up.  I’ve played it more recently, and found it pleasantly still playable (I find that a lot of games didn’t age well, and aren’t nearly as fun nowadays).  Wild Arms is an RPG that came out right around the transition from 2D (old Final Fantasy games) to 3D (Such as Breath of Fire IV), using both formats for different parts of the game.  You only get three characters in your party, but you are required to play as each one, getting to know them, their history, and their character relations.  The beautiful part is seeing how all three of them meet up, like destiny.  My words, not theirs.  Each character has unique actions to use on the world map, which allow for faster travel through dungeons and the like, letting you solve complex puzzles.  When it comes to battle, each character is unique.

Rudy uses ARMs, with his initial special being a gun that shoots a huge bullet.  Eventually, he’ll work his way up to guns that shoot missiles at each enemy as well as other interesting attacks.  Each special can be upgraded through hit percentage and number of bullets used.  Rudy was always my favorite of the three; he has blue hair, and he’s an outcast.  He went deep into a cavern to get some berries to heal a local in the small town he worked at.  In the process, he awoke the Zombie, who guards the Holy Berry needed to cure the man.  In the fight, you’ll utilize Rudy’s ARM, which is apparently a taboo.  The village politely tells him he isn’t welcome there, and he leaves.

Hanpan is so small. =3

Jack is a veteran treasure hunter and explorer.  With his trusty rodent Hanpan, you’ll scour The Temple of Memory.  With dozens of traps and many monsters to fight along the way, you’ll eventually come across a message hidden many years ago by an extinct species known as Elws.  Curiosity gnaws; what has Jack stumbled upon?  He fights with his sword technique, which is honestly very very fun.  He’ll eventually learn an attack called Void that is an instant kill to all enemies

Last but not least, we have Cecilia.  She lives in Curan Abbey where you explore the magical halls of the school searching for something to occupy your time, to rid you of boredom.  Eventually, you are given a unique Pocket Watch that allows you to turn back time briefly.  Very handy and fun.  Later, you’ll stumble upon the Sealed Library, guided by the Water Guardian Stoldark.  You’ll fight a legendary monster and, afterward, Stoldark will join you.  Cecilia is the mage, using Crest Graphs to learn magical techniques that you can even name yourself.

After this, you go to a character select screen.  Each of them with nowhere to go, you gather the party in Adlehyde and one of your characters is given a mission where he or she asks the other two for help, by proximity.  With the team assembled, the true game begins.  There are many fun interactions with each character, and the villains’ character developments are surprisingly well done and genuine.  The game is long like an RPG should be, and does not slow down by any means (though some puzzles can become downright irritating).

That is not to say the game is perfect; as much as I enjoyed it, it does have its flaws.  Direction can become a recurring issue, not always knowing where you’re supposed to go.  I’ve gotten lost more than a few times and I’ve even been stuck not knowing where to find a key, even though I know where to proceed.  However, this was long before we had the Internet, and surely nobody minds checking a wiki as not to waste four hours backtracking only to discover you used the key on a different door and need to find a new one.  Oh, but the Guardians are wicked awesome.  Presumably inspired by the summons in Final Fantasy, each Guardian represents an element, from the obvious, like Water (the giant tortoise, Stoldark) and Wind (Fengalon), to more obscure, like Castle (Zeldukes) and Flash (Stare Roe).  The summons were one of my favorite parts of the game, which should say a lot considering how much I obviously enjoyed it.

It’s definitely worth checking out.  If none of the above was enough to convince you, YouTube the soundtrack.  You know what, here.  This song literally brings tears to my eyes. Also, I haven’t played the remake, as I was dissuaded by the poor reviews  (all of which mention that it doesn’t live up to the original).  But don’t let that detract from this gem.  Take note: Wild Arms is a classic.

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