RPGamer Feature - Wild ARMs 5 Interview

Wild ARMs 5
Developer: Media.Vision
Publisher: XSeed Games
Release Date: 08.28.2007

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RPGamer recently had a chance to sit down with XSeed Games' Ken Berry to talk about the company's soon-to-be released PlayStation 2 roleplaying game, Wild ARMs 5. There's no doubt about it, this small company has been very busy these past couple months trying to bring over what they feel are some of the greatest games that you might not otherwise get a chance to play. From the recently released Brave Story: New Traveler to the upcoming, non-roleplaying title, Victorious Boxers: Revolution, this interview covers a lot of ground.

First off, great job with Brave Story: New Traveler. It has been/was a pleasure to play.
Ken: Thank you, it was an absolute blast to work on. Not only did we enjoy working on the English script, but the development team over at Game Republic was amazing. We knew they were talented based on their work on the Genji series and the Japanese version of Brave Story: New Traveler having virtually no load times while being graphically stunning. They were one of the most well-organized and accommodating teams we've ever worked with. Thanks to them we were able to add a lot of cool content to the US version, so we are glad to hear the players appreciate their hard work.

Having published Wild ARMs 4 and now 5, what do you enjoy most about the Wild ARMs series? What keeps you coming back to it?
Ken: Me, personally, it has got to be the great music the series is known for. From the standpoint of a company that loves working with RPGs, it's one of the longest-running and well-respected JRPG series out there so it's an easy choice as we know each new game is going to be stellar.

Could you share with us some details about Wild ARMs 5's story? Perhaps a little about the main characters?
Ken: Sure thing. I guess I can share that there's almost a love triangle going on between the three main characters of Dean, Rebecca and Avril. Dean and Rebecca have been friends since they were little and even though Dean has always seen her as more of a childhood buddy than anything else, Rebecca absolutely adores him but never quite finds the right way to express her true feelings. Once the mysterious Avril suddenly appears, Rebecca realizes she has some serious competition so her task of getting the message through Dean's thick skull becomes more urgent. We usually don't go for "cute" elements in our packaging materials, but we made an exception for the artwork on the actual game disc as it seemed to capture this dynamic perfectly. I hope the fans like it.

How long, on average, do you think it will take players to complete the main story of Wild ARMs 5?
Ken: Perhaps a little over 50 hours, though I think it took me closer to 70.

Wild ARMs 4's platforming elements were very controversial for long-time fans of the series, but at the same time helped appeal to a new audience. What's been done with Wild ARMs 5 to help it appeal to fans both old and new?
Ken: The platforming elements have been toned down a bit so that it's not as reflex-oriented. It's funny because we would get calls to our customer support line from grandmothers telling us that they've always enjoyed playing Wild ARMs, but they would have to ask their grandson to get past the platforming elements for them. So it's still present in Wild ARMs 5 to help add some action in the mix, but not nearly as hardcore as it was in parts of Wild ARMs 4.

How long, on a guess, would you think it'd take a player to travel from one end of the world map to the other, while only on foot, not counting the water if that gets in the way?
Ken: Not sure about that one, especially since the world map is split into 4 different continents which usually require travel by train between them. Walking across just one of those continents my guess would be from 10 to 15 minutes, if there are no mountains or rivers blocking a straight path.

Some readers had stated they hoped that the shovel wasn't the only means of weapon for Dean, the main character; could you please explain some of the weapons the player will see throughout the game?
Ken: Is the idea of a Shovel ARM not appealing enough? Well, not to worry, Dean will eventually upgrade. Rebecca carries a very classic old six-shooter type weapon due to her desire to join the circus as a pistol shooting performer. There are also ARMs that unleash physical attacks, and Carol has a ranged attack with a missile launcher type device.

Does the game feature full-voiced cutscenes or does the game include some unvoiced sequences as well?
Ken: The key event scenes are voiced, but there are a lot of event scenes without voice-overs as well.

Using the search feature, can more be found on the overworld than just hidden treasure chests? Hidden dungeons possibly?
Ken: Unlike Wild ARMs 3, the places you can enter are usually visible on the world map without having to be located with the search feature. However, there are plenty of other things to discover on the huge world map other than treasure chests, with a puzzle mini-game being one of them.

Will players be able to purchase new weapons and armor in different shops and if so, will these changes be shown on the character models?
Ken: Yes, and what's really cool is that the different outfits actually show up in the cut-scenes too. You don't see that very often.

With there being over 20 character cameos from past titles, will these characters talk about their past adventures or will they just be a part of the story, or not even part of the story?
Ken: Most of these characters don't play critical roles in the main story, but they will make references to their past adventures and possibly give you a side mission. For example, you run into someone that looks oddly similar to Yulie from Wild ARMs 4 who's looking for her missing brother...

How many playable characters will players be able to use and how many of those can be in the main battle party at one time, knowing that you can swap others in during battle?
Ken: There are a total of 6 playable characters even though only 3 can be on the battlefield together. As you pointed out, you can switch out to any of the other members in your party even during the heat of battle.

Will the game include a dual audio track or will it only include the English dubbing, understanding that there are disc-size restraints?
Ken: Unfortunately, since the game data is so huge, the Japanese voices had to be removed to make room on the disc for the English voices.

Is the story very linear or can players wander around and see the many sights of Filgaia, possibly doing some other quests?
Ken: The main story is fairly linear, but there are tons of side quests the player can choose to complete as well as optional dungeons and hidden epic boss battles if they want to get the most from the game.

With this being the 10th anniversary of the Wild ARMs series, we are excited to get our hands on the wonderful additions that are included in the packaging. Could you tell us a little bit about those?
Ken: We really wanted to do something special to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series, so we thought what better way than to include an 80-page full-color artbook with illustrations from the entire series, not just Wild ARMs 5, packed into an embossed foil box. The additional bonus which I wasn't anticipating was the regular DVD case inside has great artwork stretching from the front all the way around the back since we didn't need to place any screenshots or text there anymore to entice someone to buy it. The artbook was also a great way to introduce and give a little background on the many cameo appearances in the game to the people that are playing their first game in the series with Wild ARMs 5. We wanted to be sure everyone got a chance to have this special 10th anniversary edition, so we made this the only version available at launch, still at the same $39.99 price. Think of it as a big "thank you" from us and especially the fine folks at Media.Vision and Sony Computer Entertainment to the fans who have supported Wild ARMs for so long.

Sadly, we don't cover boxing titles, but is there anything else upcoming you would like to share with us? If not, any ideas when we should be looking for an announcement?
Ken: What if we called it a boxing-RPG? Victorious Boxers: Revolution for the Wii has so many voice-overs in it that we actually logged more studio recording time than Wild ARMs 5 and Brave Story: New Traveler combined. We're just finishing up a very busy period releasing 5 titles in the span of roughly 6 months, so we're gonna rest up for a while...

RPGamer would like to thank Ken Berry for taking time out of his busy day to answer a number of questions for us, and we look forward to hearing from him again when XSeed chooses what games to localize next. For readers interested in picking up the 10th Anniversary edition of Wild ARMs 5, the special edition packaging and artbook will be part of the game's first shipments. After its release on August 28, it's currently unknown if further shipments will be including the special edition features.

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