Wild ARMs - Retroview

A Journey Into the Average

By: Jade Falcon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 2
   Plot 2
   Localization 5
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 4
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

20-30 hrs.


Wild ARMs

   Wild ARMs is a game produced in 1997 by Media Vision and Sony shortly before the newly-PlayStation-converted Square released its hit Final Fantasy 7. (The title is capitalized "ARMs" due to a type of weapon one of the characters uses.) It is one of the first RPGs to extensively use polygons as well as the usual 2D scenery. Sony knew RPGs were key to having a successful system, causing brainchilds like Wild ARMs and Legend of Dragoon. Hailed as a great RPG in its time, does it still stack up against more modern games?

   Despite the graphics, discussed later, the battle system itself is quite good. Every character possesses a good selection of tools with which to battle the enemy. The magic system is like any regular RPG, and the special abilities the fighters have resemble Sabin's blitzes from Final Fantasy 6 and Irvine's shots from Final Fantasy 8. One major drawback is that the battles can be extremely difficult, especially with only three people in the party. Many boss battles will take several attempts to conquer, and even some regular monster battles can be quite vexing. Only if you have never played an RPG before will you be unfamiliar with battles.

You wanna fight?
Some great-looking polygons  

   Most of the music in Wild ARMs does little more than keep you awake. Despite the horrible-looking battles, I found the battle music to be quite tolerable despite its short duration. In fact, most all of the tracks, no matter how pleasant nor how boring, get quite repetitive because they are very short. Of course, the opening FMV's accompaniment was nicely orchestrated as well. I do not remember any of the other music from the game it was so bland. Many of the sound effects sound like a young kid playing with pots and pans more than anything else. After a few battles, you will be reaching for the mute button.

   Sure, in 1997 the plot of a small band of misfits being able to vanquish the evil terrorizing the land was still somewhat interesting, but even then it was overclichèd story. Some evil from years ago resurfaces and the only thing that can stop it from pockmarking the planet is a boy and his little friends who just happen to have powerful weapons and magic. Also, when first popping the game into my PlayStation and seeing the option of playing one of three characters, I felt that I would be able to play through the game from the perspective of several different people á la Star Ocean 2... until playing with each of them for about twenty minutes. Please, spare me of the "Little Kids Save Planet" storylines.

   If the developer would have put forth a little more effort in writing a more worthy story, the game would have come across more satisfactorily. Wild ARMs comes equipped with the standard FMV opening sequence, blocky polygon characters, and bland story. There are numerous similiarities in plot to Final Fantasy 6, making me think that what would happen next in Wild Arms would be the same as what happened in Final Fantasy 6. Without a clear-cut identity, the game just does not stand out amongst the myriad of RPGs. Some more jazzed-up dialogue would have helped, but again the translation is just plain average.

What about this weird font?
A very strange font  

   There is nothing in Wild ARMs that would compel me to pick it up again. The story did not interest me, my hopes of viewing the game from several perspectives were dashed shortly into the game, and battles are quite tedious. Most of the battles are too difficult to win without the ever-prevalent level building in older games. Just the memory of watching those horrible battle graphics for hours on end make a chill head down my spine.

Nintendo 64 graphics look better than this. In battle scenes, the characters look more like large blobs on the screen than looking like actual characters and monsters. They are very blocky, have a small palette of colors, and have absolutely no lighting effects to speak of. The battles would have been better off in 2D, just like the rest of the game. At least then they would look at least halfway like characters. The 2D animation is nicely done, however, with colorful backgrounds and easily definable land formations.

Feel free to argue with me because I found Wild Arms only to be an average game. While the Wild ARMs series has many followers and is touted as an excellent game, this first game does not prompt me to try another game in the series. Its difficult battles despite easy puzzles, the horrible battle graphics, and lackluster plot gives me little reason to recommend the game to anyone. However, if a friend has a copy or you can find one at a used game store for $5, it can provide you with a small quantity of entertainment. I suggest only playing this game if you are a fan of the series or just have twenty to thirty hours to kill.

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