Wild ARMs - Staff Retroview  

Guns And Golems
by Derek 'Roku' Cavin

20-35 Hours


Rating definitions 

   While it may look like a SNES game, Wild ARMs is pretty good. You control three characters (an ARMs master, a treasure hunter, and a mage) that eventually join forces and save the world from demons. Not just any demons either, metal demons. Each character has a set of unique tools which help you complete dungeons. While the puzzles aren't difficult at all, they help keep things interesting.

   Each character has a unique specialty in battle too. One can use ARMs (they're like guns) to inflict some heavy damage at the cost of a bullet and some accuracy. Another uses special sword skills with a variety of uses such as damage, status effects, and healing. The third character's specialty is magic to help allies or harm enemies. Each character can also attack physically, use items, or defend. (though defending doesn't make a significant difference in lowering the damage you take for some reason.) As battles rage on, a special meter fills which allows you to perform special actions such as moving faster, using an item on your entire party, locking on with an ARM, and summoning just to name a few. (The higher level ones border on spoiler.)

Battle graphics are less than stellar... Battle graphics are less than stellar...

   As long as you play the game in order of suggested events and don't go off trying to fight ultra high-level hidden bosses at level 20 or something, you should be fine. Aside from some really annoying long-lasting status effects, the game is fairly easy overall. It is wise to stay well healed in case your entire party is put to sleep by a random enemy though, as that can be quite annoying and possibly even dangerous if you're really low on hp.

   There isn't anything special about the interaction in Wild ARMs, just the standard decent job of spelling, grammar, and play control. No real problems here. Running is a bit odd, but that's a very minor annoyance.

   While each character being unique in battle and having their own set of tools is fairly original, the plot is rather unoriginal and so are most of the spells. You're able to upgrade your ARMs in an interesting way though, so it all balances out overall into a flat out average rating in originality.

...but these anime scenes are. ...but these anime scenes are.

   The story starts off pretty well, but quickly slows down. It eventually picks up a bit, but never fully recovers. The story is somewhat predicable at times and is full of instances of bosses holding back or letting you live without any good reason, especially since you are their primary opposition. There is a little bit of character development, which is nice, but a little bit more wouldn't have hurt. The lasting impression of the story is a bit above average.

   Wild ARMs is a rather short game with a somewhat abrupt ending. I didn't realize I was in the last level until it was almost too late to turn back. Avoiding most sidequests will allow you to finish the game in about 20 hours. There are several hidden dungeons and optional bosses that can almost double the playtime if you choose to fight them.

   The background music throughout the game is pretty good, but is used to such a degree that is becomes a bit repetitive. The sound effects are really bad though and can really ruin the mood. Would a huge goblin make cat noises when hit it with a sword? I doubt it, but it and about 50 other random enemies do when they get hit. A lot of other battle sound effects sound horribly off key, especially the sound bosses make when you defeat them.

   Graphics out of battle resemble those of a SNES game. In battle, the game makes a tradition to 3D, though it's very far from those of a PlayStation Final Fantasy game. While unimpressive, at least there is very little enemy re-coloring. I think there are only 2-3 colorings of each enemy at most. They aren't very well animated though and overall the visuals are a bit below what you'd expect from a PlayStation game. There is a nice looking anime opening, but it hardly makes up for the rest of the game's visuals.

   Wild ARMs looks and feels like a SNES game for the most part, and had it come out a few years earlier it would have probably seemed a lot better. Overall, it was still a bit better than I expected it to be. Graphics aren't everything, though, even with graphics ignored, Wild ARMs is only decent at best.

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