Malik (4/21/04)

Wild ARMs (PSX)


This review originally was presented on lazy.GEEKS (6/12/03)

I know it's an oldie, and that most of you who would ever play already have, but in case some of your missed's my review of Wild ARMs. This is a classic game that some people overlooked since it had an "aged" look by using less than 3D of graphics...for shame...why should we put up with such a great game that is fun and can be replayed several times when it forces us to look at visually appealing 2D graphics...BLAH! 


I'll start here since the story of Wild ARMs games differs greatly from game to game, even if they all take place in Filgaia (and I'm sure more people checked out WA3 with it's cell shaded 3D graphics than the original in the series). It all begins with you taking control of one of three different heroes with wildly different backgrounds. There's Jack, the sword wielding treasure hunter who is on a quest for the greatest treasure in order to clean up some bad events from his past. There's the stereotypical mage of the three, Cecilia. She's a princess who is away at school trying to learn to be a great mage. And last of all is Rudy. An orphaned boy with no knowledge of his past. His claim to fame is that he can wield ARMs (Ancient Relic Machine...or something like that); an ARM is a magic gun to put it simply, but the technology behind making them has been lost and the only remaining ARMs can only be used by those with the right spiritual alignment. 

So we have some characters, but what about the world? Enter Filgaia. The world is a rather innovative combination of medieval Europe (like so many RPGs of the past) and the wild west (mid to late 1800's California). The cities are built like cities from western movies, but the major capitols are all castles similar to those you'd find in classics like Final Fantasy 4, complete with Kings and Queens and towers and all that fun stuff. 

This world is made up of three basic races that are in constant struggle for survival/domination. Of course there are the humans. I think you all can tell what they are like...I mean look at yourself and your friends (or go out and make a friend and then look at said friend if you lack such people). Next are the metal-demons. They are the monsters to put it bluntly. They are called metal-demons since they are a mix of organic components and metal to make a sort of living machine. For the most part, metal demons are pure evil and just want to conquer the world and destroy all humans. Last and least are the Elwes. Elwes are sort of like the elves found in D&D. They are secretive, love nature, and are far outnumbered by humans. Also Elwes have all but vanished from Filgaia. They are mentioned only in history books, but perhaps you might encounter one or two (hint, hint). 

After you play about an hour with each of the three characters by themselves, they all end up in Cecilia's hometown, where they eventually meet under the threat of a metal-demon (monster) invasion. Before long, they all have a common goal of wanting to save the world (while looking for treasure and finding out about certain characters' pasts). I won't spoil too much of the story, as it is rather fun to learn on your own (it's a good story with plenty of plot twists). I'll just say this, if you cover all the side-quests in the game, the story is quite deep and interesting, and if you're dumb enough to skip the side-quests...well...your loss. 


They are 2D, so everyone hates them. Well, not me, but most people dumb enough to judge a game on graphics before considering the game play will hate them. They actually fit the theme of the game and in the classic 2D method that I still hold fondly in my heart, they are rather gorgeous. The use of colors is especially well done. When you're in a more medieval style castle, things look bright, like something out of a fantasy game. Meanwhile, when you enter a more wild west themed area, you find a lot of oranges and browns used to accentuate that desert-like feel you get from most western movies. Also, the characters look rather well done and you can tell easily the different physical characteristics of varying townsfolk/NPCs/party members. In a sentence; they may be 2D and from a game that's getting up there in years, but they still look pretty darn good. 

The only general exception to the good look of the graphics is the special effects in battles. Most spells and special abilities are represented by a series of flying polygons of differing colors. This will tend to get on your nerves if you've played any more modern RPG that has fantastic effects in battle. In my opinion, these looked pretty bad even when the game first came out, but it's not too important since it doesn't actually detract from the games actual value. 

Also, even though they are really rare, the anime style scenes are really good looking. Just pop the disc in, hit power and let it sit. You'll be treated to an anime-style intro movie that is still one of my favorite video game moments...I can't say much more than that since it's something you have to see to truly appreciate. 


There is no voice acting, so while most of you would be sad, I'm once again happy since voice acting in most RPGs (well most games of any type) sucks...FFX I'm looking at you. However, instead you're treated to a bunch of mediocre sound effects. I know, this is not a good thing, but you'll learn to ignore most sound effects. At least the ARMs sound like guns instead of beeps like some games have started to do lately. 

On the other hand, you have the games music. This is where (besides the game play) Wild ARMs truly shines. The music is something I feel all true RPG fans have to hear at least once. It is a classic mixing of western themed music with some fantasy tones as found in the Final Fantasy series. I, as a general rule, tend to put on some sort of background music when I play any RPG without voice acting (usually a little Less Than Jake or The Mighty Mighty Bosstones tends to pickup a games mood), but this was one game I could not bring myself to drown out (audio-wise). 

Game Play 

Here is another great point of WA. The game play is a rather unique blend of Lufia meets Zelda. You have the battle scenes, which use a menu system that reminds me of Lufia (for the SNES...not the crappy Gameboy Color version...that was a crappy game...even if it had the same menu-style, I refuse to acknowledge anything as good in that crap-fest). You have a small cross made of 4 or 5 combat icons. These cover your basic abilities such as running away, fighting, equipment/status, magic, fire your ARM, and so on. Anyways, once you select what you want to use, you go about doing it (like any traditional console RPG). Thus, the combat system is simple and easy, yet not boring. 

When you are in town or a dungeon, you have your tools to use. A tool is a unique item you find along the adventure that can interact with different things in towns/dungeons. If a wall is cracked, you can lay a bomb and blow it open. If you find a torch, light it with your lighter. One of my favorites is Hanpan. Hanpan is a wind mouse (or a talking magical mouse that is super fast). He's also Jack's only longstanding traveling companion. He also serves as Jack's conscience. However, I'm talking about tools, so how does Hanpan tie in? Simple, you can point yourself in a direction and he will shoot out from you, move in a straight line and then return, but while he does that, if he encounters anything you can normally interact with, so will he. If you need to press two switches at once, stand on one and shoot Hanpan at the second one. Treasure you can't reach? Send out Hanpan to collect. Anyways, I think you all get the gist of tools...they simply interact with the world much like items in Zelda or Lufia 2 (SNES). 

The rest of the game play is pretty standard fare. If you're in a town, then you talk with people and buy stuff. If you're in a dungeon, you try to find treasure and the boss/exit. If you're on the world map, you walk around and find towns/dungeons. For those who played WA2 or WA3, there is none of that retarded radar system as first seen in WA2 (for those who haven't played WA2 or suck...but also you could only find places to enter on the world map by using your radar, which is done by walking around and constantly hitting a button until something is found and then shows up on your map...sounds stupid? It is). In a sentence; good old school RPG game play with all the classic elements that made the SNES Final Fantasy games and that made Zelda games so great.

My only real complaint about the game play is that you have just 3 playable characters and thus a party of 3 at the most.  I, personally, miss the old days when you would have a party of 4 in a RPG battle, and especially miss the 5 person party days of Final Fantasy 4 and Destiny of an Emperor.


Well, I think my review speaks for itself, but if you missed what my points were, then here it is again.  Good graphics aside from the lame special effects of flying polygons, outstanding music with horrid sound effects, a deep intriguing storyline, and awesome game play.  Also, the replay value is great; I've beaten this game a half dozen times and am thinking of going back for another romp.  For this, I'd have to say, I give Wild ARMs a 9/10