WILD ARMS / Sony / Playstation 1
Enemies that can spam sleep and paralyze spells that hit your whole party, apparently have a 100% success rate, and once they take hold you never snap out of them and they pick you to death. If you do snap out of one at the last minute, they just hit you with another one.

That's my review.


... Oh, all right. Up until that point, Wild Arms was actually a pretty interesting little game. Made by then-rookie development teams Contrail and Media Vision for Sony, you could call Wild Arms a paean to the great RPGs of the 16-bit era, particularly the ones on SNES. You could also call it a pastiche of ripped-off elements. Either way, even though it isn't the most original or well-written game, it was actually polished fairly well in most aspects, and the borrowed elements are ones that are actually good, enjoyable ideas.

The game initially resembles Rudra's Secret Treasure (Rudra no Hihou), or for a more contemporary example Suikoden 3, in that you start out controlling 3 different characters in different parts of the world whom you switch between at save points and play their opening chapters in whatever order and whatever pace you like. However, this mechanic just kind of peters out and disappears when the characters all get together a couple of hours in, and aside from separating in a few small scripted events a la FF6 here and there, it's never really used again - you just play as these three for the rest of the game and they never separate.

There's nothing remarkable about the story, it's the standard tropey "great evil/revived demons threatening the world, travel the world to awake/save the power of the Guardians" thing. The one unique element it supposedly boasts is a "Western" theme ... but other than some dirt and scrub grass, and the occasional presence of a few 1800s-level guns, it really looks no different than any other JRPG of the period. It supposedly has a "Western" soundtrack as well, but that's confined exclusively to ripping off Ennio Morricone and throwing in whistling here and there in an otherwise standard JRPG soundtrack.

The game's greatest strengths are that it plays smoothly and looks pretty nice ... at least outside of battle. In an apparent attempt to compete with FF7, which came out around the same time, the nice-looking SNES 2D style of the rest of the game abruptly switches to a somewhat clumsy, primitive-looking 3D engine in battle. The battle engine moves slowly enough to be irritating, and the generic battle theme is annoying as well. Outside of battle, however, the game is generally quite pleasant. Nice background detail, weather effects, and the dungeons are liberally scattered with Lufia 2-style puzzles to break up the monotony of combat.

You eventually start running into shit enemies that spam multiple status effect spells on the whole party, though, and that's where things break down. Overall the game cants to the easy side; I'm guessing the rookie developers didn't have the right touch for balancing difficulty, and when they got everything set in place and realized the game was too much of a cakewalk, their halfassed solution was to thrown in the ol' status-effect-spammers. Combine that with the slow battle engine and the annoying music and the game suddenly gets to be too much to take. Underdeveloped characters and generic writing doesn't help things at this point either.
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