What propelled me to play games, other than to learn languages and cultures, was the genre of Japanese role-playing games. One of the games I enjoyed certainly wasn’t considered mainstream by western audiences, but was still a cult classic among RPG enthusiasts. Game was themed on classic Westerns (think cowboys) and yet still managed to include elements of fantasy, steam-punk, and science fiction.
The game is called Wild Arms, and for those not familiar with the series, it spawned 6 titles (7, if you count Wild Arms Alter Code: F, a remake of the first Wild Arms), all exclusively made for Sony’s consoles. The first Wild Arms title on Sony’s PlayStation Portable was Wild Arms XF released in early 2008 in North America.
Wild Arms was created by Media Vision who, instead of developing just another shooter game, wanted to capitalize on the growing RPG genre in the 1990s. Having just released the original PlayStation, Sony entrusted Media Vision to create an RPG with the 3D technology offered on their fledgling console.
Wild Arms was released in 1996 and became among the first games to feature 3D battle sequences. Utilizing such a unique approach to the RPG genre, those settings became a series standard. Usage of weaponry called ARMs, formed the basic plot across the series entries.
The operations of ARMS usually led to the greater conflicts that set the scene in each game. They’re associated with ancient technology within the world of Filgaia. A world filled with canyons, high mountains, railways, and, of course, horses, which serves as the primary means of transportation, as shown in Wild Arms 3, where battles would be waged from horseback.
Another unique aspect to the Wild Arms series are the tools which each character use. Instead of using one character to overcome a puzzle, players are forced to switch between characters to solve the puzzle. Speaking of puzzles, they would get increasingly harder along with the player’s progression in the game to the point where players had to use two tools from each of the characters in different platforms.
The game, unlike in other RPGs where there are different names for optional bosses in every numbered title, Wild Arms recycles the same name for every entry in the series. This foe could be considered the game’s superboss, Ragu O’ Ragula.
After the third entry into the series the game, while not completely abandoning traditional RPG elements, took an action-games approach to the series where each character could jump, run, and slide through obstacles. While keeping traditional turn-based battles alive, Wild Arms 4 also implemented a hex system, where the battlefield was divided into seven hexagons and depending on certain conditions not all of the hexagons could be used. Unless the attack covered all of the hexagons, a character could only attack enemies in adjacent hexes.
Wild Arms 5 saw the introduction of bullets similar to the tool system but instead of several characters possessing different bullets, only a specific character, Dean, could use them. Then Wild Arms XF (pronounced, “Wild Arms Crossfire”) came out as a tactical RPG that also used hexagon tiles.
Wild Arms also has its own manga and anime, which consists of 22 episodes and is called Wild Arms: Twilight Venom.
Some might consider it as a “filler” while waiting for other games offered in the same genre, but the uniqueness of Filgaia and its storytelling can’t be entirely ignored. While it’s true Wild Arms wasn’t received well outside of Japan, some of us did take to the series. And for those of us who did, Wild Arms remains one of the more innovative RPG series to be found in gaming.
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