Wild ARMs – Diminishing Returns

I remember playing the first Wild ARMs in 1997 when it was released (coincidentally, right before my birthday). Yet another solid entry into the first Playstation’s RPG catalogue, Wild ARMs satiated my growing hunger for games from the genre. If you haven’t seen the seen the opening credits, remedy this immediately. Right now. More than 15 years later and I still whistle the tune.

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Many different styles are present in the game; lost kingdoms, forsworn knights, ancient technologies, etc., though the most prominent motif is western. The game opens with you selecting one of three characters; Rudy Roughnight, a young gun wielding orphan, Jack Van Burace, a treasure hunting sword-for-hire master blades-man, or Cecillia Lynn Adlehyde, a mage who spent most of her life studying at the Curan Abbey magic school. Each character has their own background, coming from different locations. Once you bring each of the cast together, they join forces and begin questing to save the world.

The gameplay was fun, the battle system engaging, and story enthralling. While I do enjoy RPG’s with larger, colorful casts, it’s inevitable that some will end up being shallow or falling to the wayside. Focusing on 3 characters was to the games benefit, allowing each to grow in their own right (though I can count on one hand the number of times Rudy spoke).

By far the most powerful cheat/glitch to have in any RPG is item duplication. Much to the chagrin of the developers, Wild ARMs had one. You could multiply any item, giving you 255 of each. My friend and I made 255 ‘My Grand Hat’ because, why not?

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The series has seen 5 canonical releases, a remake, and a spin off. Wild ARMs 2 was also released on the PSOne. The western setting was expanded into more of the weird west, crossing steampunk, sci-fi, and fantasy. I didn’t really care for this one, and wasn’t alone with this thought. Never played more than a few hours. Wild ARMs 3 was released on the PS2 in 2002. Adding changes to the battle system, returning to the simple western setting, and using a 3D cel-shading art design, the game was incredibly fun. For me though, life (or the Navy) happened and I never finished the game. I’m hoping for a PSN download.

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Wild ARMs 4 and 5 also came to the PS2 and were just as forgettable as 2. I never played 4 and briefly toyed with 5, but wasn’t captivated. Wild ARMs XF (that’s pronounced crossfire… Engrish!) was a forgotten tactical RPG released on the PSP. I refuse to acknowledge games that make up weird word letter pronunciations. I won’t be an enabler.

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In 2005, Wild ARMs Alter Code: F (whatever that means), came to the PS2. A remake of the original, I was genuinely excited to get my hands on this game. Adding new 3D environments, five new playable characters, re-recorded soundtrack, and a whole mess of other stuffs, this game was set to please. I couldn’t play for more than 15 minutes. Beyond not caring for any of the new upgrades, I really couldn’t tell you what turned me off. I think the incredibly slow pace of the characters walking on the world map annoyed me. Or something. Whatever.

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While I have found memories for the original, I think the series overall is more akin to empty calories; something to chew on when you’re just looking for a filler.

What’s your favorite game of the series? Suggestion for a different RPG series that doesn’t rhyme with sminal smantasy? Comment below!

Hey… I’m sorry! Alright! It won’t happen again!” – One of about 5 lines spoken my Rudy.

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3 responses to “Wild ARMs – Diminishing Returns

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