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Wild ARMs
Review By: Joel Fajardo
Developer:   Media Vision
Publisher:   Sony
# of Players:   1
Genre:   RPG
ESRB:   Everyone

While competing with its rival, Final Fantasy 7, Wild Arms is still able to pull off a marvelous performance in graphics and fun factor by setting new standards for all RPGs to come. You start on your perilous journey by taking the role of 17-year-old Princess Cecilia of Adelhyde, a rebellious, self-centered teenage girl. As you accumulate your new party members, namely Rudy Roughnight and Jack Van Burace, you soon learn of the journey that awaits you.  It is up to you to save the world and regain the teardrop that Mother has gotten access to. But are you up to the challenges that await you and the mind-boggling puzzles behind them?

Wild Arms truly excels graphicwise above its competitors. Unlike the gruesome first person, CG rendered locations of Shining the Holy Ark, or the hideous animation on Suikoden's overhead map, WA is truly able to pull off another miracle. Even though the graphics seem less than spectacular compared to FF7's, my initial reaction to the graphics was positive. WA has some of the most gorgeous light sourcing seen to date, while still managing to go beyond the limits in turn based battle sequences. In addition to this, WA provides spectacular summoning spells that are able to add to the excitement of the battle and are just a marvel to look at. The overhead map is another site to see. It truly shows that Media Vision and Sony put in the extra effort to create a vivid 2D environment that all gamers would enjoy.  The aspect that impressed me the most was the towns. So much detail is added to these large towns. Step in a puddle of mud and water follows behind your footsteps. Go into a house and view yourself from the outside window. Go to an animal and bomb them and watch them suffer (I enjoy bombing the priests for some odd reason). Moreover, every person in every town has three different dialogues that they say during different intervals of the game. I'd also like the mention the introduction of the game. Ingenious. That's the word that will come to your mind when you view it. Thousands of beautifully animated frames, with excellent light sourcing, colors, and an overall feeling of "damn this game is good." When the game is near its end, you will finally be able to understand it, and it will touch your heart in a special way. This honestly has to be the best introduction that I have seen to date.

Along with beautiful graphics comes brilliant music and sound. They music is something to truly appreciate in Wild Arms. Vivid sounds, beautiful orchestras, magnificent bases are all part of WA. It gives you a sense of well being, sadness, content, whatever the scenario might call for. The detail added is remarkable. The splashing of puddles, the thumping when you bump into a wall, the swoosh of Hanpan (No, not Hansan. Thank God.), all contribute to an enjoyable scenario and game feeling overall. This category does not come without flaw, however.  I have noticed that the sound manages to disappear at times and sometimes leaves all together for a few moments. This factor was a bit disturbing, but acceptable for an otherwise near perfect game.

Here is where you decide if WA is for you to buy. The gameplay and concept. If you are a hardcore, action, in your face, wus up, mama's going to knock you out kind of person this game is not the game for you. Throughout the end of the game, there are challenging puzzles that only true RPGeniuses (like myself) could handle without strategy guides or assistance. Precise timing and accurate calculating is all part of WA. This is truly the best aspect of the game. WA in a sense is not just your average turn based RPG, but also involves a major part in the action category that you can find in Zelda. Through you journeys you will accumulate bombs, jet skate, gloves, radar detector, teardrop, wands, magic pots, clocks, hookshots, a little gopher, a lighter, and a guitar, which are all vital to your success. A split second can determine weather you succeed or fail.  The control of WA takes some time to get used to, but with enough practice it's as simple as ABC.  WA is simply innovational in combining all these elements in one.

Another part of the gameplay in WA that most people enjoy is the magic system. No more beat-em-up mentality to get experience type of system, but a more easy to use, friendlier system. As you progress thorough the game, you find magic graphing card that you can take to a magic guild and assemble ANY magic spell desired. Though hard to explain, newcomers to RPGs will feel comfortable around this new system.

With all these ideas in one, the concept of WA is amazing, yet not creative. This game could have easily been called Chrono Trigger 2. So many aspects were taken from the best RPG of all time:  Chrono Trigger. Everything from the Millennial Fair, to the blonde haired troubled princess, too simple quests (e.g.. Remember in CT when u had to escape from the soldiers and find your weapons on the ship? Yeah, well there a very similar quest on WA), all the way to the tear drop representing the necklace. That wasn't the worst part. When you had to time travel to bring a certain member back to life on WA, that just did it for me. I have rejected WA as a truly original game.

One of the most riveting aspects of Wild Arms is the fun factor. WA gets you so deeply emotionally involved in the story that it's hard to imagine. You are able to sit there and say, "Wow… there is a great game." You feel the pain of death and anguish, and your heart aches for Cecilia to be loved. You can hear the cry of the Gollum within you. Every quest in WA is so exciting to approach. New enemies, new spells, new bosses. Brilliant. The adrenaline flow from the battles truly gets your heart beating. Every turn is a new exciting step in WA. All 35-50 (varies) hrs. keep you glued to the TV without wanting to do anything but play. The brain bashing puzzles keep you glued to your PSX, just wanting to beat one more puzzle before the night ends. Unfortunately, WA comes with its flaws. The annoying puzzles get stressful and repetitive. You can only pull so many levers and bomb so many doors that at times you want to bomb your PSX. If patience and intelligence are not of your attributes, avoid buying this title.

Replaying WA is a blast.  There is so much I missed the first and second time around. So many summoning spells I forgot and side quests I never performed led to me to play WA consistently. On the negative outlook, WA is hard to play over and over again. You can only let Zed catch fire and fight Lady Harkan so many times before you wonder what's for dinner. The story isn't as magical the second time around, yet MUCH more is understood. Still I don't expect many RPGs to have the replay value of CT or FF2, though it would be nice.

To sum it all up, if you are looking for an RPG to satisfy you after FF7, or are new to the RPG elements, WA is a delightful game that everyone should buy.

Overall: 9.7
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