Posted May 22, 2020 by Andrew Cathie in Feature
 
 

My Favourite Games – Wild Arms


Welcome to the first of what will be many monthly My Favourite Games feature articles. With these articles, I want to give you a look at my personal history with some of my favourite games. This isn’t a place for criticism or objectivity, instead this is a place for me to talk to why I love my favourite games, flaws and all. Each article will run you through a short history on how I came to play each game for the first time, before giving you a run down on some high level information on the game and delving into why I love it. Without further ado, let me introduce you to one of my favourite games, Wild Arms for the PlayStation 1.

I still vividly remember how I came to own Wild Arms. My brother and I had just received a PlayStation 1 and Crash Bandicoot as a joint Christmas present. After waiting for our uncle to come over to set the console up (my Mum had no idea how to get it working) and spending a couple of hours playing, it was off to Nan and Pop’s for Christmas lunch. Being the impatient children that we were, my brother and I went straight for the pile of presents we knew would be waiting for us on arrival. Among those presents were three PlayStation 1 games, revealing a level of co-ordination I hadn’t known was possible with gift giving. Today I can only remember two of the games that were there, Disney’s Tarzan and Wild Arms. Having seen the movie and played 2D Platformers before, Tarzan was a known quantity, but with no frame of reference for RPGs I had no idea what Wild Arms was or what to expect. What I certainly wouldn’t have expected was a game that I still love and own 20 years later (although a different copy after the original was stolen).

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Wild Arms before. While the PlayStation-owned and Media.Vision developed IP spawned a number of sequels, it’s been a dormant franchise since it’s final release on the PlayStation Portable. It’s a turn-based RPG set in a dying and soon-to-be demon infested world called Filgaia. Arable land is dwindling as droughts continue, resources are drying up and monsters are becoming more and more prevalent. Honestly, it’s not too far off how the world is looking right now. Enter your three main characters, all from different walks of life and suddenly pulled together as a cataclysmic event rocks the world. Thrust into a world filled with mystery, it’s up to you to stop Armageddon and restore balance to the planet.

It all might sound a little cliché, but there are so many little intricacies throughout Wild Arms that made me fall utterly in love with it. It started with the characters: Rudy, who only wants to feel like he belongs but is frequently rejected because of his forbidden wielding of guns (called ARMS in Wild Arms); Jack, the mysterious bounty hunter who actually doesn’t seem particularly successful as a bounty hunter but knows how to cut foes down; and Cecilia, a member of the royal family of Adlehyde and one hell of a capable magic user. Each character has their own distinct strengths and foils, but their personalities go beyond the story and push deeper into the mechanics of the game as well. In battle, Rudy is the only character capable of wielding the destructive force that comes with ARMS, Jack has an array of sword techniques at his disposal and the ability to trigger his attacks before anyone else, while Cecilia’s magical repertoire can be freely changed at any of the game’s towns. It continued outside of battle as well, as each character received special overworld abilities that tie in perfectly with their personality and history, such as Rudy’s ability to use bombs or Cecilia’s collection of magical artefacts. I’d never seen anything like this done quite so well in the past (partially because this was my first RPG), but it’s still stuck with me today just how good a job was done in tying everything together.

Then there was how the world of Filgaia looked. Unlike other games that went wholehog on either a 2D or 3D presentation, Wild Arms has a hybrid approach that I absolutely love. The game’s towns and overworld are completely 2D and come with all the intricacies you’d expect from the medium. I still feel a bit of whimsy remembering exploring Adlehyde. Searching every corner of the city to find all of the hidden items it held and then participating in the festival it held. Get caught in a battle however, and the 2D overworld is replaced with a 3D battlefield. The shift was utterly striking the first time I saw it and I still get a little thrill out of the contrast between the two styles. The character models are chunky, low-poly and look more than a little goofy today, but I still absolutely love how they look. I can still picture so many of the game’s models and areas in my mind, and every time I do I just want to go back and experience them again.

Finally, we’ve come to the best part of Wild Arms and the biggest reason I love it so much: its soundtrack. The soundtrack has a Western tinge and is largely filled with strings and percussion in a time when more orchestral or electronic soundtracks were becoming overwhelmingly popular. The game’s music is incredibly distinct and memorable even today, and I even went so far as to import the OST so that I could listen to it whenever I wanted. But while the game’s overall soundtrack is fantastic, there is one track that I will always remember and will forever be one of my favourite songs, Into the Wilderness. Immediately after hearing the first strums of the guitar I’m filled with nostalgia, remembering all of the time I’ve spent playing Wild Arms in the past and the joy I feel each and every time I jump back into the world of Filgaia.

There’s no doubt that I utterly adore Wild Arms, and hopefully I’ve inspired a few of you to give the game a shot as well. It’s currently available for purchase as a PlayStation Classic for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita. Otherwise you’ll need to look to your favourite second-hand games dealer to hunt down a physical copy to play. Join me next time when I take you through my love for another of my favourite games.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.