Monday, March 13, 2006

Wild Arms 3 is the First and Last Real Wild Arms

I am a moderate fan of the Wild Arms series. The first game was okay, if a bit dull, and while the second was not too much more entertaining to me, I did really, really like the way it so carefully and fully analyzed every aspect and characteristic of heroism and its ideals. It's probably the biggest and most complex examination of the idea of the hero that I've seen yet in a game, anime, or anything save boring crap like term papers and stuff.

But the fact is that both of these games are immensely disappointing. Since day 1, the Wild Arms games have been promising a Wild West-themed RPG experience, and the first 2 in the series just fail miserably at it. Oh, I do grant you that WA1 has a few locales remniscient of the old west, and some of its music fits that theme nicely, as do several of its items. But for God's sake, it stars:

1. A summoner-princess-sorceress. Not very true to the promised theme.
2. A talking rat.
3. A guy who takes the idea of the Fast Draw fighting style that cowboys are famous for in those old shootouts and all and rapes it by applying it to a katana. I mean, seriously, that defeats the fucking POINT of saying it's Old West-ish. Hell, it makes it just your standard samurai deal and removes all cowboy-ness entirely since you see those indescribably stupid scenes in anime where they run at each other and you never see who gets who but you get to know once they're done running and have their backs to one another and it takes no less than 2 minutes of silence for one of them to realize they died.
4. An android whose idea of using old-west guns is to bombard enemies with missiles, grenades, and fucking lasers.
5. A bunch of metal demons armed with medieval weaponry and The Power Of Science.

(As a note I guess I just precluded all possibility of my doing a WA1 cast sum-up rant in the future...woulda been too short anyway, I guess)

This is not the cast of a Wild West RPG. Them taking a magical journey around the world at the behest of magical creatures and doing so using a future-tech plane and encountering alien elves also does not quite fit.

Wild Arms 2 is even LESS devoted to the theme it promises. You encounter heavy artillery-wielding political prisoners, happy little witch girls, happy little summoning boys, vampires, magical creatures, lizard aliens, nuclear dragons (what the hell, seriously), lots of crazy technology, adventures in space, adventures in time sorta, evil dimensions, and nice guys possessed by ancient demons. There are even fewer locales than ever that feature any resemblance to the Old West--they seem like they're thrown in there as an after-thought than anything, like the developers made them before they forgot their own theme entirely.

And, from what I am told of the 4th installment to the series, it's more like some random anime and less like its promised premise than ever.

WA3, besides being the best game thus far just in general, finally delivers you a WORLD, not just 3-5 locations, that is like the Old West. Its characters, with the exception of Jet the Naruto-dropout with a machine gun, finally almost all fit in, both hero and villain and antihero. As do their weapons. Hell, they even make some of the series's staple non-western elements finally work for the theme as well--no longer are the world's magical creature Guardians just there to add a fantasy aspect, but now they actually are treated in a fashion somewhat like Native American spirits, worshipped and spoken of by a Native Americanish tribe. There're horses to ride, showdowns to see, trains to protect from robbery, and stupid bandits. It's the first time, and so far the last time this series has lived up to its promise, and it kicks ass.

(As a note, this isn't to say it doesn't have its crazily non-Old West elements (what is WITH this series and aliens?), but they're meshed into the theme and plot rather than dominating it)


  1. Wow.

    I mean WOW. You are a true gamer.

    My first Wild Arms was the 2nd ignition. I didn't really know that this RPG should be Old-West style, so I enjoy it as the story goes by. May be it's just because I'm a huge fan of animes. But, yeah, I enjoyed it. In fact, I'm still playing it in my android.

    What I am trying to say is, "Is it true that the essence of Wild Arms is old-west?" And every Wild Arms that is NOT old-west MUST be bad?

    1. Goodness, it's been a long time since I wrote this rant. If I'd written it today, I'd have gone about it a bit differently. Wouldn't have used "retarded" for one thing, and I'd have been a bit clearer about my intent.

      To answer your questions, the essence of Wild Arms is clearly meant to be Old West-themed, even if, as I say above, they fell short of that in every game but WA3 (including WA4 and 5, which I have since played, to my detriment). However, my point is not that this makes them bad games, though I obviously did not make that clear in this rant. It makes them disappointing to the degree that I twas expecting Old West-themed games and frankly I think more of that theme would have benefited them, but it doesn't make them bad RPGs in and of itself. I would have to say that WA2 is actually a fairly decent RPG, for it does have a fairly enjoyable story and cast, and it does do some good things with exploring the theme of heroism (though not as much as I give it credit for in the above rant). WA1 is bland, take-it-or-leave-it monotony as far as I'm concerned, WA3 is utterly fantastic, WA5 is mildly stupid, and WA4 is quite frankly the worst RPG I've come across to date, but I came to these opinions of these games independent of how well they fit the proposed theme of the series. The most in influences my actual judgment of the game's worth is that WA3 uses the Old West theme very effectively and so it enhances many aspects of its story, which of course raises my estimation of the game. But that's all; this rant is basically just my pointing out a small oversight and picking it apart a bit.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment, and the praise (I'm going to assume that being a true gamer is a good thing). I hope you'll stick around and read some more rants if this one interested you, and hopefully you'll enjoy them, too. I appreciate the feedback.

    2. It WAS a praise, indeed. I admire you and your writings. They so ... deep and, full of soul. Everyone can tell how much you love RPGs, as I do love RPGs. Of course may be I'm not in the same league as you as an expert RPG player.

      I'm looking for your thoughts about Final Fantasy VIII and XIII, but I haven't found it. It would be great to hear from you about those RPGs.

      Oh, yeah, I enjoy this blog A LOT, as my knowledge level is increasing significantly.

      Just don't stop writing!

    3. Very kind of you, thank you. I haven't played FF13 yet, so you won't hear much about it from me (that may change over the course of the next couple years, though; I'm thinking that Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5 may be the final straw that forces me to get a Playstation 3 this year, and so I'll have an opportunity to check out FF13). As for my thoughts on Final Fantasy 8...they're not exactly collected in any one place, but I certainly reference the game often enough as I rant. Some of my thoughts on the game do show up in my General RPG List rants--specifically, the Most Annoying Character list and the Worst RPG list. But if you keep reading, you'll come across plenty of references to it in one way or another.

      I'm very glad you're enjoying this blog, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on more of my rants in the future. And no worries--I've been ranting aimlessly for 7 years now; there's no chance I'm stopping any time soon, heh.