Format reviewed: PlayStation
Developer: Media Vision
Submitted by: Andy Bolsover
Final Fantasy 7 is a game that many waited for with baited breath, and with its release the floodgates opened, with the PS1 becoming home to many classic RPGs such as Xenogears, Vagrant Story and FF7’s immediate sequel, where you played the part of an emo kid who spoke mostly in lines of punctuation. Wild Arms was released in Europe after FF7, but in Japan and North America it pre-dates its block busting rival, and was seen by many to be something of a stop gap; something to play while you waited for Square’s mega budget epic to show up.
The setting is a slightly unusual amalgamation of high fantasy and wild west; the characters in your party of three include the usual RPG stock princess with magical powers, but also a roguish adventurer and a gunfighter. The music and some of the locations also have some of this wild west feel about them, and it works in its favour. Lord knows originality is often at a premium with these types of things so its nice to see that someone was thinking outside the box. The game also features some fairly novel action RPG style puzzle solving. Nothing too taxing if you’ve ever played Zelda or it’s ilk, but perhaps a little frustrating if you’re expecting the game to be more traditional.
Whilst the game shows great invention at times, in other respects it has aged horribly. The turn based battles are strictly by numbers, and the 3D graphics during battle are painful to look at. The two dimensional SNES style visuals in the rest of the game are actually pretty great, and it’s interesting to see how the former has dated so badly compared to the latter.
It might be worth noting that this was remade as Wild Arms: Alter Code F on the PS2, but didn’t receive a PAL release. The remake spruced things up no end judging by the screenshots. It spawned several sequels as well. There’s certainly enough here to make it worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre, and you can find it for the right price.