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This page is solely about Wild Arms (1).
Despite being a remake, Wild Arms: Alter Code F notes should probably be put on its own page. Though, if you want to briefly compare WA1 to it (and/or compare WA1 to other entries in the series), you can here. That said, if you're going more on ACF's (and/or 2-5's) growth from WA1 vs differences between them, you should likely put that stuff on the ACF page (or the page per game).
Additionally, other games of the series should likely have their own pages too (along with XF). Well, I guess, since some of them can be rather different at times.
User 1's NotesEdit
Add anything you feel like adding here.
Wild Arms hit me like a ton of fucking bricks. Just the very name makes me smile a bit. I don't think there's any series currently made, RPG or otherwise, that has the sort of flair that the first (or even most of the series) does. The neat thing about it is that there's a bunch of things that, technically, don't make a lot of sense. Hell, even before you play the game the cover alone (unless you bought it in Japan, in which case, you poor bastard) is very strange and juxtaposed: Swords, magic, wilderness, ancient statues, and to top it all off you have a punk-looking guy with crazy hair and a gauntlet pointing a gun at you. All this sorta stuff, along with hype and demos, is what attracted and captivated so many players and still does (to an extent). You haven't even played the game and you already get a sense of what it's like.
Then you turn on the game and get that amazing intro. It doesn't even have much of anything to do with the game or story, but gives you a sense of the characters, and tells you just a little about them and their personalities, all without saying a word. The song during the intro also sets the tone of the game, being very western-inspired, while still having some unique aspects of its own. Then you play the game, do the intros, see the introduction credits, and get to the main portion of the game where the three characters are all together. And so on. Each character's intro is told a bit differently and concentrates on different things. In addition, you learn more about them, and what their goals and intentions are. The story also manages to be a bit typical, yet unpredictable as well. For example, Rudy's intro ends with him getting kicked out of a village, despite saving one of the villagers along with saving the town from an imminent threat, because people consider him unsafe and fear him and his destructive capabilities. I mean, you can probably count the number of games before WA1 that START off like this on one hand. Hardly the old, "walk three steps outside, hometown gets destroyed" bit you see in far more games (and that's far too many). Other such events in the game's story happen with similar atypical construction. The thing that ties them together and keeps them noteworthy though is the way that they are told. Despite being done in the mid 90s, WA1 has a pretty superb translation and executes a surprisingly good storytelling on top of a good narrative. Even nowadays, that's not exactly common. The game actually makes you give a shit about the characters and feel emotional. And Wild Arms is pretty damn good at the latter. This is greatly assisted by the music. The actual title screen starts out very adventurously to get you pumped, the starting town for Rudy has THIS as its theme, this during Rudy's exile, and this as you explore the world. It's all very gripping for the player, especially during the first time playing.
In terms of gameplay, it's also a bit typical, but also manages to still be rather different. Outside of battle, characters can move around in 8 directions, which wasn't too common in RPGs that were on any of the big 3 consoles before (Turbografx-16+CD, SNES+BSX, or Sega Mega Drive+CD) and rather rare on portables, assuming there were RPG games on them that had it to begin with (outside of action-centric games). In addition, you can run, and at a pretty fast pace as well. Some older RPGs worked around this with just plain fast movement, but giving you a choice helps for segments where you'd want to walk slowly. In addition, you can even run on the overworld! Now that's something that damn near every classic-styled RPG could use. You can check things for items or just get descriptions of them, as most games let you; but, here you can lift and throw things to find stuff, which is kinda cool and far better than being limited to chests like in some games. The game also has gadgets for your characters to use, merely with the push of a button. Some are a bit curious, like the wand that lets you talk to animals, but most are useful, like bombs to blow up obstacles or a flying mouse that can activate far off objects and retrieve out-of-reach treasures. Several are also used in the game's many puzzles, typically found in "dungeons" (for lack of a better catch-all term for ruins, caves, towers, etc.). None are exactly "hard" to figure out or anywhere near some of the stuff seen in Alundra or Lufia 2, but some of the later ones are decent. The "dungeons" are designed fairly well too. One neat little aspect is being able to jump down from certain ledges, which wasn't too often seen in these sorts of RPGs, at least at the time. Like some other games, WA1 also has a spell to exit dungeons and another to warp to known towns. Unfortunately, you won't get the latter until a decent while after the former.
As for battles, Wild Arms is actually pretty nifty in all it does. For starters, you can equip things mid-battle and re-arrange turn order for your allies. Each character has basic shared abilities such as item, normal attack, defend, but each one has their own unique power and specials as well. Rudy has his variety of firepower (ARMs), Jack has different attack skills with varying properties (Fast Draw), and Cecilia has typical "magic" (Spells/Crest Graph). However, simply leveling up won't get you the next option for any of the 3. Story progression is important, and as such, you gain new powers relative to it. Rudy has to find his ARMs in new areas and upgrade them in certain shops, Jack gets "inspired" to perfect new Fast Draw techniques by happenings in new areas, and Cecilia finds/upgrades her Crest Graphs in new areas. However, in Cecilia's case, You're only really limited by you number of Crest Graphs and upgraded Crest Graphs, since her magic is determined by graph formations (think an X-Y chart, where X1,Y1 offers one spell, but X1,Y2 offers a different one), and you can choose which ones you want her to learn in any order per tier and type. "White" magic has its own graph, while "Black" magic has a different one. The same applies for the upgraded graphs, which have upgraded versions of spells along with new ones. Still, the Crest Graphs aren't common, so odds are you'll have to make progress some to get more spells to use at a time (unless you cheat like a chump). In addition, spare bullets and MP-restoring items are rare and can't be directly bought in stores, so you have to ration your usage of MP between towns and ammo stations. This isn't a total loss though, as characters still have 4 "Force" abilities that don't use MP (except Rudy, who has 2 that use Ammo, sadly). Each one after the first per character is also learned as you progress. One being a summon, that utilizes different Runes to deal damage or other effects. Each character can be equipped with a Rune to alter their stats. This lets you help characters cover their weaknesses or improve their strengths, giving the game something of a minor "class" system that's easily interchangeable between characters. Another Force skill is Cecilia's "Mystic" ability, which lets you use spell-like effects from certain armor or amplify the effects of normal usable items. Both have been seen before in other games, but this also works to let you determine which spells you want to use for your Crest Graphs, since you can designate your usage of a spell to a Mystic-based method versus a Spell-based one. On top of all that, the game also has individual AI tactics that you can give each character, so that random battles aren't as tedious. This was something not too many games did back in the day. Finally, running away from normal fights tends to have a pretty high success rate, especially versus other games that have you spam "Run" and yet you keep getting stuck having wasted a turn.
Criticizing WA1 is a pretty easy task, especially by most who play it nowadays having come from other stuff. Graphically, I will admit this, it's not very strong in 3D or 2D. It's not exactly top of the line, but it's hardly weak either. It looks a bit like 16-bit console games, but at the same time, it has more detail in it than the standard RPG you'd find on most of them. Most people rag on WA for its looks in battle. Most enemies have low or simple polygons, and the characters being SD-styled is a turn off to some. Still, for all that it's worth, there's a lot of battlefields and most tend to have a decent deal of depth and detail to them. In addition, some have different lighting effects which show up on both characters and enemies, making them less disjointed from the scene. In addition, there's also animation to both the characters and enemies, which wasn't common at all in RPGs before this. Back then, most foes were just static images, even when characters moved and attacked. One other neat factor was, despite characters staying in mostly-line based formations, the camera made numerous dynamic angles to keep the action relatively interesting. So even if you saw the same old slash attack before, it could show up at a different angle, giving you a sense of scale and size between characters and foes in addition to perspective and dramatic effect.
Even if you aren't fond of the graphics and visual aesthetics, it's hard to deny that Media.Vision were at least ambitious, especially considering this was only their 4th game and it was only about the 3rd year (given the initial release) that the PS1 had been out. Impressively, WA1 was brought to the US in roughly 5 months after the JP release. It was one of the earlier RPG games to be released on the system, even more so stateside, and coincidentally (maybe?) a slew of RPG titles were brought over afterwards, such as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 7, and Breath of Fire 3. Was Wild Arms the cause for this? I dunno, but it's definitely a possibility to consider.
As of my posting of this, I've only played 3 Wild Arms games. 1, 3, and XF. XF is mostly it's own thing and I don't want to keep playing 3 until I finish 1 and then 2, or even start 2, 4, or 5 out of order. I guess I'm stupidly picky about things like that. Still, from what I've played of 3, I like it, but it goes for a different sort of feeling than 1 does. It does a better job of a ruined, rustic frontier, but that's a given, considering the difference in technologies between them, along with Media.Vision having more experience later on. Still, there's something of a "Je Ne Sais Quoi" that 1 has that still makes it kind of special amongst other Wild Arms games. I don't think Alter Code F has that though. From what I've seen, heard, and read about ACF, I don't really know if I want to play it at all. I mean, it's nice that it's touched up and had a number of aspects improved on, but it still bothers me for some reason that I can't really justify without playing it first. I will say that I'm not fond of Rudy using his guns/ARMs constantly in ACF. It sort of makes sense, since it's his "main" weapon and all, but at the same time, it kind of cheapens the impact of it. In WA1, it was something deadly and powerful that you used somewhat sparingly, but weren't afraid to whip out when the going got tough. In ACF, it's just kinda "whatever, guess I'll just shoot it to death". It's a bit like the Star Wars Lightsaber thing. In the original trilogy, it wasn't used "too" much, but was identifiable, powerful, and something of a signature weapon. Then the prequel trilogy came, and fucking everyone and their Yoda was dancing around with lightsabers. Fucking Grievous had 4 of the shits, even worse than Maul with his double-sided one. It cheapens the impact of the thing and makes you give less of a shit about it. I'm not about to call ACF SW Prequel Trilogy-tier (at the very least, not without playing it myself first), but the gun-factor is just one things that make me a bit leery about playing it.
Still, through thick and thin, I still think WA1 is worth playing. It's one of those games people note as having "aged", especially in the battle graphics department, but for the most part, I think it aged pretty well. It's essentially a grab-bag of numerous 16-bit RPG systems, aspects, and goodies wrapped up in a western-inspired package. If you like those sorts of things, you'll likely enjoy WA1 as well. I know I have.