Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wild Arms 3 (Playstation 2, 2002)

Back in 1999/2000, I was really into the original Wild Arms. It was one of many rad games that we got during the golden age of PlayStation 1 RPGs. For some reason it took me months to finish the game, and the release week for Wild Arms 2 happened to be right after I did. Completely coincidental, as I didn't even know a sequel was in development. That was pretty awesome, one of my many good gaming memories from the era. A couple rentals later and I finished Wild Arms 2, which I thought was even better than the original.

For some reason I never checked out further games in the series, but Wild Arms 3 was always on my radar. Lately I've been wanting to play an early-00's era RPG that I've never played before, and this one made the most sense. It now has a PlayStation 4 re-release with trophies and improved resolution that one can get for about the price of the original PS2 version, so it's a better time than ever to check out Wild Arms 3. Since this is my first time playing it, it'll be interesting to see how I react to it fifteen years after the initial release.



Whoa, this brings back memories of the days when we used memory cards for saved games.

 Opening cutscene shows the four main characters. From left to right: Jet, a spiky-haired jerk who only cares about things that benefit him. If this were a Squaresoft game, he'd be the main character. Then there's Gallows, the big mang. He's...odd-looking. The somber lass is Virginia, and the Citan-esque gent on the right is Clive. He's a formidable warrior and probably the deadliest member of the team.

They're all pretty deadly though, and Virginia here definitely seems like she can hold her own in a gun battle. This game has a distinct Wild West aesthetic to it, and I like it.

The tale begins, putting us on a train during a dark and stormy night. This takes place in Filgaia, the same world as the first two games, yet has very little to do with them story or character-wise. At least, as far as I can tell.

Some weirdo is blocking our main character from going into the next train car over. I have no idea what's going on, but I already want to take the Renegade option and knee this guy in the junk.

There's a character select at this point. Each of the four main characters has their own intro chapter, which is a pretty cool idea. I wish more games did this kind of thing. One of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy VI is when it splits up your party and lets you choose which characters to follow next.

Regardless, all four characters meet for the first time on this train, and the intro chapters will show us how each of them arrived at said train.

The main character is Virginia, which is...a pretty weird name for the main character of a Japanese RPG. It's just so... American. This was always the big thing that jumped out at me about this game, the naming of the main character.

Fairly standard storyline here. Virginia grew up in a peaceful village, then goblins attacked. The difference from most games is that here, we've got a Wild West setting. Rather than being bloodthirsty monsters, the goblins are basically a gang that want the people here to give them their stuff.

Tesla is her dad. These names continue to be pretty unusual. Considering how the goblins are like three feet tall, you'd think the townspeople could chase them off with rakes or something.

............

...well, the good news is that there aren't voice-overs for this.

Gameplay finally begins, as Virginia sets out for the house where the goblins have set up shop. I really like the visual style of this game, especially with the higher-res afforded by the PS4 version. It's sharp and colorful and really conveys the mood.

I actually got stuck in the very first room. It doesn't help that my TV picture is quite a bit darker than what you see here, but the switch you have to hit is very finicky. Walking up to it and pressing the cross button doesn't do anything unless you stand on a certain end of it and then press the button. Making things even more confusing, the game tells you that the square button is for interacting with objects. What it means is that the square button interacts with things that you need to use your tools on, while the cross button is your typical "talk/throw switch" type button.

The battle system is just like the older titles in the series, which is fine by me. Rather than the typical RPG style of having a certain amount of MP and using it up over time, you start every fight with 0 FP and it regenerates as turns pass. You're stuck using regular attacks until you build up FP, then you can use your FP to unleash stronger moves.

There's a tomato up on the roof there that I couldn't figure out how to get to. I tried utilizing the A Link to the Past Pegasus Boots principle and dashed into the wall, but that didn't work. I'll be wondering about this tomato for the entire game now.

It's worth noting that each character has their own tool, much like previous games in the series. They all get follow-up tools as the game progresses, too. Virginia's first tool is the Tindercrest, which lets her throw fireballs to light torches. Speaking of the similarity between the dashing and the Pegasus Boots, her fire-throwing is vaguely Zelda-esque as well.

Tesla is - get this - a BRILLIANT SCIENTIST.

Get through the Gob House and Virginia finds herself face-to-snout with the Hobgob Boss. Unlike the fights before this, you can't sleepwalk through this one. Winning is a matter of healing and using your FP to strike the decisive blow.

In this case, I save up for Gatling and unleash hell. Gatling is four regular attacks at once, while the less-expensive Mystic lets you use an item on the entire party instead of just one character. If I remember the first two games as well as I think I do, Mystic is incredibly useful for group-heals.

After defeating the goblins, Virginia returns to her parents and Tesla SLAPS HER IN THE FACE. Well, these are the parents of the year.

Virginia wants to fight monsters and save people. Essentially, she wants to walk the Earth, like Jules in Pulp Fiction.

That's right. She wants to be an RPG Hero. Since this is an RPG World, you guys will have to let her go.

At this point we find out that Virginia's mother is long-gone and Tesla is now with someone else. This just got kind of dark.

Virginia proceeds to do just that, and visits her mother's grave to let her know that she's off to be a hero.

That's it for Virginia's chapter, as she heads out for the train. Interesting main character and I already like her a lot. She even has a logical outfit for this world, which is saying something nowadays. Let's see who the other three main characters are.

Here's Gallows, the Drifter. Did someone at WWE play this game?

...........

...his friend's name is Shane?

At this point I find the sole save point that exists in the first two hours of the game. I don't know what this festive puppet is supposed to be, but I'll take it. You can also save your game anywhere with Gimel Coins, an item that also lets you continue if you lose a battle without having to go back to your last save. Gimel Coins seem incredibly important, so it's good that they drop fairly often from enemies. I'm going to take a little while to farm them in the first overworld area since the enemies there are pushovers.

This chapter gives us an overworld to walk around in. Much like Wild Arms 2, you find new towns and dungeons by "scanning" for them.

In the past, I really liked this game mechanic of searching for new areas. Now I'm more inclined to just want to know where to go and how to get there. The scanning mechanic can cause some issues because locations often won't show up until you've talked to the right person about them. This means you might scan an area, find nothing, talk to someone a little later and have it "unlock" a location in the area you already scanned unbeknownst to you, then go back out and scan a different area since you think you already covered the area that has the location. So it isn't perfect, but it's unique at least.

Gallows is the big mang of the group, but he isn't the physical powerhouse that he appears to be on the surface. As far as I can tell, this guy is more like a "shaman" character. He doesn't do very much damage with his regular attacks, but he has access to spells and can dish out some damage with those.

Going south a ways from Gallows' starting town gets you to a temple. Have to use the search radar to make it appear. This looks so early-00's RPG and I'm really liking the feel of it.

The temple is an interesting place, mentioning a bunch of elemental guardians whose names ring a bell from the earlier games in the series. These are sorta like the Ifrit and Shiva type eidolons of Filgaia, and our heroes will likely get them as summons at some point.

Inside the temple, Gallows battles tiny Lavos Spawn. He also uses his tool - the Freezerdoll - to put out torches and get through the temple. It's essentially the opposite of Virginia's tool, and fires off a freezing beam. Apparently all of Gallows' tools are dolls, and they all have blood-curdling screams.

The boss of the area consists of a bunch of Faceball 2000 rejects. They respawn as you defeat them, and winning means using Gallows' group-attack ability to defeat all of them at once. He can normally attack one enemy at a time with his spells, but there's an FP ability that converts his next spell attack into a group spell. It's similar to Mystic.

After that, he gets trapped between two barriers. He then turns himself to stone to save Cecil and the gang. He then uses the Arc Scepter, something he found in the ruins, to disable the barriers and escape. I feel like the Arc Scepter is going to be a major item in this game.

That's another chapter down. At this point I can choose between Jet and Clive. It's nice enough to tell me that Clive's chapter is the most difficult (at 3 stars...Jet and Gallows are 2, while Virginia is 1) so I go with Jet next. This guy is already my least-favorite character.

His intro chapter revolves around exploring a small pyramid-like structure.

Jet strums on his guitar as he walks by silently.

This area is full of Super Mario World esque fences that you can hang onto from below (and flip up onto the top of by going to the edge). This leads to some very redundant puzzles where you climb the same few fences repeatedly to get just the right angle to hit a switch. Jet's tool is a Boomerang, which you can throw and control as it flies. Very useful for switches.

A bunch of people in this pyramid need Jet's help, but he's all like "Whatever, I'm here to collect loot". Where's his oversized sword?

Jet's chapter was over very quickly, and consisted mostly of fence-climbing. The boss here is a bit more fearsome than the weird earlier bosses, and requires him to use his FP ability to power up his attacks. He also has an FP ability that lets him act first in a given turn, which is no doubt going to save some lives.

Stuff happens, Jet accidentally saves this guy that the pyramid folk were worried about, and he's off to the train.

If you're wondering why all of these people are hiding in a pyramid: This game has a similar backstory to the original Final Fantasy. Something is amiss in Filgaia, and the land has begun to wither and decay. It looks like most of the world is arid desert, which wasn't always the case. Not sure if there's a mystical explanation, but it doesn't look like it. From what I can tell, the current environmental state is a result of a scientific experiment gone wrong.

The fourth and final character is perhaps the most interesting. Clive is a bit of a loner, but it isn't because he's a douche. It's because he's highly competent, and anybody else would just get in his way.

This guy gives up Heal Berries when you talk to him, and those are still few and far between at this early stage.

You can talk to him a bunch of times to keep getting more of them, but at some point he does cut you off.

Clive's tool is the Bomb, which...yeah. It's just like Zelda. The breakable walls don't stand out very much in this game, though, which means I gotta pay attention.

Clive's scenario takes him through a cave and culminates with a fight against Goldrake (the unholy offspring of Golbez and rapper Drake). Clive has the most HP of any of the four characters AND hits the hardest. He's definitely the melee powerhouse, and could easily be the main character. Actually...any of these characters could be portrayed as the main character without the story missing a beat. Except Gallows. Yeah, probably not Gallows. Then again, he's the one toting around the Arc Scepter, which may be the Key To All things.

Clive gets poisoned during the fight. He may be a competent professional, but he didn't bring any antidotes. At that point it's a matter of finding your way back out of the dungeon, poison chipping at you all the while. I can see why this chapter got the highest difficulty rating of the four.

Eventually Clive gets back to town and gets healed up. NOW he's bringing antidotes along. He also dispenses some potent wisdom here.

Goldrake (the highest evolution of Golbat) returns for a rematch here, but now Clive is prepared for the beast's poison attacks.

Clive's next mission is to catch a train, and it happens to be the same train that the other three characters are already on. With that, the intro chapters are concluded and it's time to start the game for real. Tune in for the next chapter and let's find out what happens next.



2 comments:

  1. Ha, that Square burn about Jet.

    An American name is certainly appropriate for a Wild West themed game!

    Man, is that tomato even supposed to be there? It looks so out of place.

    Huh, this looks more like Tesla is her uncle.

    Ernest Borgnine is quite the berry daddy.

    This is all pretty cool.

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  2. I've never seen this game before, so it's pretty rad you're giving me a look at it. I haven't seen WA2 either, so all these mechanics are new to me. It also looks like you'll want to turn up the brightness on your TV to have a better time with these dungeons. My guess is Tesla has something to do with the world becoming wack. Looking forward to seeing how things develop.

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