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Retro Review: Wild Arms

Wild Arms
Original Release Date:
April 30, 1997

Is there any better deal on the PS Store at the moment? Probably not. Wild Arms is an excellent RPG that was overlooked by many, mostly due to the monstrous release of Final Fantasy VII on the original PS1. With fans eager anticipating Squaresoft's legendary RPG, many never took a chance with Wild Arms. Now, you can correct that mistake and download it to your PS3/PSP.

Unsurprisingly, the game is filled with genre conventions, archetypes and stereotypes. That's expected of a game that's as old as this one. But, color us surprised at how wonderfully the storyline is executed, with its multiple narratives following different characters. You play through three paths: one of a child "dreamer" (that triggers the game's focal adventure), an Indiana Jones-like adventurer, and a magician that hears the voices of spirits. All three stories feel completely different from each other, and feature different challenges to get through. The way the story ultimately merges is well-executed -- modern games can learn a lot from Wild Arms!

The battle mechanics have a surprising amount of depth to them as well. Enemy encounters are typical turn-based affairs, but a surprisingly deep magic and "force" system make things far more involving. Battles may be fun, but the dungeons themselves are even more so, with devilish puzzles challenging players every step of the way. The use of "tools" for each character in the game field is nice. We also love the "Auto Equip" feature that's rare to find in RPGs as aged as this one.

The 2D graphics really shine on the PSP's small screen. Although the 3D sequences haven't aged well, the game still manages to look sharp, while maintaining a smooth framerate. A lengthy adventure awaits those that invest in Wild Arms, and at $6, it's a terrific value. Save points may not be as frequent as we'd like (this is a console game, after all). But, we have to bestow upon Wild Arms our highest recommendation. Buy it.
Retro Review: 8.0

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