Between the many different genres of video games out there, RPG’s rank high in terms of complexity, longevity, and overall quality. Each console generation has brought a multitude of stories and adventures, from fulfilling ancient prophecies (or defying it), gathering over 100 heroes to achieve a miracle, to utilizing forbidden technology to combat evil.
Most gamers know at least three Final Fantasies, and the rise of popularity for western RPG’s has hit an apex, and is clearly dominating our once fickle market that only knew what Japan spoon fed us. Back in the day, there have been a couple of notable gems that have without a doubt garnered many more fledgling gamers to our coveted genre, and gave the enthusiasts new games to play in the meantime. They deserve much praise, as each of these titles were excellent in their own right. Despite that, each of these games have been notoriously absent in this current console generation. Where have they gone? Here are a couple games that I think deserve a revival:
This was the definitive alternative RPG for early adopters of the 32-Bit generation of consoles. Released in 1997, it was in between the great titles that pushed the limits of the SNES, and the clear example of graphical dominance the Playstation was capable of before Final Fantasy 7 was released a few months later. The storyline was simple; an evil group called the Metal Demons has appeared and plans to take over the land of Filgaia, and it’s up to a silent youth, a swordsman, and a princess to fight back. As one of the first RPG’s that combining both a Wild West and Sci-Fi motif, it was a fresh take against in terms of story, during a time before complex convoluted stories equaled immediate success.
Exploration areas such as dungeons, towns and the world map were 2D, but battles exploded into 3D environments. At the time, it was great seeing characters that actually moved and jumped around while fighting, rather than moving from one side of the screen to the other. Fast paced combat and easy to comprehend systems were the ticket here, and this user friendly game turned many people onto RPG’s. The tool system also added depth to each dungeon, rather than being a rush to the finish line to advance the story, with random battles and a boss fight in-between. For example, you can count on Jack’s grappling hook to cross large distances, Rudy’s Radar to check for hidden treasure, or Cecilia’s pocket watch to reset a puzzle if you messed up, to name a few.
Wild Arms had a number of sequels, but when placed against the mainstream appeal of more successful RPG’s, it only seemed to remain in the consciousness of niche communities. As a result, when the series graduated up to the Playstation 2, Wild Arms 3, 4, and 5 came and went quietly. Thankfully, the first and second games are available on Playstation Network for those interested in taking a trip through the past.
Should it come back?
While Wild Arms was never really known to be a mover or shaker in the RPG world, I loved the first game as a kid. Sony has done a good job reminding gamers there’s more to PS1 era RPG’s than Final Fantasy 7, and Wild Arms 1 and 2 have been leading the charge. If there were to be a new Wild Arms game, I can see a faithful remake show up on Playstation Portable.
Stay tuned for Part 2!