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Wild ARMs XF


Maldron
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I’ve been something of a fan of the Wild ARMs series, ever since I first encountered the third game during my “What do you mean Squaresoft isn’t the only RPG developer?” phase. ((As a side note, the phase shifted into “Fuck Squaresoft,” then “Fuck Squeenix,” and finally “What the hell keeps me coming back, you fucking whore.”)) It was something different, not great, but certainly rewarding. It was the little things in that game that gained my love – for instance, there was an animated opening reminiscent of the opening to an episode of an Anime television show that came up each time you loaded a save, and the animated movie changed as you progressed and was introduced to more new characters. Also, there was a chick that hid a gatling gun somewhere in her skirt. I was entranced.

 

I returned to the game in the following installments, 4 and 5, which removed the traditional style of RPG menu gameplay and replaced it with a new “HEX system.” Six hexes were placed on the map surrounding a center hex, three of the hexes on the edge gaining elemental attributes. The game became about positioning your party and your enemies in hexes to where you could maximize your output. Instead of poisoning a monster, for instance, you poisoned a hex. I had a few battles in 4 that involved a monster poisoning me, me casting a spell to trade places with that monster, and wailing on it as it suffered from its own poison. 5 changed it up by having the boss battle hexes skewed around the map, making positioning even more challenging. I was enjoying myself, as it had become a unique RPG experience that I hadn’t encountered before.

 

So, when I learned that there was going to be a PSP Wild ARMs SRPG that featured a hex system, I was somewhat giddy. I wanted it, I made it mine, and played the hell out of it. And I have to say, it was hard, and a lot of fun. My first serious forays into the SPRG world having been Makai Kingdom and Disgaea, what I knew of SRPGs was constant, endless grinding for big numbers, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Wild ARMs XF actually employed some sense of strategy in the traditional sense. Battles where you had to keep enemies from reaching an enemy line, where you had to protect retarded old people from being killed by a prison warden, the game was punishingly hard unless I used strategy in my class choices. It’s something that a lot of other reviewers are using to knock the title, but I find fantastic. I don’t mind having to go after a mission time and again to accomplish an objective, what I enjoy is the ability to triumph in the end, and I feel that I truly was playing an RPG that required me to use strategy.

 

Unlike the earlier titles, the hexes are merely there to replace the rather traditional square system used by other SRPGs. There are 16 job classes in this game, with an additional six unique job classes for the main characters, allowing for a large assortment of playstyles. As you level up jobs, you unlock their skills, which can be then assigned to skill slots for use with another class. This mix and match system allowed me to take a damaging mage and give it the ability to heal, to increase the range of its damage, and to nullify any damage that would be dealt to allies within their attack range. I could also give a sword-user a mage’s equipment, if I honestly felt like it. Each class is unique and interesting in its own way, and finding good combinations is another part of the game’s draw.

 

The main story of the game is all that was needed to get through it as well – at no point was I forced to return to old missions or areas to grind out levels or jobs, and even when I chose to do so there were available options for getting it done in one or two runs, so long as I was aware of what was necessary. If there’s one thing I absolutely love about this game, it would have to be that part about it, at no point did I feel I had to put work into leveling, as long as I did well in my planning.

 

As a SRPG, however, I walk away from it feeling that it might’ve lasted a bit longer. This may be because I’m so used to the leveling and the grinding taking up so much time in the past, but I completed the game’s main story in less than sixty hours, and all that’s left is one cheeseable bonus boss and the item synthesis system for creating the ultimate weapons and armor for each class. The game does feature a New Game + system, however class and character levels are reset, and all you keep is your items and money. The only real benefit is an additional class point and money bonus multiplier which increases on each successive playthrough, which would only benefit me when I felt like experiencing the game again while avoiding the grind, but again, I never really HAD to grind in this game. I almost feel like I would prefer to start the game again fresh if I were to ever play through it in its entirety again, to avoid being overly powerful in facing the challenges that initially stumped me.

 

All in all, I enjoyed this game. It was something new and different from what I’ve experienced from SRPGs in the past, and that was a good thing. If you’re looking for a decent SRPG on the PSP that won’t just ask you to kill all of the monsters time and again or waste your time leveling, I would heartily recommend Wild ARMs XF.

Edited by Maldron
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Nice. so uh, once (if ever) i finish Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, this is worth downloading legitimately buying from a retail outlet with actual monies?

 

I'd say so. And yeah.. I've never bothered to finish Disgaea AoD either. I just got tired of grinding it all out. Wasn't exactly fun for me.

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