Speak Up's Best Game Ever segment rears it's glorious head once more, this time with a comment swiped from TAY from good old Mr. Gilder, who tells us why Wild Arms' Western-themed role-playing is the bee's knees.
The first three Wild Arms games are my favorite JPRG series. 4 & 5 are great too, but they just didn't capture me in the same way that the first 3 did. The early Wild Arms games are great because they combine the storytelling and combat of a traditional turn-based JRPG with Zelda style puzzle solving. You navigate towns and the world map with the same sort of overhead perspective that you'd expect, then in dungeons things get mixed up with puzzles. Each character has a specific set of tools (grappling hook, magic wand that shoots fireballs, radar, etc.) that interacts with blocks and switches in the environment just like Link's items do in the Zelda games. Combat is a very traditional turn-based affair, but since the games' setting is one that fuses traditional fantasy with some sci-fi, and the American Wild West, character abilities can get crazy and run the gamut from traditional sword techniques, to guns of all types, and screen filling summons.
It's really the setting that makes the series great though. The Wild West theme is executed to perfection, and the desolation of the desert world of Filgaia plays a central role in the story. Unearthing of ancient technologies are also important plot points. It's a world wherein the lines between science and magic really blur, and I love it. Unlike Final Fantasy, the world of Wild Arms, Filgaia, is the same persistent world throughout the entire series. Though each game's story isn't directly sequential, there are points of history and lore that intersect in each game. A dragon that you befriend in 2, for instance, returns in 3 to help out a new generation. It's really fun to hunt for these connecting points as you play. The villains are nearly always fully fleshed out characters with intriguing backstories. The music is also that special sort of "move you to tears" sort of incredible.
This is an article that I wrote about the opening cinema of the first game that you may want to check out:
(the video attached to my reply is the video with the broken link in the article)
I know that the first game, at the very least, is available as a download on PSN. Wild Arms is well worth you time . . . and may be even more so when the Vita gets its PS1 compatibility, and you can enjoy it with headphones.