Wild Arms (ワイルドアームズ Wairudo Āmuzu), also written as Wild ARMs, is a media franchise developed by Media.Vision and owned by Sony Computer Entertainment. The franchise consists of several Western-themed role-playing video games and related media. Since the launch of the original Wild Arms title in 1996, the series has gone on to encompass several media, including toys, manga, mobile phone applications, and a 22-episode anime. Wild Arms is noteworthy as being one of the few role-playing video game series to adopt an American Old West motif. Characters, settings, and music within the series contain visual and audio cues to American westerns, as well as traditional fantasy and science fiction elements.
The series has largely been overseen by producer Akifumi Kaneko and is viewed as a cult classic among other role-playing game franchises. While reception in North America and Europe remains modest, the series has an active Western fanbase. The Wild Arms games are popular in Japan.
Wild Arms was the first role-playing video game project of Media.Vision that had been known primarily for their shooter game series Crime Crackers and Rapid Reload. Looking for a way to capitalize on the growing role-playing game market of the mid-nineties, Sony commissioned Media.Vision to create a game that would combine elements of a traditional RPG with limited 3D graphics to promote the hardware of their newly released PlayStation console. Supervised and designed primarily by Akifumi Kaneko and Takashi Fukushima, 1996's Wild Arms, while still retaining traditional two-dimensional characters and backgrounds, became one of the first role-playing titles released to showcase 3D battle sequences.
Utilizing a unique approach to setting and character design, Wild Arms set the standard for all future games in the series. Drawing inspiration from American westerns, as well as western-themed manga such as Yasuhiro Nightow's Trigun, Kaneko and Fukushima crafted a video game world that resembles the contemporary fantasy environment seen in similar titles, but with added allusions to gun-play, outlaws, lawmen, and wilderness tamers. References to seminal role-playing game elements influenced by European fantasy such as castles, magic, dragons, and monsters, were added to attract players to a familiar concept, as well as extend the story-telling past the western medium to allow scenario writers from other elements. Other cultural and regional influences include Norse mythology, animism, and Japanese mythology.
The background music of Wild Arms follows the games' continued motif by providing a soundtrack reminiscent of Western films. The groundwork for the series' music was laid by composer Michiko Naruke, who had previously only written the scores to Super Nintendo Entertainment System titles. Recurring instrumentation includes acoustic guitars, mandolins, drums, woodwind and brass instruments, and pianos, accompanied by clapping and whistling samples. While classically influenced, the music of each game often diverges into other genres, including folk, rock, electronic, swing, and choral. Naruke composed the soundtracks for the first three Wild Arms titles herself, yet she contributed to the soundtrack for Wild Arms 4 along with Nobuyuki Shimizu, Ryuta Suzuki, and Masato Kouda, who emulated her now-established style. Music for Wild Arms 5, the only video game title where Naruke did not contribute, was provided by Kouda along with series newcomer Noriyasu Agematsu.
The usage of firearms factors heavily into the Wild Arms mythos. Called "ARMs", these weapons are often associated with ancient technology and represent a more violent and warlike age; thus, a social stigma is often given to anyone possessing or using them. Though the exact nature varies from one game to the next, they are seen as highly destructive devices with an array of functions in battle. The practical usage of ARMs, either to protect or destroy life, is left to the user's discretion, and serves as a plot point within each game to establish a character's true motives.
Environmentalism is also a key factor in many Wild Arms games, which often center around the restoration of the environment that has long since been tainted, either by warfare or natural phenomena. The governing forces of the planet are personified as "Guardians", spirit-like anthropomorphic creatures who act as the gods of natural aspects such as water, fire, and wind, along with human traits such as love, hope, and courage. The primary heroes of each game often ally themselves with these Guardians to defeat technology-reliant or ecologically unconscious villains who would either subjugate or destroy the world to suit their respective goals.
Each Wild Arms story takes place on a planet called Filgaia, though each "Filgaia" appears to be an entirely separate world with a different arrangement of continents, in similar tradition to the discontinuity between games of the Final Fantasy series. Filgaia is a fantasy world made to resemble the American West characterized by large deserts, red rock canyons, and dry plains. Several other land types and climates exist, including forests, mountainous regions, grasslands, and Arctic tundras, though their predominance varies from one game to the next. Though human towns and cities are plentiful, the wilderness that encompasses most of the landscape is riddled with monsters and other beasts, as well as ruins or dungeons from earlier eras that house ancient treasures inaccessible to all but skilled adventurers. Filgaia is also home to a number of different races including the Native American-inspired Baskars, nature-dwelling Elws, and vampiric Crimson Nobles.
The Elw (pronounced el-loo) are a demi-human race who appear human, with the exception of their long ears. Because of their close relationship with nature, the Elw live exceptionally long lives. Due to the destruction of the environment, the Elw population is extremely low.
The Elw were the original inhabitants of Filgaia. When the neosapiens (humans) migrated to Filgaia after a war on their home world, the Elw kindly accepted them.
Around a thousand years before the events of Wild Arms, Filgaia was invaded by a race known as the Metal Demons. The Elw joined together with the other inhabitants of Filgaia, the humans and Guardians, in order to expel the invaders. Eventually, the Metal Demon leader "Mother" was defeated and the Metal Demons were pushed back to the northernmost part of Filgaia.
During the war, the Elw developed many weapons using their knowledge of magic, alchemy, and technology. Most of these weapons later became known as ARMs. The Elw also created the large humanoid machines called Golems. The Golems proved very useful during the first Demon War. However, the Golems were unreliable because they determined friend and foe based on whoever was operating them. This flaw was later exploited by the Metal Demons during the second Demon War and was the main reason the Elws created the Holmcross. The Elw created the Holmcross using living metal based on the Metal Demons'. The Holmcross went on a rampage, and all but one were destroyed by the Elw. The final weapon the Elw created was the Guardian Blade. When the Guardian Blade was activated, it sucked the vitality out of part of the planet and started the decay that would slowly turn Filgaia into a barren wasteland that would soon be impossible for the Elw, who were dependent on nature, to live on. This and the Elw distrust of humans led to the creation of the Elw Dimension and the Elw's evacuation of Filgaia. The last known Elw founded Baskar village.
Ragu O Ragula
A recurring optional boss enemy throughout the series is the legendary Ragu O Ragula, known as the "King of the Monsters". He is strongly hinted at being an alien lifeform, as he has "traveled the stars". In each Wild ARMs game, he is the ultimate extra boss. In games in which the Abyss — a sometimes ridiculously long optional dungeon that appears in many of the games — is present, he will be at the end of that dungeon. The player is not often given many clues to find him, but he is always alluded to in a few bookshelves throughout the game. When defeated, Ragu usually bestows upon the player the iconic Sheriff Star accessory, which not only proves the player's valor, but also tends to make the remainder of the game quite easy when equipped due to its effects. This trend was broken in Wild Arms 5, in which when defeated, Ragu drops a badge called "The Omega".
As a Sony franchise, all Wild Arms video games appear exclusively on PlayStation video game consoles. Each individual title is set in the world of Filgaia and contain several consistencies that have become series mainstays, including similar races, monsters, technologies, and plot points. However, only two of the titles directly allude to any chronology, as each game bears a Filgaia unrecognizable from each prior title, so it can be assumed that something has once more devastated it between each entry in the series. Though variations and stylistic differences persist in the overall presentation of each game, all titles can be considered "Weird Westerns", combining attributes from traditional fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk genres.
- Wild Arms established many of the recurring themes seen in later installments, including western overtones, the desert world of Filgaia, and gun-like machinery called "ARMs" that would become the series namesake. It introduced the "tool" system, in which special items such as bombs or grappling hooks can be used out of combat to cross otherwise impassable terrain and destroy objects. Originally released in Japan for the PlayStation in 1996, the game was later translated published in North America and the PAL region over the next two years by Sony Computer Entertainment. Wild Arms features two-dimensional characters and environments for normal gameplay, while battle sequences are instead rendered in full 3D. The game follows the adventures of a band of "Dream Chasers", Rudy, Jack, and Cecilia, as they make their way across the desert-like world of Filgaia. Contacted by the Avatars of the forces of nature that protect the world, the heroes are chosen to be mankind's champions in the face of a demon invasion. New gameplay additions from Wild Arms 3 include the Migrant System for avoiding battles, and the Crossfire Sequence added to combat.
- Wild Arms 2, the sequel to the first Wild Arms, was the second and final title for the original PlayStation. While keeping many of the themes from the previous title, Wild Arms 2 introduced additional science fiction elements, including more abundant high technology and cybernetics, with additional fantasy and steampunk themes. A total of six characters can be recruited, with the player able to switch between any of them at any time. While characters remained in 2D, environments such as dungeons and towns were now rendered in isometric 3D. Wild Arms 2 involves a group of international peace-keepers known as "Operation ARMS" that are assigned by a wealthy benefactor to protect the world from the terrorist organization Odessa. The player assumes control of each member of ARMS as they make their way through the game, and eventually confront an ancient evil that once threatened to destroy all of Filgaia.
- Wild Arms Alter Code: F was released for the PlayStation 2 as an enhanced remake of the original Wild Arms, it featured an expanded script, additional story sequences, and a re-recorded soundtrack by Naruke. While all the previous locations from the initial version return, they are now presented in full 3D with new layouts and puzzles.
- Wild Arms 3 is the first Wild Arms game for the PlayStation 2 console and the first title to be presented entirely using 3D cel-shaded graphics. Though combat remains turn-based, a minor addition to the battle system, the "crossfire sequence", gives the appearance that characters and enemies are moving around the battlefield between rounds. Going back to the series' Wild West roots, the game takes place on a desert world almost totally devoid of large bodies of water, where roving bands of adventurers and outlaws roam the land in search of vast fortune, either through robberies or treasure hunting. Four strangers united by circumstance, Virginia, Jet, Clive and Gallows are the main characters who must confront a group of mystics trying to revive the world, and a demon who would have it destroyed.
- Wild Arms 4 takes a more action game-like approach to the series, including environments that only allow horizontal movement, and the ability to run, jump, and slide past obstacles. The tool system is absent for the first time, and combat sequences are handled dramatically different from previous games. Utilizing the "Hex System", battlefields are now made up of seven equally-sized hexagons that characters may move between each combat round, allowing the player to attack enemies or aid allies stationed in adjacent hexes. The story follows the journey of Jude, a young boy from an isolated village who is the unwilling owner of a secretly-developed ARM weapon and now on the run from the government. He is joined by his companions Yulie, Arnaud, and Raquel as they embark on a quest to re-unite Jude with his mother, as well as defeat a number of superhuman government agents with a hidden plot involving the safety of the world.
- Wild Arms 5, the final title for the PlayStation 2, makes further use of Wild Arms 4's HEX combat system with minor adjustments, including a combat party of no more than three characters. Released in Japan in December 2006, the game was released in North America by XSEED Games in August 2007. A PAL-region version was published by 505 Games in limited quantities only available in France, Italy and the UK. The story concerns Dean Stark, a 16-year-old adventurer from a village specializing in collecting lost technology, and his friend Rebecca who discover a mysterious amnesiac young woman named Avril outside town. The duo agrees to help Avril in her quest to recover her memory, while Dean commits himself to learning how to use ARMs so he may one day become a successful "Golem Hunter", a finder of ancient robotic giants.
- Wild Arms XF is the series' first handheld title, developed for the PlayStation Portable. Unlike the other titles, it is a tactical role-playing game. The story centers around Clarissa Arwin, the leader of the Chevalet Blanc knights, who is swept up into a political war when she travels to the Kingdom of Elesius to retrieve her mother's sword.
Wild Arms Mobile is a series of flash-based mobile phone games distributed by Yahoo! Keitai, I-Mode, and EZWeb for the NTT DoCoMo cellphone brand in Japan. First developed in 2006, the download-to-play service includes two Wild Arms-themed minigames: a Tetris-style puzzle game, and Wild Arms Kōya no Nichō Kenjū, a shooting game featuring characters and locations from Wild Arms 3. Additional downloadable features include backgrounds, calendar skins, music, and visual styles based on several Wild Arms games. A routine news feed can also be accessed with information from Sony Computer Entertainment.
First appearing in the Japanese Magazine Z in 2001, Wild Arms Hana Nusubito, or Wild ARMs: Flower Thieves, is a 187-page manga commissioned by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan published by Kodansha. The manga features artwork by Wakako Ōba and contains plot elements from the first two Wild Arms titles, though it is set in its own unique world. Flower Thieves takes place thousands of years after a war between humans and demons destroyed much of the life on the planet, turning the world into a scorched wasteland. Set in a dystopian future, the manga features a large group of humans on their last legs, living in the overcrowded city of Upper Hose where flowers and other flora are rare and valuable. When a plant-eating monster known as a "Flower Thief" attacks a mysterious girl named Jechika, a young boy, Maxi, must use a forbidden ARM weapon to save her, and is subsequently expelled from the city for using illegal technology. Traveling into the wilderness with Jechika and a florist named Gi, Maxi sets off on a quest to restore the balance of nature throughout the world and make the earth habitable again.
Beginning with Wild Arms 2 in 1999, official adaptations of each Wild Arms game were produced by such manga companies as DNA Media, Enix, Bros. Comics, GanGan Wing, and 4Kings for release exclusively in Japan. Each work follows the plot of each game it is based on, with minor interpretations to the original script and characters.
Wild Arms: Twilight Venom is a 22-episode anime series originally broadcast on Japan's WOWOW network from October 1999 to March 2000 produced by Studio Bee Train. Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki and Kōichi Mashimo, the series follows the adventures of two treasure hunters - Loretta, an aspiring sorceress and Mirabelle, a Crimson Noble - who stumble upon the body of Sheyenne Rainstorm, a warrior from the past reborn as a 10-year-old boy. Able to use the archaic yet powerful ARM devices found with him, Sheyenne and the others team up with gung-ho scientist Dr. Aronnax to discover the secret of his past. The series features music by Kow Otani and Sho Wada, as well as themes from the first two Wild Arms games.
In addition to commercial soundtracks for each individual game and the anime, two sets of arranged albums have been released featuring music from multiple games in the Wild Arms series. The compilation album Alone the World: Wild Arms Vocal Collection, released in July 2002, features all vocal tracks from the first three Wild Arms titles, as well as sung versions of previously instrumental songs provided by Kaori Asoh.
In celebration of the Wild Arms series 10th anniversary, Media.Vision and King Records produced two separate albums under the Wild Arms: Music the Best label which feature music from the first four Wild Arms games as well as the Twilight Venom anime. The first album, Feeling Wind, released August 2006, contains piano interpretations of various songs performed by Haruki Mino and Fumito Hirata and arranged by Yasuo Sako, and came packaged with a special edition songbook entitled Piece of Tears featuring linear notes for each track as well as interviews with long-time series composer Michiko Naruke. The second album, Rocking Heart, released the following October, is a rock and jazz-inspired remix album featuring arrangements by Nittoku Inoue, Nobuhiko Kashiwara, Nao Tokisawa, Atsushi Tomita, Transquillo, and Ryo Yonemitsu.
|Wild Arms||(PS1) 79%
|Wild Arms 2||(PS1) 68%||-|
|Wild Arms Alter Code: F||(PS2) 73%||(PS2) 73|
|Wild Arms 3||(PS2) 78%||(PS2) 78|
|Wild Arms 4||(PS2) 73%||(PS2) 69|
|Wild Arms 5||(PS2) 73%||(PS2) 71|
|Wild Arms XF||(PSP) 69%||(PSP) 64|
|Wild Arms: Million Memories||-||-|
While some critics praise Wild Arms for its unique approach to storytelling, others denounce that it is at best a "filler" series meant to fill gaps between releases of other, more prominent titles. Each Wild Arms game has sold modestly in North America and Europe, with no titles selling above the requisite amount to qualify for a "PlayStation Greatest Hits" or "Sony Platinum Range" distinction. Sales in Japan have been significantly better, with the first five titles obtaining the equivalent "PlayStation the Best" or "PlayStation 2 the Best" distinction as well as reprints several months or years after their original release. With the exception of Wild Arms 2 and Alter Code: F, each game has been released in the three major NTSC and PAL regions.
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- Townsperson: I know about you. You possess the [ARM]. The forbidden power!Media.Vision (April 30, 1997). Wild Arms. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Virginia: My father disappeared into the wasteland, but one thing he taught me was the ability to handle ARMs. If there's anybody out there--out there in the vast wasteland needing my help, I want to have wings so that I can fly right to them. Media.Vision (October 15, 2002). Wild Arms 3. PlayStation 2. Sony Computer Entertainment.
- Jude: "That guy...He referred to my ARM as the 'power that sparked and fueled a war'... Weapons such as ARMs are responsible for what happened to places like Ciel and that other town, aren't they...? Maybe my power really can't protect anything..." / Raquel: "Remember when I told you that there are both good and bad Drifters? And that I wanted to be a good Drifter?" / Jude: "Yeah..." / Raquel: "Well, it's the same for you. You just need to focus on using your power for good, that's all."Media.Vision (January 10, 2006). Wild Arms 4. PlayStation 2. XSeed Games.
- Guardian Gurdijeff: Warriors! Do you still seek our power?! / Cecilia: We can't possibly do this ourselves... / Jack: I want the power... I want to defeat them... / Gurdijeff: Because you are weak, you seek power... We shall give you the power that you seek, but time is running out. (Wild Arms)
- Irving: That's right. Contact the mystical Guardians who protect the world, and they may also aid us in battle. We have finally discovered the key to contacting them. Media.Vision / Contrail (April 30, 2000). Wild Arms 2. PlayStation. Sony Computer Entertainment.
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- Official website (in Japanese)