Review by Lispstream

"Wild ARMs 2 has it's pros and cons"

After the first Wild ARMs came out in the US in 1997 (approximately 3-4 months before the release of Final Fantasy VII), the Media Vision / Contrail team has whipped up a 'sequel' to the first one. How does this game fare against others, and is it better than the first?

Graphics (7 / 10): While it is not Final Fantasy VIII grade graphics, they do the job. The semi-pixellated (especially when zoomed in) graphics will remind you of Xenogears. It's sort of a cross between Xenogears and Breath of Fire III, in where 2D sprites meets 3D background setting. The characters look very... ugly. The main character, Ashley, looks sort of like the main character from the first Wild ARMs, Rudy, except that he's got bigger boots, gloves and wears a cowboy-ish bandanna, and matching shirt. But jeans? Take Brad, who was in the army. He wears a shirt that covers around only half of his top. Would an army wear something like that? I don't know much about army gear, but I do think it's kind of... wierd.

Anime Sequences (8 / 10): The Anime Sequences in this game were kind of well-made, but they lacked depth. They had good animation, but it wasn't really clear on what it was on. It had brief shots of characters, but all in all, the first few times you see it, you leave yourself wondering ''Who the heck were they?'' And as you play along you begin to discover these characters. The Anime Sequences play when you load up a game, therefore preventing you from starting up a new game if you ever wanted to see them again. There were different anime sequences for both discs, and there was a different anime sequence when you chose to quit the game after saving. All in all, it was good, but not detailed.

Animation (4 / 10): A part where Wild ARMs 2 failed miserably. The animations and battle graphics for the characters weren't flash or anything. The 'Fetus-inspired' characters of the first game, as the back of the cover had put it, were replaced by more 'ordinarily-proportioned' heroes. But these 'ordinarily-proportioned' heroes looked terrible... They were extremely blocky for a game this recent.

The battle animations wasn't so good either. Most of the ARM attacks were just potshots, grenades and explosions. What happened to the unique ARMs in the first game, like the Phaser? There weren't a lot of battle animations - most of them monster attacks were just a unique name, a monster cry, approach, hit, explosion, retreat, and that's it. Oh, and varying damage.

Audio (9 / 10): This game had sound tracks that were catchy, like the battle music (at least, for me...), but some tracks were just overplayed... like the dungeon themes. Not to mention that they're bad, just annoying when you spend a lot of time on hard puzzles and hearing again the same old annoying tune after a battle or so, and when frustration catches up.

Sound Effects (4 / 10): another one of the points where Wild ARMs 2 fell flat. The sound effects weren't too bright - the explosions weren't all flash or anything, and they didn't sound too good either. The ARM attacks didn't have any bang in them, unlike the first game (remember Rudy's Hand Cannon? How the bullet slowly fires out of the gun, and there was a rather clear 'KABOOM' as it fired out?).

Story (5 / 10): Well, the story is the generic stereotype; save the world from big bad demon king. That was the main objective you had to do, but there were a lot of plot twists along the way. All in all, it talked about Power and Heroes near the end, and how Power isn't good or bad. I THINK I've heard that in one game before...

Character Development (8 / 10): Well, there were '8' characters in the game, with 6 mainly playable ones. There was a cowboy-type guy, a war hero, a bounty hunter, a native country boy, a sorceress, and... a vampire. The game centered on one character, and a little bit of others in it.

Gameplay and Features (9 / 10): This is probably the point where Wild ARMs 2 shone the most. There was a new 'Search' system, which you had to use to discover new towns. You had to gather up information from places you have discovered and use your skills of navigation to wade through the world and press that darned Square button. This is a pain for those people with POOR navigation skills (Like you confuse East and West, etc.). The compass wasn't of any use - I once followed it (I went Northwest when an NPC told me to go Northwest) and ended up on a shore near the ocean!

The puzzles weren't as challenging as, say, the first game, or Lufia 2 (the world's hardest puzzles lie in that game). Most of them required a lot of block pushing and trying out newly-acquired TOOLs. Actually, there were MORE tools in this game, but they weren't used as MUCH as in the first one! Take the Air Ballet for example. It wasn't used as much, as say, the Kick Boots. Some TOOLs are just there for leisure - the Booty Call (sic) or the My Mike (sic).

The battles were TOO easy. The regular run-of-the-mill monster you see just dies in one or two hits, size does not matter. A giant Sand Crab can have as much Hp as a Tiny Gem, and they still die in one hit...

The bosses were first introduced in a Zelda: OoT style, with a silhouette of them and a name, as well as a description (Sealed Weapon Monster, Remaining Poltergeist, Giant Armored Bug, etc.).

I'm sure many players complained of the utter lack of healing items. Until around, oh, say, Disc 2, you could not BUY any Healing items, both recovery _AND_ revival! That meant you had to rely on magic, healing gems, accessories and personal skills to help you recover.

Some of the characters did not have enough skills... like they were rushed or something. A character could have only around 10 skills while one other had around 25!

Challenge (7 / 10): I don't know. Most of the time, you were attacking, healing, attacking, healing, etc. Most of the bosses were average on the scale of toughness. There were a LOT of hidden bosses (seems to be the trend these days) that required a lot of patience, but mostly, luck. For example, one hidden boss could be easily pelted off the face of the earth by a Lv 40+ party (I did - it was Zavorg, the one in the Meteorite Cavern, for those who were wondering, but I won't give out any more as for the fear of spoilers), but some others needed a party TWICE as strong as that, making the scale a little unbalanced. And some characters were just TOO powerful and had no flaw - some just lacked power and weren't useful at all.

Overall (8 / 10): Wild ARMs 2 cut the standards of RPG gaming, but it could've been better. Take another month or two, and it would've been MUCH better.

Pros: More characters, More TOOLs, more ARMs, more variety...

Cons: Lame animation, complete lack of healing items, unbalanced enemies and bosses, generic storyline...

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/07/00, Updated 07/07/00

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