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Hardly what legends are made of
When the first Wild ARMs game was released back in 1996, many were surprised over how original the game was compared to other RPGs at that time. While the game was pretty average overall, it combined the regular dungeon-crawling with original puzzles, interesting mini-games and a different way of storytelling. Almost 4 years later, its sequel hit the shelves. While I didn't expect this game to offer anything outstanding, I still have to admit that I didn't expect it to be this bad. I'll say this right away; Wild ARMs: 2nd Ignition is not worth anything.
Just like in the first game, the player starts out by going through three small scenarios which introduces all three main characters. After these three scenarios are over, the party will take form, and your true adventure will start. The game mainly focuses on the character called Ashley, a young soldier searching for a deeper meaning in life. After he meets up with the other two characters in the game, they will all join a special force called ARMs. While only these three are members of ARMs in the beginning, more characters will join later in the game. ARMs' biggest enemy is a terror organization called Odessa. While this organisation promises to bring happiness into the world of Filgaia, it all comes down to destroying it in the end. Perhaps if the plot was to involve something more than simple good vs. evil and tedious speeches about how to be a true hero, it might have been interesting.
The battle system of Wild ARMs 2 is very similar to its predecessor. Battles are turn-based, and your party consists of up to 3 characters. Player can attack, defend, use items and special abilities. Certain characters can use ARMs (a special type of weapon), while others cast spells. In each town, each character can not only upgrade their ARMs, spells or equipment, but also learn new special abilities through the use of Skill Points (earned when a character levels up). Most of the special abilities are passive, such as protection against status effects, higher physical attack etc. Aside from this, there is not much to mention about the battle system in this game. Battles are easy and tiring, and the AI of your opponents is far from impressive.
As far as the interface goes, everything is also very basic. Menus are easy to navigate, and the ability to rotate the camera makes it easier to see the solutions to certain puzzles. The only real complaint I have here, is about running. To run, the player must press and hold the X button. To change direction, quickly release the X button, change direction, and press the X button again to charge away at that direction. Seems rather unnecessary, doesn't it?
Luckily, nothing in the system of Wild ARMs 2 is hard to understand. Considering the disgustingly ugly font the game uses, I'm glad that everything was so simple to understand. There were many times where I sat reading the same sentence over and over, wondering what it really meant. Also, some of the localization choices were terrible. The characters' speeches weren't totally without empathy or feeling, but some of the things they said were very weird and confusing.
What might be the strongest point about this game is its soundtrack. Much like the first game, this soundtrack features lots of western-influenced themes, very fitting into the game's setting. Most of the regular battle themes are tiring though and the boss battle themes are just annoying. Overall, the soundtrack is the only memorable thing in this game. I wouldn't hesitate to trade my copy of the game for the soundtrack if that opportunity would ever show up. Since the rest of the game is close to pure crap, the effort Michiko Naruke made when creating this soundtrack felt like such a waste. Another disappointing thing about this game is its visuals. This game was released in 2000, the same year as Vagrant Story, Valkyrie Profile and a few other beautiful PSX games. Wild ARMs 2 looks like it was released in 1996. Games that were released way before WA2 looked a lot better. The character models are extremely blocky; the surrounding designs for dungeons and towns are dull. The spell effects in battle were something of the most pathetic I've seen. Overall, I cannot understand how they could release it when it still looked like this.
Fortunately for those who want to finish the game despite how crappy it is, Wild ARMs 2 offers no challenge whatsoever. Through the entire first disc, the only thing needed is to repeatedly press the X button to win each battle. On the second disc, it gets quite a bit tougher, but nothing serious. Most players won't be having any trouble at any time throughout this game. There are, however, a whole bunch of optional bosses scattered throughout the world of Filgaia for those who are desperately looking for a challenge. As for replay value, this game has nothing to offer. There are a whole bunch of sidequests though, but I don't see a reason for anyone to replay the game from the beginning. Simply running through Wild ARMs 2 without doing any sidequests or anything shouldn't take more than 30 hours. Although, if you for some reason actually enjoy playing this game, and want to do all the extra stuff, you'll probably end up somewhere around 50 hours (or more) when you're done with it.
Wild ARMs 2 really didn't give us players anything new. It isn't original in any way at all. Many of the puzzles from the first game were used again in WA2, although they made a little bit more sense this time. The battle system is very similar, and the overall plot is just as mediocre and boring as it was in the first game. In the end, Wild ARMs 2 will give you nothing but horrible memories. Aside from the soundtrack, there is nothing in this package that is worth paying for. Simply put, stay far away from this terrible failure of a game.
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