Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Mar 182016

Wild-Arms-3Wild Arms 3 is one of my all-time favorite JRPGs.

I’ve referenced it a few times, in relation to mad scientists and why turn-based combat is viable in modern games, but I never actually reviewed it. And that’s a shame, because it’s fantastic.

The Wild Arms series stands out among other JRPGs because it has a Wild West setting, which is especially strong in Wild Arms 3.

You play as a group of Drifters, adventurers who dare to venture into the barren desert, as they fight to save the world from an unknown threat. Saving the world is a pretty basic game plot, but Wild Arms 3 is one of the most unique JRPGs I’ve played.

TV Tropes jokes that “Wild ARMs 3 gives one the impression that its creators were told to make a JRPG, but had never played a JRPG before.”

While the combat system is a traditional turn-based system, the participants run around in between their turns, which gives the illusion of action. Instead of an MP system, you build a Force gauge as you battle, which enables you to use spells and special attacks. You upgrade your weapons rather than buy them, and since it’s a desert and healing items are fruit, you can’t buy them… though you can eventually grow them.

Wild Arms 3 also has one of the best ways to handle random encounters I’ve seen. You have an encounter (ECN) gauge. When you’re about to enter a battle, you have the option to expend ECN points to skip it. Weak encounters can be skipped at no cost, although this is dependent on your Migrant Level. As you explore, you’ll find items that increase your Migrant Level, which makes it easier to skip random encounters.

It’s a cool system that removes the annoyance of random encounters without getting rid of them. Even Wild Arms 3’s world map is unique, as you must use a radar-like system to find new locations… and only if you’ve already learned about it.

Wild-Arms-3-heroesThe protagonists also subvert normal tropes.

The main character is Virginia. Female party members are often mages, but while Virginia is a good healer, she’s also well-suited for physical combat.

Meanwhile, the boisterous muscular man, Gallows? He’s your primary mage.

Although Jet looks like he should one-up everyone at physical combat with his machine gun, he’s a balanced character.

So, who’s the strongest physical attacker? It’s Clive, the nerdy book-lover.

Through their personalities and character development, these four heroes mess with standard tropes even more. Their character development is excellent, by the way.

The story is also fantastic, if convoluted. Wild Arms 3 has incredibly brilliant and subtle foreshadowing… possibly too subtle for its own good, as it may make foreshadowed twists feel as though they come out of nowhere.

Click for Wild Arms 3 spoiler
The greatest example is the main villain, who actually appears multiple times through the entire game and whose powers are continually hinted at.

It also has dynamic intros.

See the middle section where Virginia faces off against the bandit? That section changes to reflect your current progress in the game. It’s a little thing, but I love it!

What more can I say about this game’s awesomeness? Your airship is a dragon. You play through a prologue for each party member to see how they wind up in the same place. There are optional puzzles scattered across the world, and a 100-floor bonus dungeon. You can fight on horseback. It has this amazing villain theme!

Wild Arms 3 is a terrific JRPG with a great story, especially if you want an atypical setting and a lack of clichés. While it’s currently available only for the PS2, it was trademarked for the PS4… and I hope it reaches the PS4, because all JRPG fans should play this great game.

Buy Wild Arms 3 from Amazon

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  13 Responses to “Wild Arms 3: One of my All-Time Favorite JRPGs”

  1. You should’ve dedicated a paragraph to the awesome soundtrack.

  2. I never seen anymore of these games after the PS3 came out? 🙁

  3. Great review! I just started playing it again for my second playthrough, 15 years after my first run. This game aged like fine wine. The gameplay is fun and engaging, while the story is interesting and provides the much-needed motivation for the Drifters. Spoiler: As a fan of the original Wild Arms, I jumped up and down with excitement when I realized Zeikfried was one of the primary villains. My only beef with this game is that the attachment gears breaking if you remove them from the runes, which wasn’t just plain frustrating. This is a great RPG that deserves more love.

    • Ugh. Forgive the obvious errors in my post! Dumb iPhone!

    • Always good to meet another Wild Arms fan! I still need to play the others, since so far I’ve only played the original and 3. I loved how Wild Arms 3 had a sequence of villains. (And of course, all the foreshadowing and hints.) I’m glad it’s one of the games brought to the PS4, so more people can try it now.

      I wonder what’s going to happen with that mobile Wild Arms game they announced… :/

      • I’ve only played 1-3 myself. I haven’t played 2 since its release, but I remember having a lot of fun with it. The cast of characters is large and interesting, including an optional secret character. Each boss has an intro, which made the fights seem that much bigger. I’m not sure how well the art style has aged, but it’s definitely worth checking out IMO.

        Haven’t heard about the mobile game, but I loathe playing games on my cell. It’s a bummer to see how turn-based RPGs have become such a small, niche genre. I’ll withhold judgment though. Here’s hoping it is a quality title!

        • I’ve heard very good things about 2. I bought it on PSN a while ago, so eventually I’ll play it.

          Yeah, it’s a disappointing trend. 🙁 The mobile game was announced as having an original story but featuring characters from across the series, so that sounds hit-or-miss depending on how they handle it.

  4. This is one of my favorite games, haven´t found many wild arms fans out there… happy to read your review

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