Wild ARMs 3
Jo Padilla

I play videogames as if they were empathy generators. Upon finishing Earthbound, I turned to my roommate's cat, heart beating to an indescribable rhythm. I sniffled a few times and said out loud, "I should be nicer to you." Now that I am a few days removed from putting around 65 hours into Wild ARMs 3 and seeing those credits roll, I must say that, unfortunately, my face is dry, my heartbeats are stable, and since I no longer live with that roommate, Oliver the cat wasn't around but if he were, I would have nothing to say to him.

I wouldn't say Wild ARMs 3 is a bad game, but I would say it is unremarkable in many aspects. The characters, while initially showing promise, failed in their attempts to elicit an emotional response from me. Maybe it was due to their writing/localization, maybe it was due to my distaste for the visual design but either way, I was unmoved. The characters I might have felt something for were either woefully underdeveloped (no Janus backstory?) or ended up falling flat in their roles (looking at Maya, who I would say is a worse foil than Bakura for y'all Yu-Gi-Oh! fans). And the system of relying on NPC rumors to even have the ability to find the next town/dungeon was befitting of this Wild West but horribly tedious.

(Hoo boy, this is a lot more negative than the podcast.)

If I were the "Gameplay is king" type, I would hold this game in higher esteem, because the combat system can be thrilling. The use of FP, summons, and specific character roles is a system that only draws you in further as the game goes on... but that appeal ends when you get the "Finest Arts" ability, which will allow Clive to obliterate anything when he's out of ammo and at full FP. I could have avoided using this ability but smoke 'em if you got 'em, as many Western movie stars who eventually died of obstructive lung diseases probably said.

Overall, could I recommend Wild ARMs 3? On the podcast, I gave the affirmative with an asterisk, but now that I'm once again playing games that bring me joy, I'll have to say pass. I walk away not finding a cause for self-reflection, or some new truth about the world around me. That may be asking too much from Wild ARMs 3, but who said I was fun?

*Sigh* At least I got to fly around in a cyborg dragon.

Wild ARMs 3 Screenshot
Michael Sollosi

Wild ARMs 3 overwhelmed me. Not in its visuals or audio, which are appealing, but at least consistent with a 2002 PS2 game. Not in its gameplay, which has interesting wrinkles but is essentially a turn-based JRPG. Wild ARMs blinded me with sheer content.

Wild ARMs 3 is a 60-hour game with over 30 dungeons. A 100-floor optional dungeon, 20 hidden puzzle dungeons, 15 secret spires that summon UFOs, and a myriad of additional sidequests. Players collect EX File items for completing many of these (a system of rewards tokens that predates Xbox achivements or PlayStation trophies) and I obtained a whopping zero. Wild ARMs 3 is too much.

But this is not me complaining about a wealth of content, just me admiring what Wild ARMs 3 has to offer and admitting that I was unable to complete it. Wild ARMs has a ton of options for tinkering and customization, a few clever tricks around RPG basics like random battles and dungeon navigation, and a story with some interesting arcs and likable characters. And I've somehow gone three full paragraphs without mentioning the signature Wild ARMs setting - a post-apocalyptic world resembling the American Old West, except full of ancient ruins, lost technology, and anime cowboys. It's a total delight. Welcome to the wild, wild west.

Retro Encounter Episode List

Final Thoughts Archive
Episodes 241 & 242: Yakuza 0 Episodes 237 & 238: Mother 3 Episodes 232 & 233: Soul Blazer Episodes 229 & 230: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Episodes 225 & 226: NieR: Automata Episodes 221 & 223: Suikoden V Episodes 216 & 217: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Episodes 213 & 214: Vagrant Story Episodes 209 & 211: Grandia Episodes 205 & 206: Wild ARMs 3 Episodes 199 & 201: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel Episodes 196 & 198: Trials of Mana Episodes 187 & 189: Chrono Cross Episodes 183 & 184: Ys: The Oath in Felghana Episodes 179 & 181: Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals Episodes 176 & 177: Tales of Vesperia Episodes 170 & 172: Kingdom Hearts Episodes 165 & 166: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors Episodes 161 & 162: Golden Sun Episodes 158 & 159: Mega Man Legends 2 Episodes 156 & 157: Mega Man Legends Episodes 153 & 155: Suikoden II Episodes 141 & 151: Shadow Hearts Episodes 145 & 146: Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Episodes 143 & 144: Lunar: The Silver Star Episodes 140 & 142: Mass Effect Episodes 135 & 137: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Episodes 126 & 128: Planescape: Torment Episodes 122 & 124: Valkyrie Profile Episodes 114 & 116: Breath of Fire IV Episodes 104 & 106: Digital Devil Saga Episodes 101 & 102: Final Fantasy XII Episodes 95 & 97: Grim Fandango Episodes 90 & 92: EarthBound Episodes 86 & 88: Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Episodes 82 & 83: Darksiders Episodes 79 & 81: Tales of the Abyss Episodes 73 & 75: Chrono Trigger Episodes 70 & 71: Shadow Hearts: Covenant Episode 21: Diablo III Episode 20: Child of Light Episode 19: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Episode 18: Valkyria Chronicles Episode 17: South Park: The Stick of Truth Episode 16: Xenogears Episode 15: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Episode 14: The World Ends With You Episode 13: NieR Episode 9: Pokémon Episode 8: Parasite Eve Episode 7: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Episode 6: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Episode 5: Terranigma Episode 4: The Last Story Episode 3: Final Fantasy Tactics Episode 2: Final Fantasy X Episode 1: The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky