Description
Join Ashley, Brad and Riruka, in an all-new RPG adventure by Sony. In Wild Arms 2, 
your adventure will begin by venturing solo on your initial quest. Soon after, you'll ban 
together with your friends as your travels will take you anywhere from unexplored towns 
to creepy dungeons. 
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Things aren't exactly rosey in the RPG-hub of Dreamcast Land, both in America and Japan, so I've been forced to turn to the 
PlayStation for the time being to satisfy my unquenchable RPG needs (looks like this is going to last until some time next year). 
The latest in the ever-unending series of PlayStation RPGs? The Japanese version of Wild Arms 2nd Ignition. Who am I? Why, 
none-other-than Noop-Doggie-Dog . . . aka Anoop (yes, that's my real name), the RPG/Sega/obscure-Japanese-game/Treasure 
correspondent here at IGN.

The original Wild Arms made an appearance in 1997 as one of the first RPGs on the American PlayStation, preceding the release 
of Final Fantasy VII by a little more than three months. Sporting 2D overhead visuals, a simple battle system, and little in the way 
of frills, the Media Works title didn't do as much as the Square title for selling the whole RPG thing on the American gaming public. 
Still, there were certainly a few niceties, including a memorable soundtrack, one of the finest intros yet seen in a game (I just can't 
stop watching this masterpiece!), some action-RPG style puzzle elements to the dungeon sections, a Western theme (although it 
was occasionally forgotten), and polygonal battle scenes.

Media Works, now apparently operating under the name Contrail, is back at the helm of this new sequel. After an initial play-test 
of the import, it seems quite clear what we're getting in the new title: everything good from the first one, along with a few added 
features to bring the game up to the requirements of most modern-day gamers.

The greatest addition to the game comes in the form of a brand new graphics engine, featuring a fully polygonal world for everything, 
including the towns, overworld map, and dungeons. The characters are sprites, so it would perhaps be best to describe the graphics 
as being similar to Grandia, although the overall graphics for the world in the Gamearts masterpiece are overall cleaner, free of the 
warping and polygon seams present in Wild Arms 2. Wild Arms 2 does have the advantage of a fully lit world, along with greater 
animation on the characters. Also everything seems to move at somewhere around 30 frames per second, and the world is, like in 
Grandia, fully rotate-able through the use of the shoulder buttons.

Other than this significant change to the graphics, Wild Arms 2 seems to be the original with new characters and a new story. Like 
the first game, we're treated to three main playable characters who adventure at times apart and at times together through the land 
of Filgaia. Replacing the Rudy, Jack, and Cecilia are, respectively, Ashley Winchester, Brad Evans, and Riruka Eleniaku. Ashley is 
a soldier in some sort of mercenary force (my crappy Japanese skills prevent me from reading the particular grouping of Kanji that 
classify the group of which he's a member) who can use, throughout the dungeon/puzzle sections, a knife, item radar, and gun. 
Brad (I don't like this name) is a wanderer who can wield a pair of boots which can break through barriers, a bomb, and an ice hammer 
of some sort. Finally, Riruka (who, it must be said, is nothing like Cecilia from the first game), is a young sorceress in training, who 
wields a variety of magic rods. The characters are presented throughout in animation style, minus the big heads of the first game.

You start off your adventure similar in style to the first title, by taking control of each character individually on their sole mini quests. 
Ashley's quest involves your going through a dungeon, using your knife to unlock doors. Riruka's quest involves your using a fire rod 
to solve what's called the Millennium Puzzle, a tricky (and lengthy) set of puzzles apparently brought upon you by your older sister. 
Brad starts off in hiding from a group who seems to be pursuing him. As you go through his mini quest, you'll encounter a tiny canine 
companion (who reminds me an awful lot of Jack's hamster from part 1), and utilize your boots to work your way out of the forest enclosure, 
and into the game's overhead map. All of these mini quests end in a boss fight of some sort, and can be done in any order; you choose 
at the game's outset. Once these quests are done, the game proper begins, and the characters eventually meet up (although, I should 
probably avoid revealing anything further, for fear of breaking that ancient RPG code of not revealing too much about the game's storyline).

The battles throughout all the adventuring are, once again, fully 3D, complete with the same icon-based interface found in the first game 
(the icons are even the same!). The characters now have, in addition to HP meters, an FP meter of some sort, which seems to function 
as a sort of special move meter. The FP meter starts low at the beginning of all battles, and fills up gradually as you strike opponents or 
are yourself the recipient of a blow. When the FP meter reaches a high-enough number, you're given access to an attack option featuring 
special moves, including attacks similar to the ARMs-based moves from part 1. The battle encounters are themselves achieved through 
random encounters, although the game uses icons to warn you a moment beforehand that you're about to be attacked. I personally despise 
random battles, and the problem is compounded by the fact that they occur just a bit too often in Wild Arms 2, especially in the overworld 
map. Still, this is an issue that's been debated to death, so love it or hate it, you're gonna have to live with it if you want to play the game.

Other elements manage to remain similar in nature to part 1. The music is, once again, very catchy, and similar in style to part 1. The 
game's intro isn't near the level of perfection of the first game (then again, what intro is?), but it is itself composed of high quality animation, 
complete with a vocal track (the vocal track and bits of the animation can be heard and seen in the video below). Being as the game is two 
disks, and lacks any voice acting throughout the main game, we can probably expect animation to be strewn about here and there - a 
welcome feature over part 1, which featured animation only at the beginning.

Given that Sony seems to be diligent about bringing just about every role playing game to America (please follow the friggin' example, Sega), 
I have a feeling that we'll be seeing Wild Arms 2nd Ignition some time next year, as the perfect companion to Enix's Dragon Quest VII. Expect 
more details on the game when the U.S. version is announced.

-- Anoop ""Wild Hands"" Gantayat, IGNDC