It's been a few weeks since I beat Wild ARMs 4 so I should have done it earlier, especially now that WA3 is more in my head.

Wild ARMs 4, at least from what little I have played of Wild ARMs 3, shares the same type of Wild ARMs humor/cheesiness/quirkiness but otherwise feels significantly different. The battle system uses a HEX system. There are 7 spots that the player or the enemy can occupy, with 3 of them having one of 4 elemental properties. Attacks damage everyone in the HEX, whether your party members or enemies. Buffs affect the HEX and not individual people. Overall the system is fine, except it is very unbalanced. The placement on the HEX grid and people's initial turn order is randomized, so sometimes you can have very bad luck and get wiped before you could do anything. Thankfully, the game allows you to retry battles with different randomized conditions with no penalty. Otherwise, one character is incredibly prone to getting killed by physical attacks and one character is weak to magic but otherwise does all the damage dealing and tends to get all or most of the EXP bonuses due to killing enemies. That character ended up being 4 levels above the others at the end of my game, and I even spent some conscious effort tailoring who would deliver killing blows.

The plot takes a few hours to start up and feels similar to Wild ARMs 5 for the first part. The whole exploring the world and learning about its realities is quite similar (Wild ARMs 3 has some of this too but seems to have more of a save the world thing going earlier on), but it's combined with running away in order to protect one of the characters from capture. While you are running away, you go through some dungeons with some pretty hard to execute the solution of puzzles and some just 3-screen linear areas where the point is to have cutscenes between each screen. It doesn't feel as talky as a Tales game but it definitely has more party dialogue/hour than Wild ARMs 3 or 5.

Anyway, my major problem with the game was how smooth-sailing it was for the most part. Boss battles were more like find the trick, exploit it, and win easily. Bosses as characters were not very deep either. Any "plot twist" seemed really obvious for the most part. A lot of characters just seem so stupid. Thankfully the main party themselves are an enjoyable bunch. The major thing the game does right is not overstay its welcome. It is rather unfortunate the ability to travel all over the world is given right at the end, but the game is rather fast-paced and took me 30 hours.

So once again it's hard for me to necessarily recommend this game, but it's certainly one worth trying if you already have access to it. Otherwise, I think Wild ARMs 5 is the better of the HEX-battle system games to play.
Since my PS2 was being super finicky yesterday, the only games I managed to load were Wild ARMs 3 and Wild ARMs 4. I went with the latter since I want to join in the Wild ARMs 3 marathon next month. Plus it's the most divisive of the Wild ARMs games, at least from an outsider's perspective.

So far controls feel quite like Wild ARMs 5. We'll see how the battle system really shakes up with what appears to be 4 instead of 3 people on the battle field. The initial HPs in the 2000 range is still weird to me, but maybe it's a Wild ARMs staple? The platforming required so far wasn't too bad but I'm sure there will be a part that will annoy me. Hopefully I will be able to turn off encounters on those screens and just focus on jumping.

As for the story... It seems okay? Sheltered kid going on an adventure, though I do like the fact that the main character admits that he is scared, even when he charges into things. Everyone keeps praising and telling him to cherish his innocence, so I'm not sure exactly what kind of message the game is trying to send us yet. Also just watched a rather painfully scripted cutscene involving the villains. I guess we were supposed to dislike them but I just found myself thinking they were all pretty lame.

Wild ARMs 5 didn't catch my fancy at first either, so perhaps I'll get into it more later. I hear, though, that this game is significantly shorter so the game better become more interesting sooner rather than later.

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July 2016

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