One of the most common criticisms levelled at the JRPG genre — usually by those who don’t play them much — is that they are bland, formulaic and predictable.
And while in some cases developers do fall back on the same conventions we’ve been using for over twenty years now — often with good reason: they work! — there are just as many titles out there that buck the trend and do something completely original.
Even the Final Fantasy series, regarded by many as the poster child of Japanese gaming’s stagnation, has reinvented itself with every single installment over its entire lifetime, as we discussed a while ago.
This week I wanted to talk a bit about a game from the PS1 era that I remember enormously fondly. It subsequently spawned a whole series of successors — none of which I’ve played at the time of writing, regrettably — but it was striking from the get-go for me, largely because it refused to follow the trends of the time and instead provided its players with a highly distinctive experience.
That game was Wild Arms from Media.Vision and Contrail.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.