On Wild Arms 2

One of the first games I finished all the way through was an RPG which wasn't the most popular or even the most well-made. But, for many reasons, it always stuck with me. The underrated but still criticism-warranting (mainly because of its dated graphics and "meh" story angles at times) Wild Arms 2 has always been a game I've come back to time and time again. Over the fifteen years since its release, I've probably played through it at least once a year. As I've always been a sucker for horns and congos, the OP drew me into the story, which revolved around an anti-terrorist unit and a terrorist organization hellbent on resurrecting countless demons.

As the story progresses, the main character of the game, Ashley Winchester, develops dark, demon-like powers, which manifest themselves as "KnightBlazer." I can't really explain much more about KnightBlazer without giving away the true plot. However, I will say this much: nothing is what it seems within the Filgaia-restrained confines of Wild Arms 2. Even the battle between good and evil is presented in a way that somewhat warps the conventions of what it means to be a hero. I mean, for all intents and purposes, our main character is part-demon and some of the "heroes" early on in the game turn out to be even more evil than any terrorist organization could ever be.

Part of the reason WA2 holds such a chunk of my gamer heart is because, like Digimon, it was the cooler series. It wasn't as overly convoluted as Xenogears, it wasn't completely flawlessly executed like Final Fantasy. It felts more like a labor a love with the game versus some bigger titles. Additionally, the steampunk-meets-Western storylines of the series, specifiaclly WA2, they drug me into the series where I stay today. Now, is Wild Arms 2 without its flaws? 

Hell, no. 

Some of the characters become one-dimensional as the story wears on (Lilka, for instance). There's that odd bit about the translators making Caina a girl because you can kill and say "damn," but gay is a-not-okay in Rated E for Everyone JRPGs. Additionally, Tim goes from GAWD to useless in a matter of hours. It's like "o hai guyz I cans summon Guardians," then Ashley shows up and goes all Over KnightBlazer and murderizes everything in his path in the name of truth, justice, and because kicking ass as a mecha-tinged devil-monster feels good. Other characters suffer similar fates, they they end up becoming useless by the end of the game.

But, overall, WA2 is worth the playthrough and its nostalgia alone should make you feel all warmy and fuzzy.

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