E3: Wild ARMs Alter Code: F Interview
05.21.04 - 11:13 AM

Due to an error during our little downtime here, an earlier version of this story was posted a few days ago. What's below is the final, and much more complete version, so even if you read the original, you may want to read the whole article again. We apologize for the inconvenience and delay in getting the final draft posted.

During E3, RPGFan had the opportunity to talk with Agetec about their newest localization project, Media Vision & SCEJ's Wild ARMs Alter Code: F. On hand for majority of the discussion was Media Vision president Takashi Fukushima, as well as series producer Kentaro Motomura of SCE, along with their translator Yuri Kato. What follows is what we learned not only about the game itself, but some insight on how the game came to be, as well as a few other comments - including a bit on Wild ARMs Another Code: F.

First off, Motomura doesn't actually consider Alter Code: F a "remake," due to the sheer amount of things in the game that were either remade from scratch, or completely overhauled compared to the PSOne original. Along with the entire script and scenarios being rewritten (though still based on the same plot), the game also has as many new gameplay additions, mini-games and sidequests as they could find the time and room to add. Obviously, the graphics have been redone entirely, taking the visuals from sprite-based 2D, to a fully-polygonal 3D style. While the battles were 3D in the original, the field and battle characters now share the same style and look, instead of two vastly different ones. The maps and layouts of the dungeons have been changed, some of which now require the party to split up to navigate them - which may not be new to the genre, but it's new to the series. The music has also been redone by original composer Michiko Naruke, who is considered an integral part of the series.

It's been reported that the game will have additional playable characters compared to the original. Along with the main cast of Rudy, Jack and Cecilia, Jane, Emma and Magdalene are now fully-playable characters as opposed to NPCs. Two other characters will also be playable, though only for selected portions of the game. Also of note is that some of the tools each character uses have changed. While fan favorite Hanpan is still intact, some of the other characters will have a different assortment of tools. The newly-playable characters will of course have their own sets of tools and abilities as well. Emma, for example, will be able to 'download' abilities of some enemies to use for herself.

Character equipment will be handled differently now as well. Equipment will no longer be purchased, or presumably, found. Rather, new weapons will be attained by upgrading the existing ones through an unspecified method. The ARMs upgrade process will differ from the upgrades for standard weapons, however. The magic system has been updated, giving each character a special rune, allowing them to not only cast certain spells, but also combine them with others to create new effects. In addition to this, some form of physical combo attacks are present as well.

Lastly, after finishing the game, players will be able to go back and uncover further secrets and treasures. Alter Code: F will also have the option to start a new game - apparently called an 'EX File' - while carrying over stats and items from another save.

All of the major changes were made with the intent of providing players with an all-new experience, instead of the same game they already know with a simple facelift. With most remakes, one already knows the game by heart, what will happen and how to get through it. With a re-written story, new tools and equipment as well as new puzzles (or old puzzles with new solutions) and dungeons, it's more than what people might expect from a simple "remake" - So don't look at Alter Code: F as just that.

While most of the interview time was devoted to Alter Code: F, we had a chance to ask about some other things as well.

When asked whether or not Media Vision and Sony were pleased with the sales of the series, it was revealed that combined sales of the Wild ARMs series in the US and Europe actually exceed Japan's sales figures. So, they're obviously pleased in that regard. Despite this, SCEA still passed up the game for localization, due to other titles being of higher priority, and the length of time it would take to localize an 80-hour title. Luckily for the high number of fans here, Agetec stepped in.

With a good deal of RPGs set in medieval fantasy worlds, some in modern-day and a handful with a futuristic setting, the wild west setting in the Wild ARMs series is decidedly different from the norm. Interestingly, when asked why they used the unique setting, that was exactly the reason in itself - to make something unique, something different.

Asked about the success of the Wild ARMs anime and a potential continuation, Motomura and Fukushima both seemed quite satisfied with how the series turned out and sold. While they were unsure if more releases will be coming, it's something they're interested in.

While nothing is announced yet, Media Vision is interested in PSP development, so Sony's handheld may be home to a Wild ARMs title one day.

We couldn't let the interview end without asking about that other Wild ARMs title so far shrouded in secrecy, Another Code: F. While it's been rumored that the game's story will somehow be connected to that of Alter Code: F, nothing could be confirmed. In fact, about the only thing they could tell us right now is that it will be an all-new game, and may make use of Alter Code: F's save data... though again, no specifics on how or why.

RPGFan would like to thank the staff of Agetec for their time, as well as Takashi Fukushima, Kentaro Motomura and especially Yuki for translating our sometimes strangely-worded questions. The same goes for anyone still reading this torturously-long update. Look for Wild ARMs Alter Code: F hopefully, this fall. Look for a media update soon.

Mike Salbato