|Publisher:||SCEJ / Agetec (US)|
Just to set things straight from the start, series producer Kentaro Motomura doesn't actually consider Wild ARMs 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. The music has also been redone by original composer Michiko Naruke, who is considered an integral part of the series.
As Mark states below, the game will have additional playable characters compared to the original. Along with the original cast of Rudy, Jack and Cecilia, Jane, Emma and McDullen are now fully-playable characters as opposed to NPCs. The six characters will all be available for use during battle - though whether this is a "swap"-style system like Square Enix's Final Fantasy X is not known. Two other characters will also be playable - one of which is Zed - 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' the abilities of some enemies to use for herself.
Characters' 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.
Other noteworthy aspects involve the 60-hour-plus title shipping on a dual layer DVD, along with featuring support for Sony's PS2 HDD. The game will give players the option of installing the game on the drive, which will make for shorter load times than reading from the disc. 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 expect Alter Code: F to be such.
Released in 1996, Wild ARMs was one of the first RPGs on the Sony PlayStation. Originally overlooked by gamers in favor of premiere title Final Fantasy VII; and featuring a world comprised of both wild west and science fiction elements, it did earn its own fanbase. Developed by Contrail and published by SCEA; Wild ARMs would spawn two sequels, one on the PlayStation and another on the PlayStation 2. Media Vision, creators of Wild ARMs 3, has elected to take the original game and give it a complete overhaul: Enter Wild ARMs Alter Code: F.
The game will feature the returning cast of Rudy Roughnight, Jack van Burace, and Cecelia Adelhyde, as well as three of their old friends who weren't playable in the original. These notables are the greedy cowgirl "Calamity" Jane Maxwell, her butler and bodyguard McDullen, and the brilliant and spunky scientist Emma. It's unclear how much these three being playable will affect the storyline, but players should certainly expect some big changes. The story of Wild ARMs follows the Quarter Knights, a group of demons who intend to reawaken their creator "Mother". Mother is a being that has destroyed all the worlds it has ever visited, and now the Quarter Knights seem bent on history repeating. It's up to Rudy and his companions to put a halt to their evil intentions and bring the world of Filgaia back from the brink of destruction.
While the original game was largely 2D with 3D battles, the remake will be completely polygonal and feature realistically proportioned characters. This is a huge departure from the series' super-deformed characters; particularly from the original, which featured models with giant heads and tiny bodies. In addition, all the environments are completely three-dimensional, and battles will feature the "crossfire sequence system" used in Wild ARMs 3. This system means that characters will continue to run around the battlefield, sparring with enemies while players input commands.
Dungeon traps are an integral part of the series, and Media Vision has included several new ones. Players are given the ability to run, jump, and lift items to overcome the various obstacles, in addition to sneaking around when a situation calls for subterfuge. Each character also has their own compliment of special tools, such as Rudy's bombs or Jack's swift-footed rodent companion Hanpan.
The remake also includes the encounter cancel system introduced in part 2, which allows a player to avoid random battles. When players near an enemy an exclamation point appears along with a gauge, and at the cost of reducing it players can choose to avoid an enemy. The stronger the enemy the more costly to the gauge, and if it runs out the battle becomes unavoidable. The gauge can be upgraded by collecting special white gems found throughout the game. In addition to the encounter cancel gauge, players are also given a vitality meter. Rather than using items, players can refill their character’s health with this meter. Like the encounter cancel gauge it also depletes with use and can be improved by collecting orange gems found throughout the world.
Series music composer Michiko Naruke will reprise her role in Alter Code: F, as will Wakako Ooba, character designer for Wild ARMs 3. The art style has changed significantly and features a smoother airbrushed look. Alter Code: F's anime introduction is also completely new, save for the music that is the same as the original's. The quality of animation has been given a substantial facelift, without any of the loss of quality due to compression that the original suffered. Wild ARMs Alter Code: F promises long-time fans a familiar but updated journey through Filgaia; and a dynamic adventure for new comers. It was released in Japan on November 27th 2003, and has no set North American release date at this time.