"The main character's hair was blue and I liked it." That's the sum total of everything I remember from my experiences with the original Wild Arms on my roommate's 'cutting edge' PlayStation. So I was the ideal candidate to take this expanded remake for a spin, and see if that impression would still prove true.
Wild Arms: ACF chooses a strange way to open. A slow pan of a field with a group of characters we haven't been introduced to, waiting on another group of characters we don't know. It's a slow time to admire the in-game graphics with bright colors and overlaid with a filter to give them a slightly sketchy quality to them. This is contrasted against the occasional moments of pre-rendered videos, which are so dated in appearance they might as well have come from the original Wild Arms.
There's also something odd the first time a dialogue box pops up. Silence. Wild Arms 3 didn't have a drop of voice acting and it did just fine, but here it feels like a void waiting to be filled, and throughout the game there are special moments when it's almost frustrating that the drama and humor remain unspoken.
After this odd reunion, the game actually gets going with three prologues to set up the four main characters (yes, Hanpan counts), and manages to show off the strengths and the weaknesses of Wild Arms: ACF.
Though the 3D environments aren't as outlandish as the Final Fantasy series, they're well designed and look more realistic. Farms feel like farms, towns feel like towns, and dungeons feel like...you get the idea. The problem is all of this is viewed from a god-like aerial prospective that was already awkward in Wild Arms 3. When it doesn't obstruct the view of doorways or obstacles, it's so far away that it's hard to feel any connection to what's taking place so far below, while zooming in leaves you barely able to see anything. An over the shoulder cam on the character would have gone a long way to feeling a part of the action that's unfolding.
The main character Rudy doesn't make it any easier. I think it was actually a mistake to begin with his prologue, since for most of the game he's essentially an empty shell with no personality and no back story, never speaking and only reacting silently to world around him like a blue-haired mime. A far cry from the back and forth between the power-hungry Jack and his sharp-witted mousy companion Hanpan, or the clumsy yet endearing Cecilia who reluctantly accepts the mantle of shaman. Even the villains and eccentrics that fill up this forty plus hour journey are well-crafted characters that I always wanted to see more of, helping to build up this involving tale of a world on the brink of disaster from the ominous destroyer of worlds known as Mother.