April 20, 2007 - Sony and developer Media Vision announced the PSP version of Wild Arms at a fan event held late last year to commemorate the series' 10th anniversary. The wait for actual details was long, but the latest issue of Famitsu has at last provided an in-depth look at Wild Arms XF (Cross Fire).
Set once again in the land of Falgaia, Wild Arms XF tells the story of Clarisa, a knight in the army of the peaceful kingdom of Elecius. The story begins when the queen is killed in what appears to be more than just an accident.
Media Vision is making a big change for this first portable entry in the series. In place of the turn-based battles of the console games, XF will feature hexagonal grid-based strategy! That's right, Wild Arms is going the route of Final Fantasy Tactics before it!
During battle, you move the members of your party in turn with the enemies. This method of movement is different from Final Fantasy Tactics where you move your entire party in one go before handing off control to the enemy forces. The order of turns in XF is determined by "RES" values. A character with a higher RES value gets to move more often. You can increase your RES value through items or special skills.
Each grid space has its own surface properties, including height values, which effect how far your party members can move. As an example, Famitsu notes that grass and rock spaces are easy to move through, but can be hard to keep your character safe from attack.
Typical for the Wild Arms series, Media Vision has created a bunch of contrived names to describe the gameplay systems. Among them is the DER (Direct Event Report) system. This is just a fancy name for pre-battle reports that give you details on the upcoming battle, from land type to winning conditions.
Similar to other strategy games, movement in the XF world appears to be on a 2D overhead map. You select an area on the map, and your party moves there. Some areas are marked with exclamation points, presumably indicating your goal. It's unclear if we can look forward to overworld exploration, one of the traditions of the series.
XF may have a completely different battle system from its predecessors, but it does share some traits. You'll recognize the character art style, with its strange blend of the wild west and anime. The game will also feature voice acting, as Famitsu lists voice actors for each of the main characters.
We presume it will also have lots of whistling. We're also hoping for the Engrish that brilliantly made it into Wild Arms 5 on the PS2 late last year.
Media Vision is working in some gimmicky connectivity between the recent PS2 entry and XF. By connecting your PSP to your PS2 via USB, you'll unlock six secret bosses in Wild Arms 5. XF sees more benefit, as you get better items and rewards and even get to see some special events.
XF is due for Japanese release in Summer, so the wait for this portable twist on Sony's big console RPG series shouldn't be too long.