I do not often tackle older titles, but when I do, they are all classics. And one of my favourite classics is Wild Arms 3.
Back in 2002, Wild Arms 3 was not only refreshing with its Wild West theme, but its story initially being split into 4 viewpoints was a real highlight of the experience. It established characters’ backgrounds and motivations through this initial plot progression before all the threads joined up later, and its turn-based gameplay with awesome and exciting battle OSTs and gun wielding antics made for an action packed experience.
But possibly the very best feature of the game for the younger teenage me was its leading lady: Virginia Maxwell.
Who is Virginia Maxwell?
Virginia Maxwell is a rare example of a progressive first for a JRPG series: a female protagonist who stands out due to her love for life, pursuit of justice and refreshing outlook towards the adapting winds of change. She becomes a Drifter — or a free-roaming adventurer — after fighting against a Gob (short for goblins; admittedly not the most inspiring enemy naming) gang that had been raiding her home’s supplies. From there, she begins pursuing her Drifter dream.
She initially has many reasons for heading out into the world: dreams of travel to exotic climes, a desire to use her ARMs (weapons, generally in the form of guns, that scale in power with the user’s willpower) to help people — and to find information on Werner Maxwell, her long-lost father.
She forms a team of Drifters with the other three protagonists Jet Enduro, Clive Winslett and Gallows Carradine, and becomes leader of their group. Her upbeat nature and bravery in moving headfirst in to unknown dangers is immediately praised and respected by her new Drifter peers, and from moment one to the end, Virginia Maxwell remains a compelling and strong lead during Wild Arms 3.
Why we love her
Virginia Maxwell is known for her idealism, her earnest desire to do the right thing and unflappable resolve. While some may find this aspect of Virginia to be one-note and a bit of a cookie-cutter approach to a typical “hero” in a JRPG, Virginia’s character continues to be affected by the events that occur in the story, as well as the people she meets throughout the game — and even through interactions with her own teammates.
One of the prevalent themes throughout Wild Arms 3 is one of parallels – the protagonist crew of Virginia, Jet, Clive and Gallows often share paths with an antagonist quartet led by Maya Schröedinger, for example. Any time the two groups cross paths, we not only get the chance to compare them as the audience, but it also allows the characters to bounce off each other and experience real growth.
We get to see Virginia’s reasoning and sense of justice tested — she reacts in a very organic way and stays true to who she is, despite the adversity she experiences pretty frequently.
When I look at Virginia Maxwell’s character design, I can’t help but see a plucky underdog. She comes across as an innocent and inexperienced young woman, but you can see her underlying strength and resolve, both in the form of her piercing electric blue eyes, always looking ahead, and her dual pistols as a weapon of choice. Many note that dual pistols are a weapon style that is notoriously difficult to master, but they fit Virginia perfectly for her reckless yet plucky style.
She looks innocent, but peel back the outer layer and you’ll see a woman brimming with confidence and ready to take on the world — and you have to love her for that!
Why you’ll love her
Anyone who takes the time to play through Wild Arms 3 will find their sense of enjoyment tied directly to Virginia Maxwell – she’s such a likeable, vibrant protagonist, and her dedication to exploring the unknown and taking each dangerous turn or fortuitous break the world throws at her is truly refreshing. I found that my love for Virginia just kept getting stronger the more time I spent with her, and I’m sure that you will all find the same.
She’s a strong, passionate, beautiful gunslinging tornado of endless enthusiasm — and once she grows on you, you’ll be trapped inside a whirlwind spaghetti western adventure you won’t want to put down.
Virginia Maxwell won’t disappoint you, so give her a shot!
Wild Arms 3 is available on the PS2, and digitally for PlayStation 4.
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