Wild West

Written in 2024

Western is a specific genre that appeared in literature and movies from the beginning of the 20th century. Originally, wild west, or western media covered the conquest of the western American continent by European settlers in the 19th century.

The first popular books about the wild west, for example "The Great Train Robbery", were published when the wild west itself was still a thing. Up until the 1970s, the genre was incredibly popular around the world. Inspired by the art of Frederic Remington, many western books and movies covered horse riding cowboys or sherrifs that tried to save their home from evil companies, bandits or even Native Americans.

Throughout the years, more and more focus was placed on the fate of the Native Americans. German Karl May started writing a story about an European American befriending a Native in the early 20th century. Especially later on, with the likes of Dances with Wolves, the clichéd view of Native Americans in the first half of the century changed.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the Western style was also adopted to some futuristic works - like the anime "Saber Rider and the Star Sherrifs", but also some parts of the "Star Wars" universe had remarkable similar aesthetics to old wild west books and films.

Among these, some games also took some inspirations from the western genre. Some are completely covered in said aesthetics, some others just have certain characters or parts that are distinctly western. This report will name a few.

Wild Arms (series, 1997 - 2008)

The whole Wild Arms series is filled with wild west atmosphere. The towns, the music, the general visual appearance of most of the areas are typical western style. Although it's all a bit modern, so it could be placed in the cyberpunk or post apocalyptic western world.

All Wild Arms games play in the world of Filgaia, a world that is presented as dying - which is why it slowly turns into a barren wasteland. In the later games, the world is controlled by an alien life form that represses humans. However, certain characters who are able to wield special ARMs are always there to save the world.

Whilst the aesthetics of the games are very much reminiscent of the western genre, the games itself lack the main aspect of this genre where the story evolves around conquering a seemlessly endless land filled with lots of dangers - and inhabitants that won't let go that land so easily. The stories are more traditional japanese RPG style.

Shadow Hearts: From the new World (2005)

This game even (partially) plays in the United States of America - albeit in an alternate universe and in the year 1929, which is some 30 years too late for the "real" wild west.

The story follows the heroes, Johnny and Shania trying to unveil the secrets behind crimes. During that story, they also experience some horror moments (which makes the game more fitting to the Shadow Hearts storyline, even if the game is set aside of the general canon of the series).

The party travels around the Americas which also lets them experience many aspects of wild west culture.

Live a Live (1994, 2022)

Live a Live is an interesting game that plays in eight scenarios during various time periods.

One of them is the wild west, where players control Sundown Kid, a character that has a duel with a bounty hunter. During the scenario, they work together to liberate a town.

In the final chapter, players can again chose to play as Sundown Kid and end the whole game.

Phantasy Star 4 (1994)

Phantasy Star has no wild west style in terms of music or any clichéd presentation in terms of character design. However, a big part of the game plays on the planet Motavia, which is a barren wasteland with deserts and sparse vegetation.

Also, the Parmanians, humans from the planet Parma that was destroyed in Phantasy Star II, have significantly pushed the Motavians out of the cities into secluded villages outside of the big roads and trade routes.

The Motavians, while being designed to have somewhat of a reminiscence to various peoples from the Star Wars universe, live in tents, but the Parmanians also live in houses that have some similarities with the architecture of the Pueblo style villages in the southern United States.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

This is more of a honorable mention. In Twilight Princess, there is the old village of the Sheikah, which at the time of the games' story played had become a ghost town.

However, the game has a distinctively wild west look to it, and Link also has some sort of a shootout to play as a bonus mission.

But also, the original Kakariko village has some Navajo canyon town feeling to it. So there's a little bit of wild west in Twilight Princess.


It's interesting how few games in the japanese RPG genre go all out and create wild west styled games. Often enough, like seen in Zelda, Live a Live, or with the western themend character here and there, there are parts in the games that are a homage to the old west.

Outside of the RPG genre, there are more games of that style - notable mentions here is the Red Dead series from Rockstar, which prominently plays in the wild west. But other than that, the most famous example of RPGs in the western style is the Wild Arms series. Which lies dormant for over 15 years now.

And you know what? rpg-o-mania's favorite MMO Final Fantasy XIV is said to have a wild west area in the upcoming release "Dawntrail" - maybe this section is going to be expanded soon!

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