Random battles in Wild Arms are killing me.

Wild Arms seems to have more frequent random battles than any other RPG I’ve ever played.  And I gleefully finished Skies of Arcadia on the Dreamcast so I know something of random battle frequency.  Wild Arms is worse.

Or at least it seems that way to me.  Maybe it’s the fact that every battle starts out with an 80’s heavy metal guitar screech.  Maybe it’s the fact that battles take a long time.  Maybe Suikoden spoiled me with it’s ultra-snappy combat and Automated AI setting.  Wild Arms has an AI setting but you have to turn it on and off for each character individually.  It takes a while which defeats the point of having it.  Then you have to have the character flourish at the end of battle before you can return to gameplay.

How bad is it?  Imagine coming through a door into a medium-large sized room with a button at the far end and another locked door next to yours.  The button clearly unlocks the door.  On your way to the button you will fight a random battle.  Around the time you get to the button to step on it you will fight a random battle.  And by the time you make it to the now-unlocked door you will probably fight a 3rd random battle.  This happened to me several times tonight – I counted.

The result is it takes forever to do anything or to go anyplace.  And it makes me not want to explore side passages for those extra treasure chests as it will inevitably mean several more random battles.

This worries me.  I can usually put up with a weak story or not-so-amazing graphics as long as the gameplay shines.  A wearying system of too-frequent random battles stands a chance of killing my desire to play.