Arc the Lad Review

Arc the Lad

Working Designs is known for a number of things. Their translations are livelier than most, their packaging is exquisite, and they will often spend years localizing and retooling a given release. These things are all to be found in their recent release of Arc the Lad Collection, an anthology of one of the longest running PlayStation RPG series, which has never before been seen in North America.

The series starts, obviously, with Arc the Lad, a tactical RPG with more of a traditional RPG feel. From the simple interface with no confirmations and a minimum of command windows, to the elemental stone collection plot and optional sidequests, it offers a refreshing change of pace from the likes of Hoshigami and Tactics Ogre.

The first thing one notices about the game, and that which deserves the most praise, is the extremely streamlined interface. While most TRPGs require the player to spend a fair amount of time calling up menus and verifying selections, to attack in Arc the Lad, one simply faces an enemy, and presses the X button. Spells are also easy to cast, as a single button press brings up a quick-to-navigate ring of all a character’s spells.

Battles are straight TRPG.

Aside from the simple interface, combat in Arc the Lad offers an interesting little wrinkle from the norm. While most TRPGs allow friendly characters to move through each other but not enemies, no characters in Arc the Lad may pass through each other under any circumstances. However, the game features a Jump stat which, once reaching a high enough level, allows characters to leap over a single space containing another character or low-lying obstacle. As attacks from the rear are more effective, this causes players to change their thinking on forming defensive formations.

This interesting twist on strategy does not have as big an impact as it could however, as Arc the Lad is one of the shortest and easiest games of its kind, taking only ten hours to complete. Additionally, not only is the ending reached with surprising speed, but it comes with quite a jar, leaving a major loose end to be resolved in the sequel.

The story is not.

While it may be short, and one of the oldest PlayStation games around, Arc the Lad does not skimp on presentation. The graphics are a reasonably pleasant sprite and 2D background affair, with the occasional rendered movie thrown in, and the soundtrack consists of a number of high quality orchestral tunes that serve quite nicely. The story doesn’t have time to really get rolling in this installment, but the translation is the sort of high quality one comes to expect from Working Designs.

All in all, Arc the Lad is an enjoyable little snack of a game to kick off the series, and while it only lasts about ten hours, it features a variety of sidequests, including an optional 50 floor dungeon which both extend the length, and lets players rack up experience and equipment to carry over to the sequel.

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'Average' -- 3.0/5



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