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SummaryWho are you calling lad?
The GoodThe “Arc The Lad” series was long one of the most wanted RPGS for the Playstation. In 2002, Working Designs released, Arc The Lad Collection. A compilation of all three Arc games plus Arc Arena, and other goodies. Gamers outside of Japan finally got to enjoy the Arc series. Was it worth the wait, yes.
In Arc The Lad, Arc is a young man who sets out on a journey to find his father whom has been missing for some time. His journey will take him to the ends of the world. He will make allies and enemies on his journey. His simple quest quickly becomes complicated. As Arc and his friends must stop an evil empire from taking over the world. And this is just the beginning.
Unlike many games with an “evil empire” plot. The threat seems real in Arc. As you will see the devastation of the world first hand. As the hubris of the power hungry empire nearly destroys the world.
In Arc The Lad II, we are introduced to a new character Elc. Elc works as a hunter. (Kind of similar to the hunters of the Phantasy Star games.) When Elc was a boy his village was burned to the ground, he is the last of his people and has a vendetta against the empire. He also believes that Arc is in league with the empire.
It is a bit odd that the characters from Arc I are not in the game for awhile. And the cast of Arc II is not quite as good as the original. But the plot does pick up more or less where Arc I left off. Arc II is much longer than Arc I. Arc I takes about 20 hours to finish. While Arc II is about 50 hours!
By the end of Arc II you will have amassed a huge party. And finally confront the evil empire.
In Arc The Lad III, you play Alec a hunter like Elc. About 20 years have passed since the conclusion of Arc II. And the world is in ruins. It is just beginning to come out of it’s depression. Arc III, is essentially the epilogue to the series. You will see familiar Arc characters, but none of them join your party.
Oddly enough Arc III is the most linear of the series. Everything you do is a mission from the Hunters Guild. Arc III is not as long as Arc II or as short as Arc I. It clocks in about 30 hours.
The Graphics in the series are overall very good. Arc I and II, feature beautiful 2D graphics and animations. The character sprites are large and detailed, unlike many RPGS in which they are small and have little detail. Proving once more that the best looking Playstation RPGS are 2D. The FMVS in Arc I & II are decent, nothing groundbreaking. But remember that Arc The Lad was originally released in 1996.
The Graphics in Arc The Lad III are of the 3D variety. Not as impressive as the previous two games. But one of the better looking 3D Playstation RPGS. The FMVS are amazing in Arc III. They are easily the best I have every seen in a Playstation game.
The Sound And Music of the games are also strong. The soundtracks to all the games is top notch. The battle music is awesome! (A pet peeve of mine is RPGS with crap ass battle music.) Unfortunately, Working Designs did not include a CD soundtrack, as they did with the Lunar games. There is no voice acting either, but considering how old these games are that is not that much of a surprise.
The Games play slightly differently from most RPGS. The battle system is more like that of a Strategy/RPG. Like Shining Force or Vandal Hearts. But Arc The Lad is not one of these. You move your party on a colored grid and engage the enemy. You can attack and cast spells, and use items. And before a battle begins you can check your equipment. All three games use this system.
In Arc I you do not travel of the world map in the traditional sense. You select where you wish to go and are automatically taken there. The world seems more real as each region has a name and a different look.
In Arc II & III you actually travel on a mini-map. Like most RPGS. There of course are no random encounters.
In each game every party member has a unique design. (Arc looks almost like a Phantasy Star character, that’s a good thing.) They also have unique abilities, so none of them feel the same. (Another RPG pet peeve of mine is interchangeable, identical party members.)
The BadOn the negative side, these are not easy games. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. With maybe the exception of Arc III. And in Arc I you can get an item that you will need in Arc II. If you get this item, the final boss in Arc II is easy. If you did not get it however, it takes about an hour to beat the boss, yikes! And side-quest rewards are often lame.