Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits
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10  |  Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. Great Taste, Less Filling
chick3_16 , 11/11/2003 9:25:50 AM

Arc the LadIn the grand video game tradition of great games, a central theme arises. When you decide to do a type of game, and then take out all the guff, you've generally got a game people will play. Take Blades of Steel for instance. With off sides, penalties, and formal rules taken out, the bare-boned result is pure fun. Pro Wrestling was also fun because of its simplicity. The list can go on and on...

Now fast forward to a few years later. No one knows except the both of you...seriously, years later, most games that come out seem more concerned with image than why people bought them in the first place. This is best demonstrated in the RPG genre. To sound like an old fogey, there was a reason why Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy were popular. They didn't rely on graphics or other bits of icing on the cake. The games revolved around a quest. Nowadays, we have more Xenosagas out that play like really long movies (Fishbulb can explain it better than I). It has been hard to find a half decent RPG in the next-generation age.

Ladies and gentlemen, and Internet nerds the world over: I present to you: Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits.

I played this game right after beating FFX (same sitting) and initially thought the graphics were horrible compared to FFX. Then I realized that this wasn't meant to look like real life, and the graphics from that standpoint are impressive. And then the story hit me like a ton of bricks. All of a sudden, I was hooked. As I played farther into the game, I realized why this game had more of a grip on me than FFX. There were few cinematic cutscenes. The game wasn't built on its looks, but on telling a story, a story about two brothers.

I'll finish this point up later, but for the time being, some elaboration is in order. After all, I think I can allow a carry of a few steps (it's a Canadian thing).

The story revolves around Kharg and Darc, two brothers separated as infants. Kharg is a young swordsman in the small human village of Yewbell. Darc ends up as a slave to the frog lady, Geedo. The game switches back and forth from these two perspectives and leads them both nearer each other. The storytelling is this game's greatest strength, and more RPG designers would be wise to look at this game in order to see what's important to the fantasy gamer. Image is nothing, thirst is everything. Forget about sprites.

The graphics in this game are impressive all around. They weren't meant to look realistic, and with that viewpoint, they were well done indeed. The battle graphics and the town graphics were well done and the animation is free of chops (and also chopsticks, pork chops, chop suey, karate chop, chopping blocks, chop shops, etc...). That aspect gets a 10.

The sound is actually more of a background in this game, with emphasis on using it to complement the story as opposed to making it front and centre (take Chrono Trigger for example, now THAT's a soundtrack, and it complements the game as opposed to being more than that). Nothing memorable about the music, but it's there and doesn't try to make you notice it. If you do happen to notice, it's good stuff. The voice acting doesn't happen so often in this game, but when it is done, it's done right. Give that a 10.

Also in this game is a battle system not unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, where the two sides take turns running around a battlefield. It adds a great strategy element to the game. Also adding strategy is the fact that spirit stones are your MP. You have to pay to get them back up. And of course, you walk from destination to destination instead of wandering, which takes some of the tedium out of the game. I really like their take on weapons in this game (why people modify them as opposed to getting new weapons, makes total sense) and that there is never an unjustified hurry because there is little wandering.

Satisfied with the technical aspects, I can say that the true beauty of this game is in its storytelling. It is original, it draws you in, and you always end up with a hankering to play the other guy to see what he's up to. RPGs like this have been impossible to find outside of the Final Fantasy series, and even then have had their spotty moments.

So I ask everyone here to give this game a try. This is a pure role playing game, one that gets you back to the true roots that drew many of us into it. I figured I was addicted to the story when I played, but then I let my fiancée watch me play it and she wanted to play. She played it for 4 hours straight. The one who says Ogre Battle is boring and Final Fantasy is pointless played this for 4 hours straight. When this happens, you get a lotto ticket, buy the game, and then curse the lotto ticket for being such a loser before playing again.

So we have a 10. Out of 10 of course.

On a side note, this game is a continuation of the Arc The Lad series of games based on Japanese anime. The first 3 games are available on PS1 and in a future review, I will discuss the predecessors since I am tempted to play them all. I do believe you can get them in a set.

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