Home

Hugh Likes Video Games: Arc The Lad

Leave a comment

Arc The Lad
Published by Working Designs
Played on PS Vita

image

The Skinny: An early PS1-era Tactical RPG, this quick and easy game is a far cry from later entries, but a good introduction to the sub-genre for new players.

Arc The Lad is something of a Playstation oddity. An early release for the Playstation in Japan, it never saw release in the United States until 2002 as a part of the Arc The Lad Collection. This is a shame, because it is at least trying something innovative, but games like Final Fantasy Tactics had already surpassed it when it was released in the west.
The game follows eponymous hero Arc and his allies as they searches for a, well an ark containing the power to either cause or prevent the end of the world. It’s all fairly stock fantasy RPG stuff, but it hits all the bases well. Being from the early days of the PS1, it uses 16-bit sprites with a few shiny polygonal effects thrown in here and there. Aside from a few short FMV transitions, Arc The Lad feels like it could have been a Super Nintendo release.
The combat is all turn-based strategy with a three-quarters overhead perspective. Character speed determines order, and each character levels up individually. This works out mostly well, but by the end of the game, my faster characters were many levels ahead of the slower ones. The overall campaign is short, but there are little side-quests to do in each town that pad out the length, including a huge multi-floor dungeon that has to be completed in one go. These aspects don’t feel particularly groundbreaking, but they’re handled well enough.
What I find most interesting about the game might be its biggest flaw. This is a short game, taking only about ten hours to complete everything. It also ends on a cliffhanger. The ancient evil returns, and Arc is powered up to face it, but we’re left with our heroes splitting up and preparing rather than getting that final dungeon. Now that the series is finished, that break feels more like the first part of a fantasy trilogy than a complete game, but I imagine the disappointment of getting merely a chapter rather than a full game. It feels like an interesting design choice today, though, and the cheaper price for the game on the Playstation store takes away the sting a bit.
Arc The Lad is an interesting little corner of video game history. It is available digitally for PS3 and PS Vita from the Playstation store. If you’re a hardcore collector and have $150 to spare, you could also hunt down the original PS1 collection.

Thanks for reading this review! If you enjoyed it, please share it! You can also support me on Patreon if you don’t mind paying an extra fee!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Bravely Default

Leave a comment

Hugh Likes Video Games:  Bravely Default
Published by Square Enix
Nintendo 3DS

Bravely Default is a Playstation One or Super Nintendo era RPG that didn’t exist before.  It’s old school in all the right ways, with suprisingly deft use of 3DS features.
Why this wasn’t released as “Final Fantasy” is a mystery to me, because it is a beautiful love letter to the series.
“Bravely Default” is a fantasy role playing game following the journey of a sheltered, yet self-composed priestess and her friends.  Their goal is to reignite the power of four elemental crystals, saving them from the machinations of an evil empire bent on using they crystals to its own ends.  Along the way, they’ll fight enemies by changing classes, transforming from anything to black mages to spear-wielding fighters capable of jumping high into the air.  Let me know when it starts feeling familiar.
With absolutely gorgeous designs by Akihiko Yoshida and an engine clearly updated from the DS ports of Final Fantasy III and IV, It certainly belongs in that venerable pantheon of titles.  But as closely as it resembles Final Fantasy, there are also touches of Enix’s beloved franchise, “Dragon Warrior.”  Much like the Super Nintendo classic “Chrono Trigger,” it is a triumph greater than the sum of its parts, if they’re the sort of thing you’re into, of course.
As old-school as “Bravely Default” is, it incorporates a lot of neat touches that take advantage of the 3DS’s standby and Streetpass functions.  At the beginning of the game, one of the main characters’ village is destroyed.  By passing other players when your 3DS is in standby, and spending money on work orders, you can rebuild the town, which serves as an investment that really pays off as the game progresses.  The shops in the town will create special items that you can buy from traders throughout the game, and will send you free samples based when you rest the game.  There are even hidden bosses that can be exchanged and fought via Streetpass.  Players can also register friends to assist in battle or give characters bonuses.
The classic style of the game isn’t all great news, though.  The game is old-school tough, with lots of grinding and collecting to be done, even with the help of friends and townsfolk.  It’s also a very long game, so be prepared to invest some serious hours if you’re hoping to see the end credits.
“Bravely Default” is a master class in classic JRPG design and construction.  If you’re a long-time fan of the genre, or you were afraid that Square Enix had lost their touch, this is the game for you.  “Bravely Default” is available for the 3DS.