Title: Arc The Lad Collection   Developer: Working designs   Type: Strategy RPG
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Arc The Lad Collection
"Constantly under the torment of his father’s disappearance years ago under similar conditions, Arc is driven beyond reason to find his father, be he dead or alive. Now, the journey begins. A classic turn-based strategy title that pits you against the forces of evil on a quest of epic proportions is what lay ahead. We Review Chapter 1-2 and Arena of this set."
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PSone REVIEW:
 
The ARC THE LAD COLLECTION is a boxed set that comes in three Chapters plus one additonal game and a making-of CD (6 Disks).

CHAPTER ONE:

Arc the Lad. Three words you should quickly burn into your sub-conscience. A classic turn-based strategy title that pits you against the forces of evil on a quest of epic proportions is what lay ahead. Through controlling your party on a battlefield map, you will encounter monsters of untold powers and smite them down, each taking turns moving and then performing any one of a number of actions. The battle will play on until you are victorious, and then it’s, off to another skirmish, to eventually fulfill your destiny.

Kukuru stands before Guardian mountain. Prodded by Mayor Andel, she is to extinguish the ever-burning flame of the Cion. Sure, Kukuru is more than happy to break the chains of tradition; the same tradition that deems she must marry a man she hardly knows, or cares for. The flame is snuffed out.

Arc is at home, and sees the sudden blizzard that has befallen the land without warning. Constantly under the torment of his father’s disappearance years ago under similar conditions, he is driven beyond reason to find his father, be he dead or alive. Now, the journey begins.

Arc the Lad is a straight forward; turn based Rpg in the classic sense of the genre. For those unfamiliar with this style of gameplay, here’s how it works. Both the enemies and your party are placed on a battlefield, at random locations. The enemies and the players’ party members each take turns moving and then doing an action. These actions can be anything from, attacking to magic, items, etc. Strategy plays a key role in this type of game. Spread your characters too thin, or have your healers in the wrong area, where they are out of range to act, and you may find the party wiped out quickly.

The battle locations are diverse in scope, and some require well laid out plans if the objectives are to be met. Of course, there’s more to a battle than just killing the baddies. Scattered around the fields are often found treasures. To receive the contents of these little gems, just attack them as you would a monster, using either magic, or any other attack. Unlike a lot of Rpg’s, strategic or otherwise, in Arc the Lad experience points are awarded for both giving and receiving damage. Not only that but party members will also receive experience for casting spells, even defensive ones.

After you move a character and want to perform an action, you have several options: attack, magic, skills, item, or end turn. The different options are all accessed through different buttons on the controller. Skills and magic commands will pull up a ring that is rotate-able, just select one from the ring and let it fly. Items are selected from a window that pop’s up, and to end your turn requires nothing more than a conformation from the player. The interface is super friendly, and since there is no time limit or rush, the pace will be set by your strategy and desire.

When the fight is over, a nice summary screen appears with a graphical representation of the characters, how many kills they doled out and the experience earned. Also on the summary screen pictures of any items received are displayed. I liked this feature, it gave a quick and informative synapse of the battle won, and kept me apprised of who was hogging all the experience and who needed to get more. With the experience, the characters gain levels and of course the all important stats. Try to work everyone evenly; this will help in future battles.

As you move on in your quest the storyline will unfold. The bulk of the story is told through real-time acts, which are played out before you. Some conversations in these story breaks can be quite informative and drawn out. This is well done and conveys the feel of the epic struggle of Arc nicely. Later as you progress, the world map will unfurl. Nothing too exciting here, as the world map is nothing more than a flat static map with little interactivity. The player basically moves the cursor around the map, highlights an area, and clicks on it to enter. There are some animations of the characters that frolic around on the bottom of the screen while you decide where to go, and this is also where you would do your saving of the game data, which I might add is super fast.

The look of Arc the Lad is old school. The game is nearly entirely sprite-based, with polygons here and there interspersed for effect. Even so, one is really drawn to the game due to its great story and animation. The many spells and skills are wonderfully drawn and executed, with effects and light flying in all directions. The few movies there are in the game also convey a sense of story, but could have possibly been somewhat of a higher visual quality. Overall the animation is what keeps this game exciting.

Full orchestra. That’s right, I said full orchestra! Wow, when I first watched the intro I thought I was in a Spielberg movie. The sense conveyed is really unbelievable and I was honestly taken aback. Not only does the grandiose of the music take you to a new level, but surround sound is also incorporated. You will want to crank up the volume on the old receiver for this one, guaranteed.

Another absolute plus are the in game voices. It’s not often that Rpg’s have battle voices and even less often that they\'\'re awesome, well these are. It seems like a mix of Japanese and American/English, but each character has their own voice to cry out. Casting spells, finding items, taking a pounding from an enemy, whichever the case may be, the voices of the characters bring this game to life more than you realize. But, if you are so inclined (and I promise I won’t hate you) you can always turn off the voices in the options menu.


CHAPTER TWO:

In Arc the Lad 2 the story continues, to a degree, where Arc 1 left off. For this reason I will give only the very basic of introductions as to keep spoilers at bay and leave the adventuring to you, the player.

You are Elc. Waking in your room from a fitful nightmare of memories fuzzy, the need to get on with your life as a professional hunter is great. You see, when Elc was but a wee lad some very bad men came to steal the Fire Guardian. Elc did his best to stop the intruders, but alas the forces of evil were to great and both Elc’s father and grandfather perished under the might of the intruders.

This is the haunting memory, visited upon Elc night after night. Only the distraction of his job hunting monsters and evildoers for profit, and taking odd jobs for money keeps him from dwelling on a past wrought with despair and racked with unanswered questions. Little does Elc know the power that lies within and the import of his untapped skill. So it begins…again.

Arc the Lad 2 is a straight forward; turn based Rpg in the classic sense of the genre. For those unfamiliar with this style of gameplay, here’s how it works. Both the enemies and your party are placed on a battlefield, at random locations. The enemies and the players’ party members each take turns moving and then doing an action. These actions can be anything from, attacking to magic, items, etc. Strategy plays a key role in this type of game. Spread your characters too thin, or have your healers in the wrong area, where they are out of range to act, and you may find the party wiped out quickly.

The battle locations are diverse in scope, and some require well laid out plans if the objectives are to be met. Of course, there’s more to a battle than just killing the baddies. Scattered around the fields are often found treasures. In Arc 1 the treasures would need to be attacked, thereby using up that characters turn. Now in Arc 2 treasures can be opened without using up a turn, or may be gotten after the battle is over. This is a welcomed change. Unlike a lot of Rpg’s, strategic or otherwise, in Arc the Lad experience points are awarded for both giving and receiving damage. Not only that but party members will also receive experience for casting spells, even defensive ones. Experience is also given to armor and weapons. Most items have levels that increase as the item is used.

After you move a character and want to perform an action, you have several options: attack, magic, skills, item, or end turn. The different options are all accessed through different buttons on the controller. Arc 2 uses standard flat menus when accessing different battle options, unlike Arc 1 that used a ring type interface. Personally I really liked the rings better, but even the flat style is easy and quick to use. Also you may assign shoulder buttons to magic spells to further speed commands, but being a strategic Rpg, I took my time and rarely used this option. The interface is super friendly, and since there is no time limit or rush, the pace will be set by your strategy and desire.

Levels gained are displayed in real time during the battles. You will see indications float up above the characters heads indicating levels gained, and any other stats that may have increased. Try to work everyone evenly; this will help in future battles. With the many spells available stat altering ones are a plenty. If allies or enemies are afflicted with spells that alter their state a mice icon system is used. These icons give a graphical representation of the characters status, and aid handily in strategic planning.

As you move on in your quest the storyline will unfold. The bulk of the story is told through real-time acts, which are played out before you. Some conversations in these story breaks can be quite informative and drawn out. This is well done and conveys the feel of the epic struggle of Arc 2 nicely. Later as you progress, the world map will unfurl. Arc 2 is improved from Arc 1 in many subtle but game enhancing ways. The world map is probably the biggest of these improvements.

The over world map is still a flat representation where one highlights the continent to visit and clicks to enter, but the continental map is where it all changes. Once on the continent of your choice, a 2.5 dimensional map appears. You may move the characters along different paths that lead to various locations. Names of the locations are displayed and you may decide to enter or not. This feature alone added a greater depth of gameplay than Arc 1 and is partially responsible for the much-extended length of the game. Every continent is a world within itself where one can explore and fight. Little towns or villages are also present in this installment of Arc with plenty of NPC’s to talk to and even overpriced shops (hey, I’m a Hero—discount anyone?) Which leads me to the next two major changes; hunting and catching.

Elc and his crew are hunters. There are Hunter Guilds on nearly every continent and money is always to be had by chasing down rogue monsters, or saving the local bar from bandits. A lot of the games appeal comes from these side missions and I strongly suggest taking all of them, the humor and sheer fun of them is lively and well worth it. A certain someone is also able to catch monsters, which can then be used as allies in your party, or for other reasons that you will discover on your own. The mini-games are even more prevalent, but still are focused heavily on battle tactics.

The look of Arc the Lad 2 is old school. The game is nearly entirely sprite-based, with polygons here and there interspersed for effect. Even so, one is really drawn to the game due to its great story and animation. The many spells and skills are wonderfully drawn and executed, with effects and light flying in all directions. The few movies there are in the game also convey a sense of story, but could have possibly been somewhat of a higher visual quality. Overall the animation is what keeps this game exciting.

Full orchestra. That’s right, I said full orchestra…AGAIN! The sense conveyed is really unbelievable and I was honestly taken aback. Not only does the grandiose of the music take you to a new level, but surround sound is also incorporated. You will want to crank up the volume on the old receiver for this one, guaranteed. The preceding is almost verbatim what I said about Arc 1’s musical score, and it still holds true for Arc 2, except… There is much more variety in Arc 2. The music ranges from haunting to snazzy, from classic symphony to psudo-oriental. This is one of the most varied compilations heard in an older title, and is quite simply grand.

The following was written for Arc 1 but is again done wonderfully in Arc 2, so read on. Another absolute plus are the in game voices. It’s not often that Rpg’s have battle voices and even less often that they\'\'re awesome, well these are. It seems like a mix of Japanese and American/English, but each character has their own voice to cry out. Casting spells, finding items, taking a pounding from an enemy, whichever the case may be, the voices of the characters bring this game to life more than you realize. But, if you are so inclined (and I promise I won’t hate you) you can always turn off the voices in the options menu.


CHAPTER THREE:

Arc 3 is the third and final installment in the Arc series on the Playstation. Following in the vein of strategic Rpg, Arc 3 proves to be a massive undertaking in tact and adventure as you build your party to thwart the minions of darkness.


A faded memory of a stranger is all that Alec has. Reflecting on this near the outskirts of his hometown of Sasha, Alec wonders if he will ever meet the stranger who saved him so many years ago.

Enter Lutz, Alec’s best friend. As usual Lutz is goofing off nearby, as the peace of the day is about to get put on hold. Bandits storm the village and round up the helpless commoners, what are Alec and Lutz to do? With the help of Lutz’s sister the two would-be heroes’ make a break for a nearby city. They must find a Hunter to help vanquish Sasha of the scourge that is the bandits.

And so it begins. Deep down, Alec had always wanted to be a Hunter and as fate would have it, he just may get his closely guarded dream. But is it really all that glamorous, and can he and his friend Lutz survive?


Arc 3 plays nearly identical to the first two in the series, with a few exceptions. In case you skipped over the Arc 1-2 reviews, the battles our fought in turn based manner. Each monster and ally will take turns moving and then executing an action. Actions can range from item usage to spells, abilities or attacking. You may have up to 4 characters in battle at once, although more characters are available as you progress. There are a few differences in Arc 3 though.

First off, they have added a Summon ability to one of the characters. Once you beat up a monster sufficiently, you may capture it in the form of a card, and at a later time either use it as a summon in battle or trade with other card collectors scattered throughout the world. Also, there are shops where you can “Synth” items and weapons to create even better products. Also, if you’re one of the ten people outside of Japan with a Pocketstation, like me, you may use this later in the game, but I’ll let you discover what for. All these features give Arc 3 added play value, almost to the extent of overwhelming, but I’m not complaining.

The world map and villages are very similar as in the first two Arcs’, except now the town buildings are comprised of 3D polygons! This took some getting used to after playing the other two games in sprite (2D) heaven, but looks well enough to work. Some parts of villages can be somewhat obstructed since there is no user controllable camera, but navigation becomes easier as you get used to the new layout. The characters, for lack of a better term, are more stretched, than in the previous installments also. It may have been to give them a more detailed, less deformed look, but I prefer the designs used in Arc one and two.

Arc 3 is almost entirely Job based. Again, in a split from the previous installments where the jobs you accepted as a Hunter were semi-optional, in Arc 3 the only way to progress in the game is by accepting jobs. There are still rouge monsters that are wanted by the Guild that you work for, but the linearity of the story line through job acceptance is blatant. I didn’t really mind this at all, although many jobs seemed overly easy. It’s nearly impossible to get lost or not know what to do next. When in doubt, just take on another job—something’s bound to happen.

Also, get ready for some heavy reading; Arc 3 has to have some of the most long-winded characters in the history of videogames. This has to do primarily with the shear volume of jobs/adventures your party goes on, but there’s no denying the massive text. Not a problem though, since much of the dialog is riddled with the humorous stylings that Working Designs is famous for.

Visuals of the game are fairly good, and in some areas they excel. For example, the summon graphics are beautiful. Each summon has a hand drawn look about it and is punctuated with lighting effects not seen on Arc one or two. Truly a sight to see, and with over 100 different summons, there are many a sight to behold. As I mentioned above the villages have a polygonal look to them and that seems to work well, and does add to the game once you get used to the change.

The sound of Arc 3 is also well done. Present are the hoots and battle cry’s of your characters when in battle. Done in a mix of English and Japanese, this style is one that I really enjoy. The musical score however does seem a bit blander than the previous installments, with many of the scores repeating. There just wasn’t the variety that I was accustomed to in Arc one and two. On a whole though the tunes and sound effects are catchy and set the tone well.


ARC THE LAD ARENA:

Arc Arena is a monster building game with item acquirement thrown in for good measure. Three modes to choose from and the ability to play against another person with their own save file makes Arc Arena a character stat building gamers day.

Well, after playing through some long hours of both Arc 1 and 2 I can honestly say this game was a welcome if not repetitive intermission. There’s really no plot to speak of in Arc Arena, it’s all about the monsters, and to a lesser degree, items.

First off, you HAVE to have a save file from Arc 2 to even be able to get past the title screen. This game uses the save data of the monsters you captured and the inventory in your position, and throws you right into the little villa where you will begin your quest of King Monster Dude… I made that title up myself.

This game is easy enough to learn, and since it’s a pack in made especially for the Arc Collection, you will know all the nooks and crannies of control and menus well before you get to it. The small town, which is where all the action takes place, consists of a handful of shops run by the characters of Arc 1 and 2. Basically, you just take your monsters and inventory and go fight…that’s about it.

All the fighting is done in the same strategic turn-based fashion as Arc 1 and 2, but in Battle Arena mode you have no direct control of your minions, you may only issue basic strategies such as Defend, or Brute Force at the beginning of the bout. I didn’t care for this at all. The AI controlling my characters was woefully inept, and I found myself cursing at the “Stupid Monsters!!” quite often. However in the other two battle modes (Tourney and Versus) full manual control is available.

That’s really about it. Just keep winning bouts against the AI or a gullible friend and you will be on your way to glory and items galore. Maybe it’s just me, but after spending mega hours in Arc and Arc 2 fighting endlessly for some trinkets and upgraded monsters got old quick.

Graphically this is no feast. There is no intro whatsoever, you just get popped right into the start screen. You can however choose to be a girl or boy character, but that’s cold comfort. I want intro’s dang It! The scenery is fairly drab also. The one horse town scattered with some Arc characters and a few monsters get’s mundane quickly. The arenas are the only area that offers some respite, but even still they start to repeat. The strong suit of the graphics still is found in the various spells cast about by the masses of monsters dueling for dominance.

Music gets stale too. Don’t get me wrong, Arc has some awesome musical scores, but with the crux of the gameplay being battles one can figure the music might wear thin after some time. Thankfully the battle cry’s and shouts are in Arc Arena. These are still very entertaining to me and still convey some sense of power and emotion to battles. Given the high potential for repetitiveness, these well-done and well-placed voiceovers still manage to stay fresh.

FEATURES:
 
ARC THE LAD:



Seven playable characters to take on the forces of darkness in the land of Arc the Lad.

Beautiful animation and detailed cut-scenes help tell the story as it unfolds before you.

Many magical spells and abilities keep the excitement constantly fresh and interactive.

Easy to use controls and menus deliver a great gaming experience.

A classic and epic story of the struggle of good versus evil.

Loads of items and special treasures to find and distribute among your allies.





ARC THE LAD ARENA:



Use your save file from Arc 2 to access all items and monsters for use or trade.

Play 3 exciting modes. Tournament, Versus, and Battle Arena.

Visit with the cast of Arc 1 and 2 as they guide you through your monster building experience.

Develop monsters into even higher forms, with customizable names and attributes.

Plug in a second player with their own save file and play for each other’s monsters or items.

OPTIONS:
 
• 6 Disk(s)
• CD Media
• 1 Block required on Memory card per save (min)
• Up to 1 Players (without Multi-tap)
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Buttons
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Analog Sticks
• Uses Dual Shock Pad Vibration facility

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Review SUMMARY and SCORE
Robert Gibson  "CHAPTER ONE SUMMARY:

Although admittedly old school in both style and presentation, Arc the lad is a great experience. Turn based strategy games may be a dying breed, but I love them, and Arc is no exception.

With splendid sprite animation and a veritable audio smorgasbord, Arc is a solid title that will offer loads of fun to any gamer. My only complaint is the relative shortness by today’s standards. Look to spend under 20 hours on Arc, but trust me when I say that you will love every minute of it.



CHAPTER TWO SUMMARY:

Arc 1 was wonderful. Now I had the extreme pleasure of playing Arc 2. What can I say? Yes it’s and old school game using sprites instead of polygons, but that misses the mark.

Among my favorite Rpg’s are Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 7, and Wild arms to name a few. Arc 2 with it’s humor, music, and most of all very addictive and fun gameplay, has worked it’s way into my heart and is in danger of unseating some of my previous favorites. It’s that good. You will spend well over 40 hours playing Arc 2 but may end up like me and say to yourself that it only feels as if you’ve been playing for just a few. Many Rpg’s tend to drag on while Arc 2 seems to live on. It may not be a technical marvel but if half the Rpg’s played as well as Arc 2 the world would be a better place.



CHATER THREE SUMMARY:

Arc 3 is another massive adventure in the saga of Arc. Many jobs and adventures are available as well as a host of side quests and extra activities. The graphics, especially in the summon area, are varied and can be quite beautiful. Audio effects are charming, but can also be repetitive.

This game stays true to the world of Arc and offers many hours of gameplay, and adventure. I would call this another fine example of a strategic Rpg. This was truly a wonderful series to play and I can only hope that Working Designs brings the planned Arc 4 for the PS2 to the rest of the world as well.



ARC THE LAD ARENA SUMMARY:

Arc Arena just didn’t cut it for me. I guess I’m not the type that want’s to go into battle after battle just for the sake of leveling up and gaining some new things here and there.
The presence of the characters from Arc one and two really looked to be placeholders and the depth of gameplay really couldn’t hold me for long-at all.
Since this game is strictly a pack-in with the Arc Collection I say try it out and see what you think. It’s just good that this game wasn’t a stand-alone purchase or I would say “RUN AWAY!!!”"
Graphics  16/20
Playability  46/50
Sound  9/10
Lastability  17/20
89%
This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.
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REVIEW SCORE GUIDE:

OUR PLEDGE:

We promise that we have fully played 'Arc The Lad Collection' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.

SUMMARY OF FINAL RATING (%)

00 - 59 This makes your console seem like an older machine. It utilises little or none of the PSone power.

60 - 69 This game is little more than average and we advise renting or play-testing before considering a purchase.

70 - 79 This is a good solid title that should still appeal to those who like this type of game.

80 - 89 This is a fantastic game that we think you will enjoy playing for quite some time.

90 - 100 This game either pushes the boundaries of it's genre further than ever before on this system, or creates a completely new gaming experience. Either way, it should not be missed and is an essential purchase in our opinion.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ:

It is very important that you are aware that the criteria we use to obtain review scores on the PS2 is very different to that used for games on the original Playstation (PSone). The Processing and Graphical power of the two consoles are vastly different and as our reviews are graded against what we estimate is the achievable potential of each system, it does not mean in any way that a game scoring 80 percent on PS2 is worse than a Playstation (PSone) equivalent which scores 95.

A more detailed breakdown of this guide can be read here.


READERS REVIEWS:


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