|| Arc the Lad Collection - Review
Arc the Lad III
By: Jake Alley
| Battle System
| Replay Value
| Time to Complete
Without Arc the Lad III, there would be no Arc the Lad Collection.
Thus it's somewhat ironic that the game plays an extremely vestigial role in the series.
While the original Arc the Lad left things hanging to be resolved in the sequel,
Arc the Lad II resolved everything in a very concrete and grandiose manner, making it quite clear
they meant for it to be the end of the series. Therefore, Arc the Lad III has no real driving force,
making for a forgettable game overall.
With no major crisis to keep things moving, the story of Arc the Lad III goes
the route of imitating GameArts. A small group of youngsters running the gambit from annoyingly
cute, to cutely annoying, wander aimlessly through the world with only the most passing of hints
of any conflict until near the end of the game. Unfortunately, in spite of the lively translation,
this approach fails to really draw the player in.
Further bogging things down is the way the story, such as it is, unfolds. The Hunter's
Guilds which served as a fun diversion in Arc II are central to the third. Almost entire game is spent
methodically taking the various missions offered in each town until one shows up which will advance
the main plot and give the party a one-way ticket to the next town. As if it wasn't bad enough to
replace the main gameplay with what was once a group of side quests, the missions not connected to
the story are by and large highly repetitive series of battles or simple puzzles preceded by excessive
This weak story hurts the game somewhat, but as the creators admit they never
planned for a third game, this is not entirely surprising. What is surprising is the fact that
most other elements fall flat as well.
Arc the Lad III makes the jump to polygonal backgrounds, while missing the point
to such a switch entirely. The camera angle can never be rotated or adjusted, and is set at a somewhat annoying
not-quite-top-view pitch that often leaves characters obscured by buildings. Even during plot points
this angle never changes, save for one short zoom near the beginning. Meanwhile, the characters
are still 2D, but the colorful highly animated sprites of the earlier games are replaced with
stiff scrawny twig-like characters with extremely simple attack animations. Meanwhile in a highly
ironic twist, the game takes pride in having more sophisticated FMV scenes than its predecessors
and grandiose monster summoning animations. These elements however still fall fairly short of the
competition more often than not.
|FMV is all the rage.
A poor presentation will not condemn a solid game of course, but sadly, even
the gameplay, which would be just fine had it been ripped straight from Arc II, is a sad sight.
Not only are the mechanics seriously dumbed down, ditching the weapon skills and equipment levels
from II, and even doing away with the jump stat that helped define the first two titles. To add insult
to injury, the most fundamental aspect of the TRPG, displaying how far characters can move, which
every other game has always gotten right, is flawed. Spaces containing monsters will highlight as
valid places to stand, and characters can end up the same distance forward from where they start
whether traveling through open ground, or having to circle around trees. Not only does this show
an appalling amount of laziness on behalf of the developers, it makes it impossible to block enemy
movement with one's characters, removing a large amount of strategy.
So, the story, graphics, and gameplay of Arc III pale in comparison to the
earlier games, the music is tinny and while the characters from Arc II are present in the game,
they simply make the occasional cameo; nothing carries over from the previous title. Still, the
game has one noteworthy feature its forbearers didn't. At special shops in town, new weapons and
items can be created from raw materials with some experimentation, giving players something to
think about in exchange for the dumbed down combat.
In light of how enjoyable the rest of the series is, it really is a shame that
the Arc the Lad Collection ends with the whimper that is Arc the Lad III and not the roar that is