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Thousand Arms - Review

By Mikel Tidwell, RPGamer Writer


Review Breakdown
   Battle System7.5
   Gameplay6.0
   Music9.5
   Originality10.0
   Plot8.5
   Replay Value9.5
   Sound9.0
   Visuals8.0
   DifficultyMedium
   Time to Complete35-45 hours 
Overall
8.5
Criteria

    Thousand Arms is the first of its kind to cross the ever wide Pacific: a dating RPG. That's right, after so many similar RPGs have been released in Japan, Atlus, famous for Ogre Battle and other great titles, finally tests the audience of the U.S. From old-school RPGamers to those just starting, the word has been to watch this one, and not from a distance. Quiet compared to giants like Final Fantasy and Lunar, Thousand Arms does not try to enter the market as the RPG of the year. However, it has many merits that may earn it that title anyway.

    Thousand Arms will not overwhelm you with graphics, or play the game for you in movies. The draw to Thousand Arms is a realism of a different nature. Anime characters and old style sprites with emoticons, akin to Final Fantasy V, the interaction of the people, and especially the other characters, is what makes Thousand Arms a true experience to play. More than once you may find yourself blushing at the screen, or yelling as your foe falls. The game can be very personal, espcially when you decide it's time to date your female companions.

    Being skeptical that the first dating RPG, I made the assumption the female characters would be extra cautious, making sure not to be too daring, or possibly even the complete lack of innuendo. On the contrary, the game took me completely by surprise. What a serious shock to the system to find Sodina asking more tough, personal questions on her first date with Meis than most people would hear through months of a relationship. The intimacy of some of the dates can leave your heart racing, or your face red. Each date is unique, and each girl will react differently. If you try to please them all, expect a serious challenge, as you will spend many hours simply learning about each girl.
Sodina
Smart and beautiful  

    Of course, dating isn't everything. To really win the girl over, there are other things Meis must do to gain the support of his companions. Through the adventure, you will gain items that can be given as presents. Anything you find is almost a sure thing to please the girl. Depending on the current intimacy level, the present may be a huge hit, or simply a quiet acceptance. If that doesn't work, each girl also has a mini-game to play. While some are simple repetition of patterns from memory, some are much more familar, like Blackjack. Winning a game may gain more respect from the girl than a perfect date, so try everything.

    If you think you can simply go through the game without having to answer to the girls, think again. The entire game is based on how well they love Meis. Their intamcy level not only decides how much the certain girl wants Meis, but also dictates what spells Meis can bind to each character's weapon. The better the intamacy rating, the better the spell generally is. While simply building up experience levels will get through the rough spots, the spells are a big help, and the animation is pretty good to boot.

    The battles are very unique, as they are a one on one, with support from the other characters and monsters on each side. While the system is different, it's not really better or worse then the standard all out party most RPGs use. The only problems are that it's not completely believable, since monsters wouldn't normally follow such a structure, but they do. The fact that the supporting cast may not cast spells on any one except the two main characters, with a few exceptions. Items can affect all members of a party, and money is plentiful, so stocking up for those boss battles is a big bonus.

Wyna vs. Sodina
Women waging war  

    The world is very colorful, and very well designed. With the lack of physical barriers around the world, the flow of the game is very open, and you may take a few sidequests here and there simply by exploration. In fact, sometimes it isn't perfectly clear what comes next, making the player talk with town people to get a hint, and sometimes go out and simply look around for what's next. While the story is linear, the feel of it is not as structured as most RPGs now days.

    With nothing but praise, why not a perfect score? Simple, the controls are very lacking. There have been certain places that required trying to talk to the character in town four or five times before the perfect spot is reached, and the character responds. The lack of analog control is another downside, but all these would be alright, if only the camera angle would stay put, or manually controlled. Meis will walk down a perfectly straight path, and the camera angle may change as much as 180 degress in the span of an area of a town. This makes holding upward start taking you north to start, then east, then possibly even south within the same section. On the overworld map, you have complete control of the camera, and it should have been the same for inside as well.

    The music for the game is simply fantastic. Unlike most games, there is a variety of music for battles, as well as countless other very memorable scores. Top that off with a great deal on the soundtrack, and you have the perfect music combination. Red Company is famous in Japan, and local import groups for their music, and Thousand Arms is no exception.
A 'babe'
Meis needs serious guidance  

    As we mention the music CD as one of Thousand Arms' extra goodies, one must mention that Atlus has gone all out with the goods. First came the 3'x2' poster with your pre-order from special outlets, and the demo disc at the same time. Then, once Thousand Arms was released with memory card stickers, a holographic card, a full color instruction book filled with colorful art, and the game itself. Atlus also decided to make their SoundTrack and MultiMedia CD availible for free, and a modest $2 shipping. A huge deal for the same price as any other game on the market.

    Thousand Arms enters the market quietly. No TV spots. No huge advertising budget. Just the word of the people who have fallen in love with it That's all it needs. The game speaks for itself. I invite everyone to join Meis in trying to win the hearts all of girls he can find, which is no easy task. When there is more than one on the screen at once can be a real handful. Meet many alive characters with indepth background, explore beautiful areas to inticing music, and battle many different monsters with a wide arrange of attacks, and sometimes even a hint of personaility. Oh, and don't forget to save the world.



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