The Arc the Lad Collection was brought to American shores in 2002 by the Working Designs publishing company. It compiles the first three Arc the Lad games, plus the additional side-game “Arc Arena,” where monsters caught and tamed during the first two games are pitted against each other for rare rewards. The Collection is infamous for its “loading” features: data from the first game can carry over to the second. But is it worth it? Read on to find out.
If there’s one word that summarizes the Arc games, it’s “patience.” It takes patience to get through the first game so converted data can be used in the second. This is optional, however, since many characters appear in multiple games, it is beneficial to build up characters so they are adequately prepared later on.
The first Arc game takes no more than a few hours to complete, feeling like a prologue to the second game, which is the real meat of the trilogy. However, being the largest game, Arc II takes the most amount of patience. Like all RPGs, it’s imperative to build character stats (Strength, Defense and so on) in order to compete with increasingly tougher enemies. Unlike other RPGs, Arc II’s main focus is the upgrading/modification of weapons, armor and items.
This is where the patience comes in. Spread throughout the game are shops that allow the player to combine weapons and armor to make better items, as well as heightening item statistics (Broadsword becomes Broadsword+1, then +2, and so on). Yet this method is risky. Each item has a current level and a max level. Example: a Broadsword has a 1/15, 1 being the current level, 15 being the ultimate level (each item’s ultimate level is randomized). Additionally, the game can pre-maturely halt the development of said item. Players can circumvent this by constantly saving and re-loading files before and after upgrading to ensure the limit isn’t imposed. If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Since leveling up offers meager stat improvement, raising item statistics is better in the long-term. Again: patience.
Arc III trades this complex system for another. The optional tasks of taking jobs in the first two games becomes a mainstay of Arc III. Oftentimes the player must participate in random missions (slay a certain number of enemies here; deliver items to said person there) before they are allowed to progress through the game. This breaks Arc III’s momentum into sections: plot, job, plot, job, etc. Taking the time to complete this random tasks quickly drains the enjoyment factor. Again: patience.
The Arc games pulls no punches. They demand hundreds of hours of gameplay and viciously punish the unprepared. But if one has the patience, the end result is worth the preparation. You want a challenge? The Arc games are certainly that. Good luck.
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