Enchanted Arms Review
If anyone is wondering who From Software are they are the creators of games such as the Armoured Core series, the Otogi series, Techu series as well and of course the 360’s own beloved mech stomping game, Chrome Hounds. The Armoured Core series spans at least 13 games over many different platforms and the Otogi games graced the Xbox back in the day. If you look at From Software’s back catalogue they certainly make a wide variety of games and cover all formats so what has From Software now brought to the 360? The gripping story of a floppy blue haired, angry boy called Atsuma, a good looking know-it-all popular with the ladies by the name of Toya and a theatrically over the top, super effeminate man who goes by the name of Makoto. No, I am not talking about my last weekend out on the town, it is From Software’s RPG called Enchanted Arms and I am here to let you know what the game is all about.
Most people fall in to one of two categories, you either love RPG’s or you hate them with an unending passion. Depending which one you fall into will shape your views on Enchanted Arms because what this game does is very typical of Japanese style RPG’s all the way through. With its combination of bizarre characters, cheesy dialogue, turn based combat and a gameplay time more than 40+ hours, Enchanted Arms is pretty much the best Jap RPG on the 360. I say this because it also happens to be the only Jap RPG on the 360 and what it does it does well, even if it is very odd and overly eccentric. My only word of caution when it comes to this game is that it takes time to get to the meat of the game. Those that have been brought up on vast amounts of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger and countless other old school RPG’s will know all about grid combat, turn based combat and flying damage numbers but these are the ones that will dislike Enchanted Arms because it feels like a huge step back for the genre. Turn based is too old school for many and the though of restrictive grid combat is enough to make you rip up your wizard hat in disgust. Then throw in the random battle encounters within Enchanted Arms and you are asking for a whole world of hurt.
I have not really got into an RPG since the days of Final Fantasy 7 since I have moved onto the online side of RPG’s. [You are a beardy geek – Ed] This means I have not really played any of the newer RPG’s with their creative combat styles or kooky character back-stories. I am still stuck in the SNES RPG days, so turn based is still fun to me and the weird dialogue that flows through Enchanted Arms makes me laugh instead of grinding my teeth in rage. Maybe I should add another category to “Love RPG’s” and “Hate RPG’s” and that would be Love them but not played anything in the last few years. This new group of people are the ones that will actually enjoy Enchanted Arms and will get the most fun out of it but for some odd reason From Software had the worst start to an RPG ever. When a game starts on a bad point, it does no bode well for the rest of the game. Enchanted Arms biggest mistake is throwing you into a fight within the first 20 seconds of game time, not explaining any of the controls and combat mechanics and putting you into a fight you can never win. You start combat with the main three characters, Atsuma, Toya and Mokoto who also have a very limited amount of combat ability but not even knowing the controls for combat just feels wrong. Once you have bumbled through this bit and a few more minutes into the game you then get a combat tutorial. Hello? Make me fight and lose and then tell me how to fight? From Software! What were you thinking when you showed the tutorial for the initially confusing combat and odd grid system after your first fight? Kids these days, pah. [Deep breaths, deep breaths -Ed]
This problem is only a minor one in the end since the first fight is over in a few rounds and the real game begins. Playing as the lead character Atsuma, who is the brawn without the brains which the game delights in proving to you. Monster guarding some stuff? Punch it. Want to open some carelessly discarded crates? Punch it. Me punchy man, me punch stuff good. You then have Toya who happens to be your best friend and also spends most of his time educating you in the way of being smart. Toya talks to you when you come up against something new and prompts you which button is needed to pressed in order to do something. This usually happens to be the A button which is pretty much used for everything from opening doors, talking to people, punching crates and um…punching barrels! By far the most entertaining person in Enchanted Arms is Makoto. I do not want to offend anyone but he is the most overly gay computer character I have ever seen or heard in my life. Not only does Makoto fancy the polygon panties off Toya, he has no issues in pronouncing his love at every opportunity. What makes this all the more weird is that Atsuma and Toya act completely oblivious to this fact and they carry on like nothing has been said, making it seem like they just disregard Mokoto sometimes. This also means that Makoto and Atsuma have the funniest bitch fights I have ever seen. Yes the voice acting is triple cheese with a side order of cheese but I could not help but laugh and enjoy it. Like most games the voice acting is basic and sometimes awkward but this all adds to the charm. Along with some excellent music and entertaining combat and character noises, Enchanted Arms does a nice job of the music and sounds effects. During a fight have the volume up and laugh at the noises some of the odder characters make, some of the squeaks and grunts are most entertaining.
Gameplay wise Enchanted is a monster because you are looking at 40 hours or more if you really get into it. Once you have sorted the combat out you can make up a team of 4 people. Each character is based upon elements, Fire, Earth, Water and so on. The team is made up of people you have met throughout the game and fancy little creatures called Golems. This is where Enchanted Arms gets really fun and complicated at the same time. There are 100 characters in this game and you get to choose from them all in order to make up your ideal team. While the human characters look fairly normal, the Golems are something completely different. The back-story to the Golems is explained as you play, showing that they were created as tools for humans but went a little mental and destroyed the world, nothing major of course. As you fight monster, not only do you get Exp with which to level your characters main stats, TB which is the games currency, you also pick up Power, Mind and Speed gems. These in certain quantities are used to make a Golem. The slightly more difficult side of this is in order to make a Golem you have to find a Core, either from the local shop or from killing special versions of each monster you encounter. The process is very simple but the variety of Golems you can create is fantastic and this is where the character design From Software has comes shining through. From the standard humanoid monsters, through to pizza shaped Golems, through to huge walking plants, the variety is huge and each one has built in moves and also moves you can teach them once you are purchased the right skill.
As you can see from this review, Enchanted Arms contains so much that doing a fairly short review is going to be impossible. Trying to cover everything that this game has in it would need a few more pages. Make sure you try out all of the tutorials the game throws at you as it will make playing this game so much easier and more enjoyable. Learning how to level up each of your team members, how to equip weapons and skills, all of this stuff is covered and will cut down on much of the heartache associated with most RPG’s. Throw into this a nice online mode which will let you fight your team against other people’s teams, which may seem a little tacked on at the end but it is nice to have extra modes there for us to play with.
Graphically this game is a mixed bag. Most of the character designs look great and fairly highly detailed, as do most of the levels you play in. Some of the games levels do make me feel like Phantasy Star Online for some odd reason, with the large open spaces and fairly linear path to follow. While the game does have some very pretty graphics and detailed character models, I am very sure that this game is not pushing the 360’s graphical horsepower one bit. Sure the cut scenes look very nice and the detail in some of the more crowded places looks beautiful, the game is doing enough to make the game feel and play well. Similar to your old girlfriend/boyfriend, not really stunning when it came to looks but he/she was good fun to be with. If you can get past the first few hours with Enchanted arms without getting annoyed at the turn based combat, the random encounters or the odd voice acting then you will really start to enjoy the game. While the combat initially seems slow and confusing, with a bit of practice and the use of the Y Button which fast forwards the combat, Enchanted Arms will grow on your. It will take a special kind of person to get into this game because it will feel very dated if an RPG pro gets their hands on it, it won’t feel faced paced enough for a FPS fan and many others will just think it is too weird to bother with.
If you are unsure about Enchanted Arms then I would say give it a shot and see what you think. It is very odd, won’t appeal to everyone but also contains some wonderful ideas and entertaining gameplay which would be a shame to miss out on. We are lucky really because without Ubisoft grabbing this title and publishing it, there is no way we would have seen it. So hats and beards off to Ubisoft for bringing us some RPG love and I am sure the 360 would have been a duller, less Mokoto filled world if they had not. [*goes off to thank Ubisoft personally* -Ed]
Originally Written By: Barrie Rogers