|Sometimes you run across one
of those games, in this case Thousand Arms, that leaves you with mixed feelings, much like
a movie where youre not sure if you exactly like it or not once youve exited
the theatre. Were the special effects that cool? How about the story line? The
acting? Know what I mean? This game offers the insidious voice-over, something I deplore
in games (at least when they hire cheesy actors to say cheesy lines). But surprisingly, it
is an entertaining foray into the RPG genre with a nice mixture of the dating genre thrown
in, adding to the overall uniqueness of the game, and making it one of my favored RPGs,
but not necessarily the greatest one.
First off for a game that spans two discs, its pretty damn short on boss characters, enemies and overall conflict. It seemed to me that Atlus is trying to balance the dating aspects with the role-playing aspects. For this I applaud them, but unfortunately I have to condemn them for not focusing in on either side, or for that matter investing the time to hone both sides, making this a morehow should I say it?unique game than it already is.
The way you traverse the game-world will remind players of Star Ocean or Final Fantasy among others, yet unlike the former and much like the latter youre able to save anywhere on the world map, which is something Ive always admired in games. I like to save often, mainly because I dont like going back through shit that took me an hour to do. The graphics are pretty basic, and reminiscent of the anime RPGs of past ages: little body, big head, wander around a lot. Granted, there are nice anime sequences with, shiver, those hideous voice-overs that gaming companies for some reason think are cool, as well as really well done FMVs sprinkled throughout the game (you dont get your first until you meet the pirates on disc one). But, other than those aspects, Thousand Arms breaks away from the norm.
You play the character of young Meis, the son of a Spirit Blacksmith, which is of course your profession in the game. The problem is that your city and territories have been invaded and taken over by the Dark Acolytes, because youre father, and for that matter your entire lineage, have been running after girls more than focusing in upon what is at hand: invasion, loss of title and lands. The story starts with Meis wandering back to his village, Kant, to find his father after the Dark Acolytes have pulverized everything. The beginning is littered with flashbacks that pound into you the importance of both chasing after women and building your skills as a Spirit Blacksmith (something the player has to decide for themselves during the course of the game).
So now that you have the story, its time for the game play. The controls are pretty easy to figure out. Instead of being forced to hold down a button to run, you have to hold down a button to walk, which makes for a much less aggravating game, I think. I hate having to go through the options menu or hold down a button so I can move quickly across the screen in an RPG. When it comes to battles, they are more one on one conflicts rather than a whole party against another party. Combat is done via your lead character. This can be changed, of course. Essentially, when you enter a confrontation your lead character has a set of choices, ranging from attacking and defending to summoning or using magic, while the other characters in your party can either stand by, or use magic or an item to attack or mend the lead character. For awhile, this combat system threw me. Im too used to the however-many-characters against a horde of enemies. In this respect, the battles are much easier. Youre allowed the time to attack and focus in upon one enemy instead of an assortment, while also being able to heal your main fighter in the front. This also makes it one of the drawbacks if youre into a strategic-type of battle situation. Theres no way to have your characters focus on separate opponents, both making the battles more challenging and engaging.
The area I didnt think would take too much concentration was the dating aspect of this game, but it did, meaning I screwed (no pun intended) myself out of a few things on the initial play. In order to upgrade your weapons you must work on them in a blacksmith shop and in order to make them better weapons you must have increasingly higher levels of intimacy with your female characters. This is done through the dating scenarios, so if youre a bad date (meaning you answer the questions incorrectly) youre not going to advance too far. All battle aside, this was the most challenging aspect of the game for me, since Im inherently truthful when it comes to dating. In this game it hurts to be rude. Almost every place you go will have a statue from which youll be able select certain options: date, present or mini-game. Most of the time you should select date. From here you wander around the town and find a suitable place to take your date. Oh, as an aside you cant take them to the hotel, because...well, just try it. Its an amusing answer when you do. Once youve increased your intimacy with a particular character you can hone your partys weapons to be stronger and hold different powers.
For a game that tries to mix dating and role-playing Thousand Arms generally succeeds. At any rate, itll give good practice to those people who arent up to speed on what one should and should not say to a female, especially when they are digital women and mean the outcome of the game. Id recommend this game to any casual RPGer, but not to any hardcore veteran out there.