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Neville Nicholson
04 Jun, 2007

Enchanted Arms Review

PS3 Review | You can't hug a child with enchanted arms.
Both the original Playstation as well as the PS2 were well known for their expansive catalog of high quality RPGs, and since the system’s launch last year, proud new Playstation 3 owners have been waiting for that must-have next generation RPG experience.

Is Enchanted Arms that experience? Put succinctly: no. Is it a decent title with enough going for it to be worth a look-see? Very possibly.

It’d certainly be considered more than truth bending to say that the game offers anything you haven’t seen before. Random battles, huge boss encounters, melodrama, characters with dubious taste in hair/clothes/sexual preference… it’s all here in spades. But although what Enchanted Arms does may not be new, it’s at least done well.

Like any self-respecting Japanese RPG, Enchanted Arms is set in an original universe, and our introduction to this world is Atsuma, who is a student at Enchant University… not to be confused by that other magical campus, as evidenced by the lack of magic wands and English accents. Atsuma plays the “lazy-student-with-a-good-heart-deep-down-who-ends-up-learning-responsibility-fighting-the-big-bad-and-saving-the-world,” and whilst getting from point A to point B is as linear an experience as one could imagine, the storyline is functional, and the dialog interesting enough.

"Behold, my Magic Cursor of Doom!"

"Behold, my Magic Cursor of Doom!"
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Cutscenes are presented in 2D style, with static images of the characters on screen, foregoing any in-game engine or FMV nonsense. In practice, the presentation seems sorely lacking, but at least there’s a fair degree of voicework involved and, whilst undeniably on the cheesy side, it can often be more entertaining as a result. These cutscenes are made more pleasing by the fact that when you skip a person’s dialog, rather than cutting out instantly, the character’s voice trails off while the next begins, which gives the illusion of a real conversation where people are talking over one another. It may seem a minor feature, but it’s one that we’d like to see incorporated in other RPGs in future.

What we wouldn’t like to see incorporated in future titles are the random encounters and the battle system in general, which, whilst not painfully dull, is neither particularly interesting or exciting. In essence, Enchanted Arms shares more in common with titles such as Star Ocean and Final Fantasy Tactics, as battles are presented on a grid, where positioning of your characters is the key to success, like a very simplified, animated version of chess. Positioning enables your characters to perform different attacks, which are also dependant upon your power gauges, and managing these two elements is the only way to ensure victory. Most of these battles are on the easy side, but conversely, not on the quick side – there’s certainly no button mashing the “X” button to steal a quick victory away from underpowered foes here. Your enemies will position themselves to avoid your attack and maximize theirs, though you’ll often find they stray right into your line of fire like ducks at a shooting gallery (a game which, ironically, you may find more fun).

It's like something out of Shadow of the Colossus... but on fire.

It's like something out of Shadow of the Colossus... but on fire.
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Having already been released some time ago on the Xbox 360, potential purchasers should be warned away from buying this game to witness the full potential of the Playstation 3 hardware. Disregarding resolution issues, it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest that the PS2’s crowning glory – Final Fantasy XII – looks as good, if not better in many respects. That said, Enchanted Arms isn’t an affront to the eyes – it simply doesn’t achieve anything but average performance. Environments are large, but feature little-to-no detail, and whilst the characters look presentable, the animation is far from fluid. There’s little advantage to playing the game in hi-definition, except that in a game with so much text, playing on a standard definition TV could lead to considerable eye strain. As is to be expected with a Japanese RPG, the power attacks are a sight to behold, though you’ll tire of watching them eventually (there is at least a “fast forward” option available in battle to speed up the process).

For those who simply must compare, the Playstation 3 version has several minor alterations from the 360 version which preceded it, but it’s nothing that should sway owners of both consoles to purchase one version over another. There’s a minor use of the SIXAXIS motion sensing, wherein a minigame enables you to charge one of your power gauges, but its entirely forgettable and unnecessary. The PS3 version also lacks an online multiplayer mode which was included in the 360 version, but it’s no terrible loss. Either way, in all major respects each version is fundamentally the same, with no graphical upgrades/downgrades present.

"Your shields are no match for my radioactive bowling ball!"

"Your shields are no match for my radioactive bowling ball!"
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As stated, although the voice acting is occasionally overdone, it’s not terrible (there are definitely worse culprits), and even if the character’s voices begin to grate on your nerves, you can choose to switch to the Japanese voices. Sound effects are what one would expect, and the soundtrack is decent enough – although you’re unlikely to start humming it to yourself the next time you’re out shopping. At very least, neither the voice acting nor the music become annoying, which is a problem with many RPGs, as the genre generally requires such audio elements to be played and repeated often.

Enchanted Arms has a lifespan of about 40 hours, but there are many hidden items/creatures to be discovered, should you have the necessary patience. The game itself is relatively straight-forward, and whilst you won’t spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out where to go next, there’s a certain degree of backtracking involved. At any rate, unless you fall in love with the game, it’s unlikely that you’ll feel the need to stick around longer than necessary.

It’s undeniable that the Playstation 3’s library is on the small side at this point, especially in the RPG department. Irregardless, Enchanted Arms does nothing that particularly stands out, and there are superior experiences to be had on inferior hardware. But with that said, Enchanted Arms isn’t a bad game by any means, and thirsty RPG fans may find it a pleasant enough diversion.
The Score
Not particularly compelling, but its a decent enough addition to the PS3's RPG-starved library. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Enchanted Arms Content

Enchanted Arms Review
09 Oct, 2006 His arm really is enchanted.
Enchanted Arms Preview
16 Jun, 2006 Our impressions of the Xbox 360’s first J-RPG.
Enchanted Arms Review
09 Oct, 2006 His arm really is enchanted.
4 Comments
6 years ago
Not bad, that's a pretty fair review. I know you have to mark it down a bit since it has been on X360 for a while, but for all those who have a PS3, and not a 360, I highly recommend this game if you like RPGs. icon_smile.gif I personally think it looks a lot better than XII, and while it's not the best RPG out there, it can be a lot of fun, and will certainly keep you occupied or some time, at least 50 hours. Stay tuned for my reader review. icon_wink.gif
6 years ago
I have this on Xbox 360, and while I think the story and characters (especially the characters) are extremely interesting, and the concept behind the battle system is quite intruiging (I found myself having to use some serious brain power now and then), the random encounters break the game. I don't have anything against them per se, but since Enchanted Arms' battle system is so elaborate and the battles are so frequent (I'm talking every 10 seconds of walking), the game is ruined. Enchanted Arms would be a really fantastic game if the damn battles didn't happen so often. I ended up becoming far too frustrated to continue- I've got better things to do with my time. The characters, story and beautiful environments kept me going for about 15 hours but I couldn't take it anymore after that.
6 years ago
admeister wrote
Not bad, that's a pretty fair review. I know you have to mark it down a bit since it has been on X360 for a while, but for all those who have a PS3, and not a 360, I highly recommend this game if you like RPGs. icon_smile.gif I personally think it looks a lot better than XII, and while it's not the best RPG out there, it can be a lot of fun, and will certainly keep you occupied or some time, at least 50 hours. Stay tuned for my reader review. icon_wink.gif
I'm guessing you liked Motoko a lot.
6 years ago
i cant help but think you missed out on some pretty cool parts of this game, since you opted instead to race to the end, i actually think you should go back and finish the WHOLE experience, killing the ice devil golem isnt the only objective....
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Ubisoft
Developer:
  From Software
Players:
  1

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