Kimberley Ellis
09 Mar, 2011

Lord of Arcana Review

PSP Review | Just another imitator.
After spending a few minutes with Lord of Arcana, it becomes quite apparent that the title presents itself as a title in the mould of monster-slaying action games such as Monster Hunter Portable – a title so popular in Japan that it rivals its fellow handheld title Pokemon in the popularity stakes. It’s a premise that many of us have taken up over the years, and some titles do it exceedingly well. Heading out into the big, bad world as you control your hero through a series of quests, tinkering with armour and weapons crafted from the spoils of your slain enemies, and trekking through distant lands as you find even bigger and badder monsters to stick the pointy end of your sword into. When done right, these games can provide many hours of enjoyment and at first glance Lord of Arcana looks to be a more accessible, action-orientated take on the Monster Hunter formula, but alas the illusion is short-lived as you soon come to realise that Lord of Arcana isn’t trying to refine the monster-hunting experience – it’s blatantly ripping off something we have experienced before. From the layout of the HUD to the gameplay mechanics, Lord of Arcana attempts to be as close of a clone to Monster Hunter as possible. Unfortunately, Monster Hunter’s creative brilliance is a rare feat which has not been successfully imitated by this laborious title.

Lord of Arcana introduces players to the world with a short and languid storyline which sets up the premise of an ancient power awaiting to be unlocked by you, the ‘Chosen One’ – because we’ve never heard that one before... On your way to unyielding power you must set off onto a quest, trekking the lands to collect materials in order to craft armour and weapons of great power to enable you to conquer the eight Arcana - large monsters that embody the greatest magical power.

You're slayed. Can I have my power now?

You're slayed. Can I have my power now?
As you would expect with this genre of game, the gathering and creation of items in order to bump up your powers is the game’s forte. Players will be able to access five weapon categories which each unlock their own unique fighting styles and powers. Various pieces of armour can be upgraded with orbs in order to boost your skills or unlock previously forbidden powers. The final piece of the puzzle are the magic cards which you can collect, allowing you to be able to casting powerful spells or summon creatures - such as Final Fantasy’s Bahamut.

The entire game features a bare-bones presentation that is devoid of any positive features. This uninspired game design is apparent from beginning to end, from the mundane monster-filled fields that you spend your time traversing to the bland village that houses the vendors that you trade with, every new location contains scenery that is utterly featureless. Given that the game focuses so heavily on constant travel through the game world, the lack of care in this area is thoroughly disappointing.
If you thought that the featureless presentation was bad enough, Lord of Arcana’s area design is just as baffling. The game divides areas into different sections that you can run through as you’re collect items and partaking in some monster killing. Except that as you approach a monster to engage in battle, the game curiously warps the pair of you to a large circular arena for the battle to tak place. Why the developer decided to take this approach is confusing as all it seems to accomplish is to add an additional step to the already tedious activity that is the game’s repetitive combat mechanic. This is also aggravated by the fact that you’ll encounter very few different types of creatures during the first few chapters of the game.

A better option would have been for the main game area to have been made slightly larger in order for battles to take place there - which would greatly cut down on the amount of unnecessary scene transition (and eventual boredom). While the gameplay mechanic is a little stale, players can take some solace from the fact that the character animations are fluid and the game’s control scheme works well.

Fluid animations and intuitive controls are some of the few qualities that the game has going for it.

Fluid animations and intuitive controls are some of the few qualities that the game has going for it.
Despite its many flaws, Lord of Arcana will hold an appeal to a certain kind of gamer, thanks to its equipment crafting mechanic. You’ll find that after a few item gathering quests that the game has some promising possibilities for item crafting. This will suit the compulsive gamer who enjoys continually collecting items through exploration in order to seek out special materials which can be used to craft some seriously cool gear.

Lord of Arcana does support multiplayer gameplay, a feature that should certainly be expected from titles of this genre. If you have a few friends with PSPs and a copy of the game, Lord of Arcana will support co-operative play for up to four people. Unfortunately, the advent of co-op gameplay does nothing to draw attention away from the game’s laundry list of faults, instead compounding them with the big issue being that Lord of Arcana has no online play – leaving it with another Monster Hunter feature that it can’t compete with. If you are lucky enough to get an ad-hoc game started, you’ll more than likely wish you didn’t as Lord of Arcana’s clunky mechanics succeed in only ruining the experience for you. One frustrating aspect we came across is that if you happen to get into a brawl with a monster in a different part of the map than the rest of your party, they will not be able to join in, leaving your party of one in the precarious position of either having to fend of your enemy alone, taking the coward’s way out and doing a runner or biting the dust. Whichever option you take, the rest of your party will be forced to stand around and twiddle their thumbs while you take care of business. To really add insult to injury, if you or any of your party happen to die mid-quest, everyone will receives a game over screen and the entire quest will come to an abrupt end – a pretty annoying conclusion to come about all because someone bumped into the wrong monster!

As negative as we might sound about Lord of Arcana's problems, there is still enough about the title to like that some gamers will find enjoyment from it – particularly those biding their time until the release of another Monster Hunter Portable game. However, if monster-hunting isn’t your niche, this might be one to stay clear of. For gamers that are fascinated by the Monster Hunter Portable phenomenon our advice is to forget the imitator and head straight for the real deal.
The Score
For gamers that are fascinated by the Monster Hunter Portable phenomenon our advice is to forget the imitator and head straight for the real deal. 4
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Lord of Arcana Content

Lord of Arcana trailer
23 Aug, 2010 You create a warrior and hunt monsters...sound familiar?
Square Enix announces new PSP title
14 Jul, 2010 And it's not Final Fantasy.
Lord of Arcana trailer
23 Aug, 2010 You create a warrior and hunt monsters...sound familiar?
1 Comment
3 years ago
Admittedly I was intrigued by this title as trailers and impressions fobbed it off as another Monster Hunter clone.

But in reality this aint no Monster Hunter 3rd Portable (as what the review pretty much says)! There is only one Monster Hunter 3rd Portable!

For those who play this game, Alatreon is my bitch!
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