Enchanted Arms (360) – Initial Impressions

I should note that one of the problems with going through sooo many games is that for RPGs, you can tend to lose track of the plot, characters, and combat/skills/magic stuff if you either drop it for long enough or try to play too many RPGs at the same time.  I had previous tries to do this, but it’s hard to do when a lot of RPGs come out in a few short months.  So I’ve decided to try to make it through one console RPG at a time; other games can be dispersed through this since they’re not plot heavy, and portable RPGs are a different beast.  I did start EA to about 10 hrs before (maybe 3 months ago?) but I decided to restart it to get back into the plot.

Anyway, Enchanted Arms brings a few decidedly non-JRPG elements to a JRPG: first, you can save anywhere (outside of battle) so there’s no need to race between fixed save points; these are also different from Quicksaves that, for example, the FF games on the GBA/DS have where the save is destroyed if you load from it.   Additionally, if you die in battle, you have the option to try the battle again, thus there’s almost no risk in the regular wanderings (they’re the usual invisible random monster encounters).   I think without these elements, there was no chance for this game getting to the 360.

The combat is a turn based type approach, where each character you have can move about in a 3×4 grid and then have special attacks or defensive/healing spells that affect a specific part of the opponents’ 3×4 grid.  The idea adds some more strategy to the usually bashing, because the longer you spend in battle, the more Vitality Points (VPs) you lose.   Characters can fall in battle, but as long as they have VPs, they’ll be back at full health and power the next battle, and specific stations can be used to restore VPs, but should VPs drop to zero, that character is completely out until you can restore him or her at the next restoration point.  Fortunately, your party has more than just the human characters; the world is filled with special robots that you can collect cores, synthesize, and have fight along side you as characters, and thus you have 4 active characters with 4 more in backup.

The combat’s ok, but it can be drawn out a bit because of how long it takes to place each character and determine their move.  It would have helped if there was a way to see the pattern of influence that each move had without having to select it, as to make the strategy work out faster.   Fortunately, if you get into an area with rather easy monsters, you can, on a turn by turn basis, have the computer run your characters for you, which will make save attacks but may not be the fastest way to end the battle.

The characters are… well, odd.  The lead character’s got a notable lisp and is very very dense, but that just starts the pack.

It’s definitely a very different from from other JRPG, as many elements are definitely influenced by western games, but I know not to expect much.  The joke that’s been around since the announcement of EA for the PS3 is that PS3 owners will now too be able “to experience the mediocrity of EA” for themselves.

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