Enchanted Arms

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki

Ubi Soft


Graphics: 9

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


Enchanted Arms purpose isn't so much as to entertain the consoles RPG audience. It's to sell the console to country that has done nothing short of flick a middle finger at every effort Microsoft has made to sell to them. Enchanted Arms is not the game that will cause Japanese gamers to jump on the chance to own the system, but it provides simple RPG fun in a gorgeous package.

enchantedarms1xbox360.jpg (93892 bytes)Easily pictured as a cover to those countless "For Dummies" books, Arms is as simple to play as some puzzle games like Tetris. This is a title that holds your hand constantly, giving tutorials on the tiniest things. There has to be a record somewhere for the number of times this game forces you to go through dialogue trees only to end up at "press A."

While the overworld and adventuring is generic and lacking in surprises, the battle system creates engaging conflicts. Using a grid system, the 8 by 8 battlefield allows for deeply complex strategy. Attacks, magic, defensive maneuvers, and general positioning are limited on a case-by-case basis. It's crucial to know attack distances, range of motion, and moves to ensure you're pushing out as much damage as possible.

Lower level battles can be handled by a surprisingly effective auto battle option. This allows for rapid story progression without having to work through the countless random battles you'll encounter. Boss battles are obviously where the system can be appreciated on a deeper level, especially when healing comes into play. Using some magic that can cure your four person maximum set of adventurers can actually spill over into the enemies side of the grid, affecting them as well. Some of these struggles can last upwards of a half hour, and not a minute goes by where the challenge isn't felt heavily.

It's in odd contrast to basic traveling and storytelling. Puzzles are generally solved through common sense or simply spinning the camera around. Enchanted Arms unique standout feature are the golems.

Tied into the game worlds history, these beasts can be added to the party when created with gems either earned in battle or found in various treasure chests. They function as any other party member; though generally bring with them a specific power that can prove beneficial. This also leads to a throwaway Xbox Live multi-player mode in which earned golems are taken into battle against another player. Unless you're a high level or completed the main quest, there's little point in even trying.

For a new player in the genre, they'll be overwhelmed by the customization options. While there are far too many stats that require constant attention including HP, VP, TB, SP and EP, it allows for the player to grow in strength with full control in how this happens.

Arms is unique in that all hit points are regenerated between every fight. This shaves countless hours running back to shops to find health potions or any other source of regeneration. Instead, you need to focus on vitality points. Best viewed as stamina, the longer your quest goes, the less effective the characters in your party become. This can make even smaller battles challenging, as a character with no VP will be dead with one hit. VP is regained at certain stations around the world or by purchasing potions at shops. This requires little backtracking and keeps the story moving smoothly.

Sadly, that story takes far too many turns that have little or no bearing on overall progression. Menial tasks are consistently forced upon the player to pad the running time. While visiting some gorgeous locales for an extended period is hard to complain about, running around trying to find a random item in a city with little clue as to its location is irritating.

It doesn't happen just a few times either. Required side quests are frequent, and offer little of any real value aside from extra experience. Closing in on hour 30, the grind begins to set in as dialogue (with aggravating voice actors at times) rambles on, characters make brief appearances before being tossed from the story all together and the player makes trips back and forth between multiple areas constantly.

Enchanted Arms is still strong enough to carry itself for the full length. RPG starved 360 gamers will enjoy this excursion until something else comes along to suit their needs. Its annoyances can be frequent, but this is a worthy ride with a superbly designed battle system that needs to be experienced.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 10:27 PM