An RPG That Is Special In It's Own Way
Enchanted Arms is a Japanese style RPG that was originally released alongside the Xbox 360 in Japan to help sell the system. It took around 6 months to get the game ready for the U.S. Market, and based on the script, it leads me to believe that either the Japanese that made this game have a twisted sense of humor...or translating this game went horrible. Due to the extreme amount of situations that make it seem something was mistranslated, the logical conclusion is that all of the odd dialogue was meant to be there from the start.
The Story begins with you following a Student in an Enchanting School in the City of Yokohama. Shortly after you meet the hero Atsuma, you find that he is less interested in his studies as he is in having fun. Atsuma and his buddies ditch school to attend a festival being held in the city square. During the fair the backbone of the plot evolves as a Devil Golem is released from its keep and ultimately destroys the city. Throughout the game you follow Atsuma as he tries to discover what happened to Yokohama, and ultimately avenge the incident.
As you progress through the game you can collect Golems, which are machines built by humans using Ether (which is the ultimate life source in the world of Enchanted Arms). The game feels a little bit like Pokemon in that sense, as the stat page does keep track of how many of the Golems you have collected. These collected Golems can also be used as members of your party, to fill any spots that you need to get up to the Max Party limit of 4. However you will find that through most of the game, the main story characters will have a much better fit in your party than any of the Golems that you come across.
One unique aspect of Enchanted Arms is its Turn-Based, Grid-Based Battle System. The battle system works a lot like it would in Mega-Man Battle Network if you eliminated the whole card aspect of that game. And to much surprise it works quite well. This is because many of your battles come down to beating your enemies in the quickest amount of time, and learning how to use the grid effectively will become crucial as you progress through the game. If you can manage to dispose of the enemies in one turn your team loses no vitality points or VP. Each character's VP decreases with each battle, and if you go extended periods of time without finding a Healing Station, the depth of your team will definitely be important.
A major complaint with Enchanted Arms is with how the difficulty seems to jump a few steps near the end of the game. Throughout your journey it seems as though there isn't much need to pointlessly fight random battles outside those that get in your way during the main story. You can avoid power leveling nearly the entire way through the game and still be fine as long as you have a steady understanding of the pokemon style weakness and resistance game play and a strategic mind. It is when to you come to the final battle that you realize that the game really doesn't do a good job in preparing you. With no advanced leveling techniques you will be made waste by the final boss time and again, only before you either devote numerous hours into leveling in the conventional way, or finding the best possible way to exploit the London City Casino (which I will go into much further in just a moment) so that you can by an item that can give you a quicker way of leveling. It is the one major flaw of the game, as I found it brought me to a dead stop until I wasted 4 or so hours getting my characters to where they could finally get past the battle.
As I mentioned before there is a Casino in London in which you can play Blackjack, Roulette, Slots, Bingo, or if you want a little practice you can opt to battle some golem teams to make some extra cash. The Casino however does not have much lasting appeal on the basis of the short "mini-games" that you can compete in. By no means does it even begin to touch the kind of thing that Final Fantasy VIII or X accomplished with Triple Triad or Blitzball (respectively). However the Casino is what can make or break your experience with Enchanted Arms. There is a way to exploit this establishment and get all the money you ever need, and if you choose to do so in your first trip through London City, the game can become quite boring since most of the challenge is taken away when you can buy whatever your little heart desires. I think if some more thought had been put into the Casino it would have made things a bit tougher on the player, but as it is, you can either choose to enjoy the game for what it's worth or rush through it in order to score you achievement points and make your Gamertag happy.
Game play aside, the graphics in Enchanted Arms are impressive, however not jaw dropping. Oblivion and Ghost Recon set the standard for "Launch Title" graphics (seeing as how they were released only a few months after the system launch I consider them Launch Titles), however Enchanted Arms does a great job in holding its own. The environments, while not fully interactive, do a very good job in setting the atmosphere. The characters also look quite crisp; however the ridiculous poses they assume during their still frame conversations can diminish the gravity of a serious situation quite quickly. However overall I would say that the graphical design of the game was fully met, and if you are one who needs to see the next-gen graphics engines you would be satisfied with how the game looks.
To go along with the graphics is some of the most goofy voice acting I have heard in some time. Although the voices do fit for the most part, the way the lines are delivered and emphasized indicates that Enchanted Arms was never meant to be taken seriously...because if it was the voice acting would be infinitely better. With that said, the script is written in such a way that the Voice acting doesn't take away from it...because the dialogue is written with much toilet humor and tongue and cheek kinds of things that it really is impossible to play this game and not either laughing hysterically or thinking to yourself what the hell am I playing. I would even go so far as to say that the shoddy voice acting nearly fits this game perfectly.
With such a tongue in cheek script that basically pokes fun at all the typical RPG stereotypes, I would recommend this game to anyone who has a very immature sense of humor (as I do) or those who want to play an RPG that doesn't take itself so seriously. The game is well worth the asking price, with enough content to keep you busy for hours after you finish the story (if you try to collect all the golems) and a main quest line that takes over 30 hours, it won't disappoint. With Enchanted Arms as a launch title it's a wonder why more Xbox 360s weren't sold in the land of the rising sun.