taintedsun's [eM] -eNCHANT arM- (Xbox 360) review

Enchanted Arms has its Moments as an acceptable RPG

Countless years ago, machines called Golems were created to do a single task until it was completed, even long after the one who gave the order perished. So, when this technology was used for war, it’s no surprise that the ideologies of those who were born and died, lived on through these machines. The Golem War, as it was later coined, raged for a thousand years, until finally, the most dangerous Golems, the Devil Golems, were sealed away. Now one of the Devil Golems is about to be reawakened, and you are going to be right in the middle of the action.

Enchanted Arms follows the story of Atsuma, a naïve student with a lot of spirit, and a mysterious gift. The focus of the game is based around Atsuma’s right arm, which is able to affect Golems in strange ways. His arm quickly gets him and his two best friends into trouble, as they reawaken a Devil Golem. To save not only his friends, but mankind as a whole, Atsuma must learn to control the gift he was given, and destroy the feared Devil Golem once and for all.

While the story in Enchanted Arms is a unique one, it is not particularly engaging. The story is told though voiced over scenes that place two of the speaking characters on the screen side by side. Enchanted Arms story is full of twists and turns, but they never seem to be much of a surprise, resulting in the story seeming sort of flat. Despite this, Enchanted Arms is able to keep you interested in the story line enough to where you will want to finish the game.

As you travel throughout the game you will find many characters and Golems to assist your quest. To obtain these Golems you first have to find their core. Sometimes these cores can be purchased at shops, but most are found by defeating certain enemies or discovering particular treasure chests. After a Golem core is obtained you will be able construct that Golem and use it in battle. There are over a hundred different Golems in the game, resulting in an infinite number of creatable teams.

The gameplay in Enchanted Arms requires you to select a team and battle them, turn-based style, against an opponent. Your teams consist of four characters, made up entirely of the main characters or a combination of the main cast and Golems. The characters you control are placed on a grid, while the enemy units are placed on an opposing grid. During battle you move your characters around your grid, but not cross into the opponent’s grid. This adds a bit of strategy to the game as the characters in the front are able to absorb damage that would have normally been dealt to the characters in the rear.

The fact that there are over a hundred Golems in the game makes for some interesting combinations and strategies. However, these strategies are sort of irrelevant, as there is always a best team to use in any given situation. Also, many of the most interesting Golems don’t show up in the game until the very end. Considering that when you create a Golem he or she starts off at the lowest level possible, with minimal health points, it is not really fun to build up those Golems, even though they are the most interesting and powerful.

Another downside to the game is the encounter rate. Being a turn-based RPG, it is expected that there will be random encounters. However, Enchanted Arms makes the encounter rate of other RPGs look trivial. Luckily, you have the ability to fast forward battles, which makes the battle animations occur much quicker. In the end, this seems to hurt the game, because after playing the game for about five hours, you are going to be fast forwarding every battle. To make matters worse, there is the option to auto-fight battles, which allows the computer select all your moves for you. Against most random encounters, and even some bosses, this method of auto-fighting and fast forwarding is successful. After playing the game for around fifteen hours, battles become a blur of pressing the same button while hearing and watching the same battle sounds and animations. To Enchanted Arms benefit there are a few memorable, and some what challenging, battles that occur in the game to keep you on your toes. Sometimes quality battles come in the form of random encounters, but most often they are boss battles.

Although the battle system has its flaws, the idea is quite interesting. Each of your characters has a certain amount of vitality points. For each turn they take in battle, they lose a single point. When their vitality points reach zero, the character starts the next battle with one HP and is unable to cast any spells. Therefore, it is the goal of each battle to defeat the enemy in the least amount of turns. After each battle, the life and energy you lose is replenished, allowing you to unleash all your most powerful skills each battle. There is also an interesting mechanism in the battle system that allows you to use combination attacks. Combination attacks occur when certain characters that you use more often than others all attack the same enemy character. During a combination attack, each of the characters involved in the attack appear on the screen in a sort of action-comic-book style window. When these occur there is a sense of satisfaction, especially if all four characters are involved.

To break up the monotony of never ending battles, there are a few mini-games to play. These mini-games consist of casino games and a battle arena. Most of the casino games are boring, unless you get huge pleasure out of betting and loosing money. The arena however is quite interesting. When you reach the area that houses the arena, you will only have access to a few battles, but as you start winning you will unlock more battles. In most cases you will be able to keep battling until you just barely slip by a particular group of enemies, and you’ll be forced to stop as you know the next group will only be harder. The rewards from these mini-games come in the form of special points that you can spend on prizes. The majority of them are items and weapons, but some of the prizes are special Golems.

Graphically, Enchanted Arms is not horrible, but does not stand out a great deal. The Golems and characters appear to be up to par, although it’s hard to see much detail while they are in battle. Character design is not what Enchanted Arms suffers from graphically, the problem is the environment. The key word here is dull. With so many quality RPGs on the market, such as World of Warcraft and Oblivion, it’s a bummer that Enchanted Arms didn’t push the envelope in the environment department. Cities are desolate and barren. Even when there are a lot of people around, it doesn’t seem like there is anything going on. What is even worse is that the outdoor environment is even more barren. When running from city to city it feels like you just stepped into the depths of space. Enchanted Arms is missing all the small nuances that make an RPG world come alive.

The battle animations in Enchanted Arms are not all that interesting. As the game progresses the skills you obtain become stronger, but there is no real “wow” factor from most of them. Although you know that the skills are stronger simply because their damage is higher, it’s hard to tell that they are really stronger just by looking at them. Most RPGs give you a good sense of feedback as your characters become strong. Enchanted Arms fails in this area, and can almost make you neglect purchasing newer skills.

The biggest complaint that most people have about Enchanted Arms is the American voiceovers. One the characters in the game, who happens to be gay, has horrible American voiceovers. In most cases, American voiceovers of Japanese titles are quite poor. Luckily, this is easily remedied by changing the voiceovers to Japanese and reading the subtitles. The rest of the sound in Enchanted Arms is acceptable. The spells and skills sound okay, but they are nothing special. The Japanese voiceovers in battle sound decent, but seeing as you probably won’t understand what they are saying, their quality is almost irrelevant.

Despite its many setbacks, Enchanted Arms is an entertaining game for any hardcore RPG fan. It’s also a game for anyone who enjoys Japanese animation, as the game is based firmly in the Japanese media style. With its interesting battle system, large cast of playable creatures, and extremely long gameplay, its worth picking up if you meet at least one of the two criteria above and aren’t an extremely unforgiving critique. Oh, and did I mention that the achievements are all extremely easy? Just beat the game and join the 1000 points club.

My game time - 45+ hours

Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 7
Sound - 6
Value - 7
Personal Preference - 7

Average Score – 7.0

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