Enchanted Arms Review

I'm sure you have noticed that within any specific genre there are very different sub-genres. So even if you say you like role playing games you kind of need to narrow that statement down some by saying if you like American style RPGs or the more traditional Japanese style RPGs. Back in the day I really liked the Japanese RPGs but in the past several years they have started to irritate me and I found myself heading toward the more American style games. Earlier this year a decidedly American RPG hit the Xbox 360 named Oblivion and it pretty much rocked. But if you loved Japanese RPGs this was nice but still wouldn't quite hit the spot. Now UbiSoft and FromSoftware are hoping to fill that void by releasing a real Japanese RPG for the 360 called Enchanted Arms. Can Japaneses-style RPG gamers claim a monster hit like Oblivion? Short answer, uh, no not even close. But don't start crying yet because while not every game released can be an Oblivion, they can still provide a bit of entertainment nonetheless.

Enchanted Arms (EA) scared me when I first started playing it. Not more than 30 seconds into the game I was seeing a lot of the things that started to turn me against Japanese style RPGs a while ago. Most of what I didn't like was the turned based fighting and the silly attacks and the opening scenes of EA were full of both. So I did what any self-respecting game reviewer would do...I turned off the game and went to bed. But I still had a review that needed to be written and, since I couldn't bribe my girlfriend or dog into doing it, I returned the next day determined to endure whatever painful gameplay awaited me because, darn it, I'm a professional! I was sure I was going to find a boring been-there-done-that story followed by insanely tedious battles and lots of cute little creatures that wanted to join my party. While I did indeed find some of these things what I also found, quite unexpectedly, was that I kept playing the game. Maybe I can explain why...

The basic Enchanted Arms story is as familiar as any. You play as a young cocky kid, Atsuma, who does not understand his full potential, has a good heart, but also finds himself getting into trouble because of his hot temper. Atsuma is an unlikely hero...yea, we have certainly play this story before. The game starts with Atsuma at an university studying to be an Enchanter, this is kind of like a magician only not as cool. We soon realize that he is not the best of students but he does happen to be friends with Toya who is probably the smartest person on the planet as he proves throughout the game by giving Atsuma hints and background information on every aspect of the world. Oh, and I could not possibly write about Enchanted Arms without mentioning another college friend of Atsuma's, Makoto. Makoto is, and this might be a first in the world of RPGs, a flamboyant transvestite. I don't have anything against this in the slightest but I'm not sure if the transvestite world would like the totally one-dimensional portrayal given by Makoto who at one point tells Toya that he made him lunch that includes the “pinkest of pickles.” Not exactly sure what that means, but I got an idea and I'm not sure if it's appropriate in a T-rated game! For the most part, EA is full of interesting characters, especially at the beginning. But some of them are a little strange, like the character “Woman Who Adores Her Brother” who watches, and adores I assume, her brother from the distance, or the student named “Bad Egg Likely to Stay Back a Year”, or the good times I had with “Man Who Smells of Drink”. Creepy.

Atsuma quickly talks his two friends into skipping school in order to go into Yokohama City and see the annual festival. During this first part of the game we learn a little history about the world, how the battle system works, and even things like how to press the A button. What I mean is that the game has tutorials for the most simple of tasks to the point where I was having even my limited intelligence insulted, and if I'm thinking the game is talking down to me I can only imagine how the rest of the gamers must feel. You will learn about the Golem War that happened 1,000 years ago. As time past by people had forgotten why the war happened in the first place but reminders of the war where everywhere in the form of golems. These golems are humanoid servants created during the war. Most were made to kill and would follow those instructions until they were destroyed. So these things went around tearing up the world until one day they just shut down. Why? No one knows. So you can probably see where this is going if you have ever played a RPG before. Something starts to wake up these golems and they continue on their original task of wrecking havoc. Golems awake, some are insanely powerful, the world is in peril, you get the idea. You will also learn that Atsuma has a very special arm, one that can negate the powers of enchantment, which gives not only golems power but basically supplies power for the whole planet, and that this arm will play a big role in the future. The lesson here kids is that if you have some sort of freakish oddity about you, don't sweat it because it will most likely help save the world one day.