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Review - Thousand Arms (PS1) (Read 3340 times)
Nightcrawler
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Review - Thousand Arms (PS1)
Jun 5th, 2013 at 1:37pm
 
I played through Thousand Arms recently. It is probably best known for it's perverse humor (some scenes are laugh-out-load hilarious), novel dating-sim portions, and unique comic-book style anime cut-scenes (Reminded me of Wild Arms 4). It was a pretty quick paced, mostly fun game. It was held back in a few areas of mediocrity, some significant (like the battle system) that might be a deal breaker for some people. However, I give it an overall positive review and would recommend a play-through if you aren't turned off by the battle system.

Dating:

The dating system is probably what this game is most known for, but really it wasn't that big of a part of the game. Basically, you're required to date girls and raise your intimacy levels with them in order to forge weapons with them for spells and skills. In fact, it is the ONLY way to get any spells or skills in the game! It was certainly a novel addition to the typical RPG, especially of that time period. It was a nice little side thing to do to break up the usual dungeon/town cycle. It also helped fill a gap of otherwise low character development. It was a welcome feature in the game and I think the game was better because of it.

Unfortunately, the questions become repetitive. Every girl seems to have a common bank of questions. However, the exact wording and responses were tailored to their  personalities. Nonetheless, it did become repetitive at times because of it. Also, I think the translation wasn't great because there were numerous questions and associated responses that didn't seem to make any sense. I didn't like that it was required in order to get any skills or spells. I would have rather it been completely or mostly optional just giving you extra spells and skills. With 9 girls and 10 intimacy levels each, you'd have to spend a very long time (hours and hours) dating to get all spells and skills!

I also wanted to mention each girl has a mini game you could play such as Wack-a-mole or Blackjack. You can give them presents too. Both of those aid in addition to dating in raising the intimacy level with the girls. Lastly, my favorite was Sodina. Smiley

Story and Characters:

The game starts with our hero Meis roaming around hungry and near passing out. While roaming, you get flash backs of the events leading up to the present. The Dark Acolytes attacked his town and drove everyone out. His father was head of the town as a Spirit Blacksmith. Meis soon collapses trying to save a girl named Sodina surrounded by thugs.  She has a brother named Jyabil who is a master spirit blacksmith (much better than his father who never took it seriously) and Meis starts as Jyabil's apprentice. Soon, Shmidt, Jyabils other apprentice returns and starts causing trouble. From there, there is an attack, a death, and a new journey to stop the Dark Acolytes. The games goes on to level off with typical RPG fare needing to find X holy flames while the bad guys foil your attempts for much of the game. However, it comes back with some stronger story telling toward the end to wrap things up. Overall, while the story didn't break new grounds, it was good for what it was, a quick, light-hearted romp with a focus on zany humor.

It would be a typical RPG adventure, except the whole game is light-hearted perverse humor. The characters are over-the-top and most all of them are girls. Meis is constantly trying to hit on any girl walking and he is usually smacked around for it! Sometimes it gets downright crazy and laugh-out-load funny. The scene with Nelsha and the Dress Master is one of the craziest and funniest scenes I've ever seen. It came out left field and surprised me.

There were quite a few characters. There is only one other male in your party and the rest are females of contrasting personalities. I think it is intended that is someone for everyone as this ties into the dating feature. While that means you will probably like some of the girls, you may find the other contrasting girls to be somewhat annoying. Normal in-game character development is pretty much limited to Sodina, Wyna, Kyleen, and Muza. That's mostly because real character development takes a little bit of a backseat in this game (focusing much more on humor and dating), so only the people you get early one get a solid effort. However, dating can enhance the character of any of the females as much as you'd like. If you date enough, you can learn a lot.

No character assessment is complete without the villains. The game had quite a few villains. Most of them were paper thugs so you had someone new to beat up on every few hours. However, a few villains were more interesting and got some development and the Emperor himself was awesome due to great voice acting. He didn't have any award winning dialog, but damn that voice actor made  every line  sound award winning!

Voice Acting/Sound:

This game had something like 12 hours of voice acting if I recall. That's definitely a highlight of the game. All of the dating is voiced and most major events too. Much of the voice acting was good. Meis, Sodina, and the Emperor were my favorites, while there were a few that sounded amateur and low budget. Overall, much of the voice acting was good and enhanced the script to sound better than it was. It went a long way to making this game come off better. Without it, it wouldn't have packed the same punch.

The music was pretty good, It was all  PSX midi synth. Nearly all tunes were upbeat. A few tunes got stuck in my head for awhile. The light-hearted atmosphere of the game never really allowed for any emotional pieces. So, it was fitting and good for what it was. Sound effects were fine and actually a bit zany when chasing after Bandigar in the factory. I'm not entirely sure if it was intentional or just low budget, but a person in a microphone was making all the sound effects. "BOING!!!" Funny stuff!


Graphics:

Graphics were similar to Grandia with 3D backgrounds and 2D sprites. The sprites were done nicely and well animated in an over-the-top fashion, which I like to see to help bring life to relatively small sprites. The cutscenes were comic-book style full screen anime drawings, except they were animated and there was in-game transition and not just a black screen. It was very unique. It was similar to Wild Arms 4, but different still. It's hard to describe. You'll have to check it out for yourself!


Gameplay:

Gameplay was generally typical RPG fare with a few differences. First, you pretty much only get one weapon per character. You can only advance it by forging with one of the girls in your party with elemental power. Basically, this means you don't get stronger until you can forge which can be weird. You can spend time in a dungeon and raise a bunch of levels, but they mean nothing until you go back to town and forge your weapon. This is also where dating comes in. When you raise the intimacy levels of the girls, you get spells and skills while forging your weapon. It was actually a bit of a difficult system to figure out until I got into it. I didn't understand exactly how it all worked, even after reading some guides. It's just something you need to figure out as you go. It will make sense and is simple after you learn it.

This game is probably most panned for the battle system. It's a Final Fantasy style active-time turn based system, with one major pothole. Only one character can be actively be in the front line. You can only attack or do offensive spells with the character in the front line. Everybody in the back line can't do a darn thing, but healing or support spells and only one collective action at that! The enemies also have these same limitations! This makes for some slower and sometimes frustrating battles. However, it wasn't too slow for me because I typically power-leveled my character so he could end battles fairly quickly. I would agree with critics. It was a fatal flaw in the game play and the game would have been up in very good territory instead of average if they simply didn't do this. I have no idea why they thought that would be a good thing.

Lastly, there was no camera control so that was annoying in towns and dungeons. It made dungeons more difficult because it was so easy to get lost, especially because after every battle, you're character reset the direction faced! The dungeons were already fairly large and 'mazy' before these extra handicaps.

Beyond the items above, the gameplay was typical RPG fare and was OK.
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« Last Edit: Apr 4th, 2015 at 12:47pm by Nightcrawler »  

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Re: Review - Thousand Arms
Reply #1 - Jun 7th, 2013 at 12:48pm
 
Holy crap it's been years since I even thought of this game. I didn't make it all the way through when I played it years ago, as the battle system was just too slow for my taste. I did like some of the ideas, but the fact that progression of weapons and sells was entirely linked to dating, and the alternative was long battles kind of killed the fun. I did enjoy the mini-games though.

The Grandia comparison is apt, if only it had that games battle system it may have been an all-time favorite of mine.

I also remember the sprites being a bit awkwardly sized for some reason. On paper it's the precursor to the modern Persona games  Tongue

I tried looking up who voiced the emperor, but a quick google search didn't reveal anything.

Any idea what's up next for you?

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Re: Review - Thousand Arms
Reply #2 - Jun 10th, 2013 at 9:17am
 
The list of voice actors is here at Mobys, however it doesn't list their characters. I didn't take note while the credits were rolling unfortunately.

I don't know what game will be next for me. I have been redirecting any gaming time to instead further Heracles along. I probably won't be able to play anything for awhile. I may throw in Super Mario Galaxy or something else that I can play in very short spurts.

You never know with me. It could be an old game, it could be a new game. I have a pile of games for years that I have not yet had the time to play. There is no pattern to my madness. I game where my whims take me! Smiley
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