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Tycho / on Tue, Sep 5 2006 at 5:00 pm

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Arms Aren’t Even That Cool

Like Chromehounds - another From Software game released to critical yawns - Enchanted Arms reviews haven’t really communicated the game. I’m playing it over Gabe’s shoulder, so I’m not the person to do it either.  Were I you, I might keep my eyes focused on the area directly beneath this post.

It’s actually sort of funny:  I turned down advertising for the game, as reactions to the import I’d read generated no faith in the title.  Now, every night when I go to bed I see that both Gabe and Robert are both ass deep in the Goddamn thing.  Robert is one of these completionist, Emerald Weapon-type motherfuckers so he’ll be under the hood for another week at least.  I was surprised to hear Gabe praising it with such force - he even brought in his hard disc yesterday, with the idea of chipping away at it.  Dedication.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s the best RPG on any platform, it’s not.  But if you actually like RPG conventions, it’s better than you’ve been lead to believe.  There are outliers, to be sure, but Japanese role-playing games tend to be fairly linear in terms of narrative and feature a ton of strategic combat.  These are genre staples.  If you don’t like those things, or if you wish they were something else, that isn’t really the genre’s fault.  If you told me that you weren’t fond of turf or kicking, I would hope that you’d have the wisdom to avoid soccer.  We’re really at that level.  If you want to swing a chain with a sword on it or pull off a dragon head, they make those games too. 

Action elements and phased or real-time experimentation have infiltrated this conceptual space to a tremendous extent, just as rich character advancement systems have bubbled up elsewhere - but those forays don’t represent the core of it.  There are, of course, iconoclasts who delight in the increasing hybridization of the traditional elements, on the grounds that the old ways have become staid and predictable. Well, yes.  That’s what makes them "old ways."  An "elemental" damage metaphor or a "turn-based" battle mechanic represent universal concepts of astonishing utility that everyone grasps instantly.  Like "hopping and bopping," these things constitute a kind of stable gameplay substrate upon which sometimes breathtaking elaborations are erected.

(CW)TB out. 

  big warm fuzzy secret heart


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