Bear with me, because today’s installment of the PlayStation Classics might make new owners of the PlayStation Classic a little upset. Arc the Lad is a great and memorable game! It is also a PSOne Classic. It is also on a PlayStation Classic, but not the one you can easily acquire in North America and Europe. No, this strategic-RPG is only present on the Japanese version of the plug-and-play system. Which is sad for people who wanted to get it packed with other games on a small microconsole, but is no big deal for PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 3 owners who can just hop onto the PlayStation Store and grab this game right away.
A Fine Lad
Arc the Lad is one of those games following young people tasked with saving the world. When it begins, one person isn’t aware of their destiny, while the other has some idea. Arc is looking for his missing father, who has been absent for 10 years. During his search, he meets Kukuru, a young woman who is supposed to protect the Flame Cion due to her lineage as a Sacred White Clan member. When the two meet, she had already inadvertently unsealed the Ark Ghoul to avoid an arranged marriage. After the two tidy up that mess, they realize Arc (and his father) were chosen by a Guardian to save the world from evil.
Arc and Kurusu then head out on a quest to save the world. This involves building up a party of other characters, sealing away monsters, collecting artifacts, and meet with various guardians and spirits. It involves a lot of turn-based, tactical battles, as you can expect. At the same time, while there is a lot here, it is a very manageable sort of Japanese RPG experience, as someone could probably beat it in under twelve hours if they rush, but maybe have a twenty hour journey if they don’t.
Perhaps Perfectly Portioned?
So, how is it that Arc the Lad can give someone a satisfying strategic experience without lots of level grinding or overstaying its welcome? Well, it comes down to how G-Craft designed it. When exploring the world, you only have access to Alatos, Millmana, Niedel, Seirya, and Zariban on the map. And when I say on the map, I mean you have a map in front of you, you select a specific location on the map, and you enter the castle, dungeon, fortress, or general fight. Sometimes, picking this place will send you right into a story event or fight, though there are some times when you can get to briefly look around. Still, the focus is really on its turn-based, strategic battles where you move units around the battlefield and take advantage of their skills as you fight foes.
Don’t take that to mean that this is a quick one-and-done game. There are extras you can enjoy. Most notably, you can head into the Forbidden Ruins. This is a dungeon with 50 floors. Though technically, you are going through 100 floors, because you have to fight the 50 floors to get to the bottom, then fight your way back up those 50 floors again! (It is much faster going back up than going through the 50 battles to get down.) If you take the trouble to tackle it, you can unlock Choko, one of the game’s hidden summons.
Also, Arc the Lad is only one part. After the game is saved, it goes directly into Arc the Lad II. When someone would beat the original game, they could save after defeating the boss (not naming names, to avoid spoilers and all). The data there, which would have things like character levels, would then transfer over to Arc the Lad II so you would be 100% for the next part of the story.
Blessed by the Guardians
Arc the Lad is a game people begged Sony for, back in the day. It was worth the pleading then and honestly, has aged well enough to return to now. It has some fun challenges, great sprite-work, and an interesting story. Go ahead and give it a chance? This PSOne Classic is $5.99 in the US PlayStation Store and £3.99 on the UK PlayStation Store. (Also, as a reminder, the PlayStation Classic that does not include Arc the Lad is $99.99.)