Enchanted Arms


I was wondering if anyone else is interested in this game. It looks like a standard Japanese RPG, but it’s also one of the first (the first?) next gen games of the genre. These developers also created Otogi (an Xbox game published by Sega).

Along with Dead Rising and Ninety Nine Nights, it looks like the 360 is going to have a significantly better lineup of Japanese titles than the original Xbox did. Good news.

I am really anticipating this game, it seems like just a pretty standard JRPG with nothing amazingly original or innovative going on, but at the same time I really want to play it. I am definitely going to pick this up in the next couple of days.

The golem collecting looks fun, as do the wide spectrum of golems that actually exist (who doesn’t want the pizzaman?). I just hope the story isn’t too derivative and cliche so it will hold my attention throughout the supposed 40-50 hour length.

I find this thread interesting because, perhaps as a result of me no longer being a student, I find that I simply have no interest in games that are “more of the same.” I’ve played enough generic RPGs to not have any interest in a game, simply because it is on the 360 or whatnot. Particularly when you consider that for whatever ungodly reason, people expect RPGs to have 40 hours of gameplay, but I have yet to see a game that has a story that is completely compelling through all 40 hours. Even some of my favorite RPGs (DQ5, Skies of Arcadia, etc) have huge sections that could simply be cut and the experience would not change in the slightest (other than make it more accessible and a much tighter story).

Frankly, the writing in most RPGs (or games in general, for that fact) is simply amateur, and the stories are derivative. Seeing that RPGs have two main areas of interest (the “building/collecting” and the “story”), if the story isn’t compelling enough, then why would you bother?

Dragon Quest 8 was the last great RPG I’ve played, and it barely bothered with it’s story. I can’t imagine playing any game (even an RPG) just for it’s story, since as you mentioned, they’re almost always braindead and sappy. But DQ8 didn’t have ten minute cutscenes to intrude into the gameplay. All it had was a fun battle system and lots of exploration, which is why I play RPGs in the first place. But maybe I’m just weird…

As for Enchanted Arms, it looks typically awful. But most console RPGs don’t interest me much anymore anyways.

Granted, DQ8 didn’t have the same level of beating-you-over-the-head-with-cutscenes that most RPGs do, it still had quite an extensive story. The big difference with DQ is that the main character never has a voice… he’s supposed to be the player.

That being said, games break down into two major components: system and story. Every game is some balance of those two major parts, for the most part. A game can have no story and be all system, but not vice versa (a game with all story and no system is a “movie”). An RPG is supposed to be a blend of the two in somewhat equal balance, but when one of those parts is so broken, it breaks the entire game for me.

DQ8 was nearly broken, for me, by the system, rather than the story. Like you said, it was very unintrusive and you were never trapped in 30 minutes of badly directed cutscenes. However, the game was designed like a 2D game, but with a 3D engine. It encourages exploration by putting treasure chests all throughout the game, but then for the first couple of hours of the game, gives you no map to find your way around. Or the fact that cities aren’t laid out in a manner that gives you easy access to essential buildings that you need to go to frequently (churches, weapon shops, etc). Still a good game, but it had a lot of fundamental flaws that a game of that magnitude should be able to fix.

Very true. Two of my favourite RPGs are Panzer Saga and Dark Saviour, both of which can be completed in 10 to 15 hours.

I’ll be honest here, though - one of the main reasons I’m considering giving Enchanted Arms a try is because it has nice graphics. I haven’t played a traditional Japanese RPG in quite some time, so I thought if I’m going to play through something quite clich?d, it might as well have some nice eye candy to go with it. On the other hand, though, my new flatmate has a copy of Star Ocean 3, which could be a better use of my time.

I think 20 hrs is more than enough in any RPG, mainly because it helps me keep the story and plot fresh in my head , as I like to play more than one game @ a time.Trying to remember where you are, and all that?s happened some 70 hrs in is a pain.
As good as SOA was it was a chore towards the end I was glad to see the quite brilliant ending part, same goes for Grandia III ect

It’s why I still says the Lunar are the best RPG I?ve ever played nice 20 hrs of game play and in Lunar case the best story, plot twists and cast of characters I?ve yet to see in a RPG

I’m getting Enchanted Arms as its looks nice and more so because its made by Fromsoftware

Personally i’d prefer a personal and intense 4h gaming experience over a repetitive 20h game even.
problem is that many people have a “flawed” (if i may say so) view of things.
this is partly also caused by gaming magazines and their criteria.
i so often see comments like "it’s only 12 hours , that does not justify the expense of 50 euros"
i think it’s because of comments and opinions like that , that we got so many games that got just an artificially prolonged playtime.

You guys are making it seem like all short games are amazing, and all long games are crap.

DQ8 took me over 40 hrs to complete and it’s one of my favorite RPGs of this console generation. Whereas Grandia III and Shadow Hearts FTNW were both significantly shorter, and I found both games to be quite awful.

Companies shouldn’t focus on length. If people play a game that lasts 8 hrs, but contains consistent quality from beginning to end, they often recognize it. Why do you think games like Riddick and God of War received such high critical praise? But if a game can retain a certain level of quality for over 30 hrs, then they shouldn’t compromise it.

It’s all about quality in the end, not length.

Sure, but the issue that I was speaking to was the fact that it’s extremely difficult to create a narrative or mechanic that remains interesting for 40 hours for most people.

For example, the primary reason why a game like DQ is so long is because of the incessant random battles. A simple rebalancing of the game to make it so there are less battles, but each battle was “worth more” would potentially tighten up the pacing of the game and make it more accessible. In a 40 hour game like DQ, I wonder how much time is spent on story? Or on actual consequential gameplay (moving the game forward) rather than on random, trivial stuff?

For example, Ico started off as a much bigger game with a much bigger cast, but the producer decided to keep cutting things and cutting things until he was left with the essentials… and the game turned out to be only about 9 hours long, but it’s one of the best 9 hour experiences I’ve ever had. Had that continued for 40 hours, I would have been completely sick of it.

I 100% agree personally that the duration of a game’s content should be irrelevant, within reason, but it seems like a moot point in context of the current market. The unconscious conspiricay between the average consumer, reviewer priorities, and pressure for a developer to churn out an illusion of value as efficiently as possible add up to a certain truth. Taken as a whole videogames are mostly junk-food.

And RPG’s, perhaps JRPG’s especially, have for some time been the popcorn of videogames. The ultimate high volume and low density way to stuff your head and occupy your hands.

There was a time when videogames were truly games, a set of rules with some sort of win criteria and also, usually, what I would consider the third major component (original second component), scenario or setting. This can include the style of the visual representation and also elements of the structure of the arena you’re playing in. Some may be tempted to say that’s covered by the story and system so I’ll use Joust as an example of a game that has no story as such but has a scenario that is very important to the experience.

In the case of RPG’s I think the scenario component is usually the most overlooked strange as that may sound. As derivative and repetetive as the core system usually is it’s still given a certain priority, they all try to pack enough gimmicks and illusions of choice into the battle and navigation systems to keep people from noticing they’re an assembly-line worker. But too many games focus on the arbitrary variety of battle options and ignore variety in battle scenarios, which is often what distinguishes the relatively non-tedious games.

In other words RPG’s have a tendency to throw a lot of effort into the overarching narative and superficial details of the character and battle systems then inflate the space in between with air on the assumption that a story is somehow enhanced by feeling like you’ve been through slow torture to experience it…

It appears that’s true for a lot of people though, or I would think this habit of measuring a game by the number of hours it steals from you wouldn’t have become so prevalent. shrug

That kind of became a huge tangent there, I have been in a state of chronic despair over the state of videogames for many years anyway. Empty calories is the order of the day anymore… or so it seems.

I totally agree with Heretic Agnostic - setting is just as important as story and system. NiGHTS had very little actual plot, but a great sense of setting. The Otogi games were light on plot but had an excellent sense of setting (that dwarfed both the system and the story, IMO).

As for length, I don’t really see why this is an issue… I think there’s room in the industry for both. It’s not like we have to choose one or the other. To me, Skies of Arcadia’s length was as perfect as ICO’s. They both held my interest the whole time, but didn’t feel incomplete. Hence why they’re two of my favorite games. I agree that people shouldn’t consider how long a game will last them as an important aspect and devs should avoid padding their games out as much as possible, but I wouldn’t say that they should strip games back either (unless they’re actively attempting to create a minimalist feel, similar to ICO’s developers).

Anyway, back on topic for a moment. I’m vaguely interested in Enchanted Arms. It does look very generic… but it is From Software, so i’m keeping an eye on it. I had higher hopes for it when I first heard of it, but that hope isn’t entirely gone. I’ll just wait and see.

It does look pretty, but it seems to be an unwritten rule that the first RPG on any system is pants-to-mediocre at best. To be quite honest, for ?50 I could buy a selection of brilliant RPGs (or other games) that I have never played, or one visually polished one that I’d only be buying to I had an RPG on my 360.

As for the hours debate - I agree that it’s more important for the game length to be appropriate, rather than offer some false perception of “value for money”.
I would prefer it if games had a condensed main story section, which then has lots of optional extras for those who are in the frame of mind to do such tasks. The worlds best script writers couldn’t create a story that was genuinely engaging for 40 hours, so I don’t see why game designers think they can do better.

That really is the point for me, the mainstream attitude seems to have lost sight of the distinction between games that extort a set ammount of time from you in order to finish it and a game that compels you to play for many hours because you’re just having fun. Any genre that is now expected to have a story driving it is also expected to conform to the former criteria.

The reason this gets me riled up is related to the prevailing media misconception about the actual artform of videogames. And even the industry’s own media never talks about it right anymore. Right now this medium is being very much co-opted by “Hollywood” as an extension of their own medium rather than as an individual artform with exclusive concerns and disciplines to understand.

When I hear of people like George Lucas or Steven Spielberg talking about games almost entirely in terms of being an alternative storytelling medium, or thousands of people arguing against some comment Roger Ebert made on the same basis of the storytelling potential, it just makes me sick. The majority of suits and mouthpieces of this industry don’t seem to have a clue as to what the nuts and bolts of a videogame actually are, so I guess it’s no wonder so few people give it credit for being a distinct artform.

But here’s the kicker, and I know games can be a unique storytelling medium even though that’s largely missing the point of what they already are… so very very few games have ever even tried to tell a story by making innovative use of this specific medium much less been successfull at it. To the contrary the majority of developers, publicity figures and consumers alike have settled into the perspective that mimicry of existing screen media is the yardstick for quality of content.

Take games like Half-Life or Halo, they’ve been much lauded for both their gameplay and their engaging storylines, but that the exceptional quality of the two aspects are symbiotic and inseparable is hardly ever understood. Though they differ in many discrete choices both games share one factor, they achieve better player attachment to the story by making the narrative more transparent rather than more dramatic or realistic… or cinematic.

In fact they are great examples of how a game can indeed make you feel like you’ve spent 30 hours or more riveted by a story, because the moment to moment scenario component succeeds. When all of your own actions as the player actually feel like they have meaning in and coherence with the story, and generate distinctive and empowering scenarios in your memory, then they become a part of it’s telling rather than, as in most cases, an arbitrary grind between the “storytelling”.

To be clear I have no problem with games being a storytelling medium, but the current standard for what a “videogame” is has the story as the foundation, the system as a usually arbitrary and prefab overlay, and the scenario as a mere quota of encounters and backdrops that unfortunately need to be there to make it a “game”.

Ehh… so I guess I’m kind of saying games don’t fail for having too much filler or for being too short, they ultimately fail for failing to be a game first and foremost. Because once you’re being true to the soul of the game, whatever that may be for each individual case, it should be clear what constitutes playing rather than working.

[quote=“Heretic Agnostic”]Take games like Half-Life or Halo, they’ve been much lauded for both their gameplay and their engaging storylines, but that the exceptional quality of the two aspects are symbiotic and inseparable is hardly ever understood. Though they differ in many discrete choices both games share one factor, they achieve better player attachment to the story by making the narrative more transparent rather than more dramatic or realistic… or cinematic.


You’re right; and I’ll list a different example - Castlevania (take your pick from any decent one).

The games themselves have very little textual plot, but the thrill of working your way through a burning village, to fighting a mummy perched on a clock tower at the dead of night convey a much greater story-like experience to me than many games, simply because my experiences within the game are the story.

the pacing of a game is always a matter of personla taste anyway.
imagine a game with well-written ,clever dialogue…and lost of em.
ever played Planescape:Torment ?
Lots of lots of great dialogue. a story to dive deep in.
At the end of the game , it’s like you just have read a good book.
But i know some people who just got terribly bored with it.

What i think of now. Games are not books , neither are they films.
They got their own needs and pacing.
imo it is impossible to make a 40 hours gaming exprience without sickening the player.(edit: little explanation: i mean you can’t keep the game entertaining and thrilling during the whole period , as in: a 40 hour game will imo always have either artifical prolongation and/or boring passages)
Take the coming trend of releasing Games in Episodes…
“If” you could do a fair pricing on things , it is a format i could well live with…
a 40 hour long story , released in 4 10h packages at a reduced price…with let’s say 6 months between each episode released.
The Episode-format would give many options for the pacing. you could build in cliffhangers for example.
it’s stupid and sadistic to make a cliffhanger-ending and release the seuqel 4 years after that… whzat good is that cliffhanger then? only a bad ending…and endings are important for a story.

take the end of halo 2… if halo 3 would have followed 6 months later , i woudl have judged the ending ok…

I have to disagree here. Movies can’t last 40+ hours simply because you can’t expect an audience to sit there for that long, and take it all in - it’s impossible. But games are not movies. Again, taking Skies of Arcadia as the example. A lot happens in it - it isn’t just one big story, the characters go to all sorts of places and are involved in a lot of different scenarios that come together as an overarching plot. Essentially, it’s more like a TV series, and they can be 40 hours long. Infact, it’s perfectly possible to play the game episodically - just a couple of hours at a time should see you through the next dungeons and into the next town area with a satisfying amount of the immediate plot moved forward. This is how it managed to keep me interested the whole way through.

I’d say this depends of the style of the game the developers are aiming for - if they want to make a very personal game where the gameplay tells then that’s an excellent way to go (Morrowind still entices me back from time to time to try my own plot lines simply by making a character and playing as them). But some games will be designed with a large cast and a lot of backstory and plot and this might not be entirely suitable - it’s all down to the style of the game really.


Let me make one thing clear - When I say “story,” I mean “narrative.” That’s inclusive of things like setting. For example, Super Mario Bros doesn’t truly have a story, but it has a setting that is crucial to the game’s enjoyment. Tetris, on the other hand, has nothing in the way of narrative, and is a pure “systems” game. It’s essentially a mathematical puzzle.

As for the length debate, the problem is that even a game like Skies of Arcadia is only that long because it adds in a ton of needless filler (i.e. random battles) that bring the total clock time up to 40+. If you were to, say, cut the number of random battles in half, you wouldn’t affect the game’s quality, but you might actually knock about 5 hours of game time off. Sure, you could leave it at the 40 hour mark, but why?

Movies are constantly edited down to ensure that the stuff that’s left over is all that’s relevant. Same thing with books. Why is it that games don’t go through the same editing process?

As for integrating the narrative into the gameplay, I’ve been a long time advocate of that. Ico, Half Life, Shadow of the Colossus, Halo, Deus Ex… the gameplay and storyline are all inseperable in these games. They truly show just how unique the medium is.

The Elder Scrolls games are very much scenario driven and a good example to illustrate the point. Even beyond obvious concerns like the high quality in narrative and dialogue elements in Morrowind and their freeform delivery, the reason you care about those story elements when read is because the player has built a more personal context for them. Are you being asked to go to a dangerous area where you got your ass handed to you already? Maybe you suddenly understand what some other character was talking about now, or why a strange location you’ve already noticed exists. Have you just stopped what you were in the middle of because something else seems more interesting?

An aspect of the system is very important there too, the detailed and convincing collision properties of the engine greatly enhance the immersion. (of course it also helps that it’s so beautiful) The world is “solid” which in turn makes the scenario more tangible which in turn makes the story more meaningful. It’s harder to care about what is happening if you have less attachment to where it’s happening.

Castlevania is of course all about scenario as well, there again an element of the system seems to translate into scenario. Castlevania games typically have a certain deliberate pacing to the action that has become a part of it’s “flavor”. And one of the reasons attempts to update the series in 3D haven’t quite worked for me, none have got that flavor right.

All of this is ultimately subject to individual tastes… but I think that’s what I’m discovering I’m trying to get across, this encompassing idea of scenario is where the element of critical interpretation exclusive to this artform lies. The most obvious vehicle of the scenario is “graphics” of course, and that is after all what makes a videogame a unique medium. Other arts and disciplines are at this point crucial contributions to establishing the scenario and generating immediate excitement, but the actual art of game design is in the generation of relevance and desire to overcome.

Consider the example of racing games, you could have 2 games with the exact same system (and no story that matters), but one could look better or more realistic generating a better scenario factor, then add a specific setting such as a real city or event and that’s a very obvious contribution to the scenario. But even then if those elements were equal one could end up very boring while the other is thrilling all based on course design and placement of dynamic elements. The personalised scenario. Everyone knows a racing game can live or die by it’s course design yet the majority of designers for other action games don’t seem to understand that every game has a course that’s equally important.

Or another kind of course? I think any antiquated sophist would happily acknowledge designing a good golf course qualifies as an artform. This art of generating FUN and challenge at the same time is always a matter of taste, that’s precisely why it is indeed ART.

Well anyway this has become quite the exercise in defining my feelings on the matter, I’m talking to myself as much as anything. Honestly I may even be tempted to get Enchanted Arms, as I said graphics are the front end of the scenario… it’s just so sad graphics and in some cases story have become the front end of development. Games are being built from the outside in. :anjou_sigh:

EDIT: Abadd your last post showed up after I started mine. If you think story covers it that’s cool, I still think there’s a meaningful distinction for myself. I mean does anyone know the “narrative” of Joust or Asteroids? But they do have a scenario that is manifest the moment you see them. I guess that’s why I’ve found myself using the term instead of just setting, as you said Tetris is a game that can truly be said to have no narrative of any kind whatsoever, yet it’s ability to generate infinite abstract scenarios is what makes it… well Tetris.

Or a driving game once again… NIGHT DRIVER! It has a setting in that you’re driving, but you can’t see anything but some lines so… HEY, it’s at night so now you also have a… scenario. Would the game have still been fun if it had been named “Stay on the Road”? It’s the lense of context, the critical interpretation that finds the meaning of FUN.

[quote=“Abadd”]Movies are constantly edited down to ensure that the stuff that’s left over is all that’s relevant. Same thing with books. Why is it that games don’t go through the same editing process?

actually you can have a veery long discussion about those 3 media , their differences and the way they interacted during history.
Books got shorter and more fast-paced , less descirptive after films came out.
Movies took many years until they found their own asset of rules and tricks…
the mtv generation is taking it to its limitsnowadays. i also got the impression that games start to influence the way they shoot some movies (or is it just the other way around?.. :wink:

especially with the rise of 3d , games started to copy stuff from films…but slowly started to find their own pace concerning narrative elements.
i wonder how storytelling games will look in a decade…
the medium is still so incredibly young and there are so many new ways of interaction to discover and to harness…and even if the gaming-industry is atm falling into the popcorn trap that hollywood fell in , the newly renaissance of indie music and movies makes me optimistic about a future for artful,beautiful,amazing games.