Manly Biceps

Hey folks; haven’t dropped a post in a while, but I’ll be posting more rapidly soon. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Luminous Arc was released for the Nintendo DS not too long ago in 2007. It’s not the most unique title, but it is pretty fun and sufficiently silly to warrant at least a rental if nothing else. In essence, the game is set in a fantasy world (evidently an alternate planet, considering you travel all over the apparently very small world), where the Luminous religion headed by the Luminous Church and Grand Cardinal Johannes serves as the main government and order. The only problem is that there are mysterious entities with immense power, Witches, who seem hellbent on destroying everything.

Luminous Arc is a Japanese strategy RPG, which for fans of the genre immediately brings to mind isometric camera view and grid based combat. Well, that’s exactly what it has. Unfortunately, Luminous Arc has one boon and simultaneous problem with this setup: everything in battle is stylus-controlled (except for switching through status screens) and you can’t move the camera. This makes for some frustration when trying to pinpoint certain enemies, or see if area effect spells attack allies as well as enemies.

Overall the gameplay is pretty standard and solid. The formula has been tried and tested in tons of games before, after all. There are some broken aspects to the battle system, in particular the ability to literally use buffs to grind to Lv99 in as little as one battle, provided you have enough MP. Leveling up restores HP and MP, and a character will always get 30 EXP (100 needed for level up) when healing/buffing an ally in any way, even if there is no point to doing so (e.g., if the same buff is used twice in a row). Thus, as soon as a character has enough to cast a heal/buff spell four times in a battle, that character is capable of leveling up indefinitely. This totally breaks any difficulty the game might have.

Luminous Arc is not particularly difficult and veteran SRPG players will probably find it staggeringly easy, especially if one grinds. Only three missions in the game possess any real difficulty, and even those can have some of the difficulty negated by unique and cheap powers (the spell Culling is given to one character, which basically one hit kills an enemy provided it hits and provided the character is above the enemy’s level).

I might sound like I’m bashing the game a bit, but it has a lot going for it, including a cute storyline that does its best to avoid being too serious with humor, but keeps that humor from souring the plot to sickeningly sweet. The characters have some fantastic designs and it’s one of the first Nintendo DS games I’ve played that has voice acting, let alone voice acting of the quality I encountered. Every character has a unique voice and there’s even a sort of “dating sim” type Intermission scenario between stages to increase the affection between the main character and allies (which also results in free stuff should the correct options be chosen).

After beating the game, the option to save data and continue in a New Game + is given, which is pretty standard and allows items, levels, etc. to be kept while restarting the game. Story missions use the same roster as during the first run of the game, but all characters are available for free stages and the postgame only dungeon, the 20-floor Mysteria Ruins (not easy, either; the first level has enemies in the low fifties!).

The game is quirky and cute, fun without being intensive, and perfect for portability since the option to save is practically everywhere and grinding is easier than any other RPG I’ve ever played. Go for it and have fun!

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~ by Vaikyuko on July 5, 2009.

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