Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Thousand Arms (PSX)

This is one I was asked to play, so I'm expecting great things from it. Or bad things. Looking at the title, I'm betting on it being a Japanese rpg, which means it could go either way. Though I've been wrong before, for all I know it could be millipede racing.

The game starts with a weary, beat up looking sprite dragging himself down the dusty polygon road by his sword. Apparently he's the survivor of an attack by the Dark Acolytes, who invaded his town without opposition after the lord and his family ran away.

Cut to a flashback revealing... that the down on his luck protagonist is actually the noble son of  the feudal lord who ran away!

I get to wander around his mansion but unfortunately there's nothing to take. Nothing tangible anyway. I tried grabbing one of these massive swords, but all I got was 13 MP. No clue what that means.

I love the way he scuttles around with his arms inside his cape though. He's got a likeable little sprite, even if it's a bit rough looking.

The butler and the rest of the staff are conspiring to keep Meis in the house until I talk to his dad, so I paid him a visit in his blacksmith lair.

Whoa... okay that's something I haven't seen done in a game before. The camera panned across the left then swung around for a close up of Meis' dad. With his little tiny sprite replaced with a giant sized animated portrait. It's a nice effect.

Meis confronts his dad about the invaders about to storm their lands and asks him why he's not gathering weapons and soldiers to fight them off. His dad replies that he knows about these Dark Acolytes and what they've they've been up to. For some reason this unusual show of basic awareness inspires Meis to... A or B.

I went with boring option A.

Yeah, turns out his dad is a coward. There are too many desirable women out there waiting for him for him to die apparently. Meis sees his point, and they prepare to run away from the land their family have ruled for generations.

Awesome this must be a save point!

Oh wait... what? A dating statue? Son of a bitch, I've been tricked into playing a dating sim haven't I?


Again I went with the boring sounding option, but I can already guess what's going to happen.

Yeah, this protagonist is a real creepy asshole.

This woman's fleeing for her life, leaving her home and community behind possibly forever, because the hero's family can't be bothered to even try to protect them... he's lucky she's too stunned to crack that bottle across his face.

And then he gets crushed under a stampede of fleeing villages.

And that's the story of why the protagonist had to use his sword as a crutch to drag himself down the long road to the next town.

Cue the j-pop animated intro.

To be honest this took me by surprise when it came on. Somehow I forgot jrpgs usually have animated opening movies, with the camera flying across scenery and showing off all the party members.

I was surprised when I actually recognised the music from somewhere. Turns out the song is actually 'Depend on You' by Japanese pop superstar Ayumi Hamasaki, which is apparently famous enough for me to have heard it before somehow. I gotta admit, I don't hate it.

Fortunately for Meis he's saved by a spirit blacksmith who offers to fix the sword he's been using as a crutch if he'll go off and do a little quest first. The catch is it's only weapon he's allowed to bring, and right now it's in two pieces.

Personally I think the guy's noticed how Meis been staring at his sister and he's trying to send him off to certain death somewhere far away from her.

Okay first thing I'm going to do is to stock up on.... MEIS YOU BASTARD, PAY ATTENTION.

Fuck, it's going to take me forever to get anywhere in this town if he's going to stop and stare at every woman that enters his line of sight. The guy really does have only two goals in his life, fortunately for me fixing his sword comes first.

Well that's one way to explain a combat system. Some games have a tutorial, this game has a man called 'Instruction Guy' walk up and info dump a chunk of the manual at you three lines at a time.

My immersion is totally shattered! But at least now I'm finally free to go wandering around town and elsewhere. They've let me off the rails a bit and I can go explore. First stop: item shop.

Whoa, surprise Airplane! quote out of nowhere. Meis learns an important lesson of what it's like to be on the receiving end of 'creepy' and backs away towards the door.

This... is not the kind of item shop I was looking for. I guess this game really is part dating sim.

I love the graphics though. This looks fantastic for real time 3d on a PlayStation I reckon. I wonder when I got into the habit of capitalising the 'S' in PlayStation anyway.

Have a picture of the item purchase screen, I don't know why. I've already forgotten why I uploaded it, but I'm sure there must have been a reason.

This shop at least sells stuff that isn't gifts for girls, (though really healing potions are the perfect gift for anyone), so I grab some supplies and head out.

This is such a Final Fantasy looking overworld, not that there's anything wrong with that. It actually feels like a real legit rpg.

Okay, What was it they said? "Across the bridge to the east and head northwest". Well I already found a bridge, so I'm doing well. Now I just need to go north west.

A Final Fantasy style world map generally means random battles. Thousand Arms is unusual in that it seems to have one on one fights. All the other enemies line up and politely wait their turn to step up when I've defeated this one.

Instruction Guy told me that each move has a few seconds delay, so after selecting 'attack' I've got to wait for Meis to run out of green triangles before he'll attack.

Son of a bitch! Turns out I have to press the button again when the timer has finished to actually activate the move. I was too slow to figure it out so this guy gets his turn in first.

I'm starting to get the feeling I should have brought more health potions. Also I seeing as all the 'save points' I've found so far turned out to be something to do with dating, I should probably see if I can save on the overworld before I get killed and have to start again from the intro.

It turns out that yes I can save on the world map. At last.

Shame the menu is so damn ugly looking. It's letting the rest of the game down!


Does that look like ruins? I really hope it's the ruins, because I've been walking around forever and I've found nothing else this way but monsters and I don't have the health potions to keep this up.

Oh. Well I guess I'll turn around and go walking back the other way then. Bye.


Shit, that one came close to finishing me off. I do not like countdown timers on healing items. Not one bit.

I might need to run back to town to restock at this rate, I'm probably running low.

Yeah, I've only got two potions left and... wait, DATE USE? This menu is still far too ugly, I will close it now.


More bridges... I must try them all. Systematically cross every river, search every inch of this land. Until I find the promised ruins. Even if it takes me until level 50 to find it.

I'm not quitting until I get this sword fixed. Or at least get killed trying.


I am the worst at finding places on jrpg overworlds. Simple directions are no match for my skill at going entirely the wrong way. But I've finally found the damn ruins, and I've got a good feeling about this. After all those fights I think I might have levelled up enough to actually win the inevitable boss fight.

Okay what the FUCK is that? Seriously.

I can't tell if it's trying to trick me. I don't want to show it where my save menu is, it might start eating my save games or something.


BOSS FIGHT! I don't even know what that's meant to be, but it's standing between me and my minerals.

My fight options are still pretty limited. I can use my weapon, or a potion, or maybe even defend if I want to stand still for a turn. There's probably a trick to using it at the right time to block his super attacks or something else I'm not seeing, but the only trick I'm using is having an inventory full of potions.

The boss went down easily enough, and the mineral upgraded my broken sword automatically! I haven't even got the end of it hammered back on yet but it's already glowing like a lightsaber.

These graphics look pretty terrible in screenshots, but they do look better in motion. It's all very animated.

Meis returns to the spirit blacksmith to get his sword fixed, and finds that blacksmiths are basically rock stars in this world. You can't pull out your hammer and tongs without getting surrounded by swooning chicks of all ages.

Meis decides that he must become Jyabil's apprentice! Mostly because it's a good honest trade and pays well, and nothing to do with... option B. I went with the first choice, but it's so out of character he's basically lying.


The secret forces of evil have gathered to plan and scheme and chat about how well their invasion is going. The plot thickens, so I'll quit here while I'm ahead.

I feel like I should be giving this a 'not crap' award, even though I don't much want to keep playing. But I didn't give one to Tales of Destiny II a while back and I felt the same way about that, so I guess it'd be unfair to give one to this. I know, I'll give it a star to share with ToD2, they can have half each.

Now everyone can be happy!

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