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Thousand Arms

Thousand Arms Thousand Arms
by Atlus Software

Platform: PlayStation
ESRB Rating: Teen

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GameSpot Review: Thousand Arms is the story of Meis Triumph, scion of the venerable Triumph clan - overlords of the town of Kant and spirit blacksmiths for seven generations. One day, the dark acolytes attack the slumbering village, and Meis is thrown out of his ancestral home. Barely reaching the capital city, Boyzby, he meets Sodina, a young girl whose brother, Jyabil, happens to be a master spirit blacksmith. Jyabil takes Meis as an apprentice, but the Dark Acolytes have their sights set on Boyzby as well... thus, the story unfolds.

Thousand Arms is an RPG, and it's got all the standard trappings of one - if you've played any game in the genre, Thousand Arms should be immediately accessible. Red Company, the developer, has been at this for years, spawning many immensely popular titles - Sega's Sakura Wars, for example - that unfortunately haven't been released in the United States. The company's expertise shows; nothing seems awkward or out of place, and it all flows.

What makes Thousand Arms unique is the master system, in which you use your powers as a spirit blacksmith to reforge your party's weapons, adding power and spells to them. Where do you draw this mystical power from? Being a spirit blacksmith is tough; in addition to the master points you use to reshape the metal, you'll need the support of a girl to achieve your results. That's where the dating elements of this game come in.

Now, dating games have not historically been well received in the US. That's not exactly true; they've never really had the opportunity. Talk to a random sampling of people and you'll either hear derisive snickers or fanatical devotion. Either extreme is pretty silly - dating scenes might sound like the last refuge of the socially inept, but they're just a lighthearted aside to the game's main thrust: the tried-and-true RPG quest. They offer a welcome breather from saving the world. The format is this: Sodina, or whoever, will pose a question to Meis, and you must pick one of two options as an answer. Obviously, the aim is to please her. If the date goes well, your intimacy factor grows by a point, and your blacksmithing ability is thereby increased as well. In addition to normal "dates," you can play minigames that boost your statistics with a girl. Sodina's cooking attack basically plays like that old Simon smack-the-colored-lights game. Additionally, each town has a shop in which you can buy presents for girls, although the best presents are hidden in deep corners of dungeons.

The graphics are simply excellent. Everything is polygonal, except for your characters, which are sprites. This holds true in the battles, as well. The level of artistry is quite high - the houses in the towns are littered with sundry items and decoration, and the texture maps are both detailed and varied. Your town/dungeon sprites are small, superdeformed, and generally humorous, but in battle you will be treated to full-size characters that look as though they stepped out of an anime cel. There's also a smattering of high-quality FMV, which is a mixture of computer-generated backgrounds and anime characters.

The game has a very humorous presentation and loads of cel artwork - any time a scene with any importance is about to happen, the camera swings around to a close-up shot of the characters in fully hand-drawn anime style. There is also a lot of extremely well-done voice acting in the game - Sodina and Meis, especially, are full of emotion, and they carry the weight of their lines extremely well. The dating scenes are extremely amusing, and a lot of it has to do with Sodina's reactions, which may vary from infatuation to disgust; it's always quite obvious how she feels.

One of the most important aspects of an RPG is the battle system; after all, you're going to be spending a lot of time with it. Thousand Arms' battles will feel familiar, but they are a little bizarre. It's easiest to compare them to other games: They have elements from Namco's LMB system (the Tales series) in that your characters are all flat anime characters on a 3D background. They're like Square's ATB system (Final Fantasy) because a real-time gauge governs the timing of attacks, and there's no action element. The strangest thing has to be that the front character (in both enemy and player parties) is the only one who can make any kind of offensive move, be it a physical attack or a spell. The only thing back-row characters can do is cast help spells and use items. Occasionally, they'll cheer you or taunt the enemies, marginally affecting stats. This might be the only game where those "spell in a bottle" items are extremely useful.

The game has a strong anime aesthetic - sometimes cute, sometimes wacky, and definitely attractive. The enemies are downright absurd and generally worth a laugh. The dialogue is too, though as is true of the genre, high drama can cut in at any moment. Atlus definitely has a great game on its hands here - the combination of solid RPG questing, graphics, dialogue, dubbing, and ambiance really push this game over the edge from standard to special. Game-playing anime fans will get a big kick out of it, and it's the first real example of a decent dating simulation in the US. Any RPG fans who like amusing situations, animated (in both senses of the word) characters, and challenging gameplay will enjoy this title. Fans of Lunar, especially, should check this one out. Because RPGs aren't that rare anymore, good ones stand out that much more. Hopefully, Thousand Arms won't be swept under in the fourth-quarter flood. --Christian Nutt

From the Manufacturer: Thousand Arms is set in a mythical world of swords and machines. You take the role of Meis Triumph, the youngest in a generation of noble blacksmiths. Along the way, he'll (you'll) encounter helpful allies, cunning enemies and even go on dates with some of the most beautiful women in the land. This eventually leads you to the ultimate confrontation with evil in which the entire fate of the Meis's world hangs in the balance. This double disc epic RPG is packed with theatrical quality animation and over 12 hours of spoken dialog. Thousand Arms will also feature the original opening and ending songs by Ayumi Hamasaki, and up and coming J-pop artist featured in the Japanese version of Thousand Arms. The unique battle system takes place through an exciting combination of 2-D animation combined with 3-D environments and vehicles. This allows for dynamic camera angles and scaling backgrounds that make the battle scenes really come to life.

Customer Reviews:
Sodina and Meis Triumph!!, October 7, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from Brooklyn, NY
This is the first dating sim/ RPG I played, and I loved it! The characters were kawaii (cute) and memorable. The midi's were enchanting and the graphics were good for a ps game. The voice acting was fine and the items you receive in the game are cool. what more can i say but own this under-rated game!

I'm At A Loss, August 13, 2002
Reviewer: Kevin T. Rodriguez from Citrus Heights, California United States
I am totally at a loss for this game. On one hand it has so many original idea's in terms of both plot and gameplay (And has the closest thing to a sim dating game we'll probably ever see), but the way you actually play it leaves me at a loss for words. It's not that the battle system makes no sense, or is bad even, it's the leveling up that confuses me. You don't get stronger when you level up. Your defense gets weaker when you level up. You get more health but you seem to loose more health at the same token too. I'm am at a loss that the creaters of this game could make so many good idea's and make them so poor because they can't figure out commen sense when it comes to leveling up.

If you want an RPG that's original get this...just don't exspect to get anywhere with it.

The anime sequences are really good., March 21, 2002
Reviewer: A gamer from Atlanta, Ga.
This game has a cool battle system that is unique.This game has an interesting and fun gameplay to it because you don't buy any new weapons but instead you forge your sword and you have to have a girl on your team each girl has a different elemental based forge to it and you can change the elemental by forging with a new girl when ever you forge you have to have a level up and what it does is that it advances your sword and if you wait to get alot of level ups then it will change a good bit how your sword looks and the strength of the sword....One cool thing about this game is that you can date over 9 girls and they all have different personalities and ask you questions on dates and they react in a mad way or a good way you can also play different mini games with girls which are fun.The storyline for the game is cool and they switch to cutscenes sometimes and shows you whats going on which is cool.The dark acolytes in the game are the enemies which are always bosses and are prettty cool.Which the games basically about the dark acolytes that are trying to take over villages and towns.The music in this game is good and is fun music.The animated movie sequences are very nice and have good graphics which I like Japanese animation alot anyways.One thing that I want to just throw in is that why people say that the storyline for Final Fantasy VIII is so boring when FF8 has a very good storyline and the game gets twisted near the end...Anyways I beat Thousand Arms in 40:00+ and it was overall a fun,unique,and had a creative gameplay to it as in other games besides the Final Fantasy games this game is one of the only games that I know of right now that have a different gameplay as in the equiping ability that I see on most RPGs but I haven't played much RPGs though I would rent a couple but most of them at the stores aren't the ones that I want.

A very original RPG in a genre filled with stale offerings., March 4, 2002
Reviewer: arxane from Norman, OK United States
In the RPG genre, it's very difficult to be original. Most of the time, RPGs are just variations of concepts that can be found in almost every other genre. Of course, some manage to be original in some way, like the "Final Fantasy" series, the "Grandia" games, and the heatedly debated "Legend of Dragoon". But probably one of the most original games found in the RPG market (at least in the US) is Atlus' "Thousand Arms". A game that differs in practically every way, "Thousand Arms" is an RPG gamer's dream come true.

The first sign that "Thousand Arms" is unique can be found in the story. You play Meis, the son of a famous Spirit Blacksmith, who is trying to find his place in the world - and food in his stomach - after he lost his noble status when his village was attacked by the Dark Acolytes. Unlike most noble heros in RPGs, Meis is a playboy and womanizer and charms, or attemtps to charm, practically every woman he sees. He eventually meets Sodina, sister of a famous Spirit Blacksmith, and from here the story really starts moving. Of course, there's the usual megalomaniac trying to rule the world and all that, but hey, it's an RPG. Some things are bound to stay the same, but this game has enough variety to help it stand out in the crowd.

The uniqueness crosses over into the gameplay. The battle system is definately different from other RPGs. Instead of all characters battling all foes at once, only one character fights an enemy one at a time in the frontline while other characters remain in the back line. But the back characters do serve a purpose; they can use items, defensive magic, or go on standby, where they can taunt the enemy or cheer the frontline character, both of which can cause certain status effects. While it sounds mundane, this battle system is a very refreshing change.

But the best part of the gameplay has to be what has rarely been seen in the US: the dating sim. The lead character Meis can actually take certain girls on dates, where the girls asks Meis questions and, depending upon the answer he selects, her intimacy toward him changes. And this isn't without a reason. A high intimacy level with a girl can let Meis forge stronger weapons with powerful spells, so the dating aspect of the game isn't only interesting, it's necessary. Of course, it's important to raise a girl's imtimacy level, but it's also fun to choose the wrong answers in the dating questions, just to see the girl's reactions. While not a full-fledged dating sim, it's still a lot of fun, and it's a pity this game didn't pave the way for dating sims like "Tokimeki Memorial" and "Sentimental Graffiti" to come to the US.

Graphically, "Thousand Arms" has standard yet amazing PSX-graphics. Unlike the PSX "Final Fantasy" games, environments aren't pre-rendered backgrounds but a living, breathing world, somewhat like the one seen in "FFX". But the game still manages to look different because of its anime-style characters. The FMV cutscenes feel like a wacky anime series, and the excellent opening seems to only solidify this feeling. Characters in the main screen are sprites, but in battle they become fully realized characters, albeit somewhat flat ones.

Soundwise, this game earns top marks in most areas. Atlus made a very good conscious decision to leave in the original Japanese opening and ending. And the game features over 12 hours of spoken dialogue, most of which is in the dating part of the game. The voice acting can sound a little forced sometimes, but overall it sounds very well done. The only thing that probably falls flat in the sound department is the background music. While not terrible, there's nothing really catchy or noteworthy, and the battle theme does sound a little out of place.

All in all, "Thousand Arms" is a fantastic RPG and should be seriously considered by any serious RPG fan. While games like the "Final Fantasy" series and "Chrono Cross" are landmarks in the genre, "Thousand Arms" tries to bring a breath of fresh air into the RPG market, and it succeeds on virtually every level. Nothing can compare to this game, because it's just too unique.

a masterpiece in gamemaking, December 22, 2001
Reviewer: A gamer from Rochester, NY United States
Perhaps the oddest game in history, Thousand Arms is definitely not for everyone. Packed with innuendo and some awkward themes, it's really not a kids game, despite it's overall demeanor. The soundtrack is also mentionable, though not as strong as the game's dialogue. Most of the main story sequences take place in semi-moving anime sequences within the game environment, with mediocre voice-overs on the side. The battle system reminds one of a combination of Street Fighter and Final Fantasy, with a hue of Legend of Dragoon. Timing (though not in a conventional sort o' way) plays a large role in battle, though only two characters, one enemy and one good-guy, participate at once. The result is an irresistible blend of splendor and character, making this title worthy of it's place in any gamer's collection.

This is a great game!, December 16, 2001
Reviewer: A 12-year old gamer from Los Angeles, CA United States
The only BAD thing about the game is the English voice acting, but it's not THAT bad. The game is hilarious, the battle system is pretty cool, (except for the fact that only one person can actually attack in every battle... but most battles are easy enough, anyway) and it has a nice storyline... The dungeons are complicated, but the enemies are more annoying than dangerous. The people are in 2D, but the backgrounds are 3D, which is pretty nice. This game might be better for guys, though, because of the dates- only Meis, the main character, can date.

One more thing- the opening and ending songs are GREAT!!! They're sung in Japanese by Ayumi Hamasaki!!! You can listen to the ending song whenever you like by playing disc 2 on a CD player!!!

An average game, October 10, 2001
Reviewer: leandrasnowwolf from Pennsylvania
The dating sim thing is fun the first few times, but there isn't much else to do here. Some of the girls are REALLY obnoxious, and the gameplay is so-so. The Battle system, however, is simply terrible. I played it once and sold it. It's not worth the money, really.

Anime RPG Game with a Twist, October 2, 2001
Reviewer: Anime Master from Allen, TX
Forget the standard Final Fantasystory line. In Thousand Arms you play as Mice Triumph a letcherous young man on a quest to regain his kingdom, and woo any young woman in his path. The game features the best voice overs in any game the Playstation has ever made and the graphics are a culmination of Lunar 2 and Final Fantasy VII. For anyone who wants to have a wonderful story in the tradition of anime, and laugh for hours at some of the funniest dialoge yet, then look no farther then Thousand Arms. Warning the game while not anymore violent then any of the Lunar games does contain quite a few sexual innuendos, partly spawning form the unique system of this game where you can go on dates with each girl and try to win her over. This game is suggested for an audience 13 and up.

Arms 1000!, June 28, 2001
SWEET!!!! This game is the funniest game I ever played! I luv it, espieccialy in the end, where Sodina becomes an elemental beast So meis can defeat the dark empereors final spiritual form. Did you know that my keyboard is ruined because wi have rghuined iut withe ab drinke? Buy this game, before Bubba rapes you! PEACE, BLACK BROTHERS! Staight up, yo! FROM DOWN THA HOOD!

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