Dating in Thousand Arms is overrated

Overview
Another classic rpg from the Playstation 1 era. Thousand Arms when it was originally released, enticed rpg gamers with lighthearted comedy, anime graphics, and the ability to date one of your female companions in game! So after more then 10 years since its initial release in the US, is Thousand Arms worth your time?

Well in all honesty this question depends on how much patience you have. :(

However I’ll delve into that in a second ;). Thousand Arms was originally released in Japan in December of 1998, and the US got to see it September 1999. It was developed by Red Company, and of course published by Atlus. I actually was one of those people who went out and bought the game purely on a whim back in the day, although I can actually say that I should have maybe read some reviews on the game before deciding to do that, because the game has a couple of flaws (maybe more than a couple…) that just cannot be overlooked.

So with that being said let me tell you what I think is important, and not so important about this game.

Story

Story

Taken directly from the manual:

Tradguld, the land of locomotives and peaceful countryside…
Langoud, the seafaring beach-city…
Sharan, the floating center of commerce…
Myscatonia, the land of mystery and wonder…
And Dianova, the dark empire bent on taking over the world… a world of swords and magic…
This is the story of Meis Triumph and his journey to save the people from the Dianovan Empire’s reign of terror and oppression. Having been raised within a circle of Spirit Blacksmiths, Meis was enjoying his life in Kant, a nature-filled town in Tradguld…

However….
Dianova’s conquest reached the town of Kant, and the people were forced to evacuate their once peaceful land.

Separated from his family, Meis reaches the town of Boyzby and meets Sodina. From here, the story unfolds….

Thousand Arms Intro pt 1/2
Thousand Arms Intro pt 2/2

Honestly the full true storyline is based off of the regular rpg cliches, and goes as follows:

The Emperor of the Dark Acolytes wants to find the legenday Sacred Flames so he can basically become a god. Meis after some time messing around in the story is supposedly “chosen” to oppose the Dark Acolytes, and find the flames first. Of course he can only do this with the help of his good friend Muza, the woman he meets in Boyzby, Sodina, and all of the other various women he meets in this (definitely) anime inspired rpg.

If you can get past all of the regular rpg cliches that await you in the game, and you have the patience of a never falling brick wall, you should be able to enjoy the comedy filled storyline. Just keep in mind you won’t find any plots of epic proportion here. No one really dies, and there are not any huge plot twists whatsoever. The biggest problem you’ll have with this game is most likely the gameplay…

Gameplay

Gameplay

To make this simple, this rpg has two big deviations from most “normal” console rpgs. The dating aspect (which is a HUGE part of the gameplay), and the battle system. So I’ll brush up on the dating part first.

~An otaku fan’s dream come true?~

So as I said before you get to date your companions in this game. It’s only Meis who gets to date the ladies to be more specific, so sorry to all you Muza lovers! (Or ladies…) The game does give you a choice on who you want to date, and actually you can date 1 or all 9 of the available ladies in the game. Actually it’s probably in your best interest to do so. 5 of the ladies will actually be in your party fighting with you in various parts of your journey, and the other 4 unfortunately can only be accessed by going to their respective towns.

So why exactly is dating so important? Well as you already know Meis is a Spirit Blacksmith so guess what you get to do the whole damn game? That’s right you get to forge your own weapons! You can’t buy new weapons from stores, you can only find rusty/vintage weapons, you have your initial starting weapon, and then there is whatever else is given to you during the storyline. These weapons can all be modified in some way through blacksmithing. The catch to this however is that to effectively get a more powerful weapon, and learn new skills, you have to forge that specific weapon with a girl of your choosing. And the more affection this woman has towards you, the stronger the weapon can become. Hence where the whole zany idea of dating comes in.

The dating aspect is interesting at first, especially when you go on the first couple of dates with a new lady. The biggest issues with it however is the fact that after the second date you should notice that some of the dialogue lines start repeating themselves. And not only that some of the reactions from the ladies are just not believable. It’s all to be expected given the time of when this game came out, but it seems like the devs who had to design the dating minigame didn’t take enough time to come up with better responses for Meis, and just more responses period.

If you have ever played a Bioware game (think Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or even Mass Effect), then you will find the super dumbed down dating laughable at best. If you have not ever played any of those games, check out the video below to see what I mean.

Date with Sodina

Just imagine doing a date like the above more then 45 times. -_-;
Don’t worry if you don’t want to date all the time you can at least choose between giving a gift, or doing one of the minigames.

Before I forget let me mention that the intimacy aspect of the game related to forging a stronger weapon needs to be done in a very specific way. If you decide to give this game a chance I highly suggest you check out DSimpson’s Faq on Gamefaqs.com on how to forge/date correctly. :)

~Combat~
Now this is always the biggest part of an rpg, and honestly this is my most hated part of this game. You can expect to see lots, and lots of random encounters, and the fights are somewhat turn-based, but otherwise the battle system is totally different. While it is nice that this game did something different from most traditional jrpg battle systems, it truly does not help. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by all of the years of more modern rpgs, but this battle system sucks now as much as it did then. :(

So basically battles are one on one, like the above picture shows. With your allies standing behind your frontline character. You can only bring 3 people into battle with you, and the 2 in the back can only support the frontline character: heals/items/cheering etc. This battle system does use a sort of Active Time Bar at the top for your front and back characters to act. The big difference is that once the bar is done running down you have to press a button to execute the action. Don’t walk away from this game during battle or you might die.

But besides that annoying aspect of the battle system, the other point worth mentioning in detail is the fact that you can only use one character at a time to attack your enemies. Therefore, battles take much longer then necessary, because you have to switch characters for certain enemies, or there are several enemies you have to fight in one battle. This makes what look like 15 min dungeons turn into hour long dungeons because of the length of random encounters, and the sheer amount of them that you run into while exploring for treasure. It is a tad bit tedious unfortunately.

Also of note is that while you do get 7 characters to choose from, 5 of which being ladies, Muza and Meis will be the only thing you need to clear everything in the game. It’s kind of lopsided how that was setup. I think the ladies are truly there just for visual support sometimes.

The good thing about battles is that the special moves, beast summons (which Meis eventually gets access to), and heroes/enemies animations look good. That’s about it.

Extra Info

  • You either will love or hate the graphics. It’s super deformed 2-D characters in a 3-D world. Kind of similar to Xenogears. But at least the anime cutscenes look good…
  • Which reminds me, I think they did a really good job of explaining the story in those various cutscenes. Thumbs up to the voice actors. If you didn’t know, this game boasts over 12 hours of voice dialogue.
  • Which also brings us to the next point. This game is pretty short so you shouldn’t have to suffer too much. The average gamer with minimal grinding (yes you need to grind a little) should be able to complete it in ~25-35 hours.
  • Besides going on dates with the ladies to raise their intimacy levels, you can give them presents, or do various minigames.
  • The Emperor’s goons, the Evil Mecha Five are all named after machine tools/parts. :O

For those who need it, here is the Thousand Arms US manual courtesy of replacementdocs.com
And of course if you are looking for this game you can always check Amazon.

Image Gallery
This image gallery contains screenshots, and art for Thousand Arms on the Playstation 1. Enjoy! :)

Videos

The 1st Cave
Seriously I wish I had the Emperor’s voice!
The Dark Apprentice

Pros & Cons
So as far as Pros and Cons? Well let’s see:
Pros:

  • This old school game might just be an otaku lover’s dream come true…as far as the dating at least.
  • The anime cutscenes are done well for a game this old.
  • Storyline is lighthearted, and funny.
  • Have you heard the Emperor’s voice yet?!?

Cons:

  • The battle system.
  • Dating the same lady becomes repetitive after just a few dates. And the MP required for dating gets higher and higher…
  • The camera is freaking terrible. You can only turn it when you’re standing still. Otherwise if you are in a town it turns for you. :(

Words from Z
Well here are the basics on yet another classic rpg to be stored on the interwebz forever. I honestly am not sure if I can recommend this game. But I will say this again, if you have the patience and want a break from all of the violent, super crazy, epic plots then feel free to give Thousand Arms a go.

If you have played it, let me know. :D

Share
  • crimaro75

    wonderful!!!!!!!!!