Saturday, July 2, 2016

Now Playing: Stella Glow

 Because Luminous Arc isn't dead. Kinda...ish.
Imageepoch had a little franchise, Luminous Arc, on the Nintendo DS. It was a trilogy of quirky Strategy RPGs that were pretty decent. As a matter of fact, I remember getting 100% on Luminous Arc 2, which meant a lot, and I do mean a LOT of playthroughs. Sadly, we never got Luminous Arc 3 over here.

 We did get Arc Rise Fantasia, though, which was amazing, and I covered on this blog a couple of times already, and putting it over Xenoblade on my favorite Wii games. Actually, there was a fourth Luminous Arc game on the Vita, but it looks nothing like previous games and was developed by another company...

 ...'Cause, y'see, Imageepoch went bankrupt after releasing this game, and their CEO went missing(True story). So what we've got here is Imageepoch's very last game, and while it doesn't carry the 'Luminous Arc' name, it very much is in spirit.

 So, the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good:
- Production values are through the roof. 2-D character portraits are very crisp and clear, the anime cutscenes are fantastic and the 3D in-game graphics are gorgeos.
- Gameplay is very simple, and works just like any other SRPG, but why fix what isn't broken?

The Bad:
- The story... It's as anime as it gets. Childhood friend-romantic interest-who can't cook? Check. Her food even turns purple, like 90% of every female love interest ever. The mysterious voice-power benefactor that appears mysteriously when the situation gets dire and offers the main character powers? Check.
- It also rips off from the Luminous Arc franchise itself! This Hilda witch seems to have the exact same role as the Twilight Witch from Luminous Arc 2. She's the game's 'mascot', featuring heavily on most official art pieces, wields a scimitar-like weapon, wears black and has white hair, is evil but will obviously join the good guys. Then there's the Knight Klaus, who looks almost exactly like Luminous Arc 2's token blonde spearman.
- And it's also very predictable. The fact that Lisette would discover her witch powers so early and in that manner was incredibly obvious.
- The first chapters also reminded me a lot of Jean D'Arc. Having the main characters start off as villagers, having one of the characters being accepted into the village after having been found suffering from amnesia/not knowing who he was. Even the early hunting missions and visual style, not to mention having the village attacked. And I know that it's a very common set-up seen in many games, but it reminded me of Jean D'Arc the most due to the visual style.

The ugly:
- You can't turn the camera during battles! Although to be fair I didn't really need to.

 Basically, it's really good, at least so far, with the only shortcoming being the story. Sadly, Japanese RPGs aren't just what they used to.

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