Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
Newest Review: ... by one of the witches, Vanessa. These provide some light comic relief although sometimes he doesn't say enough to leave an impact on me. =... more
Luminous? I wouldn't go that far.
Luminous Arc (DS)
Member Name: Secre
Luminous Arc (DS)
Date: 02/07/12, updated on 02/07/12 (38 review reads)
Advantages: Cute, enjoyable, original plot
Disadvantages: Could be more interactive and the touch screen controls are awful
You are playing as a group called the 'Garden's Children' who are fighting alongside the church of Luminous in a bid to rid the world of the witches, who the church claims are out to destroy the world. They claim that the recent monster boom has been caused by the witches, and if something isn't done about it then the problems will only multiply. You note how I'm using the word 'claim' a lot? Well, there's a reason for that. You see, the God which the Luminous church is worshipping is kind of a centuries old, humongous monster which the witches sealed up 1000 years ago, and it's main objective is to break its chains and eat the planet. So, we suddenly have a minor problem with following the orders of the Luminous church and so our rag tag team of heroes turn into heretics in a sudden mad dash to save the world from their own masters. Fun times, eh?
Your characters are somewhat stereotypical to the standard RPG experience; you have Alph a rifle wielding youngster with a wacky hairdo, Theo his younger and cute looking brother, Heath the experienced lance man who is teaching them although he can't be more than thirty himself, Cecille the irritating pious cleric and Leon a talented swordsman is most definitely a ladies man. Soon after the witches come in to play and everything gets interesting. The game is actually very clever in fully developing the characters motivations and experiences meaning that you actually seem to get to know each character and understand them.
The story line is actually quite compelling and you do want to keep on going to find out what happens next.
Luminous Arc fits solidly into the strategy RPG genre; the plot moves through fairly quickly and before each battle there is a short bit of dialogue to move you through. You have the choice of shopping for more equipment, talking to the three characters available for that section of the game or reading in the library and then there is the 'advance plot' button. This means that you have the chance to mess around for as long as you want before being forced into the next section of the story. My only issue would be that you have no opportunity to explore the town or the world map, you have very limited options for what you can do if you are not battling and I quite like a much larger RPG experience where I can actually wander around towns, talk to random people and generally mess around. It makes it seem more immersive in a way.
Once you've advanced the story this is then followed by a turn based battle on a grid based map. You see your characters from a birds eye view and you are allowed up to eight characters on the map during any one battle. From that point onwards you move your characters to attack the enemy with each character having different strengths and weaknesses. As you go through the game the battles become faster paced with you having to move right from the start to get your characters out of danger, and there is always the strategic aspect of where to place your characters to maximise their attacking or healing capacities.
If you attack an enemy from the side that is stronger than face on, and if you attack them from the back that is stronger still but it must always be remembered that the same rule applies to you. Each move that you do will increase your characters Flash Drive, which if you have played any Final Fantasy is very similar to the Limit Break - you get it up to maximum and you can unleash a much stronger attack with the character. This is quite a nice touch, but possibly the most intriguing touch which makes the strategy more interesting is the levelling up system. All characters level up after they have received 100 experience points and at the level up they recover full Health points and Magic points. This doesn't sound too extreme, but it's unusual in games like this and it allows you to have much more flexibility in moving characters into risky situations because if you judge it right then you will be able to time a level up, but if you judge it wrong your character will die. Likewise it gives you a certain amount of freedom on who to level up as killing an enemy gets you more experience than just hurting an enemy, so if you pick which character will make the all important blow well it can make a massive difference in terms of your party.
You always have the opportunity to go looking for random skirmishes (not unlike Fire Emblems set up if you've played that), but you are limited to the places on the map which are marked. There's no exploration between areas, you just move along the lines to the next town or battle that is marked. It isn't just this game that does this, it has become increasingly common, again Fire Emblem is a good example, but that doesn't stop it being irritating.
The other irritation in game play would be the controls which are a pain in the proverbial backside until you manually change it to allow you to use the buttons instead of the touch screen. The touch screen controls just aren't responsive enough and either doesn't register what you are trying to do or moves your character to an adjoining square. This is kind of an annoying fault in what I would otherwise say is solid gameplay.
The graphics are pretty. They are done in anime style and the characters are very well drawn. The settings for the battles are varied according to where you are at any given point and the towns (well, what you can see of them) are also nicely drawn. There's nothing particularly special, but there's nothing to moan about either.
In terms of sound the game does quite impressively for a DS game. The background track isn't particularly irritating (coming from someone who hates computer game music that is about as complementary as I can bring myself to get.) However, the voice over's for the characters are well acted for the most part, there are one or two over acted, irritating characters but they don't make too much of a difference to the enjoyment of the game. I did quite like the addition of the little voices in battle which I wouldn't have noted had I not been forced to turn the sound on the review it! When your character is about to attack or is very low on health they come out with personalised lines which is to be fair quite a nifty addition...not enough to make me keep the sound on though.
Again, having no friends I've had to read up on the multiplayer capacity. It appears that it's not particularly bad but again nothing stunning. You receive the ability to play multi-player after chapter 13 and then you can pit your teams against another person in real life. The main issue with this it appears is that because you can't customise your characters you are pitting identical sides against each other and as there is no handicap function if they're higher levels then you're scuppered to begin with.
Overall this is a very enjoyable game that should easily keep you occupied for around 25 hours, more if you spend a lot of time finding random battles to fight and getting the other characters to their full heart bar (there are intercessions after each battle and if you say the right thing the character likes you more which ends up giving you a nice cut scene eventually). There's also really cute cut scenes with a very wierd cat/blob thing called Kopin after each battle which really do add an extra level of amusement and entertainment...they're very odd and somewhat impossible to explain but so cute! This is a good, solid game with quite an original plot (even if it does still rely on kids with supremely strange hair), battles which keep you interested and are amusing to play and overall is a nice collection to any RPG fans collection.
It has its faults, but what game doesn't. And once you change the ridiculous stylus controls so that you can use the D-pad the game in intuitive and fairly instinctive. It makes you think about where you are going to put your characters next and it is a fun game. If I had my way I'd like the characters to be much more customisable so that you can choose your own class and weapon, I'd like to be able to wander around the maps and the towns (this isn't impossible for a DS game considering Chrono Trigger managed it). I guess I'd just like it to be a little bit more interactive, with me having more of a say in what's going on rather than moving from battle to battle and aside from upgrading weapons and armour having no say. But I enjoyed myself playing it and that's the important thing.
This isn't going to win game of the year by a long way. But it's above average, it's enjoyable and it's entertaining. It just could be better. I was entertained enough to order the second one in the series because despite the flaws I did enjoy playing it. I have to admit I would recommend it, because if you're a fan of RPG's then you will find it entertaining and if you're a fan of anime based games you'll enjoy it. Plus at around £10 it isn't going to break the bank. If you don't do turn based battles then you will however struggle!
Summary: It's not quite luminous but it's not half bad...