Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New Game--Arkadian Warriors Review ( Xbox 360); Dec.2007

It’s not uncommon for even an avid gamer to be intimidated by the RPG genre. Some of these role-playing games can be overwhelming when compared to, say, a first-person shooter, simply because of how these titles exponentially grow with complexity as character progression ensues.

Casual-game developer Wanako Studios is known more for its super-easy pick-up-and-play XBLA titles—such as 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures and Assault Heroes—than for role-playing games, but maybe its prior claim to fame is what really makes its latest game so unique. Yes, Arkadian Warriors is a compact yet fully featured action/RPG, and one that just might be the perfect n00b stepping stone leading into massive bodies of water such as Mass Effect and Fable II.

Along with Arkadian Warriors being a bite-sized morsel of an action/RPG for easier ingestion, Wanako also went above-and-beyond the call of duty by creating an extremely thorough “how to play” section that first-timers will find invaluable . Everything from character classes to the ins and outs of the game’s interface are covered in a scrolling text format. Yes, you’ll have to do more reading than actually getting your hands dirty in-game, but it’s a small price to pay for knowing exactly what Arkadian Warriors is all about before waltzing through its dungeons.

Since you’ll have to pick from one of three PCs before questing in Arkadian Warriors, it’s a good idea to begin your tutorial work with a breakdown of the classes (you can also get a thorough breakdown of the classes in our feature). Soldier-, Sorcerer- and Archer-class characters should be self-explanatory; there are no crazy sub-categories that might confuse or affect the performance of this sub-one gig title. There are, however, Blue Dragon-like animalistic alter egos that are tied to each character and which can be unleashed at just the right time on unsuspecting enemies. These alter egos require a special gauge to be filled via fearless fighting, unlocking chests and simply smashing the environment’s many destructibles—three good habits to get into while traipsing through Wanako’s world. Alter egos can, of course, inflict massive damage per turn, but their use is finite. The savvy players will be smart to save this magnitude of firepower for boss battles.

Along with a basic starting weapon, each character will have a variety of offensive inventory weapons that can be acquired throughout the journey. Each weapon has a special tied to it for a bit more intrigue on the action side of this action/RPG, not to mention each item being specific to a certain class. Experimenting with a character’s special magical ability and a weapon’s harnessed power can lead to some serious potency resulting in huge HP damage, too. The monetary system used in Arkadian Warriors also enables basic commerce to break out, which can also be a more handy way of acquiring class-specific weapons than simply stumbling upon them.

Killing general baddies and bosses, as well as completing entire quests, will earn experience points and eventually lead to a level-up status, which not only provides great hit-point potential per inventory item, but also allows more items to be held in the warrior’s mystical cache. This includes such items as additional weaponry and potions for HP, magic or alter ego power-up. Armor of all types is also available either through righteous play or for the right price from the Shopkeeper, and extends to myriad forms of shielding for the Soldier class. A character’s special magical power—only a press of the B button away—can also be equipped via Arkadian Warriors’s handy inventory system or quick swapped with the right bumper. Magic is a worthy attack with any character class (not just the Sorceress), but it is a finite skill and will eventually disappear when the blue Mana gauge is drained.

Throwing down in Arkadian Warriors is similar to many of the standalone ARPGs on the market and, in many ways, is just as fun. You’ll first have to be granted the right to quest by talking to any number of townsfolk NPCs, who will also be your follow-up liaison for important mission vitals. An interesting dynamic in Arkadian Warriors is that you’ll actually have to complete every quest that Wanako designed for a particular “floor” before being allowed to continue on toward the end of the game. You can re-do missions, of course, but only ones contained on like floors. This can be considered a drawback to some as Arkadian Warriors isn’t as open-ended as some similar titles, but it still holds its own when compared to the arcade style of action-oriented RPGs released a few console cycles ago.

The real key to Arkadian Warriors’s success is the way in which Wanako made the user interfaces super simple and extremely user-friendly. For instance, instead of always reaching into the inventory screen for an often-used potion, Arkadian Warriors maps the brews onto D-pad positions for easy access. One-button attacks (even in alter ego form), item usage and inventory navigation also enable the user to be concentrated more on logical character progression than the complexity of just surviving in an unfamiliar virtual world. The very thorough minimap also does wonders for ensuring that new RPG’ers won’t become quickly discouraged from aimless wandering or futile item fetches.

Although you probably won’t be blown away with Arkadian Warriors’s production values or combat system, there is something to be said for an entry-level ARPG that comes with a small price tag via XBLA. Sure, you could pull out your older-bit systems of yesteryear and enjoy a game similar to Arkadian Warriors, but why? Wanako’s title is a fresh IP, contains satisfactory RPG progression, has a paltry asking price and kicks out Gamerscore points to boot.

If you want to get “into” an RPG for the first time, or don’t want your virtual second life becoming more important than your real life, Arkadian Warriors may just be the portal to another world for you.

If you have no personal beefs with the action/RPG genre, then you’ll surely consider Arkadian Warriors as a delightful way to pad that Gamerscore. Finishing the game will give you an instant 50-point hit, but other, more menial tasks will also deliver big point totals (into the 20s) per pop. Here’s a complete breakdown:


Geared Up—Equip a full suit of armor: Helmet, Armor and Weapon. (5 points)

Dungeon Delver—Destroy all monsters in a dungeon level (5 points)

Chain Master—Achieve a 10 kill chain. (10 points)

Morph to Kill—Defeat 10 monsters while in alter-ego form. (5 points)

Team Work—Complete 2 quests in one continuous co-op session. (10 points)

Class Act—Complete at least one quest with each character. (10 points)

Master Bomber—Kill 100 monsters using exploding vases. (10 points)

God’s Champion—Reach level 20 with any character. (20 points)

Gold Miser—Accumulate 500000 gold. (25 points)

Treasure Hunter—Find 15 secret rooms. (25 points)

Merchant’s Master—Buy or sell 100 items. (25 points)

Snake Slayer—Finish the game by beating Gorgon. (50 points)

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