April 3, 2007 - For three hours straight, I thought Erik Brudvig was insane. As I navigated the barren maps of Enchanted Arms, listened to the title's excruciatingly bad dialogue and laid waste to a handful of lame bad guys, I thought that the 7.6 Brudvig gave the Xbox 360 version last year was the product of a drunken gameplay session or an Ubisoft/From Software mind-control device.
I kept playing, things eventually picked up, and I understood what makes the game enjoyable at times. However, it's clear that Enchanted Arms isn't the greatest RPG in the world -- hell, it might not even be that good of an RPG, period -- but it does bring traditional turn-based combat and a vast collection of colorful characters to the PS3.
Crap. We woke up dad.
In the Enchanted Arms universe, there was this war between golems (magical dolls that humans used to get stuff done) and people a thousand years ago. Some devil golems showed up and made the rest of the dolls turn on humanity in an "I, Robot" style revolt. That sets the stage for when you boot up the game and step into the present-day shoes of Atsuma, a lazy student at Enchant University. At this point, golems are back to being used for everyday tasks, and there's even debate if the whole "devil golem thing" ever happened. But when Atsuma and some friends cut classes, head to the Yokohama Founding Festival and all hell breaks loose, the group quickly deciphers that devil golems aren't a thing of the past.
People join your party, Atsuma keeps having weird dreams and basically the group keeps battling for its world. Each character levels up as the game progresses, learns new skills and can be swapped in and out of the four-person battle squad. Combat occurs on a pair of 4x3 grids (one inhabited by your enemies and one inhabited by your team). The grid warfare means that each character needs to be strategically placed to take advantage of his, her or its own set of ranged and close-combat attacks -- you'll need your sasquatch golem within two squares of an enemy to allow the massive monster to beat the baddie down with its paws; and you'll need to leave your werewolf golem three squares away from an enemy to allow the creature to unleash Air Force, a ranged attack.
It's pretty typical RPG fare, and that's not a bad thing. Watching a new move in motion and trying out different golems that look like stuffed animals or creatures from the Black Lagoon are some of the best parts of Enchanted Arms.
None of this is news to you if you played or read about the 360 title. In fact, if you've been waiting for this game all these months, you probably just want to know about the differences between the two versions.
I have good news and bad news for you.
The good news is that Sixaxis controls have been added to Enchanted Arms, and they're actually pretty fun to use. Players can shake the controller to make Atsuma dance and fill a special attack meter, called EX points; shake it before unleashing a special attack to add up to 20% more to a move; the controller can also be waved to implement Atsuma's grappling hook and it comes into play in more than a few mini-games such as a pizza-eating contest.