LUMINOUS ARC / Atlus / Nintendo DS

Luminous Arc is a complete and unrepentant Final Fantasy Tactics / Tactics Ogre clone, with a weaker story than any of those games, much more limited combat options, and almost no character customization. It tries to cover for these deficiencies with a heavy coating of generic Animu and some Saturday morning cartoon caliber voice acting in some of the cut scenes, but unless you are the Weeabooest of Weeaboos, this is not going to do anything for you.

The unimaginative Animu tone is set right out of the gate with an opening generic anime FMV featuring the requisite Earnest J-Pop Girl singing some song about the memories of that time in her burning soul or whatever, while some bishy knight stares off into the distance as the breeze blows his locks around. If I weren't writing a review, that alone would have been enough to convince me to turn the game off and not waste my time, but I bravely pressed on - for YOU, my friend, for you.

The game itself is a series of FF Tactics battles separated by "visual novel" style intermissions where there is little in the way of interactivity and you have to listen to an absolute shit pile of uninteresting dialogue. There is quite a bit of voice acting in these scenes, given this is a DS cart, but it seems to occur rather randomly - something that seems like a minor interlude gets voice work, then you shift to something seemingly important to the story, and it totally disappears. Also, consider that there is only space on the cart for these WAV files due to the fact that the game uses static art, little animation and has an otherwise very minimal presentation and aesthetic.

Battles - bleh. If you've played any sort of Tactics game over the years you know exactly what to expect, as it is a complete and total clone, just without a lot of the more fun and complex aspects of the better Tactics games. Playing with the stylus is irritating, as there seems to be no way to rotate the map, and when characters are all clustered together it's tough to click on the right one.

The story is adolescent, clumsy, and frankly just stupid at points. It rips off a lot of common cliches from anime and other games. It does have the balls to use the word God and draw parallels from its heavy-handed religious order to the more oppressive aspects of Christianity, but all the material here is horribly predictable and has been done before many times in many other places with much more grace, depth and complexity. The plot is basically FF Tactics sloppily rewritten for children, that's the best quick summary I can think of.

So, the game is basically a big pile of Do Not Want. There was a time when gamers were starved for any sort of SRPGs we could get our hands on, but that time was over ten years ago, and these days there's just too many mediocre ones to need another lazy ripoff of FF Tactics. The most touted quality, the voice acting, is not only not very good, but it doesn't really add much to the game anyway, since the dialogue roundly sucks and is overly windy. And you'll choke on the thick layer of saccharine Animu unless you are a total and complete Wapanese. Blech.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video
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