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Lord of Arcana Preview

Nick_Tan By:
PUBLISHER Square Enix 
DEVELOPER Access Games 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

It takes blood to heal.

Square-Enix has fallen on hard times. After the financial and critical flops of FFXIII and FFFXIV - not to mention a lackluster string of standalone console RPGs (Infinite Undisovery, The Last Remnant, NIER) - Square-Enix has once again gone back to the drawing board with the clear mission of finally producing a sure-fire winner. So enter Lord of Arcana, a PSP action RPG that more than resembles Capcom's Monster Hunter franchise, which essentially print money in Japan.

click to enlargeSaying that Lord of Arcana follow a conservative approach to multiplayer action RPGs is almost too easy. Just glance over the game's setup and it becomes obvious: A courage warrior. The Horodyn Kingdom. Collect stones of Arcana. Regain memory. Gain ultimate power. A central hub. Accept quests. Form party. Kill monsters. Gain loot. Craft weapon. Learn magic. Accept another quest. Repeat. Did I miss anything?

Certainly, almost any action RPG could be describes this way, but though LoA follows the Monster Hunter formula to the letter, it has several notable distinctions. The first is that it forgoes the broader aduience of a 'T' rating and targets the blood-lovin' 'M' crowd. It's not as gore-tastic as Splatterhouse (what is?), but there's enough blood that it will splatter across the screen with every successful hit of your blade against a monster's flesh.

click to enlargeNot that your enemies deserve mercy in any way, mind you. Designed by the likes of Tetsuya Nomura and Spawn comic artist Todd McFarlane, the bosses tend to be gigantic, gruesome brutes that don't mind stomping your sorry ass into the ground. Some are so badass that you'll need to finish them off with a large summon followed by a God of War quick-time event. If you're in a party, each member has to input the right button at the right time or else the execution attempt fails; fortunately, if someone messes up, the other members can make a recovery (and shout at you in the process).

That's all there is to Lord of Arcana. With up to 4-player ad-hoc multiplayer and its assuredly appealing gameplay, it should be at the very least a game that will test the waters of how receptive the American audience is on handheld multiplayer RPGs. Already out in Japan, Lord of Arcana will arrive in North American stores January 25th, 2011.

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