Where Luminous Arc 2 Fits In The DS SRPG Buffet

By Spencer . November 14, 2008 . 5:46pm

image When Luminous Arc came out it had the luxury of trudging new territory as one of the few tactical RPGs on the Nintendo DS. Now there is a strategy RPG flood with Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Disgaea DS, and Drone Tactics. The niche genre blew up on the DS which is great for strategy RPG fans, but this might leave Luminous Arc 2 in the dark.

 

The story starts when Roland, an optimistic knight in training, accidentally bonds with a Runic Engine. The device, still in testing, bestows Roland with a new power — getting “engaged” on the battlefield. Pick engage and an image of a female witch in a wedding dress flashes on both screens before Roland is empowered with an element for a few turns. This sounds like a funny way of powering Roland with new arts and flash drives (read: super moves), but in the world of Luminous Arc it makes sense.

 

image Luminous Arc 2 is one part strategy RPG and one part visual novel. Like the first game you get to pick from a handful of party members and talk to them after battles. As Roland, you have to select what he says, and if you say the right thing your relationship is strengthened. In addition to talking to your comrades, there are story scenes, optional story scenes to find, and NPCs waiting to give you information in towns. Luminous Arc 2 has a lot of text. A tonne of text. Maybe it’s because only two lines are displayed at a time, but Luminous Arc 2 feels like a pocket novel. However, it doesn’t feel like your drowning in mythology or personal struggles. Like the previous game Luminous Arc 2 is lighthearted. Discussions often tangent to flirting and Rache’s difficulty getting along with witches. Since there are lots of side events to see you get to know the characters well, but not in a psychoanalytic way. You learn their favorite foods and little details you would read about in an art book.

 

image The reward for paying attention and pouring attention on the same character is a boost in battle performance. Since you can’t change classes and abilities are automatically earned by leveling up character selection is the most important pre-battle strategy. Once your in battle your allies can get another bump up by utilizing drive points. You earn DP after each attack and once you collect 100 DP you can bump one of your arts up a notch. Drive points are essentially a flexible power boost that let players make the most out of their MP consuming arts abilities when they want to. However, drive points aren’t stored between battles so you either use them or lose them when the fight is finished. Monsters have drive points too, but it doesn’t look like your average death beetle is smart enough to use them. Although, some enemies like Josie, a flying cat familiar, are tricky to knockout. In one fight six party members are on a map with mini islands. They can’t walk in water so you have to jump between land. Josie, being a flying cat, can fly and hover on water tiles. When Josie was near death she started flying into the water which forced me to chase her and kept her alive for a few more rounds.

 

So, far my experience with Luminous Arc 2 has been a lot like any other strategy RPG, just with a lot more reading. The biggest change from the first game is probably the least sexy one to talk about too. Imageepoch’s game feels more balanced than other strategy RPGs. You’re not going to storm into battles with over leveled characters armed with tons of abilities and you won’t level up just by drinking potions in Luminous Arc 2. Since you can’t brute force your way through fights Luminous Arc 2 is slightly more cerebral and more tactical than the other strategy RPGs I played this year.

 

Images courtesy of Atlus.


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  • lostinblue

    well, I’m kinda saturated of S-RPG’s at this point (I love them, but at a pace of say… one per year) but I pre-ordered this one due to the artbook and cd (mitsuuuuda) so let’s see.

    Cheers for the impressions

  • JeremyR

    I’ve been looking forward to this, haven’t bought a DS game since Civilization this Summer (and before that, LA 1). I just hope I can figure out where I put my DS, after being disappointed with Civ, I stashed it away someplace…

  • JeremyR

    Although I gotta add, didn’t you play Wild Arms XF? That’s one of the most cerebral SRPGs ever, since it’s almost like a puzzle game, trying to figure out how to do a level (and part of why many sites gave it a low score)

  • Spencer

    @JeremyR – I passed it to one of the other writers. As much as I want to play everything I’m happy to share with others :)

  • Enflict

    I’m finding LA2 really overhyped. It’s a decent game with nicely designed characters and the gameplay is a big improvement from the first game, but it’s getting too much attention that I feel people will end up disappointed when they actually play it.

  • Jay

    @lostinblue, there are no Mitsuda tracks on that CD, he was just the music producer. It has Yoko Shimomura tracks though! :D

  • SomeDude

    Jeremy: Wild Arms XF was really, really hard for me to trudge all the way through. I like it half the time, and then during other points it would just be fantastically stupid.

    The missions where you’d end up having to not kill the enemy and make it to a certain location in X turns were insanely frustrating.

  • Joanna

    i’m actually quite happy with the SRPG saturation, and I also have LA2 pre-ordered. I just love SRPGs, and it’s nice to know LA2 is more balanced =)

  • lostinblue

    @ Jay – No mitsuda tracks? :O *sobs*

    Although, since in Luminous Arc 1, it was revealed only 3/4 compositions were mitsuda’s I surely wasn’t expecting it all to be his.

    Oh well, the artbook is bound to be pretty. :)

  • Jay

    3/4? Try 1 track, the first one.

  • Jay

    The first game track I mean, the title screen music not the J-Pop.

  • lostinblue

    :O thanks for the info (that game needs more mitsuda)

  • Jay

    If you want to hear recent Mitsuda work try Soma Bringer, he did all the tracks for it.

  • patricksbiggs

    The biggest concern I have, other than for the boy’s hearing, is for these thieves. I can almost understand the confusion if the victim hadn’t been three years old but honestly, do they run into a lot of toddlers with high powered careers? Are cell phone accessories become really big in the pre-school http://www.chase.com circuit? Luckily, the John Tracy clinic in South LA will probably cover the costs of replacing the implant but still it’s a process that might take months. Until then, Jose is relying on a backup and the thieves are probably still trying to figure out how to get the speech processor synced with their RAZR’s.

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