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Arc The Lad (アークザラッド), is a strategy tactical role-playing video game developed by G-Craft for the PlayStation and is the first game in the Arc the Lad series. It was released in 1995 in Japan, and released in North America on April 18, 2002, as part of the Arc the Lad Collection. The Japanese released was published by Sony Computer Entertainment International, while the North American release was published by Working Designs. It was the best-selling Japanese PlayStation game of 1995 with over a million copies sold. Arc the Lad was followed by two direct sequels and many games that make up the series.
The story begins as the young girl Kukuru goes to put out the Flame Cion. At the same time, the hero Arc begins his quest to search for his estranged father, who left him and his mother 10 years ago. The two meet after Kukuru has put out the flame and is attacked by monsters.
Arc the Lad is a tactical RPG. In battle, the player has an area where each character may move, much like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre. The areas the player can move are marked by blue tiles, and when using a melee attack on an enemy, the player can attack an enemy at any side the player can reach, and a cursor will be above the enemy to let the player know that he can attack the enemy. If the player uses magic or special abilities to attack the enemy, there will be a red set of tiles that show the player the range in which the spell or attack will reach. Unlike Final Fantasy Tactics, Arc the Lad is not isometric, therefore all tiles are the same size and shape.
Outside of battle, the character must select given areas on a map to access them. For example, to reach a battlefield, dungeon, or castle, the player will be given a general world map, to which the player will select a continent, then a map of the continent will be displayed. The player then must select a highlighted area to enter it. The game will always prompt the player to save once the player has selected and area to go to. Virtually no towns can be selected in this game. Only dungeons, small areas, and fields may be selected.
Once a player has selected an area, depending on the area chosen, the character may have the ability to explore the entire area. Many areas, however, do not allow for such freedom. Often the player will select an area and this may trigger an event, such as dialogue or battles. Because of this, most of the plot is given through dialogue during events as there are very little NPCs to give information on where the player must go to.
At the end of the game, the player can save after beating the final boss. This save data is actually cleared save game data that you can use to transport to a new game in Arc the Lad II. All your characters' stats and attributes and items will be transferred over to Arc the Lad II.
Plot and setting
The game begins with a girl named Kukuru is a member of the Sacred Clan in Seirya (スメリア, Sumeria), a clan that protects the Flame Cion. She is sent by the mayor of her town to extinguish this flame, but once she does, a monster, an Ark Ghoul, appears, and Kukuru flees. Meanwhile, a boy named Arc prepares to look for his father, who has been missing for ten years. He stumbles upon Kukuru and they defeat the monsters. Arc tells Kukuru that he will go to re-ignite the flame. The Ark Ghoul still remains by the flame, and attacks Arc. As Arc is down, a voice calls him. The voice is a Guardian, who tells Arc to re-ignite the flame. The Guardian also tells Arc that he will return here to extinguish the flame so that he may retrieve the Ark and protect the world and that Arc's father, Yoshua, made an agreement with the Guardians of the planet that he would not let the human race be destroyed by darkness, so Arc re-ignites the fire. Days later, the king of Palencia summons Arc after hearing about his abilities. As Arc heads to Palencia, Kukuru decides that it is her destiny to help Arc, and follows him to the castle. The king's minister Andel tests Arc to see if he really is blessed by the Guardians by making him defeat monsters. It is here that the party meets Poco, from the drum corps.
After Arc returns, the king tells him that the Ark is to save humankind, and that his brother believed this story and has disappeared to find the Ark. He tells Arc to go to the Forest Spirit in Toyoke Forest in Millmana to listen to her words. In Millmana, Arc meets with General Yagun, who tells them the forest has become very dangerous, and he makes them prove their strength by defeating monsters in other areas first. Once the three defeat the monsters and head to the forest, the Forest Spirit tells them that Arc's father had seen her ten years ago and vowed to protect humankind. The Forest Spirit allowed Arc's father to do so, making Arc the key to saving humankind.
In Palencia, a warrior is being escorted to a prison for treason. Arc prepares to tell the king and his minister Andel his report from Millmana, but the king has grown sick. The three go to the prison to find out the details on the prisoner. The warrior, Tosh, breaks out of his cell, and attacks some guards, angered by their words. He is ambushed by several of them as they transform into monsters. Arc, Kukuru, and Poco help him, and after the battle, Tosh thanks them and leaves. Arc returns to the king and proves that the king's brother is Arc's father. Arc says that he must wait for correspondence from his father to seek out the rest of the Guardians, and so the king tells him that he will help Arc in any way possible.
They return to Arc's house and find that his village Touvil has been attacked and burned. A courier delivers a message from Arc's father, telling him to find the book in the Ancient Monolith, which will guide him to the Guardians and their Stones. At the Monolith, an old man named Gogen appears and reveals himself to be the "book" that Arc had been told to find. Gogen is a thousands-of-years-old wizard who had been imprisoned in the illusion world for over 3,000 years. He tells Arc that the first Guardian is in Alatos. The four go to the king for transportation to Alatos, and he gives them his airship, the Silver Noah. When the party heads to the Silver Noah, Tosh is mourning at his father's grave, when his sword reveals its spirit and speaks to him. It tells him to accompany Arc on his quest and help them any way he can.
In Alatos, the party meets a merchant named Chongara, who was instructed by Yoshua to guide them to the Guardian of Light. After speaking with the Guardian of Light and getting the Light Stone, Gogen tells them the location of the next Guardian in Greyshinne. Chongara runs to the Silver Noah and tells them that he feels he should help them after the Light Guardian's speech to Arc. In Greyshinne, they go to Amaidar Temple (ラマだ寺, Ramada Temple) and speak with the Archmonk. The Archmonk, however, is a monster in disguise and instructs the monk Iga to deal with Arc. The party pleads with Iga, until Gogen suggests that he and Arc duel to gain permission to access the mountain. After Arc wins, Iga and the party speak with the Archmonk. Kukuru senses that the Archmonk is a monster, which then causes the Archmonk to flee into the proving grounds, where they defeat him. On Mt. Amaidar, the Earth Guardian gives them the Earth Stone. When they return to the temple, Iga asks them if he may help them in their quest.
In Niedel, the party hears that a tournament is held where the winner wins a Wind Orb. Believing this is related to the Wind Guardian, one member of the party enlists in the tournament. Once that person wins the tournament, the party discovers that the winners of each tournament are later killed so that they do not get the Wind Orb. After defeating the crooked announcer, the party frees the Wind Guardian. The Water Guardian lies in Zariban, a desert land. The party learns that Kasadoll, a general of Zariban, is after the Guardian, but they manage to stop him and gain the Water Stone.
When the group returns to Palencia, they find a police state run by Andel. Sneaking into the castle basement, they find the Fire Guardian held captive under Andel's command. They free the Fire Guardian, who grants them the Fire Stone. They then find the king, who is dying. The king tells them that Andel was sent by Romalia to gain control of Seirya and the world. He tells Arc that Andel is looking for the Ark to bring Romalia power. He then dies, and the group escapes from the castle. Andel puts a bounty on the party, so they disguise themselves when returning to Seirya to extinguish the Flame Cion. Arc and Kukuru extinguish the flame. The Ark Ghoul reappears and flees to the Ark, and Arc and Kukuru chase him. The other party members join them as they reach the entrance and head to Sabatico Falls.
Inside Sabatico Falls, they find the Ark, which tests their power first by having them fight a doppelganger form of the party. After, the Ark and the Guardians speak to them, and the Ark gives power to Arc and Kukuru. As the party leaves, Andel appears and seizes the Ark. Arc and the party escape from Andel, but as his soldiers chase them, the ground begins to split and the Sabatico Shrine emerges from the ground. Gogen tells them that the shrine has appeared as the seal against the Dark Ones grows weaker. Arc tells Kukuru to find the Sabatico Shrine, which is the last method of protection from the Dark One. The rest of the party return to the Silver Noah and the set off to somewhere unknown. Kukuru watches them as they fly away, and the game ends.
This game was intentionally designed to be short. This was mentioned in the Working Designs' "Making of Arc the Lad" CD that came with Arc the Lad Collection. Therefore, in the first game, only the continents of Seirya, Millmana, Alatos, Zariban, and Niedel are accessible. In Arc the Lad II, the towns of these areas, fields, dungeons, etc. are accessible. Also, new continents are accessible in Arc the Lad II. In terms of time, the game begins 10 years after Yoshua's departure, and some years after the opening sequence in Arc the Lad II, but before the actual storyline of Arc II.
Some tracks were orchestrated pieces, which was a first in RPGs. Most tracks in this game are sequenced as well, though the orchestrated pieces and the ending are streamed.
North American changes
While the game remains mostly unchanged, and the localization is typical of Working Designs, there were a few additional changes made to this game. The most notable is that the color during movie sequences was changed from 16-bit colour to 24-bit colour and DualShock vibration support was added. Other changes include Sumeria becoming Seirya, Ramada becoming Amaidar, and Alibarsha becoming Zariban.
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