As some of you may already know, I have imported Luminous Arc 3, having given up on there ever being a North American release. I cannot find any sort of translation or story guide, and the one active fan translation project that I know of it still a long way from a finished patch. I have read up on the story on some sites and forums, but I'm still mostly lost as to everything that's going on. I'm not even good at catching the characters’ names. I only know maybe 50-80 words in Japanese and can't read kanji, katakana and the like.
I thought this review blog would be interesting to start up, as I'm not entirely sure if I'll review this game. Barely understanding the story seems like a handicap, but if I'm able to finish the game, I might still be able to write a review. If not, then there's at least this blog so you can all see my thoughts and feelings on the game.
First off, here's the opening to the game. The song is called "Wake Up World": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1L9Pg_qcqs
I've clocked about 4 1/2 so far and am almost finish with chapter 5, I believe. I think I'll start with the story (much of this, of course, comes from other sources):
In the world of LA3, witches saved the world long ago. There are no more in the present, but magic does exist in people that have the power of Eyes. This power is sought after by the Felicia, a group of fairy-like creatures that are at war with humans over Eyes. One day, a young man named Refi's childhood friend is killed by a Felicia named Reinhardt and Refi awakens his power and drives the Felicia away. He then enrolls at an academy for magic knights, or Knights of Mag (I don't know what the school's name is).
From there... well I'm still early in this. So far the characters are just fighting off Felicia. If there's something deeper going on, I certainly can't tell. Not yet, anyway. Other than human-like fairies, there are odd white eyeless creatures that are also Felicia. So far I've encountered enormous beetle creatures, strange faceless feminine beings, and unicorn-like monsters that could pass for legendary Pokemon. There are still plenty of staple LA monster:, the Minotaurs, Cockatrices, goblins, etc.
Now I’ll move onto the characters. Refi is the main character. While it might be a combination of “it’s still early” and “I can’t understand Japanese,” I don’t have much of a feel for his personality yet. Then again, both Alph and Roland from the first two games lacked much in the way of distinguishing or interesting personalities, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that trend continued with him. He does seem to eat a lot. His class is Berserker and he is what you’d call a glass cannon. His sword, may I add, looks ridiculous. It looks like it’s made out of thin Plexiglas!
There’s also Elulu, the water knight/”witch.” She likes to bake things and can often be found in the kitchen. So far, she also doesn’t have much of a personality aside from that and being a generic nice girl. I’m not certain if she’s the main female lead, or if she shares that spotlight with the character Ashley. It would be a shame if she were, since both Lucia and Althea were relatively strong female leads (Lucia is no-nonsense and snarky, Althea is optimistic and belligerent). Her class is Siren and she’s a healer on top of using water magic, much like Luna and Mel. She uses a staff which doubles as a giant flute. It seems that all of the playable characters’ classes are named after mythological creatures, gods, and people.
Glenn is the second male character to join the party. I want to say that he and Refi are rivals, as the opening movie shows them fighting and Glenn joins after a one-on-one fight with Refi. That so far doesn’t seem to be the case. Again, I don’t have much of a grasp of his personality yet. His class is Kerberos/Cerberus, he is a fire knight, and he uses an odd trident with Plexiglas-looking points
Ashley is the second female character to join the party. For some reason she is furious at Refi when she makes her debut and slaps him. He somehow accidentally touches her breasts and she’s even more mad. (If I may rant, I can’t believe they used the tired -- and to be frank crass -- trope of boy character accidentally groping a girl. The first two Luminous Arc games have their fair share of fan service, but they were more subtle about it as far as the story went.) Anyway, she also joins after she has a battle with Refi, Elulu and Glenn and gets beaten. Not only is the fight against her tough, I think she’s the best character battle-wise so far. She’s has the highest AO (action order), meaning she almost always goes first. She has great attack power, good speed and decent defense. Her magic and resistance are a little lacking, but for the most part, she's a great unit. As for her personality, get the impression that she’s no-nonsense and has an air of some upper class person. Maybe she’s a noble of some sort or just comes from a rich family. She has this amusing portrait were she’s raising an eyebrow in a “what the heck?” expression. (Yes, they still use those lazy one pose, multiple facial expression portraits rather than having portraits with many poses). Her element is darkness, her class is Valkyrie, and her weapons are a pair of Phantasy Star Online-like double swords. Her theme song is called Knight of the Black Rose
, and it’s really good.
Finally there’s Heine, a boy who gets smacked around a lot, usually by the girls. He seems to be the Nikolai/Kaph of the game, but that’s hard to say without any witches (at least, not yet). He is easily excitable, and his ahoge (that little fly-away cow lick that many anime characters have to display their naivety) acts like radar when it comes to cute things . He has decent attack, low speed and AO and great defense and resistance. He has two spells, both of which raise his defense (one raises both his and characters near him‘s defense). His element is Nature, his class is Aegis and his weapon is a shield.
One thing I find puzzling in the school is the presence of a statue and a painting devoted to Fatima the Shadow Frost Witch from Luminous Arc 2. What’s more, the statue is in a place that looks like a church! While I don’t dislike Fatima, she’s still my least favorite witch in the game (terrific battle-wise. She has the highest Magic stat, but personality-wise…). Nobody in the game deserves to have a statue of them like that, but seriously, why her? Dia and Althea were a lot more likable and engaging. I do know, however, that Fatima can be found and I believe fought in the game as a bonus boss, like Vanessa in Luminous Arc 2.
One big difference in this game from the other two is the ability to actually walk around the school. Normally, between story sequences, you couldn’t really walk around towns or buildings. The first game let you walk around a map while the second just scoots you from place to place via menu. In towns/buildings, you could choose various options to move to a place, talk to NPCs or your party members, or go shopping. I can actually move around and talk to NPCs and my party like a traditional console RPG. I don’t know, however, if I can do this in places other than the school. I can also go buy things and temper my weapons with materials dropped by monsters. There’s a library with information on the game and world lore. Also, I can pay a fee to the librarian to learn something about one of my party members. I can use this information during the After Break scenes, which are the successor to the previous games’ intermissions. Of course since I can’t understand what’s going on, I can’t make much use of them. I need that money to buy stuff, anyway. There’s also a fortune teller, though I don’t really know what she does, and a bathhouse in the basement of the school (these are unlocked in the fourth chapter). By going in the bathhouse, I can raise Refi’s HP and once in a while, he might meet another party member in there and have a chat. I’ve yet to experience this.
The chapters go like this: There a beginning scene and dialogue, then I can walk about school for a bit, then go talk to Glenn or someone else to actually start the battle (you can tell who you need to talk to because there is an exclamation point in the area they’re in on the map on the top screen.) After that, there’s a battle and some more scenes. Once that’s finished, you go back to the academy to view an After Break scene with one of the characters (again, you can find them by the exclamation points on the map). You can even view an After Break Scene with an NPC, though I don’t think you raise your affinity with them. So far I have the highest affinity with both Elulu and Heine. What’s also very different is that scenes aren’t only shown with either two character portraits sliding on and off screen, or the occasional CG scene. With LA3, you can actually see their sprites in places other than a battle field. And they move around! They’re not all that well animated and they stand rather straight most of the time, but it's still a step up from how they were previously.
Finally, I’ll move on the battle system. It’s largely unchanged from the second game. Even the placement of the menu options are the same. The top screen has a more involved method of showing attack order. You can see how quickly everyone goes because their names and images slide from right to left, showing when and in what order they will move. Units and actions in general move much faster than either of the previous games, which is a big plus. Battles seem to be harder than in either of the two games, but I may have unintentionally chosen Hard Mode, as I only discovered it had difficulty settings after I started the game
Well, that’s all I had to say (which is a lot, heh). I’ll update this as often as I can. If your wondering, despite the language barrier, I am actually enjoying my time with it.