Publisher: KEMCO (Kotobuki Solution Co., Ltd.)
Developer: Hit-Point Co.,Ltd.
Release Date: 10/01/2015
I have a soft spot for retro RPG titles, but even I sometimes wonder if maybe we’re seeing too much of them lately. Still, there’s always room on my game shelf for a game that tries to innovate. Chronus Arc tries to innovate, but in all honesty, falls a little flat. You play as Loka, a boy who was orphaned at a young age and effectively raised by Teth. Together, you two go to the Chronus Shrine to get the Chronus Fragments that needed to for the Time Rewinding, a ceremony that takes place every ten years. Of course, you are ambushed by Geppel and his gang, who are after the Fragments for some reason that isn’t mentioned. Loka, on orders from Teth, runs back to town for reinforcements, but by the time the reinforcements arrive, Teth and Geppel are nowhere to be found. Loka heads out of town to try to get the Chronus Fragment back and to find Teth, and is joined by Sarna, a childhood friend of his who also happens to be the princess. Later, the two of you are joined by Kuril, who joins the team for her own private reasons.
The gameplay is pretty much exactly like your typical early JRPG. You’ve got an overworld map you can explore, and thankfully you can also use fast travel. Battles on the overworld map are random encounter, but inside dungeons the monsters are roaming around on the screen, allowing you to be more strategic about your battles. There are quite a few puzzles in the dungeons you explore, which I am a fan of, as someone who played and replayed Golden Sun as a kid. One great addition to these puzzles is the ability to reset them by pressing the start button. You can also exit the dungeon by pressing R, regardless of your progress in said dungeon. KEMCO seems to have taken a lot of the staples of old-school RPGs and added in some improvements, which makes for a less grindy, less annoying experience, especially if you’re like me and often low on time.
The battles themselves are turn-based and don’t really feature anything new. Also, in pretty much every town and dungeon there’s this mysterious man who gives you Boost Manuals, which allow you to unlock equipment upgrades, the materials for which you find in various dungeons and by defeating enemies. One downside to this system is that you don’t necessarily know where the materials are if it’s not part of a subquest (given in most towns), which can be annoying if you’re having trouble finding one particular material and you’re trying to fully upgrade everyone’s equipment before moving on. Is it in the next area that you need to go to, or is it in one of the previous dungeons and you happened to miss it? There’s no way to tell. It would have been nice to have like a notebook in-game that you could reference for stuff like that, or maybe you could ask the blacksmith where to find them or something. I even tried to find a GameFAQs guide out there, and nothing.
At the end of battles, you may or may not also get something called Mana, which can be traded for specific items in the first town. Unfortunately, you don’t get a good drop rate (by my estimations, somewhere around 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 battles), and you need 50 or 100 Mana to buy books to change classes (there are two different ones), so if you’re desperate to make your characters stronger and let them learn new techniques, have fun grinding out at least 200-300 battles just for the lower cost class change book.
There is an interesting aspect to beefing up your characters known as techniques. These are basically gems you can attach to your characters that manipulate the way their magic works. You can make their magic consume less MP, hit all enemies, get cast multiple times, or get cast multiple times over several turns, for instance. Mixing and matching these techniques with the right strategy can make the game a lot easier.
The best way I can explain this game is that it takes a lot of tropes and staples of RPGs that we all know and love and tries to weave them together into something cohesive. It manages to do this, but only barely. The characters, while somewhat likeable, don’t have any sort of depth to them. They’re just kind of there, being all trope-y. The dialogue is awkward, which could be a localization issue. The plot could have been a lot more compelling, had they actually focused on it. The puzzles, while they do get harder, are nowhere near the kind of interesting puzzles you’d expect from a game that advertises having puzzles. The visuals and music in the game are almost aggressively fine. The battles are probably the most intriguing part, what with the techniques and such, but even then, the game gets pretty grindy (note: not difficult, just… battles. Battles everywhere.) near the end, to the point where I just kind of gave up. By that point, the story had lost my interest anyway, not that there was much focus on it in the first place.
I really wanted to like this game more, but even at the price tag, I don’t know that I can recommend it to anyone, except maybe people who aren’t really into RPGs but want to play one on their downtime. For fans of the genre, though, there are so many better RPG titles out there, especially on the 3DS. It may end up costing you a bit more out of pocket, but you’ll be less disappointed.
Short Attention Span Summary
The best way I can explain this game is that it takes a lot of tropes and staples of RPGs that we all know and love and tries to weave them together into something cohesive. It manages to do this, but only barely. The battle system has the most potential thanks to class changing and techniques, but everything else kind of falls flat. There are definitely other games you can get for the 3DS to get your RPG fix.