Video game review of "Enchanted Arms"

For any video game system to be successful, it must have some great games in its lineup. Hopefully, Sony’s PlayStation 3 isn’t pinning its hopes for success on the new RPG (role-playing game) called “Enchanted Arms,” because this game is truly awful.


That’s probably a little too harsh — it does have some good features. The opening animated sequence, for example, is very nicely done, and it evokes the spirit of the “Final Fantasy” series.


Then the game begins, and that spirit evaporates.


You play the part of Atsuma, a student who’s learning about the art of Enchanting. In other words, using magic to fight others. Atsuma pals around with two other students. One is an incredibly capable student who’s loved by all, and the other is apparently in the game just to annoy Atsuma.


That would all be fine, but your character is a lazy student who constantly falls asleep in class, skips out of school and is generally disliked by everyone -- in other words, a great role model. Of course, that’s all to give him room to grow into the role of the hero. But wouldn’t we prefer to be the really capable fighter? I’m just asking.


The idea, apparently, is that Atsuma’s stupidity is the excuse for the tutorial part of the game, where you learn how to fight RPG-style. Each fight takes place on a grid, and you move the members of your team around to put them in position to fight your opponents. That’s an interesting twist on the usual system, but otherwise you just take turns blasting your opponents and getting blasted in turn.


The basics of the game are fine. The animation is well done, and the characters are clearly defined. The biggest problem is that the game plods along at a snail-like pace. It takes forever just to get your team to the school cafeteria, much less to a spot where you’ll face an interesting challenge.


Even when you sneak off to the local festival, you’ll spend tons of time on silly tasks like gathering tickets, which requires running around talking to virtually every one of dozens of characters.


The potential for the PlayStation 3 is amazing, but “Enchanted Arms” falls short of the mark. It’s a big game that promises war, sprawling battles and hours of play as you encounter more than 100 characters and unlock over 75 creatures. But to reach that point, you have to be able to keep your interest through too many mind-numbing events. I failed at that task.


If you’re an RPG fiend, rent it. All others will find it boring. My advice: pass.


Grade: C-  


“Enchanted Arms” is rated “T” for Teens because of violence.


Chuck Minsker even thinks the title for this game is silly -- “Enchanted Arms” sounds like it should be a song by Tony Bennett. You can contact him at TheMinskers@aol.com.