Lord of Arcana • Page 2

Monster mash-up.

Saegusa admits the team had some problems when it came to reproducing the artists' gorgeous concepts in virtual form. "We spent quite a lot of time recreating the characters on the PSP," he says. "For some characters we did the artist said no, because it didn't look the same at all. There were a lot of yesses and nos, actually. But in the end, it worked out really well."

Another feature which could set LOA apart is the option to team up with three other players for some co-operative battling. However, multiplayer is only available on an ad-hoc basis so you'll need to be physically near the people you're playing with.

According to Saegusa, this was a deliberate design decision. "We wanted to make this game like a party tool," he explains. "We want people to be face to face when playing this game, rather than playing with someone online."

There are some other potential issues with the game's multiplayer mode. Should one of your friends wander off and get into a fight on their own, you're unable to join in. Instead you must stand around and wait for them to win before you can team up again. If they're killed in the battle and have no revive potions left, the entire quest will be over. This could prove to be rather irritating.

So could having to find enough people to participate in co-op with, given the state of the PSP multiplayer market in the UK. Why hasn't it taken off here? "That's difficult to answer," says Saegusa.

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This sorrowful giant tree is one of the more unique designs. You almost donít want to hurt him. Almost.

"But I can say why it's big in Japan. It's because the main public transportation is the train Ė people commute by the train every single day, for quite a lot of time. So most people have a games console in their bags; that's normal here. And if you're at work or school and you want to play a game it's easy, because pretty much everyone will have a handheld."

With this in mind, Saegusa's realistic about the potential for LOA to take off in the West. "In Japan there is a market already there, because of Monster Hunter. It's much easier for us to bring this game out. But obviously for the US and UK it's really difficult, because the market's not there yet.

"So we're going to be the first ones to bring this type of game out, and hopefully people will see how great it is to game together." Surely LOA won't be as popular here as it is in Japan, though? "Nope, it's going to be very successful!" laughs Saegusa. "Number one!"

That will depend on whether it can compete with the likes of God Eater, and whether it has more to offer than simplistic mission objectives and jaggy visuals. Even then, it seems doubtful Monster Hunter-style games are likely to do as well here in the UK as they do in Japan any time soon. All the same, Lord of Arcana could well turn out to be an above-average hack-and-slasher which fans of the genre will enjoy.

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