Version tested: PSOne
Arc the Lad Collection (2002)
- Developer: SCEI
- Publisher: Working Designs
While the PlayStation era was unquestionably a golden age for the Japanese RPG genre, one series never quite pushed its way into the consciousness of gamers outside Japan. Sony's own internally developed series, Arc The Lad, kicked off the genre on the platform - the first title in the series popped up in mid-1995 in Japan. The series scored a number of notable firsts, including bringing orchestral music and computer-generated full-motion video to the field before any of its rivals - it's hard to imagine the RPG genre today without such trimmings, but at the time, they were a revelation.
As such, it's perhaps surprising that Arc the Lad never made it to the west until 2002, when a compilation of no fewer than four games in the series was launched on PSone. It was a lavish collection; Arc 1 and Arc 2, which comprised a single full-scale storyline between them, were brought together for the first time along with proper sequel Arc 3, and peculiar title Arc Arena: Monster Tournament. The latter allowed Arc 2 players to import their own save data and fight tournament matches with monsters captured in the full RPG title.
The problem with the release was partially that it came so late in the PSone's lifespan that everyone had already seen every trick up Arc's sleeve - but mostly that the compilation was simply too bloody expensive. For connoisseurs of Japanese games, Arc The Lad Collection is an intriguing slice of history (and a solid storyline filled with likeable characters doesn't hurt the playability, either) - a resurrection for the titles on PSN would hopefully finally bring them within range of normal mortals' wallets, too.