SRPG Game 63 – Arc the Lad II (Final)

In the last post I had cleared the “god tower”, now it’s time to go to Palencia Tower where we’re hoping to deal with Andel. Unfortunately he’s basically using this tower as a trap and he’s already moved on. Instead we fight Tosh’s dad, who has been resurrected as a zombie.

You have to fight him with Tosh alone — I had been using Tosh frequently so this wasn’t too bad, but I wonder how this would be if Tosh was severely underleveled. Probably not too bad because Tosh can just use his range move to avoid counterattacks (and dodging) and heal as necessary.

Now there is a long sequence where someone (I chose Arc) has to go back in time to charge up Kukuru’s spirit mirror with the spirit energy — we can’t do it in the present because they’re already weakened too much. In the past Arc teams up with past Kukuru to do this.

Fortunately the fights are easy (especially with Arc’s Total Healing and Weak Enemy). Kukuru goes down easily for the most part, but Arc can beat all the fights by himself.

Back in the present, we know that the main brainwashing towers are the south and north pole, so we have to create two separate parties to take on the towers at the same time. They switch back and forth when each team hits an orb. I made sure to have Fujin and Raijin split between the teams, and to have Poco (healer) on the opposite team from Arc — other than that I believe I used Shu, Tosh, the loincloth fighter guy, and then a few other characters who weren’t as useful.

At the end we finally take on Andel, after two games of chasing him around. He’s really not very difficult — Weak Enemy doesn’t work on him, but Raijin’s spells do enough damage that just a few hits from that takes him down, and the enemies that he comes with can be neutralized with Weak Enemy.

Now it’s time to take on Romalia. First we have to go through the city proper and lower a number of defensive barriers. This is where I really thought the difficulty level jumped — the enemies are now level 98-103 and my guys were in the upper 60s or low 70s (the best characters at least). Physical attacks could not be relied on at all.

Once we reach Romalia Castle, it’s the last chance to do any optional stuff, and then we take on the final dungeon — Romalia Castle takes off into the sky and we have to ram into it with the Silver Noah to gain access.

There’s yet another big jump in enemy levels here, with the enemies being as high as level 120 here. There are healing spots you can access but it takes some backtracking. There is an interest area where you have to take 6 characters into doors and fight some enemy from their past; this is a nice set of scenes near the end to develop the characters once more.

The last of the four generals, Zalbard, has 2496 HP; quite a jump from all the previous enemies. Buffs are important here, as are debuffing the non-boss units. Magic Shield helps block against all the magic, but this is a tough fight.

Now it’s onto the final boss — this fight is a frequent target of criticism in the game. It starts with a pretty easy fight where Kukuru takes on the boss by herself, but they balanced it so that even a totally unused Kukuru will win. The same cannot be said about the 2nd and 3rd fights. The next form of the boss has 4152 HP, and the last form 9999 HP. This is a pretty absurd difficulty jump, and in addition to that he has a very narrow attack window so only two people (one with range 2) can hit him at a time. I will admit that after losing once, I used a cheat code to level my guys to level 1000 — he’s quite easy if you do that! (I’ve seen people say the fight lasts 2-3 hours if you do it legitimately)

So I did not beat the game legitimately, although I’m not particularly bothered by that — I would not have had the interest to develop my characters enough to win (I found someone on GameFAQs who filled their inventory with Evil Axes and threw them at the boss to win, but I’m not sure what their levels were).

The final scene is pretty surprising, and I suppose matches with the generally grim and dark tone of the game.

As you can tell from my posts, I did not enjoy this game very much — to me it was long, tedious, and unbalanced. I’m not alone in this opinion (any time I have a negative opinion about a well known game, I always check around to see if I’m an outlier).

However, I think that your enjoyment of this game will come down to how much you like the system. If the battle system really clicks with you, this will be a great game. There’s a huge amount of content — the main story itself is in the 40-50 hour range, and between the jobs, the sealed ruins, the ancient ruins, the arenas, and other things, a complete playthrough could probably reach the 100 hour mark.

The presentation of the game is also good overall. The story is entertaining, and despite the large cast they manage to have opportunities for most of them to get some screen time (a few of the ATL1 returnees are a bit marginalized). The graphics are good; I always prefer sprites to polygons in the PSX/Saturn era. The music is excellent.

I wonder what the difficulty progression/balance is like if you do no grinding per se, but do every optional job/dungeon/event whenever it opens. Perhaps the designers were expecting you to play the game this way?

Next up will be Riglord Saga 2, a sequel to my game of the year for 1995. If you only followed my SRPG blog before, I play two SFC/PCE games for every one SRPG game, so it will be a few weeks before RS2. If you only want to follow my SRPG posts, this link will allow you to do just that. Otherwise, next week will be an action RPG for the Super Famicom called Esparks.

4 thoughts on “SRPG Game 63 – Arc the Lad II (Final)

  1. Syrg

    The side jobs definitely help with some of the level gap (a few of them are full dungeons in themselves, although without a guide or beelining them, it’s easy to miss multiple of the 60 along the way). There’s also a whole set of gear which can power up the robot Diekbeck and since he doesn’t use XP, you can transfer any points he gets to other characters for a level boost… but thinking on it, a lot of his powers are related to the Sealed Ruins quest, so you might not have seen much of a gain from him.

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  2. Atantuo

    Can confirm that the final boss is absolutely ridiculous, and the entire time (a bit over 1 hour with my main characters close to lvl 100) I was wondering if I was missing some gimmick that would allow me to do a lot more damage. No idea what they were thinking.

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  3. Harvey O

    Regarding Tosh: the game de-levels the mandatory fights to match with your required characters. My Tosh was level 30 something, and he had no problems at all; my Kukuru was 20 something and she had no problems with the final boss’ first form at all. It’s a remarkable amount of foresight that you don’t see in FFT (which came out a year later and can easily softlock you with dumb Wiegraf nonsense).

    Regarding the final boss: I’m looking at your party and it’s easy to see why you had problems. You can’t use an entirely melee team + a healer in most SRPGs and expect things to go swimmingly… especially against a final boss. Your complaint about how “only two units can attack it at once” is inaccurate: 1 melee unit can attack, but there’s also room for 3 2-ranged magic attackers, and an additional 5 squares for 3-ranged magic attackers. Furthermore, I’m confused why you didn’t use Fujin or Raijin, the best damage dealers in the game. No Sania further handicaps you; since Sania basically = an additional turn for your best unit. The final boss is challenging, but it doesn’t really look like you put much thought into overcoming it.

    Personally, I had no problems with the final boss at all. My team was all in their 80s/90s. Yet I beat forms 2 & 3 within 25 minutes on my first try and then ran it again so I could record it here: https://utreon.com/v/y1mTEKyhmwA . If you use a suboptimal setup, yeah, it’s difficult, but given the existence of Fujin/Raijin, the difficulty is really overblown. I can certainly understand complaints about it being tedious, but it’s not bullshit by any means. Maybe if you miss out on recruiting Fujin/Raijin, yeah, it’s bullshit, but anyone who does that is just not exploring/playing the game as it was intended.

    Regarding no grind, sidequests etc: my team ended up in their 80s/90s when I mostly) played this way, and I finished the game in around 40 hours. I did around 90% of the side-jobs and I did all the sealed ruins, but I never spent any time grinding levels, Ravishing things with Lieza, or grinding out the arena/doing the 50 floor dungeon. I’m no hardcore completionist, nor am I an expert in the game, yet I still managed to beat it without any major problems.

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    1. kurisu Post author

      Thanks for the comment and video — you are absolutely right that I didn’t try very hard, so it’s good to have your input to show how it should be done.

      Reply

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