Arc the Lad

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The Arc the Lad series is Sony's answer to Tactics Ogre and Shining Force. Its first game launched with the PlayStation in 1995. Working Designs released a compilation of the first three games and a bonus arena-battling bonus disc in 2002. The last game in the series, End of Darkness, was released in 2004 (2005 in the United States via Namco) and was an online-enabled action RPG rather than a strategy game.

The original Arc the Lad was a fun, albeit short T-RPG, which followed the adventures of a young lad called Arc Ricolne and his six traveling companions.

Arc II, its direct sequel, follows the adventures of Elc, a bounty hunter who is the last survivor of a nation of fire users slaughtered by Seyra, the country Arc hails from. Being longer, more complex, and infinitely Darker and Edgier than the previous episode, Arc 2 has been lauded as the supreme game in the series and a legitimate contender for the title of "Game with the most Player Punches thrown."

Two of the three other sequels (Arc 3, which takes place a few decades after the end of Arc 2, and Arc 4 , which takes place a thousand years after the original trilogy and has its own page) are usually considered inferior but still-decent games, while most of the negative criticism directed towards the series falls upon End of Darkness.

Tropes used in Arc the Lad include:


Arc: "You... You're the one who killed my father!"
Ark Ghoul: "I have killed many, and your father may have been amongst them. But if I did slay him, his death was so unremarkable that I have no memory of it. But enough talk. It is time for YOUR ignominious end, boy."

Kharg (landing a Critical Hit):DIE!!
Kharg:I know we can win!
Kharg: Watch the wind-blade of fury!

  • Inevitable Tournament: Done in each of the PlayStation trilogy episodes.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Shu.
  • Instrument of Murder: Poco's weapon of choice is a pair of cymbals.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Averted during battles, since characters can jump above almost anything when they are leveled enough, but played straight the rest of the time.
  • La Résistance: Comes in no less than three flavors in Arc 2: there are resistance movements in countries occupied by Romalia, their is a resistance In Romalia proper, made by Romalian who disagree with the imperialistic ways of their country, and Arc's team is a third independent and very mobile resistance.
  • Lady of War: Kukuru, at least in the first game. Paulette and Delma from the fourth game might count as well.
  • Last of His Kind: Elc is the last living Pyrenian. Inverted in Twilight of the spirits: Darc and Kharg are the first Human/Deimos hybrids which is ironic since intelligent monsters where created by using kids with spiritual powers like Elc.
  • Lazy Backup: averted in the first game, where all your characters always take part in the fight. played straight in the other episodes: even when you have a dozen human characters and even more mons, they do not take part in the battle: sometimes justified when the characters try to infiltrate enemy facilities, but why would they no go all out when they openly attack the Big Bad stronghold?
  • Lethal Joke Character: Poco is a musician. A cowardly musician who probably does not know how to handle a gun correctly. He is also the most deadly soldier of Seyra's army (Arc and Kukuru are not soldiers, Tosh is para-military).
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Ironically, this is the ONLY version of the PlayStation games to ever be sold outside Japan.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted: Magic tends to be more useful early on, but physical attacks surpass them by the end of the games, when big bosses with tons of HP and great magical resistance appear.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Happens more than once through the series.
  • Magic Knight: Every main character proves competent with weapons as well as with magic.
  • Magic Knight Templar: Arc and Elc tend to be quite extreme in their ways of dealing with evildoers (Most CG cutscenes of the second game show things getting blown up. Guess who's responsible?)
  • Magic Knight Templar in Sour Armor: what happens to Arc and Elc as they struggle against Romalia.
  • Mad Scientist: Scientists in the Arc-verse do not seem to mind the fact that they are working for an Eldritch Abomination and that their technology is used to commit several genocides: they even go as far as experimenting on themselves without any hesitation. The Academy of Arc 3 is a little more idealistic and ready to help mankind, but in the end, they do not fare much better.
    • Although, the way the cabal treat Vilmer it's fair to say that not all scientists are enthusiastic about promoting Romalia's imprialism
  • Magic Music: Poco, a proud member of the Palencia army's... drum corps.
  • Magitek: Arc's world is close to the technology level of earth during the 90's, but the main source of energy are stones infused with the power of elemental spirits. Romalia uses mixes of genetic engineering and black magics to create its army of Super Soldiers.
  • Magnetic Hero: Arc. Lampshaded when he arrives to save Poco, and Poco comments afterward that, with Arc there to inspire him, he suddenly felt like he could fight with his cymbals, and so he did.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Gaidel, the King of Romalia is one of the only fully human antagonists of Arc 2 and has no supernatural power whatsoever. His lack of power other than political is an important plot point.
  • Marathon Boss: Usually the last boss.
  • Marathon Level: Usually the last dungeon. Do you notice the pattern?
  • Mind Control Device: In Arc 2, part of the Ancient Conspiracy consists of planting such devices everywhere. One of the reason why Arc's Nakama is called a terrorist group is because their basic strategy is to blow up such devices, even if they happen to be in the middle of a sprawling metropolis
  • Modern Stasis: The industrial revolution happened 1000 years prior to the first Arc the Lad, yet appart from a few gadgets used by the Romalian military, technology never went beyond the level of the late twentieth century
  • Nintendo Hard: The games are pretty challenging for anyone who's not used to strategy RPGs, and the difficulty curve shoots through the roof with the final bosses. Arc 2's final boss is so strong that about the only way to beat him without hours and hours of extra level grinding is with a Romancing stone equipped Choko.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Deimos and humans can have children, justified since they were created from humans to begin with.
  • One-Man Army: Many characters follow this trope, and are usually Genre Savvy enough to include this into their plan. It is even lampshaded in the second game of the series:

Shu: "I know someone who's rowdy enough to hold off ten guards. He can be a decoy while I set the bombs."
Tosh: "Who are you talking about?"
Shu: "Uh, you, Tosh!"

  • Old Save Bonus: Arc 1 was written with the intent of being able to import a clear data file into Arc 2. If you do, when the cast of the first game joins your party, they'll have all of their experience and equipment from the first game. Arc 3 also gives some benefits if you load an Arc 2 save at the final save point.
    • End of Darkness also gives you a free character unlock Lilia for having clear data from Twilight of the Spirits.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Arc 1 is essentially an extended prologue for Arc 2. The U.S. release, Arc The Lad Collection, packages them both together and also throws Arc 3 in as well, so only the Japanese players had to buy them separately.
    • Somewhat understandable in the case of Arc I and Arc II. The creators were originally intending to make it as a Playstation 1 launch title. Unfortunately, their ambitions grew beyond their resources (not to mention the amount of time available), so they split the project into two games. Arc I managed to make the Playstation launch, and Arc II came out later, and did the delay ever pay off.
  • Optional Party Member: Several, Choko being the most well known example.
  • Orphanage of Fear: the facility code-named White House: unlike most exemples of this trope, the kids are not openly mistreated by uncaring or sadistic by the people in charge (in fact, one of its former managers, Vilmer is shown to be a descent, loving grandfather), but when the employees are pretty much on Cthulhu's payroll, you know that the facility hides very dark, horrific secrets.
  • Path of Inspiration: Another strategy used by the Ancient Conspiracy. When they don't create a false religion from scratch to control the masses, they take control of existing ones.
  • People Puppets: This is Bebedora's shtick in 4- and she is frighteningly good at it.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Tragically subverted: Before meeting him, Kukuru is not happy at all with the prospect of marrying Arc, and her rebellion against tradition is what starts the whole mess. By the end of the first game, she has fallen in love with Arc, but they are now forced to become Star-Crossed Lovers because she has to stay in Seyra and maintain the weakening seal upon the Dark One while Arc keeps fighting Romalia all over the world, and, by the end of the second game, they can only be reunited in death.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Choko, and The Big Bad: he was an ordinary human at the very beginning, before becoming an Eldritch Abomination able to end all life on the world by his mere presence.
    • Arc, Elc and Gogen also qualify.
  • Polluted Wasteland: the whole country of Zariban: once a very fertil land due to the fact that the Water Spirit dwelled there and one of the first places to be resettled by humans after the species was nearly wiped out during the first war against the Lord of the Dark Abyss 3000 years prior to Arc 1, by the time Arc arrives in the country for the first time, it has been reduced to a desert due to the excessive mining and processing of energy stones.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ending of Arc The Lad 2. Lets have Elc explain it shall we?
  • Really Three Thousand Years Old: Gogen may look like an old man, but he's still in good shape for a guy who spent 30 centuries watching the prison of an Eldritch Abomination. Choko is one of the original monsters born during the games' Backstory and is therefore as old as Gogen
  • Rebellious Princess: Sania and Kukuru are princesses and wanted terrorists. You could hardly get more rebellious than that!
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Arc, Kukuru, Sania from the first two games, Kharg and Darc in Twilight of the Spirits (Kharg is still a prince despite the fact that his country abolished the monarchy, and Darc intended from the beginning to kill his way to the top)
  • Scary Black Man: Gruga, a former freedom fighter who decided to never again his colossal strength except in sports tournaments, until his blind daughter was kidnapped.
  • Science Is Bad: Keep trying to make technological progress, even if you are well-intentioned, and you will eventually cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Gogen is this and Sealed Good in a Can. He willingly sealed himself with the Big Bad 3000 years ago so he would still be around to fight again if the Big Bad was released.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game is quite short, takes place entirely on a relatively small continent with a total of seven party members. Arc 2 has you going all over the world, more than doubles the cast of characters, throws in a ton of side quests, and is crazy long.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: cruelly subverted in Arc 2 Arc's dad gave his life to the spirits in order to time travel and do so. He failed
  • Schizo-Tech (machinegun-toting, IED-tossing ninja terrorists fighting alongside medieval knights. It has to be seen to be believed.)
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The first two episodes go waaaaaaaay down the cynical end, the third tries to be a little more idealistic, the fourth is again more cynical (but not as much as the second), the fifth tries again to be more idealistic. On the whole, the series remains mostly on the cynical side.
  • Smug Snake: Galarno, one of Romalia's generals (who serves his country by being a a mob boss and politician on another continent) is the worst offender.
  • Spirit Advisor: Arc is technically on the elemental spirits' payroll.
  • Sprite Polygon Mix: Arc 3.
  • Street Samurai: Tosh is a Samurai tossed in a Schizo-Tech universe
  • Summon Magic: Chongara can summon supernatural beings, and Arc's power comes from his ability to summon guardian spirits.
    • Theo's Cardish ability in Arc 3
  • Take Over the World: Subverted: The Big Bad does not want to control mankind: he already was in charge before becoming an Eldritch Abomination, and by controlling Romalia, he was once again the ruler of mankind at the beginning of Arc: the only problem is, this was not enough for him: wath he wanted was control over the whole planet, including the whole ecosystem, even if it meant remaking it from scratch
  • There Are No Therapists: The Arc series cast is even worse off than the Final Fantasy cast, which is saying a lot.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Iga and Tosh's attacks.
  • Twenty Bear Asses: A lot of the job sidequests in both Arc 2 and 3 are this variety.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Mariel, just... Mariel. Elc promised to save her from the White House, but when he finally found her, she was turned into a monster and he had to fight her under the playground where they played when they were kids. This is a subversion since Elc quite obviously loves her and is more than ready to reciprocate her affection. The problem is that he is still forced to kill her, while Gallarno watches him
  • Urban Fantasy: The game doesn't draw a great deal of attention to the universe's 20th century tech, but neither does it try to hide it.
  • Weapon of Choice: Played straight except in Arc 2, when characters have two or three weapons of choice.
  • Wutai: Arc's country, Seyra, takes this role. High technology mixes with traditional samurais who protect its capital.
  • You No Take Candle: Chongara talks this way.