Arc the Lad, Alundra: Old RPGs that have aged well

I’m not going to turn into pretentious retro RPG guy here. The new ones are better than the old ones in my book. But it’s nice to jump back into an old RPG just like it is to pick up an old novel that you haven’t read in ages. I did that recently with PlayStation classic RPG Wild ARMs and was very happy that I did. I forgot how great that game was. 

Thanks to MonkeyPaw Games I was able to revisit a couple of other old RPGs. They re-released PSOne classics Arc the Lad and Alundra on the PlayStation Network for play on the PSP or PS3. I fired both of them up this week to see how well they aged. 

I’m not going to turn into pretentious retro RPG guy here. The new ones are better than the old ones in my book. But it’s nice to jump back into an old RPG just like it is to pick up an old novel that you haven’t read in ages. I did that recently with PlayStation classic RPG Wild ARMs and was very happy that I did. I forgot how great that game was. 

Thanks to MonkeyPaw Games I was able to revisit a couple of other old RPGs. They re-released PSOne classics Arc the Lad and Alundra on the PlayStation Network for play on the PSP or PS3. I fired both of them up this week to see how well they aged. 

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Suprisingly, both titles hold up well, especially when compared with later PS1 games (Final Fantasy VIII looks like ass on the big screen!) and even some early PS2 RPGs. What they both have going for them is 2D over 3D. They both have some action aspects, which makes them a bit more engaging than some other recent RPG releases. Both are also very well made games — I’d guess that these games still sit in the collections of RPG gamers even today

Alundra came to us in the late 1990s, brought over by Working Designs. This action RPG continues to get love — I’ve seen mint copies of the PSOne game sell for a pretty penny, too. It’s a good game that brings back fond memories of Landstalker on the Genesis.  This quest-y, puzzle-y, platform-y game has tight controls and a strange magnetic draw that keeps you in it. Beating things down feels good in this game. It still looks pretty nice, too — playing it on a 60″ HDTV via the PS3 didn’t hurt it much at all. Highlights include ball-busting platforming and a very silly opening cinema.

I missed Arc the Lad when it first came around back in the PlayStation days. It wasn’t until I saw a sequel collection that I jumped into the series. I forgot how good this game was! This one is an odd hybrid of standard RPG storytelling and strategy RPG battling. It works though, and it’s all tied together by a vast, polished story that actually dazzles you at points. The title track also dazzles. While it may start out sounding like a simple story, it really picks up quickly, and you’ll find yourself pushing through the battles to find out what happens next.  Arc had high production values for the time it was released, and the quality still stand up nicely. The localization work is also top notch.

These games have quite a bit in common. They both were brought over by Working Designs back in the day, and because of that both have awesome localizations. They both feature that classic awakened demon storyline. They both suffer from a severe case of the Japanese synth jazz at times. I kind of miss that, though. Most importantly, these are RPGs that are worth a revisit. They offer something far beyond mere (and temporary) satisfaction that weird nostalgia/collecting affliction we all seem to suffer from lately. No, these are both really solid games that tell a good story. Both are highly recommended, especially for their low asking price on the PlayStation Network.

Dale North