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Arc the Lad Collection is a compilation of the three Arc the Lad role-playing games, none of which were previously released in the U.S., as well as a separate disc called Arc Arena. In true Working Designs fashion, the package comes with bonuses such as a "Making Of" documentary CD that provides insight into the development and localization process the saga had to endure. Also included are 22 cardboard character standees, a 152-page hardbound instruction manual, a memory card casing with an Arc motif, and analog-stick covers emblazoned with character faces from the series.
Spanning the better part of six years, each successive title brings new elements to the fold, both in terms of gameplay and storyline. Although each title stars a unique protagonist (Arc, Elc, and Alec, respectively), the series' continuity is preserved with appearances from previously encountered characters. In addition, completed saves from each title can be used in its successor, thereby allowing players to retain the exact attributes of their characters from previous incarnations — and occasionally discover extra story elements.
Battles occur within enclosed environments, and party members are able to move unrestrained within the confines of a grid-based overlay. Controlled one at a time, characters can perform melee attacks as well as more powerful magical attacks. Impediments such as walls and rocks factor into combat, as do more conventional tactics, such as attacking an enemy unit from behind. The first two titles in the series feature 2D environments and sprite-based, super-deformed characters, while the third makes the jump to 3D, replete with full-motion video cut-scenes.
Arc the Lad II also allows players, after enlisting the aid of a character named Lieza, to capture and tame monsters for use in battle. As with other party members, these monsters gain experience and can subsequently be customized to one's liking. The Arc Arena add-on disc provides players an opportunity to import their captured beasts for use in tournaments. There they can gain experience and win items, which can then be exported into Arc the Lad II. As an added bonus, two players can pit their menagerie of creatures against one another.
Arc the Lad III focuses on bounty-hunting jobs that have the party embarking on various quests for the Hunter's Guild, some of which help further the game's storyline. The most notable addition to the combat system in this incarnation is monster cards. Captured monsters can be turned into cards, which can then be used to summon the respective creatures in future battles. In its entirety, Arc the Lad Collection is designed to offer over 100 hours of gameplay. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide