Hah! You probably though I wasn’t going to get around to this, did you? Well, I had to delay my intended first “feature” for this column, but I’ve replaced it with another one. After a 3.5-month wait, I welcome you to Did Not Finish, a column in which I talk about any piece of media I cannot being myself to finish viewing/reading/playing, and explain what exactly killed it for me.
A few things to keep in mind here are thus: Firstly, this will not run on a regular schedule, so don’t be surprised if it takes a month for me to put out another one. Secondly, while I have #1 Quick Fix for first impressions, and this could be somewhat seen as first impressions, the nuance is different. When I feature something on #1 Quick Fix, I am either being polite or intend to continue it sometime down the road, even if it never happens. When I feature something in Did Not Finish, I will most likely not return to it, and if I do, I’ll probably be prioritizing other things above it. I should also note that if I finish something and hated it while doing so, it doesn’t go here, it goes on Under Your Radar.
So now, let me tell you a story of a game I saw in my local store one day. It was a 2008 DS game titled Luminous Arc 2, which held the subtitle “Will” in Japan. imageepoch were supposedly the developers, and Atlus brought it overseas. It’s part of a 3-game series, but only the first two were released in English, and they have no connection to each other regardless.
What enticed me about the game were two things: Firstly, it came with the game’s soundtrack on a CD, and I’m a sucker for limited editions and similar bonuses. Secondly, it’s a strategy RPG for a handheld. Having burned myself out on Disgaea DS and not owning a PSP or a Vita, my options for something of that sort were few and far between. So I purchased the old game, hoping it would provide me with some enjoyment.
But perhaps that the developers were imageepoch should have been a warning siren. When I got home that day, I inserted the game card into my 3DS, and was treated to this:
Having followed anime for years by that point, I immediately noticed something was off about that animation, for even by 2008 standards, it was simply poorly done.
“But that’s just the opening,” I told myself as I continued into the game itself. There, I was treated to a boring background on the plot and was tossed into a tutorial. Even within the tutorial, I noticed something was wrong. Perhaps it was due to being spoiled by Disgaea, but the cursor did not automatically move towards enemies within range of my current character’s attacks. “I can live,” I told myself.
The next thing I found was a repetitive soundtrack. The same two songs were used for essentially every town, and they grew old quickly. As I continued further, I found a game that was simplified in every respect. Reviews said this was to make the game “easier”, but it quickly became anything but easy. Among the simplifications were the lack of customization options, a harsh cap on the amount of party members per level, every level taking the same 100 experience points to level up from, and enemies that started off as pushovers that gained levels far too quickly as the story progressed. By the time I had reached the point where I stopped, one mandatory character was a good ten levels behind every enemy on the map.
“I’ve been through worse,” I thought, as I played the map and subsequently failed to defeat either of the bosses on said map. While I typically had no issue playing games underleveled, this was typically only feasible through those games having a great deal of customization and flexibility, both of which were absent from this game.
Furthermore, unlike Disgaea, which had allowed anyone to easily grind as if levels were meaningless, this game had presented me with the slowest grinding method possible, in the form of only three infinitely-repeatable quests, which changed as I progressed through the game. These quests were essentially a single map, none of which actually provided me with satisfactory experience.
The plot was not very good either. Obvious and generic plot twists awaited me at every turn, with several being entirely feasible if it were not for poor execution. There were some jokes present in the voice acting, but none of them were mirrored into the text, and voice acting was so on and off that I had turned off the sound rather early on, seeing no point in continuing when turning on the sound also meant hearing the repetitive background music.
These were not all of the problems I found, but Luminous Arc 2 was quickly ejected from my 3DS. I reminded myself that, if I wanted more handheld Disgaea, I could simply invest in a Vita at some point in the future, allowing me access to the first three Disgaea games, all of which are far better than this.