In this update if the, quite frankly, dire, arcade game. You have been summoned by the death-like "Master" to take part in a mysterious quest. Armed with nothing but a "catcher" weapon and small amount of knowledge, you must go forth and catch monsters and collect Seeds. Once a Seed has been collected, it may be combined with a weapon or "Arm" to make it more powerful. Once combined, your captured monsters may be fed to your "Arm" to make it yet more powerful. Once your "Arm" has eaten a suitable number of monsters, it may be transformed into a newer and more powerful weapon.
Dark Arms takes the form of an almost-but-not-quite-RPG/adventure game in the vein of "the Legend of Zelda" series on the Nintendo. Viewed from a top down perspective, you must negotiate mazes, crypts, vaults, haunted villages and scary circuses in order to reveal the true intention of the master. Along the way you meet helpful people who will reveal useful information and even give you the odd helpful item.
The graphics in Dark Arms are very nice. The locations are all suitably spooky, adding to the atmosphere, and the monsters you meet along the way are, in most parts, quite distinct and nice to look at. There are plenty of monsters, around fifty in all, and you can view them in your Monster Book as well as any weapons you have developed. The weapons themselves are excellent and their effects suitably meaty once the Arm is evolved enough, and some grow to be bigger than your on-screen character. Unfortunately the game's main character lets the rest of the otherwise great graphics down. He is quite plain, not particularly well animated and just not appealing or cool as a main character, but other than that everything is fine.
Dark Arms has some great sound, the tunes are all quite suitable and some of the sound effects are very amusing. The tunes, amazingly, failed to annoy me, so that's a good sign. My MiniDisc player can have a rest while playing Dark Arms :)
Dark Arms is really not an RPG. Anyone looking for RPG thrills should clear off, yes, clear off. Have they gone? Good. For those of you still reading you will find Dark Arms to be an enjoyable horror romp. Initially baffling and quite dull, Dark Arms quickly turns into an intriguing and enjoyable game. The idea here is collection, collect seeds, collect weapons and collect Monsters. It's almost, and I stress almost, a Pokemon style game. When you finally get you Arm to evolve, its very satisfying, and I defy you to grin to yourself when you catch a previously undiscovered monster. This is a game for completists.
Dark Arms has some very nice touches inside. The way the levels completely change depending on whether you enter them during the day or the night, while not completely original, is executed well and makes you think about how to tackle the levels. The way you can evolve your weapon is nice and capturing certain enemies takes skill and judgement.
The game does have its downside though. It's short. Now while the levels are more or less doubled due to the day and night factor, this is still a short game. Avid players may well have it beat in a week, I'm not saying they will have found everything, (my monster book is half empty, is there a FAQ?) but for some, its going to appear to be a waste of money.
For those of you not put off by the games brevity, you will find an enjoyable and satisfying game and while it's no answer to Zelda it's still a great game in it's own right. -Bradders