There are five types of weapons to choose from, and at least they feel significantly different from each other. One-handed swords allow for relatively quick attacks and let you wield a shield in battle. Maces are slower and heavier but let you unleash powerful charged strikes. The ludicrously huge two-handed swords take time to swing but do heavy damage. Polearms let you respond to enemy attacks with counterattacks. And firelances are pikes that fire projectiles, which makes fighting some enemies a joke, because you can stand in one place and chip away at their health from a safe distance, and they are seemingly powerless to do anything about it. Regardless of your choice of weapon, none of them can make the combat enjoyable.
6298464NoneAgni's a little bit rock and a little bit roll.
Teaming up with a friend or three via local multiplayer on your quests can make the combat less painful, but only because suffering with friends is better than suffering alone. Enemies don't become any more interesting to fight, and boss battles don't become any less tedious and frustrating. The lack of online multiplayer severely limits the amount of use you are likely to get out of this option, and the fact that only the host saves any actual mission completion data and quest progress makes tagging along with others a much less attractive proposition.
A number of other minor issues contribute to the general unpleasantness of questing. For one, each area is divided up into a number of very small sections, and you're treated to a loading time almost every time you exit one section and enter the next. (These can be offset somewhat by installing the game.) For another, locking on to enemies requires that you keep the L button held down, which is an unnecessary design decision, since a toggle would have worked just as well. And as you gather the torn leather, clean water, starch spuds, bog moss, and other items scattered around each area, you must press the button and wait a moment for your character to bend down and pick up each individual unit. There may be three cypress staffs in one spot, but you can't save time and grab all three of them at once. Individually, issues like this aren't terribly significant. But combined, they make the whole experience of playing Lord of Arcana even less enjoyable.
Pushing the button over and over to pick up each cypress staff does not result in a more immersive experience.
There's more to Lord of Arcana than combat. As you quest, your character becomes stronger, learns new weapon strikes, very slowly gains magic attacks, and gathers all kinds of items that let the blacksmith in town forge better equipment for him or her. And seeing your character develop as you sink time into killing monsters, earning experience, and completing quests carries with it a sense of satisfaction like that which you'd expect to find in just about any role-playing game. The problem with Lord of Arcana is that the things you need to do to make that progress are extremely tedious, repetitive, and occasionally infuriating. The whole point of getting stronger and acquiring better gear is to make you more effective on your next quest; rewards along the way can't make up for an unpleasant journey. On top of that, the game's not much to look at. Your attacks look powerful, but your enemies are so lacking in detail that you'd probably never know the skeletons were skeletons if you weren't told, and the arenas in which you do battle are about as bland as bland can be. With all the frustrations and all the boredom this game dishes out and with so many similar, better games available for the PSP, there's no reason to embark on this quest. Becoming the next lord of Arcana just isn't worth it.