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CONSOLE: Nintendo Switch DEVELOPER: Hit-Point Co., Ltd. PUBLISHER: Kemco
RELEASE DATE (NA): July 18, 2019 GENRE: Role-Playing Game
// review by SoyBomb

Where do you WANT to go? Nope.

Life is a busy journey, filled with unexpected surprises, thrills, and spills. We have to deal with the onslaught of demands from our careers, from our families, from our hidden second families, from our parole officers, and from constant external demand to appear happy and enlightened 24/7. It's a hard knock life... for us. So do many of us really have time to sit down and endure a 100+ hour quest for the golden thong? Not in this modern work-a-day world.

Thank goodness for Kemco, because they have the solution: make a 5-hour RPG and tell the player exactly what to do and where to walk so there's no wasted time.

Kemco, formerly in the business of dropping fine classics such as The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout and Shadowgate 64: Trials of the Four Towers, has shifted gears in recent years, focusing more on releasing about 2000 cheaply-made JRPGs every month. It seems they're always throwing some new RPG at us all the time, usually with ridiculous names like "Illusion of L'Phalcia", "Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God", and "Infinite Dunamis" (those are all real names for Kemco RPGs). That last one should be "Infinite Dukakis" and tell the story of Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis. All of these RPGs are as generic as a Marvel movie, spat out by formulaic machines.

Suddenly, a beam of light crashed through the windows of the offices of the Kemcobots! An inspiration struck! Why not make an RPG that doesn't require excessive use of time? How about a QRPG, a quick role-playing game? Kemco has started a Pocket-Sized RPG series where you can whip through each one in just a few hours, starting with the not-as-terribly-titled Archlion Saga, the first of the series which has been ported to Switch.

In but a few short hours, you're not getting a lot of detailed storytelling. You have two basic factions: the Serpent, who wishes ill will on the world and wants it destroyed in favour of another place to plant a Starbucks, and the Archlion King, the world's saviour. Unfortunately for you, the hero, you only bear part of the Archlion's crest on your skin. The remaining 3 parts are beheld by other people you'll conveniently run into within a short period of time. The game is divided into five chapters, most of them involving being lead through some sort of solvable problem, culminating in a boss battle, and then moving on.

As I've already mentioned, the game tells you what to do and where to go. Pause the game, and a scrolling marquee tells you what your next goal is. Not sure where it is? Click a trigger button and the LITERAL PATH you should take will glow over the ground. There's really no thinking involved here, save for a couple of puzzles that could be solved by an amoeba family. In fact, there's really little effort that needs to be done to win this game altogether.

It's a short game. I'm not Archlion.

Battles are straightforward, but they do differ slightly from the norm. You don't attack one enemy. You instead attack the entire party, which is unusual, but it saves you the trouble of having any strategy whatsoever. Meanwhile, your party members do not have their own health meters; instead, you all share one long string of life. You can also steal from enemies, as well as use items (though not most healing items, for some odd reason). Healing is done outside of battle, buried a few menu screens deep. Thanks. Grinding CAN be done, but there's really no need except for as you get closer to the end, as you'll be generally quite toned and buffed after a few battles here and there.

There are the other standard RPG tropes at play here. Occasionally you'll stumble across a shop where you can buy weapons, armaments, and items, the former two being equippable at your leisure. There are also treasure chests found throughout, but the only way to open them is by spending a star (a likely leftover from the game's mobile roots) that you find randomly laying on the ground. Stars also serve a double-function: they can also be "spent" to perform critical moves in the heat of battle or to revive your party with full health should it perish at the hands of some ghoul thing. A helpful hint: save a few stars for the final battle. They're pretty important.

Being a speedily zipped-through RPG, there's little time to stop and admire the scenery, which is great because the graphics have adopted a pseudo-16-bit style similar to those produced by the SNES. Some care has been put into the designs of enemies (and the evil act of palette-swapping enemies to look like new is not a major issue in such a short game, which is a blessing in disguise). The environs, however, are what they are: pixeled and very much tiled like old-school RPGs. What do you expect for five bucks?

Also, ask me to remember any song from the game, any song at all. Can't do it. Nope. Sorry.

Archlion Saga is, above all else, a game for two audiences: people with little time on their hands and people with no prior RPG experience. I fall under neither of those camps, and so I left the game a little unsatisfied, despite initial joys of not having to spend too much time farting around the game figuring out the ropes. To compound matters, once you finish the game once, you get a New Game+ option, where you start out with the same stats you finished with (in my case, I had basically a Level 75 party). Playing through a second time yields no benefits except some faster battles in the beginning. Archlion Saga is like lunch at Taco Bell: it might be good initially, but afterward, you wonder why your body suddenly rejects everything. ...was this a bad analogy?

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