Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Arc the Lad

Go To

Arc the Lad is a tactical RPG series published by Sony Computer Entertainment, with individual titles developed by several different companies. The first three numbered games (as well as the spinoff Arc Arena: Monster Tournament) were developed for the original PlayStation by G-Craft. The PlayStation 2 entries, Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits and Arc The Lad End Of Darkness, were developed by Cattle Call. There is also an iOS and Android game, Arc The Lad R, announced in 2016 to be developed by Forward Works.

The first game in the series was a launch title for the PlayStation in Japan, however, internal policies governing game releases during the early portion of the Playstation's life in the U.S. prevented it and its sequels from being released. It finally saw the light of day in the U.S. courtesy of Working Designs, who, after several lengthy delays, finally released a collection of the entire PlayStation part of the series in April of 2002. This put the collection about a year and a half into the lifespan of the PlayStation 2.


In general, the series can be thought of as Sony's answer to Tactics Ogre and Shining Force.

Series entries:

  • Arc the Lad (1995) PS1: A fun but short tactical RPG, which followed the adventures of a young lad called Arc Ricolne and his six traveling companions.
  • Arc the Lad II (1996) PS1: A direct sequel, which starts off by following the adventures of Elc, a bounty hunter who is the last survivor of a nation of fire users slaughtered by Seirya, the country Arc hails from. Being longer, more complex, and considerably Darker and Edgier than the previous episode, Arc the Lad II has been lauded as the best game in the series and a legitimate contender for the title of "game with the most Player Punches thrown."
  • Arc Arena: Monster Tournament (1997) PS1
  • Arc the Lad III (1999) PS1: Takes place a few decades after the end of Arc 2.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arc the Lad: Resurrection of the Machine God (2002) Wonderswan Color: invokedJapan only.
  • Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (2003) PS2: Takes place a thousand years after the original trilogy.
  • Arc The Lad: End of Darkness (2004) PS2: Unlike the previous games, this entry is an Action RPG.
  • Arc The Lad R (2018): A mobile entry in the Arc series and an attempt by Sony at reviving the franchise, announced in 2016 and released in 2018. Notably, unlike many mobile spinoffs, R is positioned as being a game in the primary canon, in this case being another sequel to Arc 2 - it's an interquel between 2 and 3, features characters from the first two games, and helps bridge the plot between the two.

Fan opinion seems to be that the PlayStation entries are best, with Twilight of the Spirits being considered good, but not as good as the originals, while End of Darkness receives the brunt of the negative criticism.

In addition to the games, there is a 26-episode anime series titled Arc the Lad, which is based on the first two games. This ran from 1998 to 1999, and was animated by Bee Train and directed by Itsuro Kawasaki.

This video game series provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Most of the main cast's names are equally out-there, but important supporting characters such as Elena and Danny play it straight.
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: The setting's relatively modern, but there sure are a lot of swordfighting heroes.
  • The Anime of the Game: 26 episodes long and based on Arc II.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Big Bad being an Eldritch Abomination with Mind Control powers, the ancient conspiracy was unavoidable, and the Dark One is good at this.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending of Arc 1. (Arc 2 shows exactly how it continues.)
  • Angst Coma: At the end of the White House story arc, Elc ends up at the ground zero of an explosion which leave him half dead. While Kukuru manages to heal his physical wounds, he remains comatose as a result of the guilt he feels from being unable to protect/avenge his tribe nor save Mariel from the White House.
  • Anti-Hero: Arc Ricolne is very pragmatic, and will do whatever it takes to defeat Romalia, and while he does not willingly target civilians, he shows little concern for collateral damage when he or one of his allies start to blow things up.
  • Apocalypse How: Scope: planetary. Severity: societal collapse. It happened 3,000 years before the first game. The reason Arc 2's ending isn't considered a downer ending is because this time it was only societal disruption.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The spirit stones are the Arc-verse's main source of energy and the reason behind Romalia's wealth and power.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: In Arc 2 and Twilight of the Spirits only five characters are allowed on the battlefield at a time. In Arc 3 that number is reduced to four. Arc 1 is the exception, as all playable characters participate in every fight.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The characters' designs, especially their sprites, are your average JRPG fare. The story is relentlessly dark.
  • Artifact Title: Arc dies at the of Arc the Lad II, though the rest of the series is still named after him.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Slasher, a monstrous serial killer who happens to be Ginie, one of Elc's childhood friends.
  • Back from the Brink: Arc 3, 4, and 5. The Dark One (Lord of the Black Abyss) may have gained the upper hand again, but our heroes still kick his butt to kingdom come.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Done by Arc and Elc, Shu and Tosh in Arc 2, and by Kharg and Darc in Arc 4.
  • Badass Adorable: Choko fits this to a T. When you meet her in the first game it is at the bottom of a 50 floor dungeon. She appears to be a kid with red hair tied back in pigtails. Then you fight her and see that she can easily crush most of your party. When she joins in the second game she starts at level 1 with stats far higher than most characters nearing level 30, and she only grows from there.
  • Badass Crew: This IS an Eastern RPG series after all. Every new episode comes with a new Badass Crew, and Arc 2 even has two crews joining up.
  • Badass Normal: Tosh does not have the magical abilities of Arc, Gogen or Elc, but he still manages to do just as much damage with his Katana.
  • Badass Preacher: Iga, one of Arc's traveling companions, is a monk.
  • Battle Couple: Arc and Kukuru, Elc & Lieza, Darc & Delma, Shante & Gruga, Tosh & Shu.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Even a blind man could see that Lutz and Cheryl have this.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Hemo-ji are this, with a heavy helping of Uncanny Valley thrown in. And your party members can be turned into them by touch!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Arc 2 would be a Downer Ending in the vast majority of games, being a Pyrrhic Victory in which the only success Elc and the survivors of the party can claim is that they survived The End of the World as We Know It, and saved some portion of humanity as well. But this was better than anyone expected, and probably the best that humanity could hope to win. And in later games, it becomes clear that they really have made a difference, and the Dark One is never able to wreck the world like that again.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The bad guys are genocidal bastards, while Arc is a wanted terrorist by the second game. Keep in mind that this is not just propaganda: Arc Ricolne is very pragmatic, and will do whatever it takes to defeat Romalia, and while he does not willingly target civilians, he shows little concern for collateral damage when he or one of his allies start to blow things up.
  • Bloodsucking Bats: Bat monsters all have the ability to suck life out of enemies, animated as sucking blood.
  • Break the Cutie: If a character is cute, he or she will be broken.
  • Bullying a Dragon: During the slaughter of the Pyrenians, Seirya's soldiers and researchers find a young Elc who proceeds to burn half a dozen of them to a crisp. The survivors then decide that such a prodigy would make a very good guinea pig. Three guesses at what happens when he turns into an adult...
  • Burn the Orphanage: What eventually happens to the White House. In fact, this "orphanage" was so bad that even slaughtering the children found in the playground does not qualifies as a Moral Event Horizon, considering what had been done to them.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday
    Arc: You... You're the one who killed my father!
    Ark Ghoul: I have killed many, and your father may have been amongst them. But if I did slay him, his death was so unremarkable that I have no memory of it. But enough talk. It is time for YOUR ignominious end, boy.
  • Caged Inside a Monster: Obtaining Gogen requires fighting the Illusion Lord. The monster is a large blue genie like creature holding Gogen trapped between its hands and using his magics on your party during the fight.
  • The Chessmaster: The Big Bad of the series is good. Deep Blue good.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Unlucky Mariel, just... Mariel. Elc promised to save her from the White House, but when he finally found her, she was turned into a monster and he had to fight her under the playground where they played when they were kids. This is a subversion since Elc quite obviously loves her and is more than ready to reciprocate her affection. The problem is that he is still forced to kill her, while Gallarno watches him.
  • The Chosen One: Deconstructed. Arc was not chosen by the spirits; Yoshua, his father, contacted them and made a deal with them: they would give Arc control over the elements in order to use him as their proxy. The player is actually told about this before the first battle begins. What's interesting is that it foreshadows the many deconstructions of RPG cliché that will happen later.
  • Combat Medic: Arc and Poco in the first two games, and Alec and Cheryl in the third.
    • Most of the characters in Twilight of the Spirits qualify.
  • Compilation Re-release: Arc the Lad Collection contained the first three games in the series. Of note is that this is the only release of the first three games in the US. Arc Arena: Monster Tournament which worked with save data from the second game was also packaged into the collection.
  • Corrupt Church: When the Ancient Conspiracy does not artificially create religions from scratch, they put their puppets in charge of existing ones.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The five great spirit stones, plus the Ark, which makes six of them.
  • Cowardly Lion: Poco. In his case, the fear inside him boosts his survival instincts and turns a klutz that he is into a badass Magic Knight.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Choko, one of the first monsters in the world, has the appearance of a young girl with short hair tied in pigtails.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Mostly averted: characters who are powerful during cutscenes are powerful during gameplay, but you cannot use Arc or Gogen to blow up buildings when you control them.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Yoshua, Arc's father, disappeared 10 years before the beginning of Arc 1. By the end of Arc 2, we learn that the spirits granted him the power to time travel, in order to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. He failed.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arc I isn't exactly rainbows and kittens, but it doesn't hold a candle to the absolutely hellish events of Arc II.
  • Dark Messiah: Arc. He's a genuine Messianic Archetype, but he has very little concern for collateral damage when fighting against the forces of Romalia and the Dark One. Romalia intentionally puts their doomsday devices in the middle of population centers, specifically to discredit their enemies. Civilian casualties are inevitable when fighting them, and that's one thing Arc won't angst about.
  • Defector from Decadence: Many examples.
    • Not all Romalians are happy about the way their country is behaving, and some form a resistance movement of their own.
    • Choko may be a monster created to Kill All Humans, this does not stop her from becoming the most powerful defender that humanity has.
    • Darc's companions are composed of Deimos and monsters who hate or at least despise ordinary humans, but they still choose to side with them against the Dark One.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Since the Big Bad is an Eldritch Abomination, this is unavoidable. Yet, unlike most examples of this trope, The Dark One is not merely challenged by a band of plucky heroes: it takes, during the course of four games no less than five Badass Crews including one which fought against it three millennia before the first episode, the Heroic Sacrifice of two messiahs, overpowered mechs, some of the world's most powerful monsters he created who turned against him, the elemental spirits that completely exhausted their power, and over 4,000 years of struggle to finally — and barely — beat him, while civilization is completely wiped once and nearly destroyed twice: this one is not an easily beaten Eldritch Abomination.
  • Disc-One Nuke: When the team from the first Arc the Lad show up during the second game, they are vastly more powerful than the other main characters and enemies. To avoid a Game-Breaker situation, the plot makes sure you can only have one of them at a time in your team until much later in the game.
    • If you have a solid knowledge of Synthesis (or a decent FAQ), your trip to Society Village can produce a lot of these in Arc 3.
  • Doomed Hometown: Arc's hometown of Touvil is destroyed at the beginning of Arc 1. Elc's whole nation is slaughtered in the first minutes of Arc 2. Alec's hometown, Romalia's capital city, is destroyed in the first cutscene of Arc 3. Ironically, by the heroes of the previous episodes.
  • Dying as Yourself: In her last moments, Mariel, whose mind was supposedly wiped by Gallarno's Mind-Control Device, manages to regain consciousness because she can't bear the thought of hurting Elc.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dark One.
  • The Empire: Romalia is a Kingdom, but acts like a bona fide evil empire. It's actually a subversion since it has been a superpower for ten centuries, but became evil only one or two generations prior to the first game.
    • The Dilzweld empire in Twilight of the Spirits.
  • Enemy Without: The Final Bosses of the first game are the dark selves of Arc and company, given as a test by the Ark to see if they are worthy of saving the world. The final battle itself takes place in an Amazing Technicolor Battlefield.
  • Fantastic Racism: People from Holn are distrusted by the game's expy of Switzerland because of their ability to communicate with monsters. In Twilight of the Spirits, Humans and Deimos are locked into a cold war that is pretty close to heating up. Deimos are intelligent humanoid monsters... and also technically fully human: they can have children with humans and were created by altering the genetic material of humans gifted with spiritual powers.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In Arc 1 and Arc 2 every character and country seems to have an obvious Earth counterpart.
  • Faux Action Girl: In Arc 2, Kukuru seems to have become this, but she later proves that she still can kick an enormous amount of ass when she manages to invert her Demonic Possession and takes control of the Big Bad's body long enough to allow Arc to seal it again, while she is already dead.
  • Floating Continent: The flying castle, the last dungeon of most games in the series.
  • From Bad to Worse: Practically everything in Arc the Lad 2.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: In Arc 2 & 3, guest star party members are supposed to become party members later.
  • Global Airship: The Silver Noah, which is acquired very early during the first game.
  • A God Am I: The Big Bad sees himself that way. Then again, being an immortal Eldritch Abomination gives you some credible reason to call yourself a god.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Shu. is a paramilitary commando who specializes in gun use; he only uses the ninja schtick because...well, somebody's gotta be a ninja.
  • Green Aesop: Zig-zagged between this and a Space Whale Aesop: Overusing natural resources weakened the Guardian Spirits of the planet and modern lifestyle have made people complacent to the point of forgetting that the Eldritch Abomination which nearly destroyed the world 3,000 years prior is still alive and about to break free from its Spirits-powered prison: that's the Space Whale part. On the other hand, during the course of the first two games, many subtle and not-so-subtle hints are dropped that overexerting natural resources is slowly but surely destroying the environment and that without change, Arc's world's modern civilization is doomed even without the Dark One readying itself for another genocidal rampage.
  • Heartbroken Badass: After the events at the White House, Elc becomes this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This is how Arc's father met his end, and later Arc and Kukuru do it as well.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Arc ends the first game and begins the second as a wanted criminal, accused of both regicide (he was framed) and terrorism (for blowing up mind control devices disguised as landmarks and otherwise fighting against the Empire).
  • Hold the Line: Shows up twice in Arc 2, first when you have to buy Shu some time to plant bombs; and again around the end of the game when you have to distract an army of monsters so The Resistance can safely infiltrate Romalia.
  • Inevitable Tournament: Done in each of the PlayStation trilogy episodes.
  • Instrument of Murder: Poco's weapon of choice is a pair of cymbals.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Averted during battles, since characters can jump above almost anything when they are leveled enough, but played straight the rest of the time.
    • This actually becomes an important thing to keep in mind in Arc 2, as there are a few treasure chests up on ledges or behind walls that become inaccessible if you don't jump up and grab 'em during battles.
  • La Résistance: Comes in no less than three flavors in Arc 2: there are resistance movements in countries occupied by Romalia, their is a resistance In Romalia proper, made by Romalians who disagree with the imperialistic ways of their country, and Arc's team is a third independent and very mobile resistance.
  • Lady of War: Kukuru. Paulette and Delma from the fourth game might count as well.
  • Last of His Kind: Elc is the last living Pyrenian.
    • Theo from Arc 3 is the last cardist.
    • Edda from End of Darkness is the last exorcist.
  • Lazy Backup: Averted in the first game, where all your characters always take part in the fight. Played straight in the subsequent games: even when you have a dozen human characters and even more monsters, they do not take part in the battle. It's sometimes justified when the characters try to infiltrate enemy facilities, but why would they no go all out when they openly attack the Big Bad stronghold?
  • Lethal Joke Character: Poco is a musician. A cowardly musician who probably does not know how to handle a gun correctly. He is also the deadliest soldier of Seirya's army (Arc and Kukuru are not soldiers, Tosh is para-military).
  • Lighter and Softer: Arc 3 and later games are a fair bit lighter than Arc 2, though that is not a high bar to cross.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Ironically, this is the ONLY version of the PlayStation games to ever be sold outside Japan.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Inverted: Magic tends to be more useful early on, but physical attacks surpass them by the end of the games, when big bosses with tons of HP and great magical resistance appear.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Happens more than once through the series.
  • Magic Knight: Every main character proves competent with weapons as well as with magic.
  • Magic Knight Templar: Arc and Elc tend to be quite extreme in their ways of dealing with evildoers. Most CG cutscenes of the second game show things getting blown up. Guess who's responsible?
  • Magic Knight Templar in Sour Armor: What happens to Arc and Elc as they struggle against Romalia.
  • Mad Scientist: Scientists in the Arc-verse do not seem to mind the fact that they are working for an Eldritch Abomination and that their technology is used to commit several genocides: they even go as far as experimenting on themselves without any hesitation. The Academy of Arc 3 is a little more idealistic and ready to help mankind, but in the end, they do not fare much better.
    • Although, the way the cabal treat Vilmer it's fair to say that not all scientists are enthusiastic about promoting Romalia's imperialism.
  • Magic Music: Poco, a proud member of the Palencia army's... drum corps.
  • Magitek: Arc's world is close to the technology level of earth during the nineties, but the main source of energy are stones infused with the power of elemental spirits. Romalia uses mixes of genetic engineering and black magic to create its army of Super Soldiers.
  • Magnetic Hero: Arc. Lampshaded when he arrives to save Poco, and Poco comments afterward that, with Arc there to inspire him, he suddenly felt like he could fight with his cymbals, and so he did.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Gaidel, the King of Romalia, is one of the only fully human antagonists of Arc 2 and has no supernatural power whatsoever. His lack of power other than political is an important plot point.
  • Marathon Boss: Usually the last boss.
  • Marathon Level: Usually the last dungeon. Do you notice the pattern?
  • Mind-Control Device: In Arc 2, part of the Ancient Conspiracy consists of planting such devices everywhere. One of the reason why Arc's True Companions is called a terrorist group is because their basic strategy is to blow up such devices, even if they happen to be in the middle of a sprawling metropolis.
  • Modern Stasis: The industrial revolution happened 1000 years prior to the first Arc the Lad; yet apart from a few gadgets used by the Romalian military, technology never went beyond the level of the late twentieth century.
  • Nintendo Hard: The games are pretty challenging for anyone who's not used to strategy RPGs, and the difficulty curve shoots through the roof with the final bosses.
    • Arc 2's final boss is so strong that about the only way to beat him without hours and hours of extra level grinding is with a Romancing Stone-equipped Choko.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: In the second game a nostalgic music box theme is played whenever Elc has any dreams of his time in the White House
  • One-Man Army: Many characters follow this, and are usually smart enough to include this into their plan. It is even lampshaded in the second game of the series:
    Shu: I know someone who's rowdy enough to hold off ten guards. He can be a decoy while I set the bombs."
    Tosh: Who are you talking about?
    Shu: Uh, you, Tosh!
  • Old Save Bonus: Arc 1 was written with the intent of being able to import a clear data file into Arc 2. If you do, when the cast of the first game joins your party, they'll have all of their experience and equipment from the first game. Arc 3 also gives some benefits if you load an Arc 2 save at the final save point.
    • End of Darkness also unlocks a free character, Lilia, for having clear data from Twilight of the Spirits.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Arc 1 is essentially an extended prologue for Arc 2. The U.S. release, Arc The Lad Collection, packages them both together and also throws Arc 3 in as well, so only the Japanese players had to buy them separately.
    • Somewhat understandable in the case of Arc I and Arc II. The creators were originally intending to make it as a PlayStation launch title. Unfortunately, their ambitions grew beyond their resources (not to mention the amount of time available), so they split the project into two games. Arc I managed to make the PlayStation launch, and Arc II came out later, and did the delay ever pay off.
  • Optional Party Member: Several, Choko being the most well known example.
    • Deikbeck in Arc 2 and Twilight of the Spirits.
    • Anrietta in Arc 3
  • Orphanage of Fear: The facility code-named the White House. Unlike most examples of this trope, the kids are not openly mistreated by uncaring or sadistic people in charge (in fact, one of its former managers, Vilmer, is shown to be a decent, loving grandfather); but when the employees are pretty much on Cthulhu's payroll, you know the facility hides very dark, horrific secrets.
  • Path of Inspiration: Another strategy used by the Ancient Conspiracy. When they don't create a false religion from scratch to control the masses, they take control of existing ones.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Subverted: Before meeting him, Kukuru is not happy at all with the prospect of marrying Arc, and her rebellion against tradition is what starts the whole mess. By the end of the first game, she has fallen in love with Arc, but they are now forced to become Star-Crossed Lovers because she has to stay in Seirya and maintain the weakening seal upon the Dark One while Arc keeps fighting Romalia all over the world, and, by the end of the second game, they can only be reunited in death.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • Choko is capable of going toe-to-toe with the Dark One, a monstrous Eldritch Abomination capable of annihilating all life on the planet, and coming out on top.
    • Arc, Elc, and Gogen also qualify. Arc and Gogen's spirit magic, and Elc's Pyrenian magic, are army-class threats.
    • The Big Bad himself was originally an ordinary human before turning into The Dark One.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The whole country of Zariban: once a very fertile land due to the fact that the Water Spirit dwelt there and one of the first places to be resettled by humans after the species was nearly wiped out during the first war against the the Dark One 3000 years prior to Arc 1. By the time Arc arrives in the country for the first time, it has been reduced to a desert due to the excessive mining and processing of energy stones.
  • Post-End Game Content: Arc 5: End of Darkness has this. After beating the final boss and watching the ending, Edda wakes up in Milmarna and can watch a scene with the terrorist leader and visit Orcoth for a short story arc involving Kirika, Delma and Volk.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: The first Arc the Lad's main story takes about 10 hours to complete on average; Arc the Lad II, however, can take up to five times as long at about 50 hours for the main story alone.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ending of Arc the Lad 2. Let's have Elc explain it, shall we?
  • Really 3,000 Years Old: Gogen may look like an old man, but he's still in good shape for a guy who spent 30 centuries watching the prison of an Eldritch Abomination. Choko is one of the original monsters born during the games' Backstory and is therefore as old as Gogen.
  • Rebellious Princess: Sania and Kukuru are princesses and wanted terrorists. You could hardly get more rebellious than that!
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Arc, Kukuru, Sania from the first two games; Kharg and Darc in Twilight of the Spirits (Kharg is still a prince despite the fact that his country abolished the monarchy, and Darc intended from the beginning to kill his way to the top).
  • Scary Black Man: Gruga, a former freedom fighter who decided to never again his colossal strength except in sports tournaments, until his blind daughter was kidnapped.
  • Scenery Gorn: The ending of Arc 2 gives us a nice view of Romalia, which was the epicenter of the Dark One's attack on the planet. Oh yeah, and the Sky Castle fell on it and exploded after you beat him.
  • Science Is Bad: Keep trying to make technological progress, even if you are well-intended, and you will eventually cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: Gogen is this and Sealed Good in a Can. He willingly sealed himself with the Big Bad 3,000 years ago so he would still be around to fight again if the Big Bad was released.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dark One.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game is quite short, takes place entirely on a relatively small continent with a total of seven party members. Arc 2 has you going all over the world, more than doubles the cast of characters, throws in a ton of side quests, and is crazy long.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Cruelly subverted in Arc 2. Arc's dad gave his life to the spirits in order to time travel and do so. He failed.
  • Schizo Tech: Machinegun-toting, IED-tossing ninja terrorists fighting alongside medieval knights. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The first two episodes go waaaaaaaay down the cynical end, the third tries to be a little more idealistic, the fourth is again more cynical (but not as much as the second), the fifth tries again to be more idealistic. On the whole, the series remains mostly on the cynical side.
  • Smug Snake: Galarno, one of Romalia's generals (who serves his country by being a a mob boss and politician on another continent) is the worst offender.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: Arc II's credit music, To Tomorrow.
  • Spirit Advisor: Arc is technically on the elemental spirits' payroll.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Arc III.
  • Street Samurai: Tosh is a Samurai tossed in a Schizo Tech universe.
  • Summon Magic: Chongara can summon supernatural beings, and Arc's power comes from his ability to summon guardian spirits.
    • Theo's Cardish ability in Arc 3 is this.
  • Super Empowering: Arc's blessing from the Guardians and his companions' special powers make them a match for monsters that decimate normal armies.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Elc is clearly the protagonist of Arc 2, but Arc is ultimately The Leader and The Chosen One.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: The Anime of the Game keeps many of the dark moments, but the ending is far happier than the game's. Arc and Kukuru live, and the Dark One is defeated without destroying the world.
  • Take Over the World: Subverted: The Big Bad does not want to control mankind: he already was in charge before becoming an Eldritch Abomination, and by controlling Romalia, he was once again the ruler of mankind at the beginning of Arc 1: the only problem is, this was not enough for him: what he wanted was control over the whole planet, including the whole ecosystem, even if it meant remaking it from scratch.
  • There Are No Therapists: The Arc series cast is even worse off than the Final Fantasy cast, which is saying a lot.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Iga and Tosh's attacks.
  • 20 Bear Asses: A lot of the job sidequests in both Arc 2 and 3 are of this variety.
  • Urban Fantasy: The game doesn't draw a great deal of attention to the universe's 20th century tech, but neither does it try to hide it.
  • Villain Decay: The Dark One is not nearly as threatening when he appears after Arc 2. Arc and Kukuru's sacrifice didn't take him down for good, but it was clearly the tipping point that allowed later generations to take him down without so much loss and sacrifice.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: In the ending of Arc 2, Elc wonders why he even fought. After all the death and sacrifice, including the death of his girlfriend, he and the others defeated the Big Bad, but they couldn't save the world from him.
  • Weapon of Choice: Played straight except in Arc 2, when characters have two or three weapons of choice.
    • While every other character in Arc 3 is limited to a single type of weapon, Alec averts this by being able to use any weapon in the game.
  • Wham Episode: A ton of them, especially in the first two episodes, mostly here to show that things are getting worse.
    • Arrival at Saryu Village: For the first time, we are shown the devastating effects of the industrialization of Arc's world, with one of its most ancient human dwellings slowly dying from the pollution caused by the extraction and processing of energy stones. Then, out of the blue, Romalia's air force razes the village, sends its turned-into-monsters super-soldiers to finish the job and find the key to the water shrine: it's the first time Arc's team is facing Romalia directly, the first time Arc displays some real anger, and the first punch thrown at the player.
    • The last trip to Seirya: Andel fatally wounds Seirya's king, who confess that he is the one who sent Arc's father away in order to inherit the throne, Arc is framed for the King's murder, and Seirya turns into a police state controlled by Andel. If this was not enough just after finding the Ark, Arc & co. have to give it up to Andel who uses the lives of Arc's mother and the other residents of Touvil as a bargaining chip, the seal on the Dark One starts breaking down, Kukuru has to remain hidden in the ruins of Touvil to maintain what remains of the seal in place, while the rest of Arc's group become wanted fugitives. The first episode ends here.
    • First scene of Arc 2: Elc's people get wiped out by Seirya's military.
    • End of the White House story arc: Elc & co. appear successful at first, rescuing Mariel and finding the other orphans; but at that point, Gallarno turns all the orphans into monsters, forcing Elc & co to kill them. Afterwards, Gallarno entraps Elc and Mariel and uses his Mind-Control Device to force the two to fight, nearly destroying Mariel's mind in the process. When she manages to regain her consciousness because she refuses to hurt Elc, Gallarno uses a contingency plan and uses the bomb he had implanted in Mariel's body, critically injuring Elc and leaving him nearly dead.
  • World of Badass: Even the weakest, most cowardly member of the Seiryan drum corps becomes a fearsome Magic Knight and One-Man Army when pushed to take a stand, while the real heroes and villains are outright Persons Of Mass Destruction. It takes entire civilizations populated by people like these to defeat the Big Bad.
  • Wutai: Arc's country, Seirya, takes this role. High technology mixed with traditional samurais who protect the country's capital.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Dark One pulls this off in Arc 2. If Arc and his companions fail to stop Romalia, he wins. If they succeed, which they do, it pushes the fully human king to release the seal on the Dark One in a moment of desperation. The Dark One states after this happens that the final condition for his return was that a human needed to willingly release him, which they pushed the king to do by destroying his war machines and killing his demon generals.
  • You No Take Candle: Chongara talks this way.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: