"Game: Master of the Wind, Arc II Super-Pack "
Game: Master of the Wind, Arc II Super-Pack
Authors: Volrath and Artbane
Master of the Wind, Arc II, is, as its name suggests, the second instalment in the Master of the Wind series. Picking up where the first opus left off, Arc II furthers the story of the heroes Shroud and Stoic, using the same gameplay mechanics that made the first arc so wonderful, while shifting to a heavier tone and darker storyline.
It all begins with the arrival of Equipment King, MotW’s representation of any big corporation of the real world. While most big corporations simply hire third world employees to make profit, Equipment King actively causes ruckus whenever a new branch opens, hoping citizens will make haste to buy their weapons.
Arc II concentrate heavily on Shroud and Stoic’s crusade against Equipment King: rescuing kidnapped children by the corporation, infiltrating the owner’s manor and fending off against hired hands set on taking the heroes out. A short introduction also recaps the events of arc I, should the player not have completed it first.
The cast expends considerably in arc II, introducing what might be the “real villain”. From here, the tone becomes heavier and the atmosphere darker, as it also brings about some shocking twists about various characters that, in arc I, appeared to be nice and harmless. Even though originality and shocks are ever so present, the development of the storyline from arc I also ventures in some predictable areas. Eventually, the setting becomes a little too black and white: anyone who the main heroes dislike turn out to be inevitably evil, and some events begin to feel a slightly contrived, such as Auburn, Finley, and Vec battling the infamous thief group Touten corps easily, until they start to lose seconds before Shroud and Stoic show up. On a final nitpicky note, the heroes’ entourage makes Lois Lane of Superman look like a genius: a bandana or a mask doesn’t really do much to conceal one’s identity.
Cut scenes are also much more abundant in this second arc than in the first one, and are much better designed too. Event choreographies, such as the dancing during the Kovak party, the battle against Touten Corps, or the concert of the DayDream band, are very impressive. At times, it felt a little like playing Xenosaga: watching a scene, being able to move for a minute, another scene, fight, another scene, etc.
Anyhow, as the plot expends, so does character development. Like the storyline, our heroes also head into darker directions. Stoic reflects about his role in his unlife, and Shroud is being consumed by his hate for Equipment King, becoming moody, and at times, downright whiny. The bound uniting the heroes, however, does not seem a strong as it was during the first arc, weither this is deliberate or not is unknown, but I certainly would have preferred to see stronger friendship and camaraderie between Cade and Bones.
The game does deserve a mention for bringing up many parallels of some real world problems, such as people’s greed regarding corrupt corporations and their inability to see it, or how young girls begin to “crush” on artificial superstars.
Continuing the first arc’s tradition, the second arc’s dungeons are large and complex, filled with new, imaginative and exciting puzzles. The first dungeon offers mine-themed challenges, such as switching paths on and off in hope of leading carts to the correct destination. Arc II sees the introduction of more complex types of puzzles: many elements needed to be found in order to accomplish one goal. It is something that challenge lovers will rave about, but might turn off some players that have a hard time with enigmas. The second dungeon, especially, a huge mansion that acts as one big text-oriented puzzle, free of random encounters, will turn away anyone who lacks logic or patience. The last dungeon demarks itself from the two others by its remarkably simplistic puzzles. The heroes even comment on that, thinking of it as a trap. I do not understand why they are so surprised: the last dungeon is a visit of some unexplored areas of Fort Drake, the first dungeon of arc I, serving as an introduction dungeon; of course the puzzles would be simple there!
Speaking of random encounters, battles remain the same in arc II as they were in arc I, if only slightly harder. Some battles, especially, will prove fatal if your heroes’ levels are low. Thankfully, new characters will join you in battle this time around, such as the ever-annoying gunner Finley, and the fiery Auburn. Without these additional characters to aid you, many battles would prove impossible, due to arc II’s tendency to overcrowd the battles with four to five villains. Said villains will usually have attacks that inflict status aliments, incapacitating, most of the time, your only healer (that’s Shroud). Strategy plays a big part in these battles, but after some time, you might find yourself thinking that luck also plays too much of a decisive factor.
As it was during the first arc, the music is still splendid, this time even introducing songs with sang lyrics, taking place during the concert of the DayDream band. Again, this brings the size of the game to high three digits, but if your connection is fast, that is no reason to whine. However, this has virtually killed the chance for anyone who possesses a slower connection to ever play Master of the Wind.
In terms of map design and graphical style, arc II, unsurprisingly, is very similar to the first arc. Mapping has improved somewhat, especially in the new areas, but since old areas are also revisited, some inferior mapping remains. Speaking of these old areas, they haven’t changed at all; even the NPCs keep on saying the same thing. Some change would have been appreciated. At least, arc II strays a bit from the Run Time Package by introducing new, stunning visual elements, namely the DayDream concert stage, and the new battlers of Auburn and Finley.
Arc II is obviously the continuation of arc I, but the dark tone of the story that sets in very rapidly feels a little awkward. Even though battles are now harder, dungeons are more challenging than ever and, of course, more enjoyable. Music and graphics are also up a notch, keep it up!
In a nutshell…
The story loses a lot of arc I’s catchy lightness, and it takes some time to get used to the heavier tone of arc II, especially since it moves in quite fast. Still, dialogues remain funny and well-written.
The mapping has gotten better, but old areas haven’t been redesigned. The faces that clashed in the first arc are still around, and don’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. Arc II does have, however, a few original and enjoyable elements, like a child’s cute drawing or professional-looking battlers.
Even better than in the first arc; the musical selection now includes sung lyrics! However, the latter lacks a little in variety. If you can bear with the huge file size, the music of this game is memorable, nearly perfect.
Even though battles are now slightly harder, requiring certain luck to be victorious, the new dungeons could teach a thing or two to Lufia II, who had, in my opinion, some of the best dungeons of the 16 bit era. Even if all the other aspects of this game were below average, Master of the Wind would still be worth a play for the elaborate dungeons.
Final rating: (8.5/10)
Community review by Doctor (July 31, 2008)
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