Falcom has been increasingly making its mark on the Action RPG market in the west over the years. Now as we enter 2018, it didn’t take long for the first game by the developer to release in the West titled Zwei: The Arges Adventure. Now, it’s true that this isn’t one of Falcom’s more recent releases, but that doesn’t mean that it should be glanced over by fans.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure, a standalone story in the Zwei series, is the predecessor to Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection, a game that I reviewed and found to be a hysterical and unique action game that I wouldn’t have experienced if XSEED hadn’t published it. However, technically we are looking at a game that was released in 2001 and ported several times, not to mention it is the first release in the series which means that a few systems don’t always work — but that doesn’t stop Zwei: The Arges Adventure from being a delightful and charming adventure thanks to its characters.
From the first scene of the game, I could quickly tell that Zwei: The Arges Adventure was going to offer me some of the most adorable character interactions I have seen in a long time, and it didn’t let me down. Zwei: The Arges Adventure stars siblings Pipiro and Pokkle as they find themselves following a strange masked man through town and witness him stealing six idols. After the village offers up a reward, the two decide that it is up to them to recover the idols and bring them safely to the town’s shrine.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure fails to take the story to any serious themes or memorable character growth, but what the story does succeed at it taking the player on a whimsical adventure that they didn’t know they needed. A lot of this charm is thanks to the localization job from XSEED. There were scenes that had me laughing and engaged for the entirety of the adventure. The team didn’t hold back and made the story and characters approachable and easy to follow. They proved that they could bring a game released over a decade ago to 2018 and players would still find it relatable.
The way that Pipiro and Pokkle interact with each other as well as with the townspeople made me constantly want to talk to every character whenever I got the chance just to see what they had to say. After a while, I began to understand each of the NPC’s personalities and the game’s story just became more enjoyable with each passing scene.
Gameplay in Zwei: The Arges Adventure differs subtly from what players remember from Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. this time around, the graphics utilize a 2D character design instead of the 3D models seen in Insurrection. The look of the characters worked for me because of how damn cute they were, but that doesn’t mean that the design didn’t have its share of imperfections.
The dungeons in Zwei: The Arges Adventure are spread across an open world that players can freely access at any time, much like entries in the Zelda series. That said, as pretty as the town and character designs are, dungeons have a knack for becoming repetitive which makes it easy to spot a few lousy design issues that the game had. Often when traversing through a hall, enemies are hidden behind an object or set pieces. This means that inevitably I was getting hit by enemies that I couldn’t see until they were right in front of me.
When it comes to attacks, players must switch between Pipiro and Pokkle depending on if they wish to use melee or magic based attacks. However, from the first dungeon of the game, it’s made clear that the attack button is going to be pressed a lot in this game. Thankfully, there is an auto-fire option in game’s menu, but it doesn’t take away from the monotonous action that awaits the player in each dungeon.
The action that takes place on the screen during battles can get messy depending on the number of enemies on screen. The small rooms and narrow halls just don’t offer enough space for the player to freely move around and get immersed in the gameplay. I find that this wouldn’t have been as big of a problem had I not played Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection first and saw just how great the action battle system could be. Furthermore, although the boss designs are up to Falcom standards, a higher difficulty might make players feel more satisfied with the battles. This is due it being easy to just attack and heal from time to time without any real danger of running out of HP.
To add to the charm of the characters and story, Zwei: The Arges Adventure has an amazing soundtrack that I could see myself listening to well after I completed the game’s story. Each track fits the adorable look of the game and fits in well with any situation. Often the soundtrack enhances some of the story scenarios and makes the overall playing experience more enjoyable.
Another nice feature about the western PC release of Zwei: The Arges Adventure is that includes the updated soundtrack from the PSP release as well as extra mini-games that weren’t found in other ports. This makes the western release the complete version of Zwei: The Arges Adventure and simply adds to its appeal. Also, there have been extra tutorial pages added to assist player and an option in the menu to access both the original and PSP soundtrack at any time.
Zwei: The Arges Adventure is not going to give you the action-filled experiences that Falcom fans have seen in series such as Ys and Xanadu. However, this is a game that comes full force with a lighthearted story that might fit in well as a break from the more drama filled games that have been filling up our lives. The action gameplay is responsive enough to keep players engaged in the many dungeons waiting to be discovered.
I would say that Zwei: The Arges Adventure is best played by gamers with an eye for charm and adorable characters that you’d want to spend hours with exploring dungeons and going on adventures. Sadly, the decade-old dungeon design and repetitive action don’t hold up as well as its sequel, but it’s still a game that Falcom fans will enjoy until the end, I know I did.