Arc the Lad Monster Arena is not a sequel in any sense, and has nothing to do with the overall story in the Arc the Lad series. Arc the Lad Monster Arena is a Tournament-style game where players pit their captured monsters against others in the Arena for the sake of getting some rare prizes. This was a game created to help keep the fans who had played Arc the Lad II for everything it was worth, and who were in need of more challenge. It may also be the only place where players may actually use their captured monsters for a significant amount of time.
The ‘Story’ in this game is generally about you, the player. The game is based in the Arena Town of Faust, and you the player, represented by either a guy or gal, seek to battle in the Monster Arena for fame and, of course, the very tempting prizes and monsters. The best thing is that the prizes and monsters you win can be brought back to the Arc the Lad II main game!
Arc the Lad Monster Arena allows 2-player competition as well, alternating between the players by pressing the Start button and then selecting the player. The players are represented by a guy or gal character sprite, and if one player takes the guy sprite, the other gets the gal sprite. Not much variety here, but you honestly don’t have a choice, as the other Arc the Lad characters are busy running the stores, the Arena, or just taking it easy in Faust.
The general goal in Arc the Lad Monster Arena is to use your captured monsters from Arc the Lad II through Lieza’s Ravish ability, to battle in the Arena Battles, VS Mode, or Tournament for prizes. VS Mode is for players 1 and 2 to battle against each other for bragging rights, an item, or a monster. It can get quite fun if you want to challenge a fellow Arc the Lad II player, as all sorts of weird and funny battles may occur, especially if both players are down to 1 character and they decide to play a frantic game of cat and mouse!
The Arena Battles are the main event, where you have to set up 3 teams of 4 fighters each to battle an opponent’s monster party. The catch is, you can’t control your parties as they are all set to Auto battle, so all you can hope is that all your training has made your warriors strong enough. Completing the entire Arena Battle will allow players to use normal characters in battle as well as a new 5-team mode for all new prizes. The enemies are extremely tough, most of them ranging between Levels 90 to 255 after completing the first Arena Battles, so players will be in for quite a challenge. Prizes are awarded per team defeated.
The Tournament is more of an endurance battle. You can control your characters, and the goal is to defeat as many enemy teams as you can before you get slaughtered. You create 3 teams of 4 or, if you have unlocked 5 team mode, 5 teams of 4, to battle. The first team battles until they get totally wiped out, then they’re replaced by the next team until all your teams get wiped out. If a member of the team gets killed but the team wins, they will revive at 1 HP for the next battle. HP and MP do not recover to full for every new battle, so as mentioned earlier, it is more of a test to see how long your parties can last against an almost endless horde of enemies with increasing Levels. Prizes are awarded to players on account of how many teams they have defeated so far: the more teams defeated, the more prizes you get.
Aside from the Arena, there are other functions being served by Faust, and almost each character has a purpose. There are many nifty features and lots of stuff to look through, all conveniently located in one place. Some of the features are Iga’s Dojo, where players can go for training or to learn about the Monster Arena, Chongara’s Shop, where you can buy some uncommon perishable items, Elc’s Exchange, where players can trade items with each other and Shante’s Theatre, where players can listen to her song or watch some Arc The Lad characters act out some very weird skits on stage. There are more features as well, and players are free to peruse them as much as they like.
The niftiest feature of all is the fact that you save all your achievements into your normal Arc the Lad II game save, meaning that all the items and monsters you’ve collected as prizes can be brought back into Arc the Lad II. The main trick is that you cannot just load data for Arc the Lad Monster Arena from anywhere in Arc the Lad II. The best time to start Arc the Lad Monster Arena is when you’re around 30% into Arc the Lad II, when all the characters reunite and can travel freely on the Silver Noah. Even so, there will be instances in the game where you cannot load the data, and Monster Arena will simply list that data as No Arc Arena Data Available.
Control is the same as that in Arc the Lad II, though there is an additional option for players to set their characters to Auto or Manual battle when not fighting an Arena Battle.
Graphically and musically, Arc The Lad Monster Arena utilizes the same engines as Arc the Lad II, so there really isn’t much that looks or sounds new. Some of the Arena stages are interesting, though, and quite pleasing to battle in, but that’s that and you’d be disappointed if you were expecting more.
In the end, Arc the Lad Monster Arena is merely a companion game to Arc the Lad II, but it does offer those who have played Arc the Lad II to its fullest quite a challenge. Though optional to play, it is still quite recommended for those seeking a challenge, or as most players may know by now, a useful ‘cheat utility’!