Back in the late 90’s, the PC gaming world was on a steadily decline, with most gamers opting for a console substitute to sate their gaming needs. Heavy hitters like Sony and Nintendo continued to dominate the marketplace which made PC game development take a hit, but not so much that it died all together. This case in point brings us to Steam, where we’re now seeing a massive influx of titles make their way to the PC platform, many of which were never playable in the west due to localization being somewhat lackluster about a decade ago. One game in particular that was birthed on PC but never really garnered much attention until now is Nihon Falcom’s action RPG series Zwei. Many of us who are familiar with Nihon Falcom may be more accustomed to The Legend of Heroes or the timeless classic Ys franchises, but for a long time Zwei had been overshadowed by its brethren. All of that has changed and it can finally be given the respect it most certainly deserves, as Zwei: The Arges Adventures sees a massive re-release on the Steam platform. It all started back in December of 2001 but 17 years later the adventure still continues to shine on, with added features that provide cosmetic improvements and gameplay never before experienced until now.
What to Expect
Zwei: The Arges Adventure takes you back to the early beginnings of the world of Arges, where players get to know more about the backstory and how things lead up to the sequel, Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection. As we mentioned earlier, Zwei: The Arges Adventure made its debut on the PC platform but with so many titles out during that time it never truly received any sort of recognition. To make things even harder, the title never actually saw a western release up until now and so what you’re experiencing in this game is truly a first. This is the first time that the title is jam packed full of features that were left out of the console ports, and now you can bask in it all with the Steam version. Features include an Ys-themed typing tutor, a challenging block puzzler mini-game, and the “Pet Monitor” virtual pet system, which allows you to track what your pet is doing should you leave it at home to wander. Leave it for too long and it may just go off on its own so being mindful of its presence is an important feature in itself. Along with a wide variety of unlockables and a plethora of fresh new content, Zwei: The Arges Adventure is feature rich and should definitely keep you immersed for hours. With gorgeous visuals redesigned in full HD along with humorous dialogue to keep you entertained, we definitely recommend this to any fan of the action-RPG genre.
Nihon Falcom is highly regarded in Japan as the pioneers of the action-RPG genre. They’re also credited for helping to define the growth and evolution of the PC software market in Japan, as well as the JRPG genre. So when you dive into Zwei for the first time, you’ll be remarkably surprised at how well it all performs. Very small issues in framerate cripple the game’s overall charm, and the dungeon-crawler elements combined with the action-RPG rich gameplay just make it a blast to play. In Zwei: The Arges Adventure, you star as two young adventurers Pipiro and Pokkle (you can change the name in game if you desire), who must embark on a quest to collect the six goddess statues that had been filched from their village. The two have their own unique traits when engaging in battle, with Pipiro focusing more on casting spells while Pokkle is your quintessential aggro protagonist who uses brute force to get the job done. You’re able to swap between them at any time depending on the scenario you’re in which provides the game with a lot of variety. We mentioned earlier that you also have a pet and in the beginning of your adventure, the option to choose which pet to have is there. We opted for a cat and during your journey the cat can also attack enemies and level up much like you can, with certain elemental collars allowing the cat to attack in various ways.
Unlike in other RPG titles that require you engage in battles to to level up your characters, Zwei: The Arges Adventure is different in that consumption of food is what you’ll need to gain experience for the long haul. It’s not just about eating whatever you find however, since not all foods generate a lot of XP, and so if you’re able to hoard enough of the same item and bring it back to the Inn, you’ll gain double or even triple your XP for doing so. This is the truly intriguing aspect about Zwei and why it’s an incredibly exciting experience, because your focus doesn’t become tied around grinding and farming for XP just to defeat bosses, it now becomes this very jovial ordeal where collecting large portions of delicious food rewards you in the end. Everything is all colorful and full of zest as you travel across the land in search for the villain who stole the statues, with the dungeon-crawling appeal providing you a challenging feel that never grows boring. We’ll admit that the dialogue can be quite corny at times and perhaps even distasteful, especially with the use of certain words and insults, but in a way, it has its own little charm that somehow sits with you the longer you play.
All of that eventually gets pushed to the side when you start to engage in fast paced battles where you’ll be swapping characters out constantly, all the while listening to the beautifully crafted soundtrack this game provides. It has this childlike appeal to it which makes playing feel tranquil in many ways, even in those situations where enemies are unrelenting and reek havoc on your HP. You don’t really feel all that stressed or even perturbed by it all because once it’s all done, the music just cheerfully brings you back down to normal, and the adventure continues. The main issue that truly stands out to us is just that Zwei: The Arges Adventure is dated in its overall design and you can see that in some gameplay scenarios, most notably character interactivity inside and outside of battle. It’s not clunky by any means but there’s a stiffness to the movement which makes attack sequences look static and robotic. There aren’t that many save points in the early portion of the game so you kind of feel forced to play for long periods of time just to get to a resting point, so that kind of made things a tad cumbersome.
Be that as it may, this is an RPG after all and so if you’re a fan of wandering around in hopes to find something cool along the way, then it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Though of course, if you can’t save what you’ve found then it can be a little annoying. So most of the time you’re pretty much on the lookout for save points and memorizing where they are so you’ll always be able to use them when necessary. Luckily, you have a Venture Wing that allows you to teleport back to any town you’ve visited, so long trips aren’t always needed.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
We played a great deal of Zwei: The Ilvard Insurrection and to go back to re-experience the origins of how it all began was quite fascinating. We were able to get a glimpse of the many struggles that Arges had to endure and find solutions to overcome them, using our powerful spells and strikes to take down enemy foes to bring justice to the land. Playing Zwei: The Arges Adventure gave us a much better understanding of what unfolded in the sequel and really helped to fill the gap in some areas, which we’ll keep a secret and let you experience it first hand. While the game isn’t perfect by any means, it certainly captured that true classic action-RPG feel, with its fast paced performance and challenging obstacles that keep you coming back for more. It’s an underrated title that deserves more praise and so we truly hope you all take a trip into the world of Arges to see all the heavenly glory for yourself. Don’t forget to bring your pet along with you!
A truly action packed experience filled with plenty of challenging battles.
The pet monitoring system is unique and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The pets you can carry around to fight with you are like an extra little assistant to protect you.
Plenty of hours can be invested and all of it is worthwhile.
Beautiful soundtrack that’ll pull at your heartstrings.
Character animations felt too static.
Some of the dialogue/localization was a bit much.
Some features felt dated.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Despite some of the flaws in Zwei: The Arges Adventure, much of them are overshadowed by all the exciting features you’ll find while playing. It’s cute and reminds us of the 2000’s when anime character designs were over the top but still had a playful appeal to them that resonates in our otaku hearts today. If you’re new to the series, we suggest starting with this one before hopping into Ilvard since it’ll give you better insight as to how things unfolded, and of course, it’ll give you a greater appreciation of the hard work Nihon Falcom put into the franchise. Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay updated about gaming news as well as anime and manga, and catch us live on Twitch where we play all the latest and greatest titles for all of YOU, the readers.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!