Thousand Arms is a very unusual game in the PS1 jrpg library. For starters, it has dating sim visual novel elements and since there is no visual novels released in the west for the PS1, this is as close as you could get without having to import it from Japan. It was developed by ATLUS and Red Entertainment.
You play as Meiss Triumph, a wealthy young man training to become a Spirit Blacksmith, a master crafstman who infuses his weapons with spiritual elements making them more powerful. These Spirit Blacksmith have to have lots of women in order to elevate their spiritual powers and improve their skill. Meis’s father’s home is destroyed by the secretive and powerful Dark Acolytes. Meis has to run for his life and flees to another village where he encounters Sodina, a beautiful young woman. Meis is thrown out into the real world where his wealth and status doesn’t matter. Meis has to figure out a way to defeat the Dark Acolytes and he encounters people along the way who assist him in battles.
Gameplay is pretty easy especially in contrast to many jrpgs at that time. Combat is turned based and you have 3 party members per turn. As you progress in the game, you find elementals which works as summons to deal massive damage to enemies. You can upgrade your weapons and select which element it will use depending on the closeness and mood of the girl you are dating and it’s a pretty interesting feature.
The main draw to this game is its dating system and this was before Persona 3. Every place you visit has many ideal areas to use as dating spots. If you want to date a girl, just visit the statue of love and choose which girl you want to date. You can buy gifts for the girls and this affects your relationships with them. There are also mini games you can partake with your dates as well. The main goal for them is just getting the high score and win.
The user interface is pretty straightforward. The musical score was really good and the opening song was really nice to hear. The characters and the story are really tropey and its pretty simplistic stuff. The steampunk atmosphere and world design looked really interesting.
This is one of the most voice acted jrpgs for the PS1 era which is quite a feat as many jrpgs at the time had some but not a whole lot, unlike todays jrpgs which are now fully voiced. The graphics and animation show their age and the map is difficult to read. The comedy was cheesy and annoying. The voice acting is serviceable and the dialogue has not aged well. It uses a mix of hand drawn animation and computer generated CGI and it has way more anime cutscenes then Lunar Silver Star Story.
For the first game I really played outside of Persona that’s developed from and by ATLUS unlike Conception 2, I enjoyed this game a lot more.
It gets 4 out of 5 stars.
Thousand Arms and Elemental Gearbolt are by far the two rare gems in my PS1 collection. Dating visual novels really came a long way since then.
You really don’t see unusual underground cult classics like this every day and this isn’t an easy game to find or to purchase either so be prepared to spend a lot of money on it. If only ATLUS would get back to making more unusual stuff like this game instead of constant focus on Persona 3-5.