Thousand Arms is an RPG for the Playstation that was developed and published by Atlus, and was released in October of 1999, after being delayed for nearly half a year. It is not your standard, run if the mill RPG, though. Thousand Arms is also one of the first stateside released game to incorporate a dating sim aspect to it.

The game stars Meis Triumph, an up-and-coming spirit blacksmith (a blacksmith that can imbue emotional power into a weapon). However, when Meis' hometown is raided, he is forced to flee, so that he might one day return to his home, and restore it to its former glory. However, along the way to becoming a full-fledged spirit blacksmith, Meis must find a way to defeat the evil Dark Master.

The game itself is a lot like a traditional RPG, in that there are random battles, and turn based combat. However, the battle system is slightly different from other RPGs. Instead of all three of your characters having an individual action that they perform in battle, there is only one active character, that can attack, and two supporting characters, that can heal, cast spells, or switch with the active character. This also applies to enemies (one active, and up to two supporting enemies).

The most unique aspect to the game, though, is the spell progression system. You can only gain spells by imbuing weapons with magical powers at a forge. To do this though, you need a female character. The strength of the spell imbued in a weapon relates directly to the "intimacy level" of the girl with whom you are forging with. So, if the girl's intimacy level is high, you have a better chance to get a strong spell, than if the intimacy level is low.

You can raise the intimacy level of girls three different ways: giving them gifts, playing mini games with them, and taking them on dates. Each girl will respond to each gift differently. Mini games are very simple, and often more time consuming than productive. Dating, however, is the primary way to increase intimacy levels, and is also the most entertaining. You can choose to take girls out on dates while in towns, where you lead a girl around until you reach a dating spot, where you have to answer questions, and try to pick the right answer based on the girl's personality. If you answer most of the questions in a positive way, the girl's intimacy level might go up.

Just about everything in this game exceeded my expectations. All of the cut-scenes were done in an anime style, and are absolutely beautiful. The soundtrack is impressive in its sheer size and diversity. In fact, Ayumi Hamasaki is responsible for both the amazing opening song (Depend on You), and the peaceful ending song (Two of Us). Also, there is nearly 12 hours of superb voice acting. However, what really makes this game stand out is the inclusion of a dating sim. The only complaint I have about this game is the very mainstream story, which lacks originality. Overall, I would highly recommend this game to any "hardcore" RPG fan, or anyone who has wanted to fulfill an urge to try out a dating sim.

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