Arcana is an RPG by Hal, released for the Super Nintendo in 1992. I classify it as maze/RPG because it's one of those games where you go through an imitation 3D maze. Unlike typical maze games, Arcana's battles take place in a traditional RPG sequence.

Prelude Story

According to the ancient legends, men of valor established 6 kingdoms in the land of Elemen. Disputes broke out constantly between these six kingdoms, but, if you look at the history of the land, you can see that they were treated as minor matters by the people of these kingdoms. But in time these seemingly minor despites spilled over and become a storm over the land. Eventually the conflict spread over the whole island, with each of the six kingdom fighting for control over the island. This continued on for many years. The cities were turned to ruins, and the countryside was laid to waste. Bizance was the capital and the largest city in Lexford. Galneon, one of the court magicians, launched a coup against King Wagnall. King Wagnall was killed in the conflict and the evil Galneon ascended the throne. In the conflict the King's two daughters disappeared. Their whereabouts are still unknown. Ten years have passed since this event...

Japanese Arcana Vs. US Arcana

US box

US cart

Japanese box

Writer "Boco" of GameFAQs has this to say about Arcana:

Many things were removed and changed for the US version. Menus became less pretty, the story became less defined and detailed, the characters became cookie-cutters, and the spirits became resurrectable party-members instead of distant elementals. Items and spells were cut from the US version, and a great deal was changed - largely because the differences between English and Japanese made translation of many sections of the game impossible. However, the "translation" team was not proficient in either language, and the result was - while still a good game, not nearly as refined as the original. Monsters lost their mythological names, references to religion were cut, and grammatical errors appeared everywhere, along with cheesy dialogue and the unshakable feeling that someone along the way missed something.

My Opinion

I think this is one of those hidden gem games that are overlooked by the average RPG fan. I usually don't go for the maze/RPG genre, but Arcana is different. The 3D maze animation is absolutely beautiful. Once you get used to the game, it really gives you the realistic feel as if you're actually exploring a real maze. The soundtrack is pretty good; it's nostalgic of typical SNES music. The story is limited, but there's just enough dialogue and climatic events to make it interesting. My favorite part is that the battles are "traditional" RPG (a la Final Fantasy). Few maze/RPG games follow traditional RPG. You gain up to 4 awesome elemental spirits. If you've played Pokemon before, you might catch yourself saying "Pokeball - GO!" each time you switch between elemental spirits. This is how I envision it. Anyway, you start out with just one elemental spirit, the wind elemental Sylph (she is very cute!). One neat feature about the elementals is that their lost HP/MP restores with each step you take. The only drawback with Arcana is that the mazes can get rather tedious - but really though, a maze/RPG sucks if it doesn't have tedious mazes! So would I recommend Arcana? Yeah! It's a great game.

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