IntroductionNuisances with Too Much Power: Let's Play Armored Core Project Phantasma and Master of Arena
What are these two games?
Project Phantasma and Master of Arena are the two followups to the Playstation 1 game Armored Core, developed by From Software. Both running on the same engine, these games introduce new missions, parts, and other features that expand on the original Armored Core. Project Phantasma was released in 1997, the same year as the first game, and then later that was followed up on by Master of Arena two years later.
Wait, so are these actually sequels or just expansions?
A bit of both. The way the Armored Core series works is that each numbered entry signifies a major leap in generation in terms of systems and mechanics, kind of like the color naming schemes for each generation of Pokemon games. Project Phantasma and Master of Arena have their own stories and do follow up on the original game's setting, so they do count as sequels. However because players can transfer their AC 1 saves into these games and not start from scratch, these also end up feeling like expansions on the original game. Owning the first game isn't required, but having a save there and carrying it over across multiple games adds to the experience.
So how do these games compare to the original Armored Core
Unfortunately, Project Phantasma is not as good. It introduced some very significant concepts that would be carried over to many future games in the series, but their implementation leaves a little bit to be desired. There's a much bigger emphasis on story in the game's campaign, showing actual characters that are important to progress, but the mission length and quality is lacking. Project Phantasma also introduces the concept of the AC Arena, but it's implementation along with AI allows for it to be broken wide open and mess with the pacing of the game somewhat. It's still fun and plays like you would expect if you enjoyed the first Armored Core, but its first attempts at new things aren't successful.
Master of Arena on the other hand successfully makes good on a lot of the concepts brought by Project Phantasma and surpasses that and Armored Core 1 in quality and quantity. The mission count is roughly the same as Project Phantasma, but the design is much more engaging and memorable. The implementation of the Arena was reworked to integrate with the main campaign of the game, providing a more natural progression along with a shit ton of post game content with the game's second disc filled with custom Arena rankings. Last but not least, Master of Arena solidified the legacy of Nine-Ball, the final boss of Armored Core 1, as one of if not the most terrifying opponents in the series, thanks to the campaign's focus on defeating him and the nightmarish challenge he poses to the player at every step.
It's one of the best games in the entire series, neck and neck with Silent Line on the PS2, and is my personal favorite out of the series. It's that good.
How are these games gonna be played?
For anybody who remembers, I did a let's play for the original Armored Core that I finished several months ago at 100% completion. My plan is to import that save and use it within Project Phantasma, and then carry that over to Master of Arena. Also like in the original Armored Core I plan to complete these games with 100%. Well, at the very least all of Disc 1 for Master of Arena. Some of that post content can be balls hard and even I haven't completed everything on that second disc. Regardless, both of these games will be 100% completed in some form.
Also there are secret parts in the original Armored Core that you can't get in Project Phantasma without importing a save, which is another small flaw this particular game has. Plus I don't know how to play this game or Master of Arena any other way.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Enter Amber Crown
Chapter 2: Exposition Dump (Arena Ranks #49 - 40)
Chapter 3: Disruption (Arena Ranks #39 - 30)
Chapter 4: VIP (Arena Ranks #29 - 20)
Chapter 5: Destruction (Arena Ranks #19 -10)
Chapter 6: Stinger Returns (Arena Ranks #9 - 5)
Chapter 7: Find Phantasma (Arena Ranks #4 - 1)
Chapter FINAL: The End of Phantasma
Chapter 1: Setting Off for Revenge
Chapter 2: Further Modifications
Chapter 3: (Sub) Arena Registration
Chapter 4: This Game has a Second Disc || EX Chapter 1: Humanoid Legs
Chapter 5: A Stern Warning || EX Chapter 2: Reverse Joint Legs
Chapter 6: We in the Big Leagues Now
Chapter 7: We Fucked Up... || EX Chapter 3: Four Legs
Chapter 8: Life Without Nest Support || EX Chapter 4: Caterpillar
Chapter 9: The Plot Deepens
Chapter 10: Destroy...
Chapter 10.5: ...Nine-Ball
Chapter FINAL: The Other Missions || EX Chapter FINAL: The Other Bonuses