Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: Arc Rise Fantasia

I’m going to be straight right off the bat with you, people: I have not been a fan of JRPG’s since, I want to say, Final Fantasy X. So to be playing a true-blue JPRG like Arc Rise Fantasia, which has all the trappings of what you would expect from a game of this genre—big, silly hair, even sillier storyline taken super seriously, turn-based combat—I might not be the best critic in the world to be reviewing this game. But after playing through it, I must say that it’s not bad at all. And if this was, say, the late-90s, when I was really getting into RPGs (As there were no real Western RPGs back then like Fallout 3, say), then I think I would have actually loved this game. But as it stands right now for 2010, it seems a little bit dated in this market, which I guess could be some of its charm, but it’s definitely not for everybody, especially if you’re young and never experienced the JRPGs of the mid 90s that this title is certainly harkening back to.

The story is about L’Arc Bright Lagoon (Come again) who is a mercenary and legionnaire of the Meridian Empire. Well, after falling from a ship and stabbing a dragon in the heart in mid-air (In like, the first five minutes of the game), he comes across Ryfia, “A young Diva” who is like your typical, nondescript female character who doesn’t know anything at all and is basically the sponge that all the information is told to so that you learn the game yourself, too. She’s your healer type character who isn’t all that strong but can fix the other characters up with her magical abilities. It’s all pretty standard stuff that you’d expect from any ‘ol JRPG.

Until it’s not. Now, since I don’t play every JRPG under the rising sun, the story might actually be pretty common-place, but for me, I found myself to actually be pretty surprised by some of the events that happen later in the game, so much so that I was even willing to suffer through some pretty bad voice-acting. And when I say bad, I don’t mean like, “You were almost a Jill Sandwich” bad, or “What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets,” bad, but bad, bad, like, the localization for this game sucks. It’s so sucky, in fact, that I even wanted to put the game on mute a lot of the time as there’s a lot of exposition with appalling voiceovers going on here, but I didn’t because I liked the music so much, which I’m actually surprised was so good. It has a certain quality to it that really engrosses you like only a good RPG can, and it almost makes up for the crummy visuals, which, as expected from a Wii title, are subpar almost to a last gen level.

Also pretty good aside from the music is the combat system. Sure, you can just tap, tap, tap your way to most victories, but what’s interesting is that you can choose which member of your party does all the work, so if you wanted to, you could make one particular character strong and not even deal with the other characters if you don’t want to, which might bite you in the ass later (Especially at some of the hard as nails bosses), but it’s at least nice to have the option. It definitely makes the battles more interesting if you’re willing to fool around with it. The characters are pretty interesting, too, with many of them not being exactly what they seem, but I’ll leave it at that, as the story, silly as it is, is definitely the best thing going for this game as there are a lot of twists. Really, it messed with my head.

So, overall, if you can deal with really bad voice-work, last gen graphics, and a twisty storyline that might mess with your head (But is still too serious for its own good when it’s talking about things like “Lord Knights” and “Feldragons”) then pick this game up. It’s certainly not the worst game to come out for the Wii, and it’s actually a pretty solid RPG. I recommend it.

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