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Arc Rise Fantasia

Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment USA
Developer: imageepoch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG


Graphics & Sound:

Over the years, there have been a lot of really beautiful RPGs released. So many that really, it has become a standard for RPGs to have to be beautiful with exceptional graphics to be considered good. In that case, Arc Rise Fantasia should be considered excellent. The game is amazingly beautiful with the only drawback being that it is for the Wii. Quite a few times, I found myself begging for it to be released on the 360 or the PS3 just so I could see all the beauty in full splendor.

Everything in Arc Rise Fantasia is full of so much color that I was waiting on it to pop off the screen and come to life. Every little detail down to a character's necklace was perfectly coordinated, and there was a lot to coordinate. Quite a few of the villages have a tailor where you can buy different outfits for your characters. Granted, these outfits only show up in the Menu Screen and a few cutscenes, but they're still quite fun to play with and see. Right now, I have 37 outfits total, so that's quite a few different looks.

While playing Arc Rise Fantasia, I've had two different people in the house with me comment on how nice the music was. They were enjoying just listening to me play because the background music is so engaging. Just like with the graphics, every little detail has been taken into account. When your character steps off of the grass and onto a sidewalk, you'll hear the difference in their steps. Each person has their own unique way of speaking and sound quite different from each other. You really see them all as their own individual person rather than just a generic videogame character.


Gameplay:

Arc Rise Fantasia opens quite explosively with our hero fighting a feldragon. After he beats it, the dragon is about to explode into a felburst. Out of nowhere, a mysterious singing girl appears and just makes the dragon vanish before it explodes. She says that she is a Diva and her name is Ryfia. She's obviously unlike anyone he's ever met before and L'Arc has no clue how to deal with her. L'Arc is our hero. Since he doesn't really know what else to do with Ryfia, and she did save his life when she stopped the dragon from exploding, he takes her with him. Their first stop is Topazion. We learn that Ryfia is from Benetnasch, in the Turemilian Republic, way far away and enemies of the Empire that L'Arc serves. It was her mother's dying wish for Ryfia to go to Jada, so she's headed there. In Topazion, they run into Alf, the prince of the Empire and L'Arc's best friend. It's Alf's idea to take Ryfia with them, since Jada is on the way back to the Royal City anyway.

From here, things are going to start getting really complex. We find out that L'Arc is pretty darn special since he is the Child of Eesa and so is Ryfia since she is the Imaginal Diva (which is much like a priestess). Ryfia's purpose in life is to find the Child of Eesa and lead him to his destiny under Imaginal's Law. Unfortunately, that's not going to be as easy as it sounds when it is revealed that there is another Child of Eesa who is being lead by Real's Diva to make Real's Law come to pass. Sound complicated? Be prepared that almost no one in Arc Rise Fantasia turns out to be the person you thought they were and you never know who is working for who. This game pits sibling against sibling and friend against friend, all trying to figure out who is following the right path. At this point, I'm a bit over 30 hours into the game and I have a feeling that it still has quite a few more secrets to reveal. I love that it is continually revealing new information keeping the game new and fresh, which is why I'm not telling you any more of the story so that it's new and fresh when you get there!

As you're roaming around, always looks for sparkly spots as they provide things that you need. Usually it is maps, but sometimes it's other story components. Also look everywhere for ??? to appear at the top of the screen. That shows that there's something hidden there to search for. I like that when you lose a character due to some turn of events (which happens in all RPGs so nothing given away here), it pulls their orbs off for you. So if you had beefed them up magically, you don't end up losing those orbs with the character.

There are several additional elements to Arc Rise Fantasia. There are additional side quests that you can do for the guilds. If you're going to do the guild jobs, I recommend doing them as soon as they become available. Otherwise, by the time you can get back to some places, the monsters you have to kill are so easy that you get so little experience that it's not worth it. Since you have to clear out some jobs to get the next one, I just recommend that you take care of them quickly. The weapon system is a totally separate thing. At first, I was really confused since the weapons don't have a specific attack value. Instead, they have a grid with Tetris-like pieces attached. When you first get the weapons, these pieces are locked. The more you use it though, it gains weapon points. When you get enough of these weapon points, it'll unlock the pieces from the weapon and expand the grid so it is all useable. You can pull these pieces off of anyone's weapons after they're unlocked and mix and match them to create the perfect weapon. When you fill up the entire grid exactly, you'll unlock the weapon's secret bonus as well. You need to figure out the weapons early and start unlocking pieces so that you're not running around wasting time just trying to level your weapons!


Difficulty:

Arc Rise Fantasia is one of the more difficult RPGs that I have played in a while, at least when it comes to boss battles for two reasons. First, as a general rule, the main bosses are difficult. You'll have to plan out what you're going to do very carefully and figure out very quickly what type of magic or physical attack works best against them. I think I've lost more boss battles in Arc Rise Fantasia than I have in a long time, one of them 3 or 4 times. Granted I didn't have to win that particular battle, but I wasn't going on until I did! Second, there are quite a few optional bosses and you have no warning on most of them when you're about to run into them. They look like the normal enemies you're fighting in the area except they are a slightly different color. Granted, you are usually able to beat them with any combination of the characters in your party, but I highly recommend that you keep all your characters leveled appropriately.

One of the things that I really like about Arc Rise Fantasia is that they make it easy to figure out where you need to go at any time. The world map is really easy to use, as long as you keep your directions straight. You can easily see where you are on the map and where you need to be going. Granted, in the dungeons you usually don't get the map of them until you've gotten to the end of it the first time, but I was quite happy to have the maps after that for when you need to run back through them. If at any time you forget what you're supposed to be doing, like when you have to stop playing for the night, simply pause the game (press the (+) button) and it'll tell you what you're supposed to be doing in the bottom left. I really found that to be quite handy sometimes so that I didn't run around aimlessly!


Game Mechanics:

Arc Rise Fantasia is a turn-based RPG. Each turn, you are given a specific number of action points based on the characters in the party. These action points are shared between your party for whatever you want to make them do. If you want just one character to do all the work, you can do that if you choose. Personally, I don't recommend that though as it will take longer and the enemies will hit you more. It's up to you to work out what you want each character to do on each turn because literally every action, even moving, takes at least 1 action point. It's actually quite easy once you get used to it though!

As the game goes, you'll notice that things pop up on the bottom right of the screen. When they do, press (2) for these conversations (just like in Tales of Vesperia). Usually they're just funny quips but sometimes, they give you background information about the characters and the story. When you need to save the game, you can save at any point on the world map. Inside the dungeons and the cities, you'll need to find a save point. The blue save points just save the game. The green ones will heal you as well as saving the game, so they're extra nice! If you want to, you can skip the cutscenes. Just pause the game and hit (A) to skip the scenes. When you're trying for the third time to beat a boss, you really don't want to see all those scenes again.

Arc Rise Fantasia is the absolute most addictive RPG I've played in a very long time, possibly ever. Every time I've turned it on just to look up something for this review, I get sucked back in and next thing I know, 4 hours have passed and I haven't written anything. The story progresses at just a perfect pace so that it's not too quick and it's never so slow that you get bored. The gameplay is perfect. If you like RPGs, you must go get Arc Rise Fantasia today. Even if you don't own a Wii, go buy one just to play this game!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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