This console generation hasn’t seen too many quality Japanese RPGs, or many JRPGs in general. Arc Rise Fantasia is here to remedy that and provide a traditional RPG for Wii owners. If you can look past some of the very obvious problems, you’ll find a surprisingly deep RPG with a lot to offer.
The story and characters in Arc Rise are nothing that you haven’t seen before. Your overall goal in the game is to, as expected, save the world from some kind of overwhelming evil that is beginning to take form. Now the world of Fulheim itself is a very beautiful place, but you never get any ensuing sense of danger. It’s a basic, predictable “save the world” story you’ve seen in most JRPGs.
The characters are nothing special either. Each character seems to have one very predictable personality trait that slightly sets him or her apart from the rest, but aside from that, there is nothing that really distinguishes these characters from each other. None of them seem to have any real personality, and they seem to do the dumbest things without any rhyme or reason. Just when you think you have figured a character’s motivations out, he will do something that seems completely out of character.
The game itself looks gorgeous and the music is brilliant, but there is one major problem that holds this game back: the localization. Not only is the game poorly translated, it also has some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard in a video game. It completely takes you out of the experience and it never seems to get any better. Some actors don’t even sound like they are trying most of the time. You’re going to want to turn the voice acting off as soon as you start playing.
Despite all of those complaints, Arc Rise Fantasia does have something good going for it: the gameplay itself. A lot of RPG fans play for the story and characters above all else, but I feel like the battle system alone is enough to make this fun little adventure. It has a pretty traditional battle system, but with enough twists in the already proven formula to make it a more exciting experience for veteran gamers.
You have a three party team and a single AP (or action points) meter shared by all three characters. As you perform various attacks, it empties, and once it hits zero you must end your turn. You can just have one particular character use all of the AP, or share it among your three party members. It leaves a surprising amount of room for strategy. Combine this with the many different magic spells, as well as different monsters you can summon and you have a battle system with a lot of variety in terms of combinations of attacks.
The game can also be pretty difficult, but not unfairly so. As with most JRPGs, there is a bit of level grinding involved, but it never gets old or feels like you need to do it more than a few specific times during the game. Combine that with plenty of variety in the enemies, dungeons, and a fairly lengthy game length and you have an enjoyable game for those Wii owners dying for a new RPG.
Despite the terrible voice acting, horrendous translation and very lackluster story, Arc Rise Fantasia is a solid RPG with plenty to do and a very enjoyable battle system. If this game looks like it may appeal to you, it is at least worth a rental. Look past the flaws and you will find yourself with a solid and lengthy adventure that may surprise you in more ways than one.
Pros: Colorful presentation with great music; very fun battle system; a lengthy adventure that should hold over any RPG fans for a while
Cons: Atrocious voice acting and a terrible translation; forgettable story and characters