'Arc Rise Fantasia' retrofits the Wii with a new J-RPG for gamers to sink their loot grinding teeth into. As you uncover the mysteries of Fulheim by bringing a light of hope to a dying world, 'Arc Rise Fantasia' will tug on your heart strings, test your patience, and bring back fond memories of nostalgia. The adventure might not be as epic as the greats, but hey, it's better than nothing.

'Arc Rise Fantasia' is paint by numbers J-RPG in the purest of sense, and depending on your love for this classic formula, you will either love or hate this game. Starting with the soft orchestrated intro playing over the opening cinematic filled with airships and spiky haired characters holding giant swords, 'Arc Rise Fantasia' kicks off this opus of nostalgia with an obligatory big opening battle that turns into a mysterious meeting of chance. Clearly an everyday occurrence in the world of J-RPG's.

This generic start should give you a hint of how the rest of the game will go. Like expected, 'Arc' is just another variation on all the J-RPG's that have come before it. This adventure includes everything you would expect from the slowly paced dialog, poor (or overacted) voice acting, strange encounters, turned-based battles, stat building, odd creatures, and so on. Like I mentioned above, 'Arc Rise Fantasia' is easily a love or hate endeavor, and you have never been a fan of turned-based Japanese role-playing games, stay away from this one because it's not going to sway your perception. If you swing on the other side of the pendulum you will likely enjoy everything 'Arc Rise Fantasia' has to offer.

"The Devil Beats His Wife" Huh?
Almost becoming ubiquitous, the narrative is very cliched and bland, with some off-beat dialog lines to boot. It is almost like the localization was a little off especially when you hear lines like "the devil may be beating his wife" when a character is explaining rain. Yes, rain... like raindrops, water, etc... you get the picture. This only hurts the effort to draw you into this world and you likely be shaking your head after hearing some of this material. Nevertheless a little bit of the "strange" is expected and doesn't totally kibosh the entire story.

The driving narrative behind 'Arc' takes place in the world of Fulheim. A world filled with magic that totters on the brink of collapse from a negative force. Under the threat from Hozone Crystallization, it is up to you (main protagonist L'Arc) to save the land from global turmoil and restore harmony within the world. Sounds like a honest days work, and why not, what else do these spiked hair kids do anyway? Just don't expect miricles within this tale of good vs. evil, but it should be clean cut enough to push to explore the majority of the game.

Only on the Wii
As you might suspect, ‘Arc Rise Fantasia’ doesn’t take advantage of the Wii motion controls, which is likely a good thing. This game can be played with your Wiimote/Nunchuck combo, standard Wii controller (remember that thing?) or your old Gamecube controller-- the last two being the best option. This might make you wonder why the developers targeted the Wii console?! Now, don't take it the wrong way, I am not complaining about 'Arc' being on the Wii, it's actually one the best aspects about the game. As you Wii owners probably know, there is a lack of J-RPG's or in-depth games for the system, so anything that doesn't involve "wagging" your arms around like a madman is a good thing. If you get into this one, then your Wii will be permanently free of dust..., for a few weeks at least.

In perspective, you also have to consider the production values in 'Arc.' This game is very dated, which would only be highlighted as a blemish on the other HD systems. Someone has to house these “older looking” games, and the Wii is the perfect fit. I overhaul of the graphics would have been nice, since they are overly blocky and blurry, but hey, it’s not a perfect world, and you have to take what you can get.

The sound contribution is better then the dated look of the graphics, which helps pull it out of the bargain bin. The musical score by Yasunori Mistsuda (Xenogears, Chrono Trigger) and crew has its moments filling in the traditional soundscape you would expect. The voice-work falls a little more on downside, but as a whole turns out to be average. The performances are wish washy at times, which can be a little annoying over time. Given the characters personalities, it all kind of works, but really, why not switch things up? Why not give us someone other than the dumfounded girl and the naive headstrong hero. Change, it does a body good.


Arc Rise Fantasia

Marvelous Ent.

July '10