I feel it is my personal mission to talk up niche JRPGs that I think are both going to be a great gaming experience and a great addition to the platform they’ll be released on. Both those are true about Ignition’s upcoming Wii RPG Arc Rise Fantasia, which was developed by Imageepoch and Marvelous Entertainment. Yes, those are the same guys who brought us the Luminous Arc franchise, so this is going to be great, right?
You know what else is cool about Arc Rise Fantasia? There is some great talent involved in the game, such as musical director Yasunori Mitsuda, who worked on, among other titles, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant and Xenogears. Just those five titles create an impressive array of quality work. The game’s director, Hiroyuki Kanemaru, was both a script director and level designer for Namco’s Tales Studio, with credits that include possibly one of the greatest games in that franchise ever – Tales of Symphonia.
Needles to say, Arc Rise Fantasia has a lot going for it right from the beginning. Let’s take a look at the story and philosophy behind the game design a bit, shall we?
In the Meridian Empire there are huge monsters called “containment dragons”. These guys fly around Meridian in huge flocks and cause all sorts of mischief. When one of these beasts is killed, it creates a huge explosion that poisons the surrounding area. Naturally, the people of Meridian have soldiers to keep these dragons at bay as much as possible, so when a flock of them heads to the empire’s capital, those soldiers are sent out, which includes our main character L’Arc, as well as his friend Alf (like the alien?).
During the ensuing battle, L’Arc ends up near death’s door, but is unsurprisingly saved by a girl named Ryfia. That is a very cliché plot development and a very cliché name for a female JRPG character (reminds me of Rydia, of Final Fantasy fame). But, when has cliché ever stopped me before? Sorry, just had to point that out. Needless to say, Ryfia is special, she has the power to control these naturally occurring storms that take the form of luminous rain, called “ley squalls”.
The entire game sees L’Arc attempting to defend his homeland against these dragons, as well as other threats that may possibly be of larger significance. Naturally, he teams up with all sort of trouble in the form of your other party members, each having their own past to deal with and their own motives for helping him along his journey.
Let’s just make one thing clear, though. I may make fun of cliché characters or plot points, but that by no means insinuates that a game is going to be boring or average. I’ve played a lot of RPGs with a lot of cliché characters and had some great experiences with them. Just putting that out there.
The game play is pretty much traditional turn-based JRPG action through and through. This is important because it is what the developers wanted. The director, aforementioned Hiroyuki Kanemaru, said that his influence when it came to working on Arc Rise Fantasia was to have it reminiscent of old-school RPG classics. That, of course, usually means a turn-based, party-centric battle system. That doesn’t bother me any, as I’m a fan of those mechanics, if done correctly.
There is also quite a bit of depth and content here, that will likely keep players attached to their Wii for quite a while. There are side quests galore, from what I understand, as well as other things to find, places to explore and optional bosses to extinguish. This is, of course, all in addition to the main narrative filled with whacky characters to learn about and connect to.
As you may have noticed, the visuals are very anime-inspired, which I enjoy. But there are also fully rendered CGI cut scenes interspersed throughout the game to deliver larger plot points in a more cinematic manner.
One thing I wonder about, though. I assume you can just use a regular controller for this title, like the Wii Classic Controller, instead of using the waggle wand (whether held sideways as a controller or with the nunchuck attachment). I hope so. This means I’ll have to actually purchase a classic controller. Blast!
Arc Rise Fantasia is still listed as being released on July 20, but there are rumors that it was delayed a week, until July 27. Needless to say, the game will bring some much-needed RPG love to Nintendo’s mammoth console. You can also look for the review right here on DualShockers in the coming weeks.
Below I’ve embedded the official English trailer, as well as some game play footage from the Japanese version (which the trailer lacks). Hopefully that will hold you over until later this month!