Game Review

Arc Rise Fantasia Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

A bit too typical for its own good

To say that the Wii has been a bit lacking in the role-playing game department would be a gross understatement. Not only have there been very few releases for the genre, the few we have seen haven't exactly offered much to get excited about. With Arc Rise Fantasia, Ignition Entertainment are looking to change all that. And while the game certainly offers up a very typical JRPG experience, you can't help but feel like it's something you've already seen and played many times before.

The first thing you'll notice about Arc Rise Fantasia is the way it never strays too far from the typical Japanese RPG formula we've been seeing now for the past 25 years. You'll do most of your traveling across a glorified world map, doing battle with enemies in order to gain experience points and money for your party. Along the way you'll come upon various villages and cities where you'll be able to spend said money, not to mention take on the various quests involved in each area that generally unfold sections of the overall adventure. If it all sounds overly familiar, that's because, for the most part, it is.

Combat is handled in standard turn-based fashion, but the game does introduce a few gameplay twists here and there, although they too will seem like something you've experienced in other popular RPG franchises throughout the years with other names attached to them. During each round of a fight your characters are allotted a certain number of Attack Points to work with. Each action, whether it be attacking, casting magical spells, or even using a particular item, takes a certain number of AP, so you'll have to make use of them wisely if you're to have any success during some of the game's tougher battles. You'll even be able to choose which characters will attack and which ones stand back and watch, and also move them around in order to avoid devastating enemy attacks. It may sound a bit complicated, but it does add a nice added layer of strategy to the battles, which is certainly a good thing considering how often you'll find yourself in combat situations given the game's sometimes lofty level grinding requirements.

Another unique feature of the game involves your character's weapons. Not only will you be able to outfit your characters with new weapons as you visit new cities and towns, but you'll also be able to unlock special powers contained with them. You can even transfer some of these special powers over to another weapon if you so choose. As if that weren't enough, you'll also be able to level up the weapon in much the same way you do the attributes of your characters themselves. You'll quickly find that outfitting your characters and leveling them up play a key role in your survival, especially given the rather sharp spikes in difficulty you'll encounter during your travels.

Even with the few gameplay twists the game offers, it still comes off a tad bit generic at times. So many of the mechanics are basically just rehashes of what we've already seen many times in other RPGs, and some of the fresher ideas, like the ability to allow the characters to fight their own battles using various tactics, feel like they rely too much on blind luck and tend to take too much control out of the player's hands to be of any enjoyment or help. The controls themselves work quite well and are laid out intuitively on the various controllers, and fans of the Classic Controller will certainly appreciate the option of using it rather than the standard Wii Remote/Nunchuck combination generally forced upon players.

From a visuals standpoint, the presentation in Arc Rise Fantasia tends to be a double-edged sword. On one hand you'd be hard-pressed to find a more vibrant and lush world in a Wii title, but it seems the more the developers try to push the console, the more flicker and jagged edges ensue. This tends to be further compounded by the fact that the characters themselves are quite a bit less detailed and almost look out of place against some of the gorgeous backdrops they often find themselves set against. It's still nice to see a developer try to push the console graphically, but perhaps a bit more polish for a little less detail might have been a better trade-off.

Musical scores have become a very integral part of an RPG experience nowadays, but they also tend to be rather hit or miss when it comes to overall quality. The beautifully orchestrated music throughout Arc Rise Fantasia is not only extremely moving, but also does an amazing job of conveying the varying moods of the game. It doesn't hurt that the quality seems to only increase the farther into the game you progress. Of course, this wonderful soundtrack also tends to highlight the rather bland voiced dialogue and make it that much more painful to endure at times. While the dialogue itself is well written, the acting does little to convey it with any type of conviction or feeling, which is disappointing considering the engrossing storyline it attempts to portray.


Arc Rise Fantasia does pretty much everything you'd expect a Japanese RPG to do - problem is, it doesn't do much beyond that. While the game does introduce a few unique twists here and there, they tend to be heavily overshadowed by the game's sharp difficulty spikes and hefty doses of level grinding. RPG fans will still likely find plenty to enjoy with the game, but that's only if they can keep their expectations in check and just enjoy the game for the rather typical RPG experience it offers up.

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User Comments (61)



FonistofCruxis said:

How good is the storyline and characters? If it's good, is it ruined by the terrible voice acting?



Oregano said:

Will have to do until The Last Story and Xenoblade(it's coming over damnit!) I suppose.



jaw51 said:

I guess I'll wait for a price drop on this one. I really enjoy JRPGs, but like Oregano said with The Last Story and (hopefully) Xenoblade coming up, I don't know if I want to spend the full 40$ on this.



Hokori said:

Ill wait on this I also have to get Xenoblade and The Last Story.



Sean_Aaron said:

Whilst I do want to get a shot at this in the UK, it would be nice if someone expended the effort to get better quality voice-actors as that sounds like something fixable. If there's an option to hear original dialogue with subtitles I think that would certainly address the concerns of many.



Varoennauraa said:

I don't care for mediocre reviews, but this game is pure generic mediocrenes. It reeks of bland tastelesnes so bad, that it makes me angry Lets pass this to make sure, that even the typical j-rpg's get better and more personal. There are more promising j-rpg's coming(understatement of the year, I expect them to make Wii the best j-rpg -console of this gen)



WhiteTrashGuy said:

Too bad. I play most of my RPGs on the DS anyway. This generation has been pretty lame for console RPGs. FALLOUT and OBLIVION are amazing, but most of the classic turn-based action sucks. Yeah, I just play RPGs on my DS........



JayArr said:

Too bad they screwed up the pacing. Unless the story is really gripping, I will end up losing interest if I hit too many grinding walls.



AVahne said:

I'll pick it up eventually, since it's pretty cheap. Wish it had Tales of Symphonia's voice acting, I freaking love Emil's and Marta's voice actors.



nintendogamerftw said:

7 sounds about right from what you mentioned in the review. Doesn't stop me from buying it though. I should mention you can turn off the voice acting if you choose.



TwilightV said:

I wouldn't expect anything but mediocre (God I hate that word...) from Namco Bandai from now on. At least in the US. >: (



CanisWolfred said:

If it's only problem is that it does nothing new, as far as I'm concerned, it does nothing wrong at all. I'll be getting it.



naut said:

I dunno, I was hoping this one would be something special. I'm playing through Grandia right now. THERE'S an example of an awesome RPG, I tell you what.



CanisWolfred said:

The problem is consoles this gen lack any classic Turn-based RPGs, so a game that doesn't suck ballocks is worth grabbing if you ask me.



MeloMan said:

Every now and then I like a little gerneric-25-years-ago-JRPG action, so a 7/10 is not bad at all... it's what I expected from this game TBH. Since Tales of Graces seems to have fallen off the N. Amer. map for the Wii (Anybody there Namco-Bandai...???) I guess this game will have to suffice until Xenoblade and The Last Story appear.



WolfRamHeart said:

According to the review, this still sounds like a pretty good game to me. The only thing that I would probably have a problem with is the terrible voice acting but I can deal with that. It isn't like I haven't heard badly voiced dialogue in a game before. I also have no problem with the fact that this game is just a typical RPG. I wasn't expecting anything groundbreaking or earthshattering. If I stopped playing RPGs because they weren't constantly doing something new and innovative then I would have quit ages ago. I would have missed out on a lot of great games too. I will still be getting this game.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@Mickeymac: I couldn't agree more. In their rush to make something new, they often make something that just isn't as interesting or fun. I'm always glad to see companies go the classic route of game design.

That said, I likely won't be getting this. My plate's MORE than full with other games right now.



Corbs said:

My biggest knocks on the game are the sharp difficulty spikes at many of the bosses and the rampant need to grind. While these things don't bother me very much, they will likely bother others even more, so I thought it worth mentioning and knocking the score down a bit. Still, it's a fun RPG and worth a try for fans of the genre who can overlook those minor flaws.



SilverBaretta said:

Oddly enough, the RPGs I enjoy the most (that aren't in real-time) are generic ones. They give me a feeling of old-school not seen in a lot of today's RPG/JRPGs. I like to know that it's an RPG I'm playing, not one trying to disguise itself as an action game. But all in all, Corbie, good review.



odd69 said:

I actually like level grinding in my JRPG's, building my character's stats, sometimes it can be tedious but i love that aspect in a game especially in RPG's.



gaminguy said:

might rent ir wait fior a price drop, as htere seems to be games I want more out there, and if I wantt a rpg, ill go dq 9 first



CanisWolfred said:


...that's subjective man. You may like the characters he didn't. He may say it's the best story ever when you'd say it's the worst. You can't really go off of what he says, and Corbie knows it.


I like Grinding, too, so long as it doesn't take me more than an hour to get to the next level.



FonistofCruxis said:

@mickeymac I guess you're right but he didn't mention the storyline or characters at all. If he didn't want to say give his opinions on the story and characters, her could've just said what it was about without giving his opinion.



SwerdMurd said:

might get it when it's cheap--i don't need anymore average RPGs. Played enough of those since the Baten Kaitos series ended (I want BK3)



IronMan28 said:

I just hope Last Story comes out in the U.S. I also hope it lives up to it's promise of being awesome. I might buy Arc Rise if I can find it for $20 or so, though.



timp29 said:

Damn beaten to the underboob comment. My perv skills are clearly waning



Corbs said:

I just missed your questions mariofanatic, sorry about that. I normally don't mention storyline-related stuff because it really involves far too much opinion and varies so significantly between individual reviewers. As I mentioned in the review, the storyline is engrossing, just don't expect anything you haven't seen before.

Same with the characters, their voice acting isn't very convincing, but they serve their purpose fairly well. A good RPG, but very "vanilla" in feel.

It probably didn't help that I played this one shortly after finishing up Dragon Quest IX, plus the fact that this game isn't on par with Dragon Quest IX in just about any facet of the game. Think of it this way: In terms of overall quality, Dragon Quest IX is Coca Cola and Arc Rise Fantasia is more along the lines of that generic cola you get from Walmart or Sam's Club.



RowdyRodimus said:

Cool...But I only purchase games that are rated 9.9 and higher and that I see everyone else buying.



Adam said:

About what I expected. I'll pick it up if I ever find it for $14.



Vinsanity said:

This game looks awful. I got nothing against traditional JRPGs, but they gotta have good characters and stories. Like a Dragon Quest or Eternal Sonata - the turn based combat and overworld exploration are just gameplay mechanics with which to hinge your story that's hopefully worth telling. Look at any trailer for Arc Rise, and you can see that this story is NOT worth telling - not by a long shot.
It's the kind of mediocre, derivative, Bleach-level anime sh*t that is literally just recycling TYPES OF CHARACTERS from countless other mediocre Japanese creations, instead of actually writing characters. Also, of course, the voice acting is exacerbating things, but I won't blame Ignition for not having the money to toss around recklessly like Square-Enix - you can always just mute 'em.
But seriously, the story looks so not worth it, and the combat is never a selling point, which means the game sort of just exists. Unless it's Dragon Quest, none of these traditional JRPGs have refined the standard gameplay mechanics enough to actually be fun. For example, turn based combat - when mired in fancy cutscenes, it takes too long, and becomes a slog. Arc Rise is THAT kinda JRPG.
So, y'know: not my kinda game Power to you if you enjoy it - I got nothing against supporting Ignition! But I'll be way more interested in their other games this year, like El Shaddai for PS3.



rwq said:

Is there an option to get japanese speech in this game? (with english subs). I can never stand the american voice actors, and even tho i don't speak a word of japanese the feeling in the speech tends to be a lot different (worse) after english dubbing.

Thats something i would like for nintendolife reviews in general actually, what languages are supported for text/audio.

Also i can't wait for the other JRPG titles, finally good RPG's for wii!



Rerun said:

I'd buy this game since I like JRPGs in general. I won't pay full price though.



EarthViper said:

"To say that the CURRENT GENERATION has been a bit lacking in the role-playing game department would be a gross understatement. Not only have there been very few releases for the genre, the few we have seen haven't exactly offered much to get excited about."

Fixed. I'll never get why so many people like to call out the Wii for something this whole generation is guilty of. (Disclaimer: I'm referring to Console Style RPG's, I am aware that the Wii is behind the PS360 in terms of WRPGs)

I'll pick this game up way before I buy the next JRPG that tries to needlessly re-invent the wheel and fail miserably. Honestly, it's become a cliche to call JRPG's cliche.



rjejr said:

This is possibly an Amazon gold box deal today so I thought I'ld come here to read the reviews - I dismissed it when it came out, busy playing FF13, which I really didn't like but wanted to finish it, but probably never will.

I have to say I'm really in the mood for an old style JRPG after FF13, FFCC:CB and Baten Kaitos 2 which I finally got around to playing. This console generation really hasn't caught up to the last, or even the one before that, where JRPGs are concerned.



jakerhodes said:

Still no news on a UK release date?

I was hoping to pick this up for Christmas but I guess that's not going to happen now.



GreenBanana said:

I don't like JRPGs, but I do like that they tend to look more vibrant than the gritty, boring LotR-ness of exploitative American takes on video gaming genres. Unfortunately, money's real tight among the non-bourgeoisie and sacrifices have to be made. Anyways, if there's a lack of games on the Wii, consider two things: The statistical ratios of all Wii releases as well as the fact that games only get released if developers decide to make them. I wish video games were more like books, where there's a lot more leniency for artistic expression.

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