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BulletMagnet avatar 11:54 AM on 02.07.2009  (server time)
Semi-Closing Thoughts on Ar Tonelico II

A few of you read my sorta-impressions of the latest Gust localization a week or two ago – well, now I’ve “finished” the game and figure that I probably ought to add a few additional musings on the title for anyone who might still be curious about trying it. Of course, if there’s anything else that you’d like to know feel free to ask in the Comments section, as I’m always up for spreading relevant info on niche titles. Anyways, my “closing” thoughts on Ar Tonelico II

- As with most any game I play these days, I went through my initial run without using any sort of guide or FAQ – if/when I take another trip through I’ll probably glance at one to see where some of the stuff I missed was. Keep this in mind as I tell you…

- Apparently there are a total of 100 “IPD” Reyvateils that you can find, defeat, and recruit to indirectly help you out – can you guess how many of them I managed to find? If you said “99,” then you already know that this not-quite-success pretty much defines my exploits as a gamer…and possibly as a person. Arrgh. Not like it mattered a heck of a lot, because…

- …the final bosses were HUGE cake walks.

- However, I think that I did manage to obtain all of the Consumable, Ingredient, and Equipment items (anyone who’s ever played a Gust title knows that finding/making all the stuff can get addictive). Unfortunately, this is also semi-spoiled by the fact that I missed ONE dualithnode crystal (used for leveling up some of your party members) – seeing as several of the latter ones you obtain are guarded by high-level IPDs, I’ll bet that wherever she is, the crystal is. But man, I thought I looked everywhere…guess not. Moving on.

- Remember that game-freezing bug that I heard about and passed on to you here (of course you don’t, no one reads those)? Anyways, I finally experienced it for myself, and I have some good and bad news to add – bad news first. Near the end of the game, you have the option to re-fight an earlier boss several times (said boss getting stronger after each defeat) in exchange for a prize – during those fights, there’s a chance that the boss will use a certain attack that will freeze the game and force you to reset the console. This makes obtaining the prize largely a frustrating exercise in dumb luck – although there’s a save point nearby that you can visit after a successful victory, I soon gave up and moved on without finishing the trial. The good news? As mentioned earlier, this fight is, thankfully, optional – while still irritating, at least it’s not a game-breaker. Also, when I fought the boss earlier in the story, I never saw the glitch happen, so it would seem that the problem only applies to the later, skippable fights. I never saw anything similar happen anywhere else in the game, so at least players can rest assured that they can go through it without worrying about not being able to finish. Still, I really hope the QA team keeps a closer eye out next time.

- As in the first game, there’s a pretty nice gallery of stuff opened up after the game is finished – you can listen to any music track, view pretty much any image, watch any movie, re-play any Cosmosphere, and recap just about any data or other information you encountered during your trip through. There’s also a bit of developer commentary on the costumes you’ve found. However…

- If you thought that having to go through the first game twice to see/unlock everything was too much, it looks like you’ll need at least three trips through the sequel to get the “full experience.” This is largely due to the fact that, not only do you choose between two Reyvateils to “follow” a little ways in, but whichever one you don’t follow, you can only make it halfway through her cosmosphere. And then there’s the later-appearing third Reyvateil, to whom the same rules seem to apply – it’d seem that you’d have to purposely refrain from diving very much into the “main” two until the third appears to make it to the latter’s ending. Speaking of which…

- I don’t want to spoil the “main” gist of the ending, but I will say that the door appears to be left open for a direct sequel, since several loose ends look to remain untied for the time being. I guess that the series is successful enough in Japan to warrant this sort of thing…I was surprised enough that this one found its way over here at all, so I can only wonder what the chances are of a sequel a) being made, or b) being localized again…not to mention c) which system it might end up being put on. Guess all I can do is wait and see.

To sum up, despite the sometimes-spotty localization effort by NIS, I quite enjoyed my time with Ar Tonelico II – the battle system is lots of fun, the world is a pretty neat place to get involved in, the presentation impresses (especially for sprite fans like myself), and most of the potentially repetitive bits can be bypassed if you just want to keep moving. That said, players who don’t like reading lots of dialogue are still advised to stay away, as well as those who are put off by an overly “anime-ish” ambience – this isn’t a niche title for nothing. Otherwise, if the quirks and annoyances sound like something you could put up with in exchange for all the cool stuff the game has to offer, consider it the recipient of a BulletMagnet Seal of Approval – if you do end up trying it, I hope you enjoy it!

…oh, and why do I call the content of this article “semi-closing” thoughts? Well, because I do plan, eventually, to go through the game at least once more and see what some of the other paths have to offer, so I don’t consider myself completely “done” with it. However, for the time being the game is going to take a rest on the shelf – when it arrived I was in the middle of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, and I hear it calling my name anew. I do so hate to leave unfinished business lying idle for too long…you understand, don’t you? Of course you do.

Until next time, thanks as always for reading.

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