hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: Arc Rise Fantasia

2:00 PM on 07.27.2010 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

As the Wii library expands and amasses progressively more "hardcore" game experiences, it begins to resemble a PlayStation 2 more with each passing day. That image is helped with the number of traditional Japanese roleplaying games that have been popping into the pipeline lately.

Arc Rise Fantasia is one of three significant JRPGs that have been readying themselves for a Wii release, along with Xenoblade and The Last Story. It's also the first one out of the door, launching in North America while the others still haven't confirmed a Western release. 

So, as the first major JRPG to hit the Wii this year, does Arc Rise Fantasia have what fans are looking for, or would they be better off waiting for something else? Read on for our review.

Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii)
Developer: Imageepoch, Marvelous Entertainment
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Released: July 27, 2010
MSRP: $39.99

Arc Rise Fantasia tells the story of a mercenary called L'arc Bright Lagoon (seriously) and a prince called Alf (seriously) who become sort-of Jesus Christ and fight with a God while trees turn into crystals (seriously). In case you haven't guessed, this is a JRPG storyline through and through. Silly, convoluted, yet taking itself absolutely seriously, Arc Rise has a narrative that only this type of game could get away with. 

Surprisingly, it's actually not terrible either. While it lacks any real emotional impact, the story is a pretty decent yarn, especially as the game rises in tempo roughly ten or so hours into the experience. There are the obligatory plot twists and a number of characters even risk being rather interesting. At one's most negative, you could say that Arc Rise Fantasia's plot is no worse than any other RPG's and sometimes it almost becomes a bit better than the norm.

Any good the story does, however, is quickly undone by one major flaw -- the absolutely atrocious localization. Whoever they got to provide the voices in Arc Rise, I can tell you right now that they weren't actors. Lines are delivered by people who make it abundantly clear that they don't care, making dramatic scenes instantly feel flat and dull. It's frustrating to finally reach a climactic moment and fail to enjoy it because the actors ruin the mood with their apathetic delivery and inability to convey more than one emotion. To its credit, you can mute the voices, but silencing the game completely isn't an answer as far as I am concerned, and the localizers ought to feel ashamed of setting the whole game back. 

There's not even a Japanese voice option. That would have been something.

With the story undermined, it all hinges on the gameplay, and Arc Rise plays it safe with a game that never veers from the beaten RPG path. Everything that has come to define the genre is found in Arc Rise Fantasia -- turn-based combat, grinding, optional quests, a world map, towns with new weapons, it's all preserved like a time capsule in ARF, and I actually approve. In many ways, Arc Rise's total lack of ambition is its saving grace. There are no convoluted gimmicks or needlessly complicated leveling system. It's unpretentious and familiar RPG fun, and that's just fine. 

That's not to say there aren't a few little twists. For one, all characters in a battle share a pool of Action Points rather than take individual turns, which allows for a level of strategy. For instance, you can have one character use all the points to attack solo, or share the AP equally. After a few hours, the party earns the ability to chain attacks together to create more damaging blows, making for extra strategic uses of AP. When conditions are right, characters can also sneak in additional attacks, allowing players who are spatially aware to make quick work of common enemies. Nothing Arc Rise does is revolutionary, but the blending of traditional turn-based combat and light strategic elements at least makes every battle just that bit more interesting. 

The use of positioning, timing and stacking is central to Arc Rise Fantasia, especially since enemies can stack their moves as well. Having to think just a little bit more about each battle is one thing that really helps the game along, despite the combat being inherently pedestrian.

The weapon system also keeps ARF  more engrossing than it otherwise would be. Weapons don't have inherent attack values on their own, but rather contain special enhancements and abilities. Some of these enhancements are passive, such as stat boosts and special attack effects, while some of them grant new selectable moves. When these weapons are leveled up with Weapon Points earned after battle, the special abilities become unlocked and can then be shifted to other weapons to create an inherently more powerful armament. The only real drawback to weapon customization is the rather poor menu layout, which makes the moving of abilities far more complicated and hard to keep track of than it ever needed to be. 

One major flaw in the gameplay is the random difficulty spiking that occurs. A lot of Arc Rise is pretty easy, and it should be impossible to die at the hands of common enemies without trying to do so. However, the game is a big fan of throwing totally unexpected and powerful bosses at the party, sometimes at the end of a dungeon without a nearby save point. It's a common and rather petty tactic employed by JRPGs to create a forced sense of difficulty and it's simply not welcome. Losing a considerable amount of progress because the game randomly felt like notching up the difficulty several places isn't really fun, and it's a shame that Arc Rise felt it necessary. 

When the game isn't employing cheap "get hard quick" schemes, however, what we have is a very competently presented, well crafted roleplaying game that never tries to starts a revolution, but never sets it back. From its anime look to its conventional combat system, Arc Rise Fantasia is a game that most certainly wouldn't look out of place in the PlayStation 2's library, and I don't mean that as an insult. I actually respect that. Arc Rise Fantasia doesn't apologize for being a straight laced JRPG simply concentrates on giving fans of the genre what they like. 

It's just a shame that the localization was so badly done. With better efforts made for the Western market, this could have been a truly great RPG, but the voice actors somehow manage to make the story seem more boring and absurd than it actually is. Deep down in Arc Rise's narrative are some pretty damn interesting themes of religious intolerance and segregation, but most gamers won't read that deeply into it thanks to the shoddy Western performances.

As it stands, Arc Rise Fantasia still manages to be pretty good. If you can ignore the acting, then what you have is a solid JRPG that remains enjoyable throughout and has enough to satisfy fans of good old fashioned roleplayers without the frills and complications that many developers desperately include nowadays in a desperate bid to appear "innovative."

Arc Rise Fantasia is the perfect RPG to play "between" RPGs. Something to pick up before the next big AAA experience hits and scratch an itch that one gets during the genre's common dry periods. You'll not have your jaw drop in amazement, but you'll leave the experience with a feeling that you've not had your time thoroughly wasted, and that's an accomplishment in its own right with JRPGs these days.

Score: 7.0 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)




Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I was just accosted by the most gorgeous cosmetics saleswoman with an adorable Hatian-Creole accent. It's not often my attention gets that immersed in a total bullshit sales pitch. Well, that and I didn't want her to let go of my arm.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
My son just washed my Majora's Mask NEW 3DS because the screen was dirty. Bahahaha *cries uncontrollably*
Flegma avatarFlegma
Ever thought of skipping a console generation (and not upgrading PC for years, either) because of how big your pile of shame is? I'm doing that just now.
Tenzan  avatarTenzan
Apparently there are cancellations on the CE versions of MGSV:TTP from Europe and North America. People getting emails saying they are cancelled and such. On top of that is that there's been unboxings that don't have the extras for the Day One edition.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I've been mad at myself all morning for missing the apostrophe in "I'll" on my Quickpost last night, but it turns out that apostrophes just don't show up on the feed! Isn't that the bee's knees?
Perro avatarPerro
Playing through Skies of Arcadia Legends right now. Bringing this to Steam or current gen in HD seems like a no-brainer. Make it so, Sega!
Kris S avatarKris S
Fassbender looks awesome. A not shit game adaption? We will see
Nathan D  avatarNathan D
Just found out that Third Impact in The End of Evangelion took place on my birthday. I'm freaking out right now.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Man at Arms did the Geralt Witcher's Swords ! [youtube]https://youtu.be/HJZekaPAd_M[/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
3:16 MIKA, DO YOU SMELL WHAT THE BOW IS COOKING?
Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
Welcome back to Street Fighter, Rainbow Mika! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbDSvRMc9rQ
pixelrock avatarpixelrock
Jumpy Wall, my first game, is coming to the iOS App Store this September [img]http://i.imgur.com/oHAWJuC.gif?1[/img] See the trailer [youtube]https://youtu.be/Q1GKzQTiDtY[/youtube] or [url="http://jumpywall.com"]jumpywall.com[/url] for more.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Looking for a good book? Defending Jacob by William Landay is fantastic. Couldn't put it down.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Have you played Vampire Hunter D on Ps1 ? [youtube]https://youtu.be/XdMxdMIXFCI[/youtube] A cool game , very hard last boss.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Please be gentle Shiek. I want a character who's actually good at neutral for once.
Shinta avatarShinta
[youtube]https://youtu.be/SivYdHmSBc0[/youtube] Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. I am loving this lol. Supposedly will be on Grimes' next album.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
[url="http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/08/rumour_fresh_sources_suggest_shovel_knight_is_indeed_digging_his_way_to_super_smash_bros"]Exciting rumors of Shovel Knight arriving in Smash have surfaced![/url] Get those salt shakers ready!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Mr. Cordoba knows a lot about CSS, so I asked him to give us a touch-up job. Here's an early sneak peek at the next big Dtoid update: Drop us a note in the comments! [url]http://www.raulcordoba.com/dtoid/[/url]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I'll never get how making an inanimate object or a plant look like an animal or just alive somehow is considered more "out of ideas" than just an animal being an animal. That seems more like the opposite of being "out of ideas" to me.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I don't hate spiders because they look weird and scary, but because they put their webs in places I commonly walk through. It gets all over my face and hair and getting it out makes me look crazy to everyone else.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -