zh666's Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii) review

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Arc Rise Fantasia is addicting and fun.

 I've played a ton of RPG's on the Wii (read my past reviews), and I still own a bunch I haven't even started yet or barely scratched the surface with (Muramasa, Chocobo's Dungeon, Shiren the Wanderer, Baroque, Sakura Wars, etc).  On top of that, I've played a ton of 360 RPGs, PS2 RPGs, SNES RPGs, PS1 RPGs, etc.  I'm pretty well experienced in the RPG genre.  I'm obviously not RPG starved.  I could be playing any RPG out there right now.  I have the money, I have the time, and I have all the systems I want.  Just because I choose to play Arc Rise Fantasia right now, doesn't mean I was desperately looking for something to play on the Wii or I was desperate to play a J-RPG.  I own hundreds of JRPGs and more Wii games I can shake a stick at.  I wanted to play Arc Rise Fantasia.  People keep making excuses about this game, and talking themselves out of it.  I don't get it.

With that said.  I had a blast with Arc Rise Fantasia.  It doesn't do everything right, but it does have an awesome battle system, great music, a fun world, lots of sidequests, and addicting level systems. While the plot was uninspired, it does feature enough twists and turns to keep you interested.  The characters might suck but the quirky dialog helps that out a bit.  It gets all the important things right.  

I had a ton of fun with the game, and nearly put 80 hours into it.  There were enough addicting elements to the gameplay, and the fun battle system really shined.  It's a really fun RPG, so give it a shot.  

----------Battle System----------
Arc Rise Fantasia is a turn-based RPG with a bunch of twists for flavor.  There are three playable characters, and sometimes you'll have a fourth tag-along character but you can't control the 4th.  Each of the three party members you are able to control has a total amount of AP.  When each character joins your team, each AP is tallied up.  The AP are Action Points, and each move you make during battle sucks up a small amount of AP.  You can divy up the AP among any member of your party during battle which ever way you want.  For example, you can have L'Arc use every move in battle if you want.  

Arc Rise Fantasia has a pretty fresh system through out most of the game because of the constant stream of new ideas they throw at you.  The battle system seems very simlar and tame for the first hour or so, then they add Magic.  Then the next hour they might had Summons.  Then the next hour you'll gain the ability to use Crystal multipliers.  Then you'll get the ability to combo attack.  It's just a constant stream of ideas that keep the system fresh through out the game.  That's what I loved the most about Arc Rise Fantasia.  

Then there's the weapon system.  Unlike most RPGs, Weapons don't give you better strength or magic.  All the weapons in Arc Rise Fantasia are unique to each character, and there can only been one weapon in your inventory at once.  So that means the weapons are collectibles.  The only reason you want to equip them (since they don't give you stats) is because of their random stat boost abilities.  Each weapon is equipped with one or two stat or ability boosting items.  For example, one weapon will have a "HP + 200" item attached to it.  Or Ryfria's rod will have "Speed Casting" attached to hers.  

On top of this, each weapon gains experience and levels.  Each weapon also houses a new ability you can learn too.  Once you max out your levels on your weapon, you can equip abilities that you already learned.  So, with this, you can form your characters however you want.  This simple and addicting gameplay mechanic reminds me of Final Fantasy 12 with it's chart board.  Everyone character was a blank slate until you open up their charts.  Arc Rise Fantasia is pretty similar to that.

Magic system is pretty different too, but highly important for boss battles.  Everyone has a blank slate of magic.  You can equip Magic Orbs to characters, and this gives them their magic abilities.  A Fire Orb will give a character the ability to use Fire Magic.  The only way to upgrade this is by going to a shop (Final Fantasy 1 style) and upgrade the magic's power, and how many orbs you can use.  The more Orb slots you can open, the more Orbs you cane equip.  You can technically equip more than 1 Fire Orb, and give your Fire magic a boost.  Or you can equip random Magic Orbs to be a more well rounded Magic User.  It's all up to your choice.

One of the notable things about Arc Rise Fantasia is the tough boss battles.  While it's true that this game can go from "easy to hard" without a warning, they do give you enough hints when you're about to reach a boss.  Not always, but most of the time.  So this gives you enough of a chance to prepare for them.  On most occasions they even toss out a save point before a boss, not everytime but most.  

The bosses can be extremely difficult if you're not prepared for them though.  As I said earlier, your characters are as strong as the weapon abilities you apply to them.  What armor and what accessory you equip them are also a factor.  Most Bosses you fight are just biggest versions of the monsters you fight before them.  So you can get an idea what you're going to face at the end of the level.  This should give you enough time to prepare to fight an Earth-based monster or a Fire-based monster.  Some are harder to predict though.  

Boss fights all require strategy and planning.  That's why they might be tough to people.  You can't run into a boss fight expecting to win by attacking and healing.  You need to prepare.  That's why level grinding in this game is pointless.  I've read numerous reviews claiming they had to level grind.  However, experience points drop the higher the level you are, so you'll almost level capped when you play this game.  They basically keep you at the level you need to be.  Level grinding is impossible, since you can't properly gain levels.  If you've read any review claiming they had to level grind in this game, then don't trust that review right off.

----------Characters / Story----------
You play as L'Arc, a mercenary for the Empire that gets separated with his army during a Felldragon attack.  He meets up with a strange girl named Ryfia.  She's from a far off country, and doesn't understand most things that are trivial to L'Arc.  So he's often frustrated with her.  

There's a ton of twists in the game, so it's hard to find a point to talk about.  Either way, L'Arc and Ryfia goes on a journey to rid the world of evil and all that junk.  The plot isn't to original but as I said, there's a ton of twists that keep you on your toes.  There's one twist that I just wasn't expecting at all.  It wasn't a huge revelation like in Final Fantasy 7 or Ocarina of Time but it caught me off guard.

If you've played any Tales of game since Tales of Symphonia, then you'll be familiar with their Skit system.  Arc Rise Fantasia uses a skit system just like in those games.  I loved skits from Tales games because they add an extra level of personality to the characters you don't typically get in RPGs.  The skits aren't as interesting or funny in ARF but they do serve a nice purpose of giving these characters a better personality.

The graphics are hit or miss, depending on the area.  The ground textures tend to look bad, but the character animations and enemy animations during the battle scenes look good.  The special attacks are huge and a joy to look at.  The full blown CGI cutscenes look like something out of a late PS1 game, compression and all.  The actual in-game cutscenes look wooden and gross sometimes too.  I do like the art style, I do like the world, and the dungeon designs.

I'll often times forget I'm playing a Wii game, then they hit you in the face with some bad textures or a cheesy cutscene, then you're reminded.  The graphics are all over the place, but it's not all bad.  It does have good style.  

The rumors are true, the voice acting is down right horrible.  It's almost unforgivable that they would accept such horrible actors but it's not ALL bad voice acting.  There's a few actors that are shockingly good.  For the most part though, the actors are dull and boring and they deliver their lines in a wooden way.  

With that said, I've played games with much worse voice acting.  For example, Baten Kaitos, which had a combination of bad voice acting and terrible voice production.  Arc Rise Fantasia is not that bad.  Just like in Baten Kaitos though, you do get use to the voice acting and sort of forget how bad it is.  

The awesome music makes up for the bad voice acting.  

----------World Map----------
The world map is an open ended clone of Final Fantasy style maps from the SNES days.  It's not super big, but there are some secrets you can find on it.  The game starts off sort of linear, but you eventually break out and can do sidequests or backtrack later on.  

Over time you gain new abilities and items that let you move across the map quicker and easier too.  This should be expected.  

----------Time to Complete Game---------

After you beat the game, you get a special "star" on your save file, and you are sent back to the final dungeon before the final boss.  You can go back to the main world, and do any sidequests you might have missed. 

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