At E3 this year, publisher Ignition Entertainment was showing off the near-final build of Wii game Arc Rise Fantasia. I got some hands-on time and came away moderately impressed.
The game started off with a beautifully rendered cutscene that led right into the first battle. Players take the role of L’Arc, a mercenary trying to make enough money to support his ailing mother. In the game world exist creatures called “Contaminant Dragons” which are horribly polluting the world wherever they are killed. This is bad for the land, but great for a mercenary looking to make a few bucks killing dragons in areas where they won’t cause real damage. L’Arc is joined on his travels by various characters with his party generally being limited to three at a time, though guest characters will also tag along and fight along side of L’Arc in battle.
Battles are a pretty standard affair. characters take turns attacking enemies and being attacked. The game uses a “Action Point” (or AP) system to determine what moves can be made by the character. No matter what action players want to take, if they lack the required AP they can’t take the action. In addition to AP, characters can also attack with special attacks known as “Excel Acts” which are more powerful attacks that require “SP” as well as AP. SP is earned automatically as actions are taken, but there is a subtle juggling that must be done so that players are sure they will have the required AP and SP when their character’s turn arrives. In addition moves are chosen at the beginning of a round, and there is a turn order shown in the bottom of the screen. This turn order is what requires such care in choosing attacks and other actions. To end things off, characters can move around the battle field, changing positions relevant to other party characters and enemies. Have I lost you yet?
Well, if all that sounds a little overwhelming, the game has a robust automation system when it comes to battles. While the game can be set to automatically choose the best action for the situation for every character, players can also customize exactly what actions they want the game to take. Want the healer to constantly spam healing attacks? It’s an option. Want the computer to take care of the side characters so the only character that needs to be controlled is L’Arc? Go for it. The automation is set up so that players can be as precise with actions as they like, or can let the game do the heavy lifting for them.
So the game is set to streamline the experience for those who want it streamlined and be incredibly complex for those who revel in the complexities of the system. In our hands-on time with the game I tried both methods and automating was generally preferable. That said, I only got 20 minutes play time with the game, so once versed in all the complexities of the battle system, it might well be more preferable to take a hands-on approach to the battles.
The other notable thing during our playtime was the level of voice acting in the game. It’s full of it. Not just during story elements, but also during the battles. While it was tough to judge the quality of the voice acting on the noisy show floor, what I heard sounded good. However, others who played the game mentioned that the voice acting during battles, short sound clips when attacks were initiated, grew repetitive over time. While I didn’t notice this during my play time with the game, it should hopefully be something that is selectable in the options when the game is released.
Arc Rise Fantasia is not going to set the RPG world on fire with its new system of combat or unique take on the RPG genre– it’s a pretty basic JRPG. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad game. Fans of the JRPG genre should definitely plan on picking this game up when it releases July 27, and you can look forward to a full review after the game releases.