Arc Rise Fantasia's concept was almost a dream come true for me, though it was a dream I didn't initially have. I never thought to myself, "you know, I've always wanted to play a game that mixes elements from the Tales and Luminous Arc series, had the same character designer as the anime Eureka Seven, and had Yasunori Mitsuda as well as two lesser-known but excellent composers do the music." Regardless, the more I heard about the game, the more I wanted it. I was especially happy when only a few months after being unveiled in in Japan, XSEED Games announced that it would localize ARF in North America. Imagine my disappointment when XSEED lost its partnership with ARF's Japanese publisher Marvelous Entertainment as well as the game's publishing right to Ignition Entertainment.

Due to reasons I can only speculate on, Arc Rise Fantasia was saddled with a sub-par localization, largely due to its voice acting and partially due to its translated script. These blights on the Wii RPG prevent me from considering it a great game, but I also want to stress that Arc Rise Fantasia is still an enjoyable title in spite of them.

What is perhaps Arc Rise Fantasia's strongest suit is its battle system. Though it is mostly a traditional turn-based menu driven affair, there are tweaks that streamline the experience, make it strategic, and quite fun. Regular battles go by quickly since the actions are inputted at the beginning of a turn, and then each character acts at once. Boss fights take advantage of the strategic battle system as defeating them requires learning its elemental weakness, figuring out its pattern (if it has one), and deciding the best way to allocate Action Points throughout the fight. These battles are challenging but are rarely unfairly hard. It is also immensely satisfying to pull off a powerful Tandem magic spell or Trinity Act and deal a high amount of damage. Related to battles is Arc Rise Fantasia's magic and Arm Force, or battle skill systems. Characters can be made to specialize in either one element of magic or use two or three elements fairly but less expertly. Arm Force skills depends on the weapon equipped, so there is much customization in mixing and matching Arm Forces.

There is much to love about Arc Rise Fantasia aside from the battles. For instance, the game's music is absolutely wonderful. Mitsuda may be the "star" of this soundtrack, but Shunsuke Tsuchiya and Yuki Harada are no slouches. The story is heavily reliant on common RPG tropes, but it does bring up some thought-provoking questions. The characters are a delight as well, even if they aren't necessarily the deepest personalities around. Even the art style stands out a bit, as Kenichi Yoshida's characters, while clearly anime, have a distinct look to them.

This game is much maligned due to its poor localization, and while it saddens me that Arc Rise Fantasia's greatness is bogged down by it, said localization is far from the only aspect of the game. There is much that is enjoyable about ARF, especially for one who places a great value on a game's combat system. People who pass up this title because of the localization are doing themselves a disservice. The Wii has few enough traditional RPGs as it is; there is no need to deprive oneself of such gem of a game.

Cassandra Ramos

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