Reviews

Arc Rise Fantasia

Arc Rise Fantasia is a throwback filled with the worst traits of the JRPG genre.


Arc Rise Fantasia

Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Rated: Teen
Players: 1 player
Price: $39.99
Platforms: Wii
Developer: Image Epoch
Release Date: 2010-07-27
URL

Arc Rise Fantasia makes a terrible first impression with an opening CG cut scene that showcases its worst flaws. The voice acting is bad, the dialogue is awful, and it looks like no one put any effort into lip syncing. There are several long seconds when a character continues to speak after their mouth has closed. It’s embarrassing to watch. Thankfully, these opening minutes are easily the lowest point of the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the game doesn’t strive to be much better.

The story is easy enough to follow in the beginning, but it slowly grows more and more convoluted until you want to give up trying to figure out what’s going on. The melodrama in the story relies heavily on knowing the intricacies of this fantasy world, but most of that knowledge is withheld until the very last moment. Climatic battles are not the place for long winded exposition. As a result, the story lacks any momentum, there’s no sense of danger or urgency, and even the main character seems bored. He’s a “chosen one” of the god of Creation, and when he learns that someone else is trying to become the “chosen one” of the god of Destruction, he shrugs it off. Not only does he dismiss it all as religious mumbo jumbo, despite everything he’s seen, he actively encourages the other guy in his quest. If the hero is bored by his own adventure, something is seriously wrong with your story. Other characters react to him and events with a naiveté and ineptitude that’s just frustrating.

The story reaches its peak of absurdity about halfway into the game when there’s not just one surprise double-cross but four in a row. By the end of that cut scene, I was laughing at the voice actors’ attempts to emote, and the story ceased to matter. It’s sad that every cut scene plays out like a parodic skit of itself, and it’s a wonder how anyone thought this was good enough to release. It seems like no one really cared.

The battle system is a mix of turn-based and real-time combat. At the beginning of each turn, you’re given a number of Action Points that determine how many actions your party can perform. Normal attacks take two AP, so does using an item, special attacks take three to six AP, etc. Once you confirm everything, everyone moves at the same time and a character’s speed stat actually determines who goes first. So you’re selecting your actions from a turn based menu, but the fighting takes place in real-time. It’s an interesting idea, but in practice, it doesn’t change a thing. Battles play out just like any other battle in any other RPG.

In an odd twist, weapons don’t affect your attack damage. Instead, every weapon comes with a few abilities attached to it. Use the weapon enough, and you can unlock those abilities for other weapons. It’s another interesting idea, and one that actually changes how the game is played. From stat increases to extra attacks, you’ll want to reorganize abilities every hour or so depending on who’s in the party and what enemies you’ll be facing.

But just when the gameplay gets interesting, it then sabotages itself as much as it possibly can. Boss fights bring a major swing in difficulty. It’s common to fight through a dungeon with little trouble and then get massacred by the boss, forcing you to grind a few levels before attempting the battle a second time. Save points are placed at the start of a dungeon but nowhere else, so if you die before the end (or during a boss fight), you must start the whole level over again. The magic system is excessively convoluted with four tiers of magic, an orb grid, and the fact that you must buy every individual MP point, and none of it is fully explained. A strategy guide or FAQ should not be required reading for any game.

Despite these terrible flaws, the game manages, against all odds, to be genuinely fun at times. Combat is entertaining when you’re just dungeon crawling, as long as you don’t accidentally trigger a boss fight and get killed. Every now and then a dialogue prompt will appear that initiates a short conversation between characters. These exchanges aren’t voiced, and while the writing is still cheesy, reading does less to damage the experience than bad acting, and these little asides become moments of enduring character interaction. However, these few bits of levity can’t save the game.

Arc Rise Fantasia is a throwback filled with the worst traits of the JRPG genre. It plays and sounds and looks outdated, serving as a reminder of how far these games have come over the past several years.

4

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.