Arc Rise Fantasia Review

By Gus Mastrapa - Posted Aug 05, 2010

Arc Rise Fantasia is a well-build role-playing game, a turn-based adventure for the Wii imbued with clever customization and boss battles that require tactical thinking; however, the game's story, characters and setting are as unoriginal as the game mechanics are engaging.

The Pros
  • Appealing Character Designs
  • Minor Twists Freshen Turn-Based Combat
  • A Boon To RPG Fans On The Wii
The Cons
  • Crappy Voice Acting Torpedoes The Drama
  • Plot And World Mired By Anime Cliché
  • Monsters Feel Bland

Arc Rise Fantasia is a true test of patience. The new Japanese role-playing game isn't overly long or all that difficult. No, rather than challenge the player with tough combat Arc Rise Fantasia tests their tolerance for fanboy foolishness. The game is rife with cliché. From the game's scrappy, unproven (but ultimately chosen) protagonist to its utterly predictable menagerie of enemy creatures it is as if Arc Rise Fantasia was created in a total vacuum of imagination.

Luckily all the anime-inspired non-sense is draped over a solid foundation of turn-based role-play with imbued with subtle, but deep customization. Complete Arc Rise Fantasia to the end and you'll prove your tolerance for cosplay outfits, boring love triangles, moon language techno-babble and terrible voice acting.  Maybe that is something to be proud of.

Arc Rise Fantasia

Fan Service Gone Bad

Arc Rise Fantasia's needlessly convoluted plot centers on a mercenary swordsman cursed by his father with the name L'Arc Bright Lagoon. Despite being the protagonist in a JRPG the dude still has no clue that he's the chosen one -- a Child of Eesa in game’s goofy parlance. But when a brawl with a dragon sends the merc tumbling groundward he meets a strange foreigner. The ditsy Ryfia becomes his emotional foil. She’s a Diva – a magician whose song can sooth the fury of dragons and whose ineptitude is powerful enough to make the most liberal man a misogynist. 

The plot doesn’t develop here so much as occur. Evil men plot to kill innocents, incite wars and overthrow kingdoms. L’Arc and friends react, chasing the plot from one dungeon crawl and boss battle to the next. The pace is predictable and a little comforting. You slash your way through the wilds, wading through enemies as soft as butter. Make it to a city and story, delivered in disappointingly amateurish voice acting, unspools. Suffer or skip through the details and there’s a boss battle in the cards – this is where finally Arc Rise Fantasia gets interesting.

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Who’s The Boss?

It is rare for Arc Rise Fantasia’s trash monsters to put up a fight. Encounter a named enemy and you’re in for a fight. The game utilizes a familiar turn-based combat system. Party members share a pool of action points. You can choose to let one character do all the attacking or spread the love amongst your party.

Combatants also have the freedom to move around the battlefield. Players can flank enemies, move close to allies to share potions and spread out so that spells with area effects don’t cause more damage than necessary. These two complications make tricky boss fights more interesting than your average stand-and-fight scenario.

There’s a ton more noteworthy role-playing twists beneath Arc Rise Fantasia’s hood. Spell-bringing orbs, weapons that grow and share their upgrades with other blades, and a handful of over-the-top summons add a fine layer of customization.

Arc Rise Fantasia

Limit Break

Ultimately all the fighting, tweaking and customization in this sprawling epic are in service of dull-as-dirt plot and characters. It’s a shame, too. Visually L’Arc and his crew are appealing. Their personalities are written expertly on their faces . L’Arc’s dedication, Ryfia’s innocence and Serge’s mischievousness read instantly. But the tone-deaf intonation of their voice actors immediately undermines any emotional depth. 

And in the end the big picture plot is a bunch of nonsense anyway – hinging on silly lore about gods and dragons and powers rather than genuine character motivation.

Perhaps it’s asking too much for a game like Arc Rise Fantasia to be original or even competent in its storytelling. The JRPG is nothing if not enslaved to tradition. However, when the currents of tradition generate a game so bland and predictable its time to ask, “For Eesa’s Sake. Why?”

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?