Ignition Entertainment’s Arc Rise Fantasia looks like it has this JRPG thing down to a science. Flying airships? Check. Anime inspired character design? Oh yes. An androgynous waif of a male mercenary protagonist? You can bet your hairspray on it. Even an early screenshot shows a monster that looks identical to the Final Fantasy series’ Marlboros. While early screens and teaser trailers come across as highly derivative of the genre, could a high level of polish make Arc Rise Fantasia the perfect JRPG fix on the Wii?
I would be lying if I said the Arc Rise Fantasia trailer (you can check it out here) didn’t immediately remind me of most every JRPG I played on the PS1 and PS2, specifically the Namco Bandai published Tales series. Curiously that series includes an installment titled Tales of Phantasia. Different spelling aside, I would be more suspect of the name similarity if a quick googling of “rpg fantasia” hadn’t produced no less than three other RPGs that use the word “Fantasia” in their title. My favorite of the three was the unfortunately named Ephemeral Fantasia which sounds more like a fantasy porno (Whores of Warcraft anyone?) than it does a turn based RPG.
Ok, time to get back on task. While it may sound like I’m bashing Arc Rise Fantasia for not treading new ground its adherence to JRPG conventions could be its biggest strength. Winning IGN’s “Best Wii RPG” of E3 2009, the game appears to have some promise. Watching the trailer I was immediately nostalgic for my early gaming days of simple turn based combat. Mix that with attractive character design, impressively subtle facial animations and what I can only hope turns out to be an interesting if not well written story, and Ignition Entertainment might have a hit on their hands this summer.