Fantasy analysis

Hironobu Sakaguchi is best known as the creator of the Final Fantasy franchise with what is now Square Enix, but since the mid-2000s, he has been developing new IP with his own studio, Mistwalker. Since its inception, Mistwalker has delivered several vintage JRPG experiences, from traditional titles like Blue Dragon to mobile games like Terra Battle, with varying degrees of success. Sakaguchi may be retiring soon, and one of his last games may be the latest Mistwalker, Fantasian, which is another classic style JRPG, but with an interesting twist. Fantasia’s main gimmick is that its game world is meant to look like a diorama, which gives Fantasia a unique art style and lends itself to some pretty spectacular scenery. Honestly, it’s almost a shame that the game is restricted to Apple Arcade and mostly played on devices like iPhones and iPads because the smaller screens don’t do the game’s gorgeous art justice. Hopefully, Fantasian will eventually make its way to other platforms. Even when playing the game on an iPad, however, Fantasian still looks amazing and it’s great to see this kind of art style used in other JRPGs. It’s also one of the things about Fantasia that feels original. Fantasia is about as generic as almost every other metric, featuring a setting that mixes sci-fi and fantasy elements like most Final Fantasy games, and a spiky-haired, anime protagonist with amnesia . Final Fantasy creator Fantasia's diorama RPG While it’s largely a derivative experience, Fantasian does a few things to set itself apart from other turn-based JRPGs, such as its Dimengeon Battles. Dimengeon Battles in Fantasia are unique in that they allow players to collect monsters they find on the field (instead of fighting them in a random encounter like before) and then fight them all at once in a separate dimensions in exchange for different rewards. It’s an interesting, fun idea and definitely one aspect of the game that helps it stand out from the many other JRPGs out there. Dimengeon Battles in Fantasian offers something new, and the game does some new things in the actual combat as well. Overall, most of Fantasia’s combat is standard turn-based JRPG fare, but the game occasionally uses touchscreen controls for some intelligent input. For example, early in the game, players will have a magic user join their party, and they will be able to curve their spells to hit multiple enemies at once. This makes familiar turn-based JRPG battles more interactive than usual, and makes minute-to-minute gameplay more fun. Fantasia players spend a lot of time fighting randomly encountered enemies in turn-based battles, but when they’re not fighting enemies, they’re exploring the game world, talking to characters, and collecting quests to complete. Navigating the world can be a bit slow at times with the touchscreen controls, but otherwise the touchscreen setup works well in Fantasia. Instead of pausing and poring over menus, Fantasia players can simply swipe the world map from the side of the screen, and there they’ll find all kinds of information they need in one place. They can also click on specific areas of the map to have characters walk directly there, reducing the tedious manual walking through the game world. Fantasy Dimengeon Mechanics Fantasian stays close to the classic JRPG playbook but adds some original ideas of its own to make everything more exciting. But while playing Fantasian is generally fun, players may struggle to get invested in the story. Fantasia’s plot is a combination of JRPG tropes that longtime fans of the genre will have seen all before. There’s an amnesiac protagonist, a lonely mysterious villain clearly inspired by characters like Final Fantasy 7’s Sephiroth, and the fear of a cataclysmic event on the horizon. And since a second part is already planned, Fantasia players probably won’t be happy with the way it “ends.” Cutscenes are few and far between, with most of the story conveyed through dialogue between characters. Fantasia players will occasionally stumble upon “Memories” that offer deeper dives into certain events and character backgrounds, delivered through bite-sized short stories reminiscent of Lost Mistwalker’s Odyssey. The Memories is well written and tends to be more interesting than the main plot, although it’s easy to see how others might be less enthusiastic about reading short stories instead of actually playing the game. Despite the generic plot, Fantasian is a perfectly serviceable JRPG that checks all the boxes, plays with some interesting new ideas, and has a gorgeous diorama world for players to explore. It doesn’t sound like a proper last big hoorah for legendary game developer Hironobu Sakaguchi or composer Nobuo Uematsu (who does a tremendous job on the soundtrack), but it’s still a decent, familiar JRPG experience and one of more interesting games currently available. on Apple Arcade. Fantasian is available now, exclusively on iOS devices via Apple Arcade.

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