This time on 60 Minute Reviews, the prequal to the Ar Tonelico series of games, Gust's Ar Nosurge!
I use the term "60 minute" loosely on this, as it is more like a 90 minute review; like most JRPGs, the first hour or so is tutorial and exposition. This is helpful because this is a sequel to a game, Ciel Nosurge, which was never released in North America. Since the relationships between the characters are such driving forces in the narrative, this introduction to the story is essential to players getting caught up.
Once you get into the game, the artwork is a little odd, but I'm not the hugest fan of cell-shading, I have since gotten used to it, which is nice. The music involved in this game however could not be more the opposite. It is beautiful, melodious, and is really tempting me to buy the soundtrack.
The battle system in this game is a bit of a mish-mash. It is turn based, but active combat, with a once-per-turn magic ability, that only certain characters can use. Basically the male characters can hit people and the female characters can fry people with their immense scary power. This is made more frightening considering the godly powered spell-singers are all petite pretty girls. The combat is easy to learn, but is hard to master, as you have to make sure you are on tempo and are in control. This is not a look away and jam X until dead battle system.
Speaking of the girls, MAN is there a lot of fan service in this game!
Like most games from Japan, they do not shy away from the sexy time, and just like every other game in the series, you have to connect with the girls in order to unlock stronger spells. This allows for some hilarious plays on JRPG tropes while also giving you the T&A that Japan thinks we need. I'm not arguing, just stating a fact.
All in all, I loved all of the Ar Tonelico games, and I'm already sold on this. The one hang-up of the art has stopped being an issue, and as I get further, I am sure the battle system will fully work itself out.