Like a child who looks at everything around him with interest, I have approached Apple Arcade with an open mind. Several exclusive video games have reached the service, among which Fantasian, the new game from the creator of Final fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, stands out. Is this JRPG worth it? I have played the first part and I will tell you about my experience, which I anticipate as it has been really positive.
I’m not going to lie to you. Until a couple of weeks ago, the service Apple Arcade it was for me a name and little else. With the arrival of new exclusives, including Fantasian (Mistwalker) and World of Demons (PlatinumGames), I was curious. But how could I jump into testing Apple Arcade? I am not a special lover of the products of the American company and I have never owned an iPhone or an iPad. I remembered that my dear father had an old abandoned iPhone 6S and I rescued it for the cause. Would the games work? With the free trial month I was able venture to try it without risk, completely in love with Fantasian’s approach. And yes, I have been able to play it, at 60 fps, and although the graphics and resolution are worse than on other Apple devices, I have had no problem enjoying the first part of this new JRPG, which contrary to what many will think, is not only worth it, but also leaves some new ideas that, honestly, other JRPGs should emulate in the future.
The effort of Mistwalker for creating a good game is evident and goes far beyond the use of 150 dioramas to bring to life the world of Fantasian or the wonderful music by Nobuo Uematsu. Although the title is an ode to the JRPG classics and many will remember while playing it the good old playstation 1, introduces several highly intelligent mechanics and functionalities, which show that the studio has approached the project with the same guarantees as if it had been released on any other platform: Fantasian is a complete video game, well done and that also is fully adapted to mobile gaming, not only with mechanics and control, but also by the very way in which Mistwalker has wanted the player to advance and progress in the video game.
A JRPG of a lifetime …
The first thing that strikes Fantasian is his graphics. I want to remove this section from above to tell you that yes, they are beautiful, it is a careful game, fantastic in this section, with fixed scenarios that remind you of the classic Final Fantasy. Of course, the difference in this case is abysmal: we are facing a game in which the funds are, for the most part (not always), dioramas made in the real world and created by hand. The game, as a good role-playing experience, encourages and rewards exploration, with a multitude of hidden chests (many of them closed, something that will force us to return later) and an intelligent game of perspectives. The camera is fixed, but depending on where we move to Leo, the protagonist of this story, this varies his position, discovering new nooks and crannies to which to send our character.
And yes, I say send, because the motion system works as if of a point and click adventure will be. We click on the screen in the place where we want our character to move and there it will go. I’m telling you now, in case you wonder: I’ve only tried touch controls. Many Apple Arcade titles, including this one, allow the use of a controller, since these games can also be enjoyed, for example, on Apple TV. But, the truth is, it is something that I did not want: I could have connected my Xbox controller, but my idea has been at all times to have a complete experience of what it means to play this and other games of the service with what the mobile phone gives me. da, without external peripherals.
As for the narrative, nothing revolutionary, in the line of classic games and others in which Sakaguchi has participated, but I think that at least it is told in a slightly different way, although without fanfare. Leo practically doesn’t even know who he is because it affects one amnesia acute that has made him forget his past and our journey begins in search of his memory, to at least know how he has ended up where he is. As you surely expect, along this way we are meeting new allies who join our team and the story begins to magnify. It is entertaining and, although I do not think it will surprise anyone, it will keep you trapped by knowing more about Leo, the rest of the protagonists and the “mechteria” (the game is in English, so I have to reflect some terms as is), a kind of virus that is ravaging the world and turning monsters into hybrids between beasts and machines. I think the design of the characters and their personality is good and I particularly liked them. Overcoming the main story of this first part of Fantasian will take you about 20-25 hours and we will see what the final product is like in quality and duration when the second part at the end of the year, if everything goes fine. As a last note, the game has some side missions, but they are so largely irrelevant that they are not even worth talking about.
But with some great ideas
Fantasian is a great example of how to use the touch screenAt the beginning I dropped a little bomb on you: the JRPG have to look at Fantasian and adopt some features. And I was not joking, but we go in parts. Yes, the gameplay of the title is that of a classic turn-based RPG. We have our attacks, magic, objects … But be careful, because there are nuances. For example, Fantasian encourage and seek mass battles and for this, it gives the player the option of attacking several objectives at the same time, but not like all life has been done. In a great example of how to use the touch screen and adapting to mobiles, Fantasian lets us select the objectives indicating the trajectory with our finger.
This gives a whole world of possibilities. For example, there are attacks that can be launched in a straight line that will go through all the opponents in that trajectory. In magic, on the other hand and to give another example, we can curve your path, causing several enemies to be affected by the attack. The strategic options that this fighting system offers us are fantastic and it is exploited in different ways that you will discover. In addition, it makes very intelligent use of the possibilities that a mobile gives and makes the battles even more interesting. Have you faced 100 enemies in turn-based JRPG? In Fantasian it happens, but it is something so ambitious, that not even all the monsters fit at the same time and they appear as we eliminate others, but we do have moments of combat against 15 or 20 monsters.
Another of the mechanics that I have loved is due to the tool Dimengeon. Surely in role-playing games with random encounters you have been fed up more than once by not being able to move with a certain speed because a combat slowed your progress every two by three. If Fantasian has something, and I think I am making it clear, it is that it is designed in all its aspects to be a mobile game, but in a good sense of all this. Mistwalker is aware that many users will play this game short games, on trips, in times when they are without anything to do or, simply, because it is not comfortable to play for many hours on smartphones for many players.
To avoid frustration and encourage advancement in short periods of play, the Dimengeon system allows “to stock” to the monsters that we are meeting, to to be able to fight them later when we want, thus making the movement around the map satisfactory and that something very annoying such as random encounters does not interfere at all. Of course, it is something optional, which you can activate or not. In addition, it has some limitations, such as that we can only “collect” 30 monsters at a time, that if we meet a new enemy we will have to fight and that at certain specific moments of the game we are not allowed to use it, but I really tell you that I found this to be a fantastic solution and one that other games should consider emulating in the future. Dimengeon, added to the combat system, makes us want to fight as soon as we store a few monsters, which we do not wait until we are thirty, because the battles are fun, but at the same time we can advance faster and without stopping with each step we take. . In addition, this system allows us get experience much faster because we kill more enemies in just one battle, something that is also appreciated.
And even so, one of the drawbacks that I put is that I have missed a little more difficulty at times. Be careful, it’s not that the game is about attacking and that’s it, because we have to monitor our health, heal ourselves, use objects … but for anyone who has played this type of game, it will not be too challenging. Of course, if the challenge is somewhere it is in the bosses, very abundant and with really attractive designs. I think that, by again encouraging short periods of play, Fantasian gives the player constant action: the story progresses at a good pace, there are changes of scenarios with relative assiduity (calm, you can explore them at your own pace) and every few minutes of play we have an interesting battle against a boss who puts us to the test.
How well this game would work on Nintendo Switch …
Sorry Apple, I have to apologize. While playing Fantasian, a intrusive thinking repeatedly: “This on console or PC would work great, and on Nintendo Switch I won’t even tell you.” But no, it is an Apple Arcade game. And period. It’s made for this service, built with mobile and portability in mind, and it works fantastically well. As long as you have an Apple device, you can play and enjoy it. And there is no more. It has been Apple that has bet on this game, for giving Mistwalker the opportunity to make a magical title, which although it has some buts, is very enjoyable and recommended. The debate of whether the exclusivities are good or not is another, but of course I do think that if you want to launch a differentiating service within video games, This is the way. Apple Arcade has good exclusive games, because I’m also liking Wonderbox, an action platformer, and the aforementioned World of Demons. The titles of the service are complete, no micropayments or purchases, and they are made to be enjoyed on Apple devices, without fear of power.
And yes, Fantasian is from Apple Arcade and there is no more. It’s a great example of what a mobile video game should be, with brilliantly adapted controls, with a gameplay that is perfectly suited to players who can play half an hour and those who want to play 8 hours a day. If you have access to an Apple product, try it if you are a lover of the genre, because you will like it; I’m already looking forward to the second part. In addition, Sakaguchi could not help leaving different winks to Final Fantasy that you will identify for sure and that will make you smile. It is a classic JRPG, with modern and good ideas, with beautiful graphics and that has a quality equal to any game that can be launched on consoles or PC. And I honestly believe that many players have to get rid of their fear of playing on mobile phones, because they are a kind of portable consoles, each day more powerful, and that I think it will give us great joys, especially if the developers start to see smartphones as a serious platform where video games like this can be launched and not clones of those that have triumphed years ago among the casual audience.