I don’t know what it is about Gust games that I just love so darn much. I know they are filled with loads of anime cliches and bland lead heroes, but I am just such a sucker for their moe themed, goofy RPGs. I originally bought Ar Tonelico II a while ago on a whim, which turned out to be a good idea because shortly after I bought it, the secondary market for both games skyrocketed. I ended up having to spend 40 dollars for the original Ar Tonelico, making it one of the two most expensive used games I’ve ever bought (the other was Mana Khemia II, but I learned that the copy I ended up getting was a limited edition, the seller didn’t disclose that so I was pleased to discover my other 40 dollar purchase included the original soundtrack and poster. So yay me.)
Ar Tonelico II has a different battle system than the first one. While the 1st one was a lot more turn-based, II has a really cool system between real-time and action-based. When you fight during the ‘attack’ phase you try to press the attack buttons as many times as you can during the battle to inflict the most damage. And during the ‘defense’ phase you press buttons in rhythm with your opponents’ attacks to minimize damage. Since this game uses a lot of music analogies for place names and Reyvatail appearances, having a rhythm based battle system is a nice touch. The only downside is that song magic can now only be used during attack phases, unlike the first game where you could use magic during your opponents’ turn which was a real life saver to be able to cast a healing song whenever you really needed it.
Storywise it’s also a lot more sophisticated than the first one, with some real heartbreaking moments in game play. Most of the cast was very good too. Croix unfortunately is really dull compared to Lyner from the first game, but the supporting cast and the Reyvatails are really awesome. I reeeeeeeally hated Cloche at first, but eventually her character developed past an entitled, self-righteous brat. Which is actually a real shame because unlike the first game, you can’t complete all the characters’ cosmospheres during the same playthrough. I understand the logic since it’s supposed to be symbolic of developing a romantic relationship, so being able to get to the final level of ALL the girls is effectively polygamy, but still. With some of the stories the girls have you really want to find out what happens next.
Which is why it’s all the more disappointing that I can’t finish the game. Unfortunately, the game is glitchy as fuck. I’ve been having problems with my PS2 lately, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if my game freezing due to disk reading problems, or glitches. However, this incident is kind of a game killer, or at least for me. Late into the game, at a place called Sol Marta, one must combat a robot named Raki. And if you don’t nuke her after the second turn, the game freezes. Like I said earlier, some of my freezing problems were due to a dirty system and a used disk, but this freeze is in the exact same place, every time. A fan actually developed a patch in order to fix this glitch, but as my PS2 is one without a harddrive, and my PS3 doesn’t read PS2 disks, I’m pretty much SOL unless A) I play an emulator or B) overlevel my characters in order to nuke her in a single turn. While that isn’t impossible per se, it would require a LOT of grinding and I just don’t have that kind of patience, not when I already invested over 55 hours into the game. So Ar Tonelico II. I want to love you, I want you to be one of my top 5 games, but baby, you are just too messed up. I might go back to it one day because I want to find out how the game ends, but for now my backlog is just too big, so I’m moving on.
Which brings me to my next game. I’m not actually sure what I want to play next. Part of me wants to continue FFIX since I learned that I’m not actually supposed to go on a mission alone, but my PS2 has been having a lot of issues so I should probably clean it first. I got Ni no Kuni recently, but I’m kind of not in the mood to mess with it. I think I might do Tales of Symphonia because enough time has passed since I played Tales of the Abyss.