Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica
This only took a month longer than it should have.
Gameplay: 7/10 Still very much like the first AT game, minus some mechanics like Green field magic and jumping. Maps are also the same select an area that you can run through type of thing. Diving is also the same, though you can only go all the way (heh) with one girl, which makes it a lot more realistic.
Dualstall is an interesting level up system, even if in the end it makes your Reyvateils very overpowered (mine were level 96). It can be annoying redoing it to get the effects you want, since the movement in the bath is random.
Battles were changed too, of course, to a more action-oriented style like Valkyrie Profile. It kept me awake during those long IPD hunting sections, but again, it gets too easy by end game when you have Guard ++++ equipped and are firing off dual magic.
I probably forgot something here that’s not important XD
Story: 8/10 Taking a break from the typical “save the world from a bad guy” plot, this time we’re saving the world by trying to make new land. Of course there’s a zillion obstacles in the way. The story isn’t about Croix, the player character, but Cloche and Luca, two of the girls that travel with him. More and more RPGs seem to be doing this recently, FF12 being one that sticks out in memory. Even the final bosses are very different, following in the footsteps of AT1.
Characters: 8/10 Speaking of following AT1, Jakuri is THE best character in the game, nearly as complex, if not more so than Cloche and Luca. Croix is there as your main guy and the guy who holds up the girls. Cloche is stuck up and tsundere, Luca is the childhood dorodere friend, and Cocona is the cute little sister. Add in the cool Jakuri and we’ve got every cliche covered. The other playables, Amarie, Leglius, and Shun fall to the wayside, though they’ve got more story than Krusche, Jack, and Radolf from AT1.
As for NPCs, the shopkeepers are all very funny, especially Spica and Skycat. For a goddess, Frelia is pretty useless, but freaking adorable. Everyone else is pretty typical…except Reisha. Poor Reisha.
Relationships between characters run quite deep. There’s the clusterwtf between Reisha, Cloche, and Luca, Croix’s protection of Cocona, Amarie’s relationship with Sonia and Chester…it’s all good, and everyone gets some sort of development.
And voices! For what little there are, they’re all pretty decent. Jakuri, Luca, and Infel are probably my favorites, with the weakest being Targana, Alfman, and sometimes Croix and Reisha (but Reisha’s VA pulled off the end of Phase 4 VERY well).
Graphics: 8/10 Typical pretty Gust 2D graphics, with more anime scenes thrown into the mix this time.
Music: 9.5/10 The strongest point of the series, the background music is a bit weaker than AT1, but the Hymmnos is stronger. EXEC_over.METHOD_SUBLIMATION/. is one of the best final boss themes ever. I like Phantasmagoria more than EXEC_with.METHOD_METAFALICA/., but both are beautiful.
Localization: 2/10 It sucks. It’s horrible. It’s on the same level as Suikoden I or II, so it’s like it pushed localization back 10 years by existing. It’s not as bad as Chaos Wars or anything, but skipping translations, confusing homonyns, bad typos, and ADDING A GLITCH TO A BOSS is just…horrible. This is why I’m not preordering any NISA games now.
Overall rating: 7/10 (The JP version is easily a 9/10, btw)
Recommendation: If you’ve played the first Ar tonelico, play this, even if you didn’t really like it. It’s improved enough over AT1 that it’s worth a shot. If you’ve played any other Gust game, play this. If you’re offended by innuendo, skip.