When you hear that a JRPG is being released exclusively on Apple Arcade and that it’s being developed by a studio called Mistwalker Corporation, no one would blame you for thinking that it’s just another one of those microtransaction-filled, poorly-written RPGs that have plagued mobile devices ever since mobile gaming became a thing. The promise of a brand new, full-fledged RPG with a unique IP can be tempting when it has the added bonus of being playable on your iPhone or iPad, but there have been exactly zero RPGs of this scale on Apple Arcade that could compete with modern console RPGs like Fire Emblem: The Three Houses, or Final Fantasy VII Remake.
So you might just dismiss the idea of Fantasian entirely. That is until you hear about the work going on behind it, and the man leading its development team: Hironobu Sakaguchi. You might not know his name, but you’ve surely heard of his game, Final Fantasy. Sakaguchi and the original FF are largely credited for having saved Square (now known as Square Enix) from being at risk of bankruptcy way back in 1987. Apple, looking for someone to champion Apple Arcade as a valid gaming platform couldn’t have come to a better person to tackle this challenge.
One of the first details revealed for Fantasian that immediately made it stand out is its handcrafted diorama environments. The game features over 150 dioramas made by tokusatsu experts whose previous works include Godzilla and Ultraman films, as well as the live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan.
From the announcement of Fantasian back in March 2019, it’s already set itself apart with this unique art style, and it’s likely that the decision to use 3D-photographed environments was also meant to reduce the graphical load of the game on Apple devices, which aren’t exactly known for their gaming capabilities.
Aside from the game’s handcrafted environments, its visuals provide a classic 2000’s JRPG feel reminiscent of games like Final Fantasy X and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time. But unlike these games, you won’t be encountering slimes and ogres every other minute in Fantasian, as it comes with what Mistwalker calls a “quality of life improvement” for JRPGs: the Dimengeon Battle mechanic.
As you explore Fantasian’s beautifully made environments, you can postpone enemy encounters via the game’s Dimengeon mechanic, which banishes enemies to a separate realm for you to fight later on. The catch here is that every monster you banish to another realm, you’ll have to fight simultaneously, meaning you can postpone a fight with 10 different creatures but you’ll have to take them all on in one battle to refresh your Dimengeon gauge.
It’s a simple but clever mechanic that’s bound to provide a new experience when it comes to loot farming and EXP grinding. Why fight the same slime a dozen times when you can just save them up and fight twelve slimes all at once?
There’s enough to be excited about in Fantasian after seeing its unique environments and streamlined JRPG gameplay, but there’s another key player behind the scenes who’s setting up the game for success. A Sakaguchi-produced game needs a worthy composer, and again, who better than a Final Fantasy veteran? The lead composer for Fantasian is none other than the man who gave us “Eyes on Me” and “One-Winged Angel” among dozens of other classic tracks–Nobuo Uematsu.
In the video above, you can see Uematsu at work and hear the theme music for one of the game’s main playable characters, Kina. As expected, you can’t make a JRPG without some sweet twinkling piano and soft flute sounds. It almost makes Fantasian feel like a lost game from the PS2 generation.
According to Famitsu, Fantasian will be releasing in two parts with the first half coming soon and the latter coming in late 2021. Each half of the game is said to provide 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, so we’re looking at a reasonably long JRPG with both parts together. As an Apple Arcade release, Fantasian will be playable not only on the iPhone and iPad but also select Macbook models and on Apple TV.
For more information and details on Fantasian, you can check out Mistwalker’s official site as well as their YouTube channel, where you’ll find some behind-the-scenes previews on the game’s development.
Are you excited for Fantasian? What do you think about it being an Apple Arcade exclusive? Share your thoughts with us in the comments! And for more news on up-and-coming JRPGs, stay tuned to our website and Facebook page.
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