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Ar tonelico II: Sekai ni Hibiku Shoujo Tachi no Metafalica

アルトネリコ2 世界に響く少女たちの創造詩





Release Dates

01/20/09 NIS America
10/25/07 Banpresto
06/10/09 NIS America

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Owners: 74
Favorite: 6
Tracked: 2
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Ar Tonelico 2

By Karl Koebke 10th Apr 2009 | 2,971 views 

*insert sexual innuendo here*

Ar Tonelico 2 revolves around the region of Metafalss, and the utilization of singing magic casters known as Reyvateil. Reyvateil are a manufactured race of women who use song magic to do damage or to heal the party. You play as Croix Bartel, a knight under the Grand Bell Church of Pastalia. In the beginning of the game your job is to capture and contain Reyvateil who have been infected by Infel Phira Dependency (IPD) which causes them to lose control of their powers and become extremely destructive. Before long two Reyvateil join your group and you are charged with protecting them while you try to access and sing the song known as Metafalica, which will create new land for the citizens of Metafalss to live on. These two Reyvateil are the main love interests in the game. One is your current girlfriend Luca, and the other is Cloche, the holy maiden of the Grand Bell organization for which Croix works. You’ll get to know both of them very well through the conversations during rest periods and these conversations give you access to further levels of Diving.

Diving is when you go into the subconscious mind of one of your Reyvateils to try and deal with their inner issues and help them create stronger song magic. Each Reyvateil (you will eventually have three) has nine cosmospheres/levels within their subconscious, but you’ll only be able to go past the fifth level if you make a lifelong commitment to protecting that Reyvateil and being by her side. The levels of the subconscious play out as separate stories. The Reyvateil will be a characterization of a part of their personality, such as a school board president, a wise sage that is depended on by two towns, or a leather clad S & M chick.

In each cosmosphere you are allowed to pick between certain points of interest and spend Dive Points (DP) to see certain events and advance the story within that level (DP are attained and act like experience for Reyvateils). Within these events you go through dialogue with the Reyvateil you are diving into and any supporting characters she cares to create for the cosmosphere. These are mostly passive affairs except for a few dialogue choices every now and then that can affect whether you pass or fail any given event, but each cosmosphere is an interesting story that helps you to understand the inner feelings of the person you are diving into.

Later on in the game you’ll also be able to dive into IPD victims to help cure them and to get their help for a specific move called Replakia that Cloche will have access to later in the game. Diving into the IPD victims is totally done by Luca, who has experience as a Dive Therapist, and the idea of the game is to answer questions that the IPD asks you in such a way that their tension will get within a certain range. The tension can range from zero to one hundred, and there is usually a 30 unit range in which you have to land by the time five questions have been answered for you to succeed in the Dive Therapy. This mini game can be quite confusing, as it is hard to tell what kind of answer will get the results you want from any given IPD, but you can use techniques to increase or decrease the tension changes that occur after your next question.

Ar Tonelico 2 is riddled with sexual innuendo, but most of the time it is done well and managed to make me smile instead of cringe. Many of the activities you will go through are done in such a ridiculously sexual manner that you won’t be able to help but laugh, such as leveling your Reyvateils by making them take a bath together with crystals in the water. There were a few times where there was just too much sexual innuendo, like when you are told to “break the barrier” in a young girl’s mind and she keeps talking about how “it’ll hurt, but it’s ok because it's you”. I don’t know when JRPG makers decided that their entire fanbase was made up of people who can’t remember a single plotline in the story, but Ar Tonelico 2 had so many flashbacks that it could become quite annoying and got in the way of the story’s continuation. I saw one specific scene probably five or more times before the developers decided that I could probably remember it, or had written it on the walls of my room in my own blood to keep myself from going insane. Seriously, just allude to the previous scene or event, it works fine, or if you have to inundate me with flashbacks then at least make them easy to skip.

The battle system for Ar Tonelico 2 is a turn based affair that does very well at keeping you busy during the entire battle. Each turn is divided into an attack phase and a defense phase, which are over after a given amount of time. Your party can be taken up by two Reyvateils and two defenders that are assigned to protect them. During the attack phase you choose a song for your Reyvateils to sing. As the attack phase continues a “boost meter” will increase and the mana of your Reyvateils will decrease at a rate dependent on the cost of the song magic you have chosen. The spell will either heal your party at the beginning of every attack phase, or do its damage when you press circle or when the mana of your Reyvateils runs out, the amount of healing or damage that your spell does will depend on how high the “boost meter” is.

The two defenders you have chosen are used for melee attacks during the attack phase. The Square button is used to make the upper protector attack and the X button is used to do the same for the bottom defender. Pressing different directions on the directional pad as you attack with a protector will change the kind of attack they do and the effect that it will have on the Reyvateil that they protect. The protectors’ melee damage will increase the boost meter, pressing up and attacking will increase the Harmonics of the Reyvateil, which increases the chance that whatever song they are singing will evolve into the next level, and pressing down will increase the synchronization of your two Reyvateils which can allow them to perform special moves if they completely synchronize. The most important functions of the two protectors are during the defense phase. Your Reyvateils are easily killed, so each one is assigned a party member to take the damage for them. When an enemy is trying to attacking you will be given the chance to lessen the damage taken by your defender by pressing Square or X as a bar crosses a small range. If you press the button while the bar is in the green region then the Reyvateil behind them will not take any damage, and smaller ranges within the green region can decrease the damage taken by the defender as well. This keeps you busy during the defense phase, and if you can get your timing perfect you can greatly reduce the amount of damage your party takes.

Gameplay in the battle system does well to keep you busy and on your toes with timing challenges, but it is sadly lacking in any kind of real strategy. You will find yourself frantically pressing Square and X to attack with your protectors during the attack phase, and concentrating to try and minimize the damage you take during the defense phase, but in the end there aren't enough differences between fights. You don’t really have to care about what enemies you are fighting because the strategy is basically the same every time you fight. Battles in general also become extremely easy once you gain the Replakia ability and can up your boost meter to incredible numbers and do more damage than otherwise possible.

This title is one of the saddest victims of poor localization that I have ever seen. There are many obvious instances of poor grammar and spelling errors. Technical issues also show up in the graphics department with some enemies having certain attacks that cause extreme slowdown and make it almost impossible to time your defense correctly. These slowdowns can quickly kill your Reyvateils as you completely miss the necessary timing. However, the most damning technical error comes from one of the final bosses in the game. The boss had an attack removed from the game, but apparently the developers forgot to delete the code that tells the boss to try and use it. This means that you only have three turns to kill the boss, or they will attempt to use the move that is no longer in the game, which in turn makes the game freeze until you turn off the Playstation. This bug is extremely annoying because it forced me to grind to a point where I could actually kill this boss within three turns, but I succeeded after an extra half an hour or so of capturing and curing IPD’s in order to use them for Replakia.

The visuals of Ar Tonelico 2 are sadly dated. The sprites you see when you walk around look quite antiquated, and the entire visual presentation gives the impression of a lack of effort. At certain points the sprites and the drawn 2d art shown when people are talking don’t even match up. The 2d art for an IPD you are about to fight can look very unique (one of them was wearing a squirrel costume), but there are only around 4 different sprites for the IPD’s when you fight them or if you see them walking around in a city. The main characters have a good amount of detail to them, but you will be hard pressed not to notice clones among the random populace walking around. The dungeons that you will traverse are easily differentiated from each other, but each room you go through is almost exactly the same as the last except for its specific shape.

The music in Ar Tonelico 2 is quite good, and some of the more opera-esque music that is used for the more important song magic is excellent. Unfortunately each song is used quite often, so they get repetitive quickly. Like most Playstation 2 JRPGs released lately, Ar Tonelico 2 comes with the sound track along with the game disc, so if you find the music as addicting as I did you will have easy access to it. The voice work in the title is sporadically used and some of the voices sound pretty strange. All in all the sound is easily the best part of the game’s presentation as a whole.

Value is Ar Tonelico 2’s strongest asset. My first play through clocked in at forty five hours, but there is also a lot of crafting left to do and IPD’s left to capture. There are also a lot of reasons to replay the game at least once. At around 10 hours into the game you will be asked to choose between following Luca or Cloche after they split up. Your choice at this point will change large sections of the storyline and gameplay for the rest of the game. There are also four different endings to the game based on which Reyvateil or non-magic girl you pick to protect for the rest of your life and you will have to replay the game if you want to see the last four cosmospheres for all three Reyvateils available.

Ar Tonelico 2 is a great game that is brought down to average by a few extremely poor qualities. The music is catchy, the gameplay is highly enjoyable and it has some of the best replay value in any JRPG I have played. However, the technical problems are also some of the worst I have ever seen, the faulty grammar is extremely annoying at times and the visual presentation is dated to the point that it looks like it could be from a previous generation of gaming. If the localization had been done well, and the visuals were updated, Ar Tonelico 2 could be a great JRPG. The storyline is there with a mix of humor and drama, and the battle system is interesting, but you’ll have to wade through some pretty rough technical problems to make it through the entire game, which means I can only really recommend it to hardcore JRPG fans. Hopefully the next time an Ar Tonelico game gets localized to the states it will receive better treatment so that the game can become what it was always meant to be.

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Opinion (7)

awsmjayloser posted 19/08/2012, 02:58
I really didn't enjoy the story for this one. I found myself skipping through cut scenes. A lot.
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sasukeuchiha25 posted 19/02/2011, 12:04
The best game for PS2 of 2009
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poroporo posted 22/04/2010, 02:36
Got myself a limited ed. for 20 bucks. Sweet.
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pariz posted 24/01/2010, 03:10
Yes, its soundtrack is really something else. Absolutely great.
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Son1x posted 09/01/2010, 10:06
This game has amazing soundtrack.
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Rawnchie14 posted 20/10/2009, 11:43
hard to find games, these Ar Tonelico games =P

Makes me worry about the fate of the AT3
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