Nestled in the Ignition Entertainment booth, a brightly-colored jRPG caught my eye playing on the Wii. Called Arc Rise Fantasia, it looked like it warranted some time, and I began to play through it.
In it, all I knew is that was running through some town, enemies everywhere, corpses scattered about. Running into the enemies started a turn-based battle, which threw me for a loop for a little while. See, your party has an AP gauge, and using abilities consumes it. Sometimes you can just use one character to use multiple attacks, but it means that the second attack might get a little late in the turn order, and if a party member doesn't use any AP at all, they take extra damage for that turn.
A big part of Arc Rise Fantasia is the ability to customize your character in multiple ways. Paramount to this is the customization of your weapon. Each weapon has a weapon frame, a grid that you can place weapon pieces, little blocks that take up frame space and give you Arm Forces, special abilities or bonuses to attacks and attributes. Some weapon pieces are locked in place in your weapon frame, and come in two flavours: native pieces, which are permanent, and locked pieces, which can eventually be taken off by levelling up your weapon. Levelling up your weapon, done by gaining weapon points after defeating enemies, also expands its weapon grid, which means more weapon pieces to attach. Additionally, if you manage to max out the weapon's level and fill up its frame entirely, a new Arm Force is unlocked.
Also customizable are the characters' magic orbs, the things which allow them to cast their spells. You do this by attaching elemental gems to the orb, gems that have a specific level and element, allowing you to cast that level of that element of magic. You also get the ability to customize these orbs, upgrading the number of slots (and therefore the number of spells you can use), or improving the damage output of a certain element.
Arc Rise Fantasia actually looks kind of interesting, despite the airs of a common jRPG that it might give off. It's got a more strategic battle system as well as a lot of character and magic ability customization, which might give it an edge to someone looking for an anime of a good time. Look for it on July 20 later this year, on the Wii.