Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica

Second Verse, Better Than the First

Ar Tonelico II was one of the best RPGs the PS2 had ever seen, with a killer battle system, a storyline and characters I actually cared about and tons of replay value... until it decided I couldn't finish it.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: January 28, 2009
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Holy hell is Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica a great RPG. The first game was a decent, if slightly pervy, little bit of cheesecake fun, and I enjoyed my time with it, but everything in the sequel (with the exception of the ratio of girls with racks approaching actual womanhood vs. little girls) is bigger, better and more fun. Except there's a small little problem: Ar Tonelico II apparently doesn't want to end -- or at least doesn't want you to be able to finish it.

See, there's a wee little bug that was introduced when localizing the game that causes it to lock up during one of the last boss fights in the game. If you can't beat this boss before she randomly tries out an attack, the game locks up and there's nothing you can do but reset the whole system and trudge through the last few minutes and ridiculous number of enemy encounters that make up the final dungeon of the game again to give it another shot. If you happen to opt for the optional third encounter with this boss, the game will always lock up. This wasn't a bug that was in the Japanese version.

It caps off a string of bizarrely uncharacteristic drops in quality with NIS America's localization and translation. There are numerous bits of poorly translated dialogue, grammatical errors, sections of text that spill over the boundaries of the dialogue boxes in the game... NISA hasn't had a perfectly flawless track record, granted, but they're usually far better than this, and it actually pulls away from what is otherwise one of the best role-playing games I've ever played. Not just on the PS2, ever. Considering the game starts to teeter on the edge of (and then tips right into) creepy pedo territory toward the end, my ability to look past these issues and genuinely enjoy the game and even get emotionally invested in the characters speaks volumes.

Though there are few references to Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia, the first game, they're not at all required to actually enjoy the story this time around. Think of it as a little bit of fanservice in a game already teeming with it. In fact, Ar Tonelico II is probably one of the most fanservice-y games I've ever played. The innuendo is so thinly-veiled at times that it's straight-up transparent and the "moe" bits from the first game have been jacked up to ridiculous levels. And, of course, I loved every second of it -- at least while it was concentrated on girls with appreciable boobs (yes, I'm a pervo, but I'm a pervo that loves big breasts, sorry). What's worse, this is a game that you'll actually try to defend to people that take one look at videos or look at screens and deem it (and rightly so) "that game with all the sex jokes and girls that you 'dive' into repeatedly."

Yes, I'm in full-on defense mode here: this is a great RPG, and much of it comes down to how the game handles combat. The first time around, battles were essentially a bunch of time-killing attacks while the Reyvalteils, girls that can sing song magic, would, well, sing until they could release the spell and kill off enemies. Developers Gust and Banpresto clearly understood this, and with the sequel, they've completely changed how battles play out. Now, you'll pick a song for the Revateils to sing, but while they're doing so, you'll have to defend them by play a little timing-based mini-game during the defense phase of battles then, use one of the four directions on the d-pad and either X or Square to let one of your two vanguard characters let loose with an attack.
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