Preview: Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia (PS2)

Ar Tonelico has built up quite a large fan base in Japan. The game has a very popular soundtrack and even an OVA back in Japan. It was originallysupposed to be released on Halloween 2006 by Nippon Ichi, but Nippon Ichi had to push it back to February 2007 because the localization of the game was a far more grueling task that the publisher originally assumed it would be (three times the amount of dialogue and text of Disgaea 2 according to Nippon Ichi)

Ar Tonelico actually refers to a massive tower that resides on the floating island called â┚¬Â³The Wings of Horus.â┚¬Â³ Everything else in the world of Sol Ciel is non existant. The sky has become pure plasma which the natives refer to as the â┚¬Â³Blast Line.â┚¬Â³ The very earth of Sol Ciel has long been replaced by the clouds of death. This means all the humans left alive are crammed on to this one tiny island floating above hideous death and below hideous death. As you may guess this isn’t the happiest of all islands.

As well, the humans aren’t the only race on this island. There’s also an all female species called the Revatail that look exactly like humans. The only way you can tell them apart is by a birthmark known as an â┚¬Â³Install Point.â┚¬Â³ This point seems to give them access to â┚¬Â³Song Magic.â┚¬Â³ There are two sub races in the Revatail. There are the full blooded who are pure Revatail and there is the Third Generation, who are the spawn of Revatail and humans. I have no idea how there can be pureblood Revatail when they are all female and I have even less idea what happened to the SECOND generation, but hey, i’m just a reporter. I’m not a digital biologist.

As you can imagine, with the use of Song Magic, Ar Tonelico is a musical video game. This is not a new realm for Nippon Ichi to dwelve into as they have released 2 SRPG’s that are involve a great deal of song and dance in Rhapsody and Marl’s Kingdom, both of which are part of the Disgaea universe. Currently in Japan, there are NINE seperate CD collections from the Ar Tonelico universe. It’s likely that there will be English lyrics for all of these songs in Ar Tonelico as we saw with the US release of Rhapsody. Hopefully Nippon Ichi will also allow the player to select Japanese or English lyrics for the song to sate the angry fan boys and girls who get their panties in a bunch if everything isn’t OMGJAPANESE.

One of the most interesting things from about the game I learned was from Nippon Ichi’s own press release. I’m just going to let them doing the talking for me here.

What is MoÃÆ’©?

MoÃÆ’© has become one of the most popular words among Japanese “Otaku”. Various definitions of MoÃÆ’© have been presented. However, it seems like each individual give different definitions to the word.

Here is what NIS America sees in the word, MoÃÆ’©:

Moi is used when a person expresses his/ her feelings of adoration, admiration, and love toward fictional characters, which are unreachable or unobtainable. MoÃÆ’© is a combined feeling of innocence, purity, and naÃÆ’¯ve. This feeling is often non-sexual. A good example is if you could remember the feelings of your first love when you were young, those pure and indescribable fluttery feelings. The Japanese Otaku tend to have that innocent love and adoration toward videogame characters, and Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia contains many characters that embody those feelings. Interestingly, each individual may describe MoÃÆ’© differently from others; some might say it is sexual, some might not. NIS America would like to represent Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia as a game that recreates those innocent feelings once again.

Make of that what you will. I have a feeling no matter how I touch that, it’s going to come out dirty. I will say that this seems to imply the game is going to have either a dating sim aspect ala Sakura Taisen, or else it will have an interactive emotion connectivity feature ala Shining Force 3, Star Ocean 2, or Vanguard Bandits.

Finally the gameplay appears to be very similar to the two Atelier Iris games that made it stateside, both in terms of battles and world exploration. If you’re a fan of those games, Ar Tonelico promises to offer you more of what you loved, along with a stronger and deeper plot.

Ar Tonelico is due out February 2007 and will only be on the PS2. It looks to be one of the last games for the system according to EBGames, so this just might be an excellent swan song for the system. Either that, or it’ll be Magic Knight Rayearth all over again. Only time will tell if Ar Tonelico can achieve the smash hit success it garnered in Japan.