Kemco, a Japanese development company specializing in Turn Based RPGs, has just released their newest iOS port, Fantasy Chronicle. If you’re familiar with Kemco’s last releases, Symphony of Eternity, Alphadia and Eve of the Genesis, you probably already know that Kemco is right up there with Square Enix when it comes to the quality of their stories, combat mechanics, depthy equip+upgrade systems, the music used in their titles, and, of course, the gameplay. Fantasy Chronicle is no exception, and, in fact, is their most polished, and well thought out English translated iOS release to date.
Fantasy Chronicle tells the story of 8 characters; The main character, Light, his foster sister, Fina, their ‘Grandma’, Ohma, Alterbo, a sargent in the army, Holos Over, a young girl, Corona, a magical rabbit, Mr. Poo, a girl who looks a lot like Fina, Retea, and Ray, a woman from the Dark Clans. There are other minor characters which you’ll come into contact with throughout the game, but these are the 8 that play a major roll throughout the majority of the game. I don’t want to give too much away, because like Kemco’s previous releases, the story is a huge part of the game. However, in Fantasy Chronicle, the story is a bigger part of the game than any of their previous English iOS ports. There’s a lot more going on with the characters, a lot more growth with each of them, as well as more twists, turns, drama, conflict, obsession, revenge, and everything that makes fantastic dramatic writing. The translation is also superb, as we have come to expect from Kemco. No Google Translations here. There are a couple of words that shouldn’t have been capitalized, and maybe a comma missing here and there, but aside from that, the story, and everything every single one of the characters within the game says is understandable, and grammatically correct.
Light, the main character that you will start off playing with first, is an orphan, being raised by a woman named Ohma. Living with Light and Ohma, is a young woman named Fina, who is about Light’s age. Light, wanting to follow in the footsteps of Alberto, a friend of the family, and presumably someone whom Ohma has also raised, joins the volunteer army known as Holos Over. After a couple days of training, the village in which Light has grown up in, Selka, is destroyed, with no trace of Ohma or Fina left behind, and all that’s certain is that whoever destroyed Selka is the same person or group who destroyed another village because of the symbol found amongst the ruins. You’ll go on Light’s journey to find out what happened to Fina and Ohma, and discover the truth behind who’s at fault for the destruction of his village, as well as the destruction of other villages throughout the land.
Gameplay, Controls & Music: 5/5
The gameplay in Fantasy Chronicle is typical of Turn-Based RPGs, in that you’ll be able to wonder around in towns, and other areas, as well as having a world map. You’ll start off being able to visit your hometown, and then as you explore through forests, and go down other paths, you’ll start to unlock and open up other areas within the world map that you’ll be able to jump to. Each town has a handful of places which you can visit, the Inn, Item Shop, Workshop, Town Square, Guild, Private House, Church, ect. But you will spend most of your time within the Workshop and Guild, as this is where you’ll get your missions, and upgrade equipment. Most of the time, the game plays like older Final Fantasy games, with your characters needing to speak to certain individuals in order to progress through the story, so you will also be spending a lot of time talking to the people in each of the towns, learning about the world, and triggering more story sequences.
There are some areas which do have quite a bit of grinding, but as you’ll quickly learn, what grinding there is is heavily rewarded with the story sequences that break it up. In relation to Kemco’s previous releases, the grinding is not as heavy as it is in Alphadia, but it is there. Good thing about it, though, is that with the extremely well designed combat system, the grinding could actually be considered a welcome addition, with the game having very few battles that can be won by pressing the ‘auto’ button. As for the controls, you can choose between using the touch controls, or having a virtual button set-up on the screen. There is a quick button change between the two in the lower right corner of the screen. This control set-up is great, and should really be used more in iOS games, as there are certain sections which feel better with the touch controls, and others that are better with the virtual buttons. For instance, the virtual buttons are great for exploration, and moving throughout the menus, as well as jumping from place to place on the world map, where as the touch screen controls are fantastic for the combat, upgrade, shop, and mission screens, and being able to switch between the two just by touching the lower right corner makes deciding what controls you would prefer for different sections extremely easy. The music is exceptional, and fits with the game to a “T”. There is not one section of the game where the music does not fit the mood for what’s happening. Numerous times multiple musical selections are used for one dialogue sequence, changing as the mood does.
The graphics are typical of your usual retro looking RPG. In fact, you could say it looks extremely generic. However, the up-close character images during dialogue, and their models, as well as every single one of the enemy sprites/models, is done exceptionally well, adding a lot to the feel of the game. Each of the environments that you’ll traverse through are put together extremely well. With some places given a nighttime look, and others being underground, it really would have been nice to see some lighting effects used, even if in a 2D fashion. However, what the classics have shown us is that graphics are a very small part of the genre as a whole, and even though showing off some new insane graphical style would have added to the game in a cosmetic sense, it’s really the story, combat, upgrades, equips, and music that make an RPG game great, though graphics are a big cherry on top, they are not required. Don’t get me wrong, Fantasy Chronicle does, in no way, have bad graphics, in fact, I think almost all of the enemy’s models, as well as the characters hand drawn images all look fantastic and add a lot to the feeling of the game, but if you’re tired of the typical 2D “retro” RPG look, Fantasy Chronicle will in no way impress you.
Combat, Upgrade & Equip System: 5/5
This is where Fantasy Chronicle really shines. The combat, upgrade, and equip systems and mechanics. With the combat, you’re able to choose 3 characters from your party to fight, with each of the three characters able to have with them, a guardian beast. These beasts grow stronger, accumulate experience with each of the characters, and also grow a bond with the characters which you pair them up with. The longer you have a beast and character paired up, the stronger the bond between the two. This bond is used in combat, as you can set each of the guardian beasts to attack, share the damage from enemies, or focus on healing. You are also able to pair up characters, having them join special attacks for a set amount of SP (magical power), increasing the attack that you can use. With the upgrade system, you are able to collect minerals from each of the areas that you’ll explore, from both exploring, as well as from defeating monsters. After you open up a little bit of the game in the beginning, you’ll also be able to use more characters in the Workshops to go and mine for minerals while you’re out exploring, fighting, and in general, progressing throughout the game, and be able to collect it when you come back to the Workshop in each of the visited towns.
Using these minerals, you’ll be able to upgrade items. There are also books scattered throughout the world of Fantasy Chronicle, which you’ll be able to collect, and use to turn current items into different, more powerful items. Along with the minerals, you’ll be able to find swords and armor scattered throughout the world, which you can then bring back to the Workshops, and have them disassembled so that you can gain materials that way too. With the upgrade system, your characters, as well as guardian beasts, become stronger with each level, as well as learn certain spells as they level up. The bond you create with the characters and the guardian beasts also grows, making the extra skills your guardians have stronger as well. Once you start experimenting with the whole combat and equipping systems, you’ll learn how deep they really are, giving you a lot of control over what happens in battle, and what items you equip your characters with. Planning within each of the areas for what types of enemies you’ll face and what elements they might have will also become a big part of what you use to upgrade your equipment, and what equipment you take along with you into battle.
Kemco has shown that they know and have what it takes to compete with the best of the best within the Turn-Based RPG genre, and Fantasy Chronicle is probably their best release to date, being the most polished, well-presented, title they’ve ported to the iOS as of yet. Right now, with it’s price at $2.99, it’s a must buy for RPG fans. The combat system is one of the best I’ve seen, the story is amazingly well written, extremely engaging, and well translated with characters that you’ll become very attached to. Once you start playing, don’t be surprised if you find it hard to start up any other games on your device until you reach the end. Kemco has shown what they’re made of with their previous English iOS releases, but with Fantasy Chronicle, they’ve managed to set a new standard; not only for what fans of the genre should expect from other companies, but for what Kemco can truly bring to the table.