Sunday, January 8, 2023

Mobile Friday: Apple Arcade - Fantasian - The First Hour

This fifth video in the new Mobile Friday: Apple Arcade series is on Fantasian. This is an exclusive game on Apple Arcade from Mistwalker and Arzest.

This game is perhaps one of the most famous games on Apple Arcade. it's an exclusive game from Mistwalker, a Japanese studio, and features staff who have worked on Final Fantasy games. It's also the game i've seen the most about so going in, i knew roughly what to expect.

It does make a great first impression, it looks impressive on my phone's screen and right from the start the game's user interface keeps the main character in clear sight and doesn't feel cluttered, even in the menus. there's a good use of art through to help make menus clear.

Controlling it though, it really is a tale of two halves. as usual, i started the game using touch screen controls. there is no onscreen analogue, you have to leave pins for the character to follow. there are on screen prompts and to the top and bottom are pictures showing who's in your party and the attacking order. at best, i'd say this works fine with touch controls. But, the biggest issue was with the Dynamic Island as it covers, probably, 95% of an arrow that's needed to open the menu. you can open the menu, but the Dynamic Island will react. thankfully, it just vibrates. 

Switching to a controller was where this game came into it's own. controlling the character via the left analogue stick felt natural and at the bottom of the screen it said what other buttons do. i didn't feel any lag using the bluetooth Xbox One X Controller, if anything things felt faster as i was no longer having to drop a pin for the character to follow.

There was one major sticking point for me that bugged me throughout the game and that was the speech bubbles. they looked out of place. they didn't feel like they were from the same world. they often covered up parts of characters, too. This game uses the camera and UI to highlight the characters and make the world feel big an open. but when the speech bubbles appear that's largely ruined. thankfully it has a great story with multiple threads already mentioned. it is a little stereotypical in places, but this game does ride the line of being a stereotype of a PS1 era JRPG.

The most frustrating place this happens is the game's save system. you can only save the game at specific large crystals in the game. there does seem to be a auto save system but i've not tried that out. the save system as it is seems like an unnecessary relic of the past that doesn't help the game be a mobile game that's easy to pick up and play. Also at these crystals you can use a specific item to heal your whole party in one go, health and MP. you can use potions to heal during the game, but this feels a little dated.

I did have fun, but i'm also a little familiar with the JRPGs of it's heritage. i do wonder if these nods, or embraces, to the past do more harm than good. for now, for the first hour, it's an awkward first impression but good enough to keep going for a little longer. But it maybe one i only play on TV.