There is, however, another game (series) that I attempted to play through a while ago - Ar Tonelico - and quickly quit, due to its...strange nature. I'll admit, years ago, aside from the Final Fantasy series, I didn't dabble in many Japanese RPGs. At one point I stumbled across the Persona series and, after getting part way through the story, thought: What kind of weird stuff is this?
Funny, I know. But lately I've made it a point to start appreciating video games for their artistic expressions along with their gameplay value. When I picked up the first Ar Tonelico game, Melody of Elemia, a couple years ago and played through it a bit, I found myself somewhat embarrassed and feeling childish for entertaining myself to such a strange - and some might say perverted - game.
Well, I'm all grown up now boys and girls, and I'm taking another stab at the series...and I'm loving it.
The most unique thing about the games is the female characters called Reyvateils. They have the ability to sing songs that release magic to help you in battle, but in order to help them craft this song magic, you have to go to a dive shop and 'dive' into their cosmosphere, or soul space. If that sounds a little dirty...it's meant to. The games take a very tongue-in-cheek route to the male libido. Dialogue in the game is borderline perverted - if taken out of context - which it's hard not to, especially when the back of the first game's packaging states, 'You never forget your first,' and the second game's packaging states, 'Always come back for seconds.'
For those who wonder how far this game goes in bringing sexual content to the table, the games are rated T (not M) for suggestive themes and partial nudity - at least in the case of the second in the series. However, as a comparison, I played Final Fantasy XII and it states on its package that it too is rated T for partial nudity but I think it was only because of some of the character costumes, which I guess according to some prude gamers can be considered risque. Personally, I found nothing warranting the partial nudity claim in that game. And from what I can tell so far, Ar Tonelico is not a porno series.The innuendo is brought into the game in a somewhat humorous fashion alongside all the quirkiness a Japanese RPG is known to have, at least from my experience.Initially, the innuendo is what turned me off from the game, only because I had never played a game of this caliber before. But if one takes the time to move past the immature - yet most times hilarious - dialogue, there is a true gem of a game underneath.
Ar Tonelico has traditional RPG elements - you fight enemies, gain experience, level up, craft items. It all makes for a fun time. Most of the time on the playing field is done up in 2D sprites. The game then switches to beautifully illustrated cutouts during character dialogue. Overall, the presentation is nice and easy on the eyes. A welcome change to other RPGs I've played in the past, and even to some I've played recently on next-gen systems.
I know some of the people in my circle of friends and family would immediately shun this game for the sexual content - most of which is innuendo - alone, but I think the core of Ar Tonelico has an entertaining story and rich enough gameplay that you don't see much of in today's next-gen video games.