Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica review

  • Well-designed, fun battle system
  • Tons of well-written humor
  • Includes awesome soundtrack
  • Getting rejected in the Cosmosphere
  • Having to make tough decisions
  • Not on PS3

As the epitome of niche, Ar Tonelico 2: Melody of Metafalica will never enjoy mass-market appeal, and it’s kind of a shame. As far as JRPGs go, AT2 does absolutely everything right, with an innovative battle system that never seems to get old, well-developed characters, a complex yet easily-followable story, and even a well-streamlined map system that eliminates the tedium of traveling. Unless you totally hate RPGs, you will enjoy this game.

The turn-based battle system feels more actiony than your typical RPG, and each round is divided into an attack phase and a defense phase. Your party formation is made up of two components – the vanguard, who are basically meat shields fighting on the front lines of battle, and the Reyvateils (protected by the vanguard), who are magical girls with powerful “song magic” attacks that are charged by the energy of their vanguard partners.

During the attack phase, the two vanguard party members chain combos, attacking the enemy while the Reyvateils' song magic gauge builds. By pressing specific directions on the directional pad while attacking with the X and square buttons, the vanguard can perform special attacks, as well as charge the Reyvateils’ song magic gauges faster. At any time, you can release a song magic attack by hitting the circle button, and the strength of the attack will be determined by the percentage you’ve accumulated in the magic gauge. The defense phase is like a rhythm-based minigame, where waves of enemy attacks are represented by lines moving across a bar that you have to hit precisely when the lines sync up to successfully guard. It sounds simple, but it works a lot better and is less frustrating than reflex-based guard systems or trying to decipher ambiguous visual cues.

Not only is the battle system already solidly fun as-is, but AT2 rations out additions to the system at a pace that always keeps things interesting. Not just extra magic attacks and so forth – but completely novel additions like “Girl Power” where you can pick an additional Reyvateil partner to give you stat boosts, and a super powerful mega-attack called Replakia that actually pulls power from all the different Reyvateils you’ve saved over the course of the game.

More Info

Release date: Jan 20 2009 - PS2 (US)
Available Platforms: PS2
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: NIS America
Developed by: Banpresto, Gust
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Mild Fantasy Violence


  • Metroidhunter32 - May 22, 2010 5:28 p.m.

    Wait, it isn't pervy? Sounds like it is to me.
  • dphoenix192 - February 3, 2009 2:18 a.m.

    Isn't there suppose to be a game killing bug. It had something to do with a boss using a move that was taken out in the english localization which causes the game to crash. Although I hear, it is possible to get around it It seems like a great game overall but with this bug would it really deserve a 9.
  • RonnyLive19881 - January 22, 2009 7:06 p.m.

    And if it was on PS3 it would be 60$ because of the blu-ray crap. Since my PS3 is backwards compatible I don't care. Sony is stupid for taking it away.
  • Vynne - February 5, 2009 6 a.m.

    I've heard rumors of that bug as well. I didn't personally encounter it myself, though. Either I killed that boss before the bug could happen or it only happens sometimes. I did, however, have a spot where the game froze while I was burning trash. The game also lagged at various times, throwing off my timing in combat. Even stepping on a save point usually froze the game for a second.
  • Sepheyiath - January 29, 2009 3:02 p.m.

    This is the only real review of this interesting JRPG title that I've been able to find so far. It's a bit sad that major gaming magazines and websites don't seem to care about reviewing PS2 games anymore. It may be true that Sony themselves and large swaths of the gaming population have pretty much lost their interest in the console, but the fact of the matter is that there are still many PS2 players out there who wouldn't want to miss out on any good new releases (especially when, as was apparently the case with "Sonic Unleashed", the lastgen versions of a multiplatform title are superior to the currentgen ones!). I for one recently bought a new PS2 and find myself spending a lot more time with that console than with my Xbox 360..
  • Kattleox - January 23, 2009 8:55 p.m.

    I have a PS3 and have found that PS2 games are typically, not only cheaper than PS3 games, but quite often--like in this case--better. I WILL get this for my PS3 (60GB version, baby!) as soon as I see it on a shelf.
  • GamesRadarCarolynGudmundson - January 22, 2009 9:49 p.m.

    @Grenade/RonnyLive19881 Yeah, I agree to some extent - at least it's better than Disgaea 3 being on PS3 and still looking like a PS2 game. And yes, the sprite graphics are really pretty, but that's mainly just in the dialog sections - everywhere else I would have liked to be prettier. There are quite a few decent RPGs out for current-gen systems now, like Tales of Vesperia and Eternal Sonata, that it's easy to start getting used to that graphical level.
  • Grenade - January 22, 2009 6:40 p.m.

    How can you complain that it's not on the PS3? There's no difference. They both have the same controller and considering the game's sprite graphics it wouldn't look any better on a next-gen console.
  • sniperscope - January 22, 2009 6:39 p.m.

    I'm sorry but I have to do this FIRST!! :D

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