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Ar tonelico: Battle Songs
Company: NIS America

Ar tonelico, the latest game from Gust, the studio behind Atelier Iris, focuses on three characters, a young knight named Lyner Barsett and two girls named Aurica Nestmile and Misha Lune. Aurica and Misha are Reyvateils, or singers who are able to cast spells through song. Their special talents make up Ar tonelico’s unique battle system.

Throughout the game, your party is teamed up with Reyvateils. Like most RPG magic-wielders, the Reyvateils attached to your party are weak, placing them on the back line at all times. The longer Reyvateils are allowed to sing, the more powerful their spells become. When Reyvateils come under attack you can guard them, making the relationship between the singer and fighter stronger.

This bond is built off the battlefield as well. Outside battle, you have to dote on your singers and make sure their needs are taken care of. The more attention you pay to Reyvateils, the more powerful their repertoire of songs becomes. A healing spell that only heals one party member may grow to affect everyone with enough time. Songs can increase up to four levels.

One of the most important aspects of relationship building is the Dive System. Here you actually go into the girl’s psyche, or Cosmosphere, and interact with their personality. By doing this, you’ll build up their powers and discover aspects of their personality that they would never show to the outside world. Each girl’s soulspace is a reflection of their personality and can be anything from a forest of thorns to a storybook world. Each girl’s Cosmosphere is broken up into levels that you must clear. The deeper you go, the more powerful they become. Eventually you’ll make it to their Deep Subconscious, unlocking their true potential.

Reyvateils can also learn new skills by equipping new outfits. Each new outfit adds new parameters to your Reyvateils, which also allows them to last a little longer in battles.

Battles are random, though only for a limited time. Each area has a meter that indicates the number of enemies in the area. As you win battles, this number decreases. Once it hits zero, you are free to explore without further harassment.

As RPGs go, Ar tonelico is unique – but in a good way. It delivers a fun, old school RPG experience combined with a deep battle system. Look for Ar tonelico this February.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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