Ephemeral Fantasia
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 09/08/2006

The PlayStation 2 has had many great role-playing games, a fair share of average ones, and as with every console, it is plagued with some truly awful games. Ephemeral Fantasia is a game that falls into the latter category.

Ephemeral Fantasia takes place on the island of Pandule. Players control Mouse, a renowned guitar player who was invited to play at Xelpherpolis’s upcoming royal wedding. Shockingly, Xelpherpolis isn’t the upright man everyone thought, and soon Mouse is plunged into a plot by Xelpherpolis to suck the life out of everyone on the island! This plot is entirely original…if the player hasn’t played any other role-playing games. Its writers tried to shake things up by throwing a time-looping spell into the mix, as if the game didn’t have enough clichés already.

Screen Shot
Yah, that’s about as good as the graphics get.

There really is no saving point for the story; the characters all attempt to be emotional, but fail miserably. Interaction between Mouse and the rest of the cast seems forced the entire time, and most of the characters are just bland. Sadly, all of them are entirely predictable and stick to standard RPG stereotypes such as–you guessed it–having every single woman in the game feature overly large breasts. The characters do try to be likable, but their steretypical overzealousness outweighs any attempts. The only interesting part of the story is Mouse’s guitar, Pattimo. It is disturbing that the most entertaining character is an inanimate object that speaks to Mouse’s mind.

The developers also attempt to make the game open-ended by allowing players fairly free exploration of the island on which Mouse is stranded. Unfortunately, due to the nigh merciless difficulty of many enemies, players won’t be able to venture out very far at all. New characters also join the party on certain days or weeks, and if characters happen to miss them, it’s just too bad, as there is no other chance. This can cause much frustration and backtracking to old save files. This crap is simply is not well laid out. While the opening sequence showed promise, the rest was bland, boring, slow, and downright awful.

Unfortunately, the story is not the only mistake in the game, as the battle system is terrible. Battles take place in a sort of active system similar to the latter Final Fantasy games, but somehow makes such a classic and simple system come off as overbearingly difficult to execute. Characters don’t act immediately when players issue them commands, but instead they must wait a set amount of time to take an action. This seems an odd choice to overlap two different systems that force players to wait to attack. Another problem with the system is a lot of it seems completely random. The time spent waiting for characters to carry out their actions seems to vary completely from battle to battle. Furthermore, enemies gain a sort of defensive bonus if they’re waiting time is almost full. It really doesn’t make sense how the system works, and it could have been done much better. As it stands, the system is a mix of two average-grade subsystems that somehow makes the product abominable.

Screen Shot
Even Mouse is ashamed to be in this game.

Graphically, it is obvious that the game is behind its times. Ephemeral Fantasia was originally slated for release on the Dreamcast, but was later moved to the PlayStation 2, and didn’t make the graphical leap well. The game seems much better suited for the PlayStation than it does for the second iteration of the console. Environments are bland, enemies are recycled, and characters are not animated well at all.

The high point of the game is undoubtedly the music. But even with that said, the soundtrack is average at best. There are some great pieces that stand out, particularly Mouse’s guitar compositions, but the rest of the game’s music is as drab and boring as the environment the game takes place in.

It really is impossible to recommend this to any fan of RPGs. Ephemeral Fantasia has nothing in it that hasn’t been done better in other games. Its story doesn’t capture attention, the characters are dull, and the battle system will drive away any who hadn’t already been scared off. Simply put, Ephemeral Fantasia is one RPG to miss.

-Joseph Wartick

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Offensive
Story Horrible
Graphics Horrible
Sound/Music Average
Replay Value Offensive
The Verdict: 2