JRPGs are a tough sell these days on iOS. Typically ports making their way from other systems, most seem characterized by substandard touch control integration and shoddy English translations. Fantasy Chronicle [$2.99] thankfully only suffers significantly from one of those two issues. While the translation is certainly lacking, the core gameplay and controls make this RPG an enjoyable experience, assuming you’re into a lot of grinding.

Fantasy Chronicle follows the story of Light, a mysterious youth adopted by a small village who begins his training to join Holos Over, the hero guild charged with ridding the world of evil. During his adventure, Light encounters strife, grief, revenge and nearly every other RPG cliché under the sun. While the story isn’t going to win any awards, it does just enough to advance the narrative and keep you playing, which is more than I can say for some of the other games in the genre.

One area that Fantasy Chronicle does a great job with is its battle system depth. Players control a maximum of three main characters at any time, and each of those characters can employ the aid of a guardian beast – monsters that have their own stats and special moves and can share the damage incurred by the character they are attached to. In addition, you can also set various tactics for your guardian beasts which impact the amount of damage they share with their companion.

I also enjoyed the material/crafting system that Fantasy Chronicle employs. Every enemy you defeat has a chance to drop some kind of raw material that you can later use to create or upgrade your weapons and armor. Upgrade your equipment enough and you have an opportunity to convert it into a different item entirely (assuming you find the crafting book for the new item). Soon after the intro, you also meet an NPC that’ll automatically find certain material for you depending on what locations you tell him to search. It’s a neat little addition that lets you supplement your materials to make the crafting experience a little less monotonous.

Control-wise, while I don’t think Fantasy Chronicle does a particularly good job with its touch controls, the virtual D-Pad controls are very responsive. I particularly liked the optional control toggle that lets you quickly switch between touch and D-Pad controls whenever you wish (this is particularly useful because the D-Pad is huge and blocks a lot of screen space). It’s a feature I think more games could use.

Like many other JRPGs on iOS, Fantasy Chronicle suffers from a mismanaged English translation. Casual conversations between characters feel disjointed, and there’s a lot of story (and non-story) related dialogs that are borderline incomprehensible. It’s never a good sign when I get to a story section and I find myself trying to speed through simply because I don’t really care too much. Granted, I’ve seen plenty of games with a more horrid translation than Fantasy Chronicle, but considering its RPG roots I’m always a bit more critical of an element I consider essential.

The biggest issue I think Fantasy Chronicle contends with is eventual tedium. Each region that you explore has a town acting as the central hub with quests, with a few surrounding areas inhabited by baddies. Typically, you’ll enter the town, get a few quests with mundane objectives usually involving kill nearby enemies, and then you return for more quests. Do enough and you’ll unlock a story-based quest that expands on the narrative. Eventually, you’ll get to progress to a new region with the quest hub and you get to do it all over again.

Because of this type of mission structure, Fantasy Chronicle tends to feature a great deal of grinding with not a lot of story reward. You’re going to grind for mission objectives, resources for crafting, and for experience (although the last one not so much). Missions typically take you back to the same areas again, and when you’ve found yourself over leveled for those areas, the experience becomes an exercise in how fast you can push the attack button during battles.

There are undoubtedly some JRPG fans out there that embrace this style of play. Considering that Fantasy Chronicle gets a lot of the underlying gameplay and controls right, I’d actually recommend it to those types of gamers as a title worth checking out. However, if you’re looking for something a bit less formulaic or a game with more emphasis on story quality, Fantasy Chronicle may not be the RPG you’re looking for.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Declan Bowers

    Meh.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reminding me why I shouldn't waste my time reading article comments on TA.

      On the review itself, I believe this is the first time I have ever heard of "strife, grief, revenge" described as JRPG cliches. I would think that all three are at the core of much dramatic writing. I think the question really is whether the characters "earn" their emotions in the narrative, and whether the way they express them help them become defined as characters. I would say both are true for Fantasy Chronicle. Besides, any story that features a surly bunny as a major character has something going for it,

  • Anonymous

    Cannot quite agree with this one. This is a very good old school JRPG that every fan of the genre should like. It kept me up till late at night just like in the old days, which can't be said by many other incarnations of said genre on ios. 

    The character artwork is very nice and the characters are likable (there is plenty of dialogue), the story is interesting and kept me going, and it is quite long. 

    I liked it more than Ash II, fans of the genre should definitely check this one out!

  • Briker Ed

    I think I'm at a point in my life, where after playing through various 2d JRPG games, I'm getting a bit tired of the 'typical' graphic presentation for such titles. I honestly can't say if this has been made with a RPG maker of some sort, or is using some other stock graphics, but if that's the first question that pops into my mind after taking a first glance at a game I tend to lose interest completely, no matter the other bits. The grinding or other cliché elements typical for a JRPG don't tire me as much as having to look at something as uninspiring (dare I say generic). It could be the best storyline or battle mechanic ever, still wouldn't make a difference. But then again, that's just me. . . . It wouldn't hurt if they, from time to time, threw in something visually different into the loop, as this isn't the only way a JRPG looks like.

  • Anonymous

    I've grown accustomed to grinding in RPGs. Honestly, I actually find it fun. Mashing away at the same enemies over and over again... walking around in circles just to get one more random encounter... watching those EXP bars fill up little by little... it's an engaging experience once you're used to it. It's saddening to know that the translation isn't up-to-par, but so long as it isn't incoherent babbling, then I'm fine with it.

RPG - Fantasy Chronicle Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5