None of this is to say that Fantastic Knight couldn’t use some brushing up. Sorely needed in updates is an auto-save feature: many a player is going to shake a fist at Minoraxis when he or she has to slog through a dungeon or several cutscenes yet again on account of a forgotten tap at the all-important manual save button. While it’s nice that the manual save button is reliable and always within thumb’s reach, the intense nature of combat has a tendency to draw the player’s attention far away from it. Those who pick up Fantastic Knight at launch will want to make a healthy habit of reaching for it after every important plot or gameplay development. Also unfortunate is how little visual feedback the player receives when Wenrick or Erien sustain injury — many players will make the mistake of thinking Fantastic Knight is easy, until they realize the player characters are really taking as many hits as they dish out. In truth, Wenrick and Erien will easily be cut down in boss battles and while adventuring if the player doesn’t learn how to make use of debilitating skills to numb up the opposition.
Finally, Fantastic Knight‘s supreme focus on combat means there’s little in the way of puzzle solving or rewards for exploring its environments other than finding sidequest opportunities in towns. There’s no doubting Fantastic Knight falls into the upper echelon of its niche within the wider realm of RPGs, but it’s a bit sad to see a game with this much love poured into it fall short of more mainstream appeal. Fantastic Knight goes to great strides to ensure the player’s aware of its time-attack dungeon – complemented by leaderboards and Game Center integration – but since this essentially slaps a timer on what the player does normally, I found it more an afterthought than a truly amusing side show. In any case, the story scenarios already add up to more than ten hours’ worth of material.
Lacking the rich environments seen in some of its competitors, Fantastic Knight will strike genre vets as aesthetically lacking at first — especially in Wenrick’s scenario, where his limited regular attacks would seem to presage poor animation quality. Once the player starts Erien’s scenario and Wenrick’s special attacks become available, however, it’s clear that the game’s sprite work shines with a certain charm, and the Minoraxis art team’s work on full-body character portraits is well worth the risk of making Wenrick look like he stepped right out of Fruit Juice Tycoon 2. The player character sprites may not reflect equipment changes in realtime, but I’ll take Fantastic Knight‘s natural animations over ragdoll effect and uncanny bobbing any day of the week. On the aesthetic downside the game’s music, consisting of screechy and over-used jingles, doesn’t fare well at all. An option to silence the game’s music without silencing its sound effects would be most welcome!
iFanzine Verdict: Sporting as loving a translation as Minoraxis could muster and well-polished gameplay, Fantastic Knight represents a step forward for the KRPG niche. Its strict focus on combat will be a turnoff for some, but Action RPG fans accustomed to the sub-genre, or those interested in trying out such a title for the first time, can’t go wrong here. Those who take our advice and make use of Fantastic Knight‘s multi-save system to play both scenarios at once will get the most fun out of it!
So, maybe you don’t believe us when we say Fantastic Knight is pretty fantastic, or maybe you just won’t have the spare change for awhile. But we bet you’ve got a Twitter and Facebook account, so why not put those to work for a chance to win this high-end KRPG for free? Thanks to Minoraxis, three lucky iFanzine readers will!