Most of the time, when a really cool-looking game is announced for Apple Arcade, the biggest response is, “Why is this only coming to Apple Arcade?!” So when it comes to Fantasian, the new Apple Arcade RPG from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, there are people who would push their grandmother down the stairs to get this game on a traditional platform like Nintendo Switch. Nonetheless, Mistwalker’s Fantasian is exclusive to the platform for now, and it uses more than 150 real-life handcrafted dioramas crafted by 150 artists as the beautiful backgrounds for all of its action. And if that didn’t sound incredible enough already, Sakaguchi has explained that Fantasian is influenced by SNES’s Final Fantasy VI, the greatest (you heard me) Final Fantasy game.
Speaking to Polygon through a translator, Sakaguchi explained that he and his colleagues recently replayed Final Fantasy VI when it was released as part of the SNES Classic lineup, and “That really renewed my interest and love in this classic JRPG genre and gave me an opportunity to return to my roots.” It helps that legendary Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu is also composing the soundtrack.
However, Fantasian isn’t just Final Fantasy VI with dioramas (though I would play that to death). It offers Sakaguchi’s usual boundary-pushing, such as with a Dimengeon system (“dimension” and “dungeon” mushed together), which allows you to delay random battles for a time and then tackle the accumulated battles all at once later. It’s a strange yet practical way to be able to fully enjoy just the combat or just the exploration at a given time.
The narrative premise of Fantasian sounds relatively standard and not very Final Fantasy VI, but Sakaguchi is writing the story and I will never doubt him for a second:
The tale begins in a realm governed by machines. Within this multi-dimensional universe, the balance of “Chaos and Order” becomes a key factor in the struggle for these realms and the machinations of the gods who wish to control them. Players will assume the role of protagonist, Leo, who awakens from a massive explosion only to find himself lost in a strange land with only one memory left to him. As players set out on a journey to reclaim Leo’s memories, they will unravel the mysteries of the bizarre mechanical infection slowly engulfing all that is known to mankind.
Fantasian was created with touch controls in mind, so dropping this bad boy on Nintendo Switch would not be out of the question. That doesn’t necessarily make it any more likely though. What do you think of the ambitious next RPG from Hironobu Sakaguchi?