Being a game by Yoshifumi Hashimoto, the mind behind the classic Harvest Moon series (Now known as “Story of Season”), you would expect the same innocent charm and addicting gameplay from that series, but Luminous Arc Infinity turns out to be a whole different beast all together! This is to be expected! After all, Luminous Arc is a different series with its own style. But what if this new chapter doesn’t quite fit into its original series, either?
“Idols” are the most important existence in this world! The planet is supported by the magic powers that each Idol gathers from citizens of their respective nation. By embedding this power on giant crystals known as “Lapis”, they assure that life in the planet will keep stable. But now, a group calling themselves “Amadeus” is threatening the lives of those same Idols, and it’s when the protagonist gets involved in a big countermeasure plan to fight against those terrorists.As a conductor, Xird possesses a vital ability to this world: He is able to tune an idol to make easier for them to bring forth their powers. Even though he was still a disciple, he was surprisingly talented and smart enough to single-handed solve problems affecting a whole nation in just a few minutes. Taking this into account, it was no surprise that his master and the Empress left him in charge of the operation to fight against Amadeus.However, it is very unlikely that someone cursed by the Desert of Darkness will be able to protect the idols of every nation with his weak body that is drying up little by little, just like the very desert that cursed him. And to make matters worse, Xird himself is a lazy bastard with no motivation towards his mission whatsoever. The future of this world is bleak…
Like her name suggests, Aqua is an idol who possesses power over water and all its curing properties (but her name can end up changing to “Azura” if this game comes to the US, so it wouldn’t make that much of a sense any longer).Her father is a conductor who raised Xird as his own child and became his master at the conductor arts. Therefore, Aqua became Xird’s step-sister, although she’s completely head-over-heels for the boy and dreams of becoming his wife (which makes every event to raise her affection for Xird quite pointless). Ziorker is an idol and knight with flame powers. She was possessed by a demon and became unable to age and to control her emotions, so she can go on a rampage at any given moment if Xird doesn’t bitch-slap some sense into her.When influenced by this demon, the usually cold and serious warrior can become a cry baby all of a sudden. For this and other reasons, she lives together with Xird and Aqua at the flying city of “Floatia” as Xird’s protector. Brigitta is not only an idol, but also a young Empress who had to follow the traditions of her country that is ruled by women.To meet the expectations of her people, she became a flawless Mary Sue who is able to master anything after only a few tries. This also gave her a huge competitive spirit, as she is obsessed at being No.1 on everything. The only thing close to being a “weak point” for her is her big appetite. Rana is the idol of a tribe resembling Indigenous people (although she is too white-skinned for that). She has a very slow mind and is pretty childish for her size (being the tallest girl in the group).She falls in love for Xird at first sight and misunderstands his invitation to join the party for a marriage proposal. Hence, she is always clinging to him and calling him “husband”. Palsh is an idol and self-proclaimed “time-traveler” who used her high intellect to make a huge technological advance at her country.However, most of her inventions end up in failure and she just piles up lots of debts to get the resources she needs. At the moment, not even the whole national fund can pay for her debts. C-9 is an android with a soul who Palsh created by sharing part of her magical powers and putting it inside the robot’s core.She was originally created to play the role of Palsh’s mother, but her love for the genius loli was just too intense, so she became overwhelmed by lust. Now her hobby is to collect Palsh’s underwears and she dreams of stealing her creator’s virginity someday…Hisoka belongs to no one! A capricious clown of death and desire who seeks for a challenger who can bring excitement to his life. Apparently, he was a pop-idol too…Oh! Wait! Wrong Hisoka! This Hisoka is an idol specialized at surviving skills.She was caught up in a big conspiracy and became a wanted woman, accused for the murder of her own parents. She is actually a very carefree prankster. Violet is a legendary witch who used an ancient technique to transfer her soul to many different animals in order to live many different lives while keeping her human body preserved and un-aged.She finally breaks the circle to help Xird in his quest, but she lived in her last animal body for too long, so she kept some animal instincts, which completely ruined her image as a cool and mysterious older sister. Feilang is the Earth idol from the Oni clan and a very skilled martial artist who manages to keep a human-like body because of her pure heart.She wishes to bring peace between her people and the human race. Kasumi is the idol of the rain and was also Xird and Aqua’s home tutor, but now she travels together with the world’s biggest caravan to search for a cure to Xird’s curse.She has the bad habit of getting overly emotional whenever one of her students show any sign of growth. Alto is one of the greatest genius in the history of the academy that teaches people how to talk with Lapis crystals. She is very tomboyish, but contrary to her looks, she is no good at sports, being better at studying than anything else. Sopra is Alto’s best friend. Each have one half of the great witch’s soul, that gives them the talent to talk with crystals, which is why they are considered geniuses by the academy.Unlike Alto, Sopra is capricious and hates studying, but she excels at sports and loves to play Lacrosse.
It’s very difficult to analyze this title! I can’t really say it’s a cheap game because they spent a lot on animations, voice-actors and such. I can’t quite say you shouldn’t take it seriously because there’re many dramatic events. And I can’t say it’s a lazy product because…no, wait! I actually CAN! It is freaking lazy!But above all that. Luminous Arc Infinity is a very silly game that tries to be all “serious business” with a plot that involves pop-idols, live concerts, producers and other popular elements from the Japanese pop-culture. It reminds me of Omega Quintet, and this is never a good sign!Those elements feel completely out of place, and the developers were well-aware of that, which is why they tried really hard to give a reason for such terms, customs and themes to be around in a medieval-fantasy setting. But you know what they say: “You can’t polish a turd”. Granted! It only made this shitty concept get all the more stinky.According to the “ever subtle” exposition given by the characters, “Idol” is a sacred word from ancient times originated from an abbreviation of the even older Latin words “initium diva omnibus lumen”, which would roughly translate to “diva who gives light to all people”. This same treatment is given to all other terms that doesn’t belong, like “live concert”. The idea is that those things are as holy as Jesus or Muhammad in this world, and not just connected to an entertainment based on cute fetishes.So, this means you’re actually playing something closer to an Idol M@ster RPG. The main protagonist and only male on the team isn’t actually “playable”, as he can only give support to the idols. He is basically the “producer”, and they even call him that sometimes!The game focus more on cute events than an actual story, much like games such as Neptune and its spin-offs. Games such as these always puzzle me, because I don’t know exactly who is the public for it. The silly story and over-simplistic characters would be boring for most teenagers and adult players, but I would never recommend this to a child because of the excessive sex appeal and fetishes that are everywhere in this game! The little plot that you get has an overly-optimistic world where everyone is goofing around even at a time of crisis. Everything is so “black-and-white” that villains can easily be spotted at first glance, as they are very cartoonish or have a very “evilish” character-design. Consequently, all attempts at a plot-twist utterly fails, since everything is pretty predictable. When there was finally something unexpected to break out from this boredom, it turned out to be just a mind-controlling thingy.There are glimpses of good writing here and there, like Xird’s curse, which would give a good drama, but this gets forgotten for 90% of the story. They only bring this plot-point back close to the end of the game, where they also try to be all serious all of a sudden, which really doesn’t work after spending over 20 hours of story with silly events.Most of the characters didn’t feel interesting to me, either. They felt much more one-dimensional than usual. For example, the witch of the wind from Stella Glow was a little girl enslaved by the people of her own hometown who treated her like a disgusting monster while forcing her to make horrible drugs. On the other hand, The Idol of the wind from Luminous Arc Infinity don’t even have much of a backstory and just keeps acting cute without showing any new aspect to her personality.Even when a character has, in fact, something big to worry about, everything just keeps being festive and positive! Hisoka, for example, never acts as someone who was wrongly accused of murdering her own parents and spent years running away with no one to trust. It’s not like she is trying to hide her pain or something! The writers just didn’t want to (or maybe didn’t know how to) deal with a heavy theme like this one. Therefore, I couldn’t feel any impact from those characters!The game is pretty linear, with 3 “arcs” of story, each one with its own animated opening sequence. The second arc happens at a certain point where you need to choose between Alto and Sopra to join your party, which results in a mini arc where the rejected one will become evil (which also gives a slightly different version of the same opening for each choice). You fight against her for 3 or so chapters, but once this is over, everything goes back to the same story path, regardless of which choice you made.There’s a huge amount of side-events and side-quests, but they just copy-paste the contents from a side-quest into another, so most of those share much of the same dialogs and objectives, making them repetitive.
Being developed by Felistella, the game shares some gameplay features with the Summon Night series, but for most part, it feels like its own game. The gameplay is pretty intuitive and user-friendly. Unfortunately, you get too many tutorials, which feels a lot like a Compile Heart game! They insist at explaining the most basic mechanics. It’s like the game-designers think the player is too retarded to understand what the save function is. And I kid you not! They have a tutorial even for THAT!Each unit has a separated turn that is decided by their speed value. During a heroine’s turn, you just need to click on a grid where her range can reach (blue) in order to move her around, and you only need to click on an enemy that is on your attack range (red) to hit it with a normal attack. To use special abilities, just click on the heroine you’re controlling to open a list of special actions.You don’t have values like “MP” or “AP” when using special abilities. Instead, each special command have a certain number of usage, being usually 3 per battle, but you can get a higher numbers by upgrading the skill-tree known as “producing plan”.This gives many paths to raise your idols: “Beauty” for magic, “Cool” for physical attacks, “Pure” for support and healers, and finally: The jack-of-all-trades “Variety”. You get much of the same skills on every path, but each one comes with different bonuses for attributes, which will play a big role on how your character will play.You can use a special “calling” command to sing, which makes an idol vulnerable to attacks, but she will give many bonuses to all allies in her range while she keeps singing. You can make more idols join her, which extends her range and gives even more bonuses. Different from Stella Glow, there are no “magical song attacks”, but as you sing, you fill a special gauge that can be used for dual-techs and even an ultimate attack.You can make this “song command” even stronger by playing a mini-game called “secret lesson”, which is the ever popular “touch-screen” fest. But that’s ok! Different from most games that share this feature (or most Japanese games in general) the majority of heroines in Luminous Arc Infinity are pretty developed older-sister types (with only two loli-exceptions), so you won’t feel as guilty as you normally would…IF this was the real problem about it, that is! Well, at least you don’t need to make them have an orgasm in order to succeed…Naturally, you have your regular “Love-Sim” part for each chapter (although the whole game feels like a “nukige” or “charage” already), you can walk around and spend time with your favorite idols. Actions like “talking, giving presents or a “secret lesson”, use a different amount of “break points” and give you a different amount of affection points in return. This works similarly to the “free time” sections from Stella Glow. What is vastly different from the Imageepoch game is that you get plenty of time during each of those “free time” sections, so it’s possible to easily unlock the ending for all heroines at a single playthrough.
Kippu, who is famous for his work on the No-Rin light novel series, makes the illustrations (for most part). It shows, since all the fan-service feels really shameless and the proportions of most female characters are shamelessly erotic!The graphics during combat are in SD and look good for most part. Some special attacks even got vivid and cool animations to it!As for the graphics during story events, they use a plain “visual-novel style” with some poorly made flash animations to make characters blinks and open their mouths. There’s no care for lip-sync, as the characters just go “(° o°)” whenever they need to talk, and they just randomly open and close their mouths while they talk.It would be better if this was just a slice-of-life Visual Novel, since all action scenes feel very uninspiring. The few interesting scenes are just ruined by the over-simplistic Visual-Novel presentation.The characters need to say out loud what is going on during every scene like they are narrating it for you. At this point, they can say pretty much anything, like: “WOW! He is flying together with all the kings and now they are dancing on the air! OH NO! He got stabbed! Ah! Never mind! A fairy saved him! Look! It’s a flying cow”.Any nonsensical bullshit like that, and you have no other choice but to just accept that as you try to picture the situation in your mind, because they won’t use any illustration or anime cut-scene during really important events. Those are reserved exclusively for optional lovey-dovey events during “break-time” or for a cute girl’s introduction.
The vocal tracks for opening sequences and idols performances are anything but “holy”. They are just your usual “idol” stuff. In most songs, all the heroines join together for a chorus to hide those who can’t sing that well! Like Sopra, Alto and Libra! (Ironically, the ones who, story-wise, are the best singers and who also sing the most during the story). Some other tracks use that weird style known as “Denpa Song”, which are frenetic and cute songs with a high-pitched voice. The other very common style used by pop-idols sound just like something that you likely sang during kindergarten together with your classmates. Well…pop-idols sell lots of albums every day, so I’m sure there are definitely those who will dig those songs, but this just isn’t my thing! At least, the other BGMs are pretty nice! Most use orchestral instruments that give a very magical atmosphere which fits the setting. But more importantly: They sound nothing like the vocal tracks, and I appreciate that!
This game got a team with some of the most skilled voice-actors in the Japanese industry (this is no exaggeration by any means), so naturally, the voice work is damn good! At least when there is any! Not all dialogs are voiced, but it’s not like they choose some particular events to get voiced! They selected disconnected lines of dialogs! That’s right! You will listen to voices coming from a random dialog, but the next one will probably be mute! There is not even a single event that gets fully voiced in this game! Not even the endings! You just get a partial dub! This is so cheap, unsettling and unprofessional!
I was suspecting that Stella Glow was originally created to be Luminous Arc 4, the true sequel to this franchise, while “Infinity” was to be just a spin-off. Now that I’ve played this game, this theory feels even more likely! I can’t say Luminous Arc Infinity doesn’t have its place on the game marketing, though. It fits right in with the likes of Neptune and Omega Quintet or even Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball!But there’s just no place for it within the Luminous Arc franchise! Old-time fans are sure to be disappointed by this revival. I strongly recommend those fans to just ignore this title and play Stella Glow instead, which was developed by the same team behind the original Luminous Arc games and it is much more “in tune” with the originals, being perfect as a “spiritual-successor”. Too bad that their creators went bankrupt. I guess Japan doesn’t want games like Luminous Arc anymore. Well…At the very least, Xird is a much better protagonist than Ichiya! But I guess that comes without saying…