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A perfect example of "good idea, bad execution", Ephemeral Fantastia was one of the first fully-3D RPGs released for the Play Station 2. It's also known as Reiselied, which is German for "Travel Song".
The game stars a wandering minstral and his sentient lute Pattimo. They have been invited to the island of Pandule to perform at the cornation of its new king, Xelpherpolis. During the five-day ceremony they meet the bride to be - a melancholy girl named Roleiyu - and witness all manner of strange and tragic incidents. But nothing as strange as what happens on the last day, when Xelpherpolis freezes time itself and proclaims that he will never let you leave the island...
You wake up on the sixth day to discover that you're just arriving at the island: you've become trapped in a five-day time loop which only you, Pattimo, Roleiyu and Xelpherpolis are aware of. The only way to stop it is to defeat Xelpherpolis, but to do that you need to gain strength and gather allies. To do this, you need to break characters out of the time loop by averting the fates they have lived through over and over, thus "proving" that time is looping: for example, in a moment of weakness one character tries to poison another out of romantic jealousy; by preventing her from carrying out the plot, you can break the time loop's hold on her.
The main weakness of the game comes in the clock system and its high Guide Dang It factor. The game uses a compressed real-time system to depict the flow of time over the five day loop, and to recruit most characters, you must be in certain places at certain times. Unfortunately, figuring out the correct sequence of events can be an exercise in frustration. The fact that it was one of the first RPGs for the Playstation 2 also meant that expectations were unusually high.
Compare The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, which had the same basic concept but was received far more favourably.
Ephemeral Phantastia provides examples of:
- Action Girl: Rummy
- Aerith and Bob: The main character's "gang": Beak, Fang, and Mouse.
- A God Am I: Xelpherpolis' ultimate goal.
- Several of the games characters are already gods or KANNON as they're called in game.
- Affably Evil: Xelpherpolis
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Justified in that Mouse actually is only taking two party members and maybe a Death Chicken with him.
- Blind Idiot Translation: "tarinba"? I think you mean "tambourine".
- Bottle Fairy: Claire.
- Brainwashed: The time loop magic has also convinced everyone that Xelpherpolis marrying Roleiyu is a great idea.
- Cast From Hit Points: Any move that Mouse
learnsinterprets from another character.
- Clock Roaches: The Time Monsters.
- Damsel in Distress: Roleiyu
- Dark World
- Devil in Plain Sight: Xelpherpolis
- Empathic Weapon: Pattimo
- Fake Difficulty: If you want to recruit Grantus, you have to let him capture Rinna a second time. And that's only the beginning.
- Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted, alcoholic drinks are mentioned by name, and Shark Killer must have an APV that's off the charts.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Recruiting Plosi in general, but specifically if the girl you take to him is Rinna, who's physically around 12 never mind what the time loop's been doing to her.
- Speaking of Rinna, her implication about two people and the park. Thankfully Mouse dismisses it as something akin to a schoolgirl crush.
- Gotta Catch Em All: Potentially subverted. It is suggested that certain endings depend on who isn't in your party.
- Guide Dang It: Especially when you have to search outside the town.
- Gratuitous German: It's original Japanese release name was Reiselied which means "Traveller's Song". It makes sense since the main character is a travelling musician but all they really wanted it for was to sound exotic. German isn't so exotic in the West so the name was too sensible hence the current squadaliy.
- Groundhog Day Loop
- Hello, Insert Name Here: The default name for the minstrel is "Mouse".
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Claire's Time Vault, which can store your money and items between loops.
- Improbable Weapon User: Almost everyone. Mouse's broadsword is normal enough, but whoever heard of fighting Broadsword & Lute? Kyte and his fish, Rind Rinna's tarinba (normal Rinna's mop is more like an Improvised Weapon), Plosi's brush, Ano's book . . .
- Instrument of Murder: The Hero has a sword hidden in a guitar.
- It's Always Summer: Initially mentioned by the boatman NPC, then true until you break the loop.
- Justified Extra Lives: Well, technically the characters still only have one, but in most cases-while the time loop is still in place-you'll be able to start again from the beginning of the next loop.
- Lost Forever: If you recruit Gallhint without going to Kyte's Dungeon first you cannot recruit Beak and Fang.
- Magical Girl: Rinna is an Affectionate Parody.
- Mini Game: Playing your lute comes in the form of a Beatmania-style rhythm Mini Game.
- There's also the drinking game with Claire.
- Ms. Fanservice: Rummy (think Tifa with red hair).
- Nintendo Hard: if you've awakened Kyte and don't have him in your party on the 3rd day, at the start of the next loop he'll be gone, and Mouse has to fight through the dungeon Kyte got himself lost in alone.
- Non-Indicative Name: There is a drunk in your party, but it's not Rummy.
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: The main character and his lute have one, and the first goal of the game is to pass on this power to other people.
- One of your allies already does, but won't stop drinking her knowledge away until you talk to her.
- Stable Time Loop: So stable, in fact, that your changes are incorporated into the next cycle (if you don't go to an event one loop, you won't be expected there the next). Obviously, much of the game involves finding out how to completely destroy it.
- Time Keeps On Slipping
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Again, recruiting Plosi. Especially what it says about you, the player, if you choose Rinna to be his model.