A Game I took a chance on - Ar Nosurge

When I was a kid I would spend a lot of time at the movie rental place. I'd stand there looking at the back of each game, and take my time deciding what I would want to play. Most of the time I'd play it safe and get something like MegaMan X2, or Pokemon Stadium 2 before I owned it, but sometimes I would take a chance and try something new. This was only with renting games though; it's not something I ever did with games that I'd ask my parents for, nor was it something I really did even when I started buying my own games. Even with games like Assassin's Creed, I at least knew a little about the series, and kinda what to expect. I never just went in completely blind. Honestly, I'm still this way. 

I'm the type of person who tends to look up everything before I buy it, or at least have some knowledge about what a game is (or know games connected to it). Trails in the Sky? I went in knowing it's a turn based RPG by Falcom who also created games like Ys. Ys? I knew as this crazy action RPG with shoot em up elements. I watched countless videos on that series before jumping in, and I watched quite a few Trails of Cold Steel trailers before I decided to get Sky. It was a new series to me, but I had an idea of what to expect. Then you have games that friends showed me before hand, so again, I had knowledge of said series before I ever bought them myself. None of them were completely random.

That being said, there's one game this doesn't apply to. There is a single game I sat there and bought without knowing a thing about it or the series it was a part of (nor did I know it was a part of a series). That game is none other than Ar Nosurge.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are asking "what the heck is Ar Nosurge!?" Well, it's a visual novel/JRPG that's actually pretty insane. It's not something I can explain that easily. As for the reason I bought it? I guess... I liked the box art? I was seriously sitting during free time at work one day, and it happened to pop up on new releases on Amazon. I looked at the box, saw it was a JRPG, and said "sure why not?" I couldn't even watch trailers because I had to get back to work! I just bought the thing, and got ready to jump in when it was delivered. And that's where it began!

Discovering What I Missed

My first impressions of the game was "I feel like something is missing." The sci-fi setting was really cool at the start, but it felt like I was jumping into the middle of a story. Turns out I was! Ar Nosurge was the sequel to the Japanese exclusive Ciel Nosurge, and a prequel to the PS2 (and single PS3) Ar Tonelico games. This surprised me as I had actually saw Ar Tonelico online when I was in college, and considered asking for it for my birthday (but it never happened). Even that game was a mystery to me as I just knew it was an RPG, and I only interested because I wanted something to play after I finished Star Ocean. Anyway, the thing about Ar Nosurge was, it was a direct continuation to Ciel, and Ciel itself was quite a different beast.

Ciel Nosurge was a life sim/visual novel that was updated like a live service game. New content was added all the time, and it was about you (yes, you the player physically) looking into this other world helping this mysterious girl Ion. Along the way you got to see memories of the past and follow the lives of other characters as well, and slowly uncover the mystery of who Ion really is. It was pretty unique, and ended with her building a robot that would allow you to interact with her world directly. Thing is, this game remained Japanese exclusive, and as such the only way to experience the game was by reading a fan translation on a website. (Which is pretty great!) So that's actually how I spent my next breaks at work -- reading Ciel Nosurge.

Eventually I was ready for Ar Nosurge itself, but strangely I found myself losing interest. The RPG elements were fun, and the story was interesting, but I guess it was a bit much and I wasn't finding time to play. So I put it on the back burner and wondered if I made the right choice to get it... And then it came out on Vita.

Handheld Gaming

Ar Nosurge on handheld was a game changer to me! At this point I had more time on my hands, and I was free to play the Vita anywhere! I reread the summary of Ciel, and jumped back into Ar Nosurge fully committed to finishing the game this time... And man, what a ride it was. The game had a heavy focus on music, the sci-fi setting was unlike others out there, and the ability to dive into the minds of the characters to play through their emotional state as a visual novel was really unique! These stories told their past, but also manifested their fears and anxieties as sometimes full on stories or even comedy sketches. It was such a unique game, and I found myself playing it every chance I got. Heck, even my friend GlacialLeaf (who hasn't made a post here in quite some time) ended up buying it as well! We then went on to spend a lot of time talking about the game, as we both worked through it together! It was so much fun. Heck, I still remember getting back from swimming one day, and then sitting down to read through the final sections of the game. We talked together about it for a bit, and then I went back to playing. It was such a bitter sweet feeling though, because I honestly didn't want it to end at that point. I had invested so much time, yet I didn't want to leave that world... But sadly all things must come to an end.

Thankfully now days I have access to Ar Tonelico 1, 2, and 3. I've yet to actually take the time to play through them, but that's actually what gave me the idea to even write about this. I started up the first game for the first time last week, and it feels almost as if I've been transported back in time. It's the game I sat there looking at over the summer that one year, but didn't get, with the familiarity of Ar Nosurge allover it. Sure it's also quite a bit different, but it's also very clear that these games are a part of the same series. 

Anyway, I'm glad Ar Nosurge is a game I took a chance on, and I wouldn't trade my memories of playing it for anything. I'm well aware that it could've ended up being a bad game considering I knew nothing about it, but in the end... It became one of my favorites.

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