You know when parents tell you not to do something, there’s a good chance what they say is actually worth listening to. Sisters Chante and Elise found that out the hard way in Chantelise: A Tale of Two Sisters. They’d always been told not to go out at night when the moon is red or else they’ll suffer the witch’s curse. But one day five years ago, the two couldn’t resist. They were compelled to go out and into the woods. There, they saw a figure and passed out. When they woke up, Chante had been turned into a fairy. Cue the quest to find the witch and restore Chante!
Which is how Elise and Chante have found themselves in Town. (Yes, the local village is just called Town.) Apparently, there are lots of ruins around and a good chance this mysterious witch could be found lurking in one of them. And, if not the witch, you may find someone else with information about said witch and the sisters’ predicament.
Elise is a fighter and the sister you’ll be controlling, but that doesn’t mean she’s your main focus. The diminutive Chante packs a powerful punch with her magic. Beating up enemies makes gems drop, and you can collect X amount to give to Chante for special attacks. Chante can also stack these for stronger and more varied attacks. Eventually, she can summon elemental spirits to attack. Elise can deliver the pain with fast and furious blows, but you can also get an extra hit in or unleash a quick and devastating attack with Chante. I found for smaller enemies, the best strategy is to go in slashing, delivering beatdowns as quickly as possible to get gems. Once you gather them for Chante, you can use gems on more agile enemies (like bees) or bosses. Well, unless you’re ready for a boss fight. Then you beat a few enemies to stockpile the color magic gems you want, then run through all of the areas as quickly as possible, avoiding everything pointy, to get Elise and Chante to the boss.
The main focus of Chantelise is the story mode. You move through different areas with monsters waiting for a fight. If you want to try for extra items to sell or some battling experience though, you can also take part in optional time challenges for each segment of each location. You’ll also be able to eventually get a fishing rod, after which you can fish in water and lava to try and get fish, which you can then trade to get helpful equipment.
You aren’t leveling up in Chantelise, but that doesn’t mean level-grinding is absent. Instead, Elise improves herself with Ferromin health drinks and equipment bought from Aira. Which means you have to send her repeatedly into battles with enemies in the hopes they’ll drop coins or valuable items (trust me, you’ll be praying for items) that you can then cash in for the equipment and performance enhancers you need. Early on, the magic enhancers came in most handy. Chante’s magic is awesome, but the extra equipment make it even better.
At times, you’ll almost find yourself wishing you could just level up. I’d say the first boss qualifies as a Nintendo Hard baddie. It’s this golem that’s about 4x larger than Elise and loves to jump (usually on top of Elise), spin (usually when Elise gets in close for a physical attack) and punch (typically when you want to get in range for a Chante magic attack). I want to say it took me five times before I finally worked it out and beat it, relying strongly on Chante’s magic (fire and thunder work really well) since that seemed to do the most good. What makes it taxing is that it can be difficult to check the boss’ hit points when attacking, since the bar of its health is light blue and the general background of said bar is white.
Chantelise look quite unique. The environments and bosses are all rendered in 3D, but Elise, Chante, general enemies and NPCs are all 2D sprites. I had a particular fondness for those precious mushroom monsters that hop around the Ignan Ruins. The thing that ties them all together is the level of detail. It’s extraordinary and all of the characters (NPCs included) look unique. Even the birds in Town are quite cute.
Since this is a Carpe Fulgar project, you know there are high expectations for the translation. I mean, these are the people who brought us yayifications in Recettear. Rest assured that they’ve done a fantastic job. Even though the general premise isn’t exactly the most original idea out there, Carpe Fulgar does a great job of making it interesting. Pay particular attention to any conversation in which Chante pays a large part, as she gets all the best lines. Seriously, almost every single thing she says is hilarious.
You look at Chantelise and think it’s going to be a cute, quirky adventure where you go around beating up lots of monsters with swords and magic, and that’s exactly what it is. You’ll come for Chante’s quips, but you’ll stay for the adorable characters, surprisingly challenging bosses and ambiance.
Food for Thought
- I did come across a handful of small, non-threatening bugs/text errors. The one I remembered most was when I was told I was summoning fire spirits when I was summoning other kinds (like water). But a quick check at Carpe Fulgar’s site showed they were aware of the and going to issue a patch to fix it.
- If you have an actual controller to use with your computer, go get it. You can play Chantelise using keyboard controls, but a controller is much more accommodating.
- You can save at any time.
- There’s full Japanese voice acting, and it’s pretty darn good.
- Remember to visit Aira’s home in town, as she doubles as the Shopkeeper in Town. I overlooked this until the first dungeon’s boss beat me badly, was sent back to town and just looked in there on accident. Visit it after finishing each ruin as well, as she restocks.