A nice little video treat for everyone who is still hanging around the site and love all things Varms, Stark and I do a weekly stream on Saturday. The good news is that almost all of them have been archived. The better news is that most of them are now finding their way over to YouTube. If any of you want download version of this stuff, let me know and it will probably be on the site later that afternoon. I am attempting to do a marathon type run of most of the Atelier games I haven’t beaten. This is part 2, with Stark.
Stark and Gillman are at it again. This week they are playing through a swath of Atelier Escha and Logy. Things go weird and with their minds fully in the gutter after about 20 minutes of play, because of course we do. We hang out for about three hours, starting at 9 AM, and are kind of planning on doing this going forward for awhile because we have nothing better to do. Feel free to join us next week to experience the fun live!
The newest Atelier game, which was supposed to hit American shores on the 22nd, is now due to be shipped on the 29th. In the press release it is interesting to see the phrasing, “shipped to retailers” because that pretty much means that it will be in stores on the 30th of this month. Most of the people who read the site probably aren’t too phased by this, but this is just another week for me to try and find the cash to buy the game, because those games are just crazy amazing good.
Meruru is the third of a trilogy of games set in the kingdom of Arland. The series follows a series of teacher/pupil relationships, as the alchemy student from the previous game is the teacher of the new student for the next game in the series. Interestingly enough the Atelier titles proper seem to go through phases of either being directly tied to another game in the series or having almost nothing to do with them, and are closely related to other games from the same publisher that even those could almost oddly be considered to be in the series. I am sure that this is probably only interesting to like two other people out there, both of which designed these games.
The Alchemist of Arland trilogy is coming to an end on May 22nd, and while I am painfully upset about this happening to me there is some solace in that fact; Nippon Ichi has announced the pre-order for the Limited Edition Grand Finale Set that can only be obtained directly from their online store. NISA is normally releases collectors editions of most of the games that they publish, but it is a very special day when they put out their store edition of the product; they are normally twice as collectable and contain the standard and limited edition packages inside, so they can be re-sold later for profit if it is easier in those formats. This trophy will come with the following:
-The game (Duh)
-An Art Book (Soft Cover)
-Sound Track (Exclusive to ordering from the store)
-A “Barrel” T-Shirt (Which I wish they shipped in “Fat Guy” but only comes in Large)
For those of you who aren’t rabid fans of the site, and don’t know how much I love this series, it is a pretty straight forward Time Management Style Role Playing Game. Think about some of the better Final Fantasies, but with limited amount of actions that can be done before the end of the game, and with the power to create some of the best items in the game pretty much whenever needed/wanted for pretty much no reason. The Atelier series is long and mildly-well documented, and it is said that Meruru (this upcoming one) is best of the series.
Oddly this series, and all of its off-shoots, have really enjoyed finding as many hard to pronounce words as they can and forcing people to say them back to back when they are talking about the series. To make matters even worse the series pretty much has tendrils of spin-offs that stretch in amazingly confusing ways, to the point that there are 13 games that fall under the “core” category and several “side” series as well—not to mention the fact that enough of the elements fall into other titles by the same company that they could almost be considered part of the series. Although, for most of the core games, there are a couple of things that break them apart from the others—namely:
You can pretty much do what you want
The game is based around an alchemist that wants to become an adventurer, oddly combining probably the two most dangerous jobs known to fantasy based man –mixing items to make other items, the results of which can and will randomly explode, and hunting and killing monsters. If that wasn’t enough, because it is from Japan, there is a large social element in it where the player gains gameplay bonuses for impressing their friends by how fantastic they are at life –which is great, because I know that when I am taking down a giant and possibly demon possessed jelly blob I love listening to my friends talk about robot cats on the way out of town. All that said the game is pretty good about letting you progress through it exactly how you want; want to make Totori out to be a reclusive “herbal” expert there is a way to do that and still beat it, want to make her some battle-hardened veteran—there isn’t anything besides common sense and her genetic disposition to breaking easily stopping you. While that sounds great there really is a sweet spot between those things, mainly making battle/healing items and exploring dangerous areas for better material to make better items for battle.
Although it should be brought up that while doing this:
There is a massive time constraint
After the tutorial ends the player is directly told that they have three, in game, years to achieve the highest ranking of adventurer that they can or their license—and right to explore things, I guess—will be revoked. That said everything done in the game takes an allotted amount of time, using the alchemy the series is based on requires a set amount of time, traveling from place to place takes time, and even some random events that happen in towns take time. The odd thing is that while the game is still rather easy and gives way more time than is needed, without the time limit the game would be impossibly easy. It basically asks if the player is going to spend the in-game time grinding experience from easier monster, or if that time instead be used to make a massive bomb that could take out some vastly higher level creatures for ten times the experience instead—mainly because most of the items in the game are stupidly powerful enough that there is always a way to make a bigger bomb to take out an enemy in one attack—which makes time management one of Japanese quickest growing sub-genres.
That taken into account; most people are going to miss something on the first play through, which makes sense because:
You aren’t supposed to beat it just once
Ignoring the time constraint reasoning, the game has a crazy amount of endings—several of which I believe Stark referred to as “mega yuri”, which I took to meaning the “good ones”. A surprising amount of things aren’t carried over to the start of the new game, boiling down to equipment and money—although that kind of is the “progress” in the game the same way that experience is in other games. While this isn’t the same as allowing the characters to carry the various weapons of mass destruction that the items become in the late game over with them, or even the means to make them, it comes pretty close to that—and could even be considered a significant speeding towards that. Sure, there are ways to min max the entire experience on the first play, but that seems more like sticking strictly to someone else’s schedule so closely that it feels more like watching some else’s game than anything. Also, most of that type of play is supposed to be earned, so learn your place.
This isn’t a terrible thing because:
It is a rather short RPG
I love role playing, even more when it is in game format. My main problem is that most of these games seem to like taking 40 hours to complete a single story arch, which is great when I only have one thing to play, but when eight of them are coming out a year I normally have other things to do instead of playing them all, like eat – a lot. The concept of the a game with new game + is that people are probably going to miss something in the game while play it, even if it is a small side story arch, and most of the audience is going to want to go and see that somehow. The time limit makes it hard because it makes missing things entirely possible, but the replay means that most of these things can be found and exploited to the fullest in a relatively easy manner, much like most of my high school girlfriends. This is awesome, because in the time it takes to beat a middling RPG Totori can be played about three times–each of them way better than most other games peak at.