Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – The Second Quest

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It’s not at all unusual for RPGs these days to contain a significant post-game component: something to spend your time with once the credits have rolled for the first time.

It’s a little more rare for games to take the approach that Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey does, which is for what is technically the “post-game” to feel pretty much like a whole new game in its own right.

Yes, you could quite feasibly put Atelier Firis down after you help her pass her alchemy license exam. But you’d be missing out on so much — so let’s explore what this whole “second quest” has to offer!

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Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Dangerous Roads Ahead

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The overall structure of Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is rather interesting — because for the most part it allows you to focus on the aspects of the game that you find most appealing.

Of course, in order to successfully prove Firis’ worth in the alchemy examination, you’ll need to display at least basic competence in all the main areas of gameplay, but once that’s done — and indeed for a hefty length of time in the run-up to the exam — you can approach the game as you see fit.

Unusually for a role-playing game, this actually means that you can get away without doing very much fighting at all if you so desire. But, as the Atelier series as a whole has repeatedly demonstrated up until this point, the best alchemists out there are the ones who know how to defend themselves. So it’s this aspect of Atelier Firis we’ll be looking at today!

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Atari A to Z Flashback: Surround

The “snake” game, known over the years as “Blockade”, “Light Cycles” and doubtless various other forms of address, is one with enduring popularity. And indeed, as we’ll see with this launch title for the Atari 2600, it’s been around pretty much since the dawn of video gaming.

Surround is an unofficial home port of the game that started the whole genre: Gremlin’s Blockade for arcades. Surround has one big benefit over Blockade, however: its Video Graffiti mode, which allows you to draw gigantic hairy peni– I mean, tall men riding broken bicycles. Yes. That.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Retro Select: Lands of Lore – The Throne of Chaos

VIRGIN INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS… THE WESTWOOD STUDIOS PRODUCTION OF… LANDS OF LORE, THE THRONE OF CHAOS.

Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos from Virgin Interactive Entertainment and Westwood Studios (natch) is the only game that I never, ever, ever skip over the credit scenes for. I mean, come on, Patrick Stewart bellowing the name of the publisher and the developer with admirable sincerity? You don’t see that every day. Oh, also it’s a damn fine game, too, as evidenced by the fact I ended up playing this for nearly two hours without realising.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari ST A to Z: Vroom

It may have a ridiculous name, but if you ask any ST enthusiast what the best racing games on the platform are — hell, if you ask them what the best games on the platform are — you will almost certainly hear Vroom mentioned.

Developed by Lankhor, this is a high-speed first-person racer that effortlessly blends smooth scaling sprites with polygonal scenery to produce one of the most thrilling games on Atari ST. It was so good, in fact, that publisher Domark went and sorted out a Formula 1 license and then released an updated version called F1 a little while later!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atari A to Z: Crystal Raider

Crystal Raider from Mastertronic is not a game I’d come across prior to recording this video, but it seems it was rather fondly regarded back in the day — and likewise a lot of people today seem to like it, too.

It’s an interesting puzzle-platformer with a peculiar jumping system similar to that found in Atari’s arcade title Major Havoc: so long as you hold the fire button down, you continue the upwards arc of your jump. Mastering the crazy moves you can do with this is essential to success — and Crystal Raider certainly demands some inhuman agility at times!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Proving Your Worth

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One thing that a lot of 21st century gaming enthusiasts aren’t a big fan of is the idea of the “20 hour tutorial” — the feeling that, for a significant chunk of a game, you’re being held back from being let loose on all the game’s mechanics until you prove you have a good understanding of them.

Of course, in some cases, a lengthy learning period is essential — and not always provided. I am still completely incapable of playing large-scale “grand strategy” games like the Crusader Kings series because I have absolutely no idea what to do, for example; in instances like that, I would have very much appreciated the software walking me through a complete game so I could get some practical experience!

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey adopts an interesting approach in that the first 15-20 hours of the game are very much a case of “proving your worth” — but at the same time, you’re afforded plenty of freedom to approach this task as you see fit. Let’s take a closer look at how that all works — and what it means for the game as a whole.

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Atari A to Z Flashback: Super Football

What happens when you give the guy who made Star Raiders the task of making an American football game for Atari 2600? You get the best damn American football game on the Atari 2600, that’s what.

Here’s Super Football, a game that I was dreading playing until I discovered that it was the work of Doug Neubauer, a guy who really knows his stuff when it comes to both technical mastery of the Atari 2600 and designing great games. And he only went and did it — he made an American football game for the Atari 2600 that I actually enjoy playing. Wonders will never cease!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Retro Select: Quake

Quake is here! Again. Only this time around, it’s (re)releasing in a context where it actually feels fresh and interesting, rather than a technologically superior version of things we’ve seen before.

It’s fascinating quite how well Quake holds up today, particularly when compared to today’s takes on first-person shooters. Night Dive Studios’ new remaster of the game is incredibly respectful to the original while adding a bunch of conveniences that modern players would demand — and there’s a whole lot of game in there to enjoy, too.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari ST A to Z: The Upper Reaches of Apshai

We return once again to The Temple of Apshai Trilogy for Atari ST, this time to explore the first “expansion” section: The Upper Reaches of Apshai.

The Upper Reaches of Apshai is noteworthy in that it takes a rather more light-hearted and experimental approach to the game’s core dungeon crawling; it has you picking berries and cleaning up rampant tomato patches rather than battling your way through vanilla-scented ant-men. And the Atari ST version is a great way to experience it!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

The best of overlooked and underappreciated computer and video games, from yesterday and today