Category Archives: Cover Games

The major, feature-length articles of MoeGamer. Each month, a single game or series gets the Cover Game treatment and is explored over the course of at least four articles.

428: Shibuya Scramble – The Mechanics of Storytelling

When we’re talking about conventional games — particularly today’s games — it’s important to consider them from a wide variety of perspectives.

Typically, we look at a game from several different angles: the way it’s presented through its sights and sounds; the way it plays through its mechanics; and, where applicable, how it handles its story.

When contemplating visual novels, the balance tends to be a little different. We tend to up the focus on narrative considerably, and in many cases mechanics don’t enter the picture at all — many visual novels simply don’t have any! That is, unless you’re 428: Shibuya Scramble, in which case your narrative and mechanics combine together to produce something exceedingly interesting…

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428: Shibuya Scramble – Introduction and History

Every so often a game comes along that really makes you sit up and pay attention.

Sometimes it’s because it features a beautiful refinement or evolution of some established mechanics. Sometimes it’s because it really pushes graphical technology forwards. Sometimes it has famous names attached to it.

And sometimes it’s 428: Shibuya Scramble, a title so far removed from what we traditionally think of as a “video game” that you can’t help but notice it.

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Atelier Meruru: Arland Comes Together

Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the thirteenth mainline Atelier game and the third in the Arland series, first released in 2011.

It is a longstanding favourite of many enthusiasts of the series with good reason, and absolutely a suitable high point for the whole trilogy to wrap up on… that is, until Atelier Lulua comes along and confuses everyone by turning it into a quadrilogy! But more on that another time.

Providing some of the most refined mechanics in the Arland subseries along with a satisfying and enjoyable narrative to follow, Atelier Meruru combines elements of classic and more modern Atelier games. The result is a really great game featuring one of the series’ most appealing protagonists. So let’s dive in and take a look!

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Atelier Totori: Arland’s Middle Child

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, the second installment in Atelier’s Arland trilogy, is in that unenviable position that all “middle children” end up in — perhaps more so than most.

Originally offering considerable improvements over Atelier Rorona’s first incarnation — particularly in the graphical and mechanical departments — Gust’s tendency to put out “Plus” versions for its Atelier games means that Totori has ended up, in some respects, now being the most dated of the Arland trilogy even once it, in turn, got its own “Plus” and “DX” rereleases, the most recent of which is on PlayStation 4, Switch and PC.

This isn’t to say Totori is a bad game, mind you — far from it. Just… don’t take anything for granted! Let’s have a closer look.

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Atelier Rorona: Arland’s New Beginning

As we’ve previously explored, the Atelier series is no stranger to rereleases and remakes — and at the time of writing, Arland trilogy debut Atelier Rorona has had more than most.

Initially releasing in Japan in 2009 as Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland before being localised by NIS America for North America, Europe and Australasia in 2010, the game was subsequently completely rebuilt in 2013 under its new worldwide publisher Koei Tecmo as Atelier Rorona Plus in an attempt to bring it more in line with the subsequent releases in the series. In 2015, Japan got a unique 3DS version of the game. And in 2018, Gust and Koei Tecmo brought Atelier Rorona DX — pretty much a port of Atelier Rorona Plus — to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Windows PC.

Keeping one game relevant for nine full years and counting is no mean feat. So let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons this game might have stuck around for quite as long as it has!

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Atelier Arland: Introduction and History

Atelier is one of the more long-running, prolific series in the canon of Japanese gaming.

First launching in 1997, the franchise has seen 19 mainline releases since its inception (with a 20th on the way at the time of writing), plus a variety of spin-offs, side stories, ports, expanded adaptations and guest appearances from its characters in various other games over the years. Although we didn’t see our first Western localisation of the series until its sixth mainline game (Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana for PlayStation 2) in 2005, it is, by this point, firmly established as a mainstay of Japanese role-playing games — and, in the nicest possible way, developer Gust’s cash cow.

With that in mind, before we delve into the Arland trilogy in detail, let’s take a look at the history of the series as a whole up until Atelier Rorona’s initial release in 2009. Join me on a trip into totally-not-Renaissance-Germany, and let’s get crafting!

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Project Zero 5: The Difference a Little Warmth Can Make

And so we come to what is, at the time of writing, the grand finale to the Project Zero series: Maiden of Black Water on Wii U.

While the nature of the series means that it’s entirely possible we’ll see some more games in the future — and indeed unverified “my uncle works at Nintendo” rumours circulated earlier this year that a Switch installment was in development — Maiden of Black Water is an interesting game that acts as a suitable swansong for the series if, indeed, that is truly “it”.

But then Mio and Mayu from Deep Crimson Butterfly and Yuri from this game are putting in cameo appearances in the impending Super Smash Bros. Ultimateso you never know what might happen… Ahem. Anyway. Let’s look at Maiden of Black Water in detail.

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