Category Archives: Atelier Arland

Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Royal Responsibilities

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We’ve previously seen how the other games in the Arland series have tended towards being “coming of age” stories; Rorona learned how to respect the balance between tradition and modernity while learning to believe in herself, while Totori endured a more gruelling journey to adulthood than most!

With Meruru’s inherent position of privilege at the outset of the story, she’s obviously coming to her adolescence from a rather different starting point than her two predecessors did. But she’s still got plenty to learn about herself, the things she believes in, the things important to her and, of course, her place in the big, wide world.

Will she grow into the role of a “proper” princess by the time she hits twenty years old? Of course not, she’s got far too much work to be getting on with between now and then…

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Meruru, Warrior Princess

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As we’ve seen numerous times in the previous installments of the Atelier series, being a successful alchemist isn’t just about holing yourself up in your workshop for months at a time; sometimes you have to take to the field and get some practical experience.

In Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arlandthose excursions outside of the protagonist’s home base occupy something of a middle ground between the relatively short excursions of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, and the grand adventure which unfolded over the course of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of ArlandMeruru never strays that far from home — but she does have important things to accomplish wherever she goes.

Let’s take a look at what life in the field is like for our tomboyish princess — and how she makes use of her alchemical talents to defend herself when things get rough.

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – A Princess’ Work is Never Done

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As Princess Merurulince Rede Arls faces down the formidable task of expanding the tiny little hamlet that is Arls kingdom into a bustling city of 30,000 residents in the space of three years, she clearly has a lot of work ahead of her.

More to the point, she has a lot of different types of work ahead of her, too, meaning she’ll need to carefully balance her time between cooking up alchemical creations in her workshop and heading out into the field to listen to the requests of the people, slap down the local monster populations and generally go rather above and beyond the expectations of someone of her social standing.

She loves every minute, though, and you’ll be right there alongside her as she takes on her many and varied challenges. In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we take a look at how Meruru crafts items, and how that helps her long-term objective of developing the kingdom.

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Building a Legacy

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland concludes what was the original Arland trilogy for PlayStation 3 with another twist on the formula that makes it a very distinct game from its predecessors.

Blending elements of the game structure from both Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arlandit was a fitting conclusion to the series — at least until Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland put in a surprise appearance, anyway, but that’s a story for another day.

In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we’ll take a look at these things Atelier Meruru has in common with its predecessors — and how it manages to stand out as its own distinctive experience through its own additions to the formula. Let’s jump in!

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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 7: Atelier Totori – The Adventurer of Arland

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Despite being a direct sequel to Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, Atelier Totori has a markedly different atmosphere to it.

This is put across in a variety of different ways. The main protagonist is a much quieter, gentler sort of person than the rather noisy Rorona; the overall narrative is melancholy in contrast to the relative “franticness” of Rorona’s tale; and this change in mood is very much reflected by the soundtrack.

Once again primarily composed by Ken Nakagawa, with additional contributions from Kazuki Yanagawa, the score to Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland brings back some classic themes as well as introducing a variety of new ones. We’ve already heard several variations on “Following the Footsteps” when we looked at the game’s worldbuilding… so let’s pick out a few more favourites and have a listen!

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Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – A Journey to Adulthood

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Most of the Atelier games that unfold over a clearly defined time period are “coming of age” stories, where the protagonist comes to understand the sort of person they really are, and the place they have in the world.

This is especially apparent in Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, a game whose broader scale and scope than its immediate predecessor makes it ripe for exploring its lead character’s growing sense of maturity, responsibility and self-confidence.

Totori grows up a great deal over the course of her journey — so let’s take a look at some of the trials and tribulations she has to face along her path. Spoilers ahead!

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Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Beyond the City Walls

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One interesting thing about the way the Arland subseries of Atelier develops over time is how its scale gradually increases.

In Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arlandthe action is primarily confined to the city of Arland and its surrounding environs. In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arlandwe get the opportunity to explore the Arland region in much greater detail, coming to understand a lot more about the context of various locations. And, as we’ll see when we come to Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the series then actually moves on to a whole other setting with connections to Arland, rather than unfolding in Arland itself..

Atelier Totori in particular brought about a very strong sense of worldbuilding and narrative context, and of the protagonist being just one tiny little part of a wide variety of events that would continue to unfold with or without her involvement. Let’s take a closer look at how the game achieves that feel.

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Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Following the Footsteps

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So we’ve talked about one of the main reasons Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland became somewhat notorious around the world — now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of what the game itself is all about.

Mechanically and structurally, it’s a very interesting game to contemplate, because while it’s still recognisably an Atelier game — and recognisable as a follow-up to Atelier Rorona, even — it feels like it draws influences from a much broader field to create an experience that is noticeably different from its predecessor, while remaining comfortably familiar as part of the Arland subseries.

Pack a lunch and don’t forget to bring your Adventurer’s License, then; it’s time to take to the road with Totori.

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Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – High Impact Sexual Violence?

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We’ve already talked about how Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland marked something of a return to the “traditional” Atelier format in terms of its concept and structure. But its follow-up Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland shows that this return to Atelier’s roots was more than just a one-off.

Specifically, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland re-establishes the early series’ formula of having several games unfold in the same (or at least a similar) geographical area and showing how that area changes over time — along with how the people who live there change, too. Atelier has, after all, always been a series about people at its heart.

Before we dive too deep into specific talk of mechanics and narrative, though, let’s take a first look at where this game came from — and one particularly interesting story surrounding one of its various releases over the years.

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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 6: Atelier Rorona – The Alchemist of Arland

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While the move to the PlayStation 3 marked significant changes in both gameplay and visual presentation for the Atelier series, one area in which it remained comfortably consistent was the musical accompaniment to the action.

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland once again saw Ken Nakagawa in charge of the majority of the soundtrack, with some guest vocalists on a number of tracks. This time around, Nakagawa stepped back a little from the howling guitars and thrashing beats of Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy in favour of something a little closer to what we heard in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm and Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis.

It’s definitely got that distinctive “Atelier sound” about it, thanks to Nakagawa’s love of traditional instrumentation and composition using an electronic wind instrument, but Atelier Rorona’s soundtrack also has a few elements that make it stand out as its own, immediately recognisable thing, too. So crank up that volume and let’s have a listen to some select tracks!

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