Category Archives: Atelier

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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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – Tradition, Modernity and Belief in Oneself

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As our exploration of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland comes to a close, it’s time to contemplate the game’s narrative component.

As we talked about when we looked at the game’s overall structureAtelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland is somewhat more non-linear than previous installments in the series. There’s a core linear progression based around Rorona’s assignments, but the bulk of the narrative content comes from the wide variety of optional events you can enjoy with the ensemble cast.

Between all those events, you get a good sense of what sort of place Arland is — and who Rorona and her friends really are. So let’s take a closer look!

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – Living the Arlandian Life

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So far in our exploration of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland, we’ve seen how the game features a return to the time-limited nature of early Atelier games, and how the alchemy system has an unprecedented level of depth.

Today, we continue our look at this important and influential installment in the series with a closer look at how the whole game is structured, and how this differs significantly from the previous five games.

Most notably, Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland kicks off a subseries of Atelier that, while seemingly providing more restrictions than in the past thanks to the time limit, actually provides a lot of freedom for you to approach your long-term goals as you see fit.

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A New Generation of Alchemy

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In the previous part of this feature, we took a high-level look at how Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland represented a return to the Atelier series’ roots, after Gust experimented with the formula quite a bit throughout the latter days of the PS2 era.

Today, we’re going to examine one of the main ways that the game combines this “traditional” feel with more complex, in-depth and modern mechanics: its revamped alchemy system. As the centrepiece of the Atelier series as a whole, this has always been where Gust has been at its most experimental and iterative, building on the best aspects of what had come before while casting aside the things that didn’t work quite so well or which couldn’t practically be fleshed out any further.

While Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland’s alchemy system is distinctive in its own right, it also clearly learns a lot of lessons from what immediately preceded it. So get that fire lit under your cauldron, and let’s get cookin’!

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A Matter of Time

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A year after Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy bid a fond (and very late) farewell to the PlayStation 2, the Atelier series finally entered the high-definition era with the 2009 Japanese release of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland for PlayStation 3.

Since the original release of the game and its 2010 localisation, we’ve seen a few other versions. In 2013, Atelier Rorona Plus revamped the entire game for PlayStation 3 and Vita with the graphics engine and alchemy mechanics from Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the third game in the Arland trilogy. In 2015, Japan got a peculiar chibified remake for Nintendo 3DS. And then in 2018, Atelier Rorona DX, a port of Atelier Rorona Plus that included all its downloadable content, was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

From hereon, we’ll primarily be looking at Atelier Rorona DX, since that is the most readily accessible version at the time of writing — but most of what we’ll talk about applies to all the different versions. So grab your Basket and let’s begin a whole new adventure!

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