Category Archives: Atelier

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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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 5: Mana Khemia 2 – Fall of Alchemy

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It’s almost time to bid farewell to the PlayStation 2 era of the Atelier series — but not before we’ve spent some time celebrating the music of the game that ended this distinctive part of the series’ history.

Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy features some magnificent tunes to accompany the action, building on the good work that Gust’s sound team did in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm and Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis while bringing a few of its own distinctive stylistic aspects to the table, too.

Without further ado then, crank up that volume (or plug in some good headphones) and let’s get listening!

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Life on the Light Side

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It’s interesting how seeing the same events unfold from a different perspective can provide an alternative spin on things.

This is most certainly the case with Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy. Because although male protagonist Raze lives through the exact same bizarrely eventful school year as his counterpart Ulrika, the company he keeps and the context in which he experiences those events makes for a markedly different playthrough.

So, if you were wondering if you should indulge in the game’s excellent New Game Plus mode in order to experience the second protagonist’s story after clearing the first, the answer is a definitive “yes”. Let’s take a closer look at Raze’s route — and the “Extra” scenario that unlocks after you beat both playthroughs.

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Doing New Game Plus Right

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Once you beat Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy once, you could quite feasibly leave it behind and feel like you’ve had a good experience. You’ll have enjoyed a 40-50 hour RPG, and you’ll have seen the story wrap up in a satisfactory manner.

It doesn’t have to end there, though. There’s a second protagonist to play through as, and while that protagonist passes through the same dungeons as the first over the course of the game, their core narrative is completely different and they have a whole other supporting cast — and, this being an Atelier game, they have their own unique items to craft, too.

For some people, being asked to play through a whole RPG again is a hard sell, though — even if said replay offers mostly new experiences. How can you convince people to keep playing after the credits have rolled for the first time? Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy provides a great example of how a good New Game Plus mode can keep players engaged in the long term without feeling like you’re retreading old ground.

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Special Measures in the Darkness

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Unlike the previous Atelier games that we’ve explored so far, Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy features two discrete narrative paths to follow, plus an “Extra” path once you’ve cleared them both that provides a “true” ending.

Your first playthrough of the game will likely take about 40 hours or so, but your second run with the other of the two protagonists will go by a little more quickly, since you can carry over almost everything from your first playthrough — including the recipes you’ve previously synthesised to unlock cards in the characters’ Grow Books. Expect to still spend another 20-30 hours though.

The two paths cover similar “macro” events and converge at the very end, but they are presented from very different perspectives, with a completely different set of characters at the forefront of the action and a unique series of events on the more “micro” scale. With that in mind, today we’re going to focus on the route fronted by female protagonist Ulrika, and follow up with male protagonist Raze’s narrative path — and the true ending — in a subsequent part. So grab your books and warm up your cauldron; it’s time to enrol in the Alchemy class.

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Making the Grade

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For most people, a “good” RPG consists of some combination of a compelling story, solid combat mechanics and satisfying progression.

Many RPGs have stuck with the conventional “experience and levels” system over the years, simply because that is a proven progression mechanic that works well, offers continual rewards for continued play and tangible improvements in your characters over time.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis did something a little different, where character combat effectiveness was directly tied to your engagement with the game’s core alchemy system. And its sequel Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy follows suit — but rather than simply rehashing the previous game’s mechanics, it adds an interesting new twist. Let’s take a closer look!

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