Tag Archives: featured

Hello! Please read this!

Good day to you, Internet traveller, and thanks for stopping by MoeGamer.net. This is a site about Japanese, Japanese-inspired and retro games that I put together single-handedly during periods when I was both out of work completely, or working in something other than the “writing about games” field.

At the time of writing, I am gainfully employed over at Rice Digital, where I write about pretty much all of the things that I’ve covered here on MoeGamer at one point or another — and I get paid for it! It really is an actual dream come true, particularly given the cool “behind the scenes” I also get to work on alongside my public-facing writing work for Rice.

I am sure you will appreciate that the fact I am being paid to work on Rice Digital means that I regrettably have little time or energy to work on MoeGamer. This site was often something I worked on during “downtime” at particularly boring jobs, or while I didn’t have a job at all. It really has kept me sane through some immensely difficult times!

Now, however, my every day is filled with the joy of writing about games, anime, manga and popular culture — and as much as I would like to continue posting regular things on MoeGamer, the fact is that most of the things I would post here are better served being on Rice Digital!

To that end, I know it’s a big ask to get people to “move sites” for some reason — one of those strange laws of the Internet, it seems — but if you’re a regular reader and you’re not already enjoying what we do over at Rice Digital, I’d encourage you to stop by and give us a look. In a moment, I’ll give you a tour of just some of the things over there that you might want to check out — but there’s something else important that I want to say first.

MoeGamer’s not going anywhere. I’m immensely proud of what I created single-handedly here, and I believe the articles on the site will continue to be of relevance and interest to anyone seeking information on games that often don’t get the time of day in the mainstream press. (I would also very much like to finish my Atelier MegaFeature, but that stalled a bit due to daily commitments!)

One of the things that saddens me the most about today’s online sphere is how transient things are — how easily they’re forgotten. It’s why I object so strenuously to describing things as “content” — that implies that you simply “consume” it, then move on. What I’ve always aimed for here is relevant, insightful and interesting work that can be enjoyed at any time, whether you’re reading it the moment it’s published or several years later.

To that end, as I say, MoeGamer will continue to be up, running and open for business for as long as I can afford to keep it up and running. If you would like to help with those running costs, please consider signing up for my Patreon, which also helps me with my ongoing retro gaming video work. And, of course, a hearty thank you to those who already support me over there.

Now, on to more current matters.

What you might have missed

If you’re not yet a regular reader over at Rice Digital, I encourage you to add it to your daily rotation! We’re posting great features, reviews, news and interviews on the subject of Asian popular culture, video games, anime and manga on a daily basis — and with me in charge, if you enjoyed MoeGamer, you’ll enjoy Rice Digital.

My pride and joy at Rice Digital is the Rice Digital Feature Library, where we collect together ongoing features, multi-part deep dives and genre guides. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s very much MoeGamer’s Cover Game approach, giving things the time and attention they deserve rather than crapping out a 500-word review and leaving it at that.

We tend not to bother with triple-A stuff at Rice, so that means we can give smaller-scale stuff the triple-A treatment. Here’s some personal favourites from within the Library, but stop by the main Library page to explore further.

This was my first attempt at reviewing a full manga series volume by volume, and I was really pleased with it. I also really enjoyed the series! If you like mildly lewd romantic comedy, Gal Gohan is a thoroughly lovely time.

This one’s still ongoing at the time of writing, but regular readers of MoeGamer will doubtless be delighted to read about the modern remake of one of the all-time classic dating sims, Doukyuusei. It’s a fantastic dating sim that has finally dethroned the mighty True Love ’95 as one of my favourite romance-themed games.

This series has been on hold for a little while as I was getting kind of exhausted finding new ecchi, eroge and hentai games to cover every week, but I’d like to get back to it on a more irregular basis! In The History of Lewd, I look into sexy games from over the years, including both visual novels and arcade titles.

Japanese indie duo Chilla’s Art make some of the best horror games around at the moment, so I’ve been covering all of the ones I can get my hands on!

I love shoot ’em ups, and there are so many great ones around today they absolutely warrant a semi-regular column. That’s what Blissful Death — named after one of the DoDonPachi games (one I actually haven’t played, as it happens) — is all about.

A really charming, thoughtful manga series about a non-binary protagonist, and how they help their friends at an otokonoko café come to terms with their varying attitudes towards gender identity. I really enjoyed Love Me for Who I Am for tackling such a difficult subject without getting preachy at any point.

Surely destined to be one of the most misunderstood games of all time, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a thoroughly fascinating game well worth your time and respect. I covered it in depth in an attempt to do it a bit more justice than fucking annoying tedious Chaos memes.

Full Metal Daemon Muramasa from Nitroplus is a fricking masterpiece of a visual novel. At the time of writing I haven’t quite finished covering it as it’s 1) massive and 2) hard work, but the multi-part feature so far should give you a good idea of what it’s all about — and why it’s so well-regarded.

Finally, you didn’t think I’d abandoned Atelier, did you? Part of the reason I haven’t been able to catch up on the Atelier MegaFeature is that I was thoroughly absorbed in covering Atelier Sophie 2 for Rice Digital! And, given the depth I’ve covered previous titles in, I wanted to make sure I did it proper justice, of course…

As I say, there’s plenty more besides these to explore, too — so stop by the Rice Digital Library page to find out more about these big or ongoing features, or just stop by the front page and see what’s going on.

You can also subscribe to the Rice Digital Weekly Digest to get the week’s articles delivered straight to your inbox every weekend.

All right, that should take care of everything! I look forward to seeing you around my workplace — and thank you, as always, for your ongoing support.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider supporting the site via any of the services below or the Donate page here on the site! Your contributions help keep the lights on, the ads to a minimum and my shelves stocked up with things to write about!

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Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings – Bringing Things Into Focus

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One of the things that becomes clear shortly after you start playing Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings is the fact that the game, as a whole, is deliberately a lot more focused than its immediate predecessor.

We touched on the basic ways in which this is achieved in the previous chapter, but now it’s time to take a closer look at how the game as a whole unfolds. It strikes a good balance between what we can think of as the “old-school Atelier” format and the freedom that some of the newer titles offer, making for a satisfying and enjoyable game that can be experienced at your own pace.

In other words, you’ve got as long as you want to accomplish the twins’ goal of becoming the best alchemy atelier in the kingdom — though that doesn’t mean they won’t have a few deadlines to meet along the way!

Continue reading Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings – Bringing Things Into Focus

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings – Time to Settle Down

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After the sprawling adventure that was Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey, it would have doubtless been tempting for Gust to adopt the same format for the series going forward. After all, the open-world format worked extraordinarily well for Atelier Firis.

But one thing we have seen numerous times over by this point is the fact that the Atelier series never stands still and stagnates. No two installments are quite like one another — and thus it stands to reason that Gust would also want to make sure they did something a bit different for Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings.

And so they did — in quite a few interesting ways. So let’s take an initial look at what this third installment in the series — nineteenth mainline title overall — has to offer.

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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 14: Atelier Firis – The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey

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Another Atelier game in the books, another opportunity to celebrate the series’ incredible music — and the sterling work of Gust’s sound team in general, who consistently put out some absolutely amazing tracks.

Atelier Firis’ soundtrack is a beast, consisting of 125 tracks in total. Considering the massive scope of the game, this shouldn’t be altogether surprising, but what’s impressive is that each and every one of those tracks is worthwhile and enjoyable to listen to, whether it’s a simple field theme or the most intense battle themes the score has to offer. As always, we’ll be taking a look at a few selections from the complete score rather than the whole thing!

Music this time around was provided by Kazuki Yanagawa, Tatsuya Yano and Daisuke Achiwa; it seems Hayato Asano took a break from the series for this one, which isn’t altogether surprising, as he was likely busy putting together the absolutely amazing soundtrack for Nights of Azure at the time. And, if you picked up the physical release of the complete Mysterious Trilogy from Play-Asia, don’t forget that it comes with a code to download the full soundtracks until April 21, 2024!

Continue reading The Music of Atelier, Vol. 14: Atelier Firis – The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – What I Want to Do

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As we started to explore in the previous part of this feature, one of the things that makes Atelier Firis so interesting as a modern role-playing game is that once you’re into the game’s “second quest”, there’s no set goal where you can say that you have definitively “finished” the game.

I mean, okay, if you do literally everything the game has to offer, fill out all the collections to 100%, max out all your characters and make it so the only quests available are repeating ones, then yes, you’ve probably “beaten” Atelier Firis. But what I mean is that for people who aren’t obsessive completionists, you can pretty much choose what your own personal “win state” is, reach that condition and then, if you choose, set the game aside.

If you’re anything like me, of course, the temptation to just have “a quick look” at what else the game has to offer may be too much to bear, however… so let’s talk about this side of things, with a particular focus on what it means for Atelier Firis’ overall narrative.

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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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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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Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Mix and Match

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While, as the name suggests, a significant part of Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey is about Firis going on her journey of self-discovery, it is still an Atelier game — and as such you’ll be spending plenty of time crafting items.

Atelier Firis doesn’t completely reinvent the alchemy mechanics from Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Bookbut it does feature some new twists on the formula established in that game. Once again we have the series’ classic “bung everything in a pot and see what comes out” base combined with some almost puzzle game-esque mechanics — and the result is an enjoyable, satisfying alchemy system.

Get your apron and your stirring stick, then — it’s time to take a closer look.

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Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Taking a Trip

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Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey isn’t the first time that the Atelier series has attempted to focus on a protagonist going on a long journey. Far from it, in fact.

While the “modern” Atelier games are typically associated with the structure of being based around a “hub” location and then radiating out from there, this style of play only makes up some of the series. Atelier Totori and Atelier Ayesha are both explicitly about going on a journey, while Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, Atelier Meruru and Atelier Shallie all have a significant “journey” component to their narratives, even if they also feature a “hub” location to call home.

But Atelier Firis manages to be a bit different by virtue of the way that it is constructed. Its “open world” nature gives a very different feel to the protagonist’s journey — and makes it stand out amid its peers in a very interesting and positive way. So let’s take a closer look at this idea.

Continue reading Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Taking a Trip