Tag Archives: Grand Phantasm

The Music of Atelier, Vol. 3: Atelier Iris 3 – Grand Phantasm

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It’s time to once again return to the wonderful world of Atelier music, this time with a look at Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm’s soundtrack.

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm was a noteworthy installment in the series from a musical perspective, because it marked the point where Gust’s sound team switched from using synthesised, sequenced music to streamed prerecorded music. This allowed them considerably more flexibility to put together more elaborate compositions and make use of more realistic sounds.

So turn up the volume and let’s have a good listen to find out exactly what that means!

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm initially doesn’t appear to have many direct connections to its two predecessors — aside from the presence of the Mana spirits, that is.

There doesn’t seem to be a widely accepted “official word” on exactly why this is, so it’s largely up to interpretation. Some commentators online believe that the game was originally intended to show Iris Blanchimont’s alchemy training, placing the game in between Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana in chronological terms — but either that was never a thing, or it was changed at the last minute. Because, as the game makes clear, the Iris in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is not Iris Blanchimont — she’s Iris Fortner.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much; Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm very much has its own story to tell, and has a well-realised narrative setting in which to explore that story. So let’s do just that!

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Waifu Wednesday: Iris Fortner

Fun fact: in contrast to the rest of the Atelier series, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is the only game in the Iris trilogy in which the title character is playable.

In Atelier Iris: Eternal ManaIris is a mysterious figure from the past. In Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of DestinyIris is a mysterious small child who may or may not be the same Iris who was a mysterious figure from the past in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. But in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, Iris is not only right there from the outset, but she’s actually the one who runs the atelier itself.

Okay, she’s not the lead protagonist in terms of who you control on the game’s field screens, but she is the most important person in the narrative. She’s also thoroughly lovely, so let’s explore her character further!

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – A Dazzling Place I Never Knew

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While Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana and Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny are both structured around a protagonist’s ongoing journey, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm has a structure somewhat more akin to “traditional” Atelier games.

In other words, that means that the game is primarily based around a single “hub” location that plays host to the alchemist protagonist’s workshop, and pretty much everything you do involves heading out from that hub location to go and do specific things for one reason or another.

In the case of Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, those “things” will be quests and missions in the various Alterworlds that surround the city of Zey Meruze. So let’s take a look at the game’s overall structure, and how exploration works in general.

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Waifu Wednesday: Nell Ellis

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm has an unusually small playable cast compared to other installments in the series. This is primarily down to the fact that two of the three playable leads are able to switch “Blades” any time they return to town, effectively giving them the functionality of multiple party members.

One of those privileged two is Nell Ellis, an energetic young woman who joins main protagonists Edge Vahnheit and Iris Fortner after getting into a fight with her sister Yula over the pair’s reasons for coming to the town of Zey Meruze. Yula appears to believe that the former prosperity of the Ellis family must be restored, regardless of cost, while Nell takes the rather more down to earth — and, it has to be said, friendly — viewpoint that they should make the best of the situation they’re in rather than moping over the glory days or doing something they might regret.

She’s a thoroughly likeable character, infused with a huge amount of personality over the course of Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, so let’s take some time to appreciate her!

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Bursting Into Battle

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As we’ve seen so far, each game in the Atelier Iris series reinvents its core mechanics quite significantly from its predecessor; this was a rather experimental period for Gust.

In this article, we’re going to take a specific look at the combat and progression mechanics in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, including the elements carried across from prior installments and some all-new considerations for this specific title.

Strap on your Mushroom Armour, rev up your Pyre Blade and get ready to fight — we’re going in. Watch out for the Punis!

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – A Step Forward

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In 2006, a year after Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, Gust released Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm in Japan; it would be another year after that before Western players would get their hands on it.

Atelier games are a fixture in developer Gust’s calendar; each of the duologies and trilogies that make up the complete franchise have enjoyed annual installments, and indeed the first Atelier Iris’ release in Japan in 2004 marked the beginning of a streak of yearly releases for the series as a whole that lasted until 2017. The company, of course, made up for the lack of an Atelier game in 2018 by releasing three in 2019, but, well, that’s a story for another day.

What’s kind of remarkable is that despite this non-stop release schedule, each Atelier game, even within the same subseries, feels noticeably distinct from the last. And this is particularly apparent when it comes to Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm. So let’s look at how this moves the series forwards.

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