Tag Archives: Koei

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 – One Must Fall

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So far in our exploration of Atelier, we’ve seen a series that is keen not to be seen as stagnating.

Each new game has reinvented itself when compared to its predecessor in one way or another, with the alchemy, progression and combat mechanics all differing from one game to the next — with some games being more drastically different than others.

Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy continues the trend of its two predecessors so far as its combat mechanics are concerned, which is to refine the systems introduced in Atelier Iris 3: Grand PhantasmSo let’s take a closer look at how you fight in the latter years of the Al-Revis Academy!

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Waifu Wednesday: Nicole Mimi Tithel

With the Atelier MegaFeature continuing apace, the next game on the list is Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis — a title which, despite not actually having “Atelier” in the title, is officially the ninth mainline installment in the series.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is full of wonderful characters, and you get plenty of time to hang out with them thanks to the game’s school-based setting. And for those who enjoy either New Game Plus replays or save-scumming, there’s a different ending for each one of them, too.

Today I thought we’d look at the rather charming Nicole Mimi Tithel, or Nikki for short. She is, to put it mildly, a rather striking character who will almost certainly leave quite the impression!

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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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Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Although technically a “sequel” to Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana — it was even known as Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 in Japan — Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny unfolds quite differently from its predecessor.

It’s set long before the events of Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, for starters, so the world in which the action unfolds is very different. There’s a stark divide between the peaceful land of Eden, where alchemy is widespread and Mana spirits walk (or walk-equivalent) the streets alongside humans, and the “surface world” of Belkhyde, which left the practice of alchemy behind long ago.

Before we delve into all that, though, there’s an important question to address: what the fuck is an “azoth”, anyway?

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Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Worlds Apart

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The Atelier series, as we’ve previously explored, was primarily based around an isometric perspective right up until its shift to full 3D in the PlayStation 3 era.

If anything, this aspect of the game’s overall design and structure is even more apparent in Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny than in its immediate predecessor, with much of male protagonist Felt’s quest consisting of exploring labyrinthine dungeons presented from this distinctive viewpoint.

With that in mind, then, let’s take a closer look at how one gets around in the world of Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, and how it differs from Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana.

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Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – The Fight for Eden

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The Atelier Iris subseries is, as we’ve already seen with Eternal Mana, something of an outlier in the Atelier series as a whole.

While all of the Atelier games involve RPG-style combat to varying degrees, the Iris subseries places a particular emphasis on what many would think of as a more “conventional” RPG-style structure: the protagonist goes on a journey, explores dungeons, acquires allies, seeks out wondrous treasures… there just happens to be some alchemy involved on the side.

Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny has a particularly strong emphasis on its combat and progression mechanics, making it a satisfying game for those who like making numbers get bigger. Let’s take a closer look at this aspect today.

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Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny – Alchemy Evolution

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was very clearly an attempt to do something different with the Atelier series… and also a bit of a playground for the development team to experiment with a wide variety of ideas.

This much becomes obvious almost from the moment you boot up 2005’s Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, which takes many of the things that worked from Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, fixes the things that almost worked and ditches the things that didn’t.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny builds on its predecessor, and how this becomes clear over the course of the game’s early hours.

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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 1: Atelier Iris – Eternal Mana

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The Atelier series has some wonderful music, and provides many examples of Gust’s sound team producing some of the most distinctive, immediately recognisable soundtracks in the business.

As the Atelier MegaFeature progresses, we’ll stop off every so often to take in some of these classic tunes — and where better to start than with the game we’ve just finished looking at in depth?

Let’s admire some of the lovely themes from the first Atelier game to come West, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana!

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – It’s an Alchemy Thing

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Despite being the sixth game in the series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the first to come West.

The exact reasoning behind this isn’t entirely clear, but it may be something to do with the fact that the early Atelier games were primarily abstract management simulations with RPG elements, while Atelier Iris unfolds in a manner much more like what the Western audience would have understood “an RPG” to be in 2005.

Perhaps it was assumed the West wasn’t ready for that sort of thing. Perhaps the amount of text in the earlier games made them impractical to localise at the time. Or perhaps they just sort of fell through the cracks. Whatever the reasoning, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the West’s first Atelier game, so that’s where we begin our journey.

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