Tag Archives: music

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 – 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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Atari A to Z: Hollywood Medieval

Back in the early days of home computing, developers were experimenting not only with how different game genres worked, but also with using game-like mechanics in various contexts.

One pioneer of these experiments was Douglas Crockford, who we’ve seen a couple of times on this series previously. Today we look at his Hollywood Medieval project, which combines music effectively arranged by the “player” with the game-like mechanic of navigating a maze — with your location determined by the musical phrases you’re hearing.

A peculiar experience to be sure! Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

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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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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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 4: Mana Khemia – Alchemists of Al-Revis

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As has become MegaFeature tradition, now we’ve finished exploring Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis from mechanical and narrative perspectives, it’s time to celebrate the sterling work of Gust’s sound team with a look at its soundtrack.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis is the second game in the Atelier series to make use of pre-recorded streamed music rather than real-time synthesised, sequenced music. We were already starting to get a strong feel for the distinct audible aesthetic lead composers Ken Nakagawa and Daisuke Achiwa were aiming for with the series in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, but Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis and its sequel further codify many of the musical conventions of the series.

These conventions would remain in place as Atelier bid farewell to the PlayStation 2 and jumped to the next generation with the Arland trilogy. So let’s dive into some highlights from Mana Khemia’s score!

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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 – 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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Super Castlevania IV: The Quintessential SNES Game

One thing I feel like we’ve lost somewhat over the procession of console generations we’ve lived through is a feeling of “uniqueness” for each platform.

Sure, Nintendo still does its own thing and its games are immediately recognisable, but I’m talking more about a very clear look, sound and feel of games on a specific platform; partially a product of the hardware itself, and partially that of the companies specifically choosing to produce work for that platform in particular.

I hadn’t really spent a lot of time with Super Castlevania IV for Super NES until recently, but within about five minutes of delving into it in earnest thanks to the Castlevania Anniversary Collection for Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and PC, I’m absolutely convinced that it is the perfect example of what a SNES game really “is”.

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The Music of Atelier, Vol. 2: Atelier Iris 2 – The Azoth of Destiny

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It’s time once again to spend some time in the company of Gust’s wonderful sound team and their sterling work on the Atelier series.

This time around, we’re looking at the soundtrack for Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny. The music is once again the work of Gust regulars Daisuke Achiwa and Ken Nakagawa, the latter of whom in particular has become heavily associated with the Atelier series over the years.

Conveniently, copies of Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny came with a bonus soundtrack CD, so we’ll be focusing on a selection of the tracks from this disc today. Let’s jump in — pump up the volume!

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