Tag Archives: NIS America

The Music of Atelier, Vol. 8: Atelier Meruru – The Apprentice of Arland

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After the rather melancholy tone of Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland’s soundtrack, Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland returns to a rather more joyful feel.

There’s a sense of adventure to the music, for sure, since Meruru’s quest takes her quite far afield from her home town, but there’s also a sense of triumph; of overcoming odds. Meruru’s story, particularly in its latter hours, is one of triumph over adversity, and of growth. Not just personal growth, either; also the literal, measurable growth of the kingdom of Arls as a direct result of Meruru’s efforts.

This time around, Ken Nakagawa is joined by frequent collaborators Kazuki Yanagawa and Daisuke Achiwa for a solid and diverse soundtrack that is one of the catchiest in the series. Turn up the volume and let’s listen to some selected highlights.

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Mad Rat Dead: Prepare to Die

One of the best things about Nippon Ichi Software is the company’s willingness to take some risks and put out some highly creative, artistic titles alongside its longstanding cash cow franchises.

A reliable source of these fascinating “B-tier Nippon Ichi” titles is designer Yu Mizokami who, to date, has given us the Yomawari series of horror games and contributed to the excellent (and perpetually overlooked) Lapis x Labyrinth. Now he’s back once again with a brand new but equally stylish title: Mad Rat Dead, which aims to blend rhythm action with 2D platforming.

Both are genres that demand committed, attentive players with an eye for detail and a willingness to put in some practice. But can these two styles of game work together? Let’s take a closer look.

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – A Princess’ Work is Never Done

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As Princess Merurulince Rede Arls faces down the formidable task of expanding the tiny little hamlet that is Arls kingdom into a bustling city of 30,000 residents in the space of three years, she clearly has a lot of work ahead of her.

More to the point, she has a lot of different types of work ahead of her, too, meaning she’ll need to carefully balance her time between cooking up alchemical creations in her workshop and heading out into the field to listen to the requests of the people, slap down the local monster populations and generally go rather above and beyond the expectations of someone of her social standing.

She loves every minute, though, and you’ll be right there alongside her as she takes on her many and varied challenges. In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we take a look at how Meruru crafts items, and how that helps her long-term objective of developing the kingdom.

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Waifu Wednesday: Hanna Olses

Many installments in the Atelier series involve getting to know the shopkeepers of the realm as friends and confidants, not just people who sell you stuff.

After all, a good alchemist always needs plenty of ingredients — and if you have a good buddy happy to slip you a few freebies now and again, then everyone’s a winner, right? Particularly if your alchemy is making life better for the kingdom as a whole.

Such is the relationship between the titular princess from Atelier Meruru and her good friend Hanna, the latter of whom lives a fruitful life alternating between picking any old crap up off the side of the road, and selling said crap to any passing mug.

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland – Building a Legacy

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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland concludes what was the original Arland trilogy for PlayStation 3 with another twist on the formula that makes it a very distinct game from its predecessors.

Blending elements of the game structure from both Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arlandit was a fitting conclusion to the series — at least until Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland put in a surprise appearance, anyway, but that’s a story for another day.

In this part of the Atelier MegaFeature, we’ll take a look at these things Atelier Meruru has in common with its predecessors — and how it manages to stand out as its own distinctive experience through its own additions to the formula. Let’s jump in!

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short;Play: Mad Rat Dead

I love Nippon Ichi Software. Over the years they’ve provided some fantastic games, and they rarely stick to what’s “safe”; their games are, in many cases, some of the most joyfully experimental, mechanically rich titles out there.

A great example is new release Mad Rat Dead, which combines electro swing-fuelled rhythm action with tricky platforming, a surprisingly dark narrative and a colourful, punky aesthetic. It’s a lot of fun, but looks like being a pretty stiff challenge in the long term!

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Following the Footsteps

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So we’ve talked about one of the main reasons Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland became somewhat notorious around the world — now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of what the game itself is all about.

Mechanically and structurally, it’s a very interesting game to contemplate, because while it’s still recognisably an Atelier game — and recognisable as a follow-up to Atelier Rorona, even — it feels like it draws influences from a much broader field to create an experience that is noticeably different from its predecessor, while remaining comfortably familiar as part of the Arland subseries.

Pack a lunch and don’t forget to bring your Adventurer’s License, then; it’s time to take to the road with Totori.

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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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