Tag Archives: NIS America

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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Waifu Wednesday: Tiffani Hildebrand

One of the things the Atelier series has always done well is infuse its secondary characters who are of minimal importance to the main narrative with just as much personality as its leads.

A good example of this is Tiffani Hildebrand from the Atelier Arland series, who first appears in Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland and sticks around for its follow-up Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland. In mechanical terms, she’s a shopkeeper. In personality terms, however, she’s so much more.

There’s also a disappointing lack of fanart of her online. Someone get to work, quick! In the meantime, though, let’s take our time to celebrate Atelier Tiffani: The Mom of Arland and her official art.

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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A New Generation of Alchemy

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In the previous part of this feature, we took a high-level look at how Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland represented a return to the Atelier series’ roots, after Gust experimented with the formula quite a bit throughout the latter days of the PS2 era.

Today, we’re going to examine one of the main ways that the game combines this “traditional” feel with more complex, in-depth and modern mechanics: its revamped alchemy system. As the centrepiece of the Atelier series as a whole, this has always been where Gust has been at its most experimental and iterative, building on the best aspects of what had come before while casting aside the things that didn’t work quite so well or which couldn’t practically be fleshed out any further.

While Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland’s alchemy system is distinctive in its own right, it also clearly learns a lot of lessons from what immediately preceded it. So get that fire lit under your cauldron, and let’s get cookin’!

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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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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Life on the Light Side

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It’s interesting how seeing the same events unfold from a different perspective can provide an alternative spin on things.

This is most certainly the case with Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy. Because although male protagonist Raze lives through the exact same bizarrely eventful school year as his counterpart Ulrika, the company he keeps and the context in which he experiences those events makes for a markedly different playthrough.

So, if you were wondering if you should indulge in the game’s excellent New Game Plus mode in order to experience the second protagonist’s story after clearing the first, the answer is a definitive “yes”. Let’s take a closer look at Raze’s route — and the “Extra” scenario that unlocks after you beat both playthroughs.

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Making the Grade

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For most people, a “good” RPG consists of some combination of a compelling story, solid combat mechanics and satisfying progression.

Many RPGs have stuck with the conventional “experience and levels” system over the years, simply because that is a proven progression mechanic that works well, offers continual rewards for continued play and tangible improvements in your characters over time.

Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis did something a little different, where character combat effectiveness was directly tied to your engagement with the game’s core alchemy system. And its sequel Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy follows suit — but rather than simply rehashing the previous game’s mechanics, it adds an interesting new twist. Let’s take a closer look!

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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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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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