Tag Archives: NIS America

Atelier Totori: Arland’s Middle Child

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, the second installment in Atelier’s Arland trilogy, is in that unenviable position that all “middle children” end up in — perhaps more so than most.

Originally offering considerable improvements over Atelier Rorona’s first incarnation — particularly in the graphical and mechanical departments — Gust’s tendency to put out “Plus” versions for its Atelier games means that Totori has ended up, in some respects, now being the most dated of the Arland trilogy even once it, in turn, got its own “Plus” and “DX” rereleases, the most recent of which is on PlayStation 4, Switch and PC.

This isn’t to say Totori is a bad game, mind you — far from it. Just… don’t take anything for granted! Let’s have a closer look.

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Waifu Wednesday: Esty

There’s a lot of hoo-hah about “representation” in games right now from various sources, tending to lead to arguments between people who don’t think it matters and people who think it is more important than absolutely anything in the whole wide world.

For the most part, I tend to stay out of these discussions because I have no particularly strong feelings one way or the other and I’m not going to just sit here and hollowly say “the right thing” for Internet brownie points. For me, it’s always cool to see characters who are a bit “different from the norm” in various ways, yes, but it’s not something I specifically find myself seeking out. Unless you count generally favouring Japanese games with female protagonists or at least leading cast members, in which case… uh… well, look at the stuff I’ve covered on this site over the course of the last few years. Hmm, maybe I care about it more than I think.

Anyway, all that said, it’s nice when you feel some sort of connection to a character depicted in a piece of media. Even if it’s just in one small way…

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Atelier Rorona: Arland’s New Beginning

As we’ve previously explored, the Atelier series is no stranger to rereleases and remakes — and at the time of writing, Arland trilogy debut Atelier Rorona has had more than most.

Initially releasing in Japan in 2009 as Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland before being localised by NIS America for North America, Europe and Australasia in 2010, the game was subsequently completely rebuilt in 2013 under its new worldwide publisher Koei Tecmo as Atelier Rorona Plus in an attempt to bring it more in line with the subsequent releases in the series. In 2015, Japan got a unique 3DS version of the game. And in 2018, Gust and Koei Tecmo brought Atelier Rorona DX — pretty much a port of Atelier Rorona Plus — to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Windows PC.

Keeping one game relevant for nine full years and counting is no mean feat. So let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons this game might have stuck around for quite as long as it has!

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Atelier Arland: Introduction and History

Atelier is one of the more long-running, prolific series in the canon of Japanese gaming.

First launching in 1997, the franchise has seen 19 mainline releases since its inception (with a 20th on the way at the time of writing), plus a variety of spin-offs, side stories, ports, expanded adaptations and guest appearances from its characters in various other games over the years. Although we didn’t see our first Western localisation of the series until its sixth mainline game (Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana for PlayStation 2) in 2005, it is, by this point, firmly established as a mainstay of Japanese role-playing games — and, in the nicest possible way, developer Gust’s cash cow.

With that in mind, before we delve into the Arland trilogy in detail, let’s take a look at the history of the series as a whole up until Atelier Rorona’s initial release in 2009. Join me on a trip into totally-not-Renaissance-Germany, and let’s get crafting!

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From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers

One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”

Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.

This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.

Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Some Thoughts on Localisation

Localisation is, it seems, a somewhat thorny issue these days — but it’s one worth discussing.

Before I begin today, I’d like to emphasise that by no means am I attempting to present a “definitive” opinion here. By its very nature, this is a topic that is highly subjective and a matter of opinion, and that means you may not agree with my views. And that is, of course, fine; all I’m attempting to do here is to highlight one possible perspective and provide some food for thought on a complex issue with no “right” answers.

Preamble over and done with, then; let’s talk about localisation, beginning with a little personal context that may go some distance towards explaining why I feel the way I do about all this.

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Megadimension Neptunia V-II: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

While dismissed by many mainstream critics as lightweight, disposable moe fluff, the Neptunia series actually has some of the sharpest, most on-point writing in the business.

Both strongly allegorical and satirical, the series as a whole has evolved its treatment of its narrative themes and characters from installment to installment, roughly in keeping with trends in the gaming business and longstanding concerns in the industry as a whole. Not only that, but it acknowledges and satirises trends in other aspects of popular media, too, particularly anime.

Part of this is down to the snappiness of the original Japanese writing and the characterisation therein — much of which you can pick up through the Japanese voice acting, even if you don’t speak much (or indeed any) Japanese — but a lot of credit must also be laid at the feet of the various localisation teams who have tackled the series over the years.

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