Tag Archives: PS2

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 – Doing New Game Plus Right

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Once you beat Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy once, you could quite feasibly leave it behind and feel like you’ve had a good experience. You’ll have enjoyed a 40-50 hour RPG, and you’ll have seen the story wrap up in a satisfactory manner.

It doesn’t have to end there, though. There’s a second protagonist to play through as, and while that protagonist passes through the same dungeons as the first over the course of the game, their core narrative is completely different and they have a whole other supporting cast — and, this being an Atelier game, they have their own unique items to craft, too.

For some people, being asked to play through a whole RPG again is a hard sell, though — even if said replay offers mostly new experiences. How can you convince people to keep playing after the credits have rolled for the first time? Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy provides a great example of how a good New Game Plus mode can keep players engaged in the long term without feeling like you’re retreading old ground.

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Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy – Special Measures in the Darkness

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Unlike the previous Atelier games that we’ve explored so far, Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy features two discrete narrative paths to follow, plus an “Extra” path once you’ve cleared them both that provides a “true” ending.

Your first playthrough of the game will likely take about 40 hours or so, but your second run with the other of the two protagonists will go by a little more quickly, since you can carry over almost everything from your first playthrough — including the recipes you’ve previously synthesised to unlock cards in the characters’ Grow Books. Expect to still spend another 20-30 hours though.

The two paths cover similar “macro” events and converge at the very end, but they are presented from very different perspectives, with a completely different set of characters at the forefront of the action and a unique series of events on the more “micro” scale. With that in mind, today we’re going to focus on the route fronted by female protagonist Ulrika, and follow up with male protagonist Raze’s narrative path — and the true ending — in a subsequent part. So grab your books and warm up your cauldron; it’s time to enrol in the Alchemy class.

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Waifu Wednesday: Ulrika Mulberry

With Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis done and dusted, this week we’re turning our attention to its direct sequel, Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy.

And where better to begin taking a look at this game than with an appreciation of the main female protagonist, one Ulrika Mulberry? After all, we’ve had four Atelier games in a row with a male lead, so it’s about time we let the ladies take the spotlight once again.

Okay, yes, Mana Khemia 2 also has male protagonist Raze, but we’re all about Ulrika today. Hit the jump to find out more!

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Waifu Wednesday: Anna Lemouri

Once again Waifu Wednesday rolls around, and we’re still not out of awesome female characters from Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis to celebrate!

This week we’re taking a look at Anna Lemouri, who joins the cast after protagonist Vayne and his friends Jess and Nikki complete their first year at the Al-Revis Academy and become sophomores.

Anna is the youngest character in the main cast, but in many regards she is the most mature — very much a case of “old before her time” in most circumstances, though there are a few very notable exceptions…

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Waifu Wednesday: Nell Ellis

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm has an unusually small playable cast compared to other installments in the series. This is primarily down to the fact that two of the three playable leads are able to switch “Blades” any time they return to town, effectively giving them the functionality of multiple party members.

One of those privileged two is Nell Ellis, an energetic young woman who joins main protagonists Edge Vahnheit and Iris Fortner after getting into a fight with her sister Yula over the pair’s reasons for coming to the town of Zey Meruze. Yula appears to believe that the former prosperity of the Ellis family must be restored, regardless of cost, while Nell takes the rather more down to earth — and, it has to be said, friendly — viewpoint that they should make the best of the situation they’re in rather than moping over the glory days or doing something they might regret.

She’s a thoroughly likeable character, infused with a huge amount of personality over the course of Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, so let’s take some time to appreciate her!

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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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Happy Birthday, PlayStation 2

Sony’s PlayStation 2 was a landmark console for both the games industry at large — and for many individuals of a certain age, too.

The console turned 20 years old on March 4, 2020 — assuming we’re going by its original Japanese release date, anyway — and thus that provides as good a reason as any to look back on this wonderful console, share some fond memories and explore how this remarkable machine is still relevant in my daily gaming life even today.

Grab a slice of cake and get ready to party, then; it’s time to celebrate.

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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – The Craft of Combat

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Now we’ve explored how Atelier Iris handles the series’ core concept of using alchemy and other crafting techniques to create items, it’s time to look at the other aspects of the game.

While all of the previous Atelier games featured strong RPG-style elements such as combat and exploration, for the most part — fourth game Atelier Judie was an exception to a certain extent — these were expressed in the abstract, with the emphasis being placed firmly on the main character and their workshop. That’s where the name came from, after all.

Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana seemingly saw the series take a bit of a sidestep into more traditional RPG territory. But there are a lot of things about it that make it stand out from what you might traditionally think of as a turn-based, menu-driven console RPG. So that’s what we’re going to look at in the next couple of articles.

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