Tag Archives: PS2

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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Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana – It’s an Alchemy Thing

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Despite being the sixth game in the series, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the first to come West.

The exact reasoning behind this isn’t entirely clear, but it may be something to do with the fact that the early Atelier games were primarily abstract management simulations with RPG elements, while Atelier Iris unfolds in a manner much more like what the Western audience would have understood “an RPG” to be in 2005.

Perhaps it was assumed the West wasn’t ready for that sort of thing. Perhaps the amount of text in the earlier games made them impractical to localise at the time. Or perhaps they just sort of fell through the cracks. Whatever the reasoning, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana was the West’s first Atelier game, so that’s where we begin our journey.

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PS2 Essentials: Sky Odyssey

The PS2 was a delightful period of experimentation for a lot of developers. And the fact that the only option for distribution was on physical media helped these titles get both noticed at the time, and fondly remembered long after the fact.

2000’s Sky Odyssey isn’t a game I ever played back in the day, but having familiarised myself with it for the first time recently, I have discovered it to be one of those titles for which a simple, offhand mention tends to trigger a gushing torrent of effusive praise from anyone who was there first time around. This is a game that people loved back in the day — and yet it’s mostly unheard of today. The very definition of a hidden gem; a forgotten classic.

The advantage of its underappreciated status, of course, is that it means you can pick up a copy for 50p down your local CEX, enjoy a fine, fine addition to your PS2 collection and still have change for an overpriced cup of shopping centre coffee. Let’s take a closer look. At the game, not the coffee.

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PS2 Essentials: Fitness Fun

Ah, what could possibly be better than the charming jank of the Simple 2000 series on PlayStation 2? Why, the Simple 2000 Ultimate series, of course!

Yes, indeed, not content with 123 volumes of low-budget, experimental and weird titles, D3 Publisher decided to put out another range of 34 games under the “Ultimate” branding. Exactly what makes these particular 34 games “Ultimate” isn’t terribly clear, although they are prime examples of what the Simple Series has always been about.

And, just like the main Simple 2000 series, we got a random selection of Simple 2000 Ultimate games in Europe, once again mostly published by 505 GameStreet. Here’s a particularly fine specimen: Fitness Fun, also known as Love★Aerobi or Love★Aerobics in Japan.

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PS2 Essentials: Auto Modellista

Even today, Capcom’s 2002 racing game Auto Modellista stands out as a bold and striking experiment.

By combining relatively conventional arcade-style racing gameplay with an eye-catching cel-shaded visual style, the game successfully distinguished itself from many of its peers — though sadly, relatively mediocre reviews, mostly focusing on the game’s handling and its attempts to straddle the line between deep simulation and arcade racer, meant that it sold fairly poorly.

That doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out by any means, however — particularly if you are someone who, like me, enjoys the customisation aspect of deep sims but hates “realistic” handling. Let’s take a closer look — and keep an eye on Sunday Driving for the next few weeks to see the game in action for yourself!

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Sunday Driving: Flagrant Disregard for Civilian Safety – World Super Police

Although there’s still a bit of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed to go, we technically “beat” the game (or saw the staff roll, at least) last week.

With that in mind, I thought I’d change up the format of Sunday Driving a little for greater variety: instead of focusing on one game exclusively, I’m going to cycle around a few games a bit, try out some new things and also act a bit on viewer feedback if there is any.

With that in mind, today I grab something random (but arcade racery) from my shelves and fire it up for the first time. If you want to see more of this particular game, let me know in the comments here or on YouTube! Hit the jump to see the vid.

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PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce

A core part of my gaming “diet” in the 16-bit home computer era and onwards into the early days of mainstream PC gaming was the military flight simulator.

I have many fond memories of piloting numerous pieces of military hardware around the virtual skies, dropping bombs on filthy commies (this was the height of the Cold War, after all) and dictators in the desert — but for me, it wasn’t necessarily the action-packed parts of these games that was appealing. No, it was the simple satisfaction of remaining in control of several tons of metal that really had no business being up in the air and not immediately plummeting to the ground.

This was a feeling I hadn’t really experienced for a while, to be honest; the Ace Combats of the world have their considerable appeal, but they’re not exactly realistic. Taito’s 2003 release of Energy Airforce, on the other hand… well, let’s take a look.

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