Tag Archives: structure

Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey – Atelier Hits the Open Road

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The Atelier series, as we’ve seen numerous times over the course of its complete length, is not one to sit still for long — even within the scope of a single subseries.

Despite this, Atelier games have always managed to establish a sense of coherence between different installments — even when they might appear, at first glance, to be radically different from one another.

Such is the case with the second of the Mysterious trilogy — Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey may initially appear markedly different from its immediate predecessor Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Bookbut the more you spend time with it, the more you’ll realise there are some interesting elements in common amid all that seeming change.

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Classic-Style Combat

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One of the recurring things that has come up time and time again as we’ve been looking at Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is how this game very consciously does things differently from what has come before.

It’s evident in the overall structure of the game and the way its story is told; it’s evident in the alchemy mechanics; it’s even evident in the art style, though this generally varies from subseries to subseries anyway.

And, of course, it’s evident in the combat system. This is a particularly interesting aspect of Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book to analyse in detail, because superficially its combat mechanics might resemble the last six games in the series to one degree or another — but in fact, things unfold quite differently. Let’s explore!

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Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book – Getting Into Role

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What, exactly, is an “RPG” anyway? The term covers such a broad spectrum of different game types these days that it’s fast becoming less useful than it once was — and yet it’s still understood by many people to mean a few things.

Growth in power over the duration of the story; strength, competence and other things that can grow (and shrink!) represented as numerical values; abstract mechanics that represent things which would be difficult to simulate “realistically”. All of these are pretty constant, regardless of what type of RPG you’re playing.

But the approach to story — and indeed the main “point” of the experience — varies wildly from game to game. And with Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, we see a game with a noticeably different feel to many of the titles that have come before in the Atelier series.

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Fur Fighters: Bizarre Gets Blasting

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It would be nearly three full years between the release of Formula 1 97 and Bizarre Creations’ next game — and that next game was quite a change in style!

Having proven themselves in the racing game sector with the two PlayStation-based Formula 1 titles, the company turned its attention to Sega’s new Dreamcast console and two new projects. One of these, Metropolis Street Racer, would prove to be Bizarre Creations’ breakout hit. But don’t sleep on the other, because Fur Fighters is a fascinating game that is well worth your time — even if it’s not what you’d typically expect to see from the company!

And for those who don’t have easy access to a working Dreamcast, there’s even a PS2 version that came out a year later with some significant improvements such as cel-shaded visuals and full voice acting. It’s that version, subtitled Viggo’s Revenge, that we’ll be focusing on for today.

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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Chromatic Shift

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While in many respects the Arland games had brought the Atelier series back to its roots, they also very much had their own distinctive sense of identity. In order to move on to a new subseries, there would need to be some sort of noticeable “shift”.

That was the challenge Gust was faced with after the success of Ateliers Rorona, Totori and Meruruhow to follow that up with something that still felt like Atelier, but which also distinguished itself from the pastel-coloured, distinctly “comfy” games that had come before? And with the new generation of fans who might have joined the series in the HD era, how to ensure that no-one went away feeling like the series had dropped something important to its core identity?

We got our answer in 2012 with the release of Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk — which ended up being the first installment in one of the most fondly regarded Atelier subseries of all time. So I guess they did something right. Let’s take a first look!

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The Tower of Druaga: Persevere, Sir Knight

The Tower of Druaga is an important part of gaming history — yet it’s also a game that has somewhat divided opinion over the years.

Back in its native Japan, it was widely loved and appreciated for its revolutionary nature at the time of its original release; in the West, however, it was lambasted for its slow pace, obtuse mechanics and monstrous level of difficulty.

Regardless of your feelings on it, you can now play the Famicom version as part of the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge on the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look, and see why this game is so important.

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SpyHunter: Who Needs Stealth?

Midway’s 1983 title Spy Hunter is a fairly well-loved title from the golden age of arcade games. While some would argue it’s not quite as well-known as the Pac-Men and the Space Invaderses of the world, it’s still a game a lot of people have fond memories of.

Its top-down combat racing action provided an interesting blend of different genres to enjoy; there was the high-speed skilful manoeuvring of racers, coupled with the focus on high-score chasing typically associated with shoot ’em ups. And it had a distinct sense of style, too; originally intended to be a licensed James Bond game, the game ended up becoming iconic for its use of Henry Mancini’s Peter Gunn theme as its in-game music. And early example of a video game being genuinely “cool”.

When a mechanical reboot and narrative sequel showed up for PlayStation 2 in 2001, then, it had quite the shoes to fill. How well did it pay homage to the original while providing an up-to-date experience for the early 21st century gamer? 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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Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland – A Matter of Time

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A year after Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy bid a fond (and very late) farewell to the PlayStation 2, the Atelier series finally entered the high-definition era with the 2009 Japanese release of Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland for PlayStation 3.

Since the original release of the game and its 2010 localisation, we’ve seen a few other versions. In 2013, Atelier Rorona Plus revamped the entire game for PlayStation 3 and Vita with the graphics engine and alchemy mechanics from Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the third game in the Arland trilogy. In 2015, Japan got a peculiar chibified remake for Nintendo 3DS. And then in 2018, Atelier Rorona DX, a port of Atelier Rorona Plus that included all its downloadable content, was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.

From hereon, we’ll primarily be looking at Atelier Rorona DX, since that is the most readily accessible version at the time of writing — but most of what we’ll talk about applies to all the different versions. So grab your Basket and let’s begin a whole new adventure!

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The Immortal: How To Kill Your Wizard

If you are a glutton for punishment, or just feel that modern video games are a touch on the easy and/or fair side for you, it’s high time you checked out Will Harvey’s classic 1990 title, The Immortal.

As it happens, at the time of writing it’s just become easily accessible in not one, but two different places: you can now play the NES version as part of a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, and the Mega Drive version appears as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.

It’s the latter version we’ll be focusing on today, but expect similar amounts of death in both. Roll up your sleeves, and let’s get mortal.

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