Tag Archives: worldbuilding

Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland – Beyond the City Walls

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One interesting thing about the way the Arland subseries of Atelier develops over time is how its scale gradually increases.

In Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arlandthe action is primarily confined to the city of Arland and its surrounding environs. In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arlandwe get the opportunity to explore the Arland region in much greater detail, coming to understand a lot more about the context of various locations. And, as we’ll see when we come to Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, the series then actually moves on to a whole other setting with connections to Arland, rather than unfolding in Arland itself..

Atelier Totori in particular brought about a very strong sense of worldbuilding and narrative context, and of the protagonist being just one tiny little part of a wide variety of events that would continue to unfold with or without her involvement. Let’s take a closer look at how the game achieves that feel.

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm – Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm initially doesn’t appear to have many direct connections to its two predecessors — aside from the presence of the Mana spirits, that is.

There doesn’t seem to be a widely accepted “official word” on exactly why this is, so it’s largely up to interpretation. Some commentators online believe that the game was originally intended to show Iris Blanchimont’s alchemy training, placing the game in between Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny and Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana in chronological terms — but either that was never a thing, or it was changed at the last minute. Because, as the game makes clear, the Iris in Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is not Iris Blanchimont — she’s Iris Fortner.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter all that much; Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm very much has its own story to tell, and has a well-realised narrative setting in which to explore that story. So let’s do just that!

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The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Coolest Transportation Method

The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here!

This award was suggested by Krystallina.

What good is a massive game world if you can’t get around it in style?

No good at all, that’s what! So today’s award celebrates my favourite means of getting around a particular virtual locale without getting wet, dirty, injured or terrified.

Well, maybe not that last one.

And the winner is…

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Gal*Gun 2: A Strange and Sexy Little World

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A game where you blast cute girls to quasi-orgasmic ecstasy while attempting to fend off the mischief of a cheeky young demon might not sound like the sort of experience that would have good worldbuilding, but the Gal*Gun series as a whole is full of surprises.

It’s clear that developer Inti Creates has taken a great amount of care over the course of the Japan-only Gal*Gun, its sequel Double Peace and Gal*Gun 2 to make the series something more than a throwaway joke game. Yes, it’s amusing; yes, it’s silly; yes, it’s cheeky, fun and sexy; but none of those things mean that it can’t have some depth or be well-crafted.

So today, then, we’re going to take a closer look at how the series as a whole builds that sense of a coherent world, and where Gal*Gun 2 fits in with all that.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World

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While the Xeno series has, from its outset, always been about imaginative takes on worldbuilding, the Xenoblade subseries in particular has placed a strong emphasis on this.

Indeed, as we’ve already explored, the very reason the first Xenoblade Chronicles exists at all is because series creator Tetsuya Takahashi thought it would be cool to have a game set atop the bodies of two gigantic, frozen gods. The concept was subsequently fleshed out into the divide between the Bionis and the Mechonis, and the rest is history.

Xenoblade Chronicles X subsequently provided a somewhat different take on worldbuilding, providing us with a huge, seamless and geographically diverse planet to explore at our own pace. But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is closer in concept to the first in the series, albeit with a few twists of its own.

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Rance: The “Discworld” of Eroge

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One of the most remarkable things about Alicesoft’s Rance series is quite how detailed its lore is.

This might not be something you expect to hear about a series of 18+ games with rather a lot of sexually explicit content, but just a few minutes with a Rance title will make it abundantly clear Alicesoft takes this franchise very seriously indeed. At least, so far as ensuring its lore is internally consistent; as a series with absurdist (and often black) humour at its heart, Rance is anything but “serious”.

This combination of a significant humorous component with deep, well-crafted lore established over a long cycle of individual works particularly brings to mind Terry Pratchett’s influential Discworld series. And if we look a little more deeply into that lore we can see a number of similarities along the way, particularly in terms of how things the audience will recognise from modern life are blended with the conventions of fantastic fiction.

NOTE: A hanny from /vg/ helpfully pointed out that the original version of this article used terminology from the original Japanese versions and fan translations. It’s now been updated with terminology from MangaGamer’s “official” translation to prevent confusion for series newcomers!

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From the Archives: Wandering the World

I’ve asked this question before in our visual novel column, but it bears repeating: why do we play?

The answer is different for everyone, even between fans of the same type of game. Some enjoy JRPGs for their heavy focus on story and character development in a narrative sense; others enjoy the gradual process of building up their strength and power and being able to take on the toughest challenges the game has to offer. Others still enjoy finding all the secrets there are to find in the game — and there are usually a lot.

For me, as a self-confessed narrative junkie, I primarily enjoy the experience of hanging out with the characters, of fighting alongside them and, eventually, taking on some sort of earth-shattering, physically-improbable Big Bad, probably in space. Battling against all odds. Building those bonds between people that the Persona series is always banging on about, you know?

But this isn’t the only way to enjoy a JRPG.

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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