Here we are with yet another one of my ‘adventures’ in video game collecting, so buckle in and-
Okay, well- the story behind this one isn’t super interesting so far as how I discovered it, especially since it’s part of the series I’m specifically seeking entries out in. In my earlier days with the Atelier series, my husband had gone out and picked up a copy of Atelier Annie for the Nintendo DS. Mind you that Annie is the only Atelier game on the DS that made its way over to the US and it was such a deviation from the Iris and Mana Khemia series on Playstation 2 that it kind of scared me and had me addicted simultaneously. While later entries like Rorona and Ayesha would follow along in the same gameplay aspects regarding time management and exploration, it was a whole new world for me back when I started playing.
As I played through the game, my party came together as one would expect in a JRPG. The knight who’s a bit too stuffy joined up. The perky but easily upset restaurant owner joined up. Even the strong woman who eats and drinks all the time came into my ranks. One character, however, seemed a bit different- a young woman who was set for adventure with a bag full of bombs and a penchant for riches. This character, a grinning girl with vivid red hair named Lise, quickly became a mainstay in my party, mostly due to seeming like she had a bit more depth than the other characters. The reason?
Well, she has her own game in the series right before Annie!
This was how I learned about Atelier Lise: The Alchemist of Orde. Much like the main Atelier series, the DS games actually form a trilogy of separate but entwined games, of which Atelier Annie: The Alchemist of Sera Island is actually the middle of. The first game in the series on the Nintendo DS follows Lisette “Lise” Randel, the youngest member of the Randel royal family. Upon finding that her kingdom essentially about to be foreclosed upon due to her father’s habit of taking out loans to improve their homeland, Lise heads off to the kingdom of Orde to earn money and keep the Kingdom of Randel up and running under its current monarchy. There are a number of ways to do this, resulting in multiple endings for the game, but ultimately the plot is not terribly different from Atelier Meruru from the get-go.
Atelier Lise establishes the cute anime art style that Annie continued, and the gameplay stays roughly the same. Alchemy is a bit different than past games as you can pointedly assign traits to items, weapons, and armor that you make. Battle takes place on a very simplified grid where characters are situated in the front, middle, or back row. Unlike past games, certain skills will take a certain amount of rounds to pull off, however, and they can only be used a limited amount in each battle. It sounds like combat is a bit more important in Atelier Lise than past titles, as well.
What’s so special about Atelier Lise in the grand scheme of the series? A fun fact about the game is that is has earned the nickname “Atelier Freeze” among the community. Look no further for an answer. Apparently, in the first run of the game, it was so buggy that it was near impossible to complete. This was so bad that Gust, the company that develops the Atelier games, issued a recall and ran a second version that was actually functional. It also made some balances to the gameplay that apparently were sorely needed. The main difference that is apparent to tell whether you have a first run or second run copy? The color of the case and the cartridge, both of which were white in the corrected version and red in the original.
Looking at the pictures, I’m just about 99% sure I have a first run copy. While this is pretty neat, it’s sort of a strange bittersweet kind of neat. In my searches on the internet, I can’t seem to find any trace of the ‘white case’ so either it’s incredibly rare or I’ve run into some misinformation. Given that it’s a pretty text-intensive game, however, and I can’t read Japanese, I’m going to chalk it up as a score!
With that, Atelier Lise becomes my first imported Atelier game. Sadly, it doesn’t actually count toward the mainline nineteen games of the series as Gust considers them the ‘DS’ trilogy (which probably also means we won’t see Lise, Annie, or the third of the series, Lina, appear in the upcoming Atelier Nelke game coming out) but it still holds a bit of my collector’s heart with it. I also got to learn some neat history regarding the game and Gust’s practices in general.
See you next time, folks!
– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)