I’ve made no secret of my love for the Atelier series. The next entry, Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists, is slated to hit the Nintendo Switch on North American shores in the Winter. Much like another favorite series of mine, Fire Emblem, they decided to take an approach involving the past of the Atelier series. With Nelke, it’s a bit more heavy-handed than with Awakening as the game has you utilizing a swarm of the series’ protagonists to proceed through the plot.
As a quick plot rundown (and here is the obvious spoiler warning in case you want to play the game and go in completely blind for your enjoyment), you play as Nelke von Lestamm, a government official in training who has shown no talent for alchemy, despite her appreciation of it. She has grown up with a fascination regarding a legendary tree that can grant power and wishes to those who discover it. Of course shortly after she is set to graduate from her academy, she hears that the tree is rumored to be within her father’s lands. As she sets her sights on finding the tree, her father agrees to help her so long as she takes over a nearby town as its governor. With the task of helping the town flourish, she cooperates with the many alchemists who are drawn to her new city to find the mysterious tree and learn the mysteries surrounding it.
At the Tokyo Game Show, a new trailer was shown which appeared to be an opening movie for the game (or at the very least, an entertaining promotional piece). While there was a separate gameplay trailer, I wanted to do a quick breakdown on some of the titles that would be involved and some of the observations I made while looking through a few times.
So you can check it out yourself, here’s the trailer:
This will mostly involve references back to the old games and some conclusions I’ve come to through some quick peripheral research. Hopefully, this is pretty accurate and up to date, but with more information coming along every few days, it will be interesting to see what’s released before the game arrives!
First, we get a look at Nelke and her maid/confidante, Misty. The two of them are near inseparable in the trailer which sticks to the tried and true formula of the series as of late. As a note, I kind of love Nelke’s design. It drips with an aristocracy that sets her apart from the alchemists even further than the plot details. We then get into the various alchemists appearing:
Appropriately, the trailer reveals the original ladies of the series, Marie and Elie, from the Salburg trilogy. It was no shock that Marie would be featured in the promotional materials- she was a character in the amalgamated cast in 2009’s Cross Edge on the PS3 and XBox 360- but this is Elie’s first time showing up in North America. As Atelier Elie was the sequel to Atelier Marie, two of the three titles of the Salburg trilogy are present and accounted for right off the bat.
A little less surprising is the inclusion of a number of current characters from the modern games. First, we are welcomed by Shallie (or Shallotte) of the Dusk series and Meruru of the Arland trilogy. They’re probably two of the most outgoing and somewhat underused characters in the series, so it’s nice to see their inclusion, inevitable as it may have been.
We then segue into a larger group shot in the next frames. On the left, Logy and Escha of the Dusk trilogy are situated and next to them is a personal favorite, Totori from the Arland trilogy. We also see in the foreground, Firis from the Mysterious Trilogy, happily munching on some bread. Interestingly, we also get our first minor character in Hagel, the ever-present blacksmith and weapon salesman who appears in a number of titles throughout the series. Given that Logy kind of took his place and role in the later games, this is a nice addition to an Atelier gaming love letter.
We also get a glimpse at Lydie from the Mysterious series, the most recent release from the series. A fun surprise comes in the form of the girl on the right: Viese from Atelier Iris 2: Azoth of Destiny. It feels like it’s been forever since the PS2 games have been referenced so seeing a shoutout to the Iris trilogy warms my heart a little, especially given that the second game was probably my favorite of the three.
After that surprise, we find ourselves with another trio. In the center is a face that many may be familiar with from the Dusk series, Ayesha. The other two are a bit more obscure. On the left, we have Lilie, the third alchemist of the Salburg trilogy who rounds out the trio Marie and Elie. It’s exciting to see that Gust is interested in showing off the entire trilogy, as only Marie has been nodded at in the recent past with their offerings. The character on the right is a bit tougher to place, though their appearance signals a few interesting conclusions. After a quick bit of research, I found that this is Dour, a Wood Elemental and Fairy from Atelier Iris 2. Elementals didn’t appear much outside of the Iris and Mana trilogy so his inclusion could involve other Elementals and possibly some differences in how alchemy is approached in this game. He could also just be added as a familiar face, but the fact that he’s being referenced at all is a pleasant realization.
So whose explosion are they reacting to? Well, that leads to one of the more odd additions to the cast with Viorate (or maybe Violet?) of the Gramnad duology. Unlike the other characters introduced, Atelier Viorate and Atelier Judie have not been localized or referenced in other games that have come over to the US. It’s possible that Gust wanted to include all of the mainline series in the game so this is definitely an interesting choice.
Filling out the rest of the Arland and Mysterious trilogies, we finally see Rorona and Sophie. Not only were they both the originators of their triads, but they seem to take a front and center role in the trailer, showing up alongside Nelke and teaching her alchemy throughout random scenes. More than likely, these two will be prominent in the story alongside Nelke and whatever new characters are introduced.
We are then introduced to a bunch of scenes of the alchemists getting along and getting into mischief and danger as well as comical situations. While none of this tells us anything except that the characters are going to interact, there is at least one fun bit that comes up in the flashing images. Pamela Ibis, the Atelier version of “Cid” in Final Fantasy, appears to be a part of the fun in this game. She has appeared in all but a small handful of titles in the series, and while she is only featured once, the fact that she shows up makes this feel more like an official Atelier title than nearly all of the other information.
As the trailer wraps up, we see nearly all of the alchemists, still with Sophie and Rorona front and center with Nelke and Misty. There are quite a few protagonists who have been announced or presumed to be in the game that were not included:
Klein – Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana
Felt – Atelier Iris 2: Azoth of Destiny
Edge – Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm
Shallie (Shallistera) – Atelier Shallie
Suelle – Atelier Lydie & Suelle
The first three have already been announced but were not featured in the trailer. This wouldn’t be such an odd choice- the Atelier series is known for trying to feature strong females and female relationships- except that Logy and Hagel appear a few times. More strange is that Shallistera and Suelle didn’t make appearances. The only thing that I can imagine was on the developers’ minds was that they wanted to make sure each game was represented rather than showing off all of the characters from each of them.
Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists is shaping up to be an interesting and fantastic tribute to the past of the series. There are a few notable pieces here that make this even more intriguing, at least to this fan. The game centers around town-building alongside the usual item creation and exploration/combat. As someone who is a huge fan of games like Final Fantasy: My Life as a King and Dragon Quest Builders, I’m pumped to see how this works and plays out. Gust has had a penchant for coming up with fun mechanics for their games, and I have no doubt this will be a similar situation. Also of note is that this game isn’t “Atelier Nelke”. It’s just “Nelke”. This leads me to believe that despite what it looks like, we aren’t going to see the lead character at the head of the alchemy cauldron (though the video does depict her performing a little alchemy which appears to be met with exuberant fanfare).
Does this leave me as a fan with a few concerns? Not glaring ones. There are some protagonists/alchemists who are notably absent. Ulrika from Mana Khemia 2 hasn’t been mentioned, though a few characters like the male protagonist Raze and another Fairy and member of her party, Pepperoni, have been. It’s a bit odd that Edge from the third game in the Iris trilogy has been announced, but not the actual alchemist, Iris. Also, seeing Viorate/Violet appear seems strange without Judie, the protagonist of the first game of the Gramnad series. I’m would love some nod to Annie, Lise, and/or Lina from the DS games, though since they aren’t part of the mainline series, I think that’s wishful thinking.
Overall, I’ll be getting this game first thing out of the gate. It looks like a lot of fun, and the Atelier series has yet to completely disappoint. The art style looks up to par and Nelke seems like a character that both falls in line with the other protagonists of the series and seems like a fun character in general. Once the game is released in the winter of this year, expect that I’ll have plenty to say- if I can tear myself away from the game long enough to write about it.