(Mis)Adventures in Collecting – Fire Emblem

It’s been a little while since I wrote anything about collecting. It’s not that I’ve stopped necessarily. In fact, I have plenty of material to share but my methods of collecting aren’t super interesting on the whole. I’ve had a few lucky finds nearby or wound up with some neat stuff by searching around on the usual websites. For me, it’s more about what I find over how.

There are dangers with every hobby, however, and game collecting has a metric ton of pitfalls to run into while trying to curate certain pieces at a quality one might like. There are questionable descriptions on eBay and Amazon, for example. Your version of “very good” might not be exactly what the person selling to you believes it to be. You may find that perfect listing for a complete-in-box copy of the game you were looking for- until you read the fine print that says “manual only”. Found a copy of some old Playstation game at your local thrift shop? You had better make sure to check the back of the disc unless you want to take the risk that it looks fresh off of a sanding belt.

My point is that there needs to be some attention to detail once you hit a point where you aren’t just generally collecting whatever you can find. As I’ve shown with some of my Atelier posts in the past, it can certainly be as simple as finding a copy of Mana Khemia when you dip into a retro store while on a day trip or hunting down a copy of the Premium Box of Atelier Rorona on Amazon to snatch up. All of my adventures collecting for the Atelier series have been pretty painless.

In contrast, collecting for Fire Emblem has been a nightmare.

Of course, I’m being a little hyperbolic here, but I’ve run into more difficulties trying to buff up my collection of the Nintendo property than I have all of my other online purchases combined. Everything from outright cancellations for no reason to being sent a tablet meant for someone else while my product was missing in action and even issues involving a monsoon (which is clearly understandable but unfortunate nonetheless). A few months ago, though, I found someone selling a copy of Fire Emblem for the Gameboy Advance at a fairly reasonable price. I took a quick look at the pictures and clicked to buy it immediately. I was going to manifest my good luck into this purchase. I kept looking at the tracking number over the next couple of weeks and it arrived a day or two early, to my excitement.

I opened the parcel, and the game’s box was a little beaten up- but I had seen that in the pictures. I pulled open the top of the box and slid the cartridge out. It looked a little strange- but I had seen that in the pictures. There was no manual, which I had known, so while I decided on how I was going to tackle finding that, I looked at the back of the box.

My face flushed. I felt my head shaking as I let out a deep sigh. Despite the boasts of this being a 100% authentic copy of the product, the packaging read like a mistranslated mess that was just a basic description of the game mechanics. After taking a moment to reconcile with the fact that this was another issue with my Fire Emblem collecting, I went back to look over the listing I had followed on eBay.

Even in the pictures, I could tell where I had gone wrong. Everything was as I had received, hackneyed translation and all. I had left a ‘Neutral’ rating for the transaction- everything was as shown in the ad and the product arrived on time but the game was certainly not an authentic Nintendo product. Like any great social media interaction, the seller immediately contacted me to change the feedback. I tried explaining myself and received a response still telling me that I was wrong- until I wrote out the description on the back of the box. Mind that I hadn’t even asked for my money back. Sure, I was entitled to it but the hassle felt like it wasn’t worth it and really, I just wanted people to know that this was not a legitimate claim. The seller immediately dropped the argument, apologizing for my dissatisfaction and tell me not to buy from them again.
It went without saying, but at least they were standing their ground.

So now I own this:

It’s not a substitute, though I would imagine it plays correctly on a system and functions as it should, but as a collector, I’m obviously disappointed. Thankfully, it didn’t set me back too much so for now, it’s more of a placeholder or maybe something to give a friend if they want to play through the game. Maybe this could act as a cautionary tale, too, even if it’s one that’s already tried-and-true.

Make sure you examine everything about the product you’re buying. While it would be nice if everyone were honest and well-meaning, it’s really up to you to make sure that what you’re getting is actually what you intended.

Adventures in Collecting – Investing Points in My Luck Stat

20190301_170142.jpgI’m not someone you would necessarily consider ‘lucky’ in the conventional sense. Fortunate, sure. I don’t win giveaways or raffles, though, and even if there’s a 50/50 shot at me winning something, it rarely falls in my favor. It’s nothing worth complaining about, but it feels like that information is necessary to begin with.

See, whoever is playing me in the RPG of life must have taken my latest level up and thrown some points into Luck. I haven’t posted much in the way of collecting lately because I haven’t hit any real milestones and the posts would come down to describing how I checked out eBay and Amazon and ordered the best looking and most promising sounding sellers.

Well, have I got a couple of fun stories for you now!
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Adventures in Collecting – Atelier Lise -The Alchemist of Orde-

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)


Adventures in Collecting – The Journey Begins

To be candid, I’ve wanted to collect video games for a while.  It’s a daunting thing to think about, though.  There are just so many of them and when certain titles start to rise in price, they reach some serious heights sometimes.

At first, I took to the tactic of picking up odds and ends here and there.  I don’t have a ton of income and there are only a couple of retro video game stores in the area.  This meant I could moderate how much money I spent and slowly build up my collection with titles that I may not necessarily be seeking out but would bolster my number of pieces.  That worked for a while but felt aimless.  Also, I managed to double buy not once but twice, making my still tiny collection redundant.

That was when my new objective came to light to give me a little more direction in the midst of this new quest.

There are a few series that have made a huge impact on me but haven’t seen the light of day on stateside shelves.  In past overviews, I’ve made it clear that I absolutely adore the Fire Emblem series.  It hits all of my sweet spots- large casts, intrigue and grounded plots dressed up with strategy battles.  I also recently started my Atelier series overview which is another group of games that I’ve fallen for.  Given that they just reached their nineteenth entry (with the twentieth just announced as Atelier Nelke), the heavily anime-inspired crafting RPG has preoccupied me heavily over the past few years and was a big part of the bonding between myself and my husband.  Then there’s the Shin Megami Tensei series.  Specifically, I’ve been enamored with the Persona series, but every piece of gaming under the Shin Megami Tensei brand has enthralled me with their mature themes and modern day/post-apocalyptic settings.

The ‘trouble’ with these series is that a large number of their offerings live overseas and need to be imported to get them.  This actually benefits me, though, because I’ve settled on not purchasing a new game until the one I’ve ordered arrives, placing a few weeks in between orders.  It also means that I have more direction and the products I’m going out of my way for really mean something to me personally.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ll still be picking up other games along the way when I can.  This method fits my style a little better, though, and I’m excited to check out some items I wouldn’t have seen just perusing retro stores near me.

Much to my excitement, my first purchase arrived a couple of weeks ago in the form of Fire Emblem Gaiden for the Famicom.

There were so many interesting things about receiving this game, not the least of which is that it is the first Famicom cartridge I’ve ever come into contact with.  The box itself seems like it’s about 2/3 the size of US packaging for Nintendo, and the cartridge is a rectangle rather than a square (I know this might be old hat for other collectors out there, but my mind was kind of blown!).  The game was also in near mint condition with only some damage on the corners of the cardboard containing the contents.

Now to be clear, I can’t read Japanese.  I dabble in playing around on Google translate to help with phrases here and there but that about sums up my ability to read kanji.  There is very little chance I will play these foreign titles and as of this writing, I haven’t even gotten a Famicom system and don’t have plans to do so yet.  That doesn’t change the awe I had looking through the manual and over the packaging.

For the personal note on this one, I loved Fire Emblem Gaiden since I played the fan translation a few years back.  Seeing some of the roots of the series I had become mildly obsessed with was a treat, and I loved the story of Celica and Alm.  It played a lot like Sacred Stones, one of my favorite Fire Emblem games, and it had a lot of interesting mechanics for its timeframe.  I was pretty ecstatic when Fire Emblem Echoes was announced so finding its source material at a reasonable price on eBay felt pretty fortuitous.  If I was going to start off with this mission, this felt like the right ‘first blood’ to be drawn.

My next purchase is already on the way and should be here in the next couple of weeks, though I do have another piece to write about in a few days.  My plan is to fill out these series as I can and to talk up some fun facts about the experiences as I can so I hope you’ll enjoy the journey along with me, collector or not!

(Also, if you’d like to check out more information on this game, check out the first part of my Fire Emblem Overview that goes over the first two games in the series here.)