Nearly the entire Atelier series is broken down into trilogies of games taking place in the same world with recurring characters and events. Only two of the series’ groupings were duologies: the Japan-only Gramnad Saga and the Mana Khemia games. Both of these pairs featured on the now-obsolete Playstation 2. Where the Gramnad Saga followed the naming conventions from previous titles with Atelier Judie and Atelier Violette, Mana Khemia took a step away from the usual trappings, at least externally.
Featuring the ninth and tenth games in the Atelier series, both games still exercise the mechanics of the series. Synthesis is still vital to progress throughout the games though there is a bit more emphasis on strategic combat through abilities rather than item-slinging. There are a couple of other adjustments that find their way into the formula of the series and stick, creating a foundation for the next generation of Atelier offerings to build off of and improve upon as the series grows.
A Brief History of the Atelier Series
If you count yourself among those that find JRPGs interesting, you very well may have heard of the Atelier series. Established in Japan with the original title, Atelier Marie: Alchemist of Salburg, the series has just recently reached its nineteenth entry with Atelier Lydie and Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings. While the early entries of the series didn’t make it over to US shores, the majority of the series has found localization in on our shores.
In 2005, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana on the Playstation 2 was placed in the hands of NIS America and since then, each entry of the series on home consoles has been translated and made available across various regions. While the gameplay and format have changed and evolved throughout the series, the central concept remains the same.
Playing as an ‘alchemist’- someone who engages in the practice of acquiring and combining items to create other items with the magical process of ‘alchemy’- you are faced with an objective that requires you to expand upon your abilities to be met. As the game progresses, more recipes for items are unlocked, as well as locales to acquire items that are rarer or of better quality. Nearly all of the items your party will use are created through these items- healing items, offensive items, weapons, armor; all of it becomes the product of items that you collect throughout your adventure. Each game has a different twist on this and later entries find deeper methods of alchemy to give the player more customization in their creations, but at its base, this concept is what the Atelier series revolves around.
Throughout this overview, I’ll be explaining each grouping of games in the Atelier series. Much like the Fire Emblem overview I’ve been working on, there may be some glances of opinion and theory here and there, but for the most part, this is meant to be informational for those interested in learning about the Atelier series or possibly for those already familiar with the series who would like to take a trip down memory lane.
Whatever your reasons may be, I hope you enjoy this look at the Atelier series overall. As usual, please be aware that I make an effort not to spoil anything plot related that you wouldn’t read within the packaging of the game, but there is the occasional slip so if you want to avoid spoilers, you’ve been warned that they may exist here however minor. If you have any comments to add, questions to ask, or just want to discuss the games in each entry, feel free to leave a comment.
In this entry, I’ll be writing about the Arland trilogy, comprised of Atelier Rorona, Atelier Totori, and Atelier Meruru. While not the first games to be localized, they appeared to be the first that many had heard of the series. As some of the more easily obtainable entries to the series, they seem like the best jumping off point to explore the series from!
Gust, Co Inc. / Koei Tecmo
As a fan of a few magical girl series- Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, and of course, Sailor Moon, come to mind- I’ve come to appreciate a number of tropes that they rely on to propel themselves forward. Frequently, you’ll see themes of friendship, self-empowerment, and drawing upon personal wellsprings of strength both physical and emotional to succeed. This has been a draw to them for me for some time and finding games that also rely on those themes usually means that they will be automatic successes for me.
Happening on Blue Reflection in a magazine review, it seemed to have all of the trappings that would bring me running: magical girls, modern day settings, and Gust (developers of the Atelier series, among others) at the helm. After receiving the game in my latest Christmas haul, I finally got to sit down and play it.
Did it live up the hype I created for it? Did the power of friendship win the day?
Find out on this episode of 3PStart!