I have been a fan of the Atelier series since I played Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana on PS2 in 2005. Of the 19 games that bear the Atelier name, 14 have been released in North America, mostly on PlayStation consoles and I’ve beaten almost all of them. With the mix of great stories, turn-based combat, and synthesis (crafting), they are great games for beginners or veterans of any age. Because of arthritis in my shoulders, I don’t play on my PlayStation much anymore, so I was super excited to hear the Atelier Arland series Deluxe Pack was ported to the Nintendo Switch.
The Atelier Arland series Deluxe Pack is all 3 games in the Arland trilogy; Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX, Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland DX, and Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland DX, with their DLC, some content that was only released in Japan, and revamped 3D graphics. I completed all 3 games when they were initially released on PS3, and they are some of my favorites in the series.
In Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland DX, you play as Rorolina Frixell (Rorona, for short), an alchemy student whose master is lazy and makes her do all the work. The crown is threatening to close the workshop unless Rorona can successfully complete timed assignments from the king. To complete these assignments you must collect recipes and ingredients to synthesize items requested by the crown and the townspeople.
There are also optional assignments that reward you with stamps on a Bingo card. Filling lines on these cards earns you rewards such as weapons, stat boosts, recipe books, money, etc. Completing assignments, from the king or optional, also earn you vouchers that can be traded for items. Finishing the assignments can be difficult sometimes, but you are well rewarded for your work.
So, what’s new in Rorona you ask?
- A garden that you can grow alchemy ingredients in.
- The ability to decorate the workshop
- New playable characters Astrid Zexis, Esty Dee, Totooria “Totori” Helmold, and Merurulince “Meruru” Rede Arls
- A Dressing Room where you can change what Rorona and some of her friends wear.
- Costumes for Rorona, Totori, Meruru, Cordelia, Sterkenburg, and Lionela. Also included is a new battle outfit for Esty.
- New dungeons to explore
- A new battle system based on Atelier Meruru that features special assist attacks and new deadly skills
- A new synthesis system based on Atelier Meruru where the player will be allowed to choose from the available traits for the item, as long as the traits are affordable within the “Cost Level” of the item. Two traits can also combine into one single trait with higher effect.
- Extra Innings – Post-game content featuring a new dungeon, new playable character, and new events
- A Time capsule where the player can place an item and they will change into a different item from “the future”. There are also new events associated with the Time Capsule.
That’s a lot of added content! The developers took the improvements to the later games and added them to Atelier Rorona, giving it a boost that made a great game incredible. There is so much to do and see in Rorona that it’s easy to lose time while playing. My only complaint with Rorona is they don’t give you a way to replenish her MP that doesn’t take time from the clock or money from her limited budget.
You can replenish MP by sleeping (you choose the number of days to sleep) or by using items you have bought or synthesized yourself. Synthesizing items takes time (different items take a different number of days) and MP. Gathering materials to synthesize with also takes time. You only have 3 in-game months to complete the assignments from the king (sometimes less), as well as the optional assignments. So sleeping, gathering materials, and synthesizing MP restoratives take time you need to complete the assignments.
Why not just buy the MP restoratives you ask? You can certainly do that. However, money isn’t all that plentiful. You do get money from battles, but it’s not much, and exploring areas take time from the clock. Filling requests from townspeople will also earn you money; sometimes a lot of money, but gathering the materials and synthesizing the items to fill those requests also take time from your clock. See the problem? I completed some assignments super fast, leaving me with plenty of time to make some MP restoratives, sleep, or both. However, there were several assignments that I worked down to the wire on, leaving me no time to do either. This put me at a disadvantage for the next term, as I started with no MP.
Atelier Totori takes place 8 years after Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland. You play as Totori, an aspiring alchemist and Rorona’s student. Totori’s mother was an adventurer who went missing 2 years ago, and Totori wants to find out what happened. To do this you must use Synthesis, explore new lands, and battle to fulfill requests, and raise her rank as an adventurer.
In Atelier Meruru you play as the Princess of Arls, Merurulince Rede Arls, who desperately wants to become an alchemist. Her father and ruler of Arls, Lord Dessier, is determined to prevent that and force her to be a proper princess. Rufus, the royal butler, is empathetic to the princess’ plight and figures out a way for Meruru to both fulfill her duty as a princess and include her love of alchemy. He begins giving her tasks, which you must complete, that help the townspeople.
While Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru don’t have as much new content, they have also been improved. I was unable to find a list of what exactly was added to each game, but they both received gameplay and mechanics changes. Totori also received additional costumes, illustrations, dungeons, and alchemy recipes. Meruru received also received the Dressing Room functionality that Rorona received.
I don’t have any complaints with Totori or Meruru. They rectified the MP issue that was my only complaint with Rorona, and the games are a joy to play. As with Rorona, there is so much to do and see that it’s easy to lose time while playing. I’d sit down to play for an hour, then look up and find 3 had passed.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But, the Atelier Arland series Deluxe Pack is $89.99! That’s a lot of money!” You’re right; it is a lot of money. However, you’re getting 3 games each with 70-100 hours of gameplay, multiple endings, all the DLC, New Game +, and all the bonus content for each game! The added features, DLC, and revamped graphics took great games and made them truly awesome. All 3 stories are engaging, immersive, and fun. The characters are endearing and funny. The ability to take advantage of the Switch’s portability allows you to play this anytime, anywhere. This pack is truly worth the hefty price tag. Just be careful you don’t lose too much time when it sucks you in!
A Nintendo Switch review copy of Atelier Arland series Deluxe Pack was provided by Koei Techmo for the purpose of this review.