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  1. #11

  2. #12
    The Mysterious series not so much, but there are enhanced ports of the Arland (Rorona, Totori, Meruru) and Dusk (Ayesha, Esca & Logi, Shallie) trilogies which are very well worth it. Incidentally, there are two Deluxe packs of Arland and Dusk for PS4, PC, and Switch, which are the Vita versions of the six games.

  3. #13
    I'll try to recap what the Atelier series is; I won't go too much into detail into every single game, and keep in mind that I haven't played all of them.

    The basic idea of the Atelier series is that you play as an alchemist, and your main goal is to make your workshop (atelier) successful. Most games start with the main protagonist of the game being forced into taking care of the atelier through some silly reason. Most games have a time limit, usually five in-game years, to do so, and feature multiple endings; some games in the series do away with the timer and/or allow to play infinitely after completing the main story.
    To create things through alchemy you need to collect materials, found in the woods, ruins, and dungeons around the starting city. Combat and dungeon exploration were never the main focus of the series, character interaction and striving to create the best item possible was the primary objective. This changed, very briefly, during the PS2 era, in which the games were more standard JRPGs; during that period the games had a male protagonist despite the game's title still using a feminine game...more on this later. After the PS2 games, the series returned to its roots with Atelier Rorona and the Arland trilogy, and remained there up till now.

    To create objects you either use recipes, or try things on your own. Depending on your alchemist's rank, the recipe can have vary in quality, or end in failure altogether. Final item's quality and properties can changed based on the source elements used, and better items can be sold for more money; should a quest require to deliver an item, better items result in a better reward.
    When you venture out to collect materials, you will have to fight monsters, usually in turn-based combat. The combat system changes from game to game, and really depends on what Gust (the developers) are experimenting at the time.

    There Atelier series was spun off with the two Mana Khemia titles, which are more similar to the PS2 games, focusing on combat and exploration typical of JRPGs of the era. The alchemy syste found its way to many other Gust series, like Ar Tonelico, but greatly toned down in scope.

    The series started on the Playstation with Atelier Marie in 1997, and was ported on the Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2, and PC; depending on the format, it was either an enhanced version or a simple port. The next two games in the series, Ellie and Lilie, took place in the same town as Marie, Salburg, and are only available on PS1 (Ellie) and PS2 (Marie). These three titles together form the Salburg trilogy, and even to this day three Atelier games are grouped together to form a self-contained trilogy; these trilogies share the place, artist, and some mechanics. There are some exceptions to this, for example Arland is four games (Rorona, Totori, Meruru, and Lulua), while Gramnad (Japan exclusive) only two.
    The series arrived to western shores with the Iris trilogy: this is the first trilogy with numerals at the end of their titles, and the only to have a male protagonist, despite the name of the games. The changes didn't stop there: the first two games in the trilogy have Iris as an almost secondary NPC, and all of them move away from the established structure and take the form of a more traditional JRPG: alchemy was still there, but it was more of a way to propel the story forward and get items for battles. While never confirmed by the developers, Iris was originally focused on a NPC, probably Veola, and its structure was more akin to previous Atelier games; however Gust wanted to port the game to the west, and at the time a female protagonist and the classic Atelier structure were deemed too strange for the western market. The first Iris is a decent game, a good introduction to the series.
    The second Iris game, had two main characters and the player would switch control between the two to advance through the story.
    The third game still had a couple of main characters, and introduced Iris was playable; I think it's the worst of the three though, with too much emphasis on combat and grinding for materials; compared to previous leads, both Iris and the other guy (can't remember his name), aren't as likeable or interesting.

    Atelier Rorona brought the series back to its original structure, and saw release on the PS3 in all regions. It was a very rough game, in fact one of the worst in the whole series. However, it was a success and spawned much more refined sequels, Atelier Torori and Atelier Meruru; these three games for the Arland trilogy. The Arland games saw rereleases on a number of formats, all of them in enhanced forms that first bring Rorona in line with Totori and Meruru, and then improving all three games further. There's also a 3DS version of Rorona (New Atelier Rorona), which is quite different from the original game.
    The best way to play the Arland trilogy is to partake in the Deluxe Pack available for PS4, Switch, and PC (digital only in English, sadly).

    Now the Atelier series continues as it started, changing setting every three games, and each game with a new heroine (or two). The latest game available, Atelier Ryza, is the best selling title to far, and right now not part of any trilogy. The series has also become an almost yearly event, and for me this starts to show: there haven't been huge changes to the formula ever since Rorona, and how much you will enjoy the titles depends on the setting and the characters. Nevertheless, it's a series I suggest everyone should try out. Which one should you start with? I can suggest a few titles, but I would say choose your first Atelier based on the cover. Seriously. There are highs and lows, but you will get a good idea what the series is about.

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