This will be long, as it’s mostly a list!
I keep seeing a lot of people saying “TK butchered Ayesha so I won’t buy it” (TK being Tecmo Koei) or similar stuff. I want to put things straight for anyone who has any interest in the series, is a fan of it already, or who thus far has decided not to buy it because of those issues. So I felt that it would be best to list out – for those interested – the positive and negative points of this release in the Atelier series – so you don’t decide something based on something that equals out to nothing at all.
–NO TIME LIMIT; Yes, the time constraints that were very strict in Rorona, slowly loosened in Totori, and very lax in Meruru? Just gone here. Well, not entirely if you actually want the true ending, but in the strict sense it’s removed or at least drastically loosened up. This to me is more middle rather than positive or negative but at the level it was balanced I’d say a net positive.
– Graphics are the best they’ve ever been, the game looks beautiful at all times and the art style – while sadly not Mel Kishida any longer, works a lot better than previous designs in the 3D form. Settings and locales look gorgeous and the character models couldn’t be better.
– The music is, at least to me, superior to the previous titles (aside Rorona’s workshop tune, which is still my favorite). It’s seriously some damn good stuff.
– The story is actually interesting, which is something the last games lacked. It’s a real story, not something tacked on lightly like “show your daddy, the king, you’re a strong girl”. We get a deeper and more emotional story this time around, which gets you much more ‘into’ the game. Not only is it great within this game, but it sets up for a great sequel in Escha & Logy.
– It keeps its light hearted Atelier feel. Think of how Totori felt during the second half of the game and this is pretty similar (as Totori also had a more serious story that had heavy focus in the latter half), though handled a lot better and a little more seriously at times.
– The gameplay for battles is drastically improved; much more fluid, input is immediate, a placement system which gives actual strategy and tactical play was implemented and works great (plus makes the fights a lot more enjoyable), and Ayesha isn’t 100% worthless without bombs – nor amazingly low on HP constantly like the previous games.
– The synthesis is WAYYYYY better than EVER before. The whole system has been overhauled and made into something that gives you a lot more control over what you’re making and how you’re using your ingredients, traits, and so on – it’s incredibly deep, while also if you want it simple it’s impressively easy if you don’t care to go far into it and deal with the deeper aspects.
– Much quicker and more smooth loading. This was always a bit annoying in the past games, they’d take a lot longer than they’d need to at all (especially with their small areas with not much going on). This feels much better optimized and the load times are barely noticeable.
– The towns actually feel alive, the first big city you come to has plenty of NPCs roaming about and doing their own thing, and those you can talk to or do work for always show some sign of life in what they say instead of just being there.
– The best cast aside Rorona’s. Totori and Meruru added nobody worth mentioning (aside Totori herself, and maybe Filly) to the Atelier series cast. This game is on par with the cast from Rorona, if it just had Sterk and Esty it would be easily better.
– Ayesha is a much more likeable and personality filled character than many of the previous lead characters. Rorona and Totori I adore, but Ayesha has something more to her than “I’m cute”, and it’s a very nice change. Rorona will always be my favorite, and Annie second to her, Ayesha may very well be my third place though.
– The dub is good, as you’d expect of NISA releases (they didn’t release the title, but they were used for the localization), I understand the problem of not having dual audio – but they did great so it’s not really a problem.
– The map design feels more like a real adventure – it doesn’t ever show you every location, for example on the way to the first village near Ayesha’s workshop you’ll see only one stop – but as you go you’ll run into 3 connected locales (which are all connected within them too rather than going to the world map each time – plus are all bigger than previous zones on their own). Giving you a sense of actual exploration and adventure every step of the way. Oh and you can change weather in areas!
– Memory system lets you earn things aside just money from doing side missions and side jobs, as you can unlock some REALLY useful shit from it.
– You are finally just a girl doing her thing, you aren’t working for the city or anything else – the most ‘jobs’ you do are favors for random townspeople and a few freelance jobs (for the story) for a few key characters. This is why you’re so free to do what you please without any constraints. Even those jobs have no time limit on them.
– No dual audio, which is doubly sad because this has an OUTSTANDING Japanese cast.
– Not every scene is voiced; this is the biggest complaint I see about the release. TK refused to give NISA enough to cover dubbing all of it, so some of the scenes aren’t voiced over. I figured it’d be a problem, but having played the game now it’s barely noticeable and far from ruining the game in any way.
– No limited edition; I’m still mad.
Yeah, that’s it for the negatives.
If you are seriously considering NOT getting this because of those negatives, you really need to reconsider. First off, you need to understand THE GAME ITSELF is fucking incredibly good. The few bad points of it are ENTIRELY due to TK’s western release, and have no effect on the game itself. Sure, you won’t get a cool box or the OST, and maybe it’s only in English, but none of that is the fault of the game. And, more importantly, none of it hurts the game whatsoever.
For your OWN sake if you’re remotely a fan of this series or are interested in it at all – you shouldn’t skip out on this entry in the series for any reason. It’s a truly wonderful game, and is easily the best game in the entire Atelier franchise up to now. And no worries if you’re new to the series, this has no connection to any of the previous many titles whatsoever, not even the usual cameos the franchise typically always has.
I will write a real review rather than a list after I finish the game at least once (though knowing me, not right after, but eventually), so look forward to it!
Aside: Please be sure to play this game before skipping to Escha & Logy! That game is a direct sequel to this and it actually matters in this case. More on that HERE.
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JRPGs that don’t include the original Japanese voices is an instant skip for me with no further thinking & I don’t really care if the game is so good as u say.
My boycott & any1’s else is the only way to send a message to those greedy publishers that half-assed, butchered, w/o dual audio option & also censored versions of JRPGs will not be tolerated by a large portion of core fans so if they can accept the loss of sales they can go ahead & mess with niche games that count solely on hardcore fans for sales.
All you’re doing is supporting them in thinking there is no western market. You aren’t boycotting it as far as they can tell – you just don’t exist. Think of it like this – if you don’t own a car you can’t really boycott buying gas, now can you? You are the person without a car in this case as far as they can tell. Because of that the games simply aren’t released in the west, much like how IM@S was purposefully released only on iOS and only the PSP games, and only for hilariously high prices – because they WANT the west to show “there is no market” and thus not have to bother selling things overseas.
Basically, I know where you’re coming from, I do – but you’re ignoring one crucial aspect; the publishers do not give a shit about you not buying the game. They are not having a “loss of sales” by you not buying it that is relevant in terms of income, all it’s doing is showing them “people outside of Japan don’t want our games” and showing localization companies the same thing.
Basically, you’re doing nothing but telling yourself you’re “putting it to the man” by “boycotting it” but in the end all you’re doing is putting yourself in the demographic of people who aren’t interested in JRPGs as far as the publisher and localization company are concerned.
In fact – BUYING the game is how you would show them that there IS a sellable market for these games – and from that they’d start releasing games more fully (dual audio, all the DLC coming over, etc) because they’d see “oh, this sells there!”.
So you’re ideas kind of work against you.
And no, you aren’t the “core fans”. Core fans are those who keep buying games no matter the shortcomings of the localized releases to support further games coming over. We don’t CONDONE what they do, but we still support the games. JRPGs have a small fanbase to begin with, so the ‘core’ is definitely those who still buy them, not the hardcore weeaboos who think nihon superior or bust. Truly “hardcore” fans are the ones who learn Japanese to play the games before they are localized to begin with.
Also, I’ve got no clue what you mean by censored unless you think that delicious ass shot that was made more delicious of Tharja counts as censored – when all they did was make it more sexual by making her look nude. And one little scene in one NINTENDO game isn’t exactly censorship of most jrpgs. (Note; I’m talking about in the US. I know EU and Australia have a bigger problem with censoring).
I’m not defending or condoning what they do – but I am saying boycotting in such a niche market is hilariously stupid and works against your views and wishes. And that not being in ‘le superior nipponesian’ doesn’t make a game bad.
Essentially what I’m saying is this; you aren’t actually boycotting the game.
The company sees you as “someone not interested in these types of games”. Not “someone uninterested because of the things the localization team did to the game”.
It’s not like a gas station or restaurant or some business of any kind that has a normal income to compare their lost earnings to the normal earnings. In this case, all they see is “I guess nobody wanted this game to begin with” they don’t see that people aren’t buying BECAUSE of any reason.
You say you want to send a message “that half-assed, butchered, w/o dual audio option & also censored versions of JRPGs will not be tolerated” – BUT the only message you’re sending is “NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN THESE GAMES” and that works entirely against you, the consumer who wants the games but wants them without being half assed, butchered, etc, because now they just think nobody would buy the game no matter what because your message conveyed that there is simply no market to begin with.
If you want your message to get across you have to tell them very specifically and directly – not post on blogs or other sites, but email the actual localization company and get anyone who agrees with you to do the same. Otherwise, not buying the game simply, again, shows that you aren’t interested in the game to begin with as far as sales numbers and demographic statistics show them, which makes it even LESS likely that they’d release further games or games with less problems in localization.
They force English because this reaches a broader market and they HAVE TO TRY AND REACH THAT MARKET because you NOT buying it shows there are no sales to be had without reaching out to people who aren’t usually interested in JRPGs in the first place. The same goes for censorship (which, again, I’ve pretty much never seen in anything aside one nintendo title and one indie game) – these companies are forced to do whatever possible to reach a bigger demographic because the ‘core audience’ apparently isn’t interested in the games anymore as far as they know. They think “nobody wants japanese games” which means even moreso nobody wants games with japanese audio, and so they don’t even bother paying for the license for the voice track because that’s just a massive loss of money if it’ll make it sell even less or just the same.
They need to know THERE IS A MARKET – they just need to know that people are upset and unwilling to buy the game BECAUSE OF THIS OR THAT SPECIFIC ISSUE. So if you don’t buy it that’s fine – but make sure you ACTUALLY tell them WHY that was, and tell them DIRECTLY.
“The company sees you as “someone not interested in these types of games”. Not “someone uninterested because of the things the localization team did to the game”.”
eh.. no u r very wrong here if that was the case then why JRPG devs asked constantly during interviews by western journalist? because JRPG fans who most of the time btw is anime fans also have the mindset of original Japanese voice overs or not buy simple as that, & the questions asked again & again to make them understand exatly that thing that those niche games appeal to ppl who don’t give a fck for English dub, so until they get it for good & make the dual audio (or just Japanese audio) a standard on all those games a big portion of ppl will ignore those releases believe when I’m saying that I’m not the only one out there we r thousands.
*why JRPG devs asked constantly during interviews by western journalist if their game will have Dual Audio option?
>No dual audio, which is doubly sad because this has an OUTSTANDING Japanese cast.
This is a huge deal breaker to me. As much as it pains me, I’ll have to pass this one up.Thanks for the review, though.
It’s that way for a lot of people, it really sucks though because this game is fucking amazing.
I suggest two things;
1. Keep an eye on news about the game, apparently Tecmo Koei has released the Japanese voice packs for other games of theirs in the past after not having it in the game originally. (for free) It’s entirely possible they do this again with Ayesha. Especially with how big of a deal it is to so many of the franchises’ fans.
2. If it doesn’t get said voice stuff available by the time the price drops – if it gets down to like $30 I’d say you should just throw down the cash anyway and, hell, just turn the voice audio all the way down and play with only sound effects and music. Luckily, that’s an easily doable option right in the game. Yeah, you still miss out on the Japanese voices, but that’s why you wait for the price drop.
The game is good enough that even without voices I can guarantee it’s still top notch.
Just a suggestion though, I’d wait at the very least till the price drop though in case the patch does ever come out by then (if at all).