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  PlayStation 2
  Release Date:
  May 2004 (Japan)


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Atelier Iris
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Though this alchemy could have been set up to be a little more user friendly. The fact that you're likely to make hundreds of healing potions over the course of the game and are only able to stock 9 at a time alone is annoying, but the various steps involved in making them over and over gets downright tedious at times.

Atelier Iris is fast food combat. There are well-animated intros and flashy specials, but these are built around being stylish yet quick, and combat can sometimes take all of a minute or less. Not to say there isn't any depth or enjoyment to be found here. Most attacks have a hit range, so if enemies are grouped together, you can take out a few all in one strike. Special attacks are unique to that character and though you can only have up to three characters on the field, you can switch out party members at any time. Sure, this was available in FFX, but its quicker and better done here. Normal items, that you either buy or make from shops, can be used by anyone, but mana items can only be used by Klein, though their effects can be enhanced in a number of ways by his special abilities.

Combat isn't all loot collecting and victory poses though. The encounter rate is locked on 'Skies of Arcadia' high and while there is the option to flee in battle, you can just forget about it since it almost never works. I had to use the option to run nineteen times before it let me escape a battle and sadly this is the average. Some enemies also have the abilities Guts and Quick. The former lets them come back to life after a hit that should have killed them and the latter lets them take multiple turns in a single round. Both of these can be used more than once, so you sometimes find yourself having to kill the exact same enemy four times or getting pelted by four attacks from a single monster in rapid succession, all for the same experience as normal monsters.

Prior to this, the Atelier games were relatively simple in scope. The world was never in danger. There were never evil villains hatching diabolical plots in the darkness. It was just about a girl trying to make a living at this alchemy thing. It was fun, but it lacked a grand scale and a spirit of adventure. Something that Atelier Iris provides in spades, while still remaining true to the elements that made the previous games enjoyable.


© 2004 Got Next