It is the latest game in the long-running but little-played Atelier series. An RPG franchise based on the art of Alchemy, where players spend the game exploring a world in which to find and collect various items, that they can then combine into recipes to create better items and more powerful spells in an artists workshop.
Sadly for fans of the series, most of the games have stayed in Japan. Although many of them have been localized as well. Other than the alchemy angle, the game’s are standard Japanese RPG, anime-style fare.
Here is the very anime Atelier Ayesha opening movie intro.
This latest game, Ayesha, stars a girl alchemist named Ayesha Altugle whose been forced to live by herself ever since her grandfather died. Following that event, her younger sister Nio has gone missing, leaving Ayesha alone. On the day that Nio disappeared, Ayesha was out gathering medicinal herbs… Now she sells those ingredients to make a living for herself. One lucky day, she discovers that her sister is in fact alive, somewhere in the wide expanse of the world. Thus begins her quest to find her sister.
Fans of the series will probably be disappointed to learn that Atelier Ayesha is the first localized Atelier game to only include English recorded vocals, and does not include Dual-Track support so you can listen to the voice acting in its native Japanese (the way most anime fans prefer it). This is a big change from past titles which always featured both the English and Japanese voices included in the game.
However Tecmo Toei is aware of the issue and aware that fans desire dual-audio-track support, and promises that the next entry will include both the Japanese and English voices. They are in fact embarrassed that it was cut for Ayesha. They told Siliconera, “We are very sorry. We have confirmed the voice option information with Atelier series developer Gust and for this title, Atelier Ayesha, it will be English only. We know how important this is for you and we will try to implement the voice option in the future Atelier releases. We aren’t happy with the lack of a dual-audio feature either, and we understand and share the concerns of our Atelier fan community,” said Tecmo Koei Europe representative Chin Soon Sun.
If you aren’t familiar with the Atelier RPG series, here is some background. Ever since the early 2000’s, the West has seen several of the games released. However to the unitiated the sheer amount of releases in the series, the confusing names, and the fact that there are multiple and differing “series”, make everything very convoluted and hard-to-understand. There have been several different “series” in the franchise, and they include: The Salburg Series (the first and debut titles), The Gramnad Series, The Iris Series (the first one English speakers will be familiar with), The Mana Series, and The Arland Series. Additionally there are several side-stories and one-offs, although only one of them has been localized for the West (2009’s DS RPG Atelier Annie).
Here is the entire list of Atelier franchise releases in America (In order by release date and system):
* Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (PS2, 2005)
* Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny (PS2, 2006)
* Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm (PS2, 2007)
* Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2, 2008)
* Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (PS2, 2009)
* Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island (DS 2009)
* Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3, 2010)
* Atelier Toton: The Adventure of Arland (PS3, 2011)
* Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland (PS3, 2012)
Phew! Still many of the games in the series have never been released outside of Japan (and some of the games just listed were not released outside of the United States).
These Japan only titles include the debut games in the franchise:
* Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, which released for PS1 in 1997 and it’s sequels:
* Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1, 1998) and
* Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg 3 (PS2, 2001).
Other Japan-only releases include:
* Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2, 2002)
* Atelier Violet: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2, 2003)… From here is when the U.S. started seeing the games released. Even so, we missed out on:
* Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad – Imprisoned Guardian (PSP 2010)
* Atelier Violet: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 – The Memories of Ultramarine (PSP, 2011)
* Atelier Elkrone: Dear For Otomate (PSP, 2012) and
* Atelier Totori Plus (PS Vita, 2012), although that latter game may still be released here.
We also missed out on these “Side-Games” in the series:
* Marie & Elie: Atelier Pair (Wonderswan Color, 2001)
* Marie To Elie Atelier (Dreamcast 2001)
* Hermina & Culus: Atelier Lilie Another Story (PS2, 2001)
* Atelier Marie, Elie & Anis: Message On the Gentle Breeze (Game Boy Advance, 2003)
* Atelier Lise: The Alchemist of Orde~ (DS, 2007) and
* Atelier Lina: The Alchemist of Strahl (DS, 2009).
In fact the only side-game released in the US was the second-to-last, “Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island” which hit DS in 2009 in America, but was not released in Europe. PHEW. Now that is a lot of entries, essentially one or two a year!
So if you want to know what this Atelier RPG franchise is all about, track down either the first PS2 game released in the West (Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana for PS2 2005), or the first game in the Mana series (Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, PS2 2008) or, and probably the easiest one to play and find, track down the first PS3 game entitled “Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland” (PS3 2010). Once you’ve played one of them, you can attempt to track down the others and judge whether you enjoyed it enough to seek out other games.