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Atelier Iris 2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Gust
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US 04/25/06
Japan 05/26/05



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You made... something I'm not eating!
 
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Man. I'm seeing things now. I knew I shouldn't have eaten the thing from the last screenshot.
 
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It seems that the entire world is made up of anthropomorphic plants.
 
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This gets no caption. The screenshot is just too bizarre.
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Patrick Gann
Hands On Preview
04/11/06
Patrick Gann

After claiming Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ as my personal "RPG of the year" for 2005, I had been anticipating Atelier Iris 2 since NIS America announced its pending release. After finally getting my hands on the game and spending some time with it, I'm intrigued, but I also had a few concerns. In this preview, you'll hear about both the concerns and the points of intrigue.

First and foremost, NIS America changed the game's subtitle. Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana 2~ didn't seem to cut it for the staff, and they have renamed the subtitle "The Azoth of Destiny." If your vocabulary is as limited as mine, you're wondering what in Altena's name an azoth is. I turned to dictionary.com to ascertain the following definition:

Mercury considered in alchemy to be the primary source of all metals.

Alright, that's cool. Azoth is some metallic primordial stuff. As it turns out, the "Azure Azoth" is a sword, and, in sword-in-the-stone-like fashion, it hasn't been wielded for as long as anyone can remember. Then, after a series of strange events on the secluded floating continent of Eden, alchemist Felt hears the voice of the sword and pulls it out. This sword is certainly the Azoth of (Felt's) Destiny: but I still don't see why the subtitle change was necessary.

So, as I just finished explaining, Felt lives on the tranquil floating continent of Eden. In this world, Mana (spirits) and humans live in harmony. Alchemists learn to wield the power of Mana and create special items. The two alchemists that begin the game's story are Felt (a young man with incredible gifts but an unwillingness to study) and Viese (a young lady who works hard to match Felt's talents). From the looks of the opening anime FMV and the bit of time I've spent with the game, Felt and Viese are certainly the romantic item you expect them to be.

The series of troubling events in Eden eventually lead Felt and Viese to the world below, but what awaits them there are things they never could have expected. For you and I, however, what they find is the expected "real world" in a medieval/renaissance time period with European-style towns and other environments. Are you surprised? Neither am I.

The same things that made the first Atelier Iris appealing are here again, but this time with a few twists. Battles have some new features, but early in the game, I haven't been able to incorporate any big combos or specials yet. A lot of the gameplay is similar to the first game: item synthesization, exploration, element extraction, it's all there. But with each of these gameplay features, various twists and tweaks were incorporated by Gust to keep fans of the first game interested. And, if you missed out on the first title and want to start fresh here, you'll definitely be able to enjoy it as the title is not a direct sequel but rather a "distant-prequel" type sequel.

What else is similar, you ask? NIS America again made the fantastic choice to allow both English and Japanese voices to suit the gamer's taste. Both English and Japanese voices sound great so far. The music is fun and bouncy, just like the last one. I've enjoyed what I've heard thus far.

Though I haven't gone too far, the story looks deeper and more engrossing than the last one, which is good. My only concern at this point would be regarding glitches; there were a lot in the last release (possibly due to a rushed printing, even after delays), but I have yet to encounter any on my advanced copy. That is a good sign.

Preorder it now and receive a bonus soundtrack, or wait until after its release for our review if you're skeptical. Gust definitely stepped up their ability at RPG creation with Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~, and even if this sequel doesn't push the envelope that much further, it's set to be a fine RPG in its own right.



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© 2005-2006 NIS America, Gust.
All Rights Reserved.



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