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Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland Preview

For JRPG aficionados, the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo proved to be slightly distressing. Ordinarily, the Square-Enix booth is crammed beyond capacity, but the kiosk lines of Final Fantasy XIII-2 were implausibly short last spring. Yet at least Sereh Farron’s exploits were given a premium locale on the show floor- titles such as Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland and White Knight Chronicles II were confined to the alcoves. Fortunately, 2012 looks to rekindle a stateside affinity for the genre, with the imminent release of Tales of Graces F, Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2, Xenoblade Chronicles, as well as Arland’s sequel, Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland on hand to placate players.

Although the first entry in the Arland series, 2010’s Atelier Rorona, depended on amiable charm to woo gamers, follow-up Atelier Totori corrected its predecessor’s deficiencies by jettisoning the strict time limits and nonplussing goals to focus on the virtues of item crafting. Hopefully, the May release of Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland will prolong that trend. As the recently released preview video for the title demonstrations, players can expect to see quite a few returning characters, making Meruru a poignant finale for the Arland series.

While alchemy will remain as the game’s focus, a plethora of small adjustments have been made to the title’s key elements. Most exciting is the inclusion of the Development System, a component which grants players control over the game’s physical world.  Permitting the cultivation and modification of regions may allow Meruru‘s gameplay to feel a bit more organic than  previous entries.  The Apprentice of Arland’s turn-based combat has also been augmented with the inclusion of Time Cards, which offer the possibility of shifting the battle order of friendly and enemy units.

Meruru’s narrative which picks up right where Atelier Totori left off, so it’s not surprising to see the sequel arrive a scant eight months later. With Totooria Helmold’s exploits still fresh in gamer’s minds, it should be comforting to see the alchemic torch passed from tutor to trainee one final time. Historically, developer Gust has made clever refinements to successive series entries- and we see no reason why Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland would buck that trend.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

27 comments

  1. First thing I thought when I say the game was “Sailor Moon”.

    SO I have to ask, Blue have you played these games?

  2. Great preview, Deagle. The one bad thing is that we have to wait four long months!

    BTW- When is Hyperdimension Neptunia Mk. 2 coming out?

  3. So is the prologue part of the game. I’d like to play this, but I’m afraid I’d miss out on some things having not bought the first two games.

  4. I’m not sure if the whole game looks like that but if it does…prepare for ridicule, Deagle.

    • I’ve always thought it was funny that a guy named “DesertEagle” liked these type of games, but after listing to the podcast it kind of makes sense.

  5. “Permitting the cultivation and modification of regions may allow Meruru to sidestep the slight feeling of linearity which was present in previous entries.”

    If you’ve ever played the series, you’d know the games are all but linear- they’re more akin Legend of Mana in structure, and outside certain requirements needed to progress the game, they’re actually as linear as your typical CRPG- to say, you could beat Atelier Rorona without touching a single monster, and the only limit imposed in your open-ended adventure is the in-game time, which makes the game end three years after it starts (or five years, in Totori’s case).

    • Well, like you said certain events are required to advance the game, and replays have the same dialog instead of branching conversations, so it is “slightly” linear in my eyes.

    • I’m pretty sure that he’s played though ALL of the Atelier games. Maybe he’s talking about how you’re open to different alchemy tasks, but the story is still pretty much the same.

    • Did play Totori, but the pathways in Rorona were super linear, unless you count dead ends as variety.

    • Maybe ‘slightly linear’ wasn’t the best term. Let me explain:

      In Totori, once you’ve explored one of the smallish areas, a box comes up detailing what enemies and resources could be found. Later, if you needed a particular item, you knew exactly where to go and what do, making alchemy pretty straightforward. The license ranking mechanic worked the same and was tied to moving the game along to the next chapter. While I enjoyed Totori thoroughly, I just wanted something a bit more organic.

  6. Tried to pre-order, but GS doesn’t have it in their system yet. Still pretty psyched about Meruru.

  7. I can’t wait for this. Hopefully, they’ll offer a really nice CE for this one in the big, giant boxes like the did with Rorona and Totori.

  8. Yeah, Rorona dragged a bit, but I think Totori picked up the pace and make a lot of good decisions, like only have one time limit.

    Excited for this one. Calendar marked.!

  9. I like JRPGs, but this one looks a little too girly for me.

  10. I don’t mind previews from you guys. Keep them coming.

  11. I can’t say the video solid me on it.

  12. Some good deals this week. I might grab Payday.

  13. How is this even a preview?

  14. Video+talk of changes? I’m just putting that out there…

  15. This reminds me that I need to finish Totori. Started playing it for the second time and need to wrap that up.

  16. thanks for the info. I love the Atelier and Mana Khemia games.