Go Kitty, Go!
Walking into NIS America, we were all curious about whether or not they would be bringing Atelier Rorona to North America. They have a history with Gust, the experience working with the PS3, and the desire to bring it out. So much to our surprise, they had two things to tell us. First, NIS America is still not confirmed to be officially releasing Rorona. Second, they had the Japanese version of the game ready and waiting for us to try out.
We jumped at the chance and moved into the gaming center where we were greeted by Atelier Rorona in all its 1080p glory. Make no mistake, this game is beautiful. If you enjoy cel-shaded artwork, then this title will not disappoint visually. The screenshots available for Rorona to date do not do justice to the game in action. From the characters down to the world backgrounds, the graphics are crisp.
Elite Beat Rorona
Atelier Rorona may look wonderful, but a game is useless if it is style without substance. Thankfully, this offering is full of content, so it's not just another pretty face. Players will be working hard to gather items, defeat enemies, and take on jobs to make sure they have everything they need to build the grandest alchemy shop in the world.
The game progresses through a day system. Each action and movement between locations on the world map will expend a set number of days on the calendar. Each mission or side quest a player undertakes must be completed within a certain number of days. The estimated length of the game will span an in-game time of three years, which should run around forty or more hours.
Combat was engaging, as we were jumping in at the very start of the game. My party consisted of Rorona and her spoiled ally Cuderia. Once we encountered an on-screen enemy, both had the option to attack, use a skill, defend, and Rorona had the option of using alchemy items. Skills usage drains HP, so you have to be careful how often you use those. When performing a normal attack though, your other characters have the ability to provide support with the press of a button, so both will attack in a single turn. There was much more to the battle system, but since we only scratched the surface we couldn't see it all. We did see Cuderia's special skill in which she summons two bodyguards that look like something out of Elite Beat Agents to attack for her. It was quite entertaining to see.
Having never played any other games from the Atelier, I sadly cannot speak to any comparisons to the others, but there were a lot of options. While NIS America could not confirm at this time whether or not they will be the publisher for this title in the US, their relationship with Gust makes it almost a lock. Stay tuned in the coming months for more details.