A Major Improvement to a Surprisingly Good Game: Atelier Totori

This writeup is a long time coming. You see, internet, all of the games in the Atelier series are rare; therefore, I actually bought this game a little bit before Dark Souls came out, and left it on the shelf until recently. The reason for this is that if I didn’t buy it immediately there would be no guarantee that I’d ever see it again, or if I did see it, it would be a reasonable price. Atelier Totori is the direct sequel to a 2009 game, Atelier Rorona. I had played a couple of the Atelier games before; however, it wasn’t until I played Atelier Rorona that I was particularly impressed by them. I don’t know if this is because of quality or the times. When I played Atelier games before I had Final Fantasy X, Persona 3/4, and SMT: Nocturne around, which made it more difficult to appreciate the games. However, the major dearth of JRPGs this generation has made Rorona, and Totori standout far more than they ever could.

Come on girl! Those date-rape drugs aren’t going to make themselves!

Atelier Totori is a JRPG in the most traditional way possible. It is heavily anime/manga inspired, full of underage kids, full of sexual references to those kids, and has traditional turn-based battles. Its predecessor, Rorona, was the first Atelier game to have 3D graphics, and it looked nice. Totori uses the same engine as Rorona; however, the character models are made with far more care in Totori so that game ends up looking quite a bit better. Unlike most games you get nowadays, Totori is not afraid of colour; in fact, I would say, Totori needs colour the same way Leprechauns need Lucky Charms (Or so I’ve been led to believe).

How many Call of Duty games do you see this in? That’s right, only four.

The battle system is about as basic as a JRPG can be. Characters have an attack command, a defend command and a skill command. Alchemists are the only ones who can use items, which makes them valuable, and excuses Totori’s (Character not game) garbage stats. The major improvement over Rorona is that characters now have a traditional Mp (Magic points) gauge so skills don’t train Hp (Health Points). This makes skill use more tactical, as Mp is generally far more limited than Hp, and at the same time doesn’t force you to fear for your death by using a skill. Totori mainly uses the same enemy models as Rorona, which were quite good/adorable on their own.

“I will protect you from this obscenely adorable… thing”

Rorona was an easy game, but it was a hectic one. The challenge with Atelier Rorona was meeting all of the deadlines that were placed before you, whether they were shop requests, or one of the many main requests. Totori does away with this system and gives the player way more freedom. All you have to do is gain a certain amount of ranks to your adventuring level in three years. Nothing more. This can be done in a variety of ways, most prominently: exploring, shop requests, battles, and alchemy. This is a major step up from Rorona, which generally only required you to produce items through alchemy. Now, killing enemies isn’t a waste of time. Speaking of time, there is still pressure to not waste any. Unlike Rorona, every action you make in a field (Non town) map takes time and each area that you travel to is only a single screen (With exceptions), which means that you have to consume more time when travelling. Fortunately, time isn’t as much of a concern as it was in Rorona, so there isn’t the same need to panic.

Passed out drunk at the palace… again.

So what are the downsides to Atelier Totori? In truth, there aren’t really any. The game is exactly what it wants to be and is at the pinnacle of that aim. The combat is a little too straightforward, the main story isn’t compelling, and you can get lost in your options, but these are all very minor points. The story is really about the life of Totori, so the lack of a main plot-line isn’t really a loss, the huge amount of options is a major improvement over Rorona, and the combat, while straightforward, can be very challenging at times and the creation of bombs help deepen it up quite a bit. I do not hesitate to call Atelier Totori one of the best JRPGs this generation. However, this isn’t the praise that it should be, as there are so few JRPGs and even fewer good ones.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer


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