Today is the very first Fresh-Look Friday! Today’s review will be on Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island, a title for the Nintendo DS.
For those of you familiar with NIS, you might recognize this art style from some other semi-well known Japanese RPG titles including the Ar Tonelico and Disgaea series. The game was developed by a Japanese company known as Gust and released in the United States on October 27th, 2009. This makes it a fairly recent title, especially for me, as I tend to be behind the ball on game releases these days thanks to a lack of financing for my multitudes of hobbies. It carries an ESRB rating of E10+, probably because of mild violence that is not at all graphic. (You’re defeating enemies just like pretty much every JRPG out there.)
As pictured above, you play as Annie, a young girl shipped off to a place called Sera Island by her Grandfather in order to instill a sense of responsibility and hard work in her. The small character in green is known as Pepe, and is a fairy that Annie’s grandfather hired in order to help Annie both learn the processes of Alchemy and help her to overcome her seemingly crippling sense of laziness. Sera Island is an offshore chunk of land that the King of the Mainlands wishes to turn into a resort for the kingdom in an attempt to help his people prosper. Annie is a slightly clumsy girl at the beginning of the game and extremely lazy, but as time passes, she blossoms into a hard-working and self-confident individual. She meets many new friends and rivals and even starts to manage her own businesses on the island.
While described as a SimRPG (or Simulation Roleplay Game), it carries a number of similarities with the Strategy RPG genre as well. The game focuses on different quests, some of which are much more important than others. The game refers to the most important quests as “Assignments,” and they are the big four that you receive from the resort committee. Medals are awarded to you based on the quality and timeliness of your turned-in product. “Jobs” are other tasks that you take on from a variety of sources (including the Adventurer’s Guild pictured in the screenshot above). While the Assignments are the main plotline of sorts through the game, it’s the Jobs that will earn you both money and “Fame,” which gets more people at your businesses, which in turn helps the island to prosper.
What you must keep in mind, however, is that you only have 3 in-game years to complete the entire game. To obtain the perfect ending is honestly quite difficult and takes a few tries through the game to get it completely right. That in and of itself adds to the replay value of the game, especially for individuals that thrive on the full completion of a game. It’s also not such a tall task for those of us who don’t really feel the absolute need to finish a game to 100% completion, as the game itself is very short. While three years seems like a long time, you really start to fly through it.
In the beginning, Annie has a very low level of Alchemy Proficiency, and will occasionally mess up what she’s Synthesizing if you’re not careful. The Synthesizing process itself is very simple (much more user-friendly than the system used in Mana Khemia for those that have played the PS2 title). Annie really just picks items based on the recipes she has (gathered from books or people) and uses a tool to put them together and make something new.
My personal experience with Atelier Annie was honestly a very positive one. I purchased the game on a whim and only after purchasing discovered that it was done by the same company that has done other wonderful games. I was looking for a new game to play at my local Gamestop and it sort of just jumped out at me. I quickly became enthralled with the game and spent the first two nights I owned it up late into the night playing. The gameplay was simple enough to catch onto quickly, but engaging enough to hold my interest. My only real complaint was that the game was too short for my liking. I was enjoying myself so much taht I had hoped it would continue for many more hours!
Overall, I would give this game an 8/10. The gameplay, while engaging, is perhaps just a little too simple and repetitive at times, and the game itself was too short for my liking. However, the game itself was very fun, visually stunning for a DS RPG, and engaging.