Atelier Annie is the first foray onto the DS for the popular Atelier Series from Gust. After three decent RPGs on the PS2 and even a few spinoffs, the Atelier series has become one of the most popular underground RPGs in recent times, despite it’s roots dating back to the SNES in Japan.
So how does the latest entry into the series stack up? Let’s take a look at the HOTs and NOTs of Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island.
Graphics are Colorful
The graphics are nice to look at, each sprite is nicely rendered and well animated. The game features limited animations, but the animations of the sprites in battle are well done.
Original Japanese Voices
I can’t say for certain if it was done for economical reasons or fanservice, but the choice to leave the game undubbed was a nice touch. All the voices are in Japanese, some will love this but some gamers might find it a tad annoying. However, the Japanese voices are done very well and fit the characters.
Atelier Annie breaks away from the typical Atelier fair by throwing in a nice new element. In the game, Annie is in a contest to help rebuild an island and thus is able to build shops, parks, amusement parks, etc. Having to build up your reputation with the locals while also building various hangout spots and hiring people to work those places is pretty fun and gives a new edge to the series. Fans of sim type games will get a kick out of this new gameplay element.
Story is Bland
The storyline is dull, very dull. You won’t be drawn into the storyline much here, which makes it hard to play this game. The basic plot involves a lazy girl named Annie being forced to go to Sera Island and take part in it’s restoration contest in order to learn alchemy. The characters aren’t much more engaging and sometimes can be downright annoying. Annie is a loveable loser but that doesn’t stop her from being incredibly irritating at times.
Battles are boring
The battle system is very basic and won’t offer much in terms of variety or strategy. You’ll have to choose people to bring with you when you head out to collect alchemy materials, be it for a recipe or a mission. You travel to different spots on the island to collect items, and in those spots you’ll have random encounters. The battles are pretty boring, mostly because the fighting is so basic and simplistic. This is a nice RPG for a newcomer, but RPG vets will find themselves craving more.
Sound Is Dull
Yet another thing that’s not good and not bad, just bland. For fans of RPG soundtracks, those who love the different tunes that play throughout an RPG, I doubt you will find much here to bop to. There are some ok tunes, mainly those that play in town, but the music for the most part is just comprised of midi files more reminiscent of something off PS1 than on DS. The voices are nice and colorful, but the music and sporadic and cartoony sound effects really bring the overall sound presentation down.
Overall, Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island is a fans only affair. Those who love the atelier series and games from Gust will be able to look past the games flaws. For those looking for an engaging handheld RPG should look elsewhere, because there’s little here. Lately NISA has been hit or miss with their localizations, and Atelier Annie seems to be one that didn’t get the full treatment. While playing I found a typo in the game, the typo being the misspelling of the word “failed” when trying to escape from battle. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen someone “faild” at escaping a fight before.