By: Uma Smith
I have a great appreciation for the types of contribution that the Japanese have made to the world. They play a huge part in the technology that we have come to enjoy today. Additionally, the level of creativity is quite high as evident in their animations. So when you put the two together, you get something that truly showcases what the Japanese are capable of in the entertainment world.
That is my sentiment when I think of Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland, which just came out for the PlayStation Vita. Being ported over from the PS3, you’ll be entered into a world filled with beauty and magic.
There is a lot to remember considering that you’ll be accessing menu screens, performing actions, and gathering info. However, a common theme exists between control schemes. When you’re switching amongst the various screens, you’ll have the d-pad for selecting and left stick for movement. The face buttons are where you’ll need a little work in memorization. Luckily, the game does give you a friendly intro to acquaint you with the controls.
Each setting is presented with vibrant colors while the characters are designed with a high degree of detail and quality. The animations are also impressive during gameplay when you witness Meruru‘s hair blowing in the wind. Not only does Atelier Meruru Plus look as gorgeous as ever, but so do the outfits showcased in the game. The clothing is so cute and beautiful that it can influence a woman into dressing in cosplay for the next Anime convention!
Very often, you’ll hear the voices from the characters as they engage in dialogue. For the most part, the voice acting seems a bit corny. Nonetheless, they do manage to bring out the light to the atmosphere. In terms of the soundtrack, you only get handful of tracks playing in the background. Although they are lovely to listen to, they hardly leave much of an impression or excitement.
Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland is your typical Japanese RPG where you take on the role of a young princess, named Meruru, of the Kingdom of Arls. She aspires to become an alchemist as she spends time with Totooria Helmold and her workshop. Consequently, her father realizes that she’s spending too much time on this art, and thus orders her to prepare for the two kingdoms of Arls and Arland to merge. Meruru refuses, however, and must prove that her alchemy can be of use to the kingdoms.
You’ll be spending your time traveling to various locations as you collect materials from gathering points as well as engage in battles with enemies. For the latter, the action takes place in a turn-based fashion. Specifically, Meruru and her two friends will take on the fight as they wield their weapons to execute attacks or even perform special skills. By beating your enemies, you’ll earn experience points along with items that you can use later on for recipes.
The main component of Atelier Meruru Plus gameplay experience is taking materials to create special items. To illustrate, Meruru can concoct items with varying qualities that you can sell to the guild to earn money, or you can give them to various in-game characters to influence the development of Arls.
When you successfully complete a task, you get development points that can be used to build new facilities around the kingdom. These prove to be useful since they can increase your experience level and ease the requirements for performing synthesis. How the kingdom turns out and appears will reflect your progress. If enough food and supplies are provided, you’ll end up with a strong realm.
There are plenty of objectives that will keep you hooked to The Apprentice of Arland, and because this game does not follow a linear path you have a lot of autonomy and freedom in terms of how you want to progress. There are no time constraints so you won’t be influenced or rushed into completing a task outside your own comfort. Since the game offers a good balance between performing alchemy and battling enemies, you can finally appreciate the story while being fully engaged with the character and plot development.
Although there is a lot to learn when starting out in Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland, that just translates to higher replay value and content. For $39.99, you not only get a perfect port from the PS3 version, but you get the additional DLC as well. If you like a good JRPG, you will definitely enjoy the magical world behind this ambitious PlayStation Vita game.