Quick thoughts about Atelier Lise

atelier lise_frontI replayed Atelier Annie a while back, I replayed Atelier M, E & Anis recently and just the other day I finished replaying Atelier Lise. As with the Anis game, Lise is one of the earliest Atelier games I played, back when my Japanese was still slightly shaky and I didn’t have the patience to read each and every line the characters said. As a result I plunged headlong into disaster time and time again and walked away from the game utterly frustrated and defeated.

Now older and wiser and bolstered by the experiences of other  Atelier games I decided to do things right this time and 1. Actually pay attention to the events and 2. Work on my alchemy no matter how boring it seemed.

And it paid off quite handsomely. I easily got the best ending where Lise makes the Arcanas gem and buys her kingdom back. Thus I got to see the ending sequence, where they discover it was one of their ministers who had embezzled the kingdom’s money, after which they bring him to justice. And they all live happily ever after. I was also one battle away from the Defeat All Bosses ending, and I have a save that I could use to get that ending any time I please. What amazed me was how simple it all was. As long as you visit the town square from time to time, keep raising your alchemy level and follow up immediately on all rumors it’s quite easy to get the best ending on the first playthrough. What was I doing all this time? Truly it is said that a bad workman blames his tools.

Having said all that, it’s not like Atelier Lise has magically transformed into a good game with the passage of time. Truth be told it’s still quite boring. I’m glad I got the good end in one shot because I wouldn’t be able to go back, and believe me I love Atelier games. Since the game is so “been there done that” to me I’m not going to write one of my customary long reviews. A few short notes will have to suffice.

atelier list coron2– The alchemy side of the game was BORING! The item selection feels really small. To make up for that the game added an ‘attribute’ system where you can change the sizes and colors of your synthesized items, but it’s nowhere near enough to make up for the lack of variety. And unfortunately you can’t get the best ending unless you raise your level really high, so you will of necessity find yourself making the same few items over and over and over again, essentially grinding up your alchemy level. It’s not fun at all.

– Alchemy is also all but pointless. You can’t make armor or weapons, accessories aren’t all that useful, your party grows so strong so quickly that attack items like Flams are quickly outclassed, a strong party also means they don’t need that many healing items, etc. What’s worse is that even though you’re supposed to be earning millions of cole to buy back your kingdom, guild quests are a pain to fulfill and don’t give you much money. Unless  you want to grind through 5 or 10 playthroughs to save up money you’re just wasting your time.

– Probably has the least challenging battles in the whole series. You can hire the ridiculously powerful Marius almost from the start to take care of anyone remotely tough while Hilda can take out the whole field in a single turn. Enemies also drop tons of EXP, making leveling a breeze. Good armor and weapons and healing items are also in plentiful supply. You don’t have to die unless you want to.

– Foraging is a pain because you have to pan slowly across the screen to the left and right instead of just letting the game go by. On the other hand the little mini-games you could play to increase your yields were quite fun.

atelier lise wikky– There was only one interesting NPC, but on the other hand all the playable characters were delightfully amusing. I especially liked manic Poin Stadt and spacey, cowardly Hilda. Hilda runs away every time a halfway strong enemy shows up. I’m like “But Hilda, you’re already dead!” but she’s too far away to hear me. Atelier Lise easily has the best and most memorable cast of the three DS games. In the end Lise sneaks away without saying goodbye, which I think was a pretty heelish thing to do because they’re all such great guys.

– This game is (in)famous for being irredeemably buggy, so much so that Gust actually recalled the first printing, which almost never happens in gamedom. That said I’ve always played the rom (naughty, naughty) and never had a bug problem. Something to consider if you buy it and find yourself dealing with bugs and glitches.

– I didn’t notice anything special about the music or graphics. The text is quite hiragana-heavy so it might be good for budding Japanese-game players, as long as they take the time to pay attention to the plot.

Basically the characters are nice but the battles are too easy and the alchemy is no fun at all. TBH I still enjoyed it more than Annie because I actually liked the characters this time round, but Atelier Lise does deserve all the panning it got. I’m just glad Gust finally got their act together in time for Lina.

16 thoughts on “Quick thoughts about Atelier Lise

  1. leonardo says:

    Personal Question: How did you learned japanese? and huh, when did it felt it was good enough to play games? Im a little disapointed that there is an atelier game that lacks the variety in alchemy. Iirc, you couldnt do tons of synthesis in Eternal Mana but that game sort of worked for me (it made up with exploration and some other battle elements).

    • Kina says:

      I did self-study for about two years and college classes for three years. I was able to read shounen with relative ease after the third year or so, but it didn’t occur to me to play games in Japanese until much later than that. Incidentally an Atelier game was the first thing I played in Japanese, either Lise or M, E & Anis or maybe Judie, I forget exactly which.

      So I’d say in three to four years you should be fine. My self-study methods were random, ineffective and all over the place (tremendously fun though) but with a focused plan of action two years should be enough. But even if you study half-heartedly, as long as you stick to it and study something every day you should be playing games within 5 years.

      • leonardo says:

        Oh alright. Well, my project “third language before 30” is probably over then. Ill still try to learn japanese tho. Its good for résumé and its something i can practice while having fun (unlike french, for exemple… i dont think i can read baudelaire that often).

        • Kina says:

          I like French comics. There are some very interesting-looking bandes dessinées out there that I can’t read because I’ve forgotten all the French I ever knew. So for me it would be worth it to relearn French. Still if you have no use for it it’s very hard to motivate yourself to stick to a language so go with what you know you’ll use.

  2. teasel says:

    hello kina! i had three questions for you…

    1) have you played any of the ps2/ps3 atelier games?

    2) what do you think of atelier annie exactly? it didn’t exactly catch my fancy (all that bullshit with dying items the proper color to get extra reward ugggghhhh) so i’m curious to know if i’m alone in this

    3) is this game in any way related to atelier rorona? in atelier rorona you can switch the music from other atelier game and one of the atelier lise music piece is called “atelier rorona lise version” which confused me a lot!

    • Kina says:

      1) I’ve played all the PS2 ones except the Hermina & Culus spin-off. I haven’t played any of the PS3 games.
      2) I wrote about Atelier Annie here: Atelier Annie. Item-coloring started in Atelier Lise, though it isn’t very important there.
      3) No idea, but I doubt it. I think Rorona and the rest of the Arland series are their own separate beast and any references are just that, references. Ar Tonelico had costumes from Atelier Marie/Elie, but that doesn’t make the games related.

  3. Davzz says:

    I guess this is probably the most “relevant” place to post this…

    Somewhat recently, someone directed my attention to… strangely enough, a Korean developed “clone” of the early Atelier games (Salburg era). I wrote stuff on it over at my blog.


    Since you’re one of the few people I know who have played the early JP Atelier games, I thought maybe it might amuse you somewhat.

  4. Davzz says:

    Have fun, and maybe write something about it, it’ll be interesting to get another perspective of someone with a lot more experience on the earlier Atelier games.

    • Kina says:

      I’m looking forward to it. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up writing “This is awesome! I’ve never played such a wonderful game before! Gust needs to hang it up and call it a day because they’ll never produce anything as good as this!”

  5. Davzz says:

    Guess this is going to be the Atelier-like comments section, but have you seen “Adventure Bar Story” for iDevices/Android/3DS?

    I almost missed it because of its overly generic name, but it looks suspiciously like a PSX era Atelier game and it’s gotten some decent reviews. Maybe you can tell me if it’s worth playing if you decide to bite.

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