Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island

Posted by staff | Posted in Role Playing | Posted on 24-09-2010

5

  • Complete 6 major quests over the course of a 3 year stay on Sera Island
  • Earn cash to re-invest in the island – build gardens, beaches, aquariums, theaters, fabulous attractions and more
  • Complete quick mini-games throughout the game for extra quests
  • Search and fight to collect ingredients to create rare items
  • Simple and fun-to-learn strategy RPG battle system

Product Description
Use Alchemy and Magic to Build an Incredible Island Resort! The latest incarnation of the Atelier series heads to paradise in this RPG based simulation game! You, as Annie, enter an alchemy competition, where you have to manage your very own island resort! The winner of the competition will earn the right to marry the Prince or Princess of the kingdom. Help Annie make her dream come true by going on quests, collecting, creating, and selling alchemy items, and m… More >>

Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island

Comments posted (5)

I was originally drawn to Atelier Annie because of the wacky trailer — it showed item creation, resort management, turn-based role-playing and a healthy dose of minigames on the side. It looked different from your run of the mill video game. While it doesn’t fully meet my expectations, it still provides a fun and unique (albeit niche) experience, especially now that the Nintendo DS is quite a few years old and doesn’t have as many innovative games being released.

So, what exactly is the main focus of the game? Well, you are a little alchemist named Annie who was forced to enter an alchemy competition to build up a resort on an island, and in the end do well enough to win the title of “meister”. How do you accomplish this? By making a plethora of items, of course! Your stay on the island spans three years, and every six months a contest will be held. These contests give you a chance to show off your item creating skills, and you will be awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal and prize money depending on how well you do.

So, as you can see, the game basically revolves around item creation. But it’s how you get those items that make the game fun. You will have to find gathering spots and collect a ton of materials, and while you are there you will encounter enemies. Basically, the game is part turn-based rpg. It’s a simple aspect of the game, but it’s still quite fun to obsess over all the details of weapons and armor and leveling up, just as with more complicated rpgs.

Aside from collecting materials and fighting monsters, your other big concern is building resort facilities, such as an aquarium, a beach or a theme park. There’s really not much to running these facilities, which is somewhat of a disappointment. As I mentioned before, the overall goal of the game is to win the entire contest. Your facilities’ popularity is a factor in this. To increase the popularity, you take quests and make items that are relevant to the facility, such as a treat for a bakery or a costume for a theater. A fun part to the facilities is when the manager will ask for your help, which triggers a minigame, such as chopping wood for a park, polishing a desk or advertising your facility. Doing well in these will increase your popularity and/or net you an item.

Something fun in the game is the character interaction. When you move Annie around to different locations, occasionally a cutscene is triggered and wild anime character antics ensue. These do get tiring eventually, but you can fast forward through them if you want to. There is some voice acting, which is a nice touch for a ds game. The voice acting is in Japanese, which is either a good or bad thing depending on who you are. (I think it’s pretty cute, but it’s not for everyone.) If it becomes annoying you can turn it off.

The length of the game is decent, I assume it took me around fifteen hours to complete it once. I finished it in two days, but that’s only because I was glued to it for hours at a time. Yeah, it’s pretty addictive. As for replay value, there is some here. When you finish the game, you can create a new game + which transfers all your items and cash. And there are ten facilities to build, but you can only create five in one play-through, so you can build all different ones the second time. Also, I have heard that there are multiple endings to unlock. I’m on my second game and hope I get a new one!

So, in all, the game manages to pack alot of elements in, but succeeds very well in only one: item creation. The other parts to the game, the rpg, management and minigame aspects, are merely there to mix things up. Which is definitely not a bad thing and definitely helps break up the tedium. I recommend the game to those who have grown tired of typical games and want something different.
Rating: 4 / 5

I have played every Atelier game that has been released stateside. Loved Atelier Iris. “Meh” on Atelier Iris 2. Liked Atelier Iris 3. You can imagine me being excited to see Atelier Annie get released, even if I wasn’t too pleased at it being released on DS. I’ve come to accept that the DS is really the last refuge for those from another era…those who liked games back before graphics became the driving force. PSP has done a little, but they seem to have fallen off as of late. Then we have the Mana Khemia series which attempted to pick up where Atelier left off, great series though flawed. PSP version of Mana Khemia was an atrocity that I will not speak of.

Atelier Annie is essentially a fetch quest game. You’re Annie, a lazy girl who dreams of finding some rich prince to pay her bills and take care of her so she doesn’t have to work. Her grandfather conspires to have her banished to a remote island, where she is obligated to master alchemy in order to turn the island into a resort in a finite period of time. On its face the game sounds rock solid, and in some ways it is…but in a lot of ways it isn’t. See, the spirit of Atelier Iris was really the action, with the alchemy being a secondary sidequest-type deal that was important, but not central, to beating the game. I much preferred that style of game, and expected it here. Sadly it is not to be.

Rather than go into a diatribe I’ll do my usual pros and cons from my perspective. Then you can judge for yourself and make your own decision.

** What Atelier Annie Does RIGHT **

- Graphically the game looks quite good for the DS. Things don’t have that spotty glaze that some other games like Kingdom Hearts 385/2 Days and Chain of Memories had which is usually indicative of oversharpening. There are also some minor cutscenes thanks to the mobi codec.

- The dialogue (see below under WRONG though) is light hearted and comical, what you’d expect from a basic anime.

- Doesn’t slouch in the challenge category. Even if you leveled up to the max (50), some bosses will still give you a run for your money. They don’t cheat, but they do hit hard and you do have to pay attention to what you’re doing.

- Some of the scenes have voices in Japanese. The plus is for the fact voices are there at all.

** What Atelier Annie Does WRONG **

- No option for English voices. I know some purists are hell bent on having Japanese dialogue, and that’s fine, but it should be an option and not the ONLY choice. I prefer to understand what they’re saying without having to read, even if their voice is horrible.

- Time limits on tasks. Yes, I know they had this in previous Ateliers and Mana Khemia, but I would have hoped they would be a little more flexible this far down the gaming cycle. IF a guy needs shoes why am I limited to 10 days to make them? He’s still going to need shoes 15, 20, 25, etc days from now!

- Dialogue-based interactions are TOO LONG and TOO MANY. This seems to have to do with the relationship that is built in between characters, where some characters just stop by for random things. Every time you go to an area in town you’re confronted with yet another dialogue based interaction. Funny though they are, they’re too long and too many of them.

- Poor sense of direction. Meaning that it’s difficult at times to know what you should do next. I know the goal of the game is to build up the resort, but once you’ve gotten all of the stuff to the different attractions, you’re then left twiddling your thumbs. In fact, if the guy tells you that he’ll check back in October and you finish your stuff in June, you’re wasting time for those months until he’s good and ready.

- Big fetch quest. That’s all you’re doing. No real dungeon crawling, no real world exploring, no “life” to anything.

- Poor menu structure. One thing about Mana Khemia in particular is that when you went back to your room, and go up to the pot, it listed for you the various items you have, and then gave you a sub section when you came across an item that either (A) hadn’t been synthesized yet or (B) had been requested by someone and you haven’t made and/or delivered it yet. That way you didn’t have to go back out into the menu to find out what you needed to synthesize and for who. In Annie, you don’t get this. When you go to the pot it does list the items, yes…but there’s no way to verify what you need to synthesize at that moment. So you’re basically running back and forth accepting one quest, remembering what the item was and its trait, and then back to the pot to make it. OH but wait…turns out you don’t have the right materials! So you have to go and get them. Doesn’t tell you where certain items can be found, so you have to pick one of the farming spots at random and hope for the best. Also, there are so many items and tools that you have to do endless scrolling to get to what you think you need, this includes weapons and armor, unfortunately.

- Unintuitive map. You can only jump from certain spots to others; you can’t walk at your own whim. For example, the theater is on the opposite side of the island from the bakery; you can’t just walk from the theater to the bakery even if it takes 5-6/whatever days. You have to walk back to a spot in town (getting intercepted by a dialogue event that you can’t skip), then set out to the bakery from there – or use a return item which takes you back to town (getting intercepted by a dialogue event that you can’t skip) and then walk to the bakery. Waste of time.

- NO way to just waste time by sleeping or something. Sometimes you just need to wait around for an event and don’t feel like going out. In other Atelier games and Mana Khemia games you could blow time by going to sleep or advancing the time with an item; not here.

So…do I recommend it? It depends. If you love fetch quests…or even if you’re infatuated with the Harvest Moon series…you might just love this game. However, if you were/are an Atelier Iris and/or Mana Khemia fan…you will be disappointed with the lack of depth. It’s not a bad game. But it’s a game you would have expected on the Game Boy Advance. So many other games have come out that have pushed the DS to its limits, this one just feels subpar.
Rating: 3 / 5

This is a game about reading modestly funny, very Japanese dialogue and triggering story events by completing tedious gameplay, with the requisite of reading a guide to have any idea how to trigger story events necessary for getting all the endings. But the game is riddled with so many serious problems that it’s difficult to enjoy even the story.

The primary problem is the game’s over-simplicity. Almost the entire game involves reading dialogue (*lots* of dialogue), doing fetch quests (almost all of which play out identically because of the incredibly tiny game world), battling, and alchemizing. Each of these tasks is so simple they’re like mini-games, and the gameplay, essentially, never changes. Battles in particular are much too frequent and so simple they can almost always be fast-forwarded (with the Y button) until you’ve attacked enough times to wipe out the enemy. You level up, you get new gear, and you go out into the world again to fight other creatures. This quickly becomes tedious as the battles are almost invariably incredibly simple and easy to win, except for a few bosses where you’ll actually have to heal and maybe use a specific weapon to attack with.

Alchemizing involves looking up a recipe (which is much too cumbersome) picking up to three items and hitting alchemize. You have a displayed percentage for succeeding. If you succeed, you get the item. If you don’t, try again. Very few of the items are actually useful to you, and you’ll be alchemizing meaningless items to complete endless fetch quests. It’s just not any fun, and the clunky menus don’t help any.

The lack of an English dialogue option is crushing. There’s so much spoken dialogue in the game, but the developers didn’t bother to *translate* all of it. Yes, that’s right, you will hear Japanese dialogue with no subtitles frequently during events. Only story sequences have subtitles; not battles, not random voice clips (of which there are many, including one that repeats *every* *single* *time* you go into the main town; based on the little Japanese I know from other games and anime, I believe she’s saying, “So, where will I go today?”), not even some brief events. If you don’t speak Japanese, you won’t understand quite a bit of it due to the lack of subtitles. It’s infuriating.

Something else that really irked me was the difficulty at getting multiple endings. It’s not that the tasks you’re asked to do are difficult; it’s that triggering them at all is difficult and far too random. Additionally, there’s one ending in particular that’s extremely difficult not to get, as I inadvertently got it on both my playthroughs. This happened because, to get it, you have to reach Master level of alchemy. Except it’s far, far too easy to get this level just by doing basic quests until the time limit runs out. The other endings require you to be very precise and specific as to what you’re doing, and it’s never explained at all how to get these endings without looking it up. And for most of them, you have to worry about *not* becoming a Master of alchemy. You can get two or three other endings (including the “best” ending) if you do other tasks during the game in addition to becoming a Master, but the majority of them are triggered by showing up somewhere at a very specific time, which is impossible to keep track of without a guide. Basically, getting all the endings requires a lot of time and tedium, and a guide that you’ll be frequently referring to if you want to get multiple endings.

I don’t like at all the strict time limit you have for doing anything. There’s never any time to relax in the game; there’s always something you need to do and there’s often no time to spare. Worse, if you need to wait for some reason (such as near the end of the game when you’re just killing time), there is no way to pass the time without traveling from place to place to pass the days. On my second playthrough, I was spending the majority of the end of the game just killing time because there was nothing else I could do. As mentioned before, story sequences which exist to get you different endings are difficult to trigger and are only available at frustratingly strict times. It’s all but impossible to trigger them all. Unfortunately, if you play it more than once, you have to sit through the same gameplay again. It just doesn’t flow, and you’re always being rushed.

Basically, the game’s story sequences are what carry it. The gameplay is merely a repetitious way to pass the time until the next story sequence. If you like reading anime comedy, maybe you’ll like it somewhat, but the gameplay just gets in the way. Not recommended unless you really like *watching* anime comedy.
Rating: 2 / 5

I wonder who the psychologist who said that children must be rewarded even when failing to learn as to not to have an emotional scar for life. I find that kids today aren’t any smarter, or more intelligent. Just a lot more snottier, more rude, and extremely lazy. Just like our protagonist Annie, a lazy girl who dreams of riches not by working, but by marrying.

A lot of reviews are saying that battles are simplistic, that there are too many tasks to do in a limited time, and that you are basically overwhelmed by item creations with unreasonable deadlines, and … not much else. Of which, I say, “That’s right!”

However, have you consider the fact that just because a certain game shares a name, doesn’t mean that it’s the same game? Final Fantasy series is the most blatant example. That being said, what is Atelier Annie all about? Well, it’s about doing a lot of tasks in a limited time. Just like what other reviewers are saying. Does that make it a fun game? Not really. That is why the developer is wise enough to put in an extremely funny story with off-the-wall characters. The dialogs are really funny! The Japanese voice-over is a plus. A lot of time, translated voice acting is done poorly, so that the emotional content is lost. And that’s what’s important. You don’t need to understand Japanese to enjoy it. I was half-way through the game before I noticed!

The game is perfect for children. The monsters are cute. The characters are comparable to the ones from Nickelodeon. Think Sponge Bob Squarepants meets Ren and Stimpy, and you’re not that far off. It may not be sophisticated, high falutin adult taste, but that’s what make it so charming.

Now, about that Training for Business Owner bit: This is an excellent game to let children play because the game play that is presented here PERFECTLY mimics the issues that small mom-and-pop business owner is facing. There are issues about suppliers (item search locations), customers (characters, guild, resorts), deadlines (the different dates), manufacture (alchemy). The game doesn’t cover all the issues, but this is a very concentrated, simplistic dose of it. I find the challenge level to be low, which is to say that if you can’t handle this game, then you do not know how to organize your life.

And that is really the key: You learn to differentiate between urgent and important task. Urgent tasks have deadlines. Resorts’ tasks may not have deadlines, but they are important. Franklin Covey system may help. You’ll need to have a filing system to keep track of your clients. To do/Action List. Calendar. An inventory system for the materials. References for the skills to keep track of. Do you know that globes explodes? I didn’t until I read the reading materials.

Ask yourself this: If you have tasks to do, wouldn’t that go into your In box? Once you completed them, wouldn’t that go to your Out box? This game is an excellent simulation for those who wants to be organized. Furthermore, you can also use an accounting system to keep track of your income, expenses, and profits. The organization skills that is used in this game will translate to real-life, specifically those of small business owners. Overall, I’d recommend this to children. Hopefully, they’ll learn how to get the job done, instead of complaining that it is a “bore”.

Does the game tell you to learn how to be organized? No, and it shouldn’t. However, it is obvious to me that is what the game is all about. Why do children nowadays can’t be bothered to see the obvious? If you expect traditional RPG, then look elsewhere. If you’re looking to have your children learn ORGANIZATION SKILLS to get ahead in REAL LIFE, while having tremendous FUN, then this is the PERFECT game to give to them.

Rating: 5 / 5

Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island for the Nintendo DS is the first in the Atelier series from developer Gust to make it to North America. If you are familiar with other Gust games, such as the Mana Khemia series, you will be acquainted with the process of traveling to various areas of Sera Island and collecting items for synthesis. After gathering the natural materials, the player returns to home base and combines the items into something new. That is the basis of alchemy.

Most of Atelier Annie’s charm can be derived from its wacky characters and storyline. Our heroine is lazy, selfish young girl named (whatelse) Annie. She loves nothing more than staying in bed all day and dreaming of ‘marrying up’ so she’ll even have to work a day in her life. Fed up with her attitude, her grandfather sends her to Sera Island where she will learn alchemy, take part in a contest to make the island into a fun resort, and just maybe make her social climbing dreams come ture. From the slave driving fairy Pepe, who doesn’t know he’s short, to the machine and pretty girl obessed Kyle, the citizens of Sera Island are sure to give you a laugh. The only voice acting is in the orginal Japanese, which may put off some gamers, but I found it charming.

Battles in this game are turn based, with monsters having the first crack and then the player, with up to three members, can let go with basic attacks. Nothing to fancy. Mostly, you’ll be managing resorts you build by fulfulling requests for certain items. You’ll need to be on the look out for new recipes (found mostly at the library for sale) and new items.

With muliple endings, addicting gameplay, and charming characters, you’ll sure to have fun with Annie and her friends. That is if she doesn’t fall asleep midgame.

I give Alelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island Four out of Five Pepe Dives.

Atelier Annie: Alchemist of Sera Island
Rating: 4 / 5

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