Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm Review

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is an RPG that coaxes you into playing the game by having you fulfill an assortment of tasks and quests that aren’t necessarily related to the main plot. The main missions move the storyline along, but outside of this you can expect to go on lots of errands to find objects, assist others, or solve situations. This, in a nutshell, is AI3: GP.

When I first fired up this game, I kept thinking that I had played this title somewhere before. It took a few minutes of strenuous brain processing time, but I finally realized that AI3: GP reminded me of Animal Crossing. In AC a lot of your time is spent hunting down objects or doing favors for the residents. In this aspect, AI3 plays in a somewhat similar way. If you aren’t a fan of this sort of task based game, you should probably stop reading this review right now and move on to something else.

The premise of AI3: GP is about an alchemist named Iris. A book has been passed down in her family for untold ages until something mysterious happened to the book. This forms the basic storyline and the three main characters of the game go on a quest to find 8 magical gems. Why? Anyone who obtains all the gems can wish for anything they want. Now that’s a pretty good incentive to find them, right? As the story unfolds, the significance of the gems becomes clear and the plot, as they say, thickens.

In a world where super graphics and pumped up animations are the main course of the day for game consoles, you may gag or wonder if you’ve picked up a game from the 80’s by accident. The Atelier franchise seems to be frozen in time as you view the 2D world and fantasy styled terrain of big-headed characters and odd looking creatures. Not that this is a bad thing. Amazingly enough, AI3 does a pretty good job of keeping everything fresh in spite of its slightly dated look.

As is the norm in the typical RPG formula, there are battles galore to level up your character, but in AI3 this takes on several new twists. First off, you can actually avoid random battles. Yes sports fans, you can theoretically move through entire levels without so much as a swish of your sword or a magical spell cast. This is done in a very logical manner — you merely side-step or move around the monsters to avoid contact.

Of course, by avoiding all the fights you won’t be accumulating the all-important experience points in order to make your characters more powerful. But the mere option of being able to avoid battles is great if you just want to explore locations without interruption. There’s nothing more frustrating in an RPG fan than having to fight a zillion battles just to walk down a road which probably leads to nowhere.

Another thing that is novel is the battle system itself. Normally in RPGs you have at your disposal your normal attacks, spells, special skills, and items. But in AI3, your position and attack moves are displayed in a line of playing cards at the top. (No, it’s not a hybrid CCG.TCG.) The readout shows you which monsters are up for battle, where you stand in the queue and which attacks are coming up. This system really helps if you are low on HP or MP and need to work out a plan to beat the enemy.

Some of your skill attacks occur several times and these moves are randomly placed in the line of cards. If you plan well, you can use the information to your advantage when attacking opponents that may even be much stronger than you.

The battles allow you to charge up a "burst meter" which essentially allows you to do massive amounts of damage by stringing together skill attacks. You also can use your special skills in normal battle which range from healing to devastating elemental assaults. I really liked this battle system and it really adds a good deal of fun to the game. The fighting scheme is deeper than you would expect, and you’ll have to strategize your attacks according to such things as your position turn, elemental weaknesses in your enemy, skill point usage, burst meter completion, skill points available, usage of special multiple attacks, and more.

You’ll explore different dimensions called Alterworlds. It is here where you will go on your missions to reclaim the missing gems and fight for your life. You won’t have the option of just lollygagging around at your leisure to explore these new worlds, however. You are constantly on a timer/hourglass which trickles down the time available for you to explore. When the time runs out, so do you and you are transported back to your alchemy cottage.

In this game, alchemy forms an important role where Iris can formulate different objects, potions, and items to help you on your journey. It’s an interesting aspect to the game and it actually does have importance as opposed to other games which just makes it a form of busywork.

Graphics, as stated before, aren’t cutting edge by any means, but the artwork and background art are nicely done and will give you a feeling of nostalgia for the earlier days of RPGs. Sound is really entertaining with the voice actors hitting their marks right on target. Much of the dialog was also funny (at least to me). Think of Sailor Moon meets Naruto and you’ll get an idea of how the characters talk to each other.

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is a very laid-back RPG that seems to move at any pace you want it to. It doesn’t have a driving plot, but the cute characters, quest based gameplay, and fun battle system seem to make up for the lack of adrenaline during some parts of the game. If you want a good basic RPG that isn’t too heavy on plot and need a good diversion from the 60+ hour RPGs you’re accustomed to, you’ll do just fine picking up a copy of Atelier Iris 3.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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