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Developer:
Gust
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS2
Release Date: April 25, 2006

by Josh Ferguson




In April of 2006, courtesy of NIS America, the second installment in Gustís alchemic series, Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny was released for the PlayStation 2 system. The game features much of the same style and charm of the original, but with even more additions. So how does the sequel compare to Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana? Well, you will have to read on to find out!


The storyline in Atelier Iris 2 begins in the world of Eden, with a young boy named Felt and his childhood friend Viese, who are both studying to become great alchemists. One day while the two are walking through Marmel Forest, areas of the world begin to mysteriously vanish! Soon after Felt finds that the Azure Azoth, a legendary magical sword, is speaking to him, and, similar to The Sword and the Stone, pulls it from its resting place. Afterwards the two discover that Eden is actually connected to a completely different world known as Belkhyde. In an attempt to save his homeland, Felt travels alone with the Azoth through the Belkhyde Gate.


Throughout Atelier Iris 2, players will have to switch back and forth between Felt, who is occupied in Belkhyde, and Viese, who stayed back in Eden. Most of the plot and storyline will focus on Felt and his adventure, but it will still be necessary to use Viese to advance in the game. With Felt fighting his way through enemies in Belkhyde, Viese will stay back in Eden and create different alchemy items that will help aide Felt on his quest. While it is interesting to have control over two different characters in two different worlds, at the same time it is somewhat of a letdown. As I said earlier, most of the storyline and plot focuses on Felt's adventure, so Vieseís can be somewhat dull and boring, with most of her objectives consisting of only crafting items for Felt.


Similar to many RPGs, Atelier Iris 2 is a game that features random battles. While you travel through most of the areas in the game, a gauge will appear at the left side of the screen. When you continue to move around on the field, the gauge will begin to change colors as a random battle draws near. As you continuously go through random battles, the gauge will begin to deplete, and once that happens the enemies in the area have been completely destroyed. However, once you leave the area and return, the enemies will respawn, so if youíd like to try to gain some experience, you can always just return.


Combat in the game is similar to the original Atelier Iris, but with a few new advancements that make it even more entertaining. While the original was strictly a turn-based styled combat system, the sequel features an Active Time Cost Battle bar that indicates when it is a character's turn. Located on the ACTB bar are icons that will represent each of the individuals in the battle, and when their icon reaches the far right, then it will be that individuals turn to act. However, also new to the combat are the different types of attacks, including the normal attack, which is known as a charge attack. But there is also a new attack command called break attack. With a break attack, the character has a chance of disrupting the enemy's location on the ACTB bar, and delaying their turn. After performing a break attack, if the enemy is moved onto the orange area of the ACTB bar, they will become broken. When this occurs, your characters can then continuously perform these break attacks and pull off combos, which will not only increase the amount of damage received but also earn more experience bonuses.


Aside from the actual attacks, each of the game's characters also has their own unique, special skills. There are two forms of skills, passive and active. With active skills you must first have the required number of charges on your gauge located in the top right of the battle screen. When your characters either receive or deal damage, the gauge will begin to increase and charge up. On the downside, since active skills use charges, chances are you might not be completely full of charges and wonít be able to use some of the different skills. Also, many of them really arenít that useful, and chances are you will be just as effective with merely using your physical attacks. The passive skills, on the other hand, are those that are found on your weapons and equipment, but can be learned and increase your character's stats. While all of the characters can use skills, Felt and Viese are the only two of the group that are able to use mana synthesis. Mana synthesis is fairly similar to your skills, but instead of taking up charges they use elements.


Similar to the original Atelier Iris, the sequel features a large amount of synthesizing. Other than the mana synthesis, which I already mentioned, the game features weapon synthesizing that only Felt can perform. In concern to item synthesizing, as I said earlier, Viese is the only individual of the group who will be able to use this type of alchemy. With all these types of synthesizing, altogether the game allows for a whole lot of item creation, but chances are most gamers wonít completely uncover all the items because it isnít exactly necessary.


Graphically, Atelier Iris 2 fairs a bit better than the previous installment. In the sequel, the environments and towns are much nicer looking, and so are each of the character sprites. The game also features some great-looking anime-styled cutscenes.


As far as the sound department goes, Atelier Iris 2 features some nice new tunes and even brings back some from the previous game. For the most part, the game's voice acting is strong, but there are also some individuals who donít fare as well as others. However, most of the main characters' voice actors do a nice job and, combined with the game's humor, it is even better.


Overall, Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny is a fun role-playing game that fans of the original should welcome with open arms. The game has seen some changes from the original, many of which are for the better, making Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny a worthy successor and an overall better game!


Final Grade: 78%


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