Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 05/28/2007

Every once in a while, a game will come along that shatters the fundamental beliefs we hold dear, destroying all sense of logic and reason and transcending the limits of entertainment, creating an entirely new, unique, breathtaking experience that leaves one weak in the knees when one even attempts to fathom its boundless nature. Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is not one of these games.

Edge and Iris, and eventually the bunny girl Nell, are Raiders–essentially mercenaries hired by a guild to do its dirty work. This work can be anything from slaying monsters to finding items. In fact, that’s essentially all they do, slay monsters and find items. The story in Atelier Iris 3 seems merely tacked on as an afterthought, with much of the game consisting of performing menial tasks for The Guild. Players are rewarded for completing these tasks, which range from hunting down any number of enemies, to finding missing people, to fetching or creating a number of items.

Screen Shot
“Look, it’s a Puni! Time to heat things up!”

Battles in Atelier Iris 3 are a turn-based affair, much in the same vein as its predecessors. Turn order is shown in the top left of the screen, while the top right houses the skill gauge, which allows characters to utilize various techniques and spells. Abilities are gained in different ways, depending on the character. Edge and Nell are able to use Blades skills, obtained once Iris makes a pact with the various Mana roaming the world. These Blades skills help make up for the lack of extra party members, and allow the characters to change their roles in battle to function as a healer, meat shield, and more. During the course of battle, players will also be able to enter Burst mode, which stuns all enemies, maxes out the skill gauge, and allows excessive amounts of damage to be dealt.

Navigation has been changed quite a bit from this game’s predecessors as well. The town players start in acts as a central hub, leading to various Alterworlds that are unlocked as the game progresses. These Alterworlds act as the game’s dungeons, housing the (thankfully) on-screen enemies that take the place of random encounters. One unfortunate addition is the aspect of time. Players only have a set amount of time to spend in an Alterworld, after which they are whisked back to Iris’s workshop. Most of the time this doesn’t become much of an issue, as the majority of the guild quests are straightforward as far as navigating Alterworld is concerned. This does, however, mean that players have to manage their time spent in the Alterworld effectively.

Screen Shot
As the saying goes, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work…

Item creation returns once again, allowing Iris to create no small number of items and equipment. This time around, the need to gather various elements has been eschewed, instead utilizing items found throughout town and the various Alterworlds. Recipes are obtained through inspiration, experimentation, quest rewards, and purchasing them in a shop.

The graphics in Atelier Iris 3 remain nearly unchanged from its predecessors. This means hand-drawn sprites and two-dimensional backgrounds, with fairly well-done battle animations. The audio is also relatively unchanged in quality, with the music not really standing out as extraordinarily awesome, but providing a great listening experience otherwise. The voice acting as well provides nothing exceptional, but fitting the characters well. Except for Nell. A person’s voice should not get that high. Not even a well-endowed bunny girl.

Overall, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm provides a decent playing experience that is unfortunately surpassed by its predecessors. The lack of character development and story may be off-putting for some, and the addition of timed dungeons off-putting to others, but overall this game provides an enjoyable if somewhat repetitive experience.

-Quinton Alexander

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Good
Story Below Average
Graphics Average
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Average
The Verdict: 6