Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~
PlayStation 2
Reviewed: 06/27/2005


It all began on December 12, 1998, when a young development company by the name of Gust released a rather quirky game by the name of Atelier Elie. In this game, you played the role of an alchemy shop owner who runs around fighting enemies and collecting items for her shop. It was a very different RPG at the time and introduced a very open ended quality to it. In contrast, Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana is a rather linear game, with more emphasis on the battles and the item collecting reduced to mostly a mini-game.

The graphics are nice to look at. It is rare in this day and age to see a game with completely 2D graphics. The 2D isometric backgrounds are lush and detailed. The character sprites are large and have good animation. While the 2D for its part is excellent, the graphics move into some rather drab 3D on the world map portions. Also, the 2D background have a tendency to blur slightly when scrolling. Other than those minor things, the graphics are quite nice and refreshing.

Screen Shot
Good visuals

The gameplay is your standard turn-based RPG fare to start with, but the systems that are built off this fairly normal base are anything but standard. During a turn your characters can attack, use skills, defend, and all that other fun stuff. However, one character who goes by the name of Klein is a master Alchemist. He is the one in the party who can use Mana spirits to create Mana items inside of or outside of battle. These Mana items have varied effects and mastering their use is one of the keys to playing the game. Equipment is mostly standard with a slot for a weapon and two accessories, but later on in the game you’ll learn how to forge Mana stones into attachable crystals that add various effects to certain weapons. Another interesting note is the way items are used in the game. You’ll be finding items left and right but will be surprised to learn 99% of them do nothing of much importance. The main use for the many items you’ll be picking up throughout your explorations will be shop synthesis, which can net you some nice rewards and often is just fun to do. Usually making a new synthesis item will activate a small entertaining cutscene and gradually builds relationships with the varied shop owners. The act of synthesizing can help you in your quest, but ultimately you can go through the entire game without touching it.

Screen Shot
No RPG would be complete without a dragon

The main story of Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana revolves around a young alchemist named Klein and his experiences learning more about his craft. It starts off fairly aimless but after a while settles down into a pretty standard anime/RPG storyline of figuring out one’s feelings while saving the world from destruction. It doesn’t help that most of the plot is moved along by one fetch quest after another. However, the dialogue and humor is some of the best I’ve seen on the PS2, true to Nippon Ichi fashion. Even if the story’s pretty standard you’ll find yourself enjoying it immensely because of the characters. They have some nice chemistry going on.

Catchy music and hummable tunes abound in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana. The boss battles in particular are nice and get you pumped up for the battle ahead. The music as a whole was very well done and it is reccommended that you get the soundtrack if you can. The sound effects get across what they need to, with nothing sounding too unnatural. This game also has voice acting, which is pretty good on all fronts. It is of mostly the higher standard anime dub quality and so some people will like it and some won’t. The Japanese voice overs are available for anyone in the latter category. Some voices did grate on my nerves a little (Norn), but they did so in both languages so you can’t really get out of it.

For a person who has been looking for an excellent traditional anime RPG this is a godsend. A few aspects don’t seem like anything special, but the overall game rises above that with good writing and great fun. The anime stylings put it in a niche market, but if that kind of thing doesn’t put you off, then I suggest you try it.

-Orie House

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Very Good
Graphics Very Good
Sound/Music Great
Replay Value Good
The Verdict: 8