Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland - First Glance

A conversation with Rorona.
Author: Andy Curtiss
Published: September 28, 2010
You casually stroll into a quaint looking shop off Artisan’s Way and see a small girl wearing a pink hat and white mantle hunched over a large cauldron. The cluttered workshop is strewn with books and other various sundries. The place looks like a whirlwind swept through. She turns around when she hears the door jingle open.

“Oh my gosh! …Hi! What are you…? OH! Are you a customer?”
Okay – you can do this! Take a DEEP breath…ah…
Her voice is very high pitched. Combined with her appearance she’s got to be quite young. And visibly nervous.

“Welcome to my workshop! I am Rorolina Frixell and this is my alchemy workshop!”
Wait… I said workshop twice. Oh geez…DEEP breath again – you can do this Rorona.

“Sorry! I’m still getting the hang of running my workshop. I’m not used to customers strolling in like… well… customers.”
Great… now they’re going to think I’m crazy…

“Anyway can I get you a cold drink? OH! How about a slice of pie?? My master, Astrid, says that a good alchemist shouldn’t have to bake. They should be able to synthesize pie! So I’ve been practicing!”
Rorolina smiles a BIG smile and holds out a slice of pie that, despite being “synthesized” looks quite normal… perhaps it’s custard? You take the plate and hold it without actually eating it.

“Are you new in Arland? I don’t remember seeing you! Then again, my friend Cordelia makes fun of me for not being very observant sometimes. OH! You can call me Rorona by the way!”
Okay. I should get to the point before I scare them away.

“If you’re still hungry I can synthesize you some cabbage soup! I just picked fresh forest cabbage yesterday! Or if you’re looking for a nice sit-down place to eat the Sunrise Café is just down the way. My friend Iksel works there and he’s a great cook!”
She turns back to her cauldron and gives it a stir with a rather fancy looking staff. Rorona reaches over to a table near by and grabs a brown, spikey ball the size of a basketball and throw it into the cauldron, splashing pink liquid over the rim.

“If you need any kind of clothes or armor or weapons to defend yourself, my friend Hagel runs the Beefy Weapon Shop. He likes to talk, but he’s a very nice man. He made my dress!”
Spinning around, Roron’a dress is frilly and feminine. And she bought it at a weapon shop?

“Oh! And speaking of pretty dresses, if you need any sundries or traveling goods then Miss Tiffani’s shop, R&T's Sundries, has all sorts of neat stuff! And Miss Tiffani is SO nice! Her shop is always full too. But it’s funny because the men just stand around and don’t buy anything.”
You nonchalantly set the untouched plate of pie down on a worktable cluttered with bits and pieces of paper, rolls of cloth, lumps of rock and other things and start to back towards the door.

“Do you need a job? Because Esty, the knight, has all sorts of jobs available. She’s behind the front desk in the castle’s main hallway. She helps me find jobs so I can keep my workshop open! People from the town tell her the things they need and I synthesize them or go find them outside of town! Some of the requests are really strange… sometimes people need sheet of paper or pieces of alchemy coal. And sometimes they need piece of wolf meat or those little mudhead mushrooms!”
Rorona dumps a bucket of water into the cauldron and stirs vigorous. Suddenly there’s burst of yellow light – you avert your eyes quickly. When you glance back you see her ladeling a yellow liquid out of the cauldron and into a nice bowl.

“It’s very plain, but would you like some soup? No…? Okay! If you end up going to the castle, don’t mind Sterky. OH! But don’t call him that! He’s a knight who is VERY serious. And even though he looks like he’s made he’s not… so don’t tell him he looks mad.”
Cleaning out the last of the soup, Rorona throws into the cauldron a handful of pebbles, a glowing white rose, and a jar of gold goo. You finally reach the door, slowly opening and stepping out quietly. As you close the door, you hear Rorona prattling on brightly about something else completely inane.

Welcome, dear reader, to the world of Atelier Rorona. This reviewer was lucky to get an advanced copy and log some play time. If the above made you laugh or smile, and you enjoy a good Japanese roleplaying game, then Atelier Rorona should interest you. As previously reported, the Atelier series developed by Gust and published by NIS is quite popular over in Japan (11 games total) causing several of them to be published here in the USA as well.

Thus far I am a scant few hours into the game, but have a wavering opinion of it. On the one hand the game is cute and the sense of humor and voice acting keeps my attention (even if I’m groaning from the corny script). AR also keeps you quite busy with quests (called jobs) from several different people in town. On the downside the game, so far, is painfully simple and the premise is a tad on the patronizing side.

Keep your eyes peeled for my full review once Atelier Rorona is officially released. Hopefully the colorful visuals and VERY in-depth item creation (synthesizing) system will help patch a few of the holes in the flimsy story. Keep your fingers crossed and we’ll see!