Atelier series producer on popularity polls, seamless battles, and a return to Sophie

Main art
Image: Koei Tecmo

2022 is 25th Anniversary by Koei Tecmo and by Gust Co. Atelier Role-playing game series. It debuted in 1997 on PlayStation with Atelier Marie: Salburg’s Alchemistand Switch owners have several entries in its library to choose from, including the very successful entry Atelier Ryza and its direct sequelthis broke with the tradition of the series by letting the main character of one entry (in this case, Ryza) do the sequel.

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of Magical Dreams – the latest installment in the series’ “Mysterious” branch – will launch on Switch on February 25, with series producer Junzo Hosoi returning with the ever-expanding Atelier canon. We previously spoke with Hosoi in December 2020 ahead of the release of Atelier Ryza 2, but to find out more about this new title we caught up with him again…

Nintendo Life: For those who are new to Atelier (or for those who may have only played one of the Ryza games), can you briefly explain the main differences between the two branches “Secret” and “Mystery” of the series?

Junzo Hosoi: The “Secret” series has a relatively high amount of action when compared to other Atelier titles, while the “Mysterious” series focuses more on consideration and forethought. The difference between the two is even more apparent when looking at their battle systems. The “Secret” series uses a real-time system, while the “Mysterious” series focuses on a turn-based system.

The turn-based battles allow for a high level of strategy and stunning battle animations, so I really feel that the fighting style is also very engaging. We’re looking to exploit the best aspects of turn-based battles and expand them.

Junzo Hosoi
Photo: Junzo Hosoi

After the success of Ryza and its sequel, why did you choose to return to the previous Atelier Sophie in particular (instead of any other game or start a new sub-series)?

I’m really grateful that the Atelier series is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary. We’ve been thinking a lot about what the first new Atelier title will be to mark this event.

We’ve looked at the reaction we’ve received on social media to each of our previous titles, as well as online character popularity polls.

Since many of our fans have been with us throughout the Atelier series’ long history, we’ve looked at the reaction we’ve received on social media to each of the previous titles. here, as well as online character popularity polls. We then looked at the popularity of a direct sequel with the same protagonist, in the case of Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & The Secret Hideout, and began to consider making a story featuring Sophie and Plachta.

Sophie started out as a novice alchemist in Atelier Sophiebecome an alchemy teacher in Atelier Firisand then an extraordinary alchemist in Atelier Lydie & Suelle. Between those titles, Sophie and Plachta have had many other experiences, so this new sequel/title focuses on one of those periods. We aim to make this new entry in the series a reality as we believe players will really enjoy it and also experience a few surprises along the way.

Has the response from the first Atelier Sophie – or more recent Ryza games – influenced your approach to this sequel?

We’re using all the knowledge and skills we’ve gained while developing the graphics for Atelier Ryza 2 in Atelier Sophie 2. Since then, we’ve come to appreciate the great elements of the game that are so characteristic. of the series “Mysterious”.

Additionally, we’ve used all of the feedback we’ve received regarding the three titles in the “Mysterious” series to improve the various systems in the game by adding overall game elements. new combos and combat, as well as improving the overall usability of the game.

What would you say is the most important addition that Atelier Sophie 2 has to offer?

I have to say it will be the seamless combat system we’ve added. Up until now, there was a load time from when you explored the scene until you entered the battle zone, but now you can join the battle much faster than before. This compliments the good turn-based combat system that makes this new feature indispensable to the title.

By implementing this feature, we’ve achieved a more realistic feel and immersion in the world of the “Mystery” series, as you can go straight from a large field area into a battle .

As we understand it, this is the first game in the Atelier series that will launch in practically all regions simultaneously. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges involved in achieving this?

We always make sure to take into account the amount of time it takes to localize each Atelier title and include it in our development schedule very early on. We had to start all of this as quickly as possible because story elements make up a large part of each title and the sheer volume of each story is quite large. Whenever there is a change in development we can periodically go ahead and fix the necessary things and by doing all of this in parallel we can ensure the game simultaneously released worldwide.

For new players, do you think it’s best to start with Sophie 1 before playing the sequel? Do you think fans of the game Ryza will enjoy Sophie 2 as much?

We have prepared a video to summarize the story of Atelier Sophie for players who have not played any games. Of course, it would be great if players could try out the game before Atelier Sophie 2’s release, but this video will allow players who haven’t played the game before to enjoy this new entry in the series.

This new title is somewhat “episode 0” and serves as the starting point for the story of the “Mysterious” series. Every character meets for the first time, so it doesn’t matter if the player doesn’t have any prior knowledge of the story.

With the door now well and truly open to Atelier sequels featuring the same main characters as previous games, is there any possibility of you returning to previous entries and characters for the sequels? ?

Atelier Lulua ~ The Scion of Arland ~ and Atelier Sophie 2 are exceptional cases when the timing was right for the development team and illustrator, along with so many other wonders all perfectly timed to allow these games to happen. . As for the new title and sequel to previous entries in the series, if the stars line up just right, I think there’s likely to be more in the future!

After you’ve finished working on Atelier Sophie 2, what’s next for Junzo Hosoi?

Atelier Sophie 2 is just the start of everything we’ve been planning for the Atelier series’ 25th anniversary, so things will continue to heat up as we move on. Please look forward to our future announcements.

Finally, if you’re playing the Switch, do you prefer the player in handheld mode or in docking mode?

The Atelier series has a lot of elements that require you to really concentrate while playing them, so when playing on Switch, I prefer to use handheld mode and just relax.

Our thanks go to Junzo Hosoi. Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream launches on Switch on February 25.

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