Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm
A Decent Finish
To be up front I have highly mixed feelings about this game. This game is definitely the weakest in the series, but at the same time I can’t compare it to the others and have to judge it for its own merits. So, I’ll do my best to not compare this game to the others when discussing its strengths and weaknesses.
Story: The story of Atelier Iris 3 follows Edge and Iris two young raiders who manage to stumble across one of the eight stones of the Escalario. It is rumored that if you collect all eight pieces needed to unlock the Escalario that it will be capable of fulfilling any wish. Of course, only by playing the game can you learn the true purpose and nature of the Escalario.
But what hurts the story of this game is how it is told. To advance the plot you need to accomplish missions that you get from the Guild Headquarters for the raiders. This makes the story travel at rather slow pace since most of the tasks that you will complete will have nothing to do with the main plot. This makes the game feel a lot more boring in terms of story then it should have been.
Characters: Of the three characters in your party all of them are rather flat except for Nell. Nell is the only character to be shown to overcome any sense of doubt and get any character development within your party. Several other characters receive development in this game, but they are largely side characters or not plot essential.
Gameplay: Out of the three Atelier Iris games on the PS2 this one arguably has the best combat engine. While the combat is largely based around the concept of Atelier Iris 2 the game does improve upon it in several ways. In one way this game improves upon the previous game is the introduction of the bonus gauge. If you completely fill this gauge during combat you will be able to do extra damage to your enemy for a time. This is a useful tool during difficult boss battles.
The combat also makes use of the “blade system” which is basically a character class system. As you collect mana, some of which are optional you can unlock new classes for your characters to play as. This is especially useful if you want to beat some of the side bosses in this game like the super mini puni.
Graphics: This game appears to use the same graphic engine as the previous game. This game does have a weird fixation though for outfits that highlight the chest of every single female character that you come across though.
Sound: This game does posses one song that I enjoy to listen to for the sheer sake of it. This song is played during the opening of the game before the main menu is loaded. This song is also reused during the boss fight with Ash the world’s most powerful raider. The song is highly energetic and gets me in the mood for combat.
Level Design: This game has a limited number of areas to explore. For the most part you will spend in your time in one of four Alterworlds. These areas are rather large and do offer you some room to explore. On the other hand you can only spend a limited amount of time in these areas so you need to complete your mission as quickly as possible or you will have to rely on multiple trips to complete your task.
Level Design: 7