Max Takeshi wrote:
Atelier Totori's guide has resulted in...
Which is world shatteringly crazy.
Cripes. You know, while I appreciate all the hidden depths of the Atelier games and other JRPGs, it does bother me how easy it is to miss a lot of good stuff if you're not inclined to use a guide (as I'm not, at least for my first playthrough).
So, anyway, after a few false starts and numerous distractions, I finally sat down and put a few hours into Atelier Meruru. Aaaaand I'm hopelessly addicted once again. This time you play a 15 year-old princess named Meruru who desperately wants to follow in the footsteps of Totori-Sensei and become an alchemist. But the king isn't too hot on the idea, so Meruru has to prove herself by developing the kingdom and must increase the population from 100 to 5000 within three years. Seems fair.
It works similarly to Totori's adventurer licence: you do various alchemy, combat, and gathering tasks to help develop all the areas around the Kingdom, for which you earn points. Those points count towards the different stages of development (just like the licence), and can also be spent on building things like schools and accommodation, which confer bonuses such as population increases and various stat upgrades. It's all just insanely compulsive.
So far I'd say Meruru is on equal footing with Totori. It lacks the emotional pull that Totori had with [spoiler]the search for Totori's mother[/spoiler] but irons out other issues that bothered me, like there now being no time limit on requests; only having to be in the general area rather than a specific location to trigger scenes; and the container not being an absolute fustercluck.