|System: PS Vita|
|Pub: Tecmo Koei|
|Release: September 3, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Language, Use of Alcohol|
While Meruru Plus is easily the best release of Atelier Meruru out there, many of the flaws from the original are still present. For example, the game is still incredibly grindy. Even though the game is easier, you will still run into whole stretches of the game when all you are trying to do is increase your weapons. One of the big complaints about the original Atelier Meruru is that it can only be truly “beaten” with the true ending on a New Game +, and that is still the case here, so prepare yourself for multiple 100+ hour gameplay runs just to see a slightly better endgame cutscene.
The voice acting in the game is horrible, just like it is in the PS3 version. The characters’ voices are high and squeaky yet, somehow, strangely emotionless. It’s like an audio version of the uncanny valley. You can switch over to the Japanese voice track whenever you like, which is cool, but only because we can’t actually understand what characters are saying. Not only that, but there are equally annoying high-pitched squeaky characters on this track as well. So you might as well turn the voices off.
Finally, the biggest issue in Atelier Meruru lies in its, frankly, quite creepy sexualization of its main characters, who look at lot like underage girls. It is bad in the PS3 version, and it’s bad here. In fact, some of the new costumes are even more tasteless than before. Sure, there is a whole section of fandom that indulges in stuff like this, but for me, it just feels awkward, and it’s going to turn a lot of people off.
However, flaws aside, Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland is a good, solid JRPG that works phenomenally in the portable format. It’s easy to pick up and put down, even though you’ll eventually spend hours of your life on it. Its mission-based format is perfect for long trips on a plane or short trips on the bus. It has a better sense of pacing, more content, and free DLC. If you haven’t tried Atelier Meruru yet, or if you just want to have a version of the game to take with you on the road, then you might want to pick up Atelier Meruru Plus.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: September 5, 2013