Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland Review
Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland Box Art
System: PS Vita
Dev: Gust
Pub: Tecmo Koei
Release: September 3, 2013
Players: 1
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.

Atelier Meruru Plus: The Apprentice of Arland Screenshot

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.

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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.

By
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Contributing Writer
Date: September 5, 2013

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.7
Graphics
The graphics seem nearly identical to the PS3 version.
4.0
Control
The PS Vita actually lends itself to menu-based JRPG action.
2.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice actors are still horrendous in both English and Japanese.
3.0
Play Value
This is likely the best version of Atelier Meruru for your money, but anyone who has played the original probably won’t pick it up again.
3.2
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Develop your kingdom! - Develop and transform the landscape right before your eyes!
  • Synthesize items! - Gather and synthesize items to use in battle or turn in for huge rewards!
  • Explore the world! - More dungeons and fields to explore than ever before!
  • Brand-new skills! - Special character-specific skills with exceptional effects!
  • Returning characters! - Catch up with old friends as they return in an all-new adventure!

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