February 4, 2013 | J.J. Cappa
Last week, Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland Plus (メルルのアトリエ Plus ～アーランドの錬金術士3～) was featured on the cover of Dengeki PlayStation, but unfortunately the magazine provided very little new information regarding the upcoming PlayStation Vita title from Gust. Announced in early January, Meruru Plus is an upgraded port of the original Atelier Meruru game for PlayStation 3. The new features and gameplay improvements outlined in Dengeki, however, are also presented in detail on the game’s official site. More interesting, therefore, was the interview with series illustrator Kishida Meru, whose comments provide some insight into the possibility of future entries in the “Plus Project.”
When Atelier Totori, the second game to take place in Arland, was announced as the first Plus release, many wondered why Gust had elected to skip over the original Arland adventure, Atelier Rorona, and start from the middle of the trilogy. One popular theory suggested that because Atelier Rorona is arguably the weakest title of the three, Gust may have thought it better to introduce newcomers to the series with a more balanced, enjoyable experience, making Totori the natural choice. When Meruru Plus was announced, however, a port of Rorona began to seem even more unlikely. Thankfully, the interview with Kishida contains enough hints to give fans hope.
Admittedly, Kishida does not explicitly say that Rorona Plus is coming, but there is enough evidence in his comments to suggest that it is still a possibility. That the series of Plus releases has an official name, for example, reflects the enthusiasm Gust has for bringing more Arland games to the Vita, and he specifically says “Arland,” not “Atelier.” Kishida also notes that the success of Totori Plus was influential in green-lighting Meruru; if the games continue to be strong sellers, then it seems likely that the company will consider making more ports. Finally, the artist expressed his own surprise at the speed at which Meruru Plus was produced. Atelier Meruru is considered to be the strongest game in the trilogy, however, so its short development cycle could be a reflection of the original’s quality. On the other hand, Rorona Plus, which would be based on weaker source material, might simply be taking more time and effort to complete. While this is all speculation, Kishida’s words do not make it seem like there is any reason to give up on Rorona Plus.
Atelier Meruru Plus launches on March 20 in Japan, which is the same month that Tales of Hearts R, Soul Sacrifice and a new entry in the Madou Monogatari series will also hit stores. If it can hold its own, Rorona, who makes cameo appearances in the other two Arland games, may finally come to the Vita in her own adventure.