Part 81: Atelier Meruru: An Introduction
Our last stop on this carnival ride of JRPGs is Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland. I have fond memories of how I actually got this game in the first place, and it's a nice story, so I might as well share it. Well, I majored in History in college. As part of that major, all the people in it have to write a big paper at the end of the final semester, and the neat thing is, the college actually offers a scholarship of 100 dollars to the student who the teachers judging each paper think had the best paper. If they don't think there's a paper worth a reward that year, though, nobody gets the money.
Well, when the results were announced, I qualified for 50 dollars of that money. I had to split the pot with another student, who the teachers thought had an equally good paper. I certainly was, and still am not, in any mood or position to complain about it, so I accepted it happily. I used that money to pre-order Meruru, since it was only 40 bucks. Ah, May 2012...those were good days.
Anyway, enough memories. Let's talk about this game a bit. Meruru, as the capstone of the trilogy, is basically Rorona and Totori combined. It combines many of Totori's mechanics with the more insular nature of Rorona. That's not to say there's not tons of adventuring, of course, just not as much as Totori. In addition, we've got a large part of the casts of both games returning, with the Rorona cast having greater representation. Of course, I'll get into greater detail about the nature of Meruru in general when the time comes, but I should also address the question of which game is better: Totori or Meruru.
Honestly, it's a hard choice to make. They're both made out of very similar stuff, and the difference in quality between the two, no matter which you think is better, is definitely not as extreme as the difference in quality between Rorona and Totori. It mostly just comes down to personal preference entirely, but if you were to ask me, I'd very slightly give the edge to Meruru. The reason for this is there's a number of instances where Meruru capitalized on Totori's weaknesses, slight though they were. It's an easier game to replay thanks to a number of things, and there's definitely no point in Meruru quite as dry as the prologue in Totori or the period between making it to Diamond and ranking up, where the influx of new areas stops.
Oh, one last thing: between Totori and Meruru, Ken Nakagawa left Gust after working there for 10 odd years as a composer. Instead, Daisuke Achiwa and Kazuki Yanagawa are our composers this time, with Achiwa doing most of the songs, it seems. Yanagawa did a few songs in Totori, but Nakagawa definitely did the majority of the OST. Those two jokers have been working for Gust for a while, and are responsible for the music in a lot of well-known Gust games, including Mana Khemia. I definitely think this change is for the better, but as with all subjective things, that's a choice you'll have to make for yourself.
Phew, that was a meaty introduction. Expect the game to begin in a few days, probably Monday, Sunday at the earliest.
...Oh, and it's pronounced "May-roo-roo", not "Mer-roo-roo". Don't make the same mistake I did.