Interview: Gust Brand Manager and Atelier Ryza Producer, Junzo Hosoiby Jean-Karlo Lemus,
Despite being mostly a cozy, laid-back RPG adventure, last year's Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout has become a surprising smash hit since its release, having sold over 420,000 copies to date according to Gematsu. Now, with the sequel, Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy, released on January 26 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC, Anime News Network had the opportunity to interview Gust Brand Manager and Atelier Ryza Producer Junzo Hosoi about the alchemy behind Atelier Ryza's success and charm, as well as how certain elements of the series' formula might be preserved or renewed for future entries.
Atelier Ryza became a surprising cult-hit upon release. What would you attribute to its popularity among fans?
I think that after Toridamono-san's character design gained a lot of attention, we were able to deliver a quality game which players were satisfied with.
Similarly, Ryza herself has charmed her way into a surprising number of fans across the world. Was her sudden popularity surprising to you?
The popularity of Ryza really surprised the dev team and Toridamono-san. But at the same time, we were able to really feel that many people had accepted her.
Both Atelier Ryza games bill themselves as “summer adventures”, and take effort in showcasing summer-y details like buzzing cicadas. Would you ever explore other seasons in future Atelier games, like one set during winter?
Hmmm... Personally, and as the producer, I really like summer. The sense of sentimentality at the end of summer and the atmosphere of summer are what I really like about it. However, I was born and raised in a place where there is a lot of snow, so if we were to use a different season, I'd like to try winter. But at this moment it's not something we're considering.
With all the Atelier games being mostly self-contained, would you ever consider crossing them over for an Atelier All-Star's game?
I think that the game Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World, which we released 2 years ago (in Japan), fits this quite well. I don't know if we'll release another crossover game, but if there are a lot of requests, we may take it into consideration.
Item Synthesis is a core component of the Atelier series' identity. What are some measures you've adopted to keep the Item Synthesis systems unique and fresh between each game?
Essentially, when it's a new series we recreate it from scratch. However, in the Atelier series synthesis is an essence of it, so we make sure to not veer too far away from that.
Atelier Ryza 2 puts a lot of effort into giving each ruin its own history and purpose. What are some of the inspirations behind their designs? Are there real-world locales that inspired the lore or look of Atelier Ryza 2's ruins?
The lore and the history of each of the ruins that appear in the game are all connected. So by advancing the exploration of the ruins, it will tie in with the true meanings behind the lore. And while we do not use or show actual locations, there are places that to some degree we have referenced.
Part of Atelier Ryza's charm is seeing Ryza interact with her friends. Which is your favorite scene where Ryza interacts with friends?
I like all of the scenes, but my favorite scene is the one where after everyone has left, Ryza turns around on the beach as if she hears everyone's voices; this true final scene I really like. It's because the meaning of the relationship with her friends is all encompassed in this.
Atelier Ryza seems to focus more on coziness and atmosphere instead of sophisticated realistic visuals or complicated systems. What led to the decision to focus on coziness?
From the beginning, the Atelier series is conscious of daily life, so that's at the foundation. In Atelier Ryza, we are especially pushing it to the forefront, so that may be why it carries that kind of image. Also, it might be because we wanted to create a kind of game with a feel that only we could create. In the game system, there are no time limits, so I think people can take their time playing it.
With the new generation of game consoles coming, do you see the Atelier series becoming more feature-rich and sophisticated, or do you think that it will continue to strive more for tone, setting and charm instead?
Even we don't know. (laughs) The situation changes every year, and what we want to do also changes. But we can definitely promise that we will meet the expectations of the players.
It seems that barrels are a running gag in the Atelier series. What inspired this joke?
The barrels is a joke that we included in past Atelier games, and has become a regular feature. So it's something we "added on a whim that has become a tradition".
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