Happy New Year from Neko’s Shiritori! Hope you all had a great 2013! Time to look forward to what 2014 has in store!
Atelier Ayesha Plus is announced!
Late in December, Tecmo Koei announced Atelier Ayesha Plus to be released on the Playstation Vita in March 2014. This was expected, given the release date patterns of Atelier games recently. The website for Atelier Ayesha Plus can be found here.
Since this announcement is only for the Japanese version, there is no relation to dual audio, as this has nothing to do with any possible NA/EU English release.
There seems to be new displays for the alchemy, as the PS3 version did not have this laboratory background early on in the game.
Here are the changes we know about Atelier Ayesha Plus: a hard mode with higher enemy HP, balance/game tweaks, and all DLC available. Previous DLC included Marion and Odelia, a cow dungeon, an extra dungeon, and swimsuits for Ayesha, Linca, and Wilbell. The exact new content for the vita version itself can be found in the main site where you can see a panel attack, a hard mode, and a new enemy. The panel function seems to be something that gives a bonus when you fulfill certain requirements or clear the game. Honestly it sounds like something you would see in Atelier Escha like harvesting bonuses. I suspect the new enemy has more damage, multiple attacks, and as much speed and defense as older bosses.
I suspect this new enemy will actually provide a real challenge, as the 2nd extra dungeon bosses were certainly a good challenge but Ayesha can definitely fight something much stronger.
There are no immediate signs of newer swimsuits or extra dungeons/endings like in Totori or Meruru Plus because Ayesha already has those. From the screenshots in the main website of the game, it does appear bonuses of outfits from save files or something Plus exclusive related to Rorona does exist. Perhaps there will be newer content announced or a limited edition bonus as March 2014 draws near. Hopefully an English version will release in 2014 as well.
Atelier Ayesha already had both swimsuit and extra dungeon DLC, making the lack of new outfits and dungeons come as no surprise at all.
Because of Ayesha’s battle system, a hard mode with higher enemy HP does not come as a surprise. This is the most fair way to improve enemies, without making the game more frustrating. Atelier Ayesha was already more lax in penalizing the player from defeats by losing only one day and staying on the same spot on the map, instead of being forced to return to the nearest town. Higher enemy HP will also be more resilient to strategies where you go glass cannon, such as giving your entire party Silent Shoes for faster actions but taking continuous damage, and using the faster damage output to KO key bosses rather than going defensive and extending the battle.
Changes Tecmo Koei can do are fairly simple: nerf the overly strong properties, strengthen far lesser used properties, and tweak the battle system so Ayesha has a much greater need to use bomb items as well as get protected. The PS3 version of Atelier Ayesha had an unusual pattern where Ayesha protected her allies because she had weaker overall offense and generally better defense.
Hopefully Atelier Ayesha Plus tweaks the battle system to better incentivize allies to protect Ayesha instead of the other way around.
Generally speaking, game balance adjustments for these Atelier Plus games are intended to make the game a little more challenging and less easy to exploit traits (properties in Ayesha) and effects. While Ayesha’s damage potential is nowhere near as crazy as the Arland alchemists or even Escha, there were plenty of exploitable mechanics that made Atelier Ayesha simply too easy.
Personally, I would love to see a new stylish outfit for Ayesha, one with a beret closer to her original beta design. There’s a lot of opportunity for Tecmo Koei to try out something different from the other Atelier games because Ayesha was originally a game that tested out a new style of mechanics in the first place. Ayesha’s character personality was also much different as well.
For specific properties, I hope Tecmo Koei can tap into creative properties such as Glass Power. It was a property that gave both attack and critical damage, which is not found in any other property, but also gave a negative effect of reduced physical defense that dissuades excessive use of it. Similarly, many other underused properties could provide two or three bonuses instead of one or two, making it more like a hybrid bonus where neither bonus is too great.
I’m not entirely sure what Tecmo Koei can do to nerf items. Unlike Atelier Meruru Plus, Ayesha’s power level did not go to exponential extremes, nor does Ayesha have any super combo system that allows a big damaging finisher. I expect the changes to be much more similar to Atelier Totori Plus, where powerful properties such as Healing Power and Holy Power were nerfed because they worked splendidly throughout the game. In exchange, Quality S/M/L was changed so that quality level did improve the power of items. I have no problem with superior properties being weakened as long as lesser used properties are improved. Since Ayesha’s battle system with the AC gauge was so potent, some bigger enemies can even drain the gauge and/or the special meter to add an extra degree of difficulty. Support gauge draining exists in Atelier Escha, but as stated before, Ayesha’s battle damage levels are much lower for both enemies and characters alike.
Commonly used properties include HP+25, Skill Enhance LV3, Red Power, and Stats+6. I can expect minor tweaks to these such as lower statistical benefits, but I doubt it would be significant. While being able to stack 5 different properties in each piece of equipment granted a huge potential boost to the characters, the real broken aspect of Atelier Ayesha was the power level of her support items. Tecmo Koei can also nerf equipment properties by preventing duplicates showing up on the same accessory, or restricting offensive properties to weapons, defensive properties to armor, and miscellaneous properties to accessories like in previous Atelier games.
Since support items and even healing items were extremely powerful in Atelier Ayesha, we can expect some weakened aspects of these items. These potential nerfs would be negligible, as these items had very powerful properties, and were fairly easy to make compared to other items. This isn’t much of a surprise, since Ayesha is an apothecary by design, so naturally she would have better items related to medicine or drugs, while she would have lackluster bomb items. In fact, Ayesha’s support items are so powerful, if you managed to create an item with a negative effect such as Unsavory or Forbidden Drug, Ayesha is fully capable of knocking out any party member with a single pill or capsule, because any increases in item power also boost damage taken. I would also like Atelier Ayesha Plus to improve the property called Death Odor for sure. The name alone should say why. For healing items, weakening the power won’t do too much since that can be easily amplified, but I would like to see enough tweaks to bring more incentive in using lesser used properties such as Light of Life.
We can’t have only nerfs and no buffs; the power level of bomb items need to greatly improve. In Atelier Ayesha, due to the power level of support items, equipment properties, and the battle system, bomb items were severely weaker in comparison. For starters, a common property such as Force + 30% in fact, did not increase item power by 30%. A possible reason for this is because bomb item damage come in the form of “effects” which is not “power”. Bomb items use an equation independent of Ayesha’s attack stat, and thus, are largely based on the quality of the item itself. While it is possible to make bomb item damage remotely comparable to an attack skill, it takes many resources and ideal conditions such as Ayesha having 100 Skill Power, 100 Critical Damage, a critical hit, a bomb item with 120 quality and 5 Spirit’s Anger properties latched on to even output that much damage. Another character using an attack skill takes nowhere near as much work to produce even better overall damage. Why bother consuming a scarce bomb item when you can just whack the enemy with your staff, even if the damage is pitiful?
Atelier Ayesha Plus needs to promote more usage of bomb items, as they were weak compared to equipment properties and support items.
There’s a few changes I do want to see myself, some which I say are paramount.
1) Remove the bugs that can freeze the game screen. Specifically, spamming healing items outside of battle too quickly, and using Passion Perfume to attempt to revive a fallen enemy using the property called Revival or some equivalent. Passion Perfume was the most unusual bomb item, in which it can in fact gain properties that only work on support items. This allows Passion Perfume to have support item properties, making it possible to not only power up and heal the enemy, but also attempt to revive an enemy which would freeze the game screen while the background music still plays.
2) Make the 2nd extra dungeon accessible later in the game. For those that do not know, the 2nd extra dungeon is accessible relatively early on in the game. The release date of the 2nd extra dungeon DLC was almost two months after release, intended for players that already completed the game. The dungeon itself spawns soon after you meet Marion early on in the game. This grants you earlier than intended access to powerful ingredients, a powerful character, and powerful enemies, allowing you to plow through the game with ease with faster leveling and stronger alchemy potential.
For character and accessory changes, there isn’t too much to consider. Personally I would like to see Ayesha have an actual skill. Since she’s not combat oriented, maybe something like a replicate or a 2nd searching skill to generate more ingredients. She has absolutely no use for MP in the early stages of the game because none of her items consume MP until much later. For accessories, I would like Phoenix Bracelet to be improved because it has the highest item level but is very impractical to use either because getting 120 quality is hard, or getting the desired properties onto it is far less convenient to superior accessories such as Dragon Scale Iron and Soul Trap Chain. Phoenix Bracelet has nice HP Regen and elemental resistances but sadly isn’t very useful when superior accessories amass a greater amount of raw stats. It would also be cool for Ayesha to have a special meter, but that is definitely not happening at all.
For battle changes, I would like to see timed skills having no limit of 3. Many characters have skills that use timers, and by having a limit of 3, it limits the options of the characters that make use of timed skills. For Regina specifically, she has an action skill called Smoke Bomb which allows you to flee from battle and increases a targeted character’s evasion greatly. Unfortunately, even strong alternate optional bosses can be fled from, making Smoke Bomb’s evasion boost counterproductive since it forces you to successfully run away from battle. Another stat that could use greater demand is MP, but the only thing I can think of is enemies draining MP. MP is mostly moot since other than Ayesha, characters don’t even consume MP when they have enough Skill Enhance LV3 in their equipment. This is also why Ayesha could never have a skill like Duplicate since she would never need to use MP if she could duplicate her items.
There are also smaller bugs that hopefully can be fixed. Certain jumping angles allow Ayesha to get her movement animation stuck where she can wave dash back and forth across her workshop table, and large staircases can allow Ayesha to float and suspend in midair until reaching another surface. Ayesha can also jump to greater heights immediately after battle by jumping off the top of another enemy on the field because of her invincibility frames which prevent her from immediately entering another regular battle.
Similarly, explanations in the game could be improved. While status ailment such as blind sound pretty straightforward, it wrecks party members that only have attacks, and special moves actually can ignore the effect of blind. Explanations for the alchemy system would be nice, as it is rather potent. Ayesha has the advantage of no ingredient variation, no item deterioration, and no failure rate. This allows Ayesha to do alchemy with absolute consistency. As long as the alchemy order and ingredients are identical, you can produce identical results to other players since the CP costs are the same.
I quite look forward to the release of Atelier Ayesha Plus, as Tecmo Koei can implement plenty of changes to make Atelier Ayesha Plus the complete Atelier game it should have been.