It’s a great pleasure for us to present you this little surprise that we’ve been working on for so long with Atelier Saga Spain. Thanks to Plaion España and Koei Tecmo, we had the opportunity to talk again with the great Junzo Hosoi, producer of Atelier Ryza. On this occasion, we were able to ask him about some aspects of his most recent game. Do you want to know first-hand the details of Ryza’s latest adventure? We hope you enjoy it a lot!
RPG Spain: The third game in Ryza series! One of the most beloved alchemists in the whole franchise. How have you faced this project? Were you clear about what elements you wanted to incorporate and what elements you didn’t with respect to Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2?
Junzo Hosoi: When we created the Secret series, the Atelier series was at a major turning point. At that time, my idea was to create what the players wanted, to review the traditional Atelier series, and to create a series that would update the Atelier series in a modern way while retaining the good points. Therefore, I had a clear concept for this game as well: to create a modern game by utilizing only the points that were well received in Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2.
RPG Spain: This trilogy format in Atelier games has its advantages, but also its drawbacks, since few people will start playing for the third one. What has led you to follow this business model for the Atelier franchise?
Junzo Hosoi: As you mentioned, in general, the barrier to playing a series of games gets higher with each successive title. This may be why there are not so many RPGs that portray the growth of the same protagonist in consecutive games. For the Secret series, from the start of the project, we wanted to create a story in which the same protagonist grows up, and preferably as a trilogy. Because of this, we felt that we could carefully depict the growth process of a single character. Of course, both Atelier Ryza 2 and Atelier Ryza 3 are designed in such a way that first-time players can enjoy the game without a sense of feeling lost or out of place.
Atelier Saga Spain: We have seen that the world of Atelier Ryza 3 is going to be much larger than the other two games, how have you approached the challenge of creating an open world that suits the franchise?
Junzo Hosoi: One of the results of considering the «fun aspect of RPGs,» the «fun aspect of the Atelier series,» and the «fun and convenience of the Secret series» resulted in the development of the open field.
We define an open world as something that can be enjoyed from various angles in 360 degrees. The Atelier series is mainly about collecting materials, so we felt that an open world would not be suitable from the perspective of the current material gathering system. Also, to give players a sense of «Ryza’s adventure,» we adopted an «open field» map structure in which multiple small maps are seamlessly connected to form a single large region.
As you progress through the field, you may wonder what lies ahead, or be thrilled when you see items or enemies you have never seen before on a new map. We are very conscious of the appeal of such RPG adventures and the excitement of walking through them.
We have prepared several gimmicks to make the map comfortable to navigate, such as fast travel, dragons, and zip lines, but one of the joys of the open field is that we want players to experience the excitement of walking on their feet for the first time. We also wanted to create a format where the map is connected on the ground so that users can visualize the map in their minds. Also, it is less stressful to be able to go to the next map without loading times, so we thought that by making it an open field, we could take the playing experience to the next level.
Atelier Saga Spain: Let’s talk about the new keys mechanic, how did you come up with that idea? Have you managed to develop it as you had planned or have you encountered problems along the way?
Junzo Hosoi: This title is an open field, and we had to make the exploration more fulfilling than ever before.
Therefore, we wanted a catchy and emotional system, which is why we chose the theme of «keys.» A «key» is something that can both open and close something, so we thought it would be an appropriate motif for «Ryza’s final adventure». It has an important meaning in the story as well, and is a distinctive item throughout the first part of the game.
In terms of the system, I believe we were able to develop the game to some extent as planned. Originally, keys were to be implemented as an addition to the existing system, with various effects depending on the key, so I think it had already taken shape when we came up with the idea. However, I think it was highly difficult to adjusting the game balance.
Atelier Saga Spain: From all the new mechanics that we will see in Atelier Ryza 3, which is your favorite and why?
Junzo Hosoi: I like the fact that the «keys» can be made in various places and have various effects, so I feel joy and some nervousness every time I make one. Strong enemies produce strong keys, so when I encounter them, I don’t feel like «Oh no!» but I feel a little happy when I encounter them, which is probably a feeling that I didn’t have in the previous games.
Atelier Saga Spain: In this trilogy, the combat mode has changed from the classic turn-based mode that the franchise had. What led you to this change? Do you think you will keep it for other titles or turn-based combat will return?
Junzo Hosoi: The battles follow the system of Atelier Ryza and Atelier Ryza 2, and there are no major changes, but I feel that the use of the new «key» element has made the battles more action-packed. The «real-time tactics battle» system used in the Secret series is designed to match the playability of Atelier Ryza, Atelier Ryza 2, and Atelier Ryza 3, so if we were to incorporate the system into other titles, we would not do so directly, but rather, we would make the system suitable for each title before incorporating it.
RPG Spain: Speaking of the game as part of the RPG genre, what do you think this installment of Atelier Ryza, or the trilogy in general, can bring to fans of the genre?
Junzo Hosoi: At first, Ryza is 17 years old, still very much a child and in the midst of her youth, and then she hits a wall and learns the importance of someone other than herself. Finally, Ryza turns 21 in this title, and she finds her way to be an adult. It was my goal for the Secret series to portray these parts of life as a game, where there are several, but each one is a major realization and a crossroads.
These precious moments, unknown to those around them but shared only by those close to them and their friends, may seem trivial to others, but to Ryza and her friends, they are memories they will never forget and may become the paths and cornerstones that determine their future. I hope you will feel that way through the adventures of Ryza and her friends in the three games.
Atelier Saga Spain: We assume that the third installment of Ryza will be the last of our beloved Kurken Island alchemist, what will happen from here? Can you give us any clue as to what’s to come in the franchise? Do you already know who will be the next alchemist in the saga?
Junzo Hosoi: As for the future, we have not thought about anything right now. First, I would like everyone to enjoy Atelier Ryza 3, which will be Ryza’s final adventure. After you play it, we would be happy to hear your thoughts and opinions.
Although this is not a hint, I would also like to ask for your support for Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg featuring Marie (Marlone), who is studying to become an alchemist at the Academy.