Koei has confirmed this afternoon that the third game in the Atelier Iris series, Grand Phantasm, will be coming to Europe in July.
Koei has tweaked the content of the PAL version of Atelier Iris 2 based on feedback from Japanese and US audiences, and will include a Japanese voice option in Disgaea 2 as well.
It's rare for a videogame sequel to really screw up. We're used to secondary-suffixed movies being dull, trite or rubbish having lost narrative momentum, integrity, directorial vision or a big-name star somewhere in-between the first's poignant ending credits and the second's dollar-hungry whored conception. But videogames are usually a little different in that, to be a success (providing the first was), gameplay need only be gently tweaked and streamlined and a few simple new features introduced to meet with player expectations.
Unlike film, it's not even necessary for the videogame sequel's narrative to synchronise in any way with the first title's - Final fantasy's cyclical and ever-successful reinvention of the characterisation wheel proving that players perhaps find primary comfort from familiar videogame mechanisms more than familiar videogame faces. So when a game like Atelier Iris awkwardly trips and breaks its nose at the second hurdle (at least, second in the West) you have to wonder how exactly things went so wrong.
For those that missed it, the first Atelier Iris delighted with eccentric humour, brilliantly coloured characters, gotta cook 'em all recipe gathering and gameplay that occasionally poked its head over the parapet of RPG cliché. The internal market economy (you contributed new concoctions to your favourite restaurants and shops to boost their sales and popularity) turned the traditional smash and grab approach to RPG item consumerism on its head, giving us opportunity to put back into a virtual world that which we are so attuned to just taking. And despite the Japanophile's dream presentation and execution - the kind of universe all pale-faced, anime-guzzling, black and white kanji emblazoned headband-wearing teenage karate students dream in - the appeal ran deep and wide to the marriage of Nippon Ichi's usual sparkling localisation work and Gust's original, solid, universally-appealing storytelling.