Atelier Rorona

Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland

Given that she's apparently responsible for the prosperity of Arland – for reasons too complex and frankly uninteresting to detail here – junior alchemist Rorolina Frixell isn't particularly well treated by its residents. Within minutes of this game starting, her shop is threatened with closure unless she completes 12 assignments in a three-year period. Her lazy alchemy master, Astrid, is too busy making suggestive remarks to do any work – and judging by her understudy's lack of knowledge, she's clearly failed to impart a great deal of wisdom during her calamitous tenure.

So time's a-ticking and our hero has to learn the ropes quickly, collecting items in the wild and throwing them into her cauldron – all the while attempting to win over the villagers who ask her not to stand near them and complain when she's 24 hours late bringing them gold ingots while they mooch around the village square all day. The tone aims for whimsy, but there's a slightly nasty taste to the constant exploitation of Atelier Rorona's female lead. Throw in a talking fox, a rape and a depressingly bleak denouement and it'd be Lars von Trier's favourite game.

Rorona herself – nicknamed after Scooby Doo's favourite Mexican lager – is your typical JRPG heroine, which is to say that she's skimpily attired, saccharine-sweet and almost intolerably shrill. But she's also strong-willed and prepared to knuckle down to save her workshop, digging up cabbages for hours on end to provide dinner for the very royals trying to shut her down so they can build weapons factories. Her constantly chipper demeanour eventually wears you down; she's so determinedly good-natured in the face of adversity that she's impossible to dislike.

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Disgaea 2 PSP coming to Europe

Plus: US to get two more NIS titles.

Nippon Ichi Software has revealed that PSP title Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days will be coming to Europe next year.