Last year, thanks to the PR team as part Koei Tecmo UK, we had the opportunity to ask Fatal Frame and Nights of Azure series producer, Keisuke Kikuchi, a whole bunch of questions regarding Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon. The interview resulted in some great answers, but Nights of Azure 2 was last year’s Switch release, this year’s one is Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, so thanks to Koei Tecmo UK once again, here’s what Keisuke Kikuchi had to say regarding the latest installment of the Atelier Lydie & Suelle series:
In typical interview fashion, would you be so kind as to introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a bit about your involvement with Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings?
Keisuke Kikuchi: My name is Keisuke Kikuchi, and I am the development producer for this game. I have been the producer for the “Nights of Azure”, “Fatal Frame” and “Deception” series.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle Games in a Nutshell:
Miketendo64: For our readers who have never had the privilege to play an Atelier Lydie & Suelle title, what kind of a series is it and what is the story to Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings?
Keisuke Kikuchi: The Atelier series are RPG games that go through a collect, synthesize, and battle cycle. The particular game style of the series involves exploring the field, collecting materials for items to then create new items through alchemy, and using the created items in battle to defeat enemies.
The story this time focuses on two twin alchemists; the caring and reserved Lydie Marlen, and the eccentric and carefree Suelle Marlen, who uncover a mysterious looking painting. They reach out to investigate it and are drawn into a world filled with rare materials perfect for Alchemy. It is a fateful discovery for the twins’ and leads them onto an adventure towards their joint goal to run the best atelier in the country.
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Story Continues:
Miketendo64: Being the 19th instalment in the Atelier Lydie & Suelle series, how does it feel to be involved with a series that’s still relevant in today’s modern gaming scene?
Keisuke Kikuchi: It is quite remarkable to have a series continue for so long and an honor to work on a series with a dedicated fan base!
For this game, we paid particular attention to the tempo of the game and ease of gameplay. We made the game in a way that the time it takes to create items unfolds at a good pace and were careful and spent time on the placement of every single system so that new players to the Atelier series would understand the game and not become confused with the gameplay.
Rule of Three:
Miketendo64: With Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings being the third and final game in the Mysterious storyline, what prompted to bring this particular story to an end, as opposed to dragging it out a little longer?
Keisuke Kikuchi: In the Atelier series, each subseries is generally three games. Although we release one game each year, we want players to be able to properly experience the full story ending. Even if it takes three years. However, if there are requests from fans. We might continue the storyline for a series or have characters appear in other games somehow.
Development first, Optimisations later:
Miketendo64: Being a game that was developed for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Vita, all of which it is out on now in Japan, how did you found the development process for all three and does the Switch version differ to the PlayStation versions in any way?
Keisuke Kikuchi: The development process does not change. Once the overall game is complete, we then optimize the visuals and controls for each platform.
Success on Switch Does Mean More Games shall Follow:
Miketendo64: Interestingly enough, despite side games and remakes/ports appearing on Nintendo platforms, Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings actually marks the first true main series release of an Atelier Lydie & Suelle game to grace a Nintendo console, so what inspired you to make the leap now? Also, with Atelier Lydie & Suelle planting its feet on Switch, does this mean Switch owners can expect more of Atelier Lydie & Suelle going forwards?
Keisuke Kikuchi: When the Nintendo Switch was released, being able to play it at home or take it around with you was something we felt was very compatible with an RPG game like the Atelier series, where many hours are spent playing it. “Nights of Azure 2” for the Nintendo Switch was played by western audiences more than we had imaged. So, we decided to try the Atelier series on this platform. If Atelier Lydie & Suelle does well, we’d like to release future games on the Switch.
Japanese Vocals only:
Miketendo64: Will the game feature Japanese voice acting only, or can English vocals be expected as well?
Keisuke Kikuchi: This game consists of Japanese voices only.
Docked verses Undocked:
Miketendo64: With performance being a big issue for a lot of fans, and file size, as it often determines if they’ll go physical or digital with their purchase, at what frame-rate will Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings run at when docked and undocked and do you know how big it will be to download for the West?
Keisuke Kikuchi: There are no differences between the physical or digital versions. When docked (TV output) the game will have richer visuals such as effects then undocked. The file size is about 10GB.
Miketendo64: When all is said and done with Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, since 1997, 19 main series games, 16 side games and 29 ports/remakes have made their way into the hands of gamers the world other, so does this mean you’re already hard at work on the next instalment?
Keisuke Kikuchi: We’re currently finishing off development on Atelier Lydie & Suelle for the Western regions, but we’re always looking to the future of the Atelier series!
Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings can be beaten in 15 Hours:
Miketendo64: As far as content goes, how long will Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, take players to complete on average and what is your favourite thing about the new instalment?
Keisuke Kikuchi: The fastest and shortest route will take about 15 hours to clear, but I think you can continue playing the game for 30-50 hours even after clearing the game. My favourite new element is the exciting Combination Battles. Where characters are placed situated in the front and rear of a formation. Many heroines from the Mysterious series appear, so I think that is also a fun aspect.
An English Demo could Happen:
Miketendo64: Due to the nature of the game, since it might not be to everyone’s tastes, are you considering creating a second demo to be made available in the SONY and Switch online stores so players can try before they buy?
Keisuke Kikuchi: In order to see the Japanese audiences’ response, we created a demo. Since the English version of the game was created after the Japanese version gameplay was finalised. We did not create an English demo, but this is something we may consider for the future.
A Message for the Fans:
Miketendo64: And because there’s always time for one last question, here’s ours: Is there anything you would like to say to your ever-growing fanbase and supporters?
Keisuke Kikuchi: The Atelier series will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. We’ve created a game that is the compilation of all the knowledge and experience we have gathered over the years. The game has a very fitting ending not just for this games’ storyline but for the entire Mysterious series. We hope you will enjoy playing this game.
We would like to take this moment to personally thank Keisuke Kikuchi, for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks also goes to Nathan Mills of Koei Tecmo UK for arranging the interview in the first place. For our readers who would like to check out Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings on the Nintendo Switch, it’s out now in Japan, will launch March 27 for North America and March 30 for Europe. We’ll also be providing a review this month should you require a little more reading before buying, so be sure to keep an eye out for it, as you won’t want to miss it.