Atelier On Switch: What’s Next?
2021 has been an outstanding year for fans of the Atelier franchise. In January, we received the highly anticipated followup to 2019’s Atelier Ryza (aka Ryza 2), with the DX versions of the Mysterious trilogy – Sophie, Firis, and Lydie & Suelle – then dropping in April. The latest release marks the 12th mainline entry brought over to the Switch, completing the Atelier catalog on the hybrid console from the Playstation 3 era onwards.
While all four entries from this year are still fresh on my mind (I’m actually still working my way through Lydie & Suelle at the time of this writing), I can’t help but speculate on what could be in the pipeline for the series. Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the obvious (and not-so-obvious) things we could expect next out of the Atelier franchise!
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first, shall we? It’s no…secret… that the Atelier “Secret” subseries has been a wild success for Gust, with the combined sales of both Ryza games pushing over one million units sold as of March 2021. Producer Junzo Hosoi revealed in a March interview that a Ryza 3 was “possible” depending on “support,” but it’s more or less a given considering the success of “Secret” relative to the rest of the franchise.
Historically, Atelier has stuck to grouping entries into either duology, trilogy, or even tetralogy clumps, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a third entry surrounding Ryza. The real question would be whether Ryza would actually star in the theoretical third entry, as most subseries swap out their heroines (and occasional heroes) for a new lead. This, of course, didn’t happen between Ryza 1 and Ryza 2, so it will be interesting to see whether she reprises her role potentially for a third time.
Ports, Remakes, and Remasters
It’s clear by the staggering amount of Atelier DX entries on Switch that Gust and Koei Tecmo aren’t afraid of polishing up older entries. The question is what would be next, if anything? Now I haven’t personally played any Atelier game that isn’t on the Nintendo Switch, so I can’t speak for how well the older entries hold up today and whether any of them are worth repackaging or not. Some of the earliest entries have never even officially been localized, though a handful of later PS2 entries were and eventually appeared on both the PSP and PSN in most regions (notably the Mana subseries).
That said, this would certainly be a gamble for the team. The Atelier series unmistakably remains niche despite its recent successes, but that success is perhaps why the team should consider bringing some of its older catalog into the mix at some point. I mean, look at how cool it was to see Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light officially localized 30 years after its Japanese debut! Fire Emblem’s 30th anniversary, as well as Three Houses’ successes, made a case for that finally being “a thing,” so why not follow suit with Atelier?
My one bastion of hope – or rather, grasping at straws – lies in a mobile port/remake of the very first Atelier game, Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, which debuted back in 2018 in Japan. There’s literally no evidence supporting that this would pave the way to a Switch version or for it to even be localized, but we all know that the Switch has been a mobile port magnet since day one. Hey, stranger things have happened, right? Regardless, again, I’m uncertain whether these older entries would hold a candle to the newer games, but it’s still something I’d love to see and would fully support if it actually happened.
Returning, Or Something New?
Let’s say that Gust is done with the Ryza storyline and isn’t going to revive their older games – what then? Well, the safe and obvious answer is a brand-new subseries or even another spinoff title. 2019’s Nelke & the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World garnered a relatively positive response, and it isn’t out of the question to assume that another spinoff won’t happen sometime in the future. However, the team might prefer to just start afresh with a new subseries and drop Ryza at two entries – Gramnad and Mana only received two entries each, so a two-part subseries isn’t unheard of.
Before we wrap things up, let’s put on our tinfoil hats for a moment. What if Gust pulled another Atelier Lulua on us? The beloved-by-fans Arland subseries originally began as a trilogy, only to be revisited almost a decade later through 2019’s Atelier Lulua. This team is clearly not afraid to try anything, so what’s to say they won’t return to a seemingly dormant, existing subseries? Would they return to the Dusk trilogy? The Mysterious trilogy? What if they made a new sequel to one of the earlier games that gave them a reason to port/remake/remaster some of the oldest entries! This is the kind of speculation I like, no matter how absurd it might be. Hey, we got a remastered version of SaGa Frontier this year, so to me, anything is possible.
What do YOU think you will be next for the Atelier franchise? I’d love to hear your thoughts!