'Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny' on PS2 takes me back to my care-free teenage years. How can a current-gen game take me back to the 16-bit era of gaming when I would mow grass for hours just to afford one game, just fire-up AI2 and you will see. So when I was younger I scammed... er, traded some baseball cards for my buddy's Sega CD. Unknown to him he left 'Lunar: Silver Star' in the drive. I fired this puppy up and was treated to what is still to this day one of my all-time favorite games. Everything about Lunar was RPG cliche, but from the opening anime sequence to Alex rise to Dragon Master, sweet, sweet bliss. (The remake by now defunct Working Designs on PS one was so freaking great.) Lunar had a big influence on my love of anime, and the feelings I have playing 'Atelier Iris 2' are very reminiscent of what Lunar used to do to me.
NIS America is a godsend to gamers like me, ones that cut their teeth on Atari, but really took a bite out of the 16-bit era. Between Lunar, Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy all on the 16-bit systems I was hooked. The story, the character design, the hours of building up character levels, the bitter-sweet endings... it was video game crack. NIS brings over games like AI2 that other companies would not touch, but thanks very much for doing so. AI2 begins with a lengthy opening animated sequence showing various character, settings and plot lines from the game. Press start and you're thrown into a quick couple of battles that force you to learn the battle system, then it's on to typical rpg fare with your main character as you wander around a few towns, talk to tons of characters and look for your brother... then the adventure begins. Quick battles (btw would be a perfect game on the PSP, hint, hint) a fun alchemist system (item creation) and odd mix of character makes for a fun romp. All in all it's the fun game play and feelings of nostalgia that drive me to put this game in our main spot on AOL Games, Anime Gaming Guide (posting on 04/26 in the afternoon).
Pick up 'Atelier Iris 2' if youconsider yourself an rpg'er, or even rent it. It's very rare to get an old-school game that is not part of a compilation of stuff we've seen. Take it for a spin, have fun with it then go back to waiting for the next Final Fantasy (or Blade Dancer on PSP). Good times.