Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ – NIS Prepares Something Completely Different

March 20, 2005

Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~ is a bit of a break from what players have come to expect from titles released under the Nippon Ichi label. Instead of a game that is easily identifiable as one of pure strategy, Atelier Iris is instead more of a hybrid, bringing elements of strategy and action to a Role-Playing Game. To get a better understanding of what this will mean for gamers, we sat down with the folks at NIS America to talk about Atelier Iris ~Eternal Mana~, which is expected to be released this summer.

Snackbar Games: A lot of esoteric games seem to come out of NIS that otherwise would never see American soil. What has enabled NIS to be so gung-ho when even major developers are often afraid to port games even slightly deviating from the mainstream overseas?

NIS America: First, let me thank you for this great interview opportunity. We at NIS America really appreciate eToychest.

We believe that major developers steer away from non-major titles because of cost issues. Thanks to our company’s small size, we can make a profit from a game without selling millions. However, it’s not so, for many big developers and that is why we believe bigger companies avoid smaller titles. Being small has its own advantages and this is just one. Our flexibility to respond to market and fan demands is what keeps us alive.

SBG: What kinds of demographics are you shooting for with Atelier Iris?

NIS: Our demographics for Atelier Iris are strikingly similar to Makai Kingdom, Disgaea, and Phantom Brave. Those who appreciate a well-made, solid RPG with a little taste in Anime/Manga will certainly love Atelier Iris.

SBG: While most developers have eschewed 2D sprites for 3D polygon models, NIS has kept to sprites in games such as Disgaea, La Pucelle: Tactics, and now Atelier Iris. Why is that? Do you find sprites lend themselves more to whimsy and fantasy than polygon models?

NIS: We love polygons too and I see the future of games and even anime to be in some form of polygons, whether it’s cel shaded or not. However, for the current moment we believe that 2D is the best form of expression for our titles. Creating a great looking 3D cel shaded anime style graphics, like the recent anime movie Appleseed, costs a lot of money, and I mean A LOT. Plus, both media and hardware capacity of game systems are not up to par to create such stunning 3D graphics that can represent A