If the Vita is good for anything, it's bringing ports of slightly older JRPGs to a generation of gamers that might've missed it first time round.
The latest such title is Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea, a rerelease of a PS3 entry into the popular Atelier series.
And to say that it is just a PS3 port, Atelier Shallie is actually a surprisingly good fit for the console, with bite-sized combat encounters, timeless cel-shaded graphics, and genuinely enjoyable gameplay even when on the go.
A tale of two Shallies
Atelier Shallie follows two young girls called Shallie – one is a princess from a distant village come to seek water from Shellard to save it, and the other is a carefree girl from the city who just wants to get rich.
You choose between one of the Shallie's after a brief tutorial section, but ultimately the choice only affects the story you see – the gameplay and locations you visit are all the same, and the stories overlap at certain points anyway.
Gameplay sees you going to various locations from a map, all of which are small, self-contained arenas with a few materials to gather and monsters to battle.
Battling is a straightforward turn-based fare – you can attack, defend, use skills, run away, and your chosen Shallie can use items from her basket to help out.
The one sticking point I found was an abject lack of healing items available – most of these need to be made before you enter the world map, and the resources to make them are often limited too.Making it up
Making items is easy too. You learn recipes from reading books, gather the required materials, and then follow the recipe to make your desired item.
There's some additional skills-based tricks to it too, but ultimately its down to the quality of the ingredients you use and the level of the item you're crafting that makes it a success.
Words like "easy" and "simple" may make Atelier Shallie sound dull to some hardcore JRPG enthusiasts, but the truth of the matter is that it's actually pretty fun.
The small arenas suit the console since you can dip in, grind an area, and then quit out without losing your progress or forgetting where you were going.Shall I?
And the cel-shaded graphics still hold up – they might not push the Vita to its limits, but they breathe life into what is largely a desert world full of gross monsters.
All in all, Atelier Shallie Plus: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is a smart Vita entry, with eye-catching cartoon graphics and gameplay designed for short bursts of action.
It may not tax the refined JRPG aficionados out there, but for those who enjoy the genre yet don't want to pout countless hours into a game in one go, this is definitely worth a look.