The Arland games get more lenient with time-management each installment. I managed to get the Normal end, Good end, both endings involving Rorona, and one of the Strong Meruru ends (lost terribly to Masked G). I also reached level 50, but that isn’t so hard this time around with enemies that are over level 50. You can even get to lvl 99 if you build the statue. Boss fights got harder, they actually feel like legit boss battles where you have to craft good equipment and bring lots of healing items and utilize buffs/debuffs. I kind of miss the old days where I could just make a Terabomb with Explosion Damage and Narrow Range, register it, and wipe the floor with it. The strongest boss in Rorona went down in 2 Terabombs lol. Attacking items in Meruru feel severely nerfed, although it was going down that path since Totori.
For those too intimidated by deadlines to play the Atelier series, rejoice as Meruru has one mandatory deadline that is pretty much impossible to miss unless you do absolutely jack shit for 3 years. I found it to be the easiest of the Arland trilogy for the first playthrough. It’s also got the most polished gameplay, and not surprisngly, the nicest graphics. Man, Gust has come a long way since Rorona. I remember playing that and not caring for the music, but I’ve grown to like the soundtrack since Totori. The main disappointment with Meruru is the fact that there are no character endings. You’ve got the friendship events and a CG event at 80 friendship, but you don’t get actual endings with anyone bar 2 Rorona-based endings. The 10 endings are the general “what happened to the kingdom/Meruru’s life” ones. Ever played Atelier Annie? Yeah, the endings are like the ones in that.
As for characters, Meruru is awesome. Moreso in some endings than others. I find her to be the most awesome Arland alchemist, although Totori wins for hnnnnnnng level. Rorona is now a loli because Japan don’t want 30-year-old Rorona, despite the fact that Kishida Mel’s 40-year-olds still look 20 so I don’t see why anyone complains about it. He could have just palette-swapped 22-year-old Rorona’s outfit and voila! If 2ch is anything to go by, people actually prefer older Rorona. Gust, Japan might like lolis, but they also like tits!
Sterk is badass as usual, with an awesome special move where he cuts the moon. Mimi has grown since the last game and is even more delicious now with higher grade zettai ryouiki. Esty is awesome, with high speed and AoE normal attack. エスティさん意外と萌え！Totori returns looking just as flat-chested as ever, with a calmer voice. Gino clearly looks older, but keeps his shota voice which isn’t very fitting. Also, apparently Peter has a wife!? So in Arland, it’s only playable characters who are forever alone. Seems legit. Oh yeah, and those composer comments are freaking hilarious.
The True ending and Popular ending are only available on New Game+. Since it’s summer and all, time to do another playthrough!