Never heard of Japanese roleplaying game Atelier Totori Plus? That's no surprise as its recent Vita debut came with absolutely no warning.
The Atelier Totori series has never had a huge following here in the States. In Japan, it's seen as an above-average, surprisingly deep roleplaying franchise with particular appeal to ... well, there's no other way to put it: The Atelier games appeal to those who are comfortable with the idea of sexualizing obliquely underaged anime girls. Almost any screenshot from the series will back me up on this point, and most would put a worried scowl on the face of your local police department's human trafficking division.
Despite this, the Atelier games aren't bad for Japanese roleplaying titles. At the very least, they're good enough and generally well-liked enough that you'd expect a new entry in the franchise to receive solid advertising efforts. Maybe not a building-sized billboard at the most recent gaming industry conference, but perhaps a few thoughtfully-placed internet ads. At the very least we'd expect a grassroots PR campaign that relies on games journalists to spread the word on the game's existence.
Yet when Atelier Totori Plus made its debut on the PlayStation Vita yesterday, absolutely no one knew about it. It's quite literally my job to be aware of stuff like this, yet I only found out about it because a perceptive Twitter follower happened to notice the game on the PlayStation Network Store and asked why I hadn't yet covered the game's existence. "I wasn't aware of its existence," I replied, before checking with my Nipponophile colleague Casey Loe (a professional translator and games journalist, formerly of GameFan Magazine and currently one of the hosts of the excellent Warning! A Huge Podcast) who likewise had no idea the game was scheduled for release.
This baffling lack of information in hand, I attempted to contact publisher Tecmo Koei to find out why the company had opted for a stealth launch, but was met with only silence. If the firm opts to respond at some point, I'll offer word on what exactly is going on here.
In the mean time though, those of you looking to get into a surprisingly deep Japanese roleplaying title who are willing to overlook its occasionally skeevy artwork should give Atelier Totori Plus a shot. It's quite an engrossing adventure once you figure out the basics, and can be yours right this very moment for $40. If you don't own a Vita however, you may want to look into the PlayStation 3's Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist Of Dusk. Tecmo Koei published that title on March 5, and unlike Totori it received a fair amount of exposure. That is to say, the company actually bothered to tell people of its existence before it appeared on the PlayStation Network.