Battles are Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm's greatest asset and most enjoyable aspect. The system, which is a tweaked version of the system used in past games, gives you much more control over what happens in battle. The big addition is the ability to stall enemies with certain attacks - adding a strategic element. When used in conjunction with the new Burst Meter, which opens up high-end, powerful attacks, it is possible to completely decimate enemies. In fact, this strategy is almost necessary when facing the game's more difficult bosses.
This time around, your party is limited to three characters, though you can do much more with your party members by using a job, or Blades, system. Learning to use your character's skills is most of your battle strategy. Skills have varying costs, requiring that you carefully decide how to best use your character's skills in battle. You'll also have to balance that with filling your Burst Meter. Oh... and the clock continues to run during battles, which should give you even more reason to not waste time.
The absolute best thing about Grand Phantasm is that it completely does away with the bane of RPGS - random battles. As you explore areas, all enemies show up on the screen. Touching one initiates a battle, though you can try avoid them if you're not in the mood to fight. Better yet, enemies are color-coded, giving you an idea of what to expect from the fight. If an enemy is blue, you can attack them without entering battle, saving you some time.
Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm is a game that only fans of the series (or quirky RPGs) will truly appreciate - and even they are likely to feel underwhelmed. Though it has its moments, most of which happen in the first part of the game, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm feels like C work from an A student.