The game is a lot of fun, but they stick you on a time limit. You essentially have 3 years to become god of the island. You need to dominate in business and make a ton of money from your shops, hit lvl 50 and kill the ultimate killer dragon, max out your freindship with everyone you meet, max out your alchemy, and get gold medals on all your alchemy challenges. You need to balance your monster-slaying time with ingredients-gathering, transmuting items, and earning fame in your shops and tourist attractions. Everything you do eats up your 3-years time, and most things you do have deadlines, so it doesn't leave you a lot of room to dick around.
I've really enjoyed it, despite all the constraints it puts on you. You still get a pleasant ending if you don't win at everything, and new game plus keeps your money and all your items, which gives you a headstart on your transmuting in the next game. Your almanacs also carry over, so that's nice, too. You can spend your time however you want and see what kind of ending you get... it's not that the game tells you that you suck as a person or anything. You can choose to spend 3 years killing all sorts of monsters if you want. Like a dating sim, though, unless you balance all the elements in your life perfectly, the ending isn't quite as rewarding. (In Meine Liebe, I kept going to the christmas dance alone and ending up a miserable spinster with failing grades by the end of the class. Come on! Trying to date your teaches, keep your grades up and keep your freinds happy while coordinating your wardrobe? omg so hard)
For my first playthrough of Atelier Annie, I just kind of dicked around, had fun transmuting, and tried to get gold medals on all my assigments. I totally failed at that and got 2 silver medals which made me sad. I did, however, make sure I had all the materials farmed up so that I could do it all over again. This playthrough I went for perfect everything, but I don't think I farmed enough stuff up on the previous game. I got gold medals on everything, but I wasnt' able to fulfill all my freind's requests (keep coming up short on rare materials) and I wasn't able to max out freindship levels AND kill monsters since I had to keep swaping out party members. I think I need to do another playthrough of just killing things and transmuting and ignore due dates for assignments. Or somthing. I don't know.
There's this game on Steam called Recettear: And Item Shop Tale or somthing. It looks like it wants to be like the Atelier/item shop games, but I couldn't quite get into it. It was really cute, though. Overall, I thought Atelier Annie was totally worth the money and a great waste of time. Lots of fun.
After this clear, though, I will probably put the game away and work on Atelier Rurona for PS3. It came out quite a while ago. I had a preorder on it and everything. I just haven't popped it in yet.