Shinobi Koi, Utsutsu Review

March 3rd, 2015

 (This post was supposed to go up a year ago…but I never finished it off. Since I picked this game as my favourite PSP game of 2014, I thought I should finally post it!)

I got a huge package of games (6 games!!) at the beginning of Feb which was very exciting (who doesn’t love getting packages?), and the first one I played was Shinobi Koi, Utsutsu. I debated for a few minutes, because I also got Arabian’s Doubt and Edgeworth Investigations 2. But I knew Ninkoi (the game’s nickname which is a combo of the alternate reading for shinobi, like in ninja, and of course Koi as in love) would be fun, and relatively quick. And I cannot resist the art; I just love this artist’s style so much.

And I was right! It took me a little over a week to finish it, and that’s while working more than full-time. So, here’s my review of Shinboi Koi, Utsutsu!

Plot: Katagiri Kaede is a young woman in the 1700’s (I think? historical Japan about a 100 years after Oda Nobunaga anyways) who was orphaned very young and brought up by her grandmother until she passed away. Now she works at a restaurant and attends the town ninja school. In this alternate history, ninja, led by Sanada Yukimura, played a key role in the defeat of the Yoritomo shogunate a hundred years ago, and ninja are respected as warriors. It’s even very common to have ninja school, the most famous being the …school, still controlled by the Sanada clan and attended by the richest and most elite students.

It’s Kaede’s dream to attend this school and after graduation, join the Sanada Yuushitai, an elite ninja group who protect the shogun. She has a fairly clear memory from when she was very young – she was travelling with her parents when they were attacked by bandits, who killed her parents. They were about to kill her as well when a mysterious ninja appeared and saved her. He also apologized for not getting there in time to save her parents, but she’s always felt extremely grateful and wishes she could thank him. This event became her inspiration to train as a ninja and hopefully one day join the Sanada Yuushitai.

She’s hoping to save up enough money to apply to the famous school by working at the restaurant, but one day she gets a break. A thief steals a customer’s wallet, and she chases him outside and uses her ninja skills to catch him. This catches the eye of an older gentleman who finishes the capture, and then introduces himself as the Vice Principal of the ninja school. He notices something special in her, and invites her to join the school as a scholarship student.Kaede doesn’t know what he sees in her, as she knows she doesn’t have much skill, but she’s not going to let this chance go by, and she agrees.

The next scene is her entering the school, where she meets the Vice Principal again, who tells her that the Principal has agreed to let her in. The conditions are that in six months, on the midterm exam, she must obtain a grade of excellent (or kou), the highest of the three possible grades. And because she’s ‘just’ a poor scholarship student, she can’t expect to have a partner the way regular students do, so she’ll have to get this grade on her own.

While they’re talking, some students notice the new face and approach her. They are the game’s heroes, all from well-known ninja families:

During the conversation, Kaede gets really embarrassed when someone (probably Anayama) flirts with her, and suddenly a cloud of pink smoke erupts around her. All the guys including Sanada are caught in the smoke and suddenly turn into Romeos, saying how cute she is and not paying attention to anything except her. When it wears off, they’re all horrified at how they acted and that they, all good students, were unable to resist.

Sanada feels sorry for her plight, and he arranges it so she can pick any of the five boys as her partner to help pass her trials (once you’ve played one route you can also pick Sanada).

Once you’ve picked, the route splits and you start training.

There are two things I love about this game that I think make it stand out (I love the art and seiyuu but I could say that for most otome games.)

One is the hook of Kaede’s mysterious power, which is both amusing and shows what the guys are really thinkingnear the end of the routes. It’s interesting to speculate whether what they say ‘under the influence’ is ALWAYS their true feelings, though I think it’s at least amped up quite a bit at the beginning.

The other is Kaede’s true singlemindedness and humbleness without being a martyr, which I find a little rare in otome games. Kaede jumps at the chance to attend the school, though she doesn’t think she really belongs there. She doesn’t get down on herself when jealous fangirls tell her she doesn’t fit in, because she knows that already. She doesn’t care what people say about her, or if they prank her, because she’s going to take any chance she gets to train at a high level and become an elite ninja. Her power also gives her a plausible reason to not think that the guys are interested in her without the way-too-common “heroine has low self-esteem”, which honestly I’ve experienced enough to last five lifetimes (the regular “Oh, he couldn’t like me, he’s too good for me!”)

I really enjoyed all the routes, and I’m really happy that the PS Vita version coming out in a few months will have new character routes, including one for Kuroudo’s brother, who’s in this one already, and Hattori Hanzou.

Here’s a promo movie for the new version:

I can’t wait! It will also have some new material for the existing routes, so it fulfills my wish for a fandisk pretty well.

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PSP 2014 Games Part 2

February 15th, 2015

Oh man, I could do so much more game playing before posting this, but it’s already late, so here you go!

Black Code

Unfortunately I forgot to buy this one from Quinrose, so I haven’t played it.  すみません>.>;;

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Koezaru wa Akai Hana – Taiga wa Mirai wo Tsumugu

Regular Edition

The R18 version of this was really good, and though the explicit scenes were important to the character routes, I think they could replace them with non R-18 scenes fairly easily to show similar developments. I’m not including it in the judgement though, since it’s an adaptation.

Chou no Doku, Hana no Kusari: Taishou Irokoi Ibun PSP

Regular Edition                                    Limited edition

Another R18 game (really good) adapated to PSP and PS Vita. I also haven’t played this version, so I can’t comment on it much. The art in the game is so much nicer than the original character designs, I think the artist developed a lot of on it. And Kondou Takashi is amazing in it!

Satomi Hakkenden Hachitama no Ki

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

From Quinrose, another game I haven’t played.

Prince Pia Carrot

Regular Edition

This female-targeted version of a harem game series (Pia Carrot) took a while to come out, and it’s a fairly basic love sim. You’re a high school girl who ends up being the only girl working at a popular family restaurant well-known for its cute waiters, most of whom also go to your high school. There are common archetypes used for the characters, and at first I wasn’t expecting much, but the stories are pretty well-written. However, though I tried to get the best endings, for at least the youngest guy, his plot felt unfinished.  I couldn’t find a guide so I’m not sure if I missed anything. Overall, it was better than I expected, but not amazing.

Gakuen K

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

I didn’t pay attention to this at all in the magazines, so I had almost no idea what it was about. The heroine transfers into a very modern high school with superpowered students attending classes alongside regular kids. It has regular clubs, and clubs based around superpowers which take colours for their names (the ones shown in the game are Blue, Red, and Silver). The heroine has some sort of power which caused her trouble at her old school, but she doesn’t know much about it. When she first arrives, all the super-clubs fight over inviting her to join them, and depending where you choose, you have different possible routes.

Considering I wasn’t interested in it at all, I enjoyed it a lot. However, I think it has two major problems – each route is pretty short (I finished four routes in the time I’d expect to finish two) and…there is no plot. Since the story is about kids with superpowers, I thought they would be used for something important, but nope – in each route the heroine finds out about her own power (which seems to be different in each route), but it’s not really used, and there’s no real conflict. I was also disappointed at how little romance there was in two of the four routes I did. Literally, in two of them the guy never says he likes you.  Without a plot to take its place, it felt like something was missing. There’s a ‘hidden’ character who seems like he connects some threads, but since I can’t tell anything after doing four routes I don’t think it’s an overarching theme.

Minus 8

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

This game is probably the most difficult to sell – I didn’t finish any routes for months after I started.  It’s quirky, and fun, but I had to work at it to get to where I could enjoy it. The art is very childish, and the characters are extremely odd – if you think of how Bakudan Handan/Sweet Fuse’s characters were a lot different than regular otome characters, these guys are even more so. The theme of the game is ‘unfortunate’, as in guys that would be attractive except for one major flaw, a heroine that has a knack for pulling the short straw in everything, and situations that would be fun or cool except for one major thing that goes wrong. You also have to let go of commonsense to enjoy it – the school is going bankrupt and somehow the only way it can succeed is to have a certain number of students become couples during the school year, so all school events and grades are based on throwing boys and girls together, resulting in some unbelievable setups.

It’s hard to get into. It took me a long time, and even now, out of the 8 guys, there are a couple I’m really not interested in at all. However, when I let go of commonsense and expectations (partly based on all my other otome gaming and romance reading experience, hah) I actually had a fun time playing it. And really, it’s refreshing in a way to get an otome game that’s so different in many ways.

 

 Mermaid Gothic

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Look at that cover, pretty gorgeous right? I really looked forward to playing this game from Quinrose about a mermaid. Unluckily for me, I can’t find my game disc!! I’m afraid I might have left it at my parents’ house over Christmas :( I have to leave this out since I haven’t been able to play it at all. It’s really annoying being able to see the pretty package on my shelf and not be able to play it!

 

Shinobi Koi, Utsutsu

    

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Here it is – this was my favorite PSP game this year. Let me state right now that I have a strong bias towards the character artist (Nakamura Ryuutoku), I love his style and find all the designs really appealing. However, I also like the setup, the heroine, Kaede, and the writing here too. Ninja school around the 18th century (I think, this is alternate Japanese history where ninja school is a thing), with a genki heroine who accidentally uses her family’s secret technique causing the opposite sex to go crazy over her for a very short time. It’s kind of hilarious and kind of scary how it affects each character in different ways, revealing more about them than they want. All the characters had interesting personalities and quirks, and I even enjoyed the semi-shota character route (he’s technically the oldest student but looks the youngest). But really, what made this game the best for me was the heroine – she’s pretty focused on improving her ninja skills and becoming a full-fledged ninja, and doesn’t let the usual crap from jealous classmates bother her. If you played Musketeer and appreciated the goal-oriented heroine, you’ll probably like Kaede.

I wish this would get a fandisk really badly – but the Vita version is coming out in a few months with more scenes and new characters, so I guess that will be like the fandisk.

I just realized that though I wrote a review months ago, I never finished it up and posted it (I really failed at blogging last year!), so I’ll post that soon after this.

Fandisks/Sequels

I haven’t played most of these, so not all of them have comments. Lots of fandisks/sequels this year (I still haven’t decided whether the Quinrose games are fandisks, since it’s obvious they plan them as two games from the start).

Romeo and Juliet

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Arabians Doubt

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Geten no Hana FD Yume no Akari

Regular Edition                                    Treasure Box

I splurged and got the treasure box for this one (yolo right? and yeah I totally named it wrong on my tumblr) and it was really nice. I enjoyed the original game way more than I expected (full voice helped a lot) and was very satisfied with this as well. The premise is that you finished out the original game with the normal (i.e. no romance) good ending, and everyone’s back in town temporarily. The gameplay is very similar to the first game and there’s a clear plot. Really great revisiting all the characters, and I liked the new ones too – Kanbee is super hot, I’ll just say that now. The romances were really cute. I think this is my favourite fandisk of the year.

Iza, Shutsujin! Koisaku Dai Ni Makukai hen


Regular Edition 1                                    Regular Edition 2             Limited Edition 1            Limited Edition 2

Satomi Hakkenden 2/FD Hamaji Hime no Ki

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition
Quinrose – I actually got confused as to what was fandisk and what wasn’t here – I haven’t played the original game so if I’m mistakenly putting the original game here please let me know.

Kin’iro no Corda 3 Another Sky various
    

These games might sound like a cheap way for Koei to produce more games, but I don’t think so – they have to make new backgrounds, use new music, write new stories and record new dialogue. The game engine and sprites are pretty much reuseable, but honestly I figure they deserve to get some more use out of it, considering how much more gameplay there is in these games than most of the otome genre. And personally, I really enjoyed the chance to develop relationships with the guys in their own schools.

Jinnan Regular Edition                  Jinnan Treasure Box

Shiseikan Regular Edition             Shiseikan Treasure Box

Amane Regular Edition                  Amane Treasure Box

Heart no Kuni no Alice Wonderful Twin World

Is this a fandisk? Its hard to tell now with all the Alice games. I didn’t play this one, if anyone wants to comment how it compares to the other Alice games I’d love to know.

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Jyuuzaengi Engetsu Sangokuden 2

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Taisho no Kitan FD: Koto no Hazakura

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Urakata Hakuoki FD: Akatsuki no Shirabe

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

I’ve only played one route here, and it took quite a while – I only finished one route in the original game too, so I really have to do some work on this one. The route was good, pretty intense, not as fluffy as many fandisks are (you can decide whether you like that or not).

Snow Black FD: Snow Magic

Regular Edition                                    Limited Edition

Haven’t played yet.

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Shoujo manga (JP) giveaway – I’m cleaning up!

January 26th, 2015

You may know that I used to be a huge shoujo manga fan – I used to spend even more time on shoujo manga that I do now on games, and since I was in university, time was one thing I had lots of. In fact, that’s how I leveled up my Japanese past my classmates.

Anyways, way back when I studied abroad in Japan, manga was juuust beginning to take off in North America. Like, this was before Shoujo Beat, before Smile, before scanlations even. So when I moved back to Canada, I was determined to bring as much manga as I possibly could (weight restrictions were also better back then :P) And then everytime I went to New York, when I went to visit friends in LA, and the couple times I went back to Japan, I would bring back tons more manga.

Nowadays, I don’t read that much, and I buy even less – I get digital when possible, so I might buy about 10-20 tankoubon a year. But I still have those boxes and bookshelves full of shoujo manga from years ago. I was never sure whether I wanted to get rid of them, but I finally found a way that they could be useful to someone – I’m going to donate them for sale by a local Japanese centre next month.

So that means I’m getting rid of a LOT of manga. I thought I would post what I’m planning to give first here, in the slim chance that one of my readers is a) interested in hard copies of Japanese manga, and b) close enough that they can either pick them up, or that shipping wouldn’t be too much (Canadian postage is expensive y’all) – I live in downtown Toronto. I’m also going to be at TCAF and possibly Anime North this year if you’re willing to wait that long.

Here’s what I plan to give away, if you want them please either comment or email me. Some of the ones that aren’t complete, I may find more later and add them here.

Random/single volumes:

Shounen

 

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Upcoming Otome Game #8 – Duel Love

January 15th, 2015

Reposted from my IGN blog because this game is awesome, originally posted: 2008/01/20
Duel Love by Bandai Namco

Release date March 13
Pics are from B’s Log, January 2008 issue pp. 34-37 from Enterbrain and Dengeki Girl’s Style 11/20 2007 Edition from MediaWorks pp. 156-161. Images are copyright Bandai Namco.

In this first otome game from Bandai Namco, the main character(you) has just transferred to Keiou High School. After class, your classmate brings you to the school basement, where you find out the school’s secret…it’s the location of a secret fighting tournament!

I doubt this would have happened at my high school, since we didn’t even have a boxing ring, but man! It would have been cool if it did.

Duel Love is a Nintendo DS game that focuses on several guys who are trying to win in the B-1 fighting league, which holds fights at Keiou high school at night. The only rules to these fights are no firearms, no thrown items, and no weapons (wouldn’t that include firearms? Nevermind, look over there!)

First up, character intros. The character design was done by Hisaya Nakajou, the author of Hana-Kimi (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e), and it shows(for those unfamiliar with the series, the main characters are in track and field, and the whole cast is very long and lean). These fighters are the scrawniest specimens I’ve ever seen step into a ring. Some effort was made to make some of them ‘more muscular’, ‘lean’ instead of just skinny, but I think it will take me some time to get used to the look. Oh, and one of them is almost the twin of Mizuki. So I figure chibi characters are enough to let you tell who’s who. Plus, I’m lazy – big pics take longer to edit.


Jin Yuuki CV: Namikawa Daisuke – the player’s classmate who is not that friendly to begin with, but warms up slowly.


Yuuma Asakura CV: Fukuyama Jun – also a classmate, Yuuma speaks in Osaka-ben, works at a takoyaki stand in the park, and is very outgoing.


Shinichirou Nagao CV: Yusa Kouji – I think he’s in 2-D (the player’s class) as well, at first glance he’s the typical smart guy with glasses, but he’s not very good at talking to people and he says some unintentionally funny things.


Tomohiko Tachibana CV: Kasuya Yuuta- a shrimpy first-year, though he looks like Mizuki he has a sharp tongue and is determined to show his strength in the tournament.


Kei Ryuuzouji CV: Ryoutarou Okiayu – a third year who’s good at school, a gentleman, and seems perfect, but no one knows what he’s really thinking.


Masayoshi Date CV: Nakai Kazuya – the intimidating former school council president, he looks like a troublemaker but is actually a top student.

Sugita Tomokazu and Ono Daisuke are also semi-main characters, they play teachers in the school who have some history together as well.

You play the new girl in school who has 3 classmates in the tournament. You get involved with helping the fighters, and the goal of the game is to help your fighter get to and win the championship (and of course fall in love along the way). Whew, sounds tough, probably involves a lot of training mini-games and maybe nutrition and stuff..

Edit: It does have a lot of minigames, but they are hilarious and awesome and not hard. Case in point: the massage game, shown below. Truly a gaming masterpiece.

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2014 in PSP Otome Games – Part 1

January 14th, 2015

2014 was definitely an eventful year. How was it for otome games? I noticed a few things:

Enough of that, let’s talk about what was released this year. There are still a few that I haven’t started at all, which is why I’m doing this as a Part 1 – Part 2 will include the remaining games as well as my overall favourites.

Enkeltbillet

Enkeltbillet Limited Edition Cover

I’ve only gotten through two routes here. The heroine, Midori, is in university, and this is her first trip abroad with her friend Saki. They choose to go on a guided tour/cruise around Northern Europe, but as soon as they arrive at the airport of Santorini, a small fictional country, things go incredibly wrong.

The heroine’s luggage never appears on the conveyor belt. When she goes to report it to the airport staff, she gets lost and separated from the rest of her tour group, and then has her bag stolen. Unfortunately, she’s BAD at English. Horrible. She can’t get anything across to the airport staff, and when she coincidentally runs into a Japanese guy, she’s so happy she jumps on him. He wants nothing to do with her and coldly turns her away, complaining about Japanese tourists.

Midori chases and catches the guy who took her bag, but their confrontation doesn’t go well until a young woman takes her side and makes him run away. Then the young woman, all the while speaking English, takes her to her work – a rundown hotel in a tourist area. Midori ends up staying there, and meeting a bunch of different people who all end up being interconnected in very strange ‘coincidences’ (spoiler: they’re not really coincidences) – her tour guide, an alternate tour guide, the hotel owner’s son, the Japanese guy she ran into at the airport…

This game is…good…ish. Though Midori is super annoying at the beginning, she develops a lot. While I was surprised at how mean some of the guys were about her not knowing English, it felt pretty realistic. I did Chris’s (CV: Takahashi Hiroki) route first and Alex’s (CV: Hosoya Yoshimasa) route second, and enjoyed Chris’s quite a lot, but the ‘romance’ is pretty light. At least with Chris I got his true end; for Alex I just got a normal end. I think the difference is that there’s a little more romance, but also the guy’s personal issue is more resolved in the true end.

I think I get the gist of the overall plot which is hidden throughout the game, and I REALLY want to get the hidden character – I hope I don’t have to go through all the other routes first. So the writers did something right, because I’m interested enough to play more to do his route.

The art is fairly nice, although I often liked the regular sprites more than the CG art. There’s an ojisan character who I think is supposed to be in his 30s/40s, but in group CGs he does NOT look attractive, though his sprite is alright.

There’s a quest system which is kind of fun, and you can totally skip it if you want which is nice. I think my main problem with the game is that for an otome game, where you expect to do multiple playthroughs, there’s no easy way to do this. You have to choose whether or not to go through each scene, and it shows whether you’ll get new dialogue, a choice, and/or a CG. But there are lots and lots of scenes, and some of the new dialogue is minimal in each. So stopping at each scene and having to say yes, skip, or no, go through, is annoying. I also couldn’t find a skip button within a scene.

On the plus side, people actually speak English! At the beginning when Midori can’t understand anyone, they actually do speak English and there are no subtitles – for a Japanese player, I can imagine this makes Midori’s confusion really understandable. Unfortunately for English speakers, these are all Japanese seiyuu and most have kind of/really bad accents. I had a hard time figuring out what they were saying sometimes. Oh well, it’s mostly at the beginning and unimportant anyway.

Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

Majoou

Majoou

Quinrose is very hit or miss for me. I find their intros WAY too long and explainy, and really the narration overall is repetitive. Fortunately this was a hit for me – I played three routes one after another and had to force myself to stop and put in Chronostacia.

I try to play the ‘prince’ or main love interest first now, since sometime other routes spoil it. Here that’s Atlas (CV: Maeno Tomoaki), the red-haired hero who’s a famous dragon killer, but apparently has amnesia and doesn’t remember that he and the heroine (and another of his party) used to be childhood friends. He’s obsessive about killing demons and the Demon King, which the heroine becomes in the prologue because her father has to leave on a mysterious trip and says he may not return for a long time.

I liked the heroine in his route, but I couldn’t wait to play Marion’s (CV: Miki Shinichirou) route – the heroine’s knight. As I thought, I really liked his route (though I found his story/twist a bit odd), and then I went to the nonchalant / playa merchant, Melvin (CV: Kakihara Tetsuya) – sexy name btw – whose route was a nice surprise as well. Now I’m working on Samuel (CV: Suwabe Junichi), the demon advisor/healer. I don’t know if I’ll finish everyone’s routes (her other childhood friend is voiced by Madao (CV: Tachiki Fumihiko) from Gintama!!! I don’t know if I can play his route without laughing all the time), but enjoying all three that I played is good.

The only thing I found annoying in most routes is how the heroine is supposed to be very strong (she is the daughter of the Demon King), yet she always gets almost killed by either being stupidly distracted or just not being willing to defend herself. She doesn’t call herself a pacifist, so I’m not sure why she almost never raises a finger to stop attacks against her other than just making a shield, and often even not doing that in time. She NEVER beats anyone, and even gets caught off guard all the time by random monsters and has to be saved. It’s annoying.

Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

Snow Black

I was really looking forward to this one from Quinrose. Their Cinderella series pleasantly surprised me in terms of characters, so I was hoping they could pull off another fairytale-based interpretation. And the seiyuu list was amazing – and those character names! However, I had a really hard time getting through a route here.

I played Dune Baxter’s (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki) route first, I wanted one of the princes and he was more friendly. I think the way-too-long intro sapped my interest, and I ended up taking a long break from the game, but when I picked it back up in a couple months, I was able to play the rest pretty quickly and his route was good. Next was Lupino Rochas (CV: Toriumi Kousuke), and while I really liked him and it had a good pace, the plot made me dislike the other prince, Fahren Heit (CV: Sakurai Takahiro) so much that I don’t know if I want to play his route. Also the old guy, Chamade Ricci (CV: Hiyama Nobuyuki) was barely in it, and I haven’t seen much to interest me in him so far. In every route, the evil witch, Reviens Tendre (it sounds more like Ruvien when pronounced) (CV: Tsuda Kenjirou) is definitely compelling, I’m trying to decide between him and Falco (CV: Okiayu Ryoutarou) next.

Overall, it’s pretty good. If you find the characters interesting, go for it. The plot itself is alright, its hard to tell with Quinrose without playing through all the characters due to how they explain a bit in each route. But, I’d recommend skipping through a bunch of the intro as long as you understand that 1) the commoner heroine was bought from her father because she was a beautiful child and was expected to help the kingdom by marrying well, until 2) Reviens, the evil witch, appears, killing the royal family and locking Snow Black up for years. 3) Snow Black keeps thinking that she wants to get revenge, and eventually escapes and runs into the group of rebels, who 4) have had their own countries taken over by the witch. That’s why they’re kind of in different groups, the two princes and their followers, and then the ‘independents’ – Chamade and Jeanne Bush. OH, and Snow Black had known the witch from her childhood as a mysterious visitor.

I’d like to finish all the routes, and I will someday I think.

Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

 

Chronostacia

The promotional art for this was sooo pretty – lots of prisms, stained glass, etc. I found the artstyle in the game to be less fantastical, though the backgrounds were always beautiful. The story was surprisingly short – the intro felt really draggy as we’re shown how adorably ditzy the heroine is and how her only skill (apparently) is baking and how all the old cafe patrons just love her, and of course a dog and a cat too – but once you enter a route, it goes by almost too fast. There was very little about developing the romance. Kyougo’s (CV: Ohsaka Ryouta) route, which I did first, was cute at first, but as the plot continued, it felt almost more about him and Adam’s (CV: Abe Atsushi) rivalry, and the heroine had almost no personality. They had a couple cute scenes though, I especially like the one in the hospital before the play. But overall, I had a hard time getting into the romance here. I played Clive’s (CV: Midorikawa Hikaru) route as well, but I didn’t like it as much as Kyougo’s.

Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

 

Colorful step ~Bunkabu and Undoubu~

I thought the idea behind this honeybee dual game was fun – the heroines are a set of twins, one shy and into cultural activities, the other outgoing and sporty, who transfer into a school. Each game focuses on one’s entry into a certain club (there are two to choose from for each game) and that determines the romantic prospects she has. There is very light sim gameplay as well (pick what training method to do, each guy prefers a certain one).
Unfortunately, my first playthrough was deadly dull. I picked the track team, and a romance with the driven, oblivious team captain Ninomae Kiichi (CV: Hirakawa Daisuke) (I think I have a weakness for green hair). There was almost no romance, the plot about him trying to recover from an old injury didn’t hold my interest, and in fact the first playthru I didn’t pick correctly and got a friends ending. I replayed to get the love ending and it wasn’t much better – very thin romance, mostly about supporting the captain. In short, BORING. I have to play more to see if other characters are better, but haven’t finished other routes yet, though I think I’m almost done the one with the unmotivated but talented Tokito Chikayuki (CV: Taniyama Kishou)

Undoubu – Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

Bunkabu – Regular Edition                                   Limited Edition

Out of these, I think I liked Majoou the best, followed by Snow Black – both Quinrose games. I think Enkeltbillet would have been just as good if it wasn’t for the poor controls/weird scene skip mechanism.

I expect to have the second part of this up in a couple weeks, with my overall favourite PSP game of 2014. I’m also going to be doing a PS Vita one – 2014 was the first year original otome games were released for it!

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F2014 Posts and updates coming this weekend!

January 9th, 2015

Is it 2015 already? I have at least five posts in draft form, and so much calendar updating to do! I hope everyone’s 2014 ended on a happy note, and that 2015 is awesome. I spent the holidays very productively watching the whole run of Fairy Tail (it’s all rusky boz‘s fault, I was a longtime fan because of ulquihime and I couldn’t resist galevy anymore).

Also – did you know that Gintama is starting another anime run in April!!!!!!???? I’m so happy.

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Ayakashi Gohan Preview

September 1st, 2014

Ayakashi Gohan is the new game coming out for the PC by honeybee.

There’s a little restaurant somewhere deep in the Japanese mountains which serves tasty meals to ayakashi (spirits) as well as humans, called “Ponpokorin” near a village called Momojimura. It was opened by a kitsune in human form whose motto is “Eating delicious food together makes everyone happy.” One day, the heroine is brought to live there by the kitsune because she’s just lost her parents. She meets with the owner’s almost 7-year-old son, a pair of twins, and starts helping at the restaurant. The story is about her getting to know them and the customers of Ponpokorin, as well as some classmates from school. Her school, by the way, is a typical country school except that some ayakashi attend (in human form), slow-paced and not standing out in club or sports activities. For a while it was going to be closed, but a high-profile designer was contracted to redesign the uniforms, so they’re pretty stylish, and apparently it worked and more students are slowly joining. (Does this work, by the way? Do Japanese students really decide to go to a totally rural highschool with no distinctive features because they like the uniform??)

Anyways, the big theme of this game is about making food together and eating together as a way to develop relationships.  Let’s take a look at the characters:

Heroine:

You start theayakashi_icon_rin_chibi game when the heroine is 7 years old, and depending on your choices during this ‘shoujo’ period, the heroine develops one of two personalities, changing the possible routes (I love this idea). If you end up on the ‘human’ route, the heroine is shy and reserved, and the story is about her learning to enjoy eating with people she loves. If you end up on the ‘ayakashi’ route, the heroine is outgoing, and the story is about her teaching someone to enjoy eating with those they love. I think it’s a really interesting way to change the story up.

 

 

The human-side routes:

ayakashi_icon_uta

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inushima Uta (CV: Shimono Hir0): The older twin. He talks roughly but always means well, and he’s popular with the ayakashi like an older brother figure.

 

ayakashi_icon_hagi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ibuki Haginosuke (CV: Mizushima Takahiro): The human son of a priest who’s fascinated by ayakashi but doesn’t understand them very well. Like the heroine (in this side), he’s not very good at eating with other people.

 

ayakashi_icon_suou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hana Suou (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki): A cat spirit transformed human who attends the heroine’s school. He dislikes humans, but actually wants friends. He’s always cold so he sleeps in the sun a lot, and has a sensitive tongue (cats and all that) so he can’t eat too hot food.

The ayakashi-side routes:

ayakashi_icon_yomi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inushima Yomi (CV: Kaji Yuuki): A cold poet who hates humans, he’s very lazy and unemotional. He does enjoy learning things, so he reads a lot of books. His older brother Uta usually performs his poems.

ayakashi_icon_manatsu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serigano Manatsu (CV: Okitsu Kazuyuki): A local shopkeeper’s son who often delivers ingredients to Ponpokorin. He’s 25, and the local elders always push him towards omiai. He enjoys having tea after making deliveries to P0npokorin, and ends up listening to an ayakashi’s problems and giving them advice.

ayakashi_icon_asagi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kimura Asagi (CV: Ishida Akira): A mysterious student who loves playing pranks on people. It’s unclear whether he’s human or ayakashi. Because he’s never been far, he dreams of travelling.

Other characters are the owner, Gin, his young son, Tsuzuru, who’s very shy and always hides behind his father, and Kamisama, the village spirit.

Once you get past the ‘shoujo’ chapter and have gone onto either the ‘human’ or ‘ayakashi’ side, you go through a shared route for that side, and your choices in that chapter either decide on a specific character’s route, or a bad end. Within character routes, they all have a best end, a good end, and a tragic love end.

The atmosphere seems quiet but soulful. I like the routes splitting along personality lines, and the setting is unusual – the only other games series I remember being set in a contemporary isolated village (not just the school either) is Hiiro no Kakera. Unfortunately I can’t find anywhere to order this (Amiami doesn’t seem to have it) so I’ll have to wait until I go to Japan to get this.

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Summer Release Overview

August 12th, 2014

I didn’t get any games for a couple months, and I feel really out of the loop! I got caught up in some old-ish PC RPGs (I didn’t really expect to spend that long in Skyrim…) But I’m waiting for a couple games right now that I’m excited for, and there are a bunch coming over the next few weeks, let’s take a look!

July releases:

RE:VICE [D] (Otomate) (PS Vita)

Heroine: Aika
Using the power of ice, she’s one of the Four Heavenly Kings. She’s usually cool, but likes cute Earth things. She attends high school undercover to find the next Demon Lord.

Yukine (CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko)
One of the nominees for Demon Lord. Hard to understand and always popping up unexpectedly, he enjoys teasing people, especially the heroine. He never talks about himself and his private life is a complete mystery.

Iroha (CV: Kimura Ryouhei)
Another nominee. The top student at his school, and so good at sports, he’s brought a weak school team all the way to national championships, and his good looks make him seem perfect.
However his personality is awful and he’s lazy, he has no team spirit and skips school all the time. Even when he comes to school he mostly sleeps in the back garden.

Ryouga (CV: Maeno Tomoaki)

Another nominee. His good looks combined with his extreme friendliness make him popular, but for some reason, as a host at the club MAOH, he never gets asked for a second time, so he’s the bottom-ranked host at his club. Because of this, he’s nicknamed the guard dog of MAOH, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

Hinatsu (CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu)
The last nominee. The shut-in son of very rich parents. He has a weak constitution, and is in and out of the hospital. Because of his shyness and general meekness, he has trouble making friends.
He’s learned most of his ‘commonsense’ from books. He’s very wary of people, and doesn’t like talking to them much.

Enkeltbillet (Otomate) (PSP)

Heroine – Okazawa Midori
A second-year college student on her first international trip after graduating. She gets lost in the airport after arriving in Europe, getting separated from her friends.

Nakatani Megumi (CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu)
HE dislikes Japan and Japanese people, though he’s a Japanese exchange student himself. He tends to cut himself off from experiences. He’s rude to people when he first meets them.

Chris Albert (CV: Takahashi Hiroki)
A warm and friendly tour guide who’s good at taking care of people. He speaks in an old-fashioned Kansai-ben in Japanese but normally in English. He left his family home for certain reasons.

Alexander Nielsen (CV: Hosoya Yoshimasa)
The son and heir to the hotel, he’s loud and somewhat obnoxious. He’s lived on his own for several years since fighting with his father, and seems to have a sketchy part-time job.

Shuhei Takashina (CV: Takeuchi Ryouta)
The president of a big company, usually he’s calm, but he can become passionate about his work. He’s not interested in anything but his work, has no hobbies, and takes no vacation, but he doesn’t mind. The reasons for him being president and his trip are complicated.

Emil Herrmann (CV: Kawashima Tokuyoshi)
A supermodel who breaks all electronics but his cell phone. He’s superstitious and believes in fortunetelling, and has a habit of impulse buying. Because he’s so mercurial, it’s hard to pin him down. Sometimes he enjoys pretending to be a girl and fooling people.

Majoou (Quinrose) (PSP)
Heroine: Rose Dinoire, the only daughter of the Demon King. After her father leaves, she rules in his place. She tries to be a suitable Demon King for her subjects, but feels conflicted that she can’t kill the humans trying to kill demons.

Atlas Leavis (CV: Maeno Tomoaki) A hero who fights with four others, he hates all demons and is merciless with them, but to humans he’s very kind. He was childhood friends with Edgar and Rose, but for some reason can’t remember that.

Edgar Lang (CV: Tachiki Fumihiko)
A warrior in Atlas’s party. He’s like a big older brother, is good at cooking, and has mixed feelings about Rose, who hid that she was a demon when they were kids.

Drop Rust (CV: Yonaga Tsubasa)
The party’s magician. He studied hard to learn magic, and has a wide range of knowledge. Because of his name, face and short stature, he’s sometimes treated as a child, which he hates.

Melvin (CV: Kakihara Tetsuya)
The party’s merchant and fortuneteller. He’s cheerful and somewhat bold, especially with women, but no one knows what he really thinks.

Leonhard Rosenhain (CV: Midorikawa Hikaru)
The prince of Rizenbard who’s beautiful as a princess. He’s imprisoned in the Demon King castle (as tribute I think). He has a soothing demeanour, and often makes odd remarks.

Marion Neithart (CV: Miki Shinichirou)
A dark knight of the demons who has protected Rose since she was a child. He’s completely loyal to her and doesn’t care about anyone else, so he doesn’t socialize much with other demons.

Samuel Barrett
(CV: Suwabe Junichi)
A demon in the service of the kingdom, he can use special healing magic. He obeys Rose but also thinks she’s not competent yet, so often makes fun of her.

Doris Murrill (CV: Igarashi Hiromi)
The chief maid at the castle, she’s very good at her job and all the maids trust her. She’s very good at cooking with magic and often serves Rose.

August releases:

Urakata Hakuoki ~Toki no Shirabe~ Fandisk (Otomate) (PSP)

Fandisk of Urakata Hakuoki, I still haven’t finished any routes in the original…

Ayakashi Gohan (honeybee) (PC) – this one looks pretty interesting, I’ll do a bigger post on that one.

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Otome games for cheap!

August 7th, 2014

There are some really well-priced re-releases of D3 Publisher PSP otome games (their brand is called Mune Kyun) that I found when browsing CDJapan, but they’re not a CDJapan sale so if you buy from somewhere else they should be there too. I almost always enjoy D3 games, they often have deep gameplay (for otome games) and are just well-rounded in story and characters. I think people don’t know them that well because they’re not marketed as much, but at these prices, they’re a great buy.

Here they are (FYI these are affiliate links to CDJapan), they’re each only 1800Y!! That’s like $20.



Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.1 VitaminX Evolution Plus
(PSP)
Interested in the Vitamin series? Here’s where it all began! This is the PSP version of VitaminX Evolution, so it has all the teachers’ routes as well as the guys.
Bonus: Here’s the DS OP because I love that opening – “Ore wo Aise!” ^_^


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.2 VitaminX Detective B6
(PSP)
VitaminX AU where the heroine and the guys are all detectives in late Victorianish Britain. My memory’s hazy but I think there’s still the Tsukkomi/Through here. I haven’t finished any routes yet so I can’t comment much on the stories.



Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.3 Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.3 Vitamin X to Z
(PSP)
The combo fandisk for both VitaminX and VitaminZ, where you first pick which title to play in, and then go through a side story of the original game, one for each guy. Still has the Tsukkomi/Through game mechanic but no monthly quizzes, and they’re pretty much just fun romps.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.4 Last Escort Club Katze

Ever wondered what a host club is like? I’m sure this series is completely accurate in its portrayal of a high-end host club in Tokyo…or you could play it as a fun, slightly more adult otome game. Last Escort was unique when it began way back in 2006 – its setting is definitely more mature than most (though I”m sure real host clubs are much less glamorous than the game), and most otome games were focused on high school heroines (heck, they are even now). Otome games are kind of in the same industry as host clubs, so it’s an interesting challenge to present love stories where the heros are in the business of faking romance.


Ryouma Gaiden
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.5 Ishin Renka Ryouma Gaiden
(PSP)
Do you like historical settings, but you’re a little tired of Hijikata, Saitou, and Okita Souji? This game focuses on the other side of the Bakumatsu conflict, with the Ishin rebels who were trying to reinstate the emperor’s power. D3 made the first Bakumatsu otome game ever, and this series has always been historically accurate enough to hurt – no convenient potions around to save someone from tuberculosis here.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.6 VitaminZ Revolution
(PSP)
Longtime readers know I love this game – LOVE IT. I even like it more than the original VitaminX, which is pretty rare for a series game. The guys are a little less mean in this one, and the stories a little more even. And overall, I like the character designs more. Oh and since it’s Revolution, it includes the teachers’ routes!! My favourite!
(some intro posts for VitaminZ: Heroine and A4 : P2 and Admin


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.7 VitaminZ Graduation
(PSP)
A VitaminZ fandisk that attempts to insert more story into the days right before the endings of VitaminZ. I don’t know if it really works believably in terms of continuity, but it’s more VitaminZ so I’ll take it.

Strobe Mania
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.8 Strobe Mania
(PSP)
Somewhat odd game IMO, heroine gets involved in a group of young men who are trying to steal something back from the school president/principal/I can never remember the proper term. The writing didn’t pull me in, the characters seemed flat (I think I picked the wrong one first), so I never got to see the final ending which I think would answer many questions.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.9 Custom Drive

I didn’t play this one much, not enough to really grasp whether I liked it or not. The hook is that you pick everything about one of three guys, down to his haircut, clothing, and even personality so there are literally thousands of ‘variations’. I thought it would be tough to pull off into a good story, and I didn’t finish any routes to decide whether they were successful or not. It seems like it might be fun as more of a dressup game though.


Storm Lover
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.10 STORM LOVER Kai

Storm Lover, one of the few new otome game series that follows the Tokimemo model of stat-raising and semi-random events instead of being mostly visual novel. It’s fantastic for both those who love Tokimemo, and those who want to love it but don’t have the time/energy that it demands (OK, 3 wasn’t as bad but still! it takes a lot of dedication!) Storm Lover only covers one year, the stat raising is not as strict, and the event/stat-raising ratio is higher. Also excellent for being the first (?) otome game where you can break up with someone and date someone else *successfully*, heck you even get a special end if you date all six guys! I still haven’t gotten that, but it’s a longterm goal of mine :D (My Storm Lover review) Also, this is the Kai version, which is the expanded/improved version which I never got (until now, I can’t resist the price) And here’s the OP:


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.11 STORM LOVER Natsu Koi

(PSP) (pic is the original) – The fandisk for the original Storm Lover with a couple new routes for former side characters (Tatsumi!! and the sukebe school nurse!) and a new character. You won’t get the background of the characters if you haven’t played the original, but it does give a really good idea of the gameplay, and it’s a lot shorter, so may be easier to handle for those with short attention spans like moi (here’s my mini-review from a while ago)

Lots of good games in there! I wish they’d do Little Anchor…and Kurayami no Hate de Kimi o Matsu…and Saikin Koi Shiteru? – I hope if these are successful they’ll do more. Looking back, I forgot they did the Vampire Knight game! And Hoshizora no Comic Garden…and Reijou Tantei, a game which traumatized me but also brought me to the light of Suwabe Junichi…lots of good games from the PS2 and DS era if they were doing adaptations.

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Archive: VitaminX – Tutor a cute but dumb guy for a year!

August 6th, 2014

Originally posted at my deceased IGN blog on May 31, 2005. Publishing this for the cheap PSP re-release (more details tomorrow)!
VitaminX
That’s the basic premise of Vitamin X
You’re a fairly new teacher (around 23) at a well-known middle school that’s part of an elevator campus (i.e. it has all levels of school up to university). You’re excited to be suddenly promoted to the high school, but shocked when the principal tells you your job is to be the homeroom teacher for the infamous Class X, and to take on one of the B6 (Baka 6) as a special student and make sure he graduates next year. The B6 is a group of really good-looking guys, who have atrocious grades and are all problem students in their own way. You can choose:

All of these guys have their own issues, but the first thing you notice is how they make lots of mistakes in their speech and basic knowledge – it’s actually quite funny. One of the ways you raise the guy’s stats – yes, in this game you raise their stats, not your own! – is to hit a button when you notice them making a mistake. You can choose to either correct them (Tsukkomi) or go along with it (Through), and the choice will raise either their Study level or their Love level. The other way you raise them is at the end of each chapter (there are 12, one for each month) when there’s a quiz. The questions are mostly real questions, and though I’m sure they’re fairly easy for Japanese high school students, it’s tough for a native English speaker! But you don’t have to score too high on them to advance.
One other thing about the game is the other teachers – 6 very good-looking men who you can get some extra stories for while ‘capturing’ the students.
At the end, depending on the final score in love and study, you’ll get one of three endings for the students, and then you have extra stories for them and the teachers. I haven’t gotten any of the extra stories yet, but I’m determined to – I like the teachers as much as the students! I almost wish they had their own game. (Ed. I got my wish with VitaminX Evolution!)
Lots of well-known voices here and some great unfamiliar ones:
Teacher CV: Miyata Kouki, Inoue Kazuhiko, Sugita Tomokazu, Miyake Kenta, Oda Yuusei, Sakaguchi Daisuke
The game itself is a lot of fun, and I actually laughed out loud a lot while playing.
Production is great, with quick and easy saves, lots of options to replay easily, and pretty fast load times. The music is only so-so (Edit: the OP is great though!), I usually turned it off and played the radio. The amount of CG’s is medium, I’d prefer more, and some of them aren’t that great in terms of subject (some are just of you the teacher – what’s the use in that!?) but overall, this is a really enjoyable game with lots of fun, and each guy has some great quirks that make them unique.

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