What a shock when I saw this today!
Here’s a very rough translation of an article at Inside by Tsukui Kazuhito aka Sososo:
The parent company of game brand ‘Quinrose’, which makes female-targeted love adventure games, has halted operations and handed the business to a lawyer for debt consolidation.
It has become clear that the company stopped operations on Sept 25 and handed the business over to a lawyer. The amount of liabilities outstanding is still under investigation.
The ‘Quinrose’ brand mostly produced such games as Heart no Kuni no Alice and Arabian’s Lost for the PS Vita, PSP, and PC. It also sold related items such as soundtrack and drama CDs.
However, amidst increased competition and large changes in the market such as the upsurge in mobile gaming, sales dropped sharply. The company determined that it could not recover, and so stopped operations.
It is unclear as of 3pm on Oct 2 2015, what will happen to New Edition Majoou and Heart no Kuni no Alice~Wonderful Twin World~, slated for release on the PS Vita on October 22 2015 and October 29 2015 respectively. The ‘Quinrose’ brand portal site and game websites are still online as of today, so it’s possible that some announcement may be made there or on the Sony PS Vita website. For those who were planning on buying these games, or who have preordered, keep an eye out for further information there.
I had no idea this was coming. From what I understand Quinrose was pretty much run by one person, I was kind of amazed at how prolific the company was, even if I had stopped buying all their games. Now I really really wish they’d done a decent job translating the mobile Alice game, because I’m sure they would have gotten at least some buyers for that.
This review was way harder than I thought it would be, and took me months longer than it should have. After all, I’m familiar with the story and have played several routes, usually at this point I have very strong opinions about a game! But Harutoki 6 is different. I can’t decide whether it’s good or just ok, and how much my own experience and biases play into my judgment. But first, an intro on the game itself:
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 6 is the latest console otome game from Koei’s Neoromance line. As you can guess from the title number, Harutoki goes back a long way, and the last 4 games have all had RPG gameplay, making it one of the few otome games completely outside the visual novel genre.
The story is based on the ‘girl swept away to another world’ trope, and it’s always to a world similar to historical Japan, but with major differences (often the difference is that there’s magic / demons around). The girl is hailed as the priestess of the guardian dragon (Ryuu no Miko), and gets eight hachiyou, or guardians. There are two guardian dragaons, the White Dragon (Hakuryuu), and Black Dragon (Kokuryuu), with one priestess for each.
In the past, the heroine has always been the White Dragon Priestess, with the power to put demons at peace and purify objects/places. For the first time ever, in this game you play the Black Dragon Priestess, with the power to hear demons, control and quiet them, but not to fully exorcise them. This position has been there since the beginning, sometimes as an enemy, sometimes as an ally (can’t remember if #4 had it though…). It changes the dynamic a lot, since you can never really ‘save’ the demons. Also, you don’t get all your guardians until very late – for half the game you’re playing with four, and half you’re playing with the other four. Only near the very end can you choose from all your guardians (your party is you, and up to two of your guardians).
The gameplay is also changed. Harutoki is one of the few otome game series to have actual combat gameplay, though it’s always turn-based. It used to be straight RPG, but in 6 it includes some strategy RPG/cardgame features, like playing on a grid and having to be tactical about where your characters move. You can also use demons in combat as extra party members. Some gameplay is familiar though, such as choosing locations on a map to activate character events necessary to move forward in their routes. You only get a set number of moves in a day, and if there’s no specific event at a location, you gather up cards of certain elements to level up your characters, or battle monsters of a certain element (this is where you collect demon cards to deploy later).
And of course, through all this, you’re increasing your affection by fighting alongside your companions and completing their events successfully.
For an otome game, this is a fairly complex system, and it’s pretty fun to go around gathering cards and leveling up your characters. Not only are monsters cards, but your characters are as well – and after certain events (or getting an ending), you get pumped-up versions of your character cards with different specialties and elements. Based on the gameplay, I’d definitely recommend this to otome fans who are bored with visual novels.
But in terms of the story and romance, I’m not sure how I feel. The tradeoff from having lots of fun combat and choice in what you do is that the story doesn’t always flow smoothly. And depending on the character, events might feel very spaced out.
The story as well is on a smaller scale than previous games, which were set during famous wars or even mythic times. This is set in the Taisho era, which is really nice to have a different flavour than all the games set during the Bakumatsu (ahem #5), but it means the tensions are more political and less military, more below the surface. They did a good job making it suspenseful, but it’s a bit frustrating, once you know who the ‘bad guy’ is, to not be able to just go and beat him up to stop him. The story is fairly dark too, there’s a side character who dies which I was kind of upset that there’s no way to save him.
All of the combat and politics can make the romance feel marginalized. If you just came from a game like Amnesia, for example (BTW, I need to review that as soon as I’m finished it!), with a very intense, tight focus on the heroine and only a couple other characters and their interpersonal drama, Harutoki can feel overly broad. On the other hand, some of the routes are quite angsty when you pay attention to each scene. One thing I never worry about with Harutoki is feeling like the writers are just repeating things or explaining too much to pad the story. Also, there is an option to skip battles you’ve done before, so the only one you really need to get through is the final one.
The characters are:
Darius (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) – the head of the oni clan
Rudo Harne (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke) – his right-hand man
Honjou Masatora (CV: Takemoto Eiji) – hired muscle, half oni/half human
Kohaku (CV: Abe Atsushi) – a human with amnesia and cursed markings
Arima Hajime (CV: Okiayu Ryoutarou) – the commander of the group fighting the demons
Katagiri Shuuhei (CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko) – his right-hand man
Hagio Kudan (CV: Shitanda Michael) – a seer who summoned the miko
Satoya Murasame (CV: Yasumoto Hiroki) – an author and detective
So far, my favourite route is the amoral, obnoxious goon on the right here:
Buut that’s probably just because he’s my type. Shuuhei was also very good!
So, with all of these features and caveats, in the end, can I recommend Harutoki 6? I did enjoy it a lot myself. I think my main reservation is that I wouldn’t recommend it for someone’s first Harutoki. The importance of the Hakuryuu, the frustration of not being able to purify demons, and the suspense of waiting to get hachiyou are all diminished if you’ve never played this series before. But I do recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a different kind of otome game in terms of gameplay, and definitely if you’ve played other Harutoki games, I think you’ll enjoy this one.
Mini-review time! I’ve been playing tons lately as I had a week of vacation in August. I’m going to do smallish posts reviewing what I’ve played so far on them. I don’t feel like I can do full reviews without finishing most of the characters, so they’re not ‘official’ reviews!
First up, Shinobi, Koi Utsutsu Sengetsu(sp?) Koi Emaki for the Vita. I loved loved LOVED the original on PSP, and this adaptation for the Vita added four more characters that you can romance. I’m a little disappointed because there’s nothing extra added for the original six characters, but it’s still great to replay, and so far (I’ve finished good routes for 3 of the 4 new guys) I really like the additions. Also, they made the system a little more organized, in that after the first round you can skip right to the selection part, and do Sanada’s route and the harem route right from the beginning. I’d still recommend doing all of them before if possible to get the most of out it!
Playing on the Vita is great, the art is just so gorgeous and I love the bigger screen.
Plus, no waiting time while dialogue loads, it’s awesome.
My next mini-review will be either KLAP, Prince of Stride, or Vamwolf Cross.
Since Vamwolf Cross was pushed back three weeks, I had to wait for my June games for what felt like forever. In the meantime, I ended up installing and playing FFXIV, Square-Enix’s rebooted MMORPG. It just got an expansion, named Heavensward, so I picked up both on Steam not realizing that Heavensward is useless before you get to level 50, lol.
FFXI was my first MMORPG way back in the day before I (re)started playing console games, and though I didn’t get that far (highest level was 37 I think?), it took over my life enough that I had to quit cold turkey. It was pretty unforgiving, and I was really afraid that FFXIV would be similar. I have enough to do without a third job on top of my day job and Chromatic!
Anyways, it seems Square-Enix really learned a lot from being marginalized by WoW and other MMOs, and FFXIV, at least in the early stages, is pretty easy to pick up and play at your own pace, and the story, while a little bland in the beginning, seems to get better and better. I haven’t had any bad run-ins with other players yet, though reading some reddit threads scares me a bit about dungeons. I’ve done a few which have been ok, but it seems people don’t like newbies watching the cutscenes while they have to wait? Seems kind of ridiculous to me. Anyways, just like other MMORPGs, it requires some grouping, so you have to have certain level of don’t give-a-fuck or it’s too stressful when you have jerks in a group or make a mistake.
There are tons of callbacks to previous FFs, from the classes and jobs to monsters, and there’s even a Gold Saucer casino with chocobo racing. It’s pretty great for FF fans just for nostalgia, but I’m enjoying it even apart from that. Right now I’m lost in the fun of gathering and crafting. One thing I love about FFXIV (FFXI had this too), is that one character/avatar can be any job. You start off in one of three main cities depending on which class you pick first, and all you have to do to get another class is visit that guild. They’re spread out among the three starter cities.
I’ve had no problem with having enough money since I’m leveling all my crafter/gatherer classes together. And one of the annoying things about FFXI, travel, is pretty much fixed here too. Towns and cities have a crystal which, once you attune yourself to them once, you can travel to them from anywhere just paying some money. SO MUCH better than FFXI where you had to beg or pay a mage to teleport you, or run out to the middle of a zone somewhere. It also makes crafting/gathering much easier, because zones each have their own crops which are fairly limited.
Overall, I recommend FFXIV for fans of FF who are thinking of an MMORPG. There’s a 30-day trial period which I’m still in myself, so you’d have to re-evaluate after that whether it’s worth subscribing for ~$15 monthly. I don’t know if I’ll continue, since I have just a few otome games waiting for me, but in the meantime it definitely scratches an RPG itch really well.
And speaking of otome games…I got both my June and July shipment-yay!! Now I’m drowning in new games, and it’s glorious. Can I brag and list all the games?? Since this is my blog, I’m gonna go ahead and do that.
I’m almost up to another holiday – this has been a light otome game month for me, mostly because Vamwolf Cross got pushed back and so my whole monthly shipment hasn’t come yet (urrghghghhgh). But it’s not like I have a shortage of games to play, so here’s a few I’m trying:
Possession Magenta – this is the new game from Comfort, the same team that did Arcana Famiglia. The art’s great, much more colourful than AF. It starts off with a mildly boring intro (sorry, I’m so impatient) and then comes a shock plot point of having a student’s extremely weird death (it’s not proved as a murder but it totally is) happen. There’s a lot that reminds me of Persona 4 (not as well-done though), but the pacing is still pretty slow so far. And it has some gameplay but I’ve only used it once so far in about 5 hours…meh. Still, it’s early.
Zettai Kaikyuu Gakuen – I’d roughly translate this as Absolute Hierarchy Campus, and that’s a pretty accurate description. It’s set in one of those ‘children of the rich’ high schools where it’s all about status, but there’s a bunch of differences – it’s set in a somewhat dystopian future, and there is something seriously wrong going on in this school. Pretty good so far, I’m probably going to do a comparison post between this and…
Walpurga no Uta – I got this a few months ago, and was SO excited about it, but didn’t have time. It’s by the writer and artist from Sangokuren Senki, which I love. I can’t make a final judgment on this one yet either, but I’m writing a post as I go. Very pretty art, the music is done well but chosen poorly for each scene. More to come!
Phoenix Wright vs. Professor Layton (or vice versa) – I finished this a while ago but discovered the special episodes, so I played through them all over a couple days. Lots of fun, Barnham is pretty cute in these.
It’s taking me longer and longer to finish otome games these days – besides feeling a bit burned out on them, I’m busy with Chromatic and my normal job. But I do still find time to do some gaming, often casual gaming or just mucking around in Skyrim or Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Sometimes I look for reviews for casual games, but a lot of people have different preferences than mine, so I’m going to start posting my thoughts on some of these as I play them. What I like are historical and/or fantasy-based settings, and no horror or thriller stuff. There’s a ton that are set in old hospitals, serial killers, etc., and I don’t enjoy them. My favourite series is the Dark Parables titles from Blue Tea Games they have a bunch of titles based on fairy tales. The first one is the Curse of Briar Rose. It’s very pretty, which is another preference of mine – I have no desire to play games with ugly/boring backgrounds and items.
The last week I’ve been playing the following:
Wanderland (Big Fish Games): This is a free to play hidden object adventure game, which means that after your first hour or so, you have to wait for your energy to recharge before doing much more. These can be annoying because the quests have tons of steps, all of which require several objects that may or may not drop when you do a HO scene, but they’re good to get a quick hit of gaming which you can’t draw out too long. This one is up my alley, being fantasy-based, with various characters walking around to get quests and items from, and portals to fairy tale worlds where you’re trying to solve the problems within (is it even possible to get to the end of these? I don’t know). It also has a twist in that enemies walk around too, and you can fight them and get different items.
So far I’m kind of enjoying this, but my experiences with Awakening Kingdoms and Midnight Castle (I got tired of them after my data and levels, items, everything got ‘lost’ a couple times) mean that my expectations are pretty low.
I’ve also finished a couple regular HO games, Mythic Wonders: Child of Prophecy and The Secret Order – can’t remember which one, which were ok. I usually buy any HO games set in locations or time periods which aren’t used often – I thought Mythic Wonders was set in China but it was Japan. It had bad ‘Asian’ accents in the voiceovers but the setting, plot and minigames etc. felt pretty Japanese.
Now I’m trying Dark Romance: Heart of the Beast which is a modified Beauty and the Beast story. So far I like it, you take turns being the heroine and the hero, and the games etc. are fairly easy but interesting.
I’ll probably be adding more posts like these on a sporadic basis, they’re much faster than a regular otome review (still working on Harutoki 6, eheh).
It’s about time I reviewed an English otome game from Steam, since there are a few available now. I found out about Nameless from a friend of a friend who asked if I’d played the ‘doll otome game’. At first it sounded a bit weird, but this game is about ball-joint dolls who come to life – hey, anyone remember that old Otomate game Will o’ Wisp (great but short)? I wonder if it inspired this.
Anyways, Nameless starts off with our heroine Eri, a fairly normal Korean high school girl, who has lived alone for a year or so after her grandfather died. Her parents are both very busy scientists, so they live abroad and she was pretty much raised by her grandfather.
She’s always loved dolls, and over the last while, she’s been collecting very well-made but expensive ball-joint dolls made by a certain company, Crobidolls, who create personas for each one (check out that link y’all, all the Nameless characters are there!). She treats them very well, even talking to them while she does chores around the house, but she keeps it a secret from her friends, afraid they’ll find it weird.
One morning, she hears noises from the living room and goes in to find that they’ve all woken up and become human. They call her by name, and it takes her a while to even realize that these are her dolls. They remember everything she’s told them, and besides her shock, she’s embarrassed at how well they know her.
The dolls are (from left to right and then the short one)
Red (CV: Seong-tae Park) – An unpopular model, Red is the only one in existence. His character is that of a sentai hero (think Power Rangers). He’s energetic and open, and makes friends easily.
Lance (CV: Jaeheon Jung) – The cold but beautiful doll with long silver hair, Lance is the first doll Eri got. As a human he doesn’t show much emotion.
Tei (CV: Beomgi Hong) – also from the ‘older’ line, Tei is mature and calm in all situations. He also makes all the food.
Yuri (CV: Donghoon Lee) – From the adult line, Yuri is tall, dark and handsome – and he knows it. He flirts with Eri all the time, and is usually surrounded by women.
Yeon-ho (CV: Do-hyeong Hang) – The very cute and youngest-seeming doll, Yeon-ho is naive and fairly timid.
They don’t know why they turned human, but they all end up going to school with Eri – Yuri as a music teacher, Tei and Red in the third-year class, and Lance and Yeon-ho in second-year with Eri. They get treated like idols for their good looks, and Eri tries not to let the other students know how involved she is with them, even her best friends Soi (CV: Yeongeun Kim) and Shinbi (CV: Yul Kim). Soi is a boy-crazy girly girl with an extremely forceful personality, and Shinbi is a very good-looking model in the androgynous style, who is quiet but always says what she thinks. I love both of them.
Plotwise, you follow a fairly normal course of going to school, having some group episodes, a couple ‘date’ scenes, leading to conflict around the time of the school festival, and then resolution. However, the game definitely has a stronger overarching story than many others, which I can’t say much about to avoid spoilers.
I felt like the game was a decent length, and I had to pace myself instead of jumping from one story to the next, because I really wanted to finish everything – apparently I still may have missed something, though I’ve gotten through the ‘hidden’ route.
Though the game has a fantastic premise, there’s not much fantasy in the main storyline. What there is, is a lot of psychological drama – especially in the last route (which has to be Red, you have to complete everyone else’s route first), it was pretty agonizing by the end. The game builds up tension really well, showing hints here and there but not letting you see what’s really going on until the end.
Part of what makes this game great are the side characters. Soi and Shinbi are perfect foils for Eri, and Soi pretty much owns every scene she’s in (great voice acting too, though I can’t understand a word of Korean). Though she’s definitely a loud personality, you can’t dislike her, and her characterization is pretty deep.
Overall, I really liked Nameless. The art was very pretty, in a totally different style than most otome games, and from what I could tell the voice acting was really good too (Soi’s the best!) I thought I wouldn’t care about Lance or Yeon-ho at all, but I ended up enjoying their routes a lot. The plot was interesting and the storytelling was intense.
I recommend it! I haven’t played it, but the same company has another otome game on Steam called Dandelion which is next on my Steam list.
Here are some videos for games that are being localized to English, or (this is a copout) that I think should be! Usually I do these posts for the weekend, but…I really want it to be Friday, so this is going out early. Plus I just heard about the latest on the list and can’t restrain my joy!
I actually put this in BEFORE the recent Aksys announcement that they were localizing it – I’m so happy Code: Realize is coming to English fans! I recently finished it (full comp except for bad endings!) and I really liked it. All the stories were really good, several were bittersweet (which means I really want a fandisk), the graphics were beautiful, and I recommend it strongly. Look at this OP, isn’t it pretty? I love the costume design (separate from the character design, which I also like). Steampunk alternate history Victorian London with Arsène Lupin and Van Helsing! You can’t go wrong – well, you can, but Code: Realize did it right.
Amnesia V! I believe this is the version coming to English gamers from Idea Factory International, unfortunately only in digital copies (but honestly I’ll take what I can get).
Ozmafia! I was incredibly happy when this was announced as being translated by Mangagamer , and I think it will be great – lots of routes and a truly interesting story when you play everything. Also, that fairly addictive OP is by a boy band, Article One, from Ontario! Crazy.
Sweet Fuse At Your Side – this is old but it’s still great, and still one of the few otome games available in English commercially.
And finally, the fandisk I’m most looking forward to this year, Shinobi Koi Utsutsu Yuzuki Hana Koi Emaki for the Vita. Coming this June! Maybe if Code: Realize does well…
Also, there are TONS of indie otome games being made in English, I’m going to post about them soon (after the Nameless review). If you know of one please let me know in the comments or on twitter or anywhere! I’m sure I only know a small portion of what’s out there.
There are quite a few mobile otome games on the market now and both Android and iOS users can get in on the action (Windows Mobile, I don’t think so but correct me if I’m wrong). I thought I’d do an introduction and rundown of the titles I’m familiar with.
One of the great things about the surge in mobile games is that it’s a fantastic channel for otome games and visual novels in general, and since there’s often no sound, there are lots that are translated to English – there are way more mobile otome games available than console or PC games. The lack of PC and console otoge saddens me because that’s my bread and butter, but really, anything that gets more otome games available to more people is a good thing.
Since mobile is both relatively new and relatively (emphasis on relative) cheap, there are a lot of different formats and ways that the creators are trying to make money. Some are more annoying than others (this is foreshadowing…)
There seem to be a couple big companies who take developed games and publish them for mobile, and will also often make two versions of them – paid, and ‘free to play’ or f2p. Voltage and Solmare are two which have a lot of titles on the market.
I personally like the paid versions better, as you pay $3-5 for a story and can then read/play it whenever you have time. You can also REplay it very easily.
However, if you don’t like that, you can play the f2p versions. In these, you get a set amount of ‘energy’ or ‘story tickets’, often 1 point per four hours, and you can only read a bit of the story at a time. Also, there are usually challenges throughout the story where you need to spend more points, and there’s a chance of failure, or you need to ‘train’ some stat such as ‘charm’ or ‘princess points’. Many also have avatar gameplay, where you can dress up your character in different clothes and have decorations in your room. You can still spend real money on these, and if you’re impatient, it can easily end up being more than the paid version, which is another reason I like the paid versions.
When you go on the Google Play pages for the paid versions, you’ll often see complaints that you have to pay. I gotta say, these piss me off because most of these games don’t have ads – how are the creators supposed to make any money? Do people expect creators to work at a non-game making job during the day and then spend all their ‘off’ time making and maintaining games for free? Give me a damn break. Ahem, sorry.
However, even though I get the paid when possible, I often get the free versions as well – because spinoff stories are usually only available on the free version. I get the best of both worlds, yay!
Here’s a quick listing of some of the games available, and my general impressions of them. Links are usually to the Google Play store.
Pirates in Love: This was one of the first to be translated, and I was really jealous of my iPhone-using friends because it was in the AppStore way before anything came out for Android (at least that I could find) and it looked gorgeous. Now it’s available on Google Play too, and I’ve played through a few routes.
Now, it’s not cheap. A free intro tries to hook you on one or more of the guys, and to get each of their routes you’ll have to pay $4 each. There are no voices (though this is standard for mobile games). That’s pretty expensive if you want more than one or two routes.
However, the art is gorgeous, and though the dialogue is bad, for me it’s in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category. The CGs are few but nice. And since it was the first mobile otome game I played, I didn’t realize that the production values were actually pretty high – there are save and load options, the transitions are pretty smooth, and the user interface is nice.
Magic Sword: You’re a princess who has to go on a quest with an elf archer, a mage, and a swordsman to win back your country’s treasure, Excalibur, which has been stolen by King Arthur and Merlin. I consider the system here to be similar to Pirates in Love. Free prologue, pay $4 per character and then you can play it as much as you want. Right now there are three routes. The art is really nice (I think comparable to Pirates in Love), and the routes are pretty good – though I would recommend not playing Ethan first as he’s…hard to like in the beginning. Also, there are three endings for each guy, and in one you have sex! The CG isn’t that graphic but the narration…sometimes is. Just a note.
There’s also a ‘free-to-play‘ version, which I’ve been playing the side stories on.
Alice in the Heart – various prices – Quinrose put the full version of Heart on Kuni no Alice on Android, including voices! That’s the good news. The bad news is the translation is atrocious, and when I can’t listen to the Japanese (like when Alice is talking or thinking), sometimes I can’t even figure out what the dialogue means. I’ve heard lots of people complaining about the price, which for all characters and voices is $38, but I actually think that’s reasonable – or it would be if the translation was decent. I’ve heard that they finally hired some help to fix it, so I look forward to being able to recommend it to everyone after that.
Hakuoki Premium Hakuoki Normal – I haven’t played this, but it says that it’s full-voice and has an extra scenario. Even with the normal version you have to pay for each chapter, if I got it I’d go for the premium at $29 to get it all at once for cheaper.
Scarlet Fate Scarlet Fate+ – This is another console otome game ported to mobile, but unfortunately it doesn’t include voices or music. It’s Hiiro no Kakera 4/5, the Heian one. I’m playing the paid one now, and it’s good, but even on my tablet the CGs aren’t at full size which is sad, and having no voices, music, or sound effects really takes away from the atmosphere. This is one title which I think I’d rather play on a console.
Shall we date: Ninja Love Shall We Date? Ninja Love+ – This is from Solmare, who have also made Destiny Ninja and many other titles. The paid version (first link) is $4 for all three main characters, which I think is pretty good.
Shall we date: Destiny Ninja – I think this is one of the more successful mobile otome games. It’s set during the Genpei war (Genji vs. Taira) and you’re a young noblewoman who loses her memory and gets saved by the Genji side. There are lots of characters, and it’s not too hard to get through a story without spending money. There are also a metric ton of side stories. I find it funny that two of the ‘starting’ ninja who the company assumes are popular, are the ones everyone hates (because they’re jerks). I’m working on those ones now since I’ve finished all the others, and they’re just as annoying as I thought! If you’re wondering about this one, when I looked for a PV on Youtube, I didn’t find an official video but I found TONS of playthrough vids. OH, and one thing that excites and scares me – they have some bonus stories which are voiced! I haven’t tried them yet.
Some other mobile games I’ve played a bit:
Mononoke Kiss: Heian Japan, you’re a princess who finds out your (dead) mom was the keeper of a Demon Sword. A bad spirit, Jinosuke, comes and kills your dad and good spirits show up to protect you. OK art, I’ve just finished my first route (normal ending, boooo!) so I can’t talk much about the story.
My Sweet Bodyguard: One of the few contemporary mobile games which isn’t about the guys being princes or rich/famous people, in this you choose your own bodyguard when you’re targeted because your dad is the Japanese PM. I liked it up until I couldn’t get any farther because of the minigames/requirements. $5 is the max I’ll pay for each route in a f2p, and either I would’ve had to pay more, or my payments weren’t working correctly. Either way, I gave up on this.
My Sweet Hero: Kind of similar to My Sweet Bodyguard, your dad is a scientist working on something dangerous and gets kidnapped. This one I could buy each route so I did, it was pretty good although the ninja guy’s attitude pissed me off.
There are also a few games which you can buy in the English Google Play stores (I’m in Canada, I’m sure they’re in the US and probably Europe and Australia?) which haven’t been translated from Japanese. I really wish that Midnight Library, in particular, would get translated, because the art’s really nice, and the stories are different than most mobile games I’ve played.
Tengu Otogizoushi – unvoiced – A historical fantasy set in Kyoto where the heroine is getting ready to dance in an upcoming festival to her father’s flute music. Her mom died giving birth to her, so she feels responsible to take care of her father and uphold his reputation. She’s promised to marry a childhood friend, Kagetoki, who’s an onmyouji (priest/exorcist). One night when she’s practicing dancing she gets kidnapped by a tengu, Yamabuki, a powerful winged spirit who protects the local mountain. At first she’s afraid, but then remembers that she was saved from evil spirits by this same tengu years ago, and she promised then to become his wife when she grew up. There are also two other tengu, Chitose and Koharu, who show up. Yamabuki agrees to let her go back home until the festival is over so her father doesn’t get in trouble. While she’s at home getting ready, the choices you make determine whether you choose to go with one of the tengu or marry Kagetoki. Apparently there’s also another spirit, Asahi. Some of the scenery is really nice, and the character designs are pretty good. I really enjoyed this one, it was very atmospheric and almost mystical. (I can’t find this anymore, which is too bad as I found it very different from other mobile games).
Midnight Library – unvoiced $4 / route – the intro for this has an AWFUL icon that looks like clip art from the 80’s. Ignore it, because the character designs and stories are actually very nice and I really enjoyed it. You’re a normal high school girl, and by chance you and a group of schoolmates start searching the school library at night for a rumoured book that will grant one wish. The stories are all really different, and one of them actually creeped me out a lot (in a good, horror/suspense kind of way).
Oiran – mostly unvoiced, mostly free – in this one you travel back in time to the Bakumatsu in Edo (yes the Shinsengumi, these boys sure get around!), where you get to know all the important characters of the period as an oiran. It’s not as story-based as most games, but it’s quick to play and has a bunch of fun avatar and game mechanics. It’s also way easier to play without spending any money than many mobile games. Plus you don’t have to choose one character route, as you pretty much just get story bits at random when the characters come visit you at the restaurant/bar where you work.
There are way more games available, especially the Shall we date series which has almost any setup you can think of…my favourite right now is The Niflheim, which is a somewhat steampunk/gothic story set in the land of the dead.
My favourite site for guides (because it really hurts when you pick one wrong answer and you can’t save or reload in these games!) is Otome Otaku Girl – it’s fantastic and has so many mobile game guides! I also found a new forum/database site that focuses on English otome games (especially mobile) from her links, Kokoro Cafe!
(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 Sanada Koutou Shuurenin 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 thinking near 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.