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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The weird and wonderful world of Ozmafia

July 4th, 2014

I finally finished playing Ozmafia a while ago. It took a long time, because to get the ‘Grand End’ you have to finish most endings, including bad endings and versus endings. For the main three heroes, they each have versus routes with each other, and it’s tough to remember which ones you’ve done.

There is no backstory for the heroine. She wakes up in an alley, with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. Soon after, she’s attacked by a handsome white-haired man, and finally escapes into a different part of the city. She’s found by three men, Caramia, Axel, and Kyrie. They all belong to one of the city’s ‘families’, in their case the Oz Family, which controls different parts of the city. They invite her back to their mansion as a guest and she’s named Fuuka.

Throughout the following days, Fuuka meets more of the city’s inhabitants from the different families – Scarlet (Red Riding Hood), Hansel and Gretel from the Grim family, Heidi from the Heidi family, Pachet from the Longboots family, and Ande, Ering, and Melisus from the Andersen family. She also meets several characters that are somewhat neutral – Sou, who lives and works for Caesar, the man who attacked Fuuka in the beginning, Dorian Gray and and Manboy, who own and work at Oscar Wilde, and Robin Hood, the town doctor who can apparently heal anyone as long as they’re still alive.

For most of the story she stays with the Oz family and is pretty free to go around talking to whomever she chooses. There are some events that will always happen, such as her getting kidnapped by Caesar and then escaping, some gang scuffles, and then a sudden outbreak of violence due to a criminal, Hamelin, returning from his banishment.

At first I had a hard time getting into Ozmafia. Past the introduction, it feels very open-ended, and the first playthrough can feel like it takes a long time with many minor scenes and nothing really dramatic. However, once you get to the summer festival, things pick up a lot. This is when you choose someone’s route if you’ve made the right choices, but you still have several possible endings. You can also have versus routes, and can even CHANGE your relationship – break up with one guy (all the versus routes are with the Oz family IIRC) and start dating another. This is REALLY rare in otome games, other than Storm Lover I can’t think of one right now.

The endings vary wildly in how happy they are, and some are more bittersweet. Once you get all the different endings including the versus endings (there’s no in-game tracker which would have been really helpful), you can proceed to the Grand Ending, which explains a lot of very odd aspects of characters and what happens in the other routes. When you’re playing the routes they can seem not that important, but by the end you REALLY want to know what the deal is. The Grand Ending ties everything up, though that doesn’t mean it’s the best ending. I actually like some of the other endings more from a romance perspective (the Grand Ending really isn’t a romance).

The characters are really interesting and not as easily described as many otome games. One thing I found interesting was that no one was really 100% good and honorable, not even Fuuka. Sometimes I was surprised at how callous she could be, which contrasts with her character design a lot and makes her much deeper than a lot of otome game heroines. And some of the endings…wow! Just…finish all the Oscar Wilde endings, you’ll see what I mean. I can’t really pick a favourite character, though I always tend to want to go on Axel’s route just because he’s my ‘type’.

The game’s not perfect – sometimes I felt that the pacing was off and I’d love more meaty character scenes, and the constant eye captures which you can’t skip easily get really annoying. I had to follow a guide really closely to get to the Grand Ending. But overall I really enjoyed this game as a whole, and I’m ecstatic that it’s getting an English release. I even have a bunch of Ozmafia merchandise (including a tapestry, yup) because I really want it to do well so Poni Pachet will make more with these characters.

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Ozmafia getting an English release!!

July 4th, 2014

All the details are in Chic Pixel’s post here. This is really fantastic news guys!

Oh, here’s the announcement from Manga Gamer. They have a PV there, which, some interesting trivia – the group which sang the Ozmafia opening is a Christian boy band from London, Ontario! Pretty random, I like it a lot though.

I guess I should post that review of Ozmafia I’ve had waiting for months…

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Archive: Harutoki 4 Released TODAY!

June 30th, 2014

[EDIT: Boy was I excited for this, it was the first Harutoki game (I think the first otome game) that I got as soon as it came out. It wasn't as good as #3, but I still loved it, and I still think it's underrated. Can't believe it's been six years!]

2008/06/19
Well, technically about 14 hours ago, since Japan is a day ahead. But YEAH, I have been counting down since February and even earlier when it was expected in March.

Cannot WAIT, I am planning some serious hermit time at home while I play through it a couple times – maybe the weather will continue to be crappy so I don’t feel guilty about not going outside.

I should get my copy next week sometime…hopefully on Friday so I can play right through Canada Day weekend! Woot!

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Spring/Summer Releases!

May 5th, 2014

It’s been a while, and though I haven’t been able to find my Exorcism of Maria disk to finish that review (though much cursing was done while searching) I’ve still been keeping up with the news. Let’s take a look at upcoming titles!

Just released (end of April):

Chronostacia from Otomate (PSP) – the gorgeous looking fantasy about time banks. It’s been 10 years since the Time Revolution, when a way was found to manipulate time and people started banking time, buying time, and selling it. Now, in Albion, 17-year-old Lucia is happy working at her uncle’s café, before the country is shocked by the news that someone has raided the time bank and stole all the time. Albion has only 99 days left to exist. Lucia finds a small hourglass, and gains the power of Chronostasis – the power to stop time. Why was she given this power? Can she save Albion?
I haven’t played this yet, but I’m looking forward to it – I mean just look at that homepage. So pretty.

Snow Black from Quinrose (PSP) – Quinrose’s take on Snow White, where Snow Black is a princess who gets her country taken over by the evil advisor, Levine, who crowned himself queen. Lots of great seiyuu and a varied cast of characters, I’m hoping this will be fun. I also hope there’s a Levine route as he seems kind of awesome (and is voiced by Tsuda Kenjirou!)

And two PC R-18 releases in one month!

Onedari Sharemate from A’sRing, which sounds like it could be great, with a variety of relationships revolving around a heroine who shares a house with several hot men, but it was hard to be excited about since the company wouldn’t allow people outside Japan to check out the website. Annoying.

Torikago no Mariage from Kalmia8, which doesn’t interest me much both because of the plot – rich sheltered heroine loses her doting father and has to repay his debts by selling herself – or the art, where the heroine’s eyes are a bit too empty for me (same with other characters really).

Now, moving forward to actual spring and summer!

May release – Amnesia World (PS Vita) from Otomate – I think this is a fandisk/AU/minigame collection of Amnesia where you choose different ‘worlds’ to visit and play in, seeing different stories in each one. The worlds are School World, Music World, and Criminal World (exciting!)

May release – Heart no Kuni no Alice ~ Wonderful Twin World ~ from Quinrose (PSP) – Another Heart Alice game, this time a storm comes to the Country of Hearts and changes people in different ways, sometimes their appearance, sometimes their personality. There’s also a new character(s), Humpty and Dumpty (CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko), replacing the Bloody Twins.

June release – Black Code (PSP) from Quinrose – the heroine Lucielle, lives in a small country, and she brings bad luck on the people around her. The game focuses on a mafia vs. special ops kind of dynamic. I was disappointed with School Wars, so I don’t know if I’ll jump to get this.

July release – Soukai Buccaneers (PS Vita) from Petit Rêve – A pirate otome game!! I don’t know why this was never thought of before – ok yes, there’s Pirates in Love, I mean on a console – I can’t wait for this one. They have a really good cast, and I like the art, it’s very colourful and fun, and I really really hope the writing is decent.

August release – Ayakashi Gohan from honeybee (PC) – the Starry Sky artist turns her(his?) talents to designing cute and pretty human-like ayakashi for the heroine to fall for. It’s set in a small town where humans and ayakashi (are these the same as youkai? I never know) live together, and you start off as a little girl. Depending on your choices during that stage, you’ll become either a quiet introvert or a confident extrovert who eventually starts working at a restaurant run by an ayakashi.

There are several other games which may come out soonish as well, but no release dates yet, so this is all for now!

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Archive – Assassin, Cheater, Gangster, Thief – Which criminal will you marry?

March 17th, 2014

[EDIT: Ah, my Arabian's Doubt post! Looking back at this, I would still say most of this, except for the gameplay - it's actually a lot more varied than many otome games, lol. This was one of my first so I didn't realize how common straight visual novels would be. Also the production values - I would give it a lower rating than before, because some things are not user-friendly, and IIRC the combat part is kind of cheesy in terms of graphics and sounds.]

Originally posted on my IGN blog on 2007/11/09

That’s the old skipping rhyme adapted for this otome game :P.
You are Princess Eileen of the country Gilcatall, a desert nation whose primary export is thieves, killers, and con men. The king, Eileen’s father, clawed his way to the throne by beating out all the other crooks who wanted the position, and now wants his only child, you, to follow in his footsteps. Problem is, Eileen wants to be ‘normal’. She wants no part of the outlaw lifestyle which is regular in Gilcatall, even though she’s been brought up trained in the criminal arts – lockpicking, stealing, fighting, etc. Her parents summon her one day and tell her she needs to pick a fiance, and since she doesn’t have one in mind, they’ve made a list of six potentials. Desperate to avoid such an abnormal situation, she makes a deal with her parents – if she can beg, borrow, or steal 10 million gold in the next month, they’ll let her off and she can live her life how she pleases. If not…they will pick her future husband. The six suitors have instructions to accompany Eileen if she asks them, but not to help her, since that would be too easy.

Now I don’t know about you, but this is the first time I’ve played a love simulation where the capturable characters are not just ‘bad boys’, they’re all hardened criminals in one way or another. And these characters, while they all have good points, are no Robin Hoods who steal from only evil people and help the innocent – they’ve all killed people and are capable of being totally ruthless. Your choices are:

  • Curtis Nile – the best assassin in Gilcatall and probably the world, and creepily mild and unassuming
  • Shark Brandon – a shady salesman who will sell anything to anyone for the right price
  • Stuart Sink – ready to take over from his father as the head of the capital city’s north area, even if he has to kill his father to get him out of the way
  • Tyrone Bail – the heir to control of the city’s south area, he looks and acts like a gang thug
  • Robert Cromwell – a professional gambler who owns the city’s biggest casino and thrives on uncertainty and risk
  • There’s also your tutor, Lyle, who seems normal but has a dark past roaming the world with Robert and amassing a fortune by criminal means, and a weird pair of guests, Maisen, a self-professed prince, and Michael, the demon who owns his soul.

    Interesting group to say the least!

    The gameplay is nothing special. You have 25 days to go out and kill monsters for money and items. The fights are rudimentary – keep your HP up long enough to kill the monster. Non-combat play is pretty much picking an area and companion (one of the suitors), trying to win money at roulette (the other main way of earning money), or visiting the bar. You improve your relationship with the guys by fighting with them, and at certain levels events happen. There are apparently 3 endings for each character – one where you make enough money, one where you don’t, and one if you make the money and get to Level 5. I’ve only gotten 2 endings for most of the characters, but they were both interesting.

    The gameplay is not why you should play this game. The characters are – they have more depth than the average otome game characters, they’re interesting, and there’s a lot of events and CGs. Playing through each character gives you more background and context for the whole situation, and it’s actually quite fun to find how the princess can fall in love with ‘bad guys’ – because though these guys can be loving to people they care about, none of them are ‘nice’. The princess herself is also refreshing – Eileen’s not quiet, not beautiful, not nice, and though she hasn’t actually committed crimes, she’s the daughter of a crimelord and her upbringing shows it; her idea of ‘normal’ is not what you might think.

    The production quality is alright – it’s quick and easy to save and load, and you can skip previously seen dialogue quickly. There’s not much variety in locations and monsters, but that didn’t bother me.

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    Archive: Heart no Kuni no Alice – Part 1

    March 10th, 2014

    [EDIT: Ah, my first time playing Alice. I only got through one route (Blood), and it took so long I never did anthoer. But this game was definitely innovative for its time in terms of character designs and having a distinctive heroine, and it tried different things with the turn progression. The beginning of Quinrose's Alice dynasty!]

    Originally from 2008/06/08

    PC & PS2 game by Quinrose

    So I still haven’t finished my first Alice character route, but I have enough to talk about just describing the game, so I’m going to start there.

    You know, Quinrose might just be my favourite otome game developer. Their heroines are always smart and non-doormatlike, their heroes are definitely not stereotypical, and the premise is always interesting.

    In Heart no Kuni no Alice, you are a young lady who acts politely in front of her beloved sister, but who is actually pretty cynical. Her father ignores her and her tutor whom she was in love with fell for her “perfect” sister. As a result, Alice doesn’t trust people much. One day she and her sister are out on their lawn, and Alice falls asleep while waiting for her sister to go get a board game.

    She’s woken up by a sound and sees a white rabbit run by wearing clothes. In the original Alice in Wonderland, she follows the rabbit down a hole…here it’s not quite like that. Alice determinedly ignores the rabbit while he tries to get her attention, but he eventually picks her up and drags her down the hole with him.

    They fall for what seems like forever. Alice is understandably pissed off at this weird rabbit guy who kidnapped her, and he seems to know all about her, even how she recently broke her heart. He makes her drink this potion (by kissing her) which sends her to sleep.

    When she wakes up, she doesn’t know where she is, though she sees that she’s in a tall tower. A man comes along and realizes that she’s from another world, but has no sympathy for her – he just shoos her out to find her own way.

    From that point, you decide where to go – you can go to the Heart Castle, the Amusement Park, or the Hat Estate. Depending which you choose, you’ll end up staying there.

    The rest of the game is mostly deciding where to go during each turn. Depending on the time of day (day, evening, or night) you may or may not be able to meet the person you want to. In this land, the time doesn’t go normally from day to evening and night, it changes randomly, so you never know what time of day will come next. You can get hourglasses that change the time of day to whatever you want.

    When you visit a character, it raises their affection for you, and eventually you get progression scenes. For each character there’s about 20, as well as other events that occur You also sometimes have to raise other character’s affection to progress in a route.

    While this sounds like a pretty basic visual novel, and it is, really, there’s a lot more material and CGs than in most others I’ve played. Plus, the number of characters available is pretty high – ten, well technically eleven, but two are twins and are pretty much one person. The world itself is fascinating – the three ‘areas’ (Amusement Park, Heart Castle, and Hat Estate) are all trying to win control of the whole land, and it’s anarchy – Alice almost gets killed when she first meets most of the characters.

    All the characters are really interesting and have their own appeal:

    The Mad Hatter (Blood Dupre)CV- Konishi Katsuyuki: A mafia boss who’s crazy about tea and acts very laidback.

    The March Hare (Elliot March) CV- Mogami Tsuguo: The loyal right-hand man to Blood, he’s sweet but will kill people without hesitation, and denies emphatically that he’s a rabbit (he has rabbit ears). He also insists that he doesn’t like carrots, though all he eats is carrot-flavoured food.

    The Bloody Twins (Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum) CV- Fukuyama Jun: Two boys who guard the Hat Estate’s gates, they almost kill Alice when she first arrives. All they care about is money and fun (i.e. killing people)

    [b]The Queen of Hearts (Vivaldi) CV

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