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 …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.
Oh man, I could do so much more game playing before posting this, but it’s already late, so here you go!
Unfortunately I forgot to buy this one from Quinrose, so I haven’t played it. すみません>.>;;
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.
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!
From Quinrose, another game I haven’t played.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Haven’t played yet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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!