I have to say, it is interesting to be in a city hosting the G20 summit! But it’s also a big pain in the butt, especially when you live downtown.
But elsewhere, life goes on normally, and otome game news happens, so here I am to announce it!
Two big new games are a new Renka game from D3 Publisher which I mentioned earlier, but now has a lot more info on it. Ishin Renka Sakamoto Ryouma Gaiden is set to release this fall for the PSP, with a story focusing on (big surprise) Sakamoto Ryouma, a key figure during the Bakumatsu period (1853-1867). There are new character designs from the last Renka game, Bakumatsu Renka Karyuu Kenshiden which was released in 2007 (which was a semi-sequel to the original Bakumatsu Renka from 2004). The main character apparently is an orphan who grew up in the Sakamoto household.
Seiyuu haven’t been announced; I’ll probably do a separate post when they are. The Renka series is quite popular even though several stories are quite tragic, it will be interesting to see if this game changes ‘accepted’ history enough to have mostly happy endings, especially since two main characters here, Sakamoto Ryouma and Okita Souji, supposedly died quite early in the Bakumatsu turmoil.
The other new new title is Armen Noir, announced by Otomate, for the PS2, scheduled for December. The character designer also did the designs for Hiiro no Kakera 4: Shin Tamayori-hime Denshou.
The story appears to be set in the neat future, in a corrupt city called Moebius (or Mevius?), where the gap between rich and poor is growing bigger and bigger.
The heroine is a ‘Hunter’, someone who has chosen to oppose the criminals who have sullied their hands with illegal deeds and have gained money as a result. Hunters work for ‘Bountia’, an organization that takes assignments to catch criminals in the city for rewards. Armen Noir is the heroine’s codename in Bountia, and her real name is Naska.
Some other news:
Other than that, there are tons of games being released right now, I’ve finally got Hakuouki (for the PS3, honto kirei da yo~!) and Meikyuu Grimm for the PSP, which is fun but looong. What are you playing?
Next week I should have the mags with news, but for now, here is the outline of Clock Zero, the newest Otomate title for the PS2, set for November.
The main character, Kurou Nadeshiko, is a 6th-grade student and kind of a sheltered rich girl. She lives a normal, fairly happy life, and has a childhood friend Riichirou. But she starts having strange dreams almost every night of a desolate world, with a black sky cut across with red and blue.
One day Nadeko and Riichirou are summoned by their homeroom teacher, Kaga Akira. There are also six other students there who are generally known as troublemakers. The teacher tells them all that as troublemakers, they have to do a special assignment.
Forced to work together, the students work on the assignment slowly and with difficulty, uncovering the truth along the way.
Then, a mysterious person, who Nadeshiko has seen in her dreams, appears, and the wheels of fate begin turning…
The art is pretty…but 6th-graders? That’s like…11 year olds. And there’s at least one character that’s younger. I probably won’t pre-order this, though I might get it later.
I’ve now completed 98% of Desert Kingdom (there’s one sub-route that I don’t think I’m interested in), and I think I should take back a lot of the criticism I originally aimed at the game.
Criticism 1: Too short
This isn’t a complete reversal of my first opinion, but more of a change. I still feel that there isn’t much story going on in the gameplay portion of the game, where you choose where to go and build up your power. The power buildup portions are a good length, with you, your target, and Unbara, but the parts where you visit the guys are often abrupt and sometimes no more than a couple sentences long. I still feel that that’s a little too short.
But the rest of the story, once you get into someone’s route, is quite long. I’d estimate at least a couple hours each. This is great if you like visual novels, but for those are bored with long discussions without player interaction, you might be annoyed.
Criticism 2: CGs
Yeah, so I picked the wrong route to start off with. Most of the CGs are excellent and very pretty, there’s only one other fanservicey (to guys) CG, and overall I really like them. Oh, and Vii’s other route (the Good instead of Happy) has a CG that I actually like better than the Happy one. Plus, once you get a certain number of routes (the first four maybe??) you get extra CGs that you only see in the gallery, which are the guys in out-of-character costumes/poses (a very nice extra).
Also, there’s a little extra feature called “With Sera”, where you have a little epilogue for each route, but as if you’re visiting Sera. These are separate from the regular epilogues in the games, though you can choose to see them after each one (I chose to save them up and watch them after, which I think is a good choice as some include spoilers). It’s light and fun, and is a great little addition to the game.
After finishing almost all the game, I really love it. Not only are the characters interesting, but the plotline is done well and integrates everyone – and no matter which route you end up in, Kingdom’s ending is pretty much the same.
I also shouldn’t leave out Aspashia – though her visual design is more loli than I’d like, her personality is awesome and realistic as an immortal princess who is used to doing whatever she wants.
Having just finished the final hidden route last night, it leaves you with that feeling, you know, when you’re all happy and gooey inside. It’s so cute, and they don’t make you go through the whole game again, which is fantastic.
So I’m a little biased positively to the game right now, but I’d definitely recommend Desert Kingdom if you like visual novels. If you don’t, and want more gameplay and interaction, I’d say only get it if you really love the setup and Arabian Nights aesthetic, since the dialogue portions will likely bore you.
I got Desert Kingdom (and Grimm, but I haven’t played that much) this week, and I like it a lot, but really I’m not sure if it’s worth full price. It’s a lot of fun, but there are things that I think could be better. However, I’m only through two routes, so this is only a partial review.
Anyhoo, here’s what I wrote as I first played it.
The first thing I see is a garish stained glass border of clashing and psychedelic colours….then a simple melody starts up, which reminds me of the theme in early Final Fantasy games when you visit the ‘exotic’ desert country…or am I thinking of the Tetris music…hm. OK, now the opening song starts, the visuals are much prettier, and it’s a standard J-rock, which I can get behind.
After starting a new game, I pick a name and there are some intro story screens. This is a world with gods, where they are born from people’s prayers, and exist until those prayers stop.
But now, people have stopped believing, and miracles are disappearing…
Now another screen, a sandy desert and a silhouette. “A young woman walks through the desert, her hair dirty with sand, but she simply walks silently as if on a pilgrimage.
The wind blows. Sand dances around and obscures the young woman’s vision. Th sand veils the world. But still, she walks on, looking into the distance with beautiful eyes.”
Suddenly there’s a loud boom! and we get the first line of dialogue from the woman, and the lovely illusion disappears. Aspashia complains that she’s tired of this desert. Heh. She continues with a self-introduction, describing herself as the princess of EVUU, the kingdom of gods, and claims a long list of ladylike accomplishments, before someone (a narrator?) interrupts her asking who she’s talking about. Then she explains that she’s been walking the desert for two months without food or water, but is at her limit, and slowly falls to the ground, starting to get covered up by the sand.
The narrator cuts in again, bringing the story back to when Aspashia lived in EVUU. Aspashia explains, with some snark from the narrator, that EVUU is basically the land of gods/djinn, and is made from magic. You can’t do anything there without magic, and so one day when Aspashia woke up, having lost all magical ability for some reason, she couldn’t do anything, even get out of her room. She was trapped there for a week and almost starved until her father, the king Sazan, came and found her. He tells her that she lost all her magic because her mother (who died after giving birth) was human. This is news to Aspashia, who isn’t too happy about it. He also says that she’s used up all her magic, and unless she wants to stay cooped up in one castle room the rest of her life, there’s only one way to get it back. She has to go live among humans, get close to them, and grant their wishes. And then Aspashia promptly starts falling through the air. Sazan says she’ll land in about three hours, and after remembering that she has no magic to help her, summons a lamp djinn, Unbara, to help her out.
And finally we come back to the first scene, where Aspashia gets mad at Unbara (the mystery narrator) for telling her when she first landed that the nearest settlement was only 10 days away. Unbara says he didn’t want her to give up, but says they should be close now. Over the next hill, she finally spies her destination, the castle town Kingdom.
That’s the intro (which you can skip after the first time) to Desert Kingdom, and the rest of the game is pretty much in line with it in atmosphere. Aspashia and Unbara often trade banter, and often make reference to the game mechanics, sometimes very plainly. It’s quite fun, and I love how Aspashia sometimes literally breaks out of her avatar square (you’ll see what I mean if you play).
I went through Vii’s route first, the mysterious assassin who’s voiced by Ryou from Hiiro no Kakera (ok, Nomiya Kazunori). The first thing I was happy to find was that he was not the typical brooding type – in fact, none of the characters felt unoriginal, which, after playing so many otome games, is surprising.
The game itself is pretty simple, you go around granting regular people’s wishes (by using a roulette wheel) to slowly build up power, and try to get closer to one of the main characters to grant their big wish and regain the rest of the power you need to become a full Mashin again.
A couple things I wasn’t too impressed by were how short the story felt (Vii’s at least) and the CGs. They were well drawn, I just wished they were different – more closer angles or something. For example, there’s one in Vii’s story where Aspashia hugs him while she’s standing and he’s (I think kneeling). But the point-of-view is set near the ground behind her, so you’re looking up at the back of Aspashia’s bare legs, and Vii’s face is so small it’s hard to read his expression. It was odd.
I’ve just finished Sharon’s (CV: Masakaze Masaya) route, and his CGs were better, but it still seemed a little short on story.
I think it would be improved by having just a little more development in relationships in between the character intros and setups, and getting into their plots. Hm, I could be being too picky though, I’d like to know what other people think if you’ve played it. It could also be better on other routes, especially Sera’s since he’s the first one. I’ll have to report back.
However, overall I am enjoying it a lot; there’s not much gameplay though really, it’s really to fill in the blanks between the intro and entering someone’s route. And there’s not only one “mystery” character (who is not a mystery at all, but you have to do several routes to get him), but another one where you have to finish all the others first! I’m such a sucker for these, I think I’ll be spending some time this weekend finishing this for those routes…
Je n’ai rien a dire! My weekend has been filled with non-otome stuff – I was hoping to get Desert Kingdom or Meikyuu Grimm on Friday but no such luck.
Anyways, new game announcements from Otomate!
Clock Zero – November PS2 (I love the genre description for this one – “Living in a broken world with you”)
Wand of Fortune II – December PS2
Hakuouki Reimeiroku – PS2 September (this seems to be a prequel to Hakuouki featuring Ryuunosuke?)
A couple days late, gomen nasai ><;;! Probably the first otome game to be set in the warring states (Sengoku Jidai) period of Japanese history, Nise no Chigiri, set to release July 22 for the PSP, is the story of Mana, a modern high school student who somehow travels through time and encounters Uesugi Masatora, one of the generals. He decides to protect her, while his rival Takeda Shingen targets her. With Mana knowing the outcome of this war, will she change the future?
Uesugi Masatora CV: Endou Daichi: The most powerful leader in the Kanto region (around Tokyo), he’s so good at battle and strategy that his nickname is the Dragon of . The Takeda family is his enemy.
Kojima Yatarou CV: Terasoma Masaki: Masatora’s follower and the leader of the Kachigumi. Since Masatora was little the tall (almost 2m) samurai protected him, and he foresaw that Masatora would lead the . He protects the heroine along with his little sister, Ayahime. He’s very strong but kind.
Tougi Kanehisa CV: Ootsuka Akio
The former leader of the Nokizaru, he now acts as an advisor to Akatsuki.
Takeda Shingen CV: Ichijou Kazuya
The leader of the Takeda clan and a strong army, he’s called the Tiger of Kai. Though many people are unsure if Yamamoto Kansuke is totally loyal, Shingen trusts him a lot.
Yamamoto Kansuke CV: Sakurai Takahiro
Kansuke works for Shingen, but is very mysterious, and his motives are unclear. He takes an interest in Mana after hearing she’s from the future.
Masatora assigns a group of his men, the Nokizarushuu, to guard Mana.
Akatsuki CV: Kondou Takashi
The sub-leader of the Nokizaru and likely to be the next leader, Akatsuki is very straightforward, open, and loyal to Masatora.
Suien CV: Tsuda Kenjirou
Calm and always watchful, Suien seems friendly to Mana.
Rurimaru CV: Hagino Mizuki
He’s younger than Mana, and has a cheerful personality. …He grows to be fond of Mana and treats her like a beloved older sister.
Shuuya CV: Maeno Tomoaki
It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking because he doesn’t say much, but Shuuya is very hardworking and dutiful.
Masato CV: Maeda Takashi
A little older than the other members of Nokizarushuu, Masato is like an older brother to them. However, with Mana he’s not that friendly for some reason, though once in a while he’ll give her advice.