I’m about in line with Oscar timing so I will pretend this isn’t late!
How was 2010 for otome games? Well, the Hakuouki anime brought otome games more awareness, and several new brands came out with their first games, which is great. I think this is the year that showed the PSP has become the biggest platform for visual novels for the near future, as its accessibility, memory capabilities, and good sound and picture quality brings it above the DS (though apparently the DSi is closer to it). Lots of ports, adaptations, and even the next Harutoki game are coming out on PSP, and I think until the PS3 becomes cheaper, the PSP will probably be the go-to for otome games released on consoles for a while.
And let’s not forget Starry Sky! Though the original games came out last year, the series has only been gaining in popularity, with PSP adaptations, more drama CDs, and an anime released this year, with every possible combination of seasons and times (After Spring, Sweet Season, etc etc). I enjoy the series myself, but I’m not sure why exactly it’s so popular – is it the good price? 3500Y for each game is very reasonable, even though each one only has three main characters, and the PSP is a similar price, which is pretty awesome. The art is very nice, and the stories themselves are quite cute, long enough without being too drawn out (mostly, though I still haven`t finished Spring). Still, I`d really like to hear why people love Starry Sky in the comments if you do – is it one thing that stood out, or a bunch of small things that added up?
Enough about one series, let’s check out what else was released this year!
Garnet Cradle Sugary Sparkle
Last Escort ~Club Katze~
Wand of Fortune ~Mirai e no Prologue~
Kin’iro no Corda 3
Oshiete Darling (on the region-locked DSi, did anyone play it?)
Anniversary no Kuni no Alice
Riddle Garden [R18]
Tsundere S Otome [R18]
Harajuku Tantei Gakuen Steelwood
Zettai Meikyuu Grimm
Love Root Zero
Kaerubatake de Tsukamaete mi
Lucian Bee’s Justice Yellow/Evil Violet
Uta no Prince-sama
Moujuutsukai to Ouji-sama
Tokimemo GS 3
Scarred Rider Xechs
Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku
Natsuzora no Monologue
Mahoutsukai to Goshujin-sama (a remake, but very different from the original)
Nise no Chigiri
Tenkaichi Sengoku Lovers DS
Hakuouki Reimeiroku (not otome!)
Kuro to Kin no Hirakanai Kagi. [R18]
Starry Sky ~After Spring~
Uta no Prince-sama ~Amazing Aria~
Kaerubatake de Tsukamaete Natsu Chigiro Sansen!
Whew, I’d forgotten about some of those. If we look at numbers, there are 20 or 21 original games (depending whether you count Mahoutsukai to Goshujin-sama), and 10 fandisks/spinoffs. Wow! So, for every two games that come out, one will be popular enough to make a fandisk. Now, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a lot cheaper to make a fandisk using the same character art, backgrounds, and story settings as an already made game. However, it’s good that people are interested enough in the games to make a fandisk worthwhile.
Some other interesting stats from Dolce: The most releases happened in April (9), then November (8), followed by December and June (7 each). For this year, April already has 9 releases scheduled, so the trend might be similar, although February is high as well. And including fandisks and ports, the seiyuu with the most roles was Sugita Tomokazu, with 15! Counting original games only, it’s Toriumi Kousuke with 9.
I haven’t played all of these, or even all the original (non-FD) games, so I’m not going to try and pick a ‘best’ game. Even if I tried, I feel like since the fall I haven’t had much time to really play through some of the games I’ve gotten – I’ve still barely started Ishin Renka, for example. And even of the ones I mostly finished, I don’t know if I could pick a favourite. I love Grimm for its stories and dark quirkiness, I enjoyed the lovely art and cute animals in Beastmaster and Prince, I thought Xechs had a really cool idea and went in an interesting direction with it. Desert Kingdom I loved enough to finish the whole game – I think Aspashia was my favourite heroine of the year. Kiniro no Corda had lots of fun gameplay, and Nise no Chigiri…well I just adore those characters. Masatooo, let’s go swimming! Shuu, let me bake you some cookies!! (You’ll understand once you play)
So, if there were all these good games, were there any bad ones? For me, yes. Frankly, I was really disappointed with Love Root Zero. It had an interesting idea, but the production was just not done very well; it feels shoddy. It was pushed back a couple times, and I can easily believe that it’s tough to produce an otome game for a small company (heck, look how long LOVE.101 is taking!), but for a $75 PS2 game, I don’t think it was worth it. I should disclaim here that I didn’t even finish one route, so it’s possible the story suddenly gets really good and in the end it’s all worth it. Maybe I’ll find out after I’ve finished all the other good games that I’m trying to play, in about 3 years. Until then, Love Root Zero is at the bottom of the pile.
So, what was your favourite game of 2010? I can’t really pick based on merit, but I think if I could only pick one to keep, it would be Nise no Chigiri, or Grimm. Although Tokimemo and Corda could keep me occupied for a long time…ugh, I just can’t decide.
Oi yaroudomo! Hehe, I wanted to write about news from B’s Log, but I haven’t gotten it yet, and the last few days I’ve been wasting TONS of time watching One Piece, thanks to a certain One Piece evangelist (thanks Maggie!!)
I missed One Piece when it first came out, I was only reading shoujo at the time, even though I was in Japan and could have watched from the beginning – oh, what I’ve missed! I’ve been watching the anime, no manga, but from all reports it’s just as awesome.
Great characters and seiyuu (yay Nakai Kazuya, Balflear!, and Krillin!!!! Krillin!!!) as well as shounen fights (the many-episodes-long kind) that don’t even seem that long (not for shounen anyways) which is amazing in its own right since it has the ‘draw a fight out for as many episodes as possible’ trick down even in its first season.
So anyways, now in addition to catching up on hundreds of episodes (and I thought TeniPuri was long!), now I want an otome game for One Piece I mean, there are ones for TeniPuri, and kind of one for Gintama (which I still have on my list to buy, even if it doesn’t count). There are apparently about a million One Piece games, I will have to dig around find out if any are even close to an adventure game…
I’ll be doing a big 2010 review post this week, until then let’s see how far I can get in One Piece!
As of today, Tuesday Feb 15: 55 down, 432 to go. Phew. Saki ga nagai na~
Though this is pretty late, here are the new games announced in the March B’s Log:
* Gekka Ryouran Romance announced – from Otomate and Rejet, a story about ‘abnormal love’, set in an isolated celeb high school, with a secret dating club. Cute art!
* Noise -voice of snow-, a PC game from Operetta, is about an orphan heroine trying to survive in a world with two rival families, the Dyx family and the Daios family. This was announced last month but I didn’t do a general news post. The heroine Mana is picked up by the Dyx family, and it appears that you can choose to either go with a ‘light’ route or a ‘dark’ route, where you possibly carry out some dirty work for your adopted family.
* Hiiro no Kakera Aizouban Akaneiro no Tsuioku – HnK on the PS3. The original game, Ano Sora no Shita de, and apparently 2 more? (they might mean the extra stuff put on the PSP and DS versions). Maaaayybe I’ll get this, but probably not as soon as it comes out.
* Zettai Meikyuu Grimm Director’s Cut – probably on a different platform, Karin is adding new CGs, two new routes (not new characters, but a harem ending and an alternate for Ludwig), and beefing up the dreamy Grimm fairytale portions to the original game and re-releasing it.
* VitaminX anime! It will be a three-party “OAD” – Original Animation DVD, with each part focusing on two of the guys, #1 is Tsubasa and Hajime, #2 is Kiyoharu and Shun, and #3 is Goro and Mizuki. VitaminX Addicition is set for spring!
* Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku fandisk for the PSP. It’s called Kinema Mosaic
* SYK’s fandisk, Renshouden, is being released for the PSP in April. I never got it on the PS2 so maybe I will get it now, I enjoyed SYK
* Of course, the Nise no Chigiri fandisk, Omoide no Saki e, with additions to the original story as well as after stories. I can’t wait!
* Wand of Fortune II pushed back to “Spring”. Maybe I’ll wait to get this, depending on if it really comes out in spring or later.
*Are You Alice? set for March 24!
And it looks like Otomate is working on another new project, maybe with Joker in the name? There’s a teaser site for it saying to read the April B’s Log.
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 is only a month away now (only??), ok, still a month away, and since the gameplay seems to be quite different, I’m laying out what’s been explained so far in the otome mags.
The background story is that the heroine is on a plane returning to Japan after studying abroad. She’s with her cousin Miyako (CV:Saiga Mitsuki), and her adopted brotherｓ Shun (CV: Terajima Takuma) and Sou, but the plane malfunctions in the air. They brace themselves for the crash, but when they next regain consciousness, the heroine, Miyako, and Shun are in a different world.
This is the alternate world of Bakumatsu-era Japan, and the heroine has been chosen as the Priestess of the White Dragon. Miyako is the Black Dragon Priestess, and seems to fulfill a similar ‘older sister’ role to Saku from Harutoki 3. A high-ranking member of the Bakufuu government, Amami (CV: Suwabe Junichi), gives the heroine an hourglass and tells her to use it. When she does, she finds she returns to her own world.
The heroine has to save the Bakumatasu world within a limited amount of time – when she is in that world, her hourglass empties constantly (top right in screenshot). To refill it, she has to return to her own world, but there’s a cost to that as well. Each time she returns to her world, one of her ‘life fragments’ is used up(top left in screenshot). If all of them are used before doing what you have to, it’s game over. And apparently some events will automatically use one, so you can’t totally control it.
The heroine can fight with up to three party members. At the beginning of each turn you choose to do moves (including attacks) or abilities (like healing) for each member. As in previous Harutokis, you can choose to do special attacks with multiple characters that are especially effective when their element is one that the enemy is weak against.
There are a couple of new features to this system as well. A special attack seems to only hit one enemy, but if you combine special attacks in a certain order, you can do a ‘chain tactic’ (renkinjutsu), where even characters that aren’t in the battle party can join in the attack if your bond with them is strong enough . These attacks hit all enemies and can be very powerful.
There is also an experience system, but I’m not sure if it’s as detailed as before, where you can choose to get new abilities, or if your stats just increase.
If you beat an onryou with an element attack it’s weak against, it turns into a ‘tamashii’ (soul) and you can seal it in your weapons. This improves your weapon, and once you’ve improved it a certain amount, the weapon will change into a different weapon, eventually becoming a legendary weapon.
A couple other notes: The Four Gods show up in human form in Harutoki 5! They are all voiced by previous hachiyou, of course corresponding to their old parts – Seiryuu (Seki Tomokazu), Suzaku (Takahashi Naozumi), Byakko (Inoue Kazuhiko), and Genbu (Hoshi Souichirou). Also, the March B’s Log has pics of all the hachiyou in modern clothing, so perhaps they can come with you when you travel to your own world??
Even though the battle system and some other important parts of the game have been revealed, the overall plot is still kind of mysterious. Some of the teasers seemed pretty ominous, and Ruby Party says that the hourglass is the symbol of the whole game, so who knows what will happen to the heroine when her time runs out?