[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:
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.
[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 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)
[EDIT: I don’t seem to have these archive posts in order, but I don’t think it makes too much difference really. Reading over this one, it makes me laugh thinking I wondered which game would be more popular…spoiler, it’s Hakuoki! Though to be fair, Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi did surprisingly well when it first came out for the PC, considering the industry was in its infancy. It might be the grandmother of all otome Shinsengumi games!]
Yup, just got my August B’s Log and Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi (originally for the PS2 EDIT: Sorry, I think it was originally for PC, tecknikully[face_coffee] ) is being adapted for the DS by D3. I’ve played the game, and it’s great – pretty historically accurate as otome games go, lots of characters, and many emotional rollercoasters – especially for those of us who aren’t that familiar with the details of the Shinsengumi members. This is one game where you’ll likely cry as much as you’ll laugh.
There will be new events and conversations for this version, and the game will be voiced, but it might not be full-voice as it was for PS2.
Release date is set for Fall 2008, so keep an eye out! Ooh, I just realized that’s the same timeframe as Hakuouki, Otomate’s Shinsengumi game…[face_worried] Which one will reign supreme??