Originally posted at my deceased IGN blog on May 31, 2005. Publishing this for the cheap PSP re-release (more details tomorrow)!
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.
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.
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…
[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!]
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!
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!
[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: This was the first, or one of the first, posts on my old blog at (blech)IGN. I took them all down a while ago, and it was a pain let me tell you, but thought some might be interesting to post again here. So here’s the first one, from SEVEN years ago, geez I’ve been doing this a while.]
This is an intro blog for what will probably be my main blog topic – japanese videogames for girls. Why am I focusing on those? Well, I?ve become kind of a collector of them, and I haven’t found much else online about them, so I thought it would be an interesting focus.
The Japanese market for female-targeted videogames is so much more developed than the western one. Remember about 10, or even 5 years ago, when comic books for girls were almost nonexistent in English? Back then, the western fanbase of Japanese comics for girls (shoujo manga) was small, but it grew and grew until finally English publishers took notice and started translating some titles, and now the whole genre has exploded – go into almost any bookstore and you’ll see at least 20 titles available. Well, it’s kind of like that for videogames now.
I don’t think the explosion will be as big as the comics boom, partly because there are already several games here that girls love, and partly because the genre even in Japan is much smaller than its manga counterpart. But I do think it will happen – especially since there are so many games that have corresponding comics series that are getting popular. And let’s face it, haven’t you thought that there’s gotta be something in videogames, besides Barbie, just for girls?
[EDIT: Well, we still haven’t gotten the big boom, but otome games are definitely picking up steam, and even if we don’t get most Japanese games over here, there are lots of mobile games being translated, and lots of original English games being made as well.]
Man, I’ve been horrible at the news lately! I just read the August entry (really July news) and noticed it cuts off after three items >.>;; . My only excuse is work, that thing I do to be able to afford buying all those magazines and otome games. Keeping up with my day job and Chromatic has been so busy that I have no energy to blog even when I have time.
So, what did I miss between then and now? Well, sit down, because there is lots of news to tell!
And now the September news:
LAst post I did was a preview of fall games – and here are their ads and/or OPs in case you want to see what they’re like! Some didn’t have much choice – Hanasaku Manimani I couldn’t find a good video for at all unfortunately.
EDIT – Can’t believe I forgot Dot Kareshi II!
Meiji Tokyo Renka
Thu 9/26/2013 – Seishun Hajimemashita!
Fri 9/27/2013 – Exorcism of Maria Complete Edition
Dousei Kareshi Butterfly Lip
Kamigami no Asobi:
Diabolik Lovers Fandisk – More, Blood
New Edition Heart no Kuni no Alice
Glass Heart Princess: Platinum
Snow Bound Land
This might my favourite video of the bunch!