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 knew there was more!
Issho ni Gohan, the cooking-centric drama cd series, is being made into a game by Otomate for the PSP – for release in September. The heroine becomes the landlady at a boarding house for a nearby cooking school which she attends (which all the guys go to/have graduated from). In addition to the affection meter which changes with your dialogue choices, it will have a cooking skill meter which also affects your endings, raised by cooking minigames and quizzes.
Yoneda Hikari (CV: Kaji Yuuki) – the second-year student who’s able to become friends easily with anyone
Karasawa Rei (CV: Ono Daisuke) – the graduate with a harsh personality who’s running a nearby curry restaurant
Toriyama Yousuke (CV: Shimono Hiro) – the first-year who looks up to Hikari and is the house’s moodmaker
Daitou Natsu (CV: Tsuda Kenjirou) – a fourth-year in the Japanese food program, he grew up in a traditional Japanese house and knows archery and ikebana. He’s strict about people following the rules and has a hard time blending into groups.
Unoha Nao (CV: Fukuyama Jun) – the weak-bodied fourth year who’s a bit of an airhead, who’s also artistic
Umino Riki (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) – the popular second-year who DJs at a club to make money and wants to ‘produce’ a restaurant
Ther’s also a teaser pic about a new game about ‘glass heart syndrome’, and not being ‘allowed’ to get ‘tokimeki'(I think you’re not supposed to get romantic feelings in the game) from Otomate. More details next month.
And finally, a diagram showing all the different ways you can customize your guy in Custom Drive, resulting in (supposedly) over 1,000,000 variations: hats (5), glasses (5), personality (5), hairstyle (10), clothes (10), accessories (10), over 3 different characters. Now if I remember high school math, the law of permutations would mean that there are…hm, I only get 375,000 permutations. Either I’m wrong (impossible!), or D3 has some explaining to do! We won’t be satisfied with only 375,000, am I right?? …OK, I’ll give them a pass this time.
This doesn’t happen often – a game released for the SAME platform twice – and two companies are doing it almost at the same time.
Otomate and Furyu are releasing a new, improved version of Aoiza Kaika Bunmei this year, with scenes and stories that ‘couldn’t get told’ in the original. I don’t know if they mean that they ran out of time on the original, or that they were added. I’ve been playing Aoiza recently, and it’s true that there are many questions that aren’t answered fully in this version, so it might be the former case.
D3 is also releasing a powered-up version of Storm Lover called Storm Lover *Kai*. It will be about 2 years after the original release date. This one will also have extra scenes and events.
But I have to say, I think it’s kind of unfair to release the same game twice on the same platform, fairly close together. There have been a few cases of this – Hisui no Shizuku Hiiro no Kakera 2 was re-released with significant changes as Shin•Hisui no Shizuku after the original did poorly, and Quinrose re-released Wizard and Master. However, Wizard and Master was after five years with totally new art and voices、I don’t consider it the same at all really.
Since these are both on the PSP, couldn’t they make the extra stuff available as a download on the PSN? Why make people buy it all over again if they want the new material?
Another game that did something similarly annoying was Harutoki 4 – its “fandisk” was more of an extended version, except the extra material was all in flashback-type screens; I don’t even think there were more CGs. I thought that was a bit much as well (though I bought it because I was hoping for more).
Though I’d like to play the new material, I don’t think I’ll get these – I just checked, and Aoiza was released in August, and the new one comes out in May. 9 months between the original and the ‘improved’ version…no.
I know we often complain about companies emptying our wallets, but has there ever been a game that you REALLY felt ripped off by? I might add Love Root Zero to my list, as I found it had unacceptably low production values.
It’s been a while since I finished MOST of VitaminZ (still haven’t got those bonus events!), and I think I can finally do a kind of final review.
If you haven’t gotten VitaminZ OR X, go out and get one! They are both awesome. The system and story might seem boringly similar if you haven’t played both, so here’s my rundown on the differences:
The characters in both games are totally different. You might think that the student in Z with a certain teacher from X would be similar, but it’s only a surface thing. For example – Both Tenjuurou and Tsubasa are rich heirs to a conglomerate, but Tenjuurou, unlike Tsubasa, has a great family, and doesn’t care at all about “high-class” stuff like Tsubasa did. Their personalities are almost opposite.
I enjoyed all the characters in both X and Z. Even the two characters I wasn’t looking forward to, Yakumo and Arata, had me really liking them in the end. If there’s an overall difference to X, in Z they’re nicer to the heroine in the beginning, though they still don’t really trust her until later. I also liked this heroine better, she’s not as ditzy as X’s heroine.
Depending on who you liked, and what you liked about them, in X, you can probably find someone in Z that has that aspect. If you like Tsubasa’s arrogance mixed with cluelessness, you’ll probably love Kei. If you liked Hajime’s ‘bad boy’ aspect, you might go for Nachi. And of course, if you like cute boys like Gorou, Yakumo will definitely be your pick.
Apart from the A4/P2, there are of course the B6, GTR, and the president & VP. Personally I wish the GTR had had a little more airtime and the B6 a little less, but with the extra ‘ura’ route and the append chapters, if you do a full complete they still have a lot of material. I’m also hoping for an adaptation like VitaminX Evolution to flesh out their stories a bit Plus, if you’re a huge fan of one of the B6 then you’ll probably be quite happy. Another thing that I like is that there is no flirting or anything between the B6 and the heroine, they still all like X’s heroine.
The overall goal is the same, but in VitaminZ the school president actually has a sinister motive in picking an inexperienced teacher, and so the overall plot is a little more complex and interesting. The events happen mostly the same way no matter whose route you’re in, but what you actually see as opposed to what goes on behind the scenes, and the details that you’re shown, are always different.
You have the same school events as in X, but in Z there are also assemblies where things happen (mostly in the P2’s routes), and there’s a summer ‘study camp’ (gotta have that kimodameshi doncha know!).
VitaminX was quite easy to play (in terms of saving etc) and VitaminZ is apparently even easier. The setup of tsukkomi/through and month-end quizzes is the same, but in VitaminZ you have to pass a special quiz in Chapter 11 to finish a route, so it might take a couple tries. The character designer’s style evolved since X; though it’s still obviously the same artist, I like the newer designs better (Chisato, マジでかっこいい!!)
I think VitaminZ has a little more romance than X, in that the characters all show in little ways that they like the heroine earlier, and (maybe) a little more obviously than in X. And though each route has some drama in it, I don’t think there’s quite as much angst as in X (not that it was huge there either).
So. If you loved X, I think you’ll love Z too. Which one you like more will probably depend on your favourite character. And if you didn’t like X, because of the gameplay or setup, you may not enjoy this either. And if you haven’t tried either, go check out the characters on the D3 site (Vitamin X / Vitamin Z) and try out whichever appeals to you most! Although, if possible, I’d recommend playing Vitamin X first, just because you’ll then understand the B6 interactions in Z more, and it makes Z even more fun ^_^
Oh, if you choose Vitamin Z, YesAsia, has the Limited Edition on sale for cheaper than the regular version! In addition to the limited edition box, you get a drama CD and a calendar.
Lots of news about other, not brand-new games as well, including…a Hiiro no Kakera 2 remake!!! Not a port or adaptation, this is a pure remake…I might do a post on this later. In fact, just look at all those HnK releases – I think I’ll name October 1 Hiiro no Kakera Day!
Other news on release dates and adaptations:
Well, I’m almost done at least the normal routes of everyone. That means that I can finally finish the ‘ura’ or back route that involves the GTR, Bear-6, Kamijou, and the president guy. Each time you finish a character you can see one chapter of that story, and I’m near the end of Yakumo!
Who knows how long it will take me to really finish, since there’s so much extras – I’ll probably finish everyone’s dream and perfect routes soon, but getting all the extra scenes (especially the ones you get with perfect test scores) may never happen – I haven’t even finished all of them from VitaminX still…
Finally, a sci-fi otome game! Does Little Anchor fulfill the hopes of a solid game that will satisfy a sci-fi fan? For me at least, it does.
Now, I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, so I was glad to find out that the amount of tech gibberish (that’s my official term for made-up weapons, chemicals, physics laws, and everything else you find in sci-fi) was fairly low, so I could focus on understanding the plot.
There are a few terms that you should get comfortable with, but not too many – and I won’t bother spelling them out, because I don’t remember and it has no bearing on the story.
Elushyon: The ship that the main character is captain of and where most of the story happens.
EUG: The Earth-based government that the main character’s father belonged to, and where all the Elushyon’s crew is from.
ICSEO: The mainly space-based rebel government
SG: Mecha that are used for combat – they look like Gundam units
Basically, the EUG is the existing Earth government. Way back when, the Earth had an energy crisis, and started creating space colonies to find a solution. A new source of energy, Helium 3, was found out in space, and is controlled by the EUG. However, some people on the space colonies felt that the EUG was taking advantage of them, and all they really cared about was Earth. Civil (planetary? galaxial?) unrest increased and became more violent and terrorist-like, and finally coalesced into a rebellion, with ICSEO as the largest group.
The main character’s father was an admiral in the EUG armed forces, and became a hero when he sacrificed himself and his crew in order to save civilians from terrorists. ICSEO is seen as a terrorist organization by the EUG, but as the story starts, they are starting peace negotiations. The Elushyon was built as a neutral ship that was supposed to symbolize this peace, and that’s why the main character was chosen as the captain, though she just graduated as an officer.
On launch day, the Elushyon is attacked in port by ICSEO SGs, and has to fight back to protect the civilians at the launch. This attack cuts short the peace negotiations, and the Elushyon starts taking order from the EUG.
The first half of the game is getting from Ceylon, the launch site, to Helsinki, where EUG’s headquarters are. The rest of the game is in space fighting ICSEO.
The plot is believable without getting too bogged down in details, and each character’s background affected their outlook and behaviour. I actually want to finish everyone’s routes, they’re all interesting, though I’d say Lucio’s is the most ‘normal’ (no twists really). The story is broken into 12 acts, and until Act 6 all routes are the same (though you have to choose different actions to finish people’s routes, you can skip most of the dialogue and the battles).
The battles are also pretty fun, if very simple once you get used to the controls. I’d STRONGLY recommend watching the tutorials, they’re not long and they pretty much tell you how to win. You can skip the battles on the second go-round, but there are some special events that only occur if you fulfill certain requirements during the battles, so it’s worthwhile to try and get those scenes at least once. I used La Primavera as my guide site, it tells you what the requirements are to get the scenes. There’s also a fair amount of battle dialogue that is triggered based on your directions and events (like your ship taking damage), and even CG videos for battle actions like SG launches and attacks that are pretty well done, and (thankfully) you can turn them off once you’ve had enough. I’m impressed with the battles, even though the battle map itself is primitive (looks like an electronic version of Battleship).
Let’s see, what else? The music is forgettable, but I quite like the art – it’s clean and attractive without being too generic (one thing I often don’t like about space settings). And the characters are great, I actually like all of them, even the main character most of the time (though once in a while she acts dumb).
Each character has two endings, so far I’m done Yukino’s, one each of Reishen and Lucio, and the ‘secret’ character. Now I’m working on Joshua, and I can’t decide whether to do Alva or Violet next. The amount of romance and CGs is not huge, but acceptable – I think if I could change anything I’d add a little more romance to the ending parts, but not much.
To sum up, I’d recommend Little Anchor for sci-fi fans definitely , and general otome fans as well.
My next posts will be a bunch about new games and news, I’ve been missing a lot lately!
Yay, I got VitaminZ in the mail today!! I’m playing it right now, but I pretty much just started, so these are just my first impressions:
OK, not much, but I’ll have more in a couple days hopefully if I get enough time to play it!
Once again D3 has created a really interesting premise for their new DS game, Saikin Koi Shiteru? It’s set in a normal high school, but it has a twist. The main character is a regular if slightly clumsy girl, who is hurrying to class on her first day when she falls into a spring on school grounds. It turns out that this spring is no normal spring, and she comes face to face with a saikin, a strange little creature. After that, she starts to see strange things, including seeing the little saikin hovering around certain boys. What does it all mean?
The art is pretty simple, but I can see it working on the DS. And the saikin are so cute! Apparently they’re little creatures that the main character sees when someone she’s talking to feels a certain emotion – there are angry saikin, sad saikin, etc.
If you’ve played Panic Palette, the concept is somewhat similar – when you’re having a conversation with someone and they feel a strong emotion, a saikin for that emotion appears. If you ‘catch’ it with your DS pen, you can collect that saikin for later use. Unlike Panic Palette, however, you need to talk to different people to get different saikin.
Later, when you’re talking with a boy and a star appears near him, you can then use one of your collected saikin to make his mood change for a moment to that feeling. The guy might show or tell you more than he would normally.
Do you see that? Do you see the “SF” in the pic? Yes, this is the first EVER sci-fi otome game, being released next spring by D3 for the Playstation 2.
First things first – the characters!
From left to right:
Viore Lafare CV: Taniyama Kishou Country: Yemen
Riu Rei Shun CV: Sugita Tomokazu Country: China
Joshua Reinberger CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko Country: Czech
Lucio Suarez CV: Ohkawa Genki Country: Portugal
Alva Loren CV: Fujiwara Keiji Country: Italy
Shiranami Yukino CV: Midorikawa Hikaru Country: Japan
Well, I guess the Americas are too boring to have astronauts on this ship *sniff*, but that’s ok.