I noticed today that Ozmafia has a page on Steam, and the release date is April 29! Very exciting.
Crowdfunding has come a really long way, and even well-established companies are now using it to test out new markets and products. If you have a product that’s expensive to produce and distribute, it’s a lot safer to ‘pre-sell’ it and see if there really is enough demand to make it worthwhile.
I actually couldn’t find many otome games on Kickstarter that were in progress, except…
THE BIG ONE (right now): Beastmaster and Prince, from the current Japanese otome game powerhouse Otomate (Idea Factory), is up on Kickstarter for a Steam release, and depending how well it does, possibly even a Vita release!
This KS is a pretty big one, not only for what it could mean for future otome localizations, but also the sheer size – b2g (or Gloczus,) is looking for $150,000 USD to fund this game. That amount, they say, will go primarily towards the payment of 3 full-time translators for 5 months, which in my not too knowledgeable opinion seems pretty reasonable. (That’s over a year of full-time translating, which at a decent salary I’d hope would be at least $100,000 (let’s all remember that this has to cover freelance salary and benefits). Then there’s the project management, coding, the merchandise, QA testing, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some things. And yes, let’s not forget that the company has to make at least a little money for it to be worth it to them. Perhaps they’ll wrap that into project management.
The Kickstarter itself has already had some adjustments, with a higher, $140 USD reward tier offered that’s currently the highest tier offered. For that you get a very nice amount of merchandise along with your digital Steam release of the game, a wall scroll, tote bag, pillow case, badges, and an artbook, and it will all be exclusive to the Kickstarter!
I just read through all the KS, and admittedly, the writing is not the clearest, but hey, they’ve already said they’re hiring professionals to translate and localize the game. Some clarifications:
There’s an FAQ as well, where the team says that they’re preparing a cost breakdown.
They also say that they ‘expect’ to be using the Japanese voices, but they’re still in licensing discussions – which reminds me, that would also be part of their costs (and potentially a large one? je n’ai aucun idée). I have to say, I’d be really disappointed if they didn’t have the Japanese voices and music and sound effects. Edit – they confirmed in today’s update that the original Japanese voices will be included (phew!)
Also, they mention that if they get only $1,000 over the threshold, they’ll do an iOS and Android version!
I’ve played both the original game and the fandisk, and it’s a really fun story with lots of adventure and a petting game that is adorable. I probably don’t even have to mention, the voice acting is great, and as you’ve seen the art is really nice too.
In short, if you’ve read posts on here and wished some of those great otome games would be localized in English, here’s your current best chance to show that there is a market for them, and get a really fun otome game as well (and some swag if you want, the extra rewards are pretty tempting!)
I finally found a casual Western game that I consider to fit in the otome genre! Thanks to Valerie’s recommendation on the Smart Bitches’ Regency Love review (which I also might count as an otome game from what I hear, but unfortunately I can’t play it to check), I found Everlove:Rose, which is available on iOS and Android, and published by Silicon Sisters, a company whose aim is to make games for women by women.
For romance novel readers, I think this is a great portal into gaming, and for otome gamers, it’s perfect if you’re interested in a different sort of otome game. For casual gamers, it’s a nice change from all the horror-based hidden object games and stressful time management games.
In Everlove:Rose, you’re a modern woman, Rose, trying to figure out strange dreams you’ve been having with the help of your therapist, Dr. Alys. She wants to try sending you into your unconscious (or something) to experience your past life where the dreams originated. This framing does a couple things: makes things feel safer, since you’re only dreaming, and lets Rose think and act like a modern woman in a medieval setting believably. The only drawback is that you won’t get a regular ‘happy ever after’ sort of ending, since at the end Rose wakes up again in modern times. Still, I think it works for this game.
Once Rose starts dreaming, she wakes up in a medieval village. She quickly meets some handsome men who could easily be on the cover of a historical romance novel, as well as her friend and her aunt, who for a short time is Dr. Alys.
Everlove is a fairly short game (it is casual, after all), but I think it’s reasonable for the price (~$5). There are four men to romance (in order of appearance):
It’s a small cast but they all have their own arcs. As you play you can see how the storyline branches, which is great, though there’s a lot of overlap. There are several simple puzzles along the way that casual gamers will find familiar – hidden object scenes where you gather herbs and piecing together various letters/artworks. Apparently you can skip them once you’ve completed them once – I didn’t find out how but that would make the gameplay even more smooth than what I experienced. The one thing I’d change is that each character’s route is very simple and there’s not much showing the relationship development between Rose and the guys.
As I mentioned earlier, there isn’t a traditional HEA at the end of each story, but there is a small extra scene to complete the background story once you finish all four routes.
Overall, Everlove: Rose is very enjoyable to play and though I’d love some more story scenes to deepen our understanding and connection to the characters, I’m really impressed that Silicon Sisters got so much right on their first romance videogame – and really, it’s still great value. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance novels, or casual games with more character/relationship focus.
It’s about time I reviewed an English otome game from Steam, since there are a few available now. I found out about Nameless from a friend of a friend who asked if I’d played the ‘doll otome game’. At first it sounded a bit weird, but this game is about ball-joint dolls who come to life – hey, anyone remember that old Otomate game Will o’ Wisp (great but short)? I wonder if it inspired this.
Anyways, Nameless starts off with our heroine Eri, a fairly normal Korean high school girl, who has lived alone for a year or so after her grandfather died. Her parents are both very busy scientists, so they live abroad and she was pretty much raised by her grandfather.
She’s always loved dolls, and over the last while, she’s been collecting very well-made but expensive ball-joint dolls made by a certain company, Crobidolls, who create personas for each one (check out that link y’all, all the Nameless characters are there!). She treats them very well, even talking to them while she does chores around the house, but she keeps it a secret from her friends, afraid they’ll find it weird.
One morning, she hears noises from the living room and goes in to find that they’ve all woken up and become human. They call her by name, and it takes her a while to even realize that these are her dolls. They remember everything she’s told them, and besides her shock, she’s embarrassed at how well they know her.
The dolls are (from left to right and then the short one)
Red (CV: Seong-tae Park) – An unpopular model, Red is the only one in existence. His character is that of a sentai hero (think Power Rangers). He’s energetic and open, and makes friends easily.
Lance (CV: Jaeheon Jung) – The cold but beautiful doll with long silver hair, Lance is the first doll Eri got. As a human he doesn’t show much emotion.
Tei (CV: Beomgi Hong) – also from the ‘older’ line, Tei is mature and calm in all situations. He also makes all the food.
Yuri (CV: Donghoon Lee) – From the adult line, Yuri is tall, dark and handsome – and he knows it. He flirts with Eri all the time, and is usually surrounded by women.
Yeon-ho (CV: Do-hyeong Hang) – The very cute and youngest-seeming doll, Yeon-ho is naive and fairly timid.
They don’t know why they turned human, but they all end up going to school with Eri – Yuri as a music teacher, Tei and Red in the third-year class, and Lance and Yeon-ho in second-year with Eri. They get treated like idols for their good looks, and Eri tries not to let the other students know how involved she is with them, even her best friends Soi (CV: Yeongeun Kim) and Shinbi (CV: Yul Kim). Soi is a boy-crazy girly girl with an extremely forceful personality, and Shinbi is a very good-looking model in the androgynous style, who is quiet but always says what she thinks. I love both of them.
Plotwise, you follow a fairly normal course of going to school, having some group episodes, a couple ‘date’ scenes, leading to conflict around the time of the school festival, and then resolution. However, the game definitely has a stronger overarching story than many others, which I can’t say much about to avoid spoilers.
I felt like the game was a decent length, and I had to pace myself instead of jumping from one story to the next, because I really wanted to finish everything – apparently I still may have missed something, though I’ve gotten through the ‘hidden’ route.
Though the game has a fantastic premise, there’s not much fantasy in the main storyline. What there is, is a lot of psychological drama – especially in the last route (which has to be Red, you have to complete everyone else’s route first), it was pretty agonizing by the end. The game builds up tension really well, showing hints here and there but not letting you see what’s really going on until the end.
Part of what makes this game great are the side characters. Soi and Shinbi are perfect foils for Eri, and Soi pretty much owns every scene she’s in (great voice acting too, though I can’t understand a word of Korean). Though she’s definitely a loud personality, you can’t dislike her, and her characterization is pretty deep.
Overall, I really liked Nameless. The art was very pretty, in a totally different style than most otome games, and from what I could tell the voice acting was really good too (Soi’s the best!) I thought I wouldn’t care about Lance or Yeon-ho at all, but I ended up enjoying their routes a lot. The plot was interesting and the storytelling was intense.
I recommend it! I haven’t played it, but the same company has another otome game on Steam called Dandelion which is next on my Steam list.
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.
I saw this game when I was wandering around Japanese mobile websites, and I was really excited to get a press release for the English version from the company!! I’m big-time, guys! Haha.
Shall We Date? Ninja Love for GREE is set in the Warring States period in Japan, and I don’t believe it’s voiced, but in addition to visual novel gameplay, it has a few interesting elements compared to the original version, like being able to connect with other players, and getting accomplishments. Plus, ninjas! You know I love ninjas.
I just read the press release and bummer, right now for Android it’s only available in the USA. But if you have an iphone, you can play it in all these countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, the Republic of Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain, the USA, Cyprus
Jealousy! Oh well, guess a review from me will have to wait.
The podcast about Hakuoki and otome gaming in general is now up! Thanks so much to Anne from Video Game Writers for joining me on my first ever podcast, with all the hiccups that go along with it! It was lots of fun, we started discussing Hakuoki, went into voice actors a bit, mentioned Tokimemo, Harutoki, and Starry Sky, and then came back to Hakuoki. I’m sorry it took me a long time to edit – mostly because of noob mistakes. There are some moments where there’s static in the feed, I tried to get rid of most of them but some are right when we’re talking, so I had to leave them in.
You can either download it by right-clicking or left-click, and it will open in your browser. Let me know if you enjoy it!
Update: BTW, I saw this interview of the script rewriter that might explain Anne’s question about Hijikata.
Hakuouki‘s English release date is quickly approaching, and there are some exciting things to report! Hakuouki is pretty much the first big-name otome game to be released in English widely, and there are many good things about it: it’s freakin’ gorgeous, it is going to keep the original Japanese(THANK GOD), and look, it’s cheap!
Normal edition: $29.99! Holy cow, for someone like me used to Japanese prices this is amazing for a PSP game.
Limited Edition: Only $39.99! It includes a 72-page artbook (very nice, as the art for Hakuouki is freakin’ gorgeous), and a soundtrack CD. I don’t really remember what the music is like. I’d rather have a drama CD, but considering it would be in Japanese, I can understand why they didn’t include one.
Hakuouki is set for a Valentine’s Day release (very cute!) and I am seriously considering having a party for it, or a podcast or something.
That’s it for today, sorry it’s short!
Happy New Year a day early (or right on time for anyone over the date line)! The prequel for Ivan is up on the LOVE.101 site! This is the first of a series, one for each guy, and the next one will be in January for Raj. I hope it gives you an idea of what each guy is like. If you have comments, you can leave them here or feel free to email me! (lijakaca at yahoo dot com).
Yes, Rita just let me know that Aksys announced it at Anime Expo today, as hinted at on their webpage. They’re translating the PSP version. I’m not sure what the other one is, Rita if you hear give us a shout, and thanks very much for the scoop!!
OTOME GAMES IN ENGLISH, HERE WE GO!