[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!
I’m not sure why, but Koei is releasing ‘best edition’ (read: cheap) versions of two of the most popular Harutoki games this month for the PSP.
The first is Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 with Izayoiki Aizo Ban (best edition), one of the most enduringly popular otome games as rated by fans. I’m thinking of getting this, as I only have it on PS2, and as Izayoiki was a fandisk that you had to swap in and out with the original game to play, is a right pain, especially since my Japanese PS2 went kaput. In this version Izayoiki is one the same PSP cartridge as the original game, so NO swapping is needed! Yay! Plus, at only Y2800 this is pretty cheap. It’s an RPG (nothing too hardcore), so you get quite a few hours of playtime. And Shirogane was before his time as the sexy psycho who ends up being more popular than the main characters (I love him too, I can’t help it).
The other is the sequel/2nd fandisk for Harutoki 3, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3Unmei no Labyrinth Aizo Ban (best edition). It’s also new to the PSP and Y2800. It’s set after the ‘normal’, happy but not romantic, ending of #3, and is in the heroine’s world. The plot is totally unrelated to history in this one.
So if you’ve never played a Harutoki, and/or you’re interested in otome RPGs, I’d recommend getting the first game.
They’re also releasing Harutoki, the original game Hachiyousho (OK the original was on PS1, but Hachiyousho is the PS2 adaptation) for the PSP, but for some reason it’s more expensive. I don’t think it’s really worth it. Plus i just like #3 much better.
I’ve now played through several Harutoki 5 routes, and have some other general thoughts about the flow of the game:
Combat is easy after the first playthrough – I never ran out of life, though I did have to go back to my world a couple times to recharge. Almost as soon as you get chain attacks, you can always get the ‘fast battle’ bonus. Just pay attention to the elements, and try to power up your weapons as much as possible – note that if you allow members outside of the battle group to join your chain attack, you won’t get powerup orbs from the enemies that attack kills.
One thing I realized after a while, is that you can replace one powerup with the exact same one, and still get the weapon upgrade – useful when a lot of the earlier monsters just drop the same, not that useful, powerups.
Once your weapon gets to level 6, it will change to something new. I’m currently on weapon level 6+ for all characters, and around level 20-25 combat, and everything, including the last boss, is E-Z. I am 1337! (Only in Harutoki do I get to feel this way, maybe that’s why I love it so much?)
The story is the same no matter what route you do, but they show different parts of it in different routes. Also, what you and the route character do is different. I found that Yuki’s character is also different depending on the route you take, although in all of them she gets stronger and less fuzzy-headed than in the first part of the story (thankfully). That was a deliberate choice, I think, to make her development more obvious.
So far I have done Shun, Ryouma, Ouchi, Tatewaki, and Chinami (almost accidentally). My favourite was Ryouma, although Ouchi was good too. Shun’s is ok but kind of depressing in some ways, and Tatewaki, at one point in his story I really didn’t like him anymore, but by the end I liked him again. Chinami’s was ok as well, although part of his drama was resolved off-screen, and I’d rather have seen him deal with it with Yuki.
I’m looking forward to doing Ernest and Takasugi, but not really Okita – I know his route will probably have him making a breakthrough in getting his own willpower/conscience, but for some reason I’m not that interested.
I’m enjoying it, and the art and music is as high quality as ever, but I have to say that the lack of voice affects the game quite a bit. The whole intro is voiced, which is nice enough, but once you get into the meat of the game, each character only has a handful of voiced scenes (as well as being in other characters’ scenes). Since several characters aren’t with you the whole time, overall I’m having a hard time getting into the stories. Also, this is just my preference, but I felt that a lot of romantic scenes were whispered too much, especially for certain characters.
I still have several routes to finish though, and I might have just been in the wrong mood for it the last few days. So far my favourite route is Ryouma, but we shall see, I’m looking forward to Ernest and Takasugi a lot.
I finally got Harutoki 5!
Two hours sounds like a fair bit for the average game, at least enough to know most of the plot points, but as with most RPGs, it’s barely scratching the surface in Harutoki 5. So far I have:
* been in a plane crash;
* travelled to historical Japan (around 1863??);
* almost got killed by Takasugi Shinsaku (CV: Yasumoto Hiroki), who should end up being one my guardians, and tried to save Genbu (one of the four Guardian Beasts);
* travelled back to modern Japan and found out that Japan (and maybe the world?) has apparently been annihilated except for my house and my cousin’s (there are also no people left);
* fought two onryou (monsters);
* got sucked back to historical Japan again;
* tried to free Suzaku during a battle and then fought it;
* and got sent back to modern Japan.
All I want to know is, when is something *exciting* going to happen?? Heh.
I’ve encountered five hachiyou, but only one, my adopted brother Shun (CV: Terajima Takuma), has been with me for (almost) the whole time. The rest were one-time meetings. It just went from full-voice to non-voiced (boo!), and the heroine even had some lines (only when she was alone and reflecting on her situation, it was a bit strange).
Right now it seems like there are hachiyou on either side of this war, those supporting the existing shogun (Okita Souji （CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko), maybe Ernest （CV: Shitanda Michael), and those trying to reinstate the emperor (Takasugi, Chinami (CV: Abe Atsushi). It’s a little bit like Harutoki 2 that way. Will I have to choose a side? Will things end up the way they did in our world? (Since the other world is similar to ours but not the same, they theoretically could).
I don’t know much yet, although I think I’d like to get going and stop switching worlds for a while. I want to get into the character’s stories! So, not much else to say right now, but I’ll update soon-ish.
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?
I’m working on a Garnet Cradle post, but for tonight I thought I’d take a step back and look at what I think is one of the best female-targeted games ever – Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3 (From Far Away 3) from Koei, for the Playstation 2.
For anyone who’s not familiar with the series, the premise is that the heroine, Nozomi, is a regular high school senior in Japan. One day while moving to the next class, she and her two childhood friends are transported to a faraway world that resembles historical Japan. In this world, there is magic, and she has been chosen by the Dragon God to be his priestess and protect the capital city of Kyou with the Minamoto clan. To help her, she has eight Guardians, called hachiyou (who all just happen to be young handsome men ^_^), but she doesn’t simply wait and let them protect her. She learns how to use a sword, and is the only person who can exorcise the ‘onryou’, or vengeful spirits, that the attackers of Kyou use.
In addition to the RPG gameplay, where Nozomi and her hachiyou fight onryou, gain allies and abilities, and battle the enemy (the other side here is the Heike clan), there’s the romance aspect. By fighting with them and winning, Nozomi’s bonds with her hachiyou get stronger. There are also story events for each hachiyou that illustrate the growing relationship between him and Nozomi.
Depending on whether you get all the ‘events’ for a hachiyou, you can get a love ending with them as well as saving Kyou. There’s also the ‘normal’ ending, where Nozomi doesn’t get together with anyone but saves Kyou and goes back to her world.
The gameplay is fun RPG and adventure, without being too heavy on either. The voice actors are great (if you can understand Japanese!) and the story is also strong. I really wish Koei would bring it overseas, they’re definitely big enough!
Tomorrow’s my day off, so I’ll be back on Saturday with a Garnet Cradle extravaganza!