I’ve finished all of Princess Arthur! Not the bad ends though, I might do those when I have extra time sometime, but I don’t like doing them too close to the true ends.
Anyways, I really liked it. It takes a while to get going, and I enjoyed the playthroughs better when I could skip all the common stuff, but that’s pretty standard. I played Gawain’s route first (Taniyama Kishou, who could resist?), but if I played it again, I think I’d go something like: Mordred, Galahad, Tristan, Lancelot, Gawain, and Merlin.
The game starts with Aru, who’s the daughter of a retired knight, practicing swordsmanship with someone – her father teaches people how to swordfight. Something is mentioned about her brother Kei, who’s a Knight of the Round Table, who hasn’t been around much lately. Aru feels bad because he’s been acting weird ever since he fought with her once and lost. At the castle there’s an event going on to decide the next king, since the last one, Uther, died a month (or so) ago. Aru goes up to the castle to watch.
Of course she gets lost, and ends up 1) being hit on by some weird dude in a purple robe open to his bellybutton (Merlin) and directed to the right place by a handsome knight (Lancelot.) When she finally reaches the courtyard, she sees Kei trying to pull the holy sword out of a big stone and failing in front of a big crowd. However, he won’t give up, and Aru gets upset and tries to convince him to stop. Somehow Aru’s hands end up on his, and he’s able to pull the sword out. Kei holds the sword up triumphantly and announces that he’s the king, but someone (Merlin IIRC) asks him to do it again. Once again he can’t do it until Aru helps him. Then Aru pulls the sword out all by herself, and amid the crowd’s astonishment, Merlin announces that the new king has been found, and it’s Aru. Kei leaves in a huff, and Aru’s father saw what happened as well, and though Aru tries to deny it, he accepts her fate and leaves her to Merlin’s care.
It takes Aru a while to accept that she is the next king, and that she has to work hard to be accepted by her subjects and by other countries. There’s also at least one person trying to intimidate and/or assassinate her, as she finds a poisonous snake in her bed one evening. Some people, such as Uther’s sister Morgos, are openly scornful of her, and soon there’s war brewing as other kingdoms don’t accept her as king. ONe of the most important points of the intro is when Aru has to decide whether she’s going to war with the knights – if you say you’ll wait for them, you get a bad end. If you go, you win the battle but Aru kills someone, her best friend’s fiance dies, and Aru has to learn how to deal with the emotional weight of war.
Once she’s recovered from that, there’s a ball held to celebrate. Depending on which character you have the highest affection with, around here (choosing who will escort you to the ball) will decide on the route you go into and change the rest of the plot.
Mordred (CV: Hosoya Yoshimasa): His story has little to do with the overarching plot of being accepted as king, but clears up a couple of incidents. I love his voice actor (any Tenipuri Shitenhouji fans out there?), and he’s not in many games. Hopefully this will change soon! His story was pretty bittersweet and I think his character is one of the most realistic and complex – he’s flawed and knows it, but can’t get past the problems his upbringing left him with until the very end. I also think his art, the CGs and tachie, are the most consistent, and his design is one of the most attractive.
Galahad(CV: Okamoto Nobuhiko): I thought in the intro that I wouldn’t like him much,but he was SUCH a classic tsundere and you don’t see them often anymore (now they’re all Do-S jerks), that I really enjoyed his route. He has a lot of really cute moments. And his story is pretty touching as well, he’s not used to feeling much so he’s awful at expressing how he feels. When he can’t hold it in anymore, it’s pretty intense and awesome. He’s also the youngest of the knights (younger than Aru even) so he’s a bit immature and that’s written well, including a bit of a complex about being young (and short).
Tristan’s (CV: Koyasu Takehito) route annoyed me, as Aru had to be not only naive and trusting, but also throw away her developing friendships with the other knights before Tristan even showed any romantic interest in her. To get his happy end Aru has to lie to all the knights, flat out deny their help, and pretty much become an outcast of her court by the end. And though I enjoyed all the scenes with Percival and Merlin to make up for Tristan being absent for 75% of the story, it didn’t really make for a good romance. They actually had to add vignettes into each chapter to go through his backstory etc. because it’s not explained in the story until the very end. I also really didn’t like Aru in this route. Tristan calls her actions stupid and she often agrees with him, but she just cant seem to help herself. And to top everything off, at one point Aru wears a disguise that’s even worse than the ‘ball gown’ worn before. This time its for a good reason, but the cg of it looks…like its from a galge. Did they really have to show it from a crotch up angle? And that’s obviously the point at which Tristan becomes interested in Aru as a woman, which makes me think of him as an old lech. But I had to get through it to get to Merlin’s route, so I used auto a lot and surfed the net.
Lancelot( CV: Ono Yuuki): Probably the most typical ‘shoujo’ route. I put him near the middle because while I really liked him, and there wasn’t as much Guinevere drama as I was afraid of, his route is not that sweet. He’s always polite and pretty much the ‘parfit gentil knight’, in addition to being the strongest of all the KotRT. Most of the emotional angst comes from Aru not knowing if he actually cares for her or whether he’s just doing his duty. Normally I would be annoyed by this, but he has a really really good reason to hide any romantic feelings. It was possibly the most dramatic at the very end, in a Sailor Moon kind of way. I don’t want to put spoilers in so you can judge for yourself if you agree, but I thought his was the best story in terms of integrating the character’s plot with Aru’s plot.
And I would put Gawain (CV: Taniyama Kishou (for some reason I mixed up his name with Tachibana Shinnosuke, why am I doing that??) last before Merlin, because his route is just really sweet – he’s already past the tsun stage by the time the intro’s over. But because he’s a not a ladykiller type (I affectionately call him a meathead), he’s awkwardly endearing most of the time as he unsubtly tries to spend time with Aru and impress her. The romance gets resolved before the climax, so there’s not as much tension, but after Tristan who has almost no romance, I think it works. Now if I could just figure out what thing he wears on his head is…
And last is Merlin (CV: Okiayu Ryoutarou) – you have to get an ending with each character before his route opens up. This is where you see the resolution of all the storylines (though it kind of contradicts a couple other plotlines, but oh well). Merlin is a total lech, flirting with Aru and making suggestive remarks, until she starts to take him seriously.
Then he backs off and starts treating her like a child (since he’s actually much older than he looks, I don’t think this is much of a spoiler).
This route is fun in that it’s a reversal of the usual pattern, with Arthur pursuing Merlin and him trying to brush her off lightly, and then trying to find other ways of discouraging her like treating her as a child and trying to scare her off. He goes back and forth between acting like he doesn’t care and showing that he does, but it’s obvious enough that I enjoyed it rather than was frustrated with it. Also, the Lady of the Lake, Nimue, plays a big role in this route and is pretty awesome. She sees right away that Aru loves Merlin and advises Aru, and she explains Merlin’s inconsistency as it happens as well. The climax leaves a little to be desired, as you don’t really get Merlin to admit how he feels until it’s all over, and in my biased opinion his confession could use some more passion, but looking at the route as a whole there are quite a few romantic moments.
So I really liked Princess Arthur, and I’m glad I got the limited edition. I’d say the story and characters were really good, but the climax of the plot wasn’t as dramatic as it could be in most cases. There was a lot going on (in addition to each of the knights’ problems), like Aru’s brother Kei’s subplot, Morgos and Medorauto, rebellions, a shadowy mercenary force, and a couple other things. The character routes weren’t always integrated well with the larger ‘being accepted as king’ plot, though they did try – nothing felt tacked on at the end, there was foreshadowing all the time, it just seemed weird that several of the same enemy characters would have completely different schemes, alliances and sometimes motives depending on which character route you were on. On the other hand, if they didn’t change things up, the same plotline would have to be recycled every time, just dropping a different hero into a blank slot.
Other stuff – I wasn’t sure about the art at first, as it’s not as ‘pretty’ as a lot of otome games, but in some ways I liked it even better – the characters look like real people, and the guys definitely look like they could be real knights (i.e. they have muscles! they wear armour!). Though there were some odd costume designs, I liked most of them barring Aru’s ‘trying too hard to look sexy’ ball’gown’. Of course the voices were great
The music is really good, especially the opening theme – it really amps up the suspense and feeling of epicness during the ‘king’ scenes.
I feel like there’s a lot that could be done with the other characters that were only in subplots or only had minor roles – Kei, Aru’s friend Elaine, Medorauto, Bowls (Bolls?), and Percival. I’d love to see bigger storylines of theirs in a fandisk. I really hope Princess Arthur does get a fandisk, as I’m not sure how well it did for sales.
News from Girl’s Style:
I’m tired, but I’ll do B’s Log soon.
I finally finished a game, yay! I was looking forward to Glass Heart Princess a lot for some reason, I think part of it is that it’s one of the few totally new titles in my recent history. And when I realized that there was gameplay other than visual novel style, I was determined to pick it up as soon as possible.
I was able to find a guide for it at love voice, the only one I saw. I really needed it too, especially for Shinnosuke (the butler).
The premise is that you’re an accomplished, lovely, rich student in your last year at an exclusive high school. Everyone loves you, your father dotes on you, you have an otaku maid who’s sarcastic and awesome, and a devoted butler who is willing to go to ANY lengths to protect you.
One summer’s day you’re being served tea in your vast gardens, as you do, when you have a sudden heart palpitation and pass out. You wake up in the hospital and are told that you have a rare disease called Glass Heart Syndrome. If you can’t strengthen your heart against tokimeki, you won’t live out the year.
Luckily, you’ve never been in love, so you have a (relatively) easy way of toughening up your heart – fall in love, go on dates, and train to up your ‘heartbeat limit’ all the while.
The first thing you have to do is pick your partner. The first draft pick is the school bad boy, Karasuma Yuikito (CV: Suzuki Tatsuhisa), who’s secretly a famous cat burglar. The second is the well-liked teacher, Asahina Tenma (CV: Hatano Wataru), who’s secretly a vampire mafia boss (yup). Your ‘last’ chance, if you miss these two, is Hoshino Kanata (CV: Miyata Kouki), an android from outer space visiting earth to gather data on it. And finally, if you miss all three, you have a chance at the true end, your devoted butler with a gun fetish and mercenary history, Masaki Shinnosuke (CV: KENN). There’s also a hidden character, a much younger ‘betrothed’ – I got his happy end but there didn’t seem to be much to it.
Once you ‘choose’ someone by having Cupid shoot his arrow at you during one of these encounters, you ask them out in various ways and can then choose a date every week. Leading up to the date is your training time, where you can train physically to up your max heartbeats, train in love to increase your love-intelligence (by studying shoujo manga and romance), and rest. At first you have only one activity for each of these categories and the training goes slowly, but you learn more training methods as you go. The only route I didn’t follow a guide for was Hoshino, where I just did one of each activity a week, and that seemed to work fine.
Once you get to the new year, if you’re still alive you then go into the route of the person you have a high enough score with (each date has a score e.g. Excellent is the best, then Sweet, Good, and Not Bad). There aren’t many choices here, but it’s the longest continuous story part.
I enjoyed it, but honestly the routes felt pretty short except for Shinnosuke’s, who I totally think is the true end. His is also the ‘hardest’ to get, since if you date him from the beginning, you don’t get some of his events.
I think the dates, though they’re fun, were very short, especially the beginning ones. There are also random events during the week where you walk home with your guy and discuss things with him, but it was very random – sometimes it only happened once a route. You can choose to visit your tea party friends during the week to get conversation topics, but it feels like a waste if you don’t get to use them (but at least it doesn’t take up a training slot).
Overall Shinnosuke was my favourite. Though they were all fun, his route was the longest and the relationship felt the most real – they even had a lot of backstory between him and the heroine. Even in his route though, it felt a little rushed. I would have enjoyed a longer in-between stage, where he isn’t sure of his feelings, or even after he realizes, before the external drama comes up and moves the conflict outside of the relationship.
I did really enjoy the lightheartedness of the story, and one thing that’s great is the small touches that (really) mostly add to Shinnosuke as a character – he’s had all this special training, and when you get to a certain level sometimes ‘guest’ trainers come on – and they’re all characters from past Otomate games. You don’t see them but they’re fun references. They also show up in the end of his route with their voices, and that’s great – I was wondering why Sugita Tomokazu was playing a bit part as the doctor, lol, I guess they had them fill in some small roles as well.
Also, in each route, you have a special New Year’s dream. In Japan it’s said that the first dream you have in the New Year is lucky or unlucky depending on what it is. Well, in this game, you dream of your guy, but in the setting of an Otomate game – though they don’t say the titles it’s very obvious which ones they are. And then you wake up and see that you were playing a game before you fell asleep
Overall I think this game is fun, but I don’t know if I’d recommend it 100%. There are other games I’d rate higher, but this is quite fun, and the art is great as well.
So Toki no Kizuna is totally supposed to be a historical prequel for Hakuouki. At first I didn’t believe it, because the artist is different and Otomate doesn’t usually link their games (of different titles), but yeah, once you play it it’s pretty obvious. I don’t know how I feel about that…I’m pretty tired of them milking Hakuouki, but it stands by itself at least.
The game starts out with the heroine, Yukina, scouting around the edge of the hidden oni Yase village, which is protected by barriers to keep out humans. She’s the chief of the Suzumori clan (none of her clan have shown up in two routes though, so I don’t know if she has one or is just alone), who protects the oni princess Yase, who’s supposed to be kind of a leader of all the oni clans. Yase-hime has called all the chiefs of the Ten Oni Clans to the village and Yukina runs into two of them, Chitose (CV: Itou Kentarou) and Kazuya (CV: Kamiya Hiroshi), who test her fighting skills out. Of course (can’t have a heroine be on par with the heroes right?) she fails, although the narration assures us that the chiefs of oni clans are even stronger than regular oni, who are much stronger than humans. But so far, I’ve never seen Yukina in a fight which she won.
Anyways, they all head back to the village and a couple other clan chiefs have arrived as well, Kazutake (CV: Nomura Kenji) and Shin (CV: Hino Satoshi). It’s the first time Yukina has met any of them, and none of them seem very impressed by her. She knows almost nothing of what’s going on in the world outside, and they ask her mentors, three old oni chiefs, why they’ve ‘spoilt’ her so much. The old oni say she has no need to know about the outside world. In this scene Yukina comes off as very serious about trying to be a good clan chief and lacking a sense of humour (which is pretty much her personality throughout). I didn’t mind this so much; although she comes off as a little slow, I blame the old oni chiefs who want to keep her ‘innocent’ (read naive).
Though there are some southern clan chiefs missing, the princess decides there’s no time to wait for them. She comes out and asks if any of the chiefs have had contact with humans, which is strictly forbidden among oni. All of them say they unavoidably have some doings with humans, and she asks them not to get too involved in human affairs. Then she goes back to her room, leaving all the oni chiefs bewildered, and they declare they’re surprised she called them all here urgently just to say that. Yukina is concerned about the princess, and talks to her privately. The princess says she’s seen a vision of an oni chief, one of the ones in the next room, fighting in a human war and dying, and that she wants to stop that. (Why didn’t she just say that?? I don’t know). She asks Yukina to stop the oni chiefs from dealing with humans, and Yukina agrees.
Part of the reason I didn’t like the setup was that all the oni chiefs, even though they’re supposed to be incredibly loyal and dedicated to Yase-hime, they completely ignore what she says and pretty much act like they’re not part of a larger oni clan family at all. Why do they even bother to be part of the Ten Clans, when they seem to not care about them as a group at all? It made the whole intro seem fake and honestly cheapened the whole idea of Yase-hime being their leader, who only showed up for a few minutes near the beginning to tell them all not to get involved with humans (a rule all of them had already broken, by the way). Yase-hime as a character wasn’t great either, she’s basically a deus ex machina to get the oni to stay in the village for a while and give Yukina an excuse to get out of the village and chase her attackers.
The next day the princess is attacked by a mysterious figure, who Yukina catches in the princess’s room. She attacks him, but he stops her easily with an unknown force and is in the middle of attacking her when an Chitose arrives and drives him off (one more time that Yukina loses easily to someone). The princess is unconscious, and though she doesn’t seem injured, she’s in a deep coma-like sleep and won’t wake up. The old oni chiefs keep the young ones in the village for as long as possible to investigate, but after several months they all leave one way or another, saying they’ll come back after they clean things up in their areas.
One thing I didn’t like was that this period, between the princess being attacked and the oni chiefs leaving, is almost totally skipped over. This is a time when Yukina probably saw them almost everyday and I would’ve liked to see her get to know them during this time, but no, there was almost nothing. She goes out a couple times with a group to investigate, but it’s all just to see the human regions getting ready for war, and to bump into the mysterious figure (which they figure out is an oni) a couple more times and get beat up again.
Anyways, after the oni chiefs leave (all except one actually), there’s another month lapse until Yukina decides to go out after one of them and try to bring them back. This is where the routes diverge.
I did Chitose’s route first – I love Itou Kentarou, and Chitose seemed like the default choice (he’s the front guy on the nice pic above). Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like Chitose’s love story was believable. For half the story he treated Yukina like an annoying companion, and even when they met after being apart a month he didn’t show any hint of fondness. This scene was especially obvious because his childhood friend came back as well, and they had a very happy reunion. Compared to that, his reaction to seeing Yukina was lukewarm. And then, with no other development between the two of them, and just a few scenes where they’re again teased by his childhood friend and then fight all in a group, he suddenly cares deeply for her and wants her to stay safely in the village? No. It didn’t feel at all realistic to me.
The second part of the route was better, in that it had some moments showing that Chitose was falling for Yukina (Yukina doesn’t think about her own feelings much, and doesn’t recognize them when other people ask her). But the start of the love story wasn’t done well.
Now I’ve also finished Kazutake’s (far left in the top pic) route, and while I think it works much better, it’s more because I could believe in subtle developing feelings without Kazutake being obvious about it, because he’s much more mature than the others and is better at hiding things. It still wasn’t very romantic, but by the end it feels like Yukina and he have a strong bond and care deeply for one another. Also, Kazutake treats Yukina with respect right from the beginning, so Yukina doesn’t seem like a doormat when she runs after him and sticks with him no matter what. Kazutake’s and Yukina’s relationship held together better, but Chitose’s isn’t really bad, the romance just feels unnatural. I’m kind of afraid to do Kazuya and Shin’s routes – I might do the last one (Senkimaru) instead.
Overall, I think this game tries too hard to be like Hakuouki in aspects that I wasn’t crazy about – the lack of romance, the way the bonds between the heroes felt stronger than between the heroine and the hero for 90% of each route, and – oh yeah I forgot this – the battle descriptions. Lots of war strategy talk between side characters, and diagrams showing whose armies are where. Not too interesting to me honestly, I usually skipped right through these. Thankfully though, I don’t think the routes are as long as in Hakuouki.
I can’t say I dislike it though – the characters themselves are pretty good, and now that I don’t have to play through the long, annoying intro part, I can try to forget how jerky they act in the beginning. The art makes up for a lot too, even the side character designs are really nice, and the seiyuu cast is amazing – Hiyama Nobuyuki is Chitose’s friend!!! I so wish he had a route or sidestory or something. He was actually playing Cupid for Chitose and Yukina, halfway through I wished he would give up on Chitose and go for Yukina himself. Yukina herself got better by the end as well – stronger and more assured, although it was more obvious in Kazutake’s route. There are several other characters who seem like they would have interesting stories as well, but apparently only the five main chiefs have a route. Oh, the music is ok. Not as good as say, Nise no Chigiri (to compare it to another Sengoku game).
Anyways, this sounds like a big gripe session, but Toki no Kizuna isn’t a bad game – it’s just not what I was looking forward to. If you like the low level of romance that’s in Hakuouki, you’ll love this. And I’m sure Otomate will release a fandisk for this, so I’ll pin my romance hopes on that.
Now, I think I’ll go back and play another route in Sangokuren Senki ^_^
I’m sitting here watching Toki no Kizuna scroll by (almost done two characters and going to post after that), and I thought I’d post these vids as well.
Grimm the Bounty Hunter
I haven’t quite finished Adolf’s route yet, but it’s pretty fun.
Issho ni Gohan
This is really cute, too bad it’s unfocused.
I’m really hoping this is good, although recent games have lowered my expectations…I just love the character designs.
Yay! It’s as fun as I remember, and the new art is definitely nicer. For me it strikes a nice balance between gameplay and story.
Toki no Kizuna
Going through this now – as you can see the art is gorgeous. And I love the voice cast.
This is actually available through the PlayStation Network! If you’re in Japan, that is.
Edit: The Butterfly vid was removed, so here’s another treat – a preview of Hana Awase!
One route per game, I hope it’s worth it. It seems to be targeting a more mature crowd, maybe there’ll be lots of adult drama.
24ji no Cinderella
I got 12ji just to play this, and I really enjoyed it, so I can’t wait for this one! Already orderd the deluxe set.
Oh, one last link to a vid – the VitaminZ fandisk!
And that’s it for now!
I’m actually having no trouble getting through Bakudan Handan – my first playthrough I was wondering if I could last, because I was really tired and had a hard time paying attention to the mystery and puzzles. But I got through it quite well (no guide!) and am now on my fifth character.
Let me step back and explain the plot a bit. The heroine, Saki, is a normal, intelligent high school student, who’s looking forward to the opening of a new amusement park, Blossom Land, which her uncle designed/produced/something. Her uncle is the well-known game producer Inafune Keiji (who also did most of the art for Mega Man.) She’s going to the exclusive opening party, which for some reason is only open to close family and the press (this confused me; since amusement parks are pretty much the biggest venue you can have, why not let people bring as many friends as possible??) Anyways, she has to go alone to the opening. During the opening ceremony, her uncle is making a speech when suddenly the mike goes dead, and the stage is hijacked by someone in a weird pig suit, calling himself World Boo. His minions take the people on stage hostage, and he announces that he’s starting a game for the hostages’ survival. At first the crowd thinks it’s part of the show, but when an explosion brings down the ferris wheel, they panic and start to flee. World Boo says he’s going to pick 7 ‘heroes’ to try and clear the ‘game’ and save the hostages, and Saki volunteers to save her uncle.
One thing that’s good is that the prologue/intro isn’t too long – you jump right into the ’7 days of life-threatening puzzles’. You get minimal dialogue of Saki getting ready to go to the amusement park and then the action starts with the opening ceremony.
Every day, the 7 heroes have to visit a certain attraction and ‘clear’ it – usually with two or three stages each. They’re all really different, and all based on fictional video games. One of the characters is a game otaku who explains the background of the game, which sometimes help them figure out what to do. And there’s an interesting gameplay feature, where often they’ll have to figure out what they missed, and Saki has to review the game explanation and point out what was missed. It’s pretty simple – you can choose up to three things from about 8 possibilities, and as long as the right one is chosen it’s all good. There’s one other bit of gameplay that’s different from a normal visual novel – at certain point during the storyline one character or another (even World Boo sometimes) will say something that’s so wrong and/or harmful that Saki will get mad. At this point, you can choose to tell the character off or hold in your feelings. I always tell them off, it often results in an affection increase (they appreciate your setting them straight, I like that in a man ^_-), and it never seems to be a bad choice. And it feels like I’m playing Phoenix Wright – it has a scene like the ‘Objection’ scene, where Saki poses and huge text of “Donna handan da!?” (What kind of decision is that!?) appears against an exploding background. It might just be for fun, but I like it.
Other than that, though, it’s just a visual novel. I was really hoping for more gameplay, especially since several of the games they have to clear are literally videogames – there’s a shooting aliens game, a go-kart driving game, and an avoid zombies game, among others. It would have been fantastic if they put in minigames for these – although I’d want them to be easy However, compared to most otome games Bakudan Handan has more gameplay than usual already, so I won’t fault it too much.
Then there are the characters. The art in this game is not pretty otome/shoujo. It’s clean and attractive, but the character designs are far from typical otoge. Subaru is the only character I could see as the typical hero, and maybe the idol Wakasa, although even his design is far from the normal ‘cute younger guy’ look. But they definitely stand out, and after playing through Subaru’s route, I was quite happy to jump into Ryuusei’s route (yay, a host who looks like an MMA fighter, with long pink hair!). Their personalities are all well-developed, but there’s not much romance, which I’m not sure how I feel about.
Overall, I’m enjoying it quite a bit. A lot of the plot is about the group working together and growing as a team, and finding out the background of this whole situation. If you’re feeling a bit of overkill from otome romance melodrama, this might be just the game for you.
I finally finished a route in Jyuzanegi yesterday, and it’s pretty heavy. I think it’s fairly realistic for the time period, and heavy. Not too angsty as such, but just…a lot of things happening and it takes a LOT of effort and time to get a happy ending. I did Chouki first (the other cat boy that’s not the white-haired one), and I liked his character a lot. Ishida Akira’s little catboy Ryuubi also was not as annoying as I expected, so I’m having a hard time choosing what route to do next. I want something totally different, so I’m thinking maaybe Sousou (another country’s general, who’s the first person to force the cat people to leave their secluded village.
The story is set in the times of the Three Kingdoms of ancient China, and the heroine, Ka-u (Ka-un?), is a half-cat person (who are called Maozoku) living in a small village of cat people, hidden away from human civilization. They’re discovered by Sousou’s army when he’s looking for the Yellow Turban Gang (anyone who’s played Sengoku Rensenki is familiar with them, but I believe here it’s their early thuggish days), and he seems to know of them, and demands they come along and help him search or he’ll destroy the village. The strategies and warlords in this game are mostly as ruthless as you’d expect, and there’s no question that he would actually do it. The cat people are also viewed as lower than humans by most people, who call them ‘Juuza’ in reference to the story about their being left out of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac (anyone remember Fruits Basket?). The racism is fairly realistic as well for an openly intolerant time.
Ka-un is the strongest warrior of her people, and has an overdeveloped sense of duty, partly because she’s grateful to the cat people for accepting her when she’s only half-Maozoku. Chouki’s route didn’t go into her origin story too much, although there are hints near the end. I think I know which route would lay it totally bare, but I won’t spoil it.
I loved how she was strong, and yet not really a natural leader – she did get impulsive and overeager to fight sometimes, especially when Ryuubi, who’s the Maozoku’s ‘leader’, is in danger. I wish there were more scenes of her actually fighting – there is a very small battle system based on timing, but in Chouki’s route it’s only fully used a couple times. I hope it’s used more in other routes.
I don’t know how much of the plot is common to all routes, but there is a lot of going back and forth between warlords and countries and armies – by the end you really feel as if Ka-un deserves some rest and happiness. I’m looking forward to doing other routes, but I actually needed a break in-between – I felt tired by the time I got to the end of Chouki’s route. I also haven’t done his bad ending yet – I think I’ll need to cheer up after doing that.
Other things I noticed – the music is pretty good, but there’s not as much animation as in the PV, at least that I saw. CGs seem to be weighted towards the end.
I’m already excited for Genroh, especially now that the seiyuu have been revealed! There’s no release date yet, but I’m going to guess September or October. It’s set in the Heian era, 1179, the exact same timeframe as Harutoki 3, with some of the same characters.
Going from right to left: Heroine, Yoshitsune, Benkei, Kotarou, Tsugunobu, Tadanobu
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke) – The son of the Minamoto clan. His deepest desire is to beat the Taira clan, and he fully believes in his older brother Yoritomo in Kamakura. His mother gave him a flute which he keeps with him at all times, and he watches over the heroine.
Musashibou Benkei (CV: Tsuda Kenjirou) A former monk of Mt. Hiei who now works for Yoshitsune. He’s intimidating without even trying to be, so he often scares people. He likes to cook and seeing people enjoy food makes him happy. Though he doesn’t show much emotion, he’s actually good at looking after people. (I am totally doing his route first. I knew I would like him, and I love his voice actor too!)
Kotarou (CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) – A quick, nimble young man who’s good at talking to people, he has his own reasons for working for Yoshitsune. He has a complex about being short and is determined to become even bigger than Benkei one day. He can’t seem to help being mean to the heroine.
Satou Tsugunobu (CV: Miki Shinichirou) – Yoshitsune’s comrade who lives with him in Hiraizumi. He’s very loyal, and is almost too straightforward in his moral code. He also loves swords so much, he does some blacksmithing. He sees the heroine as a younger sister.
Satou Tadanobu (CV: Suzuki Yuuto) – Tsugunobu’s younger brother who’s an archery expert, and is seen as a bit of a womanizer. He likes to tease the heroine and watch her reactions.
Mikage (CV: Koyasu Takehito) – Yoshitsune’s mysterious teacher, he actually tries to kidnap the heroine.
I still haven’t finished even one route in Elkrone, though I swear I’ve been playing it quite a bit. I’m sure now that there is no gathering of materials except in the most visual novel way – you go to places during a scene and are told that you gather materials. No actual choice involved.
The alchemy is also foolproof – whenever you make something it’s for a specific purpose, and the ‘correct’ combination is the only one that you can do.
I’m disappointed that the alchemy is so shallow, but as a visual novel it’s not bad. You do get to choose what tasks to do each day and it’s impossible to do them all. Right now I’m just doing the ones involving my target (Ralph) and then after that, either random tasks or I choose to skip out on them altogether and just mind the store. The tasks are separated into four sections; one for the three major festivals that occur during spring, and then one for Other (which seems to be related to the fairy Popotte maybe, or possibly a past Alchemist?).
C’est tout for today, I should finish Ralph tomorrow.
I got a bunch of games last night:
After not too much debate, I started up Elkrone first. One, I really want to see if there’s a good alchemy minigame, because I love collecting and making things in-game (yeah I am that annoying crafter in MMORPGs that wants all the recipes). And Otomate has done it before – Kanuchi had a crafting system that I really liked. And two, I’ve played Xechs and Harutoki 5 so the FDs can wait, and Bloody Nightmare…I need to work myself up to it, I hear it’s really dark. If it’s anything like Gekka Ryouran it’s gonna be intense. Vampire Sweetie I’ll probably play in fits and starts.
So far in Elkrone, I’ve only made one thing, but it seems really simple. You need three ingredients, and from my understanding you already have one or two of them (they’re more like catalysts and they don’t get used up) that you get from your fairy friend Popotto. Doesn’t seem very complicated, as you can tell when you have a match. I haven’t gone collecting yet though, so maybe that is more involved.
As for l’amour, I’m pretty sure I’ll go for Ralph (the main guy) first. I’m not even out of the intro, I’ve only met him, Johanne the adventurer, and the old weapon shop guy (voiced by none other than Madao! Gintama’s ruined me for this guy’s voice, good thing he’s not catchable). Ralph is a former classmate and classic tsundere, really obvious and pretty cute.
That’s it for now! Once I have more idea of the story (no idea if there’s an overarching plot but there are some hints) I’ll post again. And tomorrow or Sunday will be video time!