Posts Tagged ‘PSP’


Shinobi Koi, Utsutsu Review

March 3rd, 2015

 (This post was supposed to go up a year ago…but I never finished it off. Since I picked this game as my favourite PSP game of 2014, I thought I should finally post it!)

I got a huge package of games (6 games!!) at the beginning of Feb which was very exciting (who doesn’t love getting packages?), and the first one I played was Shinobi Koi, Utsutsu. I debated for a few minutes, because I also got Arabian’s Doubt and Edgeworth Investigations 2. But I knew Ninkoi (the game’s nickname which is a combo of the alternate reading for shinobi, like in ninja, and of course Koi as in love) would be fun, and relatively quick. And I cannot resist the art; I just love this artist’s style so much.

And I was right! It took me a little over a week to finish it, and that’s while working more than full-time. So, here’s my review of Shinboi Koi, Utsutsu!

Plot: Katagiri Kaede is a young woman in the 1700’s (I think? historical Japan about a 100 years after Oda Nobunaga anyways) who was orphaned very young and brought up by her grandmother until she passed away. Now she works at a restaurant and attends the town ninja school. In this alternate history, ninja, led by Sanada Yukimura, played a key role in the defeat of the Yoritomo shogunate a hundred years ago, and ninja are respected as warriors. It’s even very common to have ninja school, the most famous being the Sanada Koutou Shuurenin school, still controlled by the Sanada clan and attended by the richest and most elite students.

It’s Kaede’s dream to attend this school and after graduation, join the Sanada Yuushitai, an elite ninja group who protect the shogun. She has a fairly clear memory from when she was very young – she was travelling with her parents when they were attacked by bandits, who killed her parents. They were about to kill her as well when a mysterious ninja appeared and saved her. He also apologized for not getting there in time to save her parents, but she’s always felt extremely grateful and wishes she could thank him. This event became her inspiration to train as a ninja and hopefully one day join the Sanada Yuushitai.

She’s hoping to save up enough money to apply to the famous school by working at the restaurant, but one day she gets a break. A thief steals a customer’s wallet, and she chases him outside and uses her ninja skills to catch him. This catches the eye of an older gentleman who finishes the capture, and then introduces himself as the Vice Principal of the ninja school. He notices something special in her, and invites her to join the school as a scholarship student.Kaede doesn’t know what he sees in her, as she knows she doesn’t have much skill, but she’s not going to let this chance go by, and she agrees.

The next scene is her entering the school, where she meets the Vice Principal again, who tells her that the Principal has agreed to let her in. The conditions are that in six months, on the midterm exam, she must obtain a grade of excellent (or kou), the highest of the three possible grades. And because she’s ‘just’ a poor scholarship student, she can’t expect to have a partner the way regular students do, so she’ll have to get this grade on her own.

While they’re talking, some students notice the new face and approach her. They are the game’s heroes, all from well-known ninja families:

During the conversation, Kaede gets really embarrassed when someone (probably Anayama) flirts with her, and suddenly a cloud of pink smoke erupts around her. All the guys including Sanada are caught in the smoke and suddenly turn into Romeos, saying how cute she is and not paying attention to anything except her. When it wears off, they’re all horrified at how they acted and that they, all good students, were unable to resist.

Sanada feels sorry for her plight, and he arranges it so she can pick any of the five boys as her partner to help pass her trials (once you’ve played one route you can also pick Sanada).

Once you’ve picked, the route splits and you start training.

There are two things I love about this game that I think make it stand out (I love the art and seiyuu but I could say that for most otome games.)

One is the hook of Kaede’s mysterious power, which is both amusing and shows what the guys are really thinking near the end of the routes. It’s interesting to speculate whether what they say ‘under the influence’ is ALWAYS their true feelings, though I think it’s at least amped up quite a bit at the beginning.

The other is Kaede’s true singlemindedness and humbleness without being a martyr, which I find a little rare in otome games. Kaede jumps at the chance to attend the school, though she doesn’t think she really belongs there. She doesn’t get down on herself when jealous fangirls tell her she doesn’t fit in, because she knows that already. She doesn’t care what people say about her, or if they prank her, because she’s going to take any chance she gets to train at a high level and become an elite ninja. Her power also gives her a plausible reason to not think that the guys are interested in her without the way-too-common “heroine has low self-esteem”, which honestly I’ve experienced enough to last five lifetimes (the regular “Oh, he couldn’t like me, he’s too good for me!”)

I really enjoyed all the routes, and I’m really happy that the PS Vita version coming out in a few months will have new character routes, including one for Kuroudo’s brother, who’s in this one already, and Hattori Hanzou.

Here’s a promo movie for the new version:

I can’t wait! It will also have some new material for the existing routes, so it fulfills my wish for a fandisk pretty well.

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Otome games for cheap!

August 7th, 2014

There are some really well-priced re-releases of D3 Publisher PSP otome games (their brand is called Mune Kyun) that I found when browsing CDJapan, but they’re not a CDJapan sale so if you buy from somewhere else they should be there too. I almost always enjoy D3 games, they often have deep gameplay (for otome games) and are just well-rounded in story and characters. I think people don’t know them that well because they’re not marketed as much, but at these prices, they’re a great buy.

Here they are (FYI these are affiliate links to CDJapan), they’re each only 1800Y!! That’s like $20.



Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.1 VitaminX Evolution Plus
(PSP)
Interested in the Vitamin series? Here’s where it all began! This is the PSP version of VitaminX Evolution, so it has all the teachers’ routes as well as the guys.
Bonus: Here’s the DS OP because I love that opening – “Ore wo Aise!” ^_^


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.2 VitaminX Detective B6
(PSP)
VitaminX AU where the heroine and the guys are all detectives in late Victorianish Britain. My memory’s hazy but I think there’s still the Tsukkomi/Through here. I haven’t finished any routes yet so I can’t comment much on the stories.



Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.3 Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.3 Vitamin X to Z
(PSP)
The combo fandisk for both VitaminX and VitaminZ, where you first pick which title to play in, and then go through a side story of the original game, one for each guy. Still has the Tsukkomi/Through game mechanic but no monthly quizzes, and they’re pretty much just fun romps.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.4 Last Escort Club Katze

Ever wondered what a host club is like? I’m sure this series is completely accurate in its portrayal of a high-end host club in Tokyo…or you could play it as a fun, slightly more adult otome game. Last Escort was unique when it began way back in 2006 – its setting is definitely more mature than most (though I”m sure real host clubs are much less glamorous than the game), and most otome games were focused on high school heroines (heck, they are even now). Otome games are kind of in the same industry as host clubs, so it’s an interesting challenge to present love stories where the heros are in the business of faking romance.


Ryouma Gaiden
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.5 Ishin Renka Ryouma Gaiden
(PSP)
Do you like historical settings, but you’re a little tired of Hijikata, Saitou, and Okita Souji? This game focuses on the other side of the Bakumatsu conflict, with the Ishin rebels who were trying to reinstate the emperor’s power. D3 made the first Bakumatsu otome game ever, and this series has always been historically accurate enough to hurt – no convenient potions around to save someone from tuberculosis here.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.6 VitaminZ Revolution
(PSP)
Longtime readers know I love this game – LOVE IT. I even like it more than the original VitaminX, which is pretty rare for a series game. The guys are a little less mean in this one, and the stories a little more even. And overall, I like the character designs more. Oh and since it’s Revolution, it includes the teachers’ routes!! My favourite!
(some intro posts for VitaminZ: Heroine and A4 : P2 and Admin


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.7 VitaminZ Graduation
(PSP)
A VitaminZ fandisk that attempts to insert more story into the days right before the endings of VitaminZ. I don’t know if it really works believably in terms of continuity, but it’s more VitaminZ so I’ll take it.

Strobe Mania
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.8 Strobe Mania
(PSP)
Somewhat odd game IMO, heroine gets involved in a group of young men who are trying to steal something back from the school president/principal/I can never remember the proper term. The writing didn’t pull me in, the characters seemed flat (I think I picked the wrong one first), so I never got to see the final ending which I think would answer many questions.


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.9 Custom Drive

I didn’t play this one much, not enough to really grasp whether I liked it or not. The hook is that you pick everything about one of three guys, down to his haircut, clothing, and even personality so there are literally thousands of ‘variations’. I thought it would be tough to pull off into a good story, and I didn’t finish any routes to decide whether they were successful or not. It seems like it might be fun as more of a dressup game though.


Storm Lover
Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.10 STORM LOVER Kai

Storm Lover, one of the few new otome game series that follows the Tokimemo model of stat-raising and semi-random events instead of being mostly visual novel. It’s fantastic for both those who love Tokimemo, and those who want to love it but don’t have the time/energy that it demands (OK, 3 wasn’t as bad but still! it takes a lot of dedication!) Storm Lover only covers one year, the stat raising is not as strict, and the event/stat-raising ratio is higher. Also excellent for being the first (?) otome game where you can break up with someone and date someone else *successfully*, heck you even get a special end if you date all six guys! I still haven’t gotten that, but it’s a longterm goal of mine :D (My Storm Lover review) Also, this is the Kai version, which is the expanded/improved version which I never got (until now, I can’t resist the price) And here’s the OP:


Mune Kyun Otome Collection Vol.11 STORM LOVER Natsu Koi

(PSP) (pic is the original) – The fandisk for the original Storm Lover with a couple new routes for former side characters (Tatsumi!! and the sukebe school nurse!) and a new character. You won’t get the background of the characters if you haven’t played the original, but it does give a really good idea of the gameplay, and it’s a lot shorter, so may be easier to handle for those with short attention spans like moi (here’s my mini-review from a while ago)

Lots of good games in there! I wish they’d do Little Anchor…and Kurayami no Hate de Kimi o Matsu…and Saikin Koi Shiteru? – I hope if these are successful they’ll do more. Looking back, I forgot they did the Vampire Knight game! And Hoshizora no Comic Garden…and Reijou Tantei, a game which traumatized me but also brought me to the light of Suwabe Junichi…lots of good games from the PS2 and DS era if they were doing adaptations.

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Archive: VitaminX – Tutor a cute but dumb guy for a year!

August 6th, 2014

Originally posted at my deceased IGN blog on May 31, 2005. Publishing this for the cheap PSP re-release (more details tomorrow)!
VitaminX
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.

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Spring/Summer Releases!

May 5th, 2014

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!

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O*G*A Mini-review

August 7th, 2013

I’ve played through O*G*A a couple times now, finishing one route. Overall I’d say it’s fun, but definitely on the short side.

The time period of the game only really covers a few days at school where the heroine is recruited as manager, and then a week of training camp on an island (hence the game’s name, The Hunter Falls in Love on an Island.) When you’re on the island, there’s another school team of three guys who your team has already beaten (in one of the drama CDs I think), who are there to help you train, as well as a mysterious pair of twins who don’t belong on an official team but are obviously very good, and a top player from a pro team.

The love system is pretty unforgiving – because I made one wrong choice near the end, I got a generic ending the first time. Though to be fair, there’s often one crucial decision near the end of a route, I also didn’t have full affection because of only one other decision I made wrong earlier. It’s made harder because you should win all of your games (except one near the beginning that’s a forced lose) to get the best ending.

The minigame of oni-gokko is not too difficult once you get the hang of it, although sometimes you get bad luck. You pick three players (one site recommends using the same team throughout for some reason related to extras), and your target should always be on your team (since he gets stronger as his affection goes up, it makes sense anyways). You first choose the players, then four strategies that can be switched between during the game using the right keypad. You can customize these, but don’t forget to have at least one where the players are resting (otherwise their energy never refills and they get really slow). The four actions that can be done are attack(red), defend(green), support(purple), and rest (blue). Oh, and a match is called a “Hunt”, and all the players are Hunters.

Every day you choose where to go and who to talk to, have an event with them where you usually have a Live2D chat with them which can increase your affection level, then meet up with everyone and play a game. If you win that game, you get an evening event with the whole group.

The last game of the camp is against the twins and the pro. I won it pretty easily the first time but lost the second time – but then got some extra dialogue which basically had me win anyways. I’m not sure if I would get anything extra if I won fair and square.

There’s no epilogue back at school or anything, so the end feels a bit abrupt. You do get some extra scenes by doing challenges in the ‘Special’ section – I haven’t played any yet.

Since I’ve only done one route I won’t comment on the characters. I will say that the Live2D for the one guy I finished, Ougaki, was a bit creepy – but I think it’s because of his character design. He’s the one with huge eyes and bags, which are emphasized even more in Live2D.

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O*G*A Preview

July 31st, 2013

O*G*A has a few drama CDs out already, and Otomate just released a game for PSP, Onigokko Royale, Hunter wa Field de Koi o Suru. The premise is that Onigokko (hide and seek) is now a sport. The heroine enters high school and is recruited to be the OGA team’s manager. OGA stands for Onigokko Grand Athletics.

Characters (this link has all the chara pics, and their names are in English as well so you can see who they are):
Ogaki Ayumu (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) – A first year. He easily melts into the background, so much that it bothers him. Though he’s new to OGA, this talent is serving him well.

Tendou Ran(CV: Morikubo Shoutarou) – A first year in OGA, and a rookie. He’s been watched since he was in middle school, and definitely has skill, but also has a lot of pride and hates to lose.

Kishiro Daichi (CV: Morikawa Toshiyuki) – A third-year, and the head of the OGA club. He makes decisions coolly but has a strong fighting spirit. He has a habit of seeing what’s in someone’s heart by their smell. He’s also called Oni no Daichi.

Tamabuki Fusanosuke (CV: Suzuki Tatsuhisa) – A third-year, and vice-head of the OGA club. He’s very stylish and has a lot of female fans, but always goes at his own pace. His nickname is “Kirakira Tamasama”. His favourite drink is “Dorodoro Peach Au Lait”.

Kagami Ginji (CV: Mori Shingo) – A second year who doesn’t talk much. His forte is gathering and analyzing data. His nickname is the “Ningen (Human) Computer”.

Mitsurugi Kanata (CV: Kamakari Kenta) – A second year and moodmaker, he’s always carryinh sweets. Perhaps because he has several younger sisters, he’s very good at looking after his kouhai. He often teams up with Ginji.

Kagami Shidou (CV: Wada Daisuke) – A first year in the news club who’s very curious and lively, he commentates the OGA matches and is called the OGA-DJ. He’s Ginji’s little brother and Ayumu’s best friend, and often visits the OGA club.

During the regular part of the game, you choose where to go twice a day. You can see where the characters are. Along with the regular love events, when you win a match, you get special team event scenes. There’s also a conversation part which uses Live2D, called Heart Hunt. You have to respond to the guy’s comments and his heart gauge will go up or down accordingly.  This part will affect characters’ affection levels so it’s important.

The way you play OGA is you have two teams of three in a field. At each end of the field there’s a Treasure Pole. You get points for touching the pole in the opposing team’s area. If you’re touched by an opposing team member, you have to leave the field for a while.

O*G*A Match System

O*G*A Match System

Before each match you’ll discuss strategy, and then during the game you can tell the team members what to do, such as special attacks. Also, characters who have a high affection level will get increased stats as well.

I just got the game in the mail and haven’t played it yet, but I wanted to get this post out first! Yay for otome games with gameplay!! I hope it’s fun and not too hard…

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Princess Arthur review

April 12th, 2013

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…

Gawain smirking (he’s a big softie really)

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.

“Hmm, do you doubt me? I’ll have to take my time flirting with you later…when we’re alone somewhere.”

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).

“I’m sure all the young knights of the round table fell for you all over again.”

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.

 

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Solomon’s Ring – An early lock for Worst Otoge of 2013?

January 26th, 2013

As you can guess by the title, I’m not impressed by Solomon’s Ring. When it first showed up in the magazines, I was surprised because the release date was only about 3 months away. I thought for sure that it would get delayed. Now, delays are annoying when you’re looking forward to games (ahem, Ozmafia!) but I don’t mind them so much, because if they don’t push things off, they might end up with products like this. To be frank, Solmomon’s Ring has a really shallow story and characters, poor art design, and only functional gameplay.

The heroine, Lily, works in a library that she inherited from her grandfather (her parents died when she was young). I thought this was interesting (although I also thought it was historical but apparently it’s not), but it has no bearing on the plot so it doesn’t matter much. We open on the scene of her grandfather dying. On his deathbed, literally with his last words, he gives a ring to her and tells her she’s the descendant of the magician king Solomon, and that she has to protect the world from demons using the ring. Then he dies (I guess he knew exactly how much energy he needed to tell her and then waited until the last possible second because of some unknown reason).

Lily puts away the ring for a year, then one day feels like wearing it for some reason (she doesn’t mention the Solomon stuff, I guess she thought her grandfather was senile or something). She goes to work at the library, and three new visitors are hanging around – all young handsome men. They all approach her and start talking to her, calling her ‘Solomon’s daughter’. She mostly ignores them.

That night she has a dream (this is where you choose what route to go into) of being attacked by monsters, and saved by one of the men. The next day this actually happens, and she finds out that all three men are actually demons, and they want her power/the ring’s power, for various reasons. The one she picks stays with her and they encounter some monsters, and as they beat them down (the ring can seal them and absorb their power once they’re beaten), they grow closer. Then near the end they eventually have to face the king of demons, Lucifer, who wants to take the powered-up ring as well as the heroine’s powered-up soul.

Many otome games can be summarized in roughly similar terms. The issue is that it feels like the whole script for the game isn’t much longer than this blog post. Almost all the plot and relationship development happens offscreen (like, they talk about battles after showing you a couple blows, and they mention that the hero and heroine had long in-depth conversations without actually showing them). There are almost no scenes where you learn more about the characters, they’re incredibly cardboard. Sometimes I complain about scenes that are too wordy or long (*cough*QuinroseorHakuouki*cough*), but this is ridiculous. It’s like someone had an outline for an otome game, and instead of getting someone to then write a script from that outline, they added a couple lines of dialogue for each planned scene, and then put a few summarizing paragraphs in between.

Also, the art is barely acceptable. I’m pretty forgiving on art, I like to see different styles and try not to let pretty art distract me from gameplay. But in this game, though the tachi-e(the regular dialogue scene pictures) are ok, the CGs are actually worse than the tachi-e. And though some of the tachi-e are good, some are weird. Like. there’s one pose that Asmodeus (a waste of Konishi Katsuyuki’s voice IMO) does, where he spreads his arms out really wide, almost at shoulder-height. They use this pose for way too much and it doesn’t work, the only time it works is when he’s actually blocking something. It’s distracting. Plus, there are very few CGs, I’d estimate around 5 per route. To be fair, if it was fanart I’d think it was pretty good. But for professional work it doesn’t pass muster.
Solomon's Ring - Asmodeus
This CG is not good. And it’s used multiple times.

The music is decent I suppose, I didn’t notice it much to be honest.

Most things I can forgive, but the multiple writing problems – the extreme bare bones scenes, the lack of character development, the very paint-by-numbers feel of the plot – made me notice the other problems like the art more, and really, even though the game is cheap, it’s still not really worth it. By the end of it I cared about none of the characters, I actually was more interested in Lily’s friend Alisha’s romance than I was in the main plot – and this is a romance that is mentioned in about three lines total.

It really really feels like a mobile game that was meant to be released in chapters. And even though I also dissed Koisentai(which actually was originally a mobile game), and this game is full voice whereas one of Koisentai’s major issues was that it wasn’t, I would still rather play Koisentai anytime, and I think it’s more worth your money than this.

As I said, it’s too bad because the voice actors are good, and the premise is interesting at least.

I am going to play the other two routes (may as well, it’s one of the shortest games I’ve played), but unless Asmodeus’ route was a total anomaly, I feel safe in emphatically NOT recommending Solomon’s Ring. I’m not buying the other games, even though there are three more coming out, Wind, Water, and Earth. It actually makes me doubt how good Double Score is going to be, because they’re both from the production company Asgard. But at least that game seems to have better art…

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Cheap Harutoki games!

January 10th, 2013

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.

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Glass Heart Princess Review

January 2nd, 2013

Glass Heart Princess Regular Edition / Game
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 :D

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.

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