Man, I had almost this whole post written up and never posted. ages ago.
I still haven’t started playing Brothers Conflict, but I just got 12ji Cinderella and Abunai Koi and started playing Cinderella – I felt like I needed some good Quinrose storytelling.
At the beginning, I got a little impatient because it takes a while to set the story before introducing any of the love interests. It starts with Odette and her father only, and then introduces her stepfamily, and goes through the whole event of her father dying and them becoming poor.
Now I’m finally getting to the part where you meet the guys (not there yet!) and I didn’t easily find a guide, so for anyone playing I thought I’d put one up. For the intro I just chose the most welcoming options, like agree to meet Fatima, invite them over, that kind of thing. The ones that matter for which route you’ll enter are when you’re talking to Feather.
Her first question is what kind of guy you like, and it’s shown which one represents your answer so that’s easy. Then later at night, you’re contemplating love and ‘meetings’, and wonder where would be a good meeting place. For these, here are the places for each character:
Hiroba (Square): Chance
Ichiba (Market): Roy Diefenthal
Rojiura (Alley): Gilbert Kroisu
Kutsuya (Shoeshop): Glass Walker
Jitaku (Home): Sirius Bradley
I still haven’t gotten to a route yet, but I’m going for Chance first – for some reason he interests me (maybe it’s the salamander thing?)
Before I took 12ji out of my PSP, I finished all but one route, Glass. I really liked 12ji a lot, and the long intro actually makes the rest of the routes better, because Odette’s family relationships are pretty great, and she has to work through some issues about her mom and dad as well, which wouldn’t be as engaging without having the intro with her dad and his remarriage.
So far I think Sirius is my favourite, although they were all good. Gilbert reminds me of Curtis Nile but more confident in his relationship, and Chance (maybe Glass too) had the least amount of backstory plot. I got this more because I wanted to play it before getting 24ji (which I wanted first for Tsuda Kenjirou, my new fave seiyuu), but I don’t regret it at all. I wasn’t completely sure after being burned by the Mother Goose game (so unforgiving), but thankfully Quinrose came through and I trust them again. I do want to finish Glass’s route as well, he was just the least interesting to me because he shows up the latest and is the most rude.
I think I may have enjoyed this more than Ouma ga Toki even, although it’s hard to decide. I definitely recommend Cinderella – it’s not hugely long, but since I enjoyed all the characters, I feel like it’s a good value.
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 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.
School Wars is coming out by Quinrose for the PSP November 29, and they announced the seiyuu so it’s time for a post! (Wow, I just checked my news post and I used pretty much the exact same words there.)
Ichijou Shiori is a student at Seiran High School, and the head of the morality club (why can I never remember the better translation of Fuuki??) A case of arson at their rival school, Suzushiro, results in Suzushiro students attending Seiran. Shiori investigates the arson while trying to keep the two groups of students from killing each other.
Ujiie Itsuki (CV: Namikawa Daisuke) – a second-year at Suzushiro who’s fairly quiet but always up for a fight, he’s strong and it shows.
Kurobe Daigo (CV: Fujiwara Keiji) – a big third-year at Suzushiro who looks intimidating and though he’s a ‘banchou’ (gangleader) type, he has a pretty serious personality.
Misaki Shinya (CV: Sakurai Takahiro) – A third-year at Seiran, he’s very popular with the girls and comes from a rich family.
Hisa Masafumi (CV: Nojima Kenji) – A third-year at Suzushiro who’s a well-known idol, his public side is nice but his real personality is very cynical.
Tsukamoto Hisamitsu (CV: Hino Satoshi) – A second-year at Seiran who will likely be the next head of the morals club, he admires the heroine.
Miyakomaru Kyouhei (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke) – A second-year at Seiran who has a wide network of information. He can`t always be trusted.
I finally got in a shipment of games, and Bakudan Handan is one of them! The only totally new game for me actually, so I’m going to play that first probably.
And someone sent me a very nice email yesterday that prompted me to post, thank you! I’ve mostly been playing FF6 lately and catching up on loose ends in stuff so not much news, although I might do some posts about them sometime. I’m mostly keeping a lookout for news on the upcoming games like Issho ni Gohan!
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.
Even though Harutoki 5 tied last year in an unofficial poll for the worst otome game of the year, I liked it enough to get the fandisk, and I’m playing it now. However, the problems with the first game have only partially been fixed.
One of the main problems was fixed, or at least it seems like it – I’m not going to explain fully because it’s a spoiler, but in the main game when you save the world, almost always a few particular people are sacrificed, there’s no way around it. And this problem is totally glossed over in the epilogues, which makes the heroine seem pretty jerky (unless you have magic disbelief-suspension abilities like me, or just assume that the writers screwed up and forgive the heroine). In the fandisk, it seems like the main plot is about how to prevent this, which actually makes me like the original game better as well.
But some of the other problems remain, not least of which is Neoromance’s continual refusal to provide full-voice, or even voiced scenes when it’s important. I can’t believe all the character-specific scenes aren’t voiced, it’s just ridiculous at this point. It makes me not want to buy their games. If they’d just provide more voices, I would be so much more willing to buy the overpriced special editions; instead I always buy the regular editions.
And my other problem with this Harutoki in particular is that in the CG’s, the heroine often looks emotionless, or non-human. Part of it is Mizuno Tooko’s artstyle – the huge eyes without pupils that she always gives heroines tend to look blank, but I swear she did better in #3 and #4.
Anyways, I’m just finishing up (hopefully) Ryouma’s route, then I’m going to stop in order to start either Brothers Conflict or Jyuzaengi, both of which I recently got. High school contemporary or Three Kingdoms catboys, hmmm…
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 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!
I knew there was more!
Issho ni Gohan, the cooking-centric drama cd series, is being made into a game by Otomate for the PSP – for release in September. The heroine becomes the landlady at a boarding house for a nearby cooking school which she attends (which all the guys go to/have graduated from). In addition to the affection meter which changes with your dialogue choices, it will have a cooking skill meter which also affects your endings, raised by cooking minigames and quizzes.
Yoneda Hikari (CV: Kaji Yuuki) – the second-year student who’s able to become friends easily with anyone
Karasawa Rei (CV: Ono Daisuke) – the graduate with a harsh personality who’s running a nearby curry restaurant
Toriyama Yousuke (CV: Shimono Hiro) – the first-year who looks up to Hikari and is the house’s moodmaker
Daitou Natsu (CV: Tsuda Kenjirou) – a fourth-year in the Japanese food program, he grew up in a traditional Japanese house and knows archery and ikebana. He’s strict about people following the rules and has a hard time blending into groups.
Unoha Nao (CV: Fukuyama Jun) – the weak-bodied fourth year who’s a bit of an airhead, who’s also artistic
Umino Riki (CV: Suzumura Kenichi) – the popular second-year who DJs at a club to make money and wants to ‘produce’ a restaurant
Ther’s also a teaser pic about a new game about ‘glass heart syndrome’, and not being ‘allowed’ to get ‘tokimeki’(I think you’re not supposed to get romantic feelings in the game) from Otomate. More details next month.
And finally, a diagram showing all the different ways you can customize your guy in Custom Drive, resulting in (supposedly) over 1,000,000 variations: hats (5), glasses (5), personality (5), hairstyle (10), clothes (10), accessories (10), over 3 different characters. Now if I remember high school math, the law of permutations would mean that there are…hm, I only get 375,000 permutations. Either I’m wrong (impossible!), or D3 has some explaining to do! We won’t be satisfied with only 375,000, am I right?? …OK, I’ll give them a pass this time.