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.
Because I had to work late again I have no energy (and no memory power, which is why I can’t remember people’s names here), but I did play Ouma ga Toki a fair bit on the weekend. It’s good, but not as great as I’d hoped – I’ve finished two routes so far and they feel kind of short. I haven’t done Hisoka’s route yet, and I feel like that’s the ‘true’ one, so maybe that will feel more substantial. Also, since I’m not using a guide it’s quite possible I’m missing a bunch, although there aren’t that many choices to make overall.
I did Touno (Suwa, of course!) and the guy who helps out in the nurse’s room. One thing I found refreshing was that it was pretty heavily implied that once they were in a relationship, they had sex! Since they’re all youkai and pretty old, it makes sense that they wouldn’t be typically shy teenagers. Although it’s still not clear how old the heroine is – I think you only find out her whole story with Hisoka. I’ll have to finish his route next, but I took a break for some fluffy fun – Beastmaster and Prince ~Snow Bride~. Mofu mofu forever!
I’ve now played through several Harutoki 5 routes, and have some other general thoughts about the flow of the game:
Combat is easy after the first playthrough – I never ran out of life, though I did have to go back to my world a couple times to recharge. Almost as soon as you get chain attacks, you can always get the ‘fast battle’ bonus. Just pay attention to the elements, and try to power up your weapons as much as possible – note that if you allow members outside of the battle group to join your chain attack, you won’t get powerup orbs from the enemies that attack kills.
One thing I realized after a while, is that you can replace one powerup with the exact same one, and still get the weapon upgrade – useful when a lot of the earlier monsters just drop the same, not that useful, powerups.
Once your weapon gets to level 6, it will change to something new. I’m currently on weapon level 6+ for all characters, and around level 20-25 combat, and everything, including the last boss, is E-Z. I am 1337! (Only in Harutoki do I get to feel this way, maybe that’s why I love it so much?)
The story is the same no matter what route you do, but they show different parts of it in different routes. Also, what you and the route character do is different. I found that Yuki’s character is also different depending on the route you take, although in all of them she gets stronger and less fuzzy-headed than in the first part of the story (thankfully). That was a deliberate choice, I think, to make her development more obvious.
So far I have done Shun, Ryouma, Ouchi, Tatewaki, and Chinami (almost accidentally). My favourite was Ryouma, although Ouchi was good too. Shun’s is ok but kind of depressing in some ways, and Tatewaki, at one point in his story I really didn’t like him anymore, but by the end I liked him again. Chinami’s was ok as well, although part of his drama was resolved off-screen, and I’d rather have seen him deal with it with Yuki.
I’m looking forward to doing Ernest and Takasugi, but not really Okita – I know his route will probably have him making a breakthrough in getting his own willpower/conscience, but for some reason I’m not that interested.
I’m enjoying it, and the art and music is as high quality as ever, but I have to say that the lack of voice affects the game quite a bit. The whole intro is voiced, which is nice enough, but once you get into the meat of the game, each character only has a handful of voiced scenes (as well as being in other characters’ scenes). Since several characters aren’t with you the whole time, overall I’m having a hard time getting into the stories. Also, this is just my preference, but I felt that a lot of romantic scenes were whispered too much, especially for certain characters.
I still have several routes to finish though, and I might have just been in the wrong mood for it the last few days. So far my favourite route is Ryouma, but we shall see, I’m looking forward to Ernest and Takasugi a lot.
I’m about in line with Oscar timing so I will pretend this isn’t late!
How was 2010 for otome games? Well, the Hakuouki anime brought otome games more awareness, and several new brands came out with their first games, which is great. I think this is the year that showed the PSP has become the biggest platform for visual novels for the near future, as its accessibility, memory capabilities, and good sound and picture quality brings it above the DS (though apparently the DSi is closer to it). Lots of ports, adaptations, and even the next Harutoki game are coming out on PSP, and I think until the PS3 becomes cheaper, the PSP will probably be the go-to for otome games released on consoles for a while.
And let’s not forget Starry Sky! Though the original games came out last year, the series has only been gaining in popularity, with PSP adaptations, more drama CDs, and an anime released this year, with every possible combination of seasons and times (After Spring, Sweet Season, etc etc). I enjoy the series myself, but I’m not sure why exactly it’s so popular – is it the good price? 3500Y for each game is very reasonable, even though each one only has three main characters, and the PSP is a similar price, which is pretty awesome. The art is very nice, and the stories themselves are quite cute, long enough without being too drawn out (mostly, though I still haven`t finished Spring). Still, I`d really like to hear why people love Starry Sky in the comments if you do – is it one thing that stood out, or a bunch of small things that added up?
Enough about one series, let’s check out what else was released this year!
Garnet Cradle Sugary Sparkle
Last Escort ~Club Katze~
Wand of Fortune ~Mirai e no Prologue~
Kin’iro no Corda 3
Oshiete Darling (on the region-locked DSi, did anyone play it?)
Anniversary no Kuni no Alice
Riddle Garden [R18]
Tsundere S Otome [R18]
Harajuku Tantei Gakuen Steelwood
Zettai Meikyuu Grimm
Love Root Zero
Kaerubatake de Tsukamaete mi
Lucian Bee’s Justice Yellow/Evil Violet
Uta no Prince-sama
Moujuutsukai to Ouji-sama
Tokimemo GS 3
Scarred Rider Xechs
Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku
Natsuzora no Monologue
Mahoutsukai to Goshujin-sama (a remake, but very different from the original)
Nise no Chigiri
Tenkaichi Sengoku Lovers DS
Hakuouki Reimeiroku (not otome!)
Kuro to Kin no Hirakanai Kagi. [R18]
Starry Sky ~After Spring~
Uta no Prince-sama ~Amazing Aria~
Kaerubatake de Tsukamaete Natsu Chigiro Sansen!
Whew, I’d forgotten about some of those. If we look at numbers, there are 20 or 21 original games (depending whether you count Mahoutsukai to Goshujin-sama), and 10 fandisks/spinoffs. Wow! So, for every two games that come out, one will be popular enough to make a fandisk. Now, let’s not kid ourselves, it’s a lot cheaper to make a fandisk using the same character art, backgrounds, and story settings as an already made game. However, it’s good that people are interested enough in the games to make a fandisk worthwhile.
Some other interesting stats from Dolce: The most releases happened in April (9), then November (8), followed by December and June (7 each). For this year, April already has 9 releases scheduled, so the trend might be similar, although February is high as well. And including fandisks and ports, the seiyuu with the most roles was Sugita Tomokazu, with 15! Counting original games only, it’s Toriumi Kousuke with 9.
I haven’t played all of these, or even all the original (non-FD) games, so I’m not going to try and pick a ‘best’ game. Even if I tried, I feel like since the fall I haven’t had much time to really play through some of the games I’ve gotten – I’ve still barely started Ishin Renka, for example. And even of the ones I mostly finished, I don’t know if I could pick a favourite. I love Grimm for its stories and dark quirkiness, I enjoyed the lovely art and cute animals in Beastmaster and Prince, I thought Xechs had a really cool idea and went in an interesting direction with it. Desert Kingdom I loved enough to finish the whole game – I think Aspashia was my favourite heroine of the year. Kiniro no Corda had lots of fun gameplay, and Nise no Chigiri…well I just adore those characters. Masatooo, let’s go swimming! Shuu, let me bake you some cookies!! (You’ll understand once you play)
So, if there were all these good games, were there any bad ones? For me, yes. Frankly, I was really disappointed with Love Root Zero. It had an interesting idea, but the production was just not done very well; it feels shoddy. It was pushed back a couple times, and I can easily believe that it’s tough to produce an otome game for a small company (heck, look how long LOVE.101 is taking!), but for a $75 PS2 game, I don’t think it was worth it. I should disclaim here that I didn’t even finish one route, so it’s possible the story suddenly gets really good and in the end it’s all worth it. Maybe I’ll find out after I’ve finished all the other good games that I’m trying to play, in about 3 years. Until then, Love Root Zero is at the bottom of the pile.
So, what was your favourite game of 2010? I can’t really pick based on merit, but I think if I could only pick one to keep, it would be Nise no Chigiri, or Grimm. Although Tokimemo and Corda could keep me occupied for a long time…ugh, I just can’t decide.
I’ve now completed 98% of Desert Kingdom (there’s one sub-route that I don’t think I’m interested in), and I think I should take back a lot of the criticism I originally aimed at the game.
Criticism 1: Too short
This isn’t a complete reversal of my first opinion, but more of a change. I still feel that there isn’t much story going on in the gameplay portion of the game, where you choose where to go and build up your power. The power buildup portions are a good length, with you, your target, and Unbara, but the parts where you visit the guys are often abrupt and sometimes no more than a couple sentences long. I still feel that that’s a little too short.
But the rest of the story, once you get into someone’s route, is quite long. I’d estimate at least a couple hours each. This is great if you like visual novels, but for those are bored with long discussions without player interaction, you might be annoyed.
Criticism 2: CGs
Yeah, so I picked the wrong route to start off with. Most of the CGs are excellent and very pretty, there’s only one other fanservicey (to guys) CG, and overall I really like them. Oh, and Vii’s other route (the Good instead of Happy) has a CG that I actually like better than the Happy one. Plus, once you get a certain number of routes (the first four maybe??) you get extra CGs that you only see in the gallery, which are the guys in out-of-character costumes/poses (a very nice extra).
Also, there’s a little extra feature called “With Sera”, where you have a little epilogue for each route, but as if you’re visiting Sera. These are separate from the regular epilogues in the games, though you can choose to see them after each one (I chose to save them up and watch them after, which I think is a good choice as some include spoilers). It’s light and fun, and is a great little addition to the game.
After finishing almost all the game, I really love it. Not only are the characters interesting, but the plotline is done well and integrates everyone – and no matter which route you end up in, Kingdom’s ending is pretty much the same.
I also shouldn’t leave out Aspashia – though her visual design is more loli than I’d like, her personality is awesome and realistic as an immortal princess who is used to doing whatever she wants.
Having just finished the final hidden route last night, it leaves you with that feeling, you know, when you’re all happy and gooey inside. It’s so cute, and they don’t make you go through the whole game again, which is fantastic.
So I’m a little biased positively to the game right now, but I’d definitely recommend Desert Kingdom if you like visual novels. If you don’t, and want more gameplay and interaction, I’d say only get it if you really love the setup and Arabian Nights aesthetic, since the dialogue portions will likely bore you.
I got Desert Kingdom (and Grimm, but I haven’t played that much) this week, and I like it a lot, but really I’m not sure if it’s worth full price. It’s a lot of fun, but there are things that I think could be better. However, I’m only through two routes, so this is only a partial review.
Anyhoo, here’s what I wrote as I first played it.
The first thing I see is a garish stained glass border of clashing and psychedelic colours….then a simple melody starts up, which reminds me of the theme in early Final Fantasy games when you visit the ‘exotic’ desert country…or am I thinking of the Tetris music…hm. OK, now the opening song starts, the visuals are much prettier, and it’s a standard J-rock, which I can get behind.
After starting a new game, I pick a name and there are some intro story screens. This is a world with gods, where they are born from people’s prayers, and exist until those prayers stop.
But now, people have stopped believing, and miracles are disappearing…
Now another screen, a sandy desert and a silhouette. “A young woman walks through the desert, her hair dirty with sand, but she simply walks silently as if on a pilgrimage.
The wind blows. Sand dances around and obscures the young woman’s vision. Th sand veils the world. But still, she walks on, looking into the distance with beautiful eyes.”
Suddenly there’s a loud boom! and we get the first line of dialogue from the woman, and the lovely illusion disappears. Aspashia complains that she’s tired of this desert. Heh. She continues with a self-introduction, describing herself as the princess of EVUU, the kingdom of gods, and claims a long list of ladylike accomplishments, before someone (a narrator?) interrupts her asking who she’s talking about. Then she explains that she’s been walking the desert for two months without food or water, but is at her limit, and slowly falls to the ground, starting to get covered up by the sand.
The narrator cuts in again, bringing the story back to when Aspashia lived in EVUU. Aspashia explains, with some snark from the narrator, that EVUU is basically the land of gods/djinn, and is made from magic. You can’t do anything there without magic, and so one day when Aspashia woke up, having lost all magical ability for some reason, she couldn’t do anything, even get out of her room. She was trapped there for a week and almost starved until her father, the king Sazan, came and found her. He tells her that she lost all her magic because her mother (who died after giving birth) was human. This is news to Aspashia, who isn’t too happy about it. He also says that she’s used up all her magic, and unless she wants to stay cooped up in one castle room the rest of her life, there’s only one way to get it back. She has to go live among humans, get close to them, and grant their wishes. And then Aspashia promptly starts falling through the air. Sazan says she’ll land in about three hours, and after remembering that she has no magic to help her, summons a lamp djinn, Unbara, to help her out.
And finally we come back to the first scene, where Aspashia gets mad at Unbara (the mystery narrator) for telling her when she first landed that the nearest settlement was only 10 days away. Unbara says he didn’t want her to give up, but says they should be close now. Over the next hill, she finally spies her destination, the castle town Kingdom.
That’s the intro (which you can skip after the first time) to Desert Kingdom, and the rest of the game is pretty much in line with it in atmosphere. Aspashia and Unbara often trade banter, and often make reference to the game mechanics, sometimes very plainly. It’s quite fun, and I love how Aspashia sometimes literally breaks out of her avatar square (you’ll see what I mean if you play).
I went through Vii’s route first, the mysterious assassin who’s voiced by Ryou from Hiiro no Kakera (ok, Nomiya Kazunori). The first thing I was happy to find was that he was not the typical brooding type – in fact, none of the characters felt unoriginal, which, after playing so many otome games, is surprising.
The game itself is pretty simple, you go around granting regular people’s wishes (by using a roulette wheel) to slowly build up power, and try to get closer to one of the main characters to grant their big wish and regain the rest of the power you need to become a full Mashin again.
A couple things I wasn’t too impressed by were how short the story felt (Vii’s at least) and the CGs. They were well drawn, I just wished they were different – more closer angles or something. For example, there’s one in Vii’s story where Aspashia hugs him while she’s standing and he’s (I think kneeling). But the point-of-view is set near the ground behind her, so you’re looking up at the back of Aspashia’s bare legs, and Vii’s face is so small it’s hard to read his expression. It was odd.
I’ve just finished Sharon’s (CV: Masakaze Masaya) route, and his CGs were better, but it still seemed a little short on story.
I think it would be improved by having just a little more development in relationships in between the character intros and setups, and getting into their plots. Hm, I could be being too picky though, I’d like to know what other people think if you’ve played it. It could also be better on other routes, especially Sera’s since he’s the first one. I’ll have to report back.
However, overall I am enjoying it a lot; there’s not much gameplay though really, it’s really to fill in the blanks between the intro and entering someone’s route. And there’s not only one “mystery” character (who is not a mystery at all, but you have to do several routes to get him), but another one where you have to finish all the others first! I’m such a sucker for these, I think I’ll be spending some time this weekend finishing this for those routes…
I thought I had a fairly long entry saved about voices, but..it seems to be lost in the computing ether, so who cares! Here are some thoughts on the new games I’ve tried recently:
Detective Campus Steelwood: Hm, the mystery parts are ok and kind of fun (saying this as a non-mystery novel reader), but the romance…barely there. I’ve only done one route so others may be different, but the one I did had a pretty good story of getting closer to someone, not so much about getting close enough to love someone.
Hiiro no Kakera #3: Well, if you’ve played the original a lot, you kind of have to take a step back and pretend that you didn’t get an ending with anybody. It’s fine, just a little hard if you really got into one particular storyline. The story in this one is quite good, just like the original, although (of course) it uses most of the same backgrounds and designs.
~Motto Sweet~ Gakuensai no Ouji-sama: If you don’t have the original PS2 version, I’d say definitely get this. Without even knowing the characters (though now I do, having watched many…many hours of Prince of Tennis) it was fun. Not very dramatic, and not sweetly romantic (whatever the title says), this is a pretty fun game for otome game fans. Considering the number of characters, the value of the game is good pretty much any way you slice it. 43 characters, about 50 dollars…yeah, there’s no way this isn’t a good deal. You could argue that there’s not much of a storyline, but that’s not the point – the fun part is getting to know ( or know more, for devotees of the comic or anime) more about the characters, and seeing their interactions.
Last Escort ~Club Katze~: The only one that’s not portable! I’ve finished two routes so far, and I’d say if you liked the previous entries in the Last Escort series, you’ll like this one – still good character writing, and ok storylines (though the guy hiring you as an advisor seems a bit random after a while?) I like how you can only make one thing per day off, and I don’t miss the whole auction feature which was in #2. The art is definitely different, but I was quite fine with it after accepting the fact that all the guys had hips the same width as their shoulders – what can I say, I’m quite shallow and usually I prefer the inverse triangle type…
I think those are the most recent games I’ve gotten – I’ve pre-ordered Desert Kingdom and am quite excited about that; other than that, I’m most excited for Xechs and Nise no chigiri (I’m not totally sure why, maybe I’m just a sucker for historicals?).
Finally, a sci-fi otome game! Does Little Anchor fulfill the hopes of a solid game that will satisfy a sci-fi fan? For me at least, it does.
Now, I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, so I was glad to find out that the amount of tech gibberish (that’s my official term for made-up weapons, chemicals, physics laws, and everything else you find in sci-fi) was fairly low, so I could focus on understanding the plot.
There are a few terms that you should get comfortable with, but not too many – and I won’t bother spelling them out, because I don’t remember and it has no bearing on the story.
Elushyon: The ship that the main character is captain of and where most of the story happens.
EUG: The Earth-based government that the main character’s father belonged to, and where all the Elushyon’s crew is from.
ICSEO: The mainly space-based rebel government
SG: Mecha that are used for combat – they look like Gundam units
Basically, the EUG is the existing Earth government. Way back when, the Earth had an energy crisis, and started creating space colonies to find a solution. A new source of energy, Helium 3, was found out in space, and is controlled by the EUG. However, some people on the space colonies felt that the EUG was taking advantage of them, and all they really cared about was Earth. Civil (planetary? galaxial?) unrest increased and became more violent and terrorist-like, and finally coalesced into a rebellion, with ICSEO as the largest group.
The main character’s father was an admiral in the EUG armed forces, and became a hero when he sacrificed himself and his crew in order to save civilians from terrorists. ICSEO is seen as a terrorist organization by the EUG, but as the story starts, they are starting peace negotiations. The Elushyon was built as a neutral ship that was supposed to symbolize this peace, and that’s why the main character was chosen as the captain, though she just graduated as an officer.
On launch day, the Elushyon is attacked in port by ICSEO SGs, and has to fight back to protect the civilians at the launch. This attack cuts short the peace negotiations, and the Elushyon starts taking order from the EUG.
The first half of the game is getting from Ceylon, the launch site, to Helsinki, where EUG’s headquarters are. The rest of the game is in space fighting ICSEO.
The plot is believable without getting too bogged down in details, and each character’s background affected their outlook and behaviour. I actually want to finish everyone’s routes, they’re all interesting, though I’d say Lucio’s is the most ‘normal’ (no twists really). The story is broken into 12 acts, and until Act 6 all routes are the same (though you have to choose different actions to finish people’s routes, you can skip most of the dialogue and the battles).
The battles are also pretty fun, if very simple once you get used to the controls. I’d STRONGLY recommend watching the tutorials, they’re not long and they pretty much tell you how to win. You can skip the battles on the second go-round, but there are some special events that only occur if you fulfill certain requirements during the battles, so it’s worthwhile to try and get those scenes at least once. I used La Primavera as my guide site, it tells you what the requirements are to get the scenes. There’s also a fair amount of battle dialogue that is triggered based on your directions and events (like your ship taking damage), and even CG videos for battle actions like SG launches and attacks that are pretty well done, and (thankfully) you can turn them off once you’ve had enough. I’m impressed with the battles, even though the battle map itself is primitive (looks like an electronic version of Battleship).
Let’s see, what else? The music is forgettable, but I quite like the art – it’s clean and attractive without being too generic (one thing I often don’t like about space settings). And the characters are great, I actually like all of them, even the main character most of the time (though once in a while she acts dumb).
Each character has two endings, so far I’m done Yukino’s, one each of Reishen and Lucio, and the ‘secret’ character. Now I’m working on Joshua, and I can’t decide whether to do Alva or Violet next. The amount of romance and CGs is not huge, but acceptable – I think if I could change anything I’d add a little more romance to the ending parts, but not much.
To sum up, I’d recommend Little Anchor for sci-fi fans definitely , and general otome fans as well.
My next posts will be a bunch about new games and news, I’ve been missing a lot lately!
I had an urge to try some games I had left unfinished the other day, so I stuck in one that I got way back called Soshite Kono Uchuu ni Kirameku Kimi no Uta XXX. It’s actually a fandisc of a game of the same name (without the XXX), but after finishing about half of it, I doubt I’ll be looking for the original game. I can forgive a fandisc for having not much volume in it, but there are a lot of other problems with this that I think would be even worse in the real game.
First, the story itself could be interesting, but in all the routes I’ve done there was almost no action, and most of it was just boring with some strange twist thrown in at the end for shock value. Also,there are only about 3 CGs for each character, and with a game that’s almost full price (about $10 less than a full game), that’s just not gonna cut it. Finally, and worst of all in my book (along with the bad stories), the endings are not that happy. There are two endings for each character, a “Good” and a “Bad”, but really several of the Goods are just as depressing as the bad ones. Plus, there’s no final CG like you often get, and no epilogue – in one route I’m not even sure they survived! In another one, the guy died – and that was the good ending, in the bad one they both died. >.>
And looking at the Amazon reviews for the original just confirms my intention to stay away – the original game only got two stars, while the fandisc got 2.5!! People complain that the story sounded interesting (which I agree with) but that it wasn’t executed well, the CGs are bad (in the fandisc they’re okay, but nothing great), and there are very few dialogue choices (in the fandisc there are about 5). Oh, and apparently in the first game, most of the guys you only meet two or three times before the ending.
Sigh…well it does have two (kinda boring) minigames that you can play as well…in short, if you have this on your to-buy list, you can probably find something else more worthwhile. If not, you can safely forget about this one – this won’t be showing up in any “Best of” lists for otome games.