Otome Review: Blood Code

The internet makes it easy to forget things, like how these games used to require being fluent in Japanese.

In short, Otome’s made in the states are a relatively recent thing. Long before indie groups dipped their fingers in the colorful ink of Visual Novel, most dating sims and Otome titles came from places like Japan, Korea, and China. The great barrier destroyer known as The Web made it possible for fan translations to skip overseas, which inspired fans in the states to make their own. Thus the community we know and love today came to be and flourished.

 Games are still coming out of these countries but they now suffer a little bit from a trope the web has dubbed Seinfeld Is Unfunny. To summarize, these games were the ones to establish these tropes and thus now appear uncreative somehow; they only appear stock because they created the stock. As such, titles like Blood Code are a bit of a tough ride. It is newer, but it is littered with the tropes and plot points that made Visual Novels what they are today. However, this was made in 2015, not 1994; a new game rehashing old tropes is gonna be very concerning.

  • Plot

Thanks to one God-Granted wish of the Vampire child, Iroul, vampires can now live out in the sunshine of The Mirror World. Here, everything is just like the real world, except now the warm rays do not injure the children of the night. They can even attend school, which they do at the Star-Mirror Academy of Magic.  Here they can study light, water, fire or wind magic, all under the guidance of the resident church: The Kirk. Leia Ephelis, daughter of a priest in the Kirk, also gets to attend the school. With any luck, she’ll become a magical girl complete with cool outfits.

Practice

Things get twisted, however, when Leia’s father is mysteriously murdered by a group of rogue vampires. The Kirk has put her in charge of finding her father’s killers, but Leia has problems of her own. Since she missed a significant chunk of the year to handle this personal tragedy, she has to make up for the lost time by studying hard. If she fails, she’ll leave the school and never be able to finish her investigation. Can she balance schoolwork with this important mission? Is the Kirk even being honest with Leia in the first place?

  • Gameplay

One of the biggest roadblocks anyone will have playing this game is not the game itself but the language. This game was made in China but does come with an English translation.  But anyone who’s relied a little too closely on Google Translate will tell you that language translated word for word will produce some of the most awkward sentences you have ever seen.  It also features full voice actors for the characters, I think, but I played with those off since they don’t extend to the English Patch.

Word Salad

The word salad is real

 

But brace yourselves, my lovelies. We have a lot to unpack here.

At every Monday, you’ll be greeted with the screen to change clothes, call your friends, and plan your schedule. You get a choice between fire, water, wind, and Light magic classes or to do other activities: nap, shop, or just walk around the school. You can work at various jobs you unlock by visiting areas around town as well, earning money for presents and cool clothes.

Schedule

Ah, but you aren’t just here to find your father’s killer. You’re here to get yourself some romance too. One thing you’ll wanna do while you’re here is to keep an eye out (on your schedule and the Free Events section) for little hearts with pictures of your crush. Attending his color of magic, or the area he’s in, will net you a cutscene with him. At some point during the scene, you’ll be prompted to make a choice on what you say. Choose wisely – your affection levels are on the line.

Heart events

Little hearts make such a difference

Play your cards right, and you’ll get those digits  – er, he’ll trust you enough to hand over his number. From there, you can call him to schedule a date. Pick a day and where to meet and hope he agrees. And don’t forget to do free activities the day of the date. Because if you miss that scheduled date, he gonna be mad. On that date, you have the option of giving them an important gift. There are two specifically they each need in order to get the good ending. 

Dating

Are you sure? Are ya really sure?

As for the “find the vampires” storyline, I honestly think it feels very disjointed. The plot doesn’t kick in til much, MUCH later. It’s separate and jarring from the whole “school setting” and feels like the writers suddenly remembered that this wasn’t supposed to only be a slice of life game. And when the final plot finally kicks in, the mood shift is insane. It’s like someone flipped the crazy switch.

Hint

Here’s a hint
  • Art

For all the trouble this game makes for, and for all the weird situations the language translation spawns, this game does at least look very pretty; as a professionally produced title, it certainly ought to. The bishonen style is very clear from all the CG’s and each background looks colorful and calming.

Everyone gets a CG!

But it’s also very static for a professional game. I’ve seen indie titles that are far more dynamic, and only one of the in-character sprites actually shifts body positions in a really noticeable fashion. The lack of movement gets very hard on the eyes after awhile, so I suggest breaks while playing.

  • Romance Options:

Professor Leo Digator

Leo

Ah, it wouldn’t be an old fashioned Otome without a “date your professor” option. Leo is the doctor at Star-Mirror, a professor in the Light Department of magic, and the epitome of Bishounen. As a former member of the Kirk, he’s a very kind and considerate soul who left for “personal reasons” which just screams “hidden evil” and woobie status. Teasing, inquisitive, and a damn good teacher, Leo’s a great place for peeps new to the game to get a taste of what the game is like. However, some of his sweet and gentle nature is buffeted by the language barrier, so, be prepared for some unfiltered cheese.

Also, no one seems to care that a student and a teacher are hooking up – as in, the staff seems to encourage it. I find this amusing.

Locke Tremere

Locke

It also wouldn’t be an Otome proper without the wish fulfillment of dating the most popular boy in school. But Locke’s popularity is a little better deserved as opposed to Chase Masali’s unfortunate genetics. The Tremeres are one of the four powerful vampire families in the Mirror World – one of the richest as well – and we’re told that Locke was especially gifted when it came to his vampiric powers. His prestige and reach have earned him the seat as student council president. His handsome looks also make him a romantic target for most of the women in the school (teachers included). 

He’s pretty ambivalent to his popularity with women, but Leia, of course, changes that. She may very well be able to break this wall of sadness he’s surrounded himself with, through the power of chocolate, music, and a little clumsiness at endgame. Locke was a fun playthrough, but his ending is so non-instinctual that you will likely get the bad/sad end on accident.

Christ Brutch

C.Brutch

I laughed when I read that name for the first time. I have to wonder if this is how someone from another country feels when we name our characters the equivalent in their language, like a really cool name that ultimately just means “Water Sandwich.”

But anyway, Christ is a fire magic student and one of your good buddies. He’s a champion fencer, which already sounds pretty appealing, and friends with your Loli roommate, Allison. Plucky and ready to make you laugh with a joke/platitude, he’s pretty easy to like. However, he’s not very easy to love as he’s also quite secretive and angsty about a “dark and mysterious past.” I would have found that a lot more fascinating and fun had the rest of him not been a bit bland. 

Jesse

Jesse

Last but not least is our secret unlockable path, only available after finishing a few other paths. Silver-haired, grumpy, and mysterious as hell, Jesse fills our Jerk Guy quota for the game and provides a rather interesting detour. A vampire, and a water magical user, Jesse is in hiding after conducting some “business” with the Kirk, business that spells trouble for everyone else. Leia’s friends want her to keep Jesse company and give him food, but he’s not too quick to make friends. If Leia’s gonna make a buddy, perhaps the love of her life, she’s gonna need to be sweet, patient, and possibly pushy.

Interestingly, Jesse was the only character in the game that had a sprite change that shifted his whole body. It’s also one of the more interesting stories in the game, so I highly recommend it.

  • Final Verdict

Blood Code normally sells on Steam for about $8 and I’m still not sure it’s worth it. You do get a game with a fair amount of bells and whistles but you also get clunkily translated dialogue, an awkward narrative, and a pretty standard Otome experience. I think if you can find it on discount it’s worth the experience just to laugh and try something new. Otherwise, this is one you won’t miss much if skipped.

Next Time: Never Give Up!

 

What did you think of Blood Code? Does this make you nostalgic or bored? Feel free to leave a comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content.

How Chobits Changed My Anime Experience

I like to think anime fans are creatures of habit. Which is not to be insulting; all humans prefer familiarity. As such, when there’s a certain genre or subject we like, we tend to cling to it and rarely venture out. Even more so, if there’s something we don’t like, we will avoid anything to do with it for fear of repeating that horrendous experience.

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People who like shonen tend to watch shonen almost exclusively; if they think shojo is a bunch of pretty-boy, girly-faced BS they’ll avoid anything remotely close to the piss-poor show that set them off in the first place. But most anime fans are also willing to cross that line should word-of-mouth declare the show “different.” I myself have tried several shows that I were in a genre I didn’t particularly care for. It’s how I got into Black Butler.

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Though, the only issue I had at the time was the Shouta… and the Shouta Yaoi

But there was a time when I wouldn’t have taken the risk. There was a point where I put myself in an echo-chamber of shojo/shonen fantasy anime and anything on the outside just “wasn’t my thing.”

And then came this sweet little anime that contemplated the existence of sentient robots, Chobits. I avoided it for awhile – as it reeked of Magical Girlfriend Harem Anime – but I broke down and watched it when enough people told me how adorable it was. And my viewing experience hasn’t been the same since.

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And the cutness changed everything
  • Blatant Perverted Humor That’s Somehow Innocent

First of all, let’s be honest with ourselves: the humor here is pretty dirty.

As a show aimed at older men (despite the girly opening), there’s no getting away from the blatant fanservice. Chii, our resident magical girlfriend, won’t be completely naked but will be in nothing but her underwear almost all the time, with her lady bits being accidentally touched at various points.

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As this wallpaper demonstrates, Chii’s sexual appeal is not accidental at all

But these awkward moments are presented just as they are: awkward and embarrassing. Yeah, sure, there’s no denying the audience will still enjoy the view but they’ll also be laughing at our protagonist, Hideki, who promptly freaks the hell out and behaves like any awkward nerd would. It’s not a power fantasy; it’s a romantic comedy with fantasy elements, and it works to amazing lengths.

  • Some Nice, Well Executed Naval Gazing

But when Chobits isn’t gleefully giggling at Hideki touching Chii’s breasts for purely mechanical reasons (admit it, you laughed), it’s asking some interesting questions. The whole anime has far more navel gazing in it than I thought, and the questions it asks are some really hard ones to answer.

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Or at least it does when the comedy isn’t happening

I once heard Chobits summed up in one glorious sentence: “Can I sleep with my robot?” They had to make it on the fly with a timer clicking behind them, so I’m fairly impressed with how close it comes to the real deal. Yeah, the plot asks itself if it’s okay for humans to feel a real emotional connection with these personal computers (unavoidable when you put a female face on it) but it also asks some other really important questions: What happens when you replace lost loved ones with these machines? What happens to the real people who feel outsmarted and out-ranked by these machines? Is it even ethical to put these computers in the same category as people?

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This isn’t in the same vein as Death Note, which pondered the morality of absolute power and the definitions of justice, but it does pose some quandaries worth musing over with a cup of coffee.

  • Even Your Fantasy is Littered With Layers

Let’s also be honest about something: Chobits is a Harem anime.

The whole show revolves around the spineless and nerdy Hideki, a dropout loser who hopes to turn his luck around in the big city. His trip to the big city has him repeatedly put in awkward positions with a series of good looking girls.  This includes his Hot Landlady, his Hot Teacher, and his Hot Coworker. Now these girls kinda get a backseat to Chii, our Hot Computer with her own brain, but they do exist on the fringes. Furthermore, it’s also fulfilling the fantasy of having a perfect girlfriend fall in your lap. Thought the “perfect” part is being put through the ringer.

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She’s a little bit more like a child, in the beginning, copying everything Hidekei does

But it’s okay. The fact that Chobits was obviously playing to a specific group didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The story manages to balance these fantasy elements with the navel gazing mentioned above and adds some real layers to the people involved in this fantasy. The Hot Coworker has her own problems outside of Hideki; The Hot Landlady has a connection to Chii the robot, and so on and so forth. Everything here is really well-rounded  and it feels more like you’re dealing with people rather than caricatures meant to “fill a role.”

  • So if this was actually good….

Then what else was actually really good? Chobits taught me that there’s always a shiny gem in an anime genre that can be universally loved and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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In a way, Chobits was the eye-opener that forced me to experiment in anime. It is my reminder that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk and watching something outside of your comfort zone. It won’t always end as well, but it’ll be better to have tried than to have missed out.

 

What anime changed your mind about a genre? Feel free to leave a comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this.

Otome Review: Red String of Fate

When it comes to Otome, there is no in-between: it’s true love or bitter tragedy.

Each game presents you with (hopefully) interesting stories, but we all know romantic wish fulfillment is the cream in this oreo cookie. Each game is meant to present you yet another way you found that one person who was perfect for you in every fashion; you complete each other in a way no one else can. And, if you make the right calls, you can be together forever in sunshine bliss. One would almost say that it provides readers a chance to fantasize about meeting “the one”, I.E their Soulmate.

But is your fated person someone who already exists, or someone you create to make your own destiny? You ask yourself this a lot in our subject today, the new title known as Red String of Fate. The game is a play on the old Chinese and Japanese legends about the magical and metaphorical red string around all our fingers that leads us to our fated partner, all while offering two very sweet love stories to chew on.

 

  • Plot

 

This game already won me over by setting itself in college rather than High School. You play Valerie Wong, daughter of a Chinese immigrant and Journalism student. Valerie was born with a special gift: she can see the Red Strings of Fate. The problem is that she cannot see her own, meaning it’s nonexistent or stretched too thin to see. Valerie decides to bank on the latter and travel the world to find him, whoever he may be. Thus she works herself to pieces at four part-time jobs and full-time school work. 

Things change when her philosophy class institutes a group project. She partners up with Aaron, her old buddy from high school, and Luke, an introverted literature student with a secret of his own.

Luke and Aaron

Gaze into the faces of change

Working with the boys stirs some doubt in Valerie. After all, it seems like relationships of real substance are forming right in front of her. Does this put a monkey wrench in her plans? Or does Valerie stick to her guns?

 

  • Gameplay

 

Red String is not a short little romp through sweet romance, nor is it a very long look at a relationship. It’s a medium-range Visual Novel with only two romantic paths. The actual plot in question is basically the same: Valerie needs to pass this project to keep her grades up and starts to fall in love in the process. What changes are the details of who and how based on one split in the plot: Irene’s birthday party.  You can go with Aaron or stay home with Luke, effectively choosing from the get-go who you wanna pursue. It’s a fun read all around and the game has a pretty great sense of humor about it.

Ha

Beyond just unwinding a tightly knit narrative, the game itself is really quite simple. Every so often in the story, Valerie will be prompted to make a decision that changes the outcome of the story. I believe the important choices are the double choices, where you can choose the “yea or nay” option, so to speak. There are also moments where you have four different choices you can make at a single moment, a la The Lady’s Choice, but I am unsure if they make any significant changes.

Choices

If I had to give a complaint – and I do – I feel as if the game is a bit static. I know most VN’s that have any sense of dynamics to them tend to cost money, but this game felt a little stiffer than usual. The character sprites themselves cycle through expressions of course, but you never see other characters on the screen except for Luke or Aaron. It also takes quite a long time for a CG to appear, like the last two-fourths of the game. But I was super happy when I finally got to my first one; ‘cause these images are super cute and shift as the story progresses.

 

 

 

  • Art

 

The artist this time around is an indie drawer named Greenace, who comes from the Philippines. Green has a great style, from what I can tell, with a soft pencil look that is clean and very anime-esque. They admit on their page that they are inspired by JRPG’s and anime, which explains the occasional shift from pretty anime boys to cute chibi drawings:

Art

That being said, they do a good job at making all three characters look distinct from each other. The backgrounds have several credited artists and all of them did well too, though I did recognize one image from Halloween Otome. I don’t know if the same artist was on board or if the image was stock, so, I didn’t push it. Besides, since both games are free titles, no one is really losing any money here.

 

  • Romance Paths

 

Luke:

Luke

Quiet, thoughtful, and somewhat cynical, Luke was a huge shot in the dark for Valerie’s project. Thankfully he turned out to be a very thoughtful and intelligent person, albeit quiet and introverted. But that’s where his literature student stereotypes end because while he may be a writer himself he downright refuses to write about or entertain the idea of romantic love. It’s clear something is deeply troubling Luke and it’s gonna take awhile to peel back his defenses and figure out what it may be.

The cheesy set-up aside, Luke’s story is actually touching. It’s a very emotional ride, albeit a short one, and I did enjoy this spin on the poet archetype.

 

Aaron

Aaron

Do you like games? Because Aaron freaking loves them.

This gaming nerd graduated high school a year before you. He’s a computer science major with big hopes of being an indie game developer, despite the starving artist stereotype in conjures up.  Aaron is compared to a puppy in-game: bright, energetic, and always eager to please. He more reminded me of a child trapped in an adult body, with his constant pouting and pleading to get his way. That kinda killed any romantic attachments I may have had, but I will always support the “Hot Gamer Guy” in games like this. So while Aaron may not have worked for me, it may very well spark some strong feelings with someone else.

 

  • Final Verdict

 

Red String of Fate is very bare-bones for Otome, but the core is still very strong. The story itself is sweet and fulfilling, with a very unique concept I haven’t seen played with. Because it lacks a lot of movement and immersion, the game will feel like it’s dragging its heels. But if you can get past that and kinda accept the bare necessities, you’ll get a really sweet story. In short, I’m excited to see more from this developer/company and will definitely keep an eye out for them.

Any thoughts on these blooming indie-developers? Feel free to comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content just like this.

 

Next Time: Blood Code

New Pokemon Movie Remakes First Season

The Pokemon generation is strong. I should know; I’m a proud member.

I can still recall the first time I saw Pokemon. Tiny child me, slurping High-C and eating tv dinners, was shocked and awed by the flashy powers of these cute little animals. It was so cool to see new and awesome pokemon every week and watch Ash struggle to defeat those gyms. 

And oh, when I found out there were video games where you could catch your own Pokemon, going on your own adventure, I couldn’t ask my parents for a video game upgrade fast enough. That Christmas was the best thanks to a pink Gameboy Color and a copy of Pokemon Gold.  It also made me giddy when Pokemon Go became a thing and everyone freaked out. No one can handle the Second Coming.

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No one can resist the urge to catch ’em all

Or, perhaps, maybe that was just an experiment. Maybe Pokemon’s real comeback is just on the horizon. I was poking around, looking for things to blab about, when I stepped upon yet another new thing that gave me pause. Pokemon, one of the big milestones of my childhood, is being remade. More specifically, the first season is getting made into a movie.

That’s right, Pokemon will be back with a vengeance (or so it claims). To celebrate Pokemon’s anniversary, the 20th movie is gonna remake the entirety of season one with some drastic changes. We have a new girl and guy replacing Brock and Misty and it appears all Pokemon are fair game in the region of Kanto. That’s right; we got piplups, duskskulls, even damn incineroar showing up on an island that was once super secluded from the world. The last one is the one that gets me really scratching my head, as I recall that Alolan pokemon were supposed to be new to the world, but I digress.

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Give ’em the chair!

Usually, I have mixed feelings about things like this. But this time around, I find myself feeling oddly ambivalent. I’m not excited, frightened, angry, or overjoyed. Rather, I’m curious and oddly amused.

My amusement comes at just how freaking long this franchise as a whole has managed to last. A silly little cartoon about tiny animals you collect, carry, and then fight with has spread like a successfully crafted plague; we continue to bleed money for games, cards, stuffed animals and other merchandise more than twenty years later. The mania has certainly died down from the insanity of the 90s but the want and love still run strong; I myself had some trouble getting the latest Pokemon game due to it being sold out.

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Money money money….

But for all the love we give it, the Kanto is isolated in a way that’s hard to describe. Effectively, it’s hard to see the very first seasons in the Pokemon cartoons and the “universe” as it is now because so much has changed. The franchise has morphed and evolved over this twenty year period – as any franchise should – and has an entirely different feel to it than the old show did. But, seeing the birthing moments of the show, littered with new Pokemon and the new styles we’ve come to expect, it feels like those moments have been reassimilated back in. There will never be anything that can replace the Indigo League, but seeing it memorialized and put on a golden pedestal feels tribute-like. It’s like when Batman worked with The Grey Ghost, voiced by the Batman of the sixties.

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I will not cry… I will not cry…

What I find myself curious about is how they plan to resurrect this Goliath without a few of the limbs. Truth be told, part of the reason Pokemon did as well as it did in the West was thanks to some of the packaging around it. The music scores were insanely good (Pikachu’s Jukebox was always my favorite) and the hype around guessing and collecting these creatures was super hardcore, especially in the toy market (Gotta Catch ‘em All, mommy, ka-ching). So without that hype, and those rockin’ tunes, is this movie gonna do as well as the series did?

Probably not, and that probably won’t be what matters. What matters is that this is gonna (hopefully) be an awesome little bit of nostalgic candy peppered with some Sun and Moon caramel. As a die-hard Pokemaniac, I’m gonna definitely give the movie the best shot I can and just drink it all in.

Or if it sucks, I’m gonna bring fire and brimstone down.

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What are your thoughts about the remake? Feel free to comment below. And don’t forget to like and comment for more content like this.

Otome Review: Star Days

It’s not very often that dating sims deal with some serious stuff.

It’s a risk for an author of this genre to dive into deep subjects as death and loss; it kinda clashes with the romantic wishful-fitment. But I think it’s a risk worth taking as it can produce some really bittersweet stories. However, if someone only scratches the surface of such issues, is it even worth going through with it?

That’s the question I asked myself when I picked up Pacthesis’s new title, Star Days. It’s a game that hits you right in the gut at first, before pulling back and focusing more on the fuzzy romance. It’s a fun game all around, but the subject matter really does feel paper thin.

  • Plot

How far will you go for the person you love?

Tara has to ask herself that question when her childhood friend, Lee, passes away from a terminal illness. Moments after Lee’s passing, a strange ship appears in East Cigam. On the ship, three boys tell her they are on their way to The Constellations, where all souls who have passed away go. They’re each from a different universe where a different planet contains life. They each have someone they’re desperate to bring back to life and figured Tara would want to hop aboard.

Jump

But, like always, there’s a catch. You can bring that soul back from the dead no problem but it will come at a high cost. Is Tara ready to go the real distance to bring Lee back, and what will it ultimately cost her?

  • Gameplay

The past few times Pacthesis has released a new game, she’s innovated the gameplay. Be it a time-traveling mechanic that allowed for two different hubs or a walking mechanic that doubled the size of the map, she’s been working hard to shake things up from her old titles.  I can see that Star Days is a mish-mash of all this new stuff: We have the ship which you can move around on from screen to screen and then four different planets you can jump to, making four different hub worlds to explore. Each hub features a shop, two places to work, and about three spots to find your three shipmates. It will also feature the fourth spot to find the love interest specifically to that planet, meaning even more options. Seriously, this game is huge.

Hub Screens

So, you may ask, how do you get a date around here? Well, you get the goods by finding which guy strikes your fancy and giving him a chat. Each time you talk to him you can pick from two responses, both of which will earn you affection points. I think there’s one option that will work better than the other but I couldn’t verify it.

Choices

As far as I know, both options are gold

Once you’ve earned enough points (about three hearts) the game will tell you that you can now give gifts to your beau. There’s one per universe (normally) that they will like, so you’ll have to experiment a little. Get up to four or so hearts than you’ll get an absolutely adorable cutscene where they confess to falling in love with you. It’s a bit fast and I think we don’t have enough build up to it, but it’s still pretty sweet. Once the big confession happens, you can go on a date. The date is super easy as long as you brought two of a gift that person likes. Chat them up and max out the mood-meter and you get a kiss.

Date Win

But wait wait wait; weren’t we on our way to bring back the dead? In fact, you are, but the ship can’t reach The Constellations right away. You’ll have to jump to each planet until the progress meter on the screen reaches the full capacity and only then can you end the game. This will happen after you spend enough time on each planet to trigger a few cutscenes. If you have a high enough relationship with a character, you can end the game with them after your “business” at the Constellations.

  • Art

One thing that’s certainly improved as these games have gone on has been the art. The art, in the beginning, was very simple and very loopy (see Festival Days) as any early flash game would have. But as time has gone on – and as technilogy improves –   she now has a more distinct, bishie-anime quality to it. It’s still flash animation so there will be changes in character appearances, but things are still pretty cool looking. Especially seeing the tiny little sprites do all the animation.

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And, even better, she mixes the art up in each hub. The color scheme ranges from bright rainbows to warm vintage, and it really makes each universe pop in its own way.

  • Romantic Paths

Magazine

Magazine

Your captain is a handsome specimen, but not the most exciting one. He’s from another version of Saturn, where war is constant and technology has reached Star Trek levels of advanced. Despite this chaotic setting, Mag is down to earth and cool headed, keeping everyone safe and everything under control. This mature attitude is a necessity for the ship, but isn’t the most exciting to talk to. Alas, the person he’s off to bring back isn’t even all that exciting as they weren’t particularly close. The only thing that saves him from being completely dull is how his cool finally breaks when you start dating. The once level-headed captain is now hilariously unsure of himself and it makes for enertaining reads.

 

 

Quarto

Quato

You’ll probably have some questions when you meet the perpetually nervous Quarto, or “boxhead” as a few call him. It’s a staple of Pacthesis’s weirdness, this card-board-headed man, but it actually has a sweet reason.  On his universe, Neptunians wear masks that cover their whole face; only those most intimate with a person should see it. But he lost his, so he’ll have to be Mr. Roboto for the remainder of the trip. He’s a nervous wreck who worries about everything, is prone to Ritsu-Style Spazz attacks, and is oddly gifted with needle and thread. If you can manage to calm him down and get him to open up, then get ready for an oddly sweet twist to this nervous little tale.

 

Ry

Ry

You meet Ry moments after your friend’s death, and how bracing it is. This chipper fellow from Pluto is the one who dragged you onto the ship, no questions asked, and seems ready to be your bestest buddy. But other people you talk to say it’s an odd change from the early days when he was rather mopey. Whatever happened, he’s super aggressive about everyone having a good time and staying positive, and he has a soft spot for someone as cute as you. In short, Ry’s path is a bit of a mixed package, but a nice break from the uber-happy fellow who was always too shy to be romantic.

 

Vanni

Vanni

Sometime in your journey you’ll get a stow-away. This cranky and cotchety blond is not interested interested in making friends or getting to know the weirdos on this ship. He’ll call them by their last names to keep them at a distance and refuses to be friendly. However, with your poking and proding, he will eventualy decide that Tara is worth opening up to. He just wants to get to the constellations at any cost; even cooking and cleaning for four slobs who can’t pick up after themselves. In short, Vanni is cranky cook who loves fine ingredients and a clean ship, a feet which distinctly reminds me of Captain Levi. He turned out to be my favorite since I like the more aggressive types, and found the juxtaposition of neatfreak fighter to be hilarious.

Erameni

Ermani

The princess of her village on Uranus in universe G-83 and one of the perkiest brunettes you will ever meet. This Uranus is on color overload and it’s leader is equally bright and vibrant. She doesn’t know very much about ruling – an unfortunate side effect of sudden succession – but does her best to keep smiling and do what’s right. She’s also been having dreams about our protagonist and, I must say, she certainly warmed up to me after awhile.  It’s hard not to feel attached to this sweet, innocent, rather delightful young women. She’s the kind of girl I’d love to take out for ice cream.

 

Cil

Cil

In the Vegas-y city of Kotoy, you are tricked into a date by Cil in what I’m pretty sure is a fixed card game. A news anchor for KHN, he’s a charismatic guy who knows what he wants and goes after it with little abandon. Thankfully, he has enough sense not to force our protagonist into a date right away, but is forward enough to ask her to forget her companions and stay with him if you play your cards right. He’s also the son of two moms, a fact which I found pretty cool.

Nevertheless, this charming flirt is a great part of this Las Vegas style city. Another one of my favorites.

 

 

 

Forah

Forah

Lt. Forah Swemond is the commander of Raswaw’s protective forces in an old fashioned town on Mars (universe E-25). This vintage city has an old hollywood glam about it, despite the military occupation, and Forah is a great personification of it.  Staid, calm, and steady as a beginners drum beat, all she’s missing in life is a goal to work towards. She reminds me of what would happen if someone finally got Integra Van Hellsing to open up: a slightly stiff woman who would be absolutely aimless without her job. Still, there’s something heroic about her and the dignity she carries herself with. It’s not the last female options free-spiritedness, but rather a more adult calm that’s interesting. If you like vintage glam and a stoic type heroine then Lt. Forah is your girl.

 

 

 

 

Pavervill

Pavervill

And the award for the hardest to say town goes to Otifonpro, a coastal fishing town on Venus B-16. And what else will you find on this idyllic summer town, where the waves are cool and the scenery is beautiful, then a summer romance: a blonde, Ken-doll looking fella complete with the Fred Jones ascot.  Pavervill looks like the kind of guy you’d see in a Rom-Com where the girl is trying to “start over” but needs a little help to get there. But I was super surprised by Pavy’s personality, which was fun-loving, inquisitive and super forward. I had fun with each chat we had, and his goody-two-shoes nature didn’t rub me the wrong way. If you want an improvement on the Boy Next-Door (complete with cool, mismatched eyes) then give Pavervill a try.

 

 

 

  • Final Verdict

I had a ton of fun playing Star Days despite the massive size. The story may be rushed and heavy on the exposition, but the characters in it are interesting and the settings pure eye-candy. If I could edit it at all, I’d have it deal with the heavy subject matter a little more rather than gloss over it. But, for a free game, I like how each character deals with something pretty heavy and has a chance to get themselves a happy endings.

Next time: Red String of Fate

Have you tried the game yet? What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this!

Anime That Could Work Live Action

Most of the time, anime fans tend to have one universal reaction to live action: vomit and fear. That hasn’t stopped the industry from trying – over and over again – to bring these outrageous stories to the big screen. Sadly, even with semi-successes like Ghost In The Shell and Nana fans still treat these announcements roughly the same.

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But there’s also a part of us that, deep down, really want to see an anime live-action film do well. Sure, we have a backlog of horrendous titles that make hope rather slim, but we also have a handful of good examples that tell us there is gold to be found here. Maybe that’s why this particular year has been flush with announcements for live action versions of well-loved animes.

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I don’t have high hopes for this one 

So with this giant rush of films that may or may not take a nosedive, I racked my brain and the internet for anime I think could become a successful live action movie or tv series. I do believe there’s gold to be had in the hills if you just find the right claim to strike. These were the four I could come up with.

 

  • Outlaw Star

outlaw-star

 

Hate to dig out an oldie that I drone on and on about, but I can’t stress enough how awesome this would be on the big screen. Of all the sci-fi anime to make live action, I cannot understand for the life of me why this underrated gem hasn’t been considered.

If you’ve avoided every mention of this anime I’ve ever made (impressive work) then all you really need to know is that it’s an old-school space western. Odd-job man, Gene Starwind, inherits a ship after helping space outlaw Ice Hilda and gets to travel the vast reaches of the cosmos for adventure. In words, they’re seeking the “Galactic Leyline” for the enigmatic crewmate, Melfina, but the show’s biggest focus has always been seeing what crazy smuggling adventure the crew could get into.

I can’t understand for the life of me why this doesn’t exist yet. We’ve got shows like Firefly and all variations of Star Trek, so why not a red-headed crack shot that shoots magic, a space samurai, and an alien werewolf? I think the SCIFI crowd would really take to it if the right TLC were applied.

 

 

  • Samurai Champloo

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We drift from a Much Ado About Oldies to Oddball Mentions. I don’t talk about this anime as much as I should, After all, it’s one of the most unique titles you’re gonna find in a sea of weirdness.

Samurai Champloo is Shinichirō Watanabe’s claim to Genius infamy. The framing plot of two wandering swordsmen being roped into helping a waitress find a man is really just the tour-guide, as the show’s main attraction comes from the smashing together of Chanbara Samurai films with hip-hop and gangsta culture. Mugen fights via breakdancing; the anime’s littered with hip-hop beats; people are wearing bad-ass chains and rings that shouldn’t exist for several hundreds of years. Even if you aren’t that into hip-hop and rap, you’ll get a kick from the visceral action and crack timing on the comedy.

Japan has a long history of Chanbara – it’s basically their answer to the obsession we have with the Old West. Then, with Watanabe onboard with writing and directing, they could grind in those references to hip-hop culture and make lightning all over again.

 

 

  • Hellsing

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I’m not crazy. But I do think people, deep down, have a love of cartoony and gratuitous gore and destruction. How else would a series like this every get as popular as it did?

Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate are rest stops for people like me who love both the tragedy of the vampire-type character and the massive amounts of violence one would find in the Mortal Kombat series. Both anime tell the tale of a secret sect of Her Majesty’s forces, the Hellsing Organization, who fight the awful monsters we all recognize: vampires, werewolves, ghouls, etc. When things get particularly bad, they send in their prized possession: Alucard, a vampire, soft-science nightmare who regenerates from anything and has lost his damn mind. You might recognize him from the Twilight memes that wanna challenge Edward’s dick status as a vampire.

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Image from Comic-Vine

Why do I want an anime so light on story and heavy on blood? It’s because we’ve already shown that we are willing to stomach a lot of horrendous special effects when it’s edgy vampires and lots of action scenes. If we can combine Hellsing’s crazy-awesome antics with the kind of movie magic that Blade had, we could see a cult-classic overnight.

 

  • Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

vampire-hunter-d-poster

 

Oh yes, I did just go real old school.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is the second film based on the novels by writer Hideyuki Kikuchi of the same name. They tell the very long and very steampunk, very old school story of the enigmatic monster hunter, D, and his many adventures in the steampunk Wasteland that once was Earth. Overrun by the Nobility (nobles) and creatures originally thought to be extinct, D’s invincible hero status serves more or less as a way to explore this heavily atmospheric setting rather than tell a compelling story. Bloodlust is the second attempt at making a movie from the novels and of far greater success. 

I am picturing Mad Max with vampires when I think of this in live action. Mechanical horses, energy and moisture farms, werewolves and silk-cloaked vampires; it just sounds like delicious eye candy.  Much like the source material, I see this film being more visually compelling, like the source material, but I dearly hope they would go with the movie version rather than the original book. Not unless they wanna depress half the nation.

 

What anime do you think would survive translation? Feel free to comment below and don’t forget to like and follow!

Otome Review: The Blind Griffin

 My lovelies on the interwebz, allow me to introduce you to the insanity that is Urban Fantasy.

Have you ever looked at fantasy and wondered why it was always medieval-like? It’s always swords, axes, bows, and men in dresses casting spells. I bet there’s a select few of you who had an itch to see what magic would do in a more realistic setting, or what would happen if an era you knew (Victorian, American West, etc)  had a little Harry Potter/Lord Of the Rings pureed into the drink. That is Urban Fantasy in a nutshell: fantasy elements like magic and monsters in a modern setting, or at least an era that isn’t the traditional medieval one.

Otome dips into this one pretty hard, but it usually keeps to a modern setting. The Blind Griffin goes off the path and decides to put players smack in the middle of Prohibition. Yes, it’s the Roaring Twenties with magic; it’s just as cool as it sounds.

 

  • Plot

 

You are an unnamed guttersnipe that decided laundry is for the birds and you’re out to get yourself some real sugar — translation, you’re the unnamed daughter of a Chinese family in 1925 San Francisco, California, and you’ve officially left your family laundromat to find a better life. Luckily, you stumble across some odd help-wanted signs – smokey ones that kinda float – that lead you to a candy looking to hire. But this shop is just the face of the operation; the real action is the speakeasy down below, The Blind Griffin, which is looking to hire a new bartender.

Speakeasy

Look at that art, man

But the upstairs ain’t the only front at this establishment. The den of illegal spirits and Jazz is yet another cover for a coven of magicians, people that can use magic. Even better, they think you’re a magician too since you saw those smoky signs out front. But they can’t just let any bird run around doing magic all willy-nilly, oh no. You’re gonna have to face the Magician’s Council and prove you’re not a danger to yourself and the rest of the world. Study up with one of your three mentors (all of which are pretty good-looking guys) and you’ll pass. Fail, and you’ll have your memories wiped clean.

 

  • Gameplay

 

Blind Griffin is another freebie visual novel that doesn’t have the extra content of our last entry. But what it lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in immersion. You get to smother yourself in smooth jazz for the majority of the game and the dialogue is saturated in 20’s slang. But don’t worry, my fellow cats, you will not be deprived of the story if you’ve never seen a gangster movie in your life. Each term is clickable so you can get a free (and usually funny) definition of the word. Combined with the stunning artwork to be discussed later, you’ll find yourself sunk into the setting hook, line, and sinker.

Defenitions

On the dry side of things, the mechanics of the game are just like the last one: you’ll reach a decision point where you have to make the “correct” choice to get the true ending of the game. While we had multiple points to make the right call last time we’re reduced to three now, which does cut back a bit on the game part of gameplay. Any mix of bad and good answers will get you the neutral ending while completely messing up will get either a bad ending or get your memories wiped clean. The future rests in your hands, so juggle wisely.

Choices

Gio, WHAT DO I DO?!

As for the plot itself, it may very well be the weaker part of the game. It’s not bad by any stretch, but the short length and the tendency to skip around years makes it all feel very rushed. Character reveals and big moments of development have to be spelled out in the latter half of the game. It’s really a shame that it couldn’t be stretched out a bit more, as the characters in question are a very colorful bunch. I’m so in love with the atmosphere of the game that it saddens me a bit to see the story stripped to its bare necessities.

But I’d love to see it fleshed out more. Cause this game’s sense of humor is beautiful.

Jargon

 

  • Art

 

 Otome has a habit of dipping into the Bishi-Juice. Everybody is pretty and could easily pass for a girl; lots of bright anime colors and pastels are everywhere; each frame is lovingly crafted to look as pretty as possible. This isn’t a bad habit necessarily but it is par for the course. Thus, when the Blind Griffin greeted me with a warm, cartoony palette for the art, it caught my attention.

Art-Griffin

The reds and golds and greens thrown around in this came are exquisite. The game went out of its way to make each character unique in both appearance and personality, something I greatly appreciate. The western cartoony look will take some getting used to but it’s well worth the effort.

 

  • Romance Paths

Alexei

Alexei

 

Alexei came to America fresh from the death of the Tsar in Russia. He’s a pretty staunch believer in hard work and academic pursuit and he’ll be the stricter of your mentors. But, underneath the pomp and stiffness, He’s a soft-hearted fellow who just wants you to succeed and to do something valuable with the rare gift he’s given. You’d think this prudish and stiffness is a product of his lack of trust but…no. This really is just who he is.

That being said, Alexei is actually my favorite. His story felt the most natural out of the bunch and his personality just makes all the events that happen all the funnier. His story is the most easily resolved, which is bothersome, but I was laughing too hard to care.

Giovanni

Giovanni

Talk about a big teddy bear. The “old man” of the group was the original mentor for Emilio and Alexei. Known as a genius and super powerful magician, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something about him is off. He seems like he’s holding back all the time and his collegues are frustrated that he just spends his days playing the violin rather than study magic. What makes this happy itallian so sad? The only way to find out is to strap in and follow this one to the end. Get ready: it’s gonna be bumpy.

Gio’s story is pretty harsh when all’s said and done. I think, of the three, his is the one no one saw coming and will hit you hardest in the gut. That makes it exciting in the long run and gives quite the impetus to replay it.

Emilio

Emilio

Emilio and our character do not get on well – because is still young and extremely hot-headed. Pride and deep resentment run strong with the group’s resident whippernsapper and you’ll have to sift through some serious bull to get at the meat of his story. But if you keep your head cool (since he can’t) than you may find a pretty friendly guy who’s secretly a big sweetheart.

To be honest, I was never a fan of Emilio. He’s grating and too angry for my taste, but I’ll never deny someone their hot-headed hottie. If the tough, angry fellow is your favorite, then go for it.

 

  • Final Verdict

 

While The Blind Griffin lacks a little substance, the world around it is so rich and colorful, I was able to dive right in. Lore hounds like myself will get a huge kick out of the sugar drizzled onto this game, along with the wide variety of characters, but those who like the kind of long and deep narrative from last time won’t be so thrilled. In short, this makes a great quick play if you’re feeling bored and wanna shake things up.

 

Next time: Star Days

Did the Griffin hit the spot for you? Feel free to comment below. And don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this!

 

Castlevania Anime?

As a gamer, I had given up on Konami.

Since I wager a chunk of my fans aren’t gamers, all you really need to know is that the game company, Konami, shamed Metal Gear writer Hideo Kojima and basically sold out their fans in favor of their slot machine market. This, combined with a string of stories surrounding Konami’s employee environment, turned off a lot of former fans from ever buying their products again as a show of protest. But, in the wake of this chaos, the last thing anyone expected Konami to do was to produce an anime.

And wouldn’t you know it, it’s an anime about my favorite game series.

Blow cartrage to start your adventure

It’s not often my two hobbies cross like this. I have to talk about it; the power of geek compels me. Konami could redeem themselves in one swoop or bring it all crashing down.

Brief History Lesson Time

If you missed out on the Nintendo Craze, Castlevania was one of the first platformers to be released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1986. It was a classic take on the horror genre that had players storm a dangerous castle packed to the brim with horrific creatures and take on famous Universal Movie Monsters, ending with the eponimous Count Dracula. It’s famous for being super hard, super weird, and just super fun in general. If there was ever a game that made people hit their heads against the wall and leave a face-dent, it was this game.

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“CASTLEVANIA BIIIIIIIIIIIRDS!”

There was talk of a Castlevania movie for years, but that baby got trapped in development hell. No, instead we’re going to get a full-fledged anime courtesy of Netflix. Even more so, it appears the anime will be animated by the team behind Adventure Time and the writing team has connections to the overnight success that was Stranger Things. The cherry on top of it all? The anime will be eschewing the Lords of Shadow game and aiming more for Dracula’s Curse from way back in the day.

castlevania-3-draculas-curse

Back when Dracky still bore a striking resemblance to Bella Lugosi and men could weark skirts made entirely of metal and leather

So, what are my initial thoughts on this big reveal? 

This is a Match Made in Heaven

Once upon a time, I waxed poetic on how much I love anime that go big or go home, that embrace the weird. The are no creative limits when it comes to anime, and the same can definitely be said about the universe of cool Castlevania cultivated.

Castlevania has always portrayed itself as super serious when it came to adventure and horror, but there have always been parts of it that are onsensical. We’re talking games where chickens could be beaten out of walls; little men hopped around to attack you via headbutts, and one villain had an outfit that could literally be described as  “pieces of leather and chains.”

badguy-render

Ladies and gents – Issac

What’s even funnier is that most of this off-the-wall content was meant to be taken 100% serious back in the day; the 80’s and 90’s were an odd time for fantasy. But now this serious take translates to some weapons-grade hilarity and I’m excited to see what the animators can do with it.

How Serious Are We Gonna Be?

Speaking of that solemn tone, one has to wonder just how serious they are aiming for. As I said, the game plots themselves haven’t aged particularly well, meaning any attempt at being serious can come off as narmy at best, eye-rolling at worst. And yet, as I watch the trailer, I can see skeletons impaled in Dracula’s front yard, blood flying everywhere, a man taking a dagger right to the eye, and lots of glorious violence. This, combined with my reading of the Den of Geek article , makes me think they are aiming for a semi-serious, ultraviolent take.

But, given the retro nature of the content, I can’t help but wonder if that will mix.

 

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Image from Fobman

If you haven’t trolled the hilarious – albeit biased – depths that is TV Tropes, allow me to force some internet slang on you. Narm refers to an attempt at an emotion that is so ridiculous, so insane, that it swings back around like a wrecking ball on a string and smashes your suspension of disbelief. In short, the horrific becomes hilarious, and your poignant characters turn into professional scenery chewers. Castlevania has always aimed to pay tribute to the old monster movies, and attempting to make a serious show out of that can result in some weapons-grade narm.

Than again, anime can thrive on narm so, maybe that will work on in its favor.

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Some can even weaponize it

Our Story Will Involve…?

My last thought is a valid concern, after seeing the Mario Brother’s Movie, the Street Fighter movie, and reading the Five Night’s at Freddy’s novel. Translation between mediums is always a painful, complicated process. It’s a bit like the early experimental days of the transporter in science-fiction novels; you’re likely to arrive on the other side missing some vital organs.

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“Hey Jim, my foot’s missing some toes…”

They want to make a full series out a game that spends all day jumping, whipping, destroying candles and beating up famous monsters. I can’t help but question how exactly the anime plans to fill the time and turn what is sometimes aimless wandering into a coherent storyline. What parts will they keep and what part will they cut? Or is it gonna be an endless gorefest with a “monster of the week” feel, like Power Rangers did?

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What a crossover that would be

It’s hard to say from a simple trailer which characters they’ll keep and how they intend to shape the plot. But I can say that I am super excited to see the results, especially if it means treading into my favorite games in the series.

 

Otome Review: Cinderella Phenomenon

Last week I broke one of my only rules and left my wonderful readers hanging. I’m not proud of my decision, not because the game was too long, but because it reflected poor planning on my part. But now I’m ready to fully present you one of the most beautifully drawn and written pieces of Visual Fiction I’ve ever seen. 

When it comes to freebie games, one mustn’t expect too many bells and whistles. After all, when the person creating the game isn’t getting anything back for their work, they can’t invest too much time and expense. The best of both worlds comes from projects that are kickstarted, I.E creators get the money up front and use it to create the game. Cinderella Phenomenon was a Kickstarter project, but I was still expecting it to be low key since it was still available for free. I did not expect to be hit with a game the professionals would snatch up in a heartbeat. Cinderella Phenomenon is dynamic and dramatic, proving you can do a lot with a freeware title.

  • Plot

What if the fairy tales we know and love came from a dark place, or even darker than they do now? What if they came from a place of pain and suffering and then continued to cause harm?

Four years ago, a great war raged between witches, humans, and fairies. The once peaceful kingdom found itself disturbed when a traveling bard decided to put the wonders of the kingdom to paper. But in his stories, witches were always creatures of evil and fairies forces for good. This caused so much resentment from the humans that they hunted down the witches and burned them at the stake. Those who survived let their anger and hatred corrupt them, along with the mighty power of their magical crystal: The Tenebrarum. Along with near endless destruction, the witches created the Fairy Tale Curse, twisting the stories humans loved so much and making the humans work to break them, if at all.

The Crystal

The Crystal of Hatred and Anger corrupts us all

The leader of the fairies defeated the witch leader with the fairy crystal, the Lucis. The people of Angielle now have a prosperous existence under King Genaro and his new wife, Ophelia. They are less thrilled about their crown princess, Lucette, the famed Ice Princess. Lucette grieves the loss of her infamous mother, the only person she believes was ever honest and loving to her. Consumed by grief and lies, Lucette cannot see the wonder and joy of her kingdom. So, mischievous but “good” witch, Delora, curses Lucette with the Cinderella Curse. No one remembers she is the princess and she’s forced to live in poverty. She cannot break her ragged bonds until she accomplishes three good deeds, a feet much harder than it sounds for someone so mal-raised.

Delora

But Lucette is not the only freshly cursed soul; there are others who find themselves cursed by the Brother’s Grimm. Hoping to ease the suffering of those cursed, the Lucis bearer started the Marchen tavern, where they can eat, have fun, and work on breaking their curse. Here, several people have stepped up to help Lucette break her curse, but it’s up to you whom she decides to try on for size. Furthermore, all is not well at the palace. Alliances are strained as greed and evil push some to commit horrific deeds. Will Lucette find love in her Riches to Rags story, or will true evil rise and cause great tragedy?

Oh Mommy dearest

 

  • Gameplay

The main plot of the story is basically the same: Lucette must unlearn her terse, antisocial behavior and learn how to be a good person. But the rest of the plot, involving intrigue and drama, changes depending on which love interest you choose to follow. They make you pick which boy strikes your fancy about one-third of the way in and the rest of the story forms from there. Each one technically involves the same story, just written and presented differently each time. This switching around makes the story more vivid and dynamic.

Alas, only three paths are available in the beginning to avoid spoilers. But, if you finish two of them, you get to see the other two and put all the pieces together. There’s even a recommended order if you want.

Choice screen

So how do you win your universal and fairytale love? Every so often in the game you’ll be presented with a choice. The choice doesn’t really shift the direction of the story, but it is essential that you pick the right one. You’ll know you’ve made the right call when you see a little crystal twirling in the upper-right hand corner. You’ll only know a little after the fact, so, make sure to save as often as you can. Get all the right choices and you’ll get your Happily Ever After, and all the cheese that comes with it. Make one wrong move and you’ll likely be beset with a bad ending.

Right Choice Crystal

This is your only way out

The romance and wish-fulfilment aside, the actual story is very clean and sharp. It is heartbreaking to watch Lucette make her situation all the more worse with her blunt and defensive habits, even more so when you realize that she just can’t help it. Even the tiniest of characters have a full, robust feel about them, and each side-plot is entertaining and given enough time to dance. Though you better get the tissues ready, because the good endings are still prone to some heavy tragedy.

The only concern I have is that, sometimes, the main plot feels like it has to wait for the romance to really kick in, which does make things drag just a little. But the game itself is so funny, I doubt the average player will mind.

Creepy

  • Art

The art in this game is some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. It’s colorful with lots of variety in the backgrounds and character designs, each one very unique. There’s a heavy emphasis on a pretty, bishoujo style, which may be detrimental to a few, but I found it charming given the story.

CG's

The scenes are all very dynamic, with expressive sprites, CG’s that shift and change as the story progresses, and other effects during regular gameplay. I’m seeing this game do things that I didn’t know the Ren’Py engine was even capable of. Even something simple as Mr. Broom fascinates me.

Someday, Mr. Broom, you will pay
  • Romantic Interests

Waltz Cresswell

Waltz

 

Curse: Neverland

Waltz is a street magician with a talent for stories. His Neverland curse has trapped him in the body of a small boy, but it hasn’t stopped him from performing magic tricks and puppet shows to make the kids smile. He’s sincere and kind person, always ready with a joke, but there’s something sad behind those pretty eyes. Is this child hiding something from the princess?

He is indeed, though it’s not as exciting as I hoped for it to be. Still, while it lacks a grander reveal, Waltz’s story is very warm and inviting. It’s also a bit spoiler laced, so, I recommend playing him last.

 

Fritzgerald Aidan Leverton

Fritz

Curse: ???

Fritz, as the princess calls him, is/was her personal knight. He’s watched her grow and suffer for the grand majority of her life, all while protecting her whenever she needed him. He’s the son of the knight captain and seems to be suffering from a curse unawares. Despite this predicament, he’s loyal and willing to do whatever it takes to help Lucette breaks her curse. But, as the only person to be truly nice to Lucette in the beginning, is Fritz the harmless puppy he seems to be, or something far more predatory?

Fritz’s path is a good middle-path, but also the path that shakes things up. The majority of the game is spent at the Marchen, while Fritz’s path provides a new homebase and a new major plotline. It’s great if you’re starting to find the other paths a bit stale, but not so much if you’re looking for a story that’s fluffy and cute.

If you are, however…

Rumpel

Rumpel

Curse: Rumpelstiltskin

The fairytale folk found Rumpel all alone with a blank journal. The poor fellow can’t remember his name, what his profession is, and why he was even cursed to begin with. The Rumpelstiltskin curse can only be broken by recovering three memories from his journal, the last one being his real name. Recovering information should be easy, however, when you’re as charming and flirtatious as he is. Ah, but is it truly wise to spread this much flattery around, or does Rumpel need a little tough love to reign it in? Furthermore, will his old life come out from the shadows to bite him?

Rumpel’s path is a fun one, because it feels very counterintuitive. Rumpel reminds me of Tamaki Suoh in so many ways, mostly because I feel something very genuine about his flattery. But I am not the kind of person to be blunt and terse, so this path was difficult.

Karma

Karma

Curse: ???

Beauty – and perhaps gender – is in the eye of the beholder. “Miss Karma” is seen as the most beautiful, elegant, poised creature in all the kingdom. However, turns out “she” is really a “he”, with a Fairy Tale Curse he refuses to talk about. He only insists that it requires him to cross-dress to avoid complications, something that causes mass confusion and broken hearts a plenty. Still, if you like them confident, spunky, and intelligent, then Karma will be your favorite.

The over-dramatic, rather heroic young man turned out to be my favorite at least. His noble nature and his fairy tale curse were the best, and I love how similar he and Lucette really are. It’s the most relatable of the bunch, I believe, and I’d gladly do it again.

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Rod

Curse: Mermaid

Last but certainly not least is Lucette’s stepbrother, Rod. Odd choice aside, Rod’s curse has robbed him of his ability to speak. He can only communicate through an enchanted rabbit on his shoulder. He’s rather cold and distant as a brother, and even more so as Lucette starts developing some scandalous feelings for him. But Rod is not interested in Lucette breaking her curse, as she was cold and awful to him and his sister, Emalalgine. But can spending some time with her estranged family melt Lucette’s heart? Melt it enough to fall head over heels?

Rod’s path is… a bummer. Based off the Little Mermaid, it naturally has to have at least a hint of darkness and melancholy. I rather enjoyed learning more about Lucette’s stepfamily, but know that this path is prickly. Rod is angry; Rod is cold, and you probably deserve every barb he throws your way.

  • Final Verdict

I adore this game from its crystalline beginning to its melancholy end. The game is a slow cooking title, and it’s very hard to get to those good endings. But if you really try, if you really buckle down and play to win, you’ll get one of the best stories I’ve read on Lemmasoft. It will require some patience and about a week to carve out, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

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Next Game: The Blind Griffin

 

Does the game look interesting to you? What’s your experience with freebie games? Feel free to comment below and don’t forget to like and follow for more content.

Why I’m Obsessed with Sailor Moon

The title above feels like something silly, doesn’t it? It feels like asking “why anime girls like bishounen” or  “why male otaku worship Goku.” But really, if a female anime fan being ga-ga over Sailor Moon feels like something obvious, maybe it’s time we really talked about why. I know I’m not alone when I say that the sailor-suited soldier of love and justice – and princess of the silver millennium – means more to me than any character I’ve ever seen in an anime. 

This realization hit me towards the beginning of the week. I was grocery shopping for the week when I decided for no reason to browse the DVD section to see if there were any good titles on discount. Imagine my surprise when my eyes landed on the brand-new cover of Sailor Moon’s first full-length movie Promise of a Rose. I knew the film was coming to DVD again (because Funimation has all but rescued the series) but I did not expect to find a copy in my town. Thinking back on the memories I have about the film, I got a little misty-eyed.

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It could very well have been an overreaction but it was my genuine feelings. Because, when it comes to the grandmother of all magical anime, I have a lot of complex emotions.

I Need a Hero

As mentioned in my Childhood Anime Heroes post, one of the big reasons I adored Sailor Moon as a character was because she was very similair to me. But I don’t think I really hammered home why that was such a big deal. But to really immerse you in the flood of emotions I have about Usagi as a person, I need to take you back a ways.

I need you to follow me back to the world of the 90’s. Cartoons back then were freaking fantastic: Justice League, Teen Titans, Code Lyoko, you name it. Despite what some might say, girls had plenty of heroes they could look up to. Girls like Wonderwoman, Starfire, Hawk Girl, Raven, and several others would charge into battle without a second thought and wouldn’t waver for a second. In true DC fashion, they were the pinnacles you looked up to on high.

And then Toonami flooded in. The very first thing I watched was episode one of Sailor Moon.

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Our hero

I, an incredibly clumsy little girl who cried easily and wore her emotions openly, was introduced to my fictional, emotional twin. And this girl who bawled at the drop of a hat and couldn’t help but trip all over herself managed to save the day with just a little encouragement. Eventually, she started running into the fight all by herself and being far braver than I ever was. It changed everything.

While it’s wonderful to have heroes who are G.I Jane right off the bat, there’s something cool about seeing someone just like you make the journey from bystander to hero. 

This Anime Is Girl Crack

I like girly things. I like girly things a lot.

Frills, skirts, nail polish, makeup, jewelry – all these things and above take me to my happy place. This isn’t new for me at all; when I was a little girl, I adored the color pink, wore beaded jewelry everywhere, and collected kids makeup. So, imagine the adoration this pretty pink princess would have when her first superhero magically transfor a s in swirl of sparkles and ribbons. Her power came magically from the things I adored.
And the only got girlier as the show went on:

Oh yeah, I went old school… and possibly fan-made. Oh well.

It’s pretty easy to dismiss the transformation scenes as nonsensical and silly, but I think it behooves us to take a step back and look at what made them popular enough to become memorable. It’s a chaotic, druggy haze of ribbons, frills, hearts and magic, alongside some punchy sound effects and some sweet tunes. And as the show went on and on, the attacks and transformations just got more and more sparkly, adding feathers and rainbows into the mix. It’s a miasma of girly stereotypes and I ate it up – I still eat it up.

And I always will. I won’t get into how “inherently feminine” any of these things are – we’re a silly anime blog, not a political one – but imagine how awesome it is to see feminine, girly things turned into tools of justice. I can be a hero and wear a pretty dress; who’d have thunk it?

Miss Moon is a Badass

I am no stranger to the criticisms that come at this show and this character. I grew up in the era when DBZ ran for the first time and I heard Goku’s biggest fans slam my hero left and right. “She always needs to be rescued by a guy” they said. Others who have no affiliation with the other show claim she’s a terrible hero because she’s always afraid, cries too much, and acts like a big baby during the fight.

These criticisms, however, can go jump off a bridge and float away with the trash. Needing allies to pull you out of a near-death experience is nothing to be shamed over, and expecting a fourteen year old Japanese schoolgirl to instantly be brave and skilled in combat, magic or no, is ridiculous. You have to look at what she accomplished when it came to growth; when you do that, she becomes amazing.

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I’m off to save the world with my rainbows and sparkles. Problem?

In her backlog of accomplishments, Usagi/Serena can boast defeating an alien tree that drains life force, deflecting a meteor hurtling straight for earth, a sorcerer who manipulated an entire kingdom to destroy the world, and even the actual end of all existence. Between her and her love interest, only one of them has been kidnapped over and over again for extensive periods of time, while the other has been held hostage once and only for a few hours. In short, she was breaking stereotypes before that was a thing, all while boasting pretty clothes and weapons.

My Final Word

I think Sailor Moon is a show that’s easy to write off. It’s very easy to look at it as this silly little Magical Girl anime loaded with absurd characters, sugary animation, and just overall pathetic stories. But I think reading between the lines is far more important here. Sailor Moon herself is not perfect and I don’t believe she was supposed to be. She’s not supposed to be Wonder Woman, charging forward with the pride of the amazons; nor is she supposed to be Bayonetta, a flirty bad-ass who’s as dangerous as she is attractive. She’s supposed to be the flawed hero who overcomes her own obstacles to become something amazing.

And that, ultimately, is why I will defend this show and character tooth and nail. We all have our own flaws, flaws that won’t just vanish when it’s convenient. But those flaws can be overcome if you’re brave and stubborn, something I’ve carried with me my whole life. I can never thank Naoko Takeuchi enough for creating the character with so much love and detail, but thank her I will until I’m blue in the face. Takeuchi-san, thank you a thousand times over.

And thank you, my wonderful readers, for letting me gush.

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What does Sailor Moon mean for you? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to like and follow for more content like this.