LiEat Releases Tomorrow on Steam for just $2.99

LiEat is a little indie JRPG-inspired trilogy of short games. The entire trilogy can be completed in just 2 or 3 hours. The game was originally Freeware made with a program called WOLF RPG Editor. I’m not sure, but am assuming that some enhancements were made for the Steam Release as is typically the case for free to play games which later get redone for steam.

The story follows a con-artist trying to sell information in various cities and a dragon-girl named Efi who has the ability to turn lies into living things and then eat them. There are multiple endings and turn based combat when Efi encounters various lies who have turned into monsters.

Synopsis from Steam “Welcome to the heart-moving world of LiEat, a fascinating trilogy of JRPGs that captured the minds of thousands. Follow the story of a dragon, Efina, who travels the countryside with her multi-named caretaker/reluctant guardian. Appearing as a young girl, Efina has a unique, magical gift: when someone lies near her, the lie will manifest itself as a living monster. Efina then can consume the lie for strength and sustenance: she can eat food for fun, but only lies make her feel full. As she explores the world, she meets other dragons with interesting powers, discovers bizarre and terrifying mysteries, and finds out about her own history as well as her guardian’s.”

It also looks very kawaii (cute). You’ll be able to order the game from the store page in Steam tomorrow (2/26/2016). http://store.steampowered.com/app/373770

Check out the trailer for the Steam Edition Below.

 

LiEat Releases Tomorrow on Steam for just $2.99 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

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Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4

Check Out Parts One and Two of our 4 Part Secret of Mana Series

Part One: Secret of Mana Review
Part Two: Secret of Evermore Review

Welcome to Part Three of our Secret of Mana Reviews. Today’s topic is Secret of Mana 3, a game which we never got to experience in North America, but which was thankfully translated by some dedicated fans. You’re probably wondering how you can play this awesome game so here’s a link to the Seiken Densetsu 3 fan translation.

I really recommend that you purchase a physical copy of the game. You sometimes can find it on sites like Amazon. At time of this writing, it is about $160 but it is so worth it. Buy Secret of Mana 3 on Amazon.com

I don’t condone piracy so I’m not putting a link to the rom here. You can find it easily enough for yourself.

I’m really excited to be writing today’s review because this is my favorite game in the Secret of Mana series (although Legend of Mana is a very  close 2nd.)

Title: Seiken Densetsu 3

Platform: Super Nintendo

Release Date: September 1995 (Japan Only)

Genre: Action RPG

Geeky: 5/5 

Sweetie: 4/5 

Overall: 74 / 80 93% “A-. Excellent Game for Girls

Concept: 10/10 Seiken Densetsu 3 is an action RPG with real-time combat that is part of the Secret of Mana franchise. The game features 6 playable characters. When the game begins it asks you to select 3 of these characters to focus on, similar in a way to games such as Live-a-Live and Saga Frontier. Like Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu allows for you to play simultaneously with a friend. When playing solo, you can freely switch control between the characters, and have the other 2 characters back you up via artificial intelligence. Also like Secret of Mana, there is a ring like system which allows you to equip weapons or cast magic spells.

Gameplay: 10/10 The big differences and improvements over Secret of Mana focus on the leveling and class system. Upon level up the player chooses which stats to enhance for each character and at different levels the player can unlock different classes which each have a unique set of skills for each character, for a total of 5 (counting the starting class) classes for each character, times 6 characters, you have 30 unique classes and unique skill sets to explore. Although the classes are labeled as light or dark variations, they do not impact the storyline in any way.

There’s also a night/day cycle and a calendar system which similar to games such as Final Fantasy XI, gives a magic boost on different days to increase the effectiveness of corresponding magical spells. The calendar system also changes which in-game events occur and even what enemies you encounter.

Story: 8/10 Story has never been this series strong suit if we’re being honest. Despite that, I enjoyed the story in Seiken Densetsu 3 more than any of the previous titles in the series. This particular game has a unique approach to story that differentiates it from the other installments. As mentioned, when the game starts, you select 3 characters to focus on during the story out of 6 total. You also distinguish who your main character will be and this is the focus of the story. All 6 of their stories are intertwined, and to really experience the whole story you need to play the game multiple times using all 6 of the different characters.

Seiken Densetsu’s story is also unique in that it is the first game in the series to begin to establish some continuity between game worlds. In fact, there is a direct sequel for the NDS called Heroes of Mana (which I sadly have not played yet). I also find it interesting how the mana goddess in Seiken Densetsu 3 is a sleeping tree, and the tree is also a main symbol/character in Legend of Mana as well.

Characters: 7/10 Like any game with multiple stories, some are more interesting than others. Character interaction depends heavily on who you have in your party and that does detract a bit from the freedom given to pick and choose your party members. It was interesting in concept, but poorly executed, as more dialogue should have been written in for the other characters as well. – Still, overall, the plot and characters in this game remain much more detailed and interesting than the bare bones plot and characters in Secret of Mana.

Music: 10/10 The music for the game features many symphonic sounding tracks and melodic piano pieces which highlight the different scenes throughout each story. It is a huge soundtrack with over 50 different tracks recorded, making it quite possibly one of the largest soundtracks for an SNES game.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is just beautiful to look at, it really pushes the limits of what was thought to be possible with 16 bit hardware. When this game was released, systems such as Sega Saturn and PS1 had already arrived in Japan and I’d argue that this game almost looks as good as many of the early games for those consoles as well. I especially love the use of color, and the details given to the textures and environments.

Replay Value: 10/10 – unlike other games in this series, Seiken Densetsu 3 is a game which must be played 6 times to see the whole story. There are also significant differences depending on who else is in your party, making it actually possible to enjoy playing it even more than 6 times.

Overall: 74 / 80 93% “A-. Excellent Game for Girls

Seiken Densetsu 3 | Secret of Mana 3 | Secret of Mana 2 | Retro Videogame Review for Super Nintendo SNES Part 3 of 4 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Princess Maker 2 Review | Retro PC Game | Simulation Game | Life Sim | Anime Game

IMPORTANT NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN NOW LEGALLY BUY AND PLAY THIS GAME ON STEAM. RE-Released with new art work as “Princess Maker 2 Refine” You can grab the game, and learn more about the release on my news article here: Princess Maker 2 Refine Now Available in English on Steam for the PC.

Princess Maker 2 is part of the Princess Maker Franchise – Note – none of these games were ever released in English. Princess Maker 2’s translation was mostly complete – 99.99999% when their licensing agreement fell through and also the game met tough criticism (by American media and press outlets) from people that viewed it as too pedophiliac in nature despite there being absolutely no sex scenes in this game. The (western) world was just not ready for Princess Maker 2 (and may never be ready either).

There are many websites which offer Princess Maker 2 (in English) as “abandonware” however; it is the wish of the creators and those involved in the (failed) localization that you never download or play this game (you can google about that too, there’s copies of letters from people involved in the project all over the internet, in which they remind us that this is NOT abandonware and to not “pirate” the game. — So Take that as you will. It’s a little bit different from a “Fan Translation” in which you can still support the creators by buying the original game and “patching” it with the english translation – in order to play Princess Maker 2 (in a language you can understand), you’re going to have to pirate it – I’m not putting a link here, I’m not condoning it, I’m not promoting it – I’m just telling you, it’s out there, if you search for it and if you care to play it. And that that is the only way to play this game in a language that you can read and understand.

There are many similar, but ultimately inferior, games which have been developed by English speaking fans, drawing inspiration from the Princess Maker franchise. These games include but are not limited to Cutie Knight Deluxe, Prince Maker, Long Live the Queen, and Spirited Heart Deluxe. I recommend checking them out, they’re still great games, but I found myself constantly comparing them to Princess Maker, and found them to be inferior to it in every way (art, story, number of activities, number of endings, variety of things to do, etc.) – That is not to say they are bad games – I own them all and love them – but they are no Princess Maker.

Anyways, Princess Maker 2 is a great game – as are all the other games in the series which I have supported and purchased despite not being able to understand them. There’s even a (relatively) new mobile game – in Korean language which I play on Bluestacks (an android simulator). As far as I know there’s no plans to bring those games to an English audience any time soon. The same people who fan translated Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here by the way) – had indicated interest in Princess Maker 4 or 5 translation – however, to my knowledge that translation has not even begun yet. Many other translations have begun, but never gotten further than intro or menu translations for any of these games. I sincerely hope, maybe someone in the fan translation community might visit my little blog one day and see that there is a “need” to translate these games which have no hope of ever being commercially released outside of Asian territories.

With all of that out of the way, here’s my review of Princess Maker 2:

Title: Princess Maker 2

Publisher: Gainax

Genre: Life Sim / Raising Sim / Dating Sim / RPG

Release Date: 1993 Japan Only

Platform: (all different kinds, but the one I’m reviewing is the PC version) (It was also on Sega Saturn, PS2, and more consoles)

Geeky: 1 star 

Sweetie: 5 hearts 

Overall: 77/100 77% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 You raise a daughter from the age of 8 to 18. You see her grow and change as you manage her schedule in different ways, and you also battle in turn based rpg fights and dungeon crawling elements (I think that feature is unique to Princess Maker 2 – I know some of the other games don’t include the battling / dungeoneering elements.) You lead her to her destiny in dozens of different endings. Her sprite will change to reflect her mood, her condition, and her age as time goes on.

Gameplay: 10/10 You set your girl’s schedule choosing different tasks for her such as cooking, magical battle, dancing, etiquette, visiting the palace, reading, etc, etc. There’s probably about 20 different options to choose from. You can also choose to give her a break by giving her some allowance to go shopping in town, or splurging and taking her on a vacation. She’ll randomly encounter different people, sometimes they will attack her, other times sell or give her items, or sometimes just chat with her all of which may effect her stats. You can also choose to explore dungeons for treasure, items, and more which greatly alter her stats. There’s also a dressup element to the game and what you have her wear also effects her stats. All of these stats and her relationships with all of the other characters are taken into account when deciding what ending you will receive.

Storyline: 7/10 You are a war hero who defeats a demon – the gods are so thankful to you that they grant your lifelong wish for a family – you are all alone, and unmarried. Now you become a single father to a very young cute girl who needs your guidance. The plot is up to you! Will she become a powerful fierce wizard, a war general just like daddy, or a princess in the palace, or maybe she’ll even fall in love with you and become your wife! (which is why the game was so opposed in America lol – dunno why they couldn’t just remove that one ending and release the game still – but whatever, I’m not in the game industry so I dunno all the details, just what I’ve read online. Seems like such a waste to have completed all that work and spent money localizing this game and then cave to media pressure and pull the plug at the 11th hour.) It’s a very loose gloss-over type of plot, that doesn’t get very deep while playing the game, but that branches into dozens and dozens of endings and hidden scenes and lets you chart out your own destiny.

Characters: 6/10 – Most of the characters are not really well fleshed out – It’s not about them it’s about your daughter! You have a cute “demon” butler that assists you (or maybe I’m thinking of one of the other princess maker games) anyways he’s cute and provides some comic relief, but ultimately their character development is pretty low. The other characters you meet, like the guards and prince, and king, etc never really feel very well developed either. — Despite not really having any character development, somehow, it is still an awesome game, you “write” your own story, and decide who your “princess” is. It gives you great freedom of choice on unprecedented levels.

Graphics: 4/10 – They’re “cute” but the graphics in the later installments of this game, are not only “higher quality” but a hell of a lot more “attractive” either “kawaii” (cute) or “sexy” etc. — The characters and graphics in this game, are by no means “ugly” – but their age is definitely showing! There’s also lack of animation of the (large “portrait”) sprites. The smaller sprites you see in training are detailed and animated. There are numerous kawaii cut scenes to unlock with more detailed artwork – but even that artwork is rather pixelated and not as vivid as many other games in this genre. I can’t really give this a high score in artwork. Even the background environments are drab looking. There are other games from the 90s which look way better than this, so it’s not just that it’s “old” either.

Music: 4/10 Uhm, the music was not that great. I think it was just due to the limits of the technology at the time of release. It also was not very memorable.

Customization: 10/10 – Your girl’s figure will change as she grows, she may become athletic looking, frail, fat, strong, etc. She will wear different clothes, even her breasts will change in size, and of course each year she will change and grow more and more. It’s awesome for dressup game fans. Highly recommend.

Kawaii Factor: 10/10 – despite the outdated graphics, there’s some seriously cute moments between you and your daughter. And despite being pixelated she’s still adorable. Actually she reminded me of myself. lol. I have long brown super thick naturally curly hair – so if there ever was an anime character that looked like me, it’d be her haha which helped me to “identify” and “immerse” into the game lol. She grows and evolves into a supposedly beautiful woman – but the art style kinda misses the mark there for me – but still – adorable adorable little game.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Multitude of random events, dozens of ways to plan your schedule, people to talk to, dungeons to explore, and dozens of endings to unlock (I think it has 20 or 30 different endings) — So yes, you will want to keep replaying this game to achieve 100%.

Overall: 77/100 77% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Princess Maker 2 Review | Retro PC Game | Simulation Game | Life Sim | Anime Game was originally published on

Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review

Hang tight; things are going to get confusing if you’ve never heard of this series before. Growlanser Generations is the name of an American version of Growlanser II and III (that’s the one I’m reviewing below). BUT Growlanser Generations is the name of a Japanese game in the same game series, which is Growlanser V (and this game was also released in America as Growlanser Heritage of War, but I hate (or at least strongly dislike) that one, so I’m not reviewing it (at least not right now).

So Keep in mind, this is a review of Growlanser II and Growlanser III (Generations NA). And it is NOT a review of Growlanser V (Generations JP) Got it? Good :)

Title: Growlanser Generations

Publisher: Working Designs

Release Date: 2004

Platform: PS2

Genre: Strategy RPG with Dating Sim Elements

Where to buy: Amazon has a few available ranging in price from $65 to $95 depending on quality and deluxe or standard editions. You can browse whats available on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Growlanser…

Geeky: 3/5 

Sweetie: 5/5 

Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 7/10 Though packaged in America as a single game, this is originally two separate games (though from the same series) in Japan. Growlanser I was never released in America, which puts us at a disadvantage because Growlanser II’s story takes place at the same time as, and has the same characters as, Growlanser I. It is basically letting you play as the opponent’s army  from the first game, to draw sympathy and give you another look at the war from a different view point. But since we never got Growlanser I in America (I’m sure Working Designs would have if they could, but this game actually was one of their last games and probably partly responsible for the ultimate demise of the company – selling two games, for the price of one, at the expense of double the staff hours, wages, localization fees, etc.) — Anyways, since we never got the first game, Growlanser II is mostly a stand alone story for English speaking players – and I felt its story, while good, was weaker than III – which is intended to be a new stand alone story – because Growlanser II is supposed to be enjoyed with Growlanser I.

Anyways, beyond that, they are both real-time strategy rpgs with a high amount of freedom and player choice and consequence. Choices matter, and there’s a branching plot, mostly focused around who you date in the game. There’s multiple endings and of course the data from one game to the next can be carried over from game to game.

Gameplay: 8/10 The gameplay in these two games features real-time (as opposed to turn-based) strategy rpg battles which sometimes have you trying to reach the edge of the map to “escape” or sometimes destroy all enemies on the map, or sometimes must protect an NPC from being killed. Growlanser III expands on the gameplay of II by allowing you to freely move around the overworld instead of just choosing points on a map. However, Growlanser III cuts the active party members in half from 8 in Growlanser II to just 4 in Growlanser III. Growlanser III also raises the encounter rate significantly from that of II and introduces proceduraly generated dungeons which are sometimes rather hit or miss in their design.

Upon gaining a level you can spend attribute points to customize your party members to your liking, which is just another testament to the freedom of choice these games provide. Also as you level up your equipment, you can unlock new spells and abilities that are tied to the equipment, making the equipment a key focus of your battle strategy. You can team up with party members to unleash joint spells and abilities and you are also free to move around the map, not stuck using a grid based system in other Japanese strategy games such as tactics ogre and final fantasy tactics.

Because the game has a branching plot and multiple endings, there are some things which may happen in battle which would typically be a gameover in most games, but in this case, the game goes on (not always, haha sometimes it REALLY IS a gameover lol.) – Sometimes though this can throw you off the route you want in the game so save often and make use of multiple save files.

Outside of battle there is not much to do in this game (aside from talking to your comrades which can influence the storyline which is a big draw to this series) — That is changed years later with Growlanser Wayfayer of Time on PSP which introduces city building and “pet” raising elements to the game series. (But that’s a review for another day (maybe soon).)

That’s not to say that all you do is hack and slash your way through Growlanser Generations either. Both games feature a huge branching storyline with several secret hidden side quests and dialog scenes which unless you take time to back track to previous locations and explore the map fully, are very easy to overlook. If you enjoy exploring  every nook and cranny of every location, you’ll really enjoy the huge worlds and the fact that this game does not hold your hand or force you down any “correct” path as it’s very non-linear. However, there are some gamers, who may find all this back tracking and side questing to be tedious.

Storyline: 10/10 Both games have a very emotional and action packed story which is fueled by the theme of war and focuses strongly on character backstory and development. They take place in a fantasy setting, however; it is draped around a very modern and realistic atmosphere that makes the characters and story feel quite engaging and believable. Mostly, what I enjoyed about these stories is the overarching theme of betrayal, trust, sadness, and pain that are told through the events and actions that happen in each game. As mentioned above, Growlanser II definitely has the weaker story, because in America, we only experience “one half” of the “game” (although it is in fact 2 games in Japan too, Growlanser II is a “direct sequel” – and not only takes place “after” but also concurrently during the first game. So I can’t deduct points here, because it’s no fault of the game that we only have “half” the story here.) Overall, the story becomes very emotional and the sheer volume of the game world itself and lore added into every nook and cranny and dialog options and extra scenes really help bring these games to life.

Characters: 8/10 Growlanser II is packed full of dozens and dozens of interesting characters. Like most branching plot games, some character routes are more well developed than others. Growlanser III significantly cuts back on the number of characters, BUT in exchange, they devote the time to writing a very interesting and well developed story around those characters. As I’ve said a few times, III is definitely the more story-focused of the two games in this collection, and that also shows through character development and interaction – not that it was terrible in II either, but III just really digs into it more. 12 years later I still deeply remember the story and characters of Growlanser III – while I only sorta vaguely recall some of the characters of Growlanser II.

Graphics: 7/10 While the character portraits themselves are LOVELY and very appealing, especially I think to females, as they’re rather “Shoujo” in nature, the battle effects, background environments, and other artistic elements are very underwhelming, even for a PS2 game.

Music: 5/10 – It’s been awhile since I’ve played, but I can’t recall having a strong opinion of either like, or dislike, for the music in these games. I’ll update this the next time I play :)

Voice Acting: 8/10 Working Designs is always pretty good with their localizations – of course they westernize things and take some pretty big liberties with their translations (which some fans criticize them for) but for me, I’ve always enjoyed their sense of humor and found it often times make a dry script more engaging – not that I think Growlanser is dry by any means, but it’s always fun to see Working Design’s little touches. That said, the cast is very good, reusing many actors from previous Working Designs titles (such as Lunar and Vay). So if you enjoy the voice acting in those games, you’ll enjoy it in Growlanser as well. Each game has probably about 2 or 3 hours of voice over content – which isn’t much when each game probably spans hundreds of hours through multiple story lines and endings. But hey, there are games from early 2k that don’t have any voice overs at all, so can’t complain much. I would’ve liked the option left in for Japanese voices as well but I understand those are expensive with licensing fees and Working designs was such a small little studio. I appreciate all the love and care they always put into their games and I feel out of all the 90s Dubs out there, Working Designs were some of the best!

Replay Value: 10/10 Both games feature Multiple endings, though the differences to these endings are definitely more distinctive in Growlanser II as opposed to III. There’s also tons of hidden side quests and dialog options which will require multiple playthroughs to experience everything these games have to offer. Between both games, you’ll probably spend hundreds of hours to get 100%. I’d wager it’s about 35-40 hours per single play through.

Overall: 71/90 79% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Growlanser Generations: Growlanser II and Growlanser III Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Sonicomi Communication English Preorders Begin. Game Release Date Scheduled for Summer 2016

Sonicomi English Preorder is now live on JLIST. Up til now, the game has only been available in Asian regions. This new English release is the original Sonicomi Game from 2011 for the PC; however, JLIST has licensed the visuals from the much improved 2014 PS3 version.

Preorder Sonicomi Communication – and use Coupon Code: MOE-22Y-E8BNV5 to get 5% off!

Gameplay puts you in the role of a professional cameraman as you photograph a “Gravure Idol” (which loosely translates to Magazine Model), the busty, pink haired, Sonico. You get scores and combos for taking better photos. Outside of the photography element, you interact with the model in visual novel fashion.

The game features a ton of customization with well over 100 items to dressup in.

The replay value is also very high, because depending on your advice, Sonico’s career is at stake and she will evolve to reach one of 18 different endings, including a special ending where she falls in love with you.

Unlike most visual novels, this one is fully animated and in 3D.

In all, from the descriptions, Gameplay reminds me of a very perverse, echi style “Pokemon Snap” X Princess Maker 2 Crossover lol.

Super Sonico is Nitro+ special mascot and makes cameo appearances in many other games, and even has her own anime series.

There are 2 editions available for preorder. The standard edition includes preorder bonuses of an action figure, steam key (for when the game is later released on steam), and art cards. The special “collector’s edition” includes a “full body” mouse pad which is “2 times larger than other moe mouse pads” and they said the mousepad has never been sold before anywhere, not even in Japan, and features brand new artwork by the designer of the game, just for the US English release and once preorders end this Mousepad will no longer be available. $100 bucks seems Crazy to me for a Mousepad – but if you’re really into this character, I guess some people may be interested in it. Meanwhile, the standard edition will run $55 – which yes, is a lot for a visual novel. Clannad recently released with a $50 price tag too. Now that visual novels are gaining popularity in the west it seems we can expect typical “new release” prices on par with other genres of gaming. I plan to preorder the standard edition when I get paid this week.

Preorder Sonicomi Communication

Sonicomi Communication English Preorders Begin. Game Release Date Scheduled for Summer 2016 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Steambot Chronicles | Retro Game Review | JRPG | RPG | PS2 | Playstation 2

I hope everyone had an excellent holiday. Today I’m reviewing Steambot Chronicles for PS2. This is one of my favorite games because of the amount of things to do and see as well as the unique steam punk setting within the game.

Title: Steambot Chronicles

Publisher: Atlus

Platform: PS2

Release Date: 2006

Where to Buy: Amazon seems to be the only way to go (aside from ebay of course). The game was a commercial failure in north america, so not many copies exist; and it was before Atlus “struck gold” (and attainted a cult following) with games like Persona 3 and 4. There are currently 2 copies available on Amazon at time of this review for $90 – $120. You can keep checking back. Here is the page for the game on Amazon right here. Edit: Actually there appears to be 2 pages on Amazon; and this one has 11 copies of the game available; some for only $45 – You can check this page also for where to buy Steambot Chronicles on PS2.

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 71/80 89% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Steambot Chronicles combines traditional JRPG elements with a rhythm game. Mechs also play a huge role in the game, as the player can buy or find new mechs, new parts, and customize their mechs to their play style with either fast moving, but weaker mechs, or more heavy duty but slower mechs. Similarly, you can customize your concert experience by purchasing new instruments. You can also find and purchase new outfits and accessories for your characters as well. At the beginning of the game you can customize your hero’s personality by taking a personality test (similar to Tactics Ogre – which I have reviewed here) which will change some of the dialog throughout the game in terms of how the other characters will interact with you. The game is mostly linear with the illusion of choice, with lots of options for you to choose but often resulting in similar outcomes; except for one important choice near the end of the game. In all, the game has a total of 3 different endings. There’s also cooking, dating, and minigames that add to the depth of the gameplay as well.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is really two fold – the main focus of the game is battling in mechs similar to games such as Xenogears or Robopit. Combat is in real time and you can run, jump, and try to out maneuver your opponent. You pilot your mecha with the two analog sticks and issue commands with the controller buttons. You work on upgrading your mech or can purchase or find new mechs and parts throughout the game. Mechs are used for everything, from travel, to battle, to even mini games. The other main focus is on music, you, and the other members of your party travel around the world putting on concerts. During these events, you, the player, interact with the game in a rythym game that’s similar to games such as Parrapa the Rapper and Umjammer Lammy. There are also other interesting “side” elements to the game such as a stock exchange, dating simulator, city building / interior decorating, cooking, arena battles, and dungeon crawling. There’s also day/night cycles and other elements which make the game feel more lively and immersive.

Story: 6/10 I’ve only played the “good” side. You can also be evil in this game, if you want to, which drastically changes the second half / end of the game. In both sides, the story focuses initially on helping a girl named Coriander whose mother is very sick. This prompts you to join a band with the young girl and several other quirky characters who become your comrades and orchestra members. Most of the conflict and drama in the game comes from rival gangs which are taking over the cities and causing corruption. In the evil side, you cut ties with the band in order to join one such gang in exchange for profits and power. Police will be chasing you and most of the missions will involve things like stealing or breaking and entering. In the good side, you stick by your band members, but like most bands, there are growing pains, and conflicts arise which cause the band members to eventually go their own way. The ending is left somewhat “open” and you can continue to play in sandbox mode after completing the main story. The story is at times heart warming, and even heart breaking, but it takes a back seat to the gameplay. This is not really a game that you play for “story”. The story is not bad of course, but in no way is it the main focus of the game.

Characters: 10/10 Each of the characters are truly unique and it shows through deep attention to detail in character development and the way in which they are all connected through a tragic backstory. It throws a few punches and has a few surprises in store for you when the story is played out and the cards are on the table. The band as mentioned above, has some “growing pains” and the cast who were once all childhood friends, face losing these friendships, or learning that perhaps certain people were harboring dark secrets all along. Actually you become very attached to the characters and when it throws its punches as it will, it will break your heart.

Music: 10/10 – Music plays such a huge role in this game. Similar to Atlus’ other quirky musical rpg (Rhapsody), the localization of this game, in terms of voice acting and singing, is actually very well done. I am usually anti-dub, but I guess when it comes to musical games like this, I enjoy a game where I can “sing along” (in my head lol). I really liked all the tracks in this game, and the way it engages the user with the rhythm game aspects which makes you really pay attention to the music and appreciate it that much more. Also the music itself ties into the storyline and helps you feel closer to the cast of characters.

Voice Acting: 8/10 – The voice acting is good, for a dub. I would have preferred the option left in for Japanese voice acting; but to be honest, not sure I would have played it in Japanese, because I prefer to play similar games such as Rhapsody in English (the later released portable edition of Rhapsody removed the English tracks; and kinda “ruined” the game for me). I think when it comes to a “musical” rpg it just “helps” to have it in your native language. I do listen to jpop and kpop music and enjoy it; but in this case, in Steambot chronicles, the music helps explain the story and helps tell key scenes or helps you to sympathize with the characters. So it’s one of those rare cases where I feel I’d probably enjoy the dub more than the sub. Rhapsody and the upcoming SMT X FE # are two other cases where I could see myself playing the dub more often. I think dubbing it was a smart move in the case of Steambot Chronicles. The dub is not “bad”. It had some big name Anime Voice Acting talent of the 90s.

Graphics: 7/10 – The game is cel shaded and done in a cute and colorful anime style. You can see your outfits which gives it a sorta dressupgame style. You can see the customization to your mech too. The world is lively with traffic in the cities and day and night cycles. The overworld is large with mountains and bumpy terrain (the original japanese title is Bumpy Trot). There’s lots to see and lots to do. But the graphics have some pretty poor textures and the special effects in combat leave a bit to be desired. Still, overall it’s cute with lots of customization, so it gets high marks on graphics from me. The cel shading is not of the quality of say, Catherine (which I’ve reviewed here); but it is also one generation older than that, and a PS2 Game. I think given it’s timeline, the graphics in Steambot Chronicles are quite adorable and vibrant.

Overall: 71/80 89% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Steambot Chronicles | Retro Game Review | JRPG | RPG | PS2 | Playstation 2 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Azure Dreams – RogueLike Dungeon Crawler with Dating Sim, City Building, and Pokemon Style Gameplay | Retro Game Review | Playstation | 90s | Cute Anime RPG

Title: Azure Dreams

Publisher: Konami

Release Date: 1997

Platforms: Playstation 1, and Gameboy Color. Note that the Gameboy Color version is widely different and not as good as the PS1 version, for example the Gameboy version removed all of the dating sim elements from the game. I really recommend playing the original PS1 version.

Where to Buy: Unfortunately it’s very old and hard to find, at time of this review there is one copy left on amazon, being sold for $150+ Keep your eyes on this page here: http://www.amazon.com/Azure-Dreams-Pc/dp/B00000DMAP 

You can also check out the reviews there and see for yourself that this is a great game.

I wish Konami would release this game on the Playstation Store. I’d buy it in an instant even though I still have my PS1 disc. (darn lack of backwards compatibility). (plus I greatly prefer digital distribution anyways).

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Azure Dreams was one of my favorite games growing up. In fact, I still find myself playing it, almost 20 years later. It’s an addictive game with very high replay value because it offers a lot of choice to the player in how they want to focus their time within the game. And because it’s procedurally generated, it also offers a wide variety in terms of level design and challenges to the player as well.

Gameplay: 10/10 The main gameplay elements focus on entering the “Monster Tower” to search for treasure. Within the tower, you can also find Monster Eggs which you can bring home to hatch into familiars which you can train and take with you the next time you enter the dungeon. But outside of the dungeon is where the game really shines. You can invest into rebuilding the town and as you do so, new characters, new shops, and new mini games will open up to you. You can buy new buildings, or furniture, or decorations for the buildings as well. You can also spend time conversing with the people in the town, and form relationships with one of 7 cute girls which will slightly alter various storyline elements throughout the game.

Storyline: 6/10 Admittedly, the story takes a backseat to the gameplay. It’s a pretty simplistic story about a boy whose father disappeared when the boy was young. His father was a famous monster tamer, and now on the player’s 15th birthday, he too has been granted permission to enter the tower and follow his father’s footsteps. He hopes to find clues to his father’s disappearance while searching for treasure.

Characters: 6/10 The player character is intentionally kept as a blank slate to immerse yourself into his shoes, which is not uncommon with rpg games or dating sims. He has a little sister who helps take care of her sometimes irresponsible big brother. Your first familiar is a cute lil blue chubby dragon looking guy named Kewne. He will be your guide as you begin the game. Some other town residents include a rival boy named Ghosh, his little sister, Selfi who’s training to be a sorcerer, there’s also your childhood friend, named Nico, an item shop owner named Fur, a Waitress named Patty, a Librarian named Mia, A sick young girl named Cheri, and a traveling performer named Vivian.  Some of the girls are cute and endearing, others are outright annoying. Most are common tropes and archetypes from anime and JRPGs and not terribly original or interesting.

Graphics: 7/10 – while the monsters are cute, and the 90 level procedurally generated tower offers some variety, a lot of the game looks and feels “grainy” due to poor textures. I’m also not crazy about the character designs, but if you look at anime from the mid to late 90s, this style is very popular.

Music: 8/10 The music is composed by Hiroshi Tamawari who also (was one of the ones who) composed the music in Suikoden. If you like the Suikoden soundtrack, chances are you’ll also like the music in Azure Dreams as it’s has his same style.

Voice Acting: 1/10 The original Japanese version was fully voiced, however, that is not the case of the US version. It makes me sad that costs had to be cut in this area.

Overall: 57 / 80 71% C- “Good Game For Girls”

If you like this game, I also think you would like Time Stalkers (also known as Climax Landers), another City Building Dungeon Crawler game which is part of the Land Stalker and Alundra game series. Other people have compared Azure Dreams to Mysterious Dungeon but I have not played Mysterious Dungeon yet myself to be able to back that claim.

Azure Dreams – RogueLike Dungeon Crawler with Dating Sim, City Building, and Pokemon Style Gameplay | Retro Game Review | Playstation | 90s | Cute Anime RPG was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Norn9 Var Commons | PS Vita | Otome | Visual Novel | Game | Review

I’ve been spending the past few days playing Norn9 Var Commons on my PS TV (also works with PS Vita). Norn9 is an Otome Visual Novel with a scifi Time Travel theme. The game was hyped up quite a bit – and in some ways, my expectations were a bit too high to live up to that hype; however, I’m still really enjoying this novel.

Gamestop says: “Prestigious Pedigree!
Legendary maestro Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series) weaves soul swaying compositions and sweeping musical overtures to build a sonic world unlike anything heard before. Famed artist Akiba Minoru (Pokemon the Movie) provides expansive landscapes and awe inspiring visuals.

Content Packed and Feature Rich!
A 50+ hour story, branching story path and multiple endings ensure a deep and engrossing gaming experience. Complete all routes to reveal the truth!”

My Main Complaint – and gods, I cannot find the source now….  Edit: Found it: Here. Is that I read that the game was going to be fully animated. When in actuality, the sprites are super stiff (though not any more or less stiff than the majority of other visual novels out there). I was expecting something like School Days, or NekoPara in terms of the sprite art — but instead got just “Run of the Mill Visual Novel Sprites”. They do blink and their lips move as they read their lines. There are front facing, profile, and three-quarter views of each character. But beyond that, yeah, not exactly what I would call animated. Big Let Down.

Direct Quote Which Proved Totally Untrue:

“The characters in Norn9: Var Commons come to life. No completely static images, here!”

Source: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/05/26/norn9-var-commons-coming-to-ps-vita-this-fall/

The Music though, my god, the music is amazing. Though there is this one theme that’s used throughout that kinda sounds like a cellphone ringtone to me – but that’s just me / my imagination lol. The rest of the tracks are really good. Nobuo for the win. 🙂

And yes, the main reason we all play these games, the story. The story is solid gold. It starts slow though. But then it really picks up. The cool thing is that you have not just one girl to play as, but 3 different girls, each with their own story and within that story, different branches to pick to get the guy/ending you want.

The weird thing is, and I also noticed this also about Amnesia Memories – which I reviewed here (and need to update now that I’ve completed it 100%) – anyways I noticed that a lot of these Idea Factory / Otomate games use sorta “IOS / Mobile” “game mechanics” – by that I mean that they have you choose which guy you want pretty early in the game (after a “brief” prologue (though this prologue is longer than most) — I don’t really like this method of choosing the guy. It feels odd. I also find that you have to have 100% “correct” answers. Or you get the bad end. Which makes me feel like my choices don’t really matter (and makes me want to rage quit (or cheat and use a walk through lol).

In a normal visual novel by most other developers, that’s not how this all works. Typically you start a game, you interact with all of the characters, able to slip into and out of their paths by some mathematical percentage of who’s answers you’re matching up with the most. And yes sometimes you can screw yourself over with one bad answer and have to start over, but it’s not E V E R Y single choice with this weight of consequence.

In Norn9 I missed the good Kakeru ending on my first playthrough because I ate all my food in one scene instead of trying to copy another girl to eat less – because I thought Kakeru would love/accept me regardless of my choice, because he’s that kind of guy who likes more natural / carefree women. But nope, and that was in CHAPTER TWO…. Therefore ALL of my other choices became invalidated just by choosing to eat my food. I played the next Eight Chapters (or however many there were) and wasted all of those hours for nothing.

And yes, I did narrow it down to that one choice by using a guide on my second play through. First, in the guide, I thought it was because I did not point out that Kakeru was forcing himself to act happy. I didn’t point it out my first playthrough, saw that (which was in Chapter 6 or 7) in the walkthrough and decided, before going all the way back to Chapter TWO, to try that first. STILL got the bad end even after making this important change (which unlocked the important scene which I thought then for sure would give me good end.). Nope. So Went back to Chapter 2 to change the other question as well. You have to answer E V E R Y question the way they want you to.

Why even have freedom of choice at all? It’s really annoying. – My other answers were all exactly the same as the walkthrough. — Anyways obviously, finally on my third try, got the good ending. But I feel like it doesn’t really let me explore or live out the story the way I want to which is bad for immersion which is important in these games. It’s almost like a kinetic novel. It does have choices, but only really one path that you’re intended to take.

I don’t want it to sound like I hate the game; because I don’t — Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love this game a lot.

But I’m still able to point out its flaws (and point out the fact that it was way over hyped – like the “no static images here” — WTF @ sony blog???…. lol.

But like I said, the storyline is good, and that’s really all that matters in these types of games. If you enjoy games like Ever17 (and Remember 11 and Never 7) or Stein’s Gate – you will like this story. It deals with similar themes – though the pacing/timing and delivery in my opinion were not QUITE as good as the aforementioned games, it is only marginally less well written and the theme is one I honestly enjoy. And unlike any of the aforementioned games, this one is an Otome. Perhaps one of the only commercially available Otome games to deal with a scifi theme such as Time Travel.

At time of this writing, I’ve only completed Kakeru’s route. I’m playing through them in the recommended order (which you can see by pressing triangle within the game when it asks you to select your partner. I’m about 3/4ths of the way through Senri’s route now.

Compared to Amnesia Memories, this one seems to have less typos and inconsistencies – I still noticed a few here or there, but they weren’t as glaring to me as they were in Amnesia Memories. Typos are expected in any heavy text based game such as this. Anyways in either case, so far, the typos have not detracted from my enjoyment of the story.

I don’t have all the pieces/parts of the “puzzle” yet, as to what’s really going on here. But a lot was revealed to me already. I won’t spoil it though for you. 🙂 You’ll just have to play it for yourself.

The one thing which hasn’t been resolved for me yet (but I assume probably will be resolved by the end of the game by completing all routes) is if Sorata ever gets to return home. I’m really curious about that and about him as a character.

Anyways as for a brief story synopsis / overview / character introduction:

You begin the game as Sorata, a 10 year old boy who’s on a field trip to the Diet building (kinda like our house of representatives or senate). He starts hearing strange music, and then the next thing he knows he finds himself cold, frozen, and unable to move, nearly about to die from hypothermia in the middle of a busy city street.

Everyone ignores him, nearly tripping over his frozen cold body. But one girl approaches and is able to help him by building a fire to help him thaw out. This is the nameless protaginist who you get to play as (if you choose) and get to name as yourself or whoever you’d like. She is a bit of a space case, but very kind hearted. Sorta the typical anime heroine stereotype. Ditzy, Clumsy, Says things off-cuff, and Acts impulsively, but very interested in making friends and being well liked etc.

Because of her oblivious nature, and because Sorata really doesn’t have anyone else to turn to for help returning home, he decides to go along with our heroine. She takes him out to a grassy field, where she says a ship will be arriving soon to show her the world. Sorata naturally believes that they should be headed to a shipyard to wait for a ship. But the ship they’re getting on, is actually, a space ship, which swoops down and beams the pair up.

On board the ship, the other characters include:

Kakeru: the botanist who grows food on the ship

Akito: the chef who cooks the food on the ship

Mikoto: Another playable character, she helps protect the ship with her forcefield abilities. She is very beautiful and has a dignified / refined attitude which can sometimes come across as cold.

Senri: A shut-in who avoids the other characters, he has a weak sickly body. He is tiny in build, pale, and very softly spoken. He also hates doing chores or anything physically exerting.

Heishi: A really really dumb (but loveable) guy. His special power is to communicate telepathically with the crew. He is very loud and outgoing

Ron: I don’t know much about him yet honestly, other than he seems to know more than he admits. Even on Aksys’ official website for the game it says “No one really knows anything about him since he never talks about himself.” I suspect more may be revealed by the end of all the routes. I kinda wonder if he is Sorata in the future / a grown version of him. (Just speculation or a guess. Which may be way off base.) I think he’s probably connected somehow in some way to him at least.

Masamune: He is sorta like the “leader” he knows the most about the mission, and is responsible for reporting to the “World” throughout the journey. He appears taller/older than the others on the ship.

Nanami: another playable character. She is very quiet. Not as bad as Senri, but just a more private person. The one quirk I noticed is that she loves food.

Itsuki: He is a player / womanizer who flirts with all of the girls on the ship. He has a playful and mischievous personality. It appears his ability may be shape shifting and/or dream walking.

Sakuya: Stays close at all times to Mikoto. He gives off a quiet gentlemanly princely aura.

There are other characters too, but to reveal them now would be too spoiler-ish. So I’ll leave it at that.

Anyways, once on board, it is shortly discovered there is a traitor on board the ship. Someone is sabotaging the ship and attacking it which may cause it to crash before reaching its goal. In order to determine who the traitor is and minimize his movements, it’s suggested to pair up with another user so you can monitor them, giving the attacker fewer opportunities to go by unnoticed. Whoever you choose here as your partner will also be your love interest, and the focus of the story for that route.

Once you select a partner, the game focus shifts away from Sorata and onto you and your partner. And from the ending I got (Kakeru’s) It never shifts back to resolve things with Sorata – but I’m sure it probably does tie back into him somehow in the end.

There are several twists and turns in the plot/story mainly in regards to the Time Travel theme. It’s also full of futuristic technology and fantasy elements, androids, super-human powers, and space travel to name a few.

As far as gameplay, I’ve covered most of the gameplay elements above. Choosing your playable character, selecting their partner, having to answer 100% of the questions the way the developers want you to, and then arriving at the end, and rinse and repeat for the other characters and partners. The only variation from this is, there are some mini games along the way and points earned in minigames can be used to unlock additional stories, artwork, and soundtracks.

Graphics are beautiful even though I was immensely disappointed because of the way sony marketed this game about the non static image thing… blinking and lips moving hardly counts as not being static lol. but whatever, it’s still totally gorgeous. There are several CG scenes which highlight some of the important parts of the story and the background environments in this game are way gorge too.

Voice acting is also really well done, and if there are certain characters you dislike, you can mute or lower volume of individual characters in the settings which is a unique feature – not one I see myself using, but hey /shrugs. Of course, the voice cast is the original Japanese actors, with English subtitles which is what most of the people playing these types of games (myself included) prefer. So thank you aksys for not ruining the game with a shitty dub. Of course, Aksys could have taken it a step further, to please both sides of the debate, by allowing us to select from a shitty english dub, or original Japanese voice cast. But that would have cost them more money, and with Otome and Visual Novels being a very risky market, I can’t say I blame them for not wanting to put time into revoicing the game, when 99% of the players want it left alone in Japanese audio anyways.

Replay Value is obviously high with 3 playable girls and each girl having multiple romance options and endings for a total of at least 12 or 13 endings (maybe more.) The length of each route is also very substantial. I’d say you’ll average 6+ hours each play through. You do have the option to skip read text which is very helpful for replaying the game as well.

So that leads us to the following scores:

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Concept: 10/10 – For use of Time Travel, multiple female protagonists, deep, emotionally engaging story, high replay value, and cute mini games

Gameplay: 6/10 – I disliked how the choices felt “forced” – still good amount of choices, and once again back to the unique multiple protagonists.

Storyline: 9/10 – Emotionally moving, good character development. Neat time travel theme at center of the story. Also a story about humanity and technology and progress and a story about war and trust. Very complex, very engrossing storyline. Couldn’t ask for much more. Deducted 1 point for typos and a couple of weird translation choices. Why did the voice actress (Japanese) use Kakeru (first name) but Aksys chose to ALWAYS keep using Yuiga (last name) That bothered the hell out of me. If the character is on a first name basis (which is a very sweet/special sign of relationship status/closeness in Japan), why not reflect that also in the translation. There were other obvious liberties taken with the translation. At one point Kakeru’s voice actor used the word “Kanajo” which means “Girlfriend” (or can also just mean “Girl” or “that girl”) but the translation said “I’ve never felt this feeling before.” It seems like they could have done a closer / better translation by simply using a phrase such as “I’ve never felt this way about a girl before” or something similar. Still these are minor things that I’m being overly picky of.

Characters: 8/10 The main character feels a little cliche, but she’s still endearing in her own way. I like the use of super powers as a theme throughout and each character’s unique power and how they all tie in together at the end.

Graphics: 8/10 – I am still pretty peeved off about how I was led to falsely believe this would be a super animated high production value game — but when I take away my feelings of bitterness and resentment – and compare it objectively to other visual novels, it’s definitely above average. I mean look at Amnesia Memories and its black and white (almost) backgrounds, compared to the beautiful backgrounds in Norn9 and while yes, the sprites lack the promised animation and “life like” qualities, they’re still really pretty. If they had never made that claim and I hadn’t rode that hype train, who knows, maybe would’ve even gave Graphics a higher score. I think I gave Amnesia Memories a 7 in my review. These graphics are better than that, because of the backgrounds, so therefore, giving these an 8. On par with or slightly better than a slew of other anime otome games out there.

Music: 10/10 Nobuo never disappoints.

Voice Acting: 10/10 Every single character has such a distinct voice and so much emotion into delivering their lines.

Replay Value: 10/10 3 playable protagonists, multiple romance options for each, multiple endings, mini games, unlockable bonus content, one true ending playable only after completing all the other routes which ties everything together, skip function, yep, good replay value here :).

Overall: 79/90 88% B+ “Very Good Game For Girls”

Norn9 Var Commons | PS Vita | Otome | Visual Novel | Game | Review was originally published on Geeky and Kawaii | Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews and News

The Letter, a New Horror Visual Novel Kickstarter Campaign Half Way to Funding With 5 Days Left

I got an email today about a kickstarter campaign for a new horror visual novel inspired by Japanese horror films such as Ringu and the Grudge. It’s currently half way to funding with only 5 days left.

It features 6 playable characters, fully animated sprites, and quick time events similar to telltales gaming mechanics.

There’s a playable demo also on the kickstarter page.

There’s a number of trailers and visuals for this game, and it looks great. So if you like anime, visual novels, or horror, please consider donating to this project so that we can all play the finished game when it comes out.

There are numerous bonuses for those who back the project on kickstarter, as well as several awesome stretch goals related to the game as well.

For $13 you will receive a digital copy of the game (only 5 left at this price) and for $50 you can get a physical copy (on a disc).

Check out all the cool rewards here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yangyangmobile/the-letter-2?ref=project_tweet

 

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The Letter, a New Horror Visual Novel Kickstarter Campaign Half Way to Funding With 5 Days Left was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

School Days Visual Novel PC Game Review

I was asked by a reader that I met on crunchyroll’s forums today if I would please review the School Days visual novel, from which the popular yandere anime is based. I actually picked this game up a few months ago in Groupee’s Visual Novel 2 Bundle sale. And I’m glad I did.

Now before we go on, this is an adult game, or hentai game as they call it. I won’t be putting any adult screenshots or going into too much detail about these scenes. There is a lot of REAL story elements and it’s more than just all about sex, but you should know that there is still a fair amount of Hentai in this game.

With that out of the way, the single coolest thing is that unlike visual novels that you click and read, Playing School Days is more like watching an anime. You only have precious few seconds to make a decision when prompted to do so or the story makes one for you lol.

Everything is animated, everything moves, everything’s fully voiced (in Japanese with English subtitles of course), and all of this creates a game in which everything feels so alive. And everything is happening in real time. That’s my favorite thing about School Days.

It’s even presented like an anime, divided into chapters (don’t worry all included in one game) that are separated by opening and ending theme songs and credits rolling. The opening changes too depending on whose route you’re on at the time. A nice touch to help further create the illusion that you’re watching an anime, instead of playing a game.

With the initial thoughts out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the mechanics of the game below:

Title: School Days

Genre: Visual Novel

Developer: 0verflow

Publisher: Jast USA

Platform: PC (there’s many console versions too but none of them were released in English)

Where to Buy: JAST USA

Geeky:

Sweetie:

Overall Score: 85/90 ‘A’ 94% Excellent Game for Girls

Concept 10/10: School Days is a fully animated “real time” experience which is quite different from most Visual Novel styled games. While watching the game, you’ll be presented brief, but numerous, choices, which will impact the game in a huge number of ways.

School Days has such a widely branching plot that there are still scenes I have not seen despite getting 2 good endings; and at least 1 or 2 more good endings that I know of. I first got the Christmas Eve Kotonoha ending and then got the Ending for Sekai in which she brings me Pastries.

I actually just looked it up; and there’s a total of 20 different endings; and apparently 2 more dateable girls – I thought you could only date Sekai or Kotonoha – but you can also apparently date Hikari and Setsuna as well. Which means I need to play more lol.

There’s also Harem endings and even an Otome ending (not sure what that is? Typically an Otome game is where you date guys (but you usually play a girl) Maybe it’s a Yaoi or Boy’s Love ending since you always play as Makoto.)

Despite how the anime ends – the game is not that hard, at all. All you need to do is treat the girl you like well and sometimes that means being cruel or mean to the other girls. I did not reach a bad end on either of my first play throughs while trying to obtain either Kotonoha or Sekai. And out of the 20 endings, only 3 of them are “bad endings”

Here is some more info about all the endings. NOTE: THIS LINK HAS SPOILERS AND IS NOT RELATED TO MY BLOG. YOU’VE BEEN WARNEDhttp://overflow.wikia.com/wiki/Endings

Gameplay: 10/10 As mentioned a few times above; Everything happens in real time, the game doesn’t even need input from you to move on to the next scene, and sometimes saying nothing at all is a valid, or even correct, choice in the game. Everything is fully animated, fully voiced, and there are hundreds of scenes and 20 endings. You won’t have to watch for too long before you’re being prompted to make another important decision. There’s also a nifty skip feature to skip scenes you’ve already seen.

Story 10/10: The main premise is there’s a girl that you like, but you’ve never confessed to her before. Then one day, a classmate and friend of yours find that you have your crush’s picture on your cellphone. They suggest that since they are a girl, they could talk to them for you and help introduce you. The three of you become best friends, but the girl that helped fix you up is suddenly realizing she has romantic feelings for you too. Your friendships and relationships begin to change as you are forced to decide where your priorities lie.

Characters 10/10: You play the role of Makoto, a shy, quiet young man with a crush on a beautiful stranger which he observes from afar. Your best friend at school is a girl named Sekai who discovers your crush and wants to help you out. At first, Sekai feels it’d be fun, like a game. Her personality is very fun and you feel relaxed and comfortable around her. But you still can’t forget the beautiful girl (Kotonoha) who has now become your girlfriend thanks to Sekai’s intervention. Kotonoha is very reserved. She’s afraid especially of men because she’s been harassed due to her very mature figure. Despite how beautiful she is, you’re her first boyfriend, and she is very distant and hard to get close to. You feel you’re always watching what you say or do so that you don’t upset her; and you begin to wonder if this is really what a relationship is supposed to be like.

I really liked Sekai’s route a lot better than Kotonoha… I feel like Makoto and Kotonoha just don’t have anything in common and are in a purely lustful sexual relationship (at least from Makoto’s standpoint; I think from Kotonoha’s standpoint it’s more just, she’s lonely, and has become dependent on Makoto which she has translated to feelings of love.) Whereas, with Sekai, there’s a lot more tender, emotional scenes, at least with my experience; now I have not played 100%; but I did get 2 of the good endings, so I’ve seen quite a bit. My fave scene is the bonfire festival with Sekai. 🙂

I thought I’d like Kotonoha best; but in the end I’m much more fond of Sekai.

I didn’t realize at time of this review that you could date Hikari and Setsuna – I thought that was only in Shiny Days (a spinoff of School Days). So I can’t comment too much on their characters yet until I play back through it again.

The characters do feel very real though thanks to everything being fully animated; just like watching an anime.

Music: 10/10 I know I keep giving everything 10/10 it’s so unlike me lol. (most of my “favorite” games end up scoring 60-70% and getting a C.) But the Music here is another great point. Since everything plays out like you’re watching an anime, the music, as well as voice acting (scored seperately below) are all really important elements. I love love love the Opening theme. It’s so catchy, that I listened to it every time a new “episode” began.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – Can’t complain here either. It is fully voiced. In fact, if you can understand Japanese you can play without the subtitles on and then it’s even more like watching a movie, which is how it would be in it’s native format for Japanese gamers. The production values are just sky high.

Graphics: 8/10 – Alright I’m going to finally pick on one TEENY TINY thing. The way the eyes, especially the eyelids are drawn/animated really bothers me for some reason. But hell, that’s hardly anything to complain about at all! The whole game is animated. This is huge. Why don’t other visual novels do this? I wish every visual novel was presented this way. It’s so much more dynamic and engaging. But yes, I’m guessing that this is 3d, instead of 2d, although cell shaded to look like anime – there’s a few awkward things (like the eyes) which just don’t look right on the 3d models. Sometimes a hand-drawn art is more lovely. But I don’t mind losing some “finesse” in this case, to be treated to a game that literally plays like an anime series.

Replay Value 10/10: With 20 different endings and different scenes/routes/paths to take to get to said endings, the combinations are almost endless. This is a huge project, where every single replay is truly unique. Where most novels don’t branch until the end, School Days branches right away and continues to twist and turn, as you play each game. There’s also the nice skip feature, which makes subsequent playthroughs much easier. Therefore, there’s really no reason to not want to keep playing to see all the different endings, including the rather iconic “bad endings” as well.

Overall Score: 85/90 ‘A’ 94% Excellent Game for Girls

(or lets face it, with all the Hentai content, it’s an Excellent game for guys too hehe. But I really do think that girls who are not offended by the large amount of Hentai content will find this to be one of their favorite visual novels)

School Days Visual Novel PC Game Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie