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

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Ensemble Stars – The Free IOS Game That Lets You Collect Cute Anime Boys

Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game

I’ve been enjoying Ensemble Stars, a game that lets you collect cute anime boys. When I first got the game, I assumed it was like Love Live School Idol Festival! However, it’s a little bit different. Most notably, Ensemble Stars is a Stat Raising Simulation. Not only do you collect the cards (just like in Love Live School Idol Festival!) but then you train different stats such as vocals, dancing, etc. Also, this is NOT a rhythm game. I initially thought it was, until playing it. There’s no user input in battles; it’s all mathematically determined. Your cards stats vs the Opponents’ stats.

This game is not available yet in the US app store. And in no app store is it in English; However, you can easily make a free account (must be on a PC (or mac)) by logging out of your main account and then at the bottom of the screen, change location, and select either the Korean or Japanese app stores. Then sync your iphone/ipad with your new purchase (its a free game).

The company also makes a game called Ensemble Girls which is available in the US app store, however, it is not in English. I just started playing Ensemble Girls lastnight and its gameplay is markedly different from Ensemble Stars. Ensemble Girls plays like a board game. You roll dice and move the corresponding number of squares through each level. You encounter girls to battle and collect points. You can use points to summon new girls for your deck and also get sweet tasting food which if you feed to the girls makes them level up. It’s a cute game, but the gameplay in Ensemble Stars is more fun since it’s a stat raising sim, which Ensemble Girls is not.

When you first start playing Ensemble Stars you get to select one “team” to be your “starter deck” which will determine your rare card.

This is the one I chose, because, he is hot as hell LOL. :drool:

Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game

There’s also a dating sim element to the game too. You can date the guys and by correctly responding to their questions (which are not in English), they will level up. Here are a few more screens showing all of these elements of gameplay. The dating sim, the stat raising sim, and the collectible card game (ccg).

Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game
Ensemble Stars | Dating Sim | Stat Raising Sim | Trading Card Game | IOS | Android | Anime | Game

The game is really super fun – even though I can’t understand a word of it. I keep hoping they’ll bring us an English version. It’s in many asian countries already. I think with the rise in popularity in America of otome games and dating sims and JRPGs we would be a good market for this game as well. I have already emailed the company and asked them if they would please release an English or “international” version of their app. The game has only been around since April of 2015. So it is not even a year old yet. That means there’s still a chance they could release it at some point in English.

Geeky: 

Sweetie: 

Overall: 70 / 90 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Concept: 10/10 finally a game like Love Live School Idol Festival but with all boy cards! Sweet!

Gameplay: 10/10 – The stat raising simulation and dating sim aspects are really fun, and it’s exciting/thrilling to summon the rare cards that you really want to add to your deck.

Graphics: 10/10 – one of the cutest games around. The little chibi sprites are so cute as they dance and practice their moves in the stat raising sim portion of the game. The still artwork on each card is beautiful, and the dating sim element treats us to fully animated 2d sprites. (not chibi though, full drawn like the card artwork. Lovely.) The backgrounds and environments are also beautiful, and the user interface is so simple and easy to use that I can easily navigate the game even without it being in English (I can’t say the same for Ensemble Girls which I’ve been stumbling through for the past day or two.)

Story: 0/10 – Unfortunately until the game is available in English, the story is a 0/10 – It might have a good story for all I know, but I can’t read it.

Characters: 5/10 – Well the characters are definitely easy on the eyes. But once again I can’t read any of their backstories. So shrugs. If I’m going by character art / concept / design it’s 10/10 – but It would be nice to have the “feels” during the dating scenes by understanding wtf the characters are saying. And getting to know their personality by more than just their facial expressions.

Replay Value: 10/10 Like most mobile games, there are numerous events every month with the chance to get rare limited edition cards and items.

Music: 10/10 – I really like the opening theme and some of the background music also

Voice Acting: 7/10 – I love the voice actors in this game as well. I can’t understand wtf they are saying since there’s no English subtitles (and I deducted points for that), but I do hope that should this game be brought over, that they keep the original voice cast in tact.

Overall: 70 / 90 78% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

If it were in English, chances are story and characters would rate higher, but as it is right now today, it’s still totally playable, and quite enjoyable even without understanding the dialogue.

Additional Resources:

English Wikihttp://ensemble-stars.wikia.com/wiki/The_English_Ensemble_Stars_Wiki

Official Japanese Webpagehttp://stars.happyelements.co.jp/

Reddit Group (mostly English discussion): https://www.reddit.com/r/ensemblestars/ 

How to get the gamehttp://taemintchocolate.tumblr.com/post/96995527773/how-to-get-the-superstar-sm-game-if-you-dont-live

The above guide is how to get a different game, but works regardless for obtaining any game from other app stores in different countries. It is the guide I used in order to get my game(s) :). I think she also has info on how to get the game for android, I don’t know since I am an IOS user.

If you know of other helpful resources for English players, please leave a comment below to share your sources!

Ensemble Stars – The Free IOS Game That Lets You Collect Cute Anime Boys was originally published on

Review Shira Oka 2nd Chances Indie Visual Novel

Update: It’s been a few weeks without an update to my blog. I’ve been very busy with work, including traveling out of state for work and I haven’t had time lately to write any new reviews. But I’m back. Today I’m reviewing Shira Oka 2nd Chances. I played this game last year and really enjoyed it. Let’s take a look at it together below!

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Title: Shira Oka 2nd Chances

Publisher: Okashi Studios

Genre: Visual Novel with Dating Sim and Stat Raising Elements

Platform: PC

Where to Buy: http://www.okashistudios.com/

Geeky: geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 

Overall: 62/80 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Story: 10/10 Note: One really cool thing about this game is all the stuff it teaches you about Japan; there’s even a library where you can read about the different cultural terms that you encounter. It explains many of the holidays, traditions, beliefs, and cultural issues in the game. I thought this was really cool. It adds educational value to the game for younger players, or for anyone who wants to learn about Japan.

J-List is a peaceful island of Japanese pop culture for you

The story begins by showing that you have wasted your life and have amounted to nothing. Then an angel appears to you in a dream, a nightmare, you’re trapped in hell, but when you wake up, this angel is real and standing in your bedroom. She explains that you are being given a 2nd chance to make up for your mistakes in life. She says you’re being sent back to highschool and must help the other students in order to escape your miserable fate. Some of the students are deeply troubled while others are merely trying to follow their dreams. But whatever they’re going through, they need your help. The story is told through multiple play throughs where by you select a different student to help each time. After helping all of the students, you will unlock Kasumi’s route. If you try to get onto Kasumi’s route before completing the others, you will always reach a bad end – something I learned the hard way, and only discovered when I contacted the company for support. Which is a shame because Kasumi is my favorite character 🙂 Most of the routes and characters are really refreshing, with both touching moments, and comedy thrown in as well. The only route I really didn’t care for was Aya’s.

Gameplay: 8/10 The gameplay combines both visual novel and stat raising gameplay. You attend highschool and as your stats increase, there are new events and opportunities to get closer to the other students. You may find you fail at certain events in the beginning but are able to overcome them on subsequent playthroughs. You can also consult the angel or call a student on the phone to get tips on what you should do next if you ever get stuck. Calling the girls, taking them out on dates, or correctly responding to the dialogue choices through the game will determine which character’s route you “get on”. If you don’t get on any route you’ll be sent back to the beginning to try and try again.

The only thing I will criticize is lack of a skip function. That drove me completely mad. I don’t know if the game has since been patched to include one or not. But really being able to skip seen text is a MUST in these types of games arghhh……. and “Auto Play” is not the same as skip, because its still at a slow pace.

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Now with the bad out of the way, let’s talk about the good, because there’s a TON of good going on in the gameplay. Things that make Shira Oka truly unique in the industry of visual novels. It’s almost ALWAYS a different game every time you play. There’s hundreds of random events which may or may not happen on a play through. I was in my 10th or even later play through before I saw certain events. Also new classes and subjects to train will open up as you advance.

Even if you get a bad ending (or a good ending for that matter), it’s not game over; you’re sent back with your enhanced stats and new dialogue choices open up, and it’s just a really refreshing and unique experience. It makes multiple play throughs amazingly fun.

There are tons of opportunities for player choice and interaction. It’s a very engaging visual novel. You don’t have to read too much before reaching another opportunity to interact which I really love about this game.

I’m deducting 2 points for the lack of a skip function. If it had that, It’d be a flawless 10/10 experience.

Characters: 10/10 I loved most of the characters in this novel. My favorite is poor Kasumi. After that, probably Yui. I also really liked Alice and Naoko. I can’t really get too much into describing the characters without spoiling too much of the game. Here is a VERY brief rundown.

Alice is a foreign exchange student who loves music.

Naoko is a very mature motherly figure who takes care of her little brother while her parents are working overseas. She loves to cook.

Aya is an obnoxious brat who loves anime and has a carefree outlook on life.

Rena is alot like the harry potter character, luna lovegood. She is very kind, quiet, and kinda strange. She loves the occult, and is very superstitious.

Suzu is a strange young girl who loves building and repairing things and running experiments

Kazuki is Naoko’s little brother and Suzu’s best friend. He has trouble making friends and is rather shy.

Hiroshi is a guy in your class that all the girls love and guys envy. He is both a friend and rival for you throughout the game. He’s also Rena’s brother.

Yui is a very sad and lonely girl without many friends. She gets very nervous talking to anyone so she avoids most of the other students. She loves flowers and cute things such as stuffed animals.

Kiku is an exemplary student with high grades, perfect manners, and active in many different clubs and sports. She’s a popular girl, but she also suffers from pressure and the high expectations that everyone puts on her.

Graphics: 6/10 – Let’s be real, the graphics are not great. This is an American made visual novel and it shows. Americans can “imitate” anime artwork, but they can’t quite get it right. However, the artwork is charming in it’s own way. There are different sprites for different expressions and events. There are also a fairly large number of CG events with more detailed artwork. The art and background environments are brightly colored and the chibi sprites when training look cute and seem to take inspiration from games such as Tokimeki Memorial.

Voice Acting: 2/10 – This is my main complaint with this game; my god…. the voice acting is beyond annoying. It is truly, truly awful. Horrendous….. It grates on my nerves so much that I almost wish it had no voice acting at all. I do give it 2 points because there are some vocal songs that are pretty. But nearly every single character’s speaking voice is cringe worthy.

Music: 10/10 The music in Shira Oka is really pretty and each of the characters sing their own song and the opening theme is catchy too. I enjoyed the sound track to this game quite a bit.

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Replay Value: 10/10 You have to play all routes to unlock Kasumi’s route. The way the game sends you back with your stats in tact and the way the random events unfold and new activities appear on multiple playthroughs makes replaying this game a blast. The only small flaw is the lack of ability to skip previously read text. Which does admittedly get annoying. However, the fun things on each play through make this game worth playing over and over. You will see new things almost every time even if you’ve played the game a dozen or more times already. I think that’s really unique. I’ve not seen another novel that does that.

Overall: 62/80 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Review Shira Oka 2nd Chances Indie Visual Novel was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Review Shira Oka 2nd Chances Indie Visual Novel

Update: It’s been a few weeks without an update to my blog. I’ve been very busy with work, including traveling out of state for work and I haven’t had time lately to write any new reviews. But I’m back. Today I’m reviewing Shira Oka 2nd Chances. I played this game last year and really enjoyed it. Let’s take a look at it together below!

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Title: Shira Oka 2nd Chances

Publisher: Okashi Studios

Genre: Visual Novel with Dating Sim and Stat Raising Elements

Platform: PC

Where to Buy: http://www.okashistudios.com/

Geeky: geekygeekygeeky

Sweetie: 

Overall: 62/80 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Story: 10/10 Note: One really cool thing about this game is all the stuff it teaches you about Japan there’s even a library where you can read about the different cultural terms that you encounter. It explains many of the holidays, traditions, beliefs, and cultural issues in the game. I thought this was really cool. It adds educational value to the game for younger players, or for anyone who wants to learn about Japan.

The story begins by showing that you have wasted your life and have amounted to nothing. Then an angel appears to you in a dream, a nightmare, you’re trapped in hell, but when you wake up, this angel is real and standing in your bedroom. She explains that you are being given a 2nd chance to make up for your mistakes in life. She says you’re being sent back to highschool and must help the other students in order to escape your miserable fate. Some of the students are deeply troubled while others are merely trying to follow their dreams. But whatever they’re going through, they need your help. The story is told through multiple play throughs where by you select a different student to help each time. After helping all of the students, you will unlock Kasumi’s route. If you try to get onto Kasumi’s route before completing the others, you will always reach a bad end – something I learned the hard way, and only discovered when I contacted the company for support. Which is a shame because Kasumi is my favorite character :) Most of the routes and characters are really refreshing, with both touching moments, and comedy thrown in as well. The only route I really didn’t care for was Aya’s.

Gameplay: 8/10 The gameplay combines both visual novel and stat raising gameplay. You attend highschool and as your stats increase, there are new events and opportunities to get closer to the other students. You may find you fail at certain events in the beginning but are able to overcome them on subsequent playthroughs. You can also consult the angel or call a student on the phone to get tips on what you should do next if you ever get stuck. Calling the girls, taking them out on dates, or correctly responding to the dialogue choices through the game will determine which character’s route you “get on”. If you don’t get on any route you’ll be sent back to the beginning to try and try again.

The only thing I will criticize is lack of a skip function. That drove me completely mad. I don’t know if the game has since been patched to include one or not. But really being able to skip seen text is a MUST in these types of games arghhh……. and “Auto Play” is not the same as skip, because its still at a slow pace.

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Now with the bad out of the way, let’s talk about the good, because there’s a TON of good going on in the gameplay. Things that make Shira Oka truly unique in the industry of visual novels. It’s almost ALWAYS a different game every time you play. There’s hundreds of random events which may or may not happen on a play through. I was in my 10th or even later play through before I saw certain events. Also new classes and subjects to train will open up as you advance.

Even if you get a bad ending (or a good ending for that matter), it’s not game over; you’re sent back with your enhanced stats and new dialogue choices open up, and it’s just a really refreshing and unique experience. It makes multiple play throughs amazingly fun.

There are tons of opportunities for player choice and interaction. It’s a very engaging visual novel. You don’t have to read too much before reaching another opportunity to interact which I really love about this game.

I’m deducting 2 points for the lack of a skip function. If it had that, It’d be a flawless 10/10 experience.

Characters: 10/10 I loved most of the characters in this novel. My favorite is poor Kasumi. After that, probably Yui. I also really liked Alice and Naoko. I can’t really get too much into describing the characters without spoiling too much of the game. Here is a VERY brief rundown.

Alice is a foreign exchange student who loves music.

Naoko is a very mature motherly figure who takes care of her little brother while her parents are working overseas. She loves to cook.

Aya is an obnoxious brat who loves anime and has a carefree outlook on life.

Rena is alot like the harry potter character, luna lovegood. She is very kind, quiet, and kinda strange. She loves the occult, and is very superstitious.

KB-728x90_pink

Suzu is a strange young girl who loves building and repairing things and running experiments

Kazuki is Naoko’s little brother and Suzu’s best friend. He has trouble making friends and is rather shy.

Hiroshi is a guy in your class that all the girls love and guys envy. He is both a friend and rival for you throughout the game. He’s also Rena’s brother.

Yui is a very sad and lonely girl without many friends. She gets very nervous talking to anyone so she avoids most of the other students. She loves flowers and cute things such as stuffed animals.

Kiku is an exemplary student with high grades, perfect manners, and active in many different clubs and sports. She’s a popular girl, but she also suffers from pressure and the high expectations that everyone puts on her.

Graphics: 6/10 – Let’s be real, the graphics are not great. This is an American made visual novel and it shows. American’s can “imitate” anime artwork, but they can’t quite get it right. However, the art work is charming in it’s own way. There are different sprites for different expressions and events. There are also a fairly large number of CG events with more detailed artwork. The art and background environments are brightly colored and the chibi sprites when training look cute and seem to take inspiration from games such as Tokimeki Memorial.

Voice Acting: 2/10 – This is my main complaint with this game; my god…. the voice acting is beyond annoying. It is truly truly awful. Horrendous….. It grates on my nerves so much that I almost wish it had no voice acting at all. I do give it 2 points because there are some vocal songs that are pretty. But nearly every single character’s speaking voice is cringe worthy.

Music: 10/10 The music in Shira Oka is really pretty and each of the characters sing their own song and the opening theme is catchy too. I enjoyed the sound track to this game quite a bit.

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Replay Value: 10/10 You have to play all routes to unlock Kasumi’s route. The way the game sends you back with your stats in tact and the way the random events unfold and new activities appear on multiple playthroughs makes replaying this game a blast. The only small flaw is the lack of ability to skip previously read text. Which does admittedly get annoying. However, the fun things on each play through make this game worth playing over and over. You will see new things almost every time even if you’ve played the game a dozen or more times already. I think that’s really unique. I’ve not seen another novel that does that.

Overall: 62/80 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Review Shira Oka 2nd Chances Indie Visual Novel was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist Review

Title: Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist

Genre: Visual Novel (with crafting minigame)

Platform: PC

Publisher: Hirameki International

Where to Buy: Sometimes Appears on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Animamundi-Win-Mac/dp/B000EYXDTM or JLIST / JBOX: (no link available) and sometimes available via Playasia: http://www.play-asia.com/animamundi-dark-alchemist/13/701xnb — It’s out of print, and rare, and a highly regarded game so it can be difficult and expensive to find, but I promise you; this one’s worth it!

Release Date: May 31, 2006

Language: English text with Japanese voice acting

Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Story: 9/10 You play as a young man trying to find a way to save his sister. In the opening of the game, your sister is accused of being a witch and is beheaded and her body burned at the stake; remarkably somehow, her head survives; and her soul/spirit/etc are all in-tact. she’s able to communicate with you, and it’s still your dear sister that you love so much. You hide her head under your cloak and make your way to the palace, where you take on a job as an alchemist, in order to have access to ingredients to perform experiments to create a chimera (a new body) for your sister. However, her head repeatedly rejects all of the transplant attempts. Seeing no other way to save your sister, you head down a dark path, including alchemy, deceit, murder, and intrigue. It’s a very emotionally moving storyline; you’ll feel fear, anger, and sadness right along with the characters. It’s also a fairly unique story for this type of game. The story suffers a couple of typos and some censorship from Hirameki International when it was brought overseas. I deducted 1 point for that; otherwise I’d honestly give this a 10/10 for story; it is a must play if you’re a fan of story rich games. There are a lot of romance options, including several “yaoi” or “boys love” “BL” routes. However; romance is not the main focus of this game; it’s more about horror and death. Where as, most visual novels give romance the center stage, this is a refreshing change of pace and offers something a little more heavy and dark which will keep you up at night thinking about the ethical and emotional questions that are presented within this game.

Gameplay: 8/10  Standard visual novel faire here; you progress through a story, without combat, or much “gameplay” to speak of, by reading and occasionally making choices that determine which parts of the story you will see and ultimately which ending you will reach. If you don’t like this style of game, then this game is not for you obviously. I however, enjoy visual novels, and I find this one to have a nice amount of choices and a plot that branches early on in the game. There are a few mini games along the way which help provide clues as you learn alchemy and uncover more bits of the story. They are pretty simple, but give a nice break from the read and click format of these types of games.

Concept: 10/10 The story is very unique, very dark, very sad, touching, and beautiful. The characters are all interesting, and the minigames are simple but fun. The nature of it being a visual novel, also ensures lots of routes and plot branches which increase the replay value. It’s a very original concept for a visual novel; I’ve not played anything quite like this. It’s executed well and given life by a talented team of voice actors and beautiful anime gothic styled artwork.

Characters: 6/10 The love between the brother and sister and their two characters are very well developed; however, I feel most of the other characters are forgettable and not as well fleshed out as the main characters.

Graphics: 8/10  It has a unique art style, reminds me a bit of Vampire Hunter D. I prefer a more clean / kawaii style; but that obviously would not fit with a game like this which is gothic and dark. The character designs are more european with the longer noses and more stylized lines. The clothing and fashion in the game is very beautiful and reminiscent of the Victorian era. – Loses 2 points for not having anime cut-scenes, but the sprites and backgrounds are still lovely.

Music: 5/10 Nothing special here, it fits the mood of the scene; but I can’t recall any tracks which stood out in my mind. Just “average”

Voice Acting: 10/10 I love the voice acting in this game, I think it really fits the characters and fits the dark mood of the game, they have so much emotion, and really make you feel the characters’ pain and desperation. I really appreciate that they left the Japanese voices in the game, which is what fans of these styles of games want. I wish more companies did this.

Final Scores:

Story: 9/10

Gameplay: 8/10

Concept: 10/10

Characters: 6/10

Graphics: 8/10

Music: 5/10

Voice Acting: 10/10

Geeky: 2/5

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls

 

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Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist Review

Title: Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist

Genre: Visual Novel (with crafting minigame)

Platform: PC

Publisher: Hirameki International

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Where to Buy: Sometimes Appears on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Animamundi-Win-Mac/dp/B000EYXDTM or JLIST / JBOX: (no link available) and sometimes available via Playasia: http://www.play-asia.com/animamundi-dark-alchemist/13/701xnb — It’s out of print, and rare, and a highly regarded game so it can be difficult and expensive to find, but I promise you; this one’s worth it!

Release Date: May 31, 2006

Language: English text with Japanese voice acting

Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: sweetiesweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Story: 9/10 You play as a young man trying to find a way to save his sister. In the opening of the game, your sister is accused of being a witch and is beheaded and her body burned at the stake; remarkably somehow, her head survives; and her soul/spirit/etc are all in-tact. she’s able to communicate with you, and it’s still your dear sister that you love so much. You hide her head under your cloak and make your way to the palace, where you take on a job as an alchemist, in order to have access to ingredients to perform experiments to create a chimera (a new body) for your sister. However, her head repeatedly rejects all of the transplant attempts. Seeing no other way to save your sister, you head down a dark path, including alchemy, deceit, murder, and intrigue. It’s a very emotionally moving storyline; you’ll feel fear, anger, and sadness right along with the characters. It’s also a fairly unique story for this type of game. The story suffers a couple of typos and some censorship from Hirameki International when it was brought overseas. I deducted 1 point for that; otherwise I’d honestly give this a 10/10 for story; it is a must play if you’re a fan of story rich games. There are a lot of romance options, including several “yaoi” or “boys love” “BL” routes. However; romance is not the main focus of this game; it’s more about horror and death. Where as, most visual novels give romance the center stage, this is a refreshing change of pace and offers something a little more heavy and dark which will keep you up at night thinking about the ethical and emotional questions that are presented within this game.

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Gameplay: 8/10  Standard visual novel faire here; you progress through a story, without combat, or much “gameplay” to speak of, by reading and occasionally making choices that determine which parts of the story you will see and ultimately which ending you will reach. If you don’t like this style of game, then this game is not for you obviously. I however, enjoy visual novels, and I find this one to have a nice amount of choices and a plot that branches early on in the game. There are a few mini games along the way which help provide clues as you learn alchemy and uncover more bits of the story. They are pretty simple, but give a nice break from the read and click format of these types of games.

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Concept: 10/10 The story is very unique, very dark, very sad, touching, and beautiful. The characters are all interesting, and the minigames are simple but fun. The nature of it being a visual novel, also ensures lots of routes and plot branches which increase the replay value. It’s a very original concept for a visual novel; I’ve not played anything quite like this. It’s executed well and given life by a talented team of voice actors and beautiful anime gothic styled artwork.

Characters: 6/10 The love between the brother and sister and their two characters are very well developed; however, I feel most of the other characters are forgettable and not as well fleshed out as the main characters.

Graphics: 8/10  It has a unique art style, reminds me a bit of Vampire Hunter D. I prefer a more clean / kawaii style; but that obviously would not fit with a game like this which is gothic and dark. The character designs are more european with the longer noses and more stylized lines. The clothing and fashion in the game is very beautiful and reminiscent of the Victorian era. – Loses 2 points for not having anime cut-scenes, but the sprites and backgrounds are still lovely.

Music: 5/10 Nothing special here, it fits the mood of the scene; but I can’t recall any tracks which stood out in my mind. Just “average”

Voice Acting: 10/10 I love the voice acting in this game, I think it really fits the characters and fits the dark mood of the game, they have so much emotion, and really make you feel the characters’ pain and desperation. I really appreciate that they left the Japanese voices in the game, which is what fans of these styles of games want. I wish more companies did this.

Final Scores:

Story: 9/10

Gameplay: 8/10

Concept: 10/10

Characters: 6/10

Graphics: 8/10

Music: 5/10

Voice Acting: 10/10

Geeky: 2/5

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall Score: 63/80 79% C+ Good Game for Girls

Anima Mundi The Dark Alchemist Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Amnesia Memories Review

Title: Amnesia Memories

Genre: Otome Game / Visual Novel / Dating Sim

Release Date: August 2015

Publisher: Idea Factory

Platform: PS Vita / PS TV and PC and IOS / Android

Get it for PS Vita on Amazon Here: http://www.amazon.com/Amnesia-Memories-Vita-Digital-Code/dp/B0149HRMX2

Get it for PC on Steam Here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/359390/

Get it on IOS Here: WARNING THE IMAGES THEY HAVE CHOSEN FOR THIS PAGE HAVE MASSIVE SPOILERS:

Free Trial Version herehttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amnesia-memories/id1019449265?mt=8

Paid Version here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/amnesia-memories-premium-edition/id1020543963?mt=8

Get it on Android Here: WARNING THE IMAGES THEY HAVE CHOSEN FOR THIS PAGE HAVE MASSIVE SPOILERS:

Free Trial Version here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gloczus.amnesiasmp&hl=en

Paid Version here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gloczus.amnesiasmp_premium2&hl=en

Walkthru (No Spoilers)https://welcometowonderland.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/amnesia-memories-toma-walkthrough/

Geeky Factor

Sweetie Factorsweetiesweetiesweetiesweetie

Overall: 72/90 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Amnesia Memories is an Otome Game which is a visual novel in which you play a female protagonist with male love interests. The game is presented on the premise of parallel universes and allows the users to choose which world they’d like to play in. This determines which guy they will be targeting. Each guy has at least 3 different endings: Good, Normal, or Bad. You’ll know you get the good ending for a particular guy if you see the credits roll afterwards. (You can also check your progress by looking at the album and viewing the endings you’ve unlocked.) Like most games in this genre, if you play through all of the routes, an additional final route will unlock which helps tie all the other routes together and bring closure to the game.

Gameplay: 7/10 Like most visual novels, there is no combat or action to speak of, just lots of reading and at certain points making decisions which drive the story down one of many different endings. There are minigames; however, instead of inserting them into the actual gameplay, (like say the way Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side does), the games are just tacked into the options/menu screen like an after thought, and they are not terribly interesting either. The number of choices you make in this game is quite high compared to other visual novels, however; I’ve noticed that as far as the storyline goes, the majority of these decisions are only giving you the ILLUSION of choice, and not actually changing anything — except — they often DO change your stats which ultimately does change the story.

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These stats include your affection, trust, and suspicion (and in some routes, doubt also becomes a stat, but in other routes, that stat is not used, which is odd, because it should have been used for example, in heart world in my opinion; there were plenty of reasons to doubt the guy there as well.) I’m not totally sure how these stats are used to determine the ending; but the main premise is that you are supposed to hide your amnesia (although in heart world it’s discovered immediately within like the first ten minutes of that route and I haven’t seen any way to change that). In addition to hiding your amnesia you’re supposed to get closer to the guy to try and learn more about yourself and cure your amnesia.

To do this, you need to build both affection and trust with your partner. The stats do not have to be maxed out completely though to get the good ending and actually it can be quite hard to get the good ending in some worlds. I had a heck of a time in heart world. I replayed it 7 or 8 times, and realized it came down to just one answer that had revealed a key cutscene that I had missed. Once I finally got the good ending and saw the credits roll, I realized that I had not reached the “good” ending for clover world which I had thought I had, because unlike in heart world, I had gotten all of my memories back, and the ending I felt was really good and I had even gotten a trophy – so as I said, unless you see the credits each time, you need to go back because you did not get the good ending :).

Luckily, when you go back, you can quickly skip read text and previously used choices will be highlighted in a different color to help you keep track of your decisions. Save often too! Pay attention to how each response you make changes your parameters. I have about 10 save files and I cycle through them every 3-4 in-game days, this way I don’t have to start all over each time I reach a normal or bad ending.

Edit: I’m having a really hard time with this game. Clover was easy as cake but both Heart and Diamond have taken me at least 5-6 playthrus. I finally pulled up a spoiler free walkthru for diamond (which has links to the other routes as well) and am trying to beat diamond still as of this writing. I’ve included a link which will take you to the author’s website above so you can use the walkthru as well. I had my affection completely maxed with Toma and my doubt was low (under half), but I still kept getting normal or bad end. I guess if you answer one single question incorrectly you can lock yourself out of ever being able to get the good ending no matter how high your parameters are. Which once again calls into question why these parameters are even necessary and what they are accomplishing exactly? In Diamond the choice that locks me out of good end happens on August 6th – the game goes on until the end of the month. Meaning a lot of wasted time if you just want the good ending. And it’s not a readily apparent choice, since you have to lie here to be put on the good end route. I would think lying would increase your doubt and lower your trust. These parameters confuse me so much!

Story: 7/10 The story of course is the main point of these types of games. The story is good, but predictable. I knew right away in heart world who pushed me, and so I never suspected the other characters that the game spent so much time trying to cast doubt upon.

I have only completed Heart world and Clover world at time of this writing, and I begun to play Diamond world lastnight as well. Heart and Diamond have a LOT more suspense/mystery. Compared to these routes, Clover was pure Romance/fluff. Ukyo only appears for a moment in Clover, and they don’t seem to develop him much there, but even that tiny glimpse was enough to make me VERY curious about him.

I see he is very prominent so far in Diamond. — I’m assuming Ukyo is probably the true/final route in the game, although it’s just my speculation and not a spoiler or anything. Just I have this feeling that he’s really important. I have my own theory about him, but I’ll keep that to myself and let you form your own opinions while you play.

I have not played Spade route yet at all (though Ikki is probably the most handsome guy in the game.) so I can’t comment on Ikki’s route yet, but so far all 3 routes that I have played, have had good stories.

In Heart World, you’re trying to help your boyfriend solve a crime that caused you to fall from a cliff, a crime which you have no memory of. The police suspect your boyfriend and you have to help clear his name. When you learn the truth, it is quite painful (though not surprising at all; I had it figured out pretty early on).

In Clover World, you discover that you had a fight with your boyfriend the day before you lost your memories, and now he wants to meet to talk about the fight and the future of your relationship. Wanting to use the opportunity to learn more about yourself, you agree to meet and try to hide the fact that you don’t remember him. You seem to be successful in the beginning at keeping his suspicions at bay and you continue to meet with him as it seems to be helping you to remember more. As you grow closer to him you begin to wonder why you were fighting in the first place, and also wonder if learning the truth will cause your feelings for each other to change.

In Diamond Route, you have to hide your illness to avoid going back to a hospital. Your childhood friend, Toma, has been helping to take care of you while your parents are overseas. He claims he’s not your boyfriend, but that you did date eachother. He said he didn’t want to tell you because it would confuse you. Which you seem to take to mean that you were dating recently, before the amnesia. In your notebook you also have many “dates” listed where you met with another man, a coworker at a cafe where you worked. While trying to figure out where both of these men fit into your life, someone approaches you with a warning about your boyfriend and a threat on your life; strange things begin happening which put you in danger and add to the problems you’re already facing.

The pacing of all of the routes feels pretty good. You’re given one month in game time to solve the mysteries and regain your memories. This amounts to about 4-6 hours per route for your first playthrough, and substantially less for replays due to the skip feature and ability to keep multiple save files. With 5 routes to complete, it amounts to 20-30 hours total of play time, assuming you beat all the routes and achieve good endings for each on your first run. This is just long enough to capture your interest and leave you with questions and desire to play through the many different routes to learn more about each of the characters.

The story is well written, but like many games with heavy text; it suffers from some translation/localization errors. Sometimes entire words are missing that leaves a sentence not making sense (though you can figure it out by the context of other sentences). For example in Kent’s route in his ending one line says something like “Your feelings I fully now.” (it’s missing the word understand; “Your feelings I fully understand now”.) There’s other cases where a word should be singular or plural, or a or an are used incorrectly, but those are minor compared to some sentence mangling as demonstrated above. Also I think, but could be wrong, that the names of places sometimes change (within the same route). I say I “think” because, the example I can think of is getting a text from Kent saying he’s in XYZ Laboratory; and when I arrive at the campus my character says “So this is ABC University” It could be possible that the laboratory has a name itself which sits within the university, but to me it felt like the game couldn’t decide what it wanted to call the place – though it could have been intentional. Little inconsistencies like this, don’t detract from the story, but definitely pull you out of immersion.

The main thing that pulls me along in this story is this burning question / feeling that someone is lying to me. Why is it so cold in “August”? Why do I not have a cellphone? Why did someone take my computer battery AND charger? It’s like they don’t want me to know what the date REALLY is (or they want to prevent me from contacting anyone). Is Toma checking my mail to keep me from seeing anything with the current date, or is he really just being a gentleman for me? Maybe he was the one that put scary things in my mailbox to discourage me from wanting to check it myself. And although there’s a calendar in my room and everything is the way I left it, each route, someone has had a key to my apartment and been in there while I’ve been away. What are they trying to hide?

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This to me is a much more interesting question than the amnesia itself. I don’t know if my questions will be answered or if I’m correct but it’s just something that feels REALLY off to me. And other games I’ve played have done this before (Remember 11 comes to mind) which puts me on high alert for this sort of plot twist.

This feeling that something is not right, really makes me want to complete all the routes. I think there’s more to this story than meets the eye. I’m not sure I’m correct yet, but something just feels so off to me. It’s an interesting plot device, and although I have seen it before, it’s not “overly” used. It adds an extra layer of mystery to the story. And then there’s Ukyo, who says he’s a friend but also an enemy, he seems so sad, but also scary. He seems to know everyone but no one knows him, and he seems to have something against me, but also seems to be in love with me, and he appears to be suffering from multiple personalities as well. This makes it more of a thriller / mystery than just pure fluffy romance. It sets it’s story apart from other games with a sense of fear, paranoia, and anxiety. The mystery and the way in which Orion is presented almost as a main character (more on that under characters) make this an otome game that even male gamers could enjoy.

Characters: 7/10 Characters’ jobs, studies, backgrounds, and relationship with our heroine change in each route; but their personalities more or less stay consistent. Characters shift in and out of focus and become major or minor characters depending on what world you’re in. Below is a brief overview of the different characters:

Shin: Shin is often misunderstood, his appearance and attitude can come across as quite scary, but he’s actually very hard working and responsible. He was born into a poor family and his father had a questionable background which made Shin have to work harder to prove himself or make friends. His current goal is to study for the college entrance exams in order to obtain a scholarship. He really enjoys studying. He speaks very bluntly, it’s not that he’s cold, or a Tsundere, but just rather, he believes that by being harder on the heroine, it will encourage her to strive to do better for herself as well.

Toma: Toma is like a big brother to both you and Shin. He is always doting on you and spoiling you. He views it as his job to protect you and shelter you. Unlike Shin, he is not very honest about his own feelings, and tends to handle the heroine very delicately.

Shin and Toma: In Heart and Diamond, you, Shin, and Toma are childhood friends who have been together since birth and there’s a love triangle dynamic. In Clover, and I assume Spade, they are merely your coworkers at the cafe. But even in these routes, Toma still has that “big brother” attitude towards you (and his other coworkers). In Clover and Spade, Shin and Toma are both actual brothers (related by blood or marriage).

Kent: Kent is a graduate student (in all of the routes I’ve played so far), and he loves Mathematics. He is very shy and not good at dealing with people which makes him come across as cold and calculating. He tries to reason his way through everything, including his relationships and feelings. Although he comes across as cold, it’s simply a misunderstanding because he thinks so differently and rationally all the time, and the heroine is more pure and impulsive, this leads to friction between the two characters. Although he is also strict (like Shin), he will also give praise and compliments more freely than Shin. Like Toma, he also has a hard time expressing his true feelings and emotions. He gets shy, embarrassed, and flustered quite easily which the Heroine sometimes interprets as Kent trying to push her away. He’s best friends (in all routes so far) with Ikki, another mathematics student at his university.

Ikki: I know the least about him since I haven’t played Spade world yet; from what I have seen of him in other routes, he’s a playboy with a lot of charm, goodlooks, confidence, and charisma. He knows the perfect things to say, and often helps Kent by giving him dating advice. Kent and Ikki both love math puzzles, riddles, and games. They’re both very competitive with eachother. Ikki enjoys making Kent jealous. Ikki seems to think he has special powers over women which comes from his beautiful eyes. He claims he can hypnotize anyone who looks into his eyes. For this reason he often wears sun glasses when he is around others.

Waka: As far as I am aware, Waka is not a dateable character, though there are two ??? boxes on the main menu still – I’ve read there’s only 5 routes, and I’m betting the 5th belongs to Ukyo. — ANY wanys, Waka is your manager at work. From what I’ve seen, he’s completely different in Heart and Clover. In clover he’s the strong silent type and very strict with his employees. He rarely smiles, and rarely even talks. In heart he talks a lot, teases and jokes with his employees, and seems very kind and caring. I’m not sure why his personality changes when they keep the other characters pretty much consistent in all routes. It is interesting :).

Mine: I really don’t like how they spelled her name; they should have changed it for localization to Mina or Minnie. Just my opinion It’s pronounced Mee-nay, Minnie would have been closer than Mine (which I want to read/pronounce just like the english word). Anyways, that aside, Mine is one of your coworkers at the cafe, and one of your best friends, but her or Sawa alternate as perspective love rivals in some routes. She’s very feminine and sweet (although she can act cold if she thinks you are competition for her in any way).

Sawa: Sawa is another one of your coworkers and one of your best friends; she’s very athletic and outgoing, somewhat of a tomboy type character (basically a direct opposite of Mine). As mentioned above, Sawa also appears as a love rival in some routes.

Ukyo: This mysterious character appears in each route with multiple personalities, and he seems to know everyone, but they do not know him. In most of the routes he seems to both loathe and love the heroine. He seems like a dangerous guy, but he also seems rather sad and pittiful too.

Rika: So far, I’ve only seen Rika in one route, she’s a very elegant older woman (probably around Kent’s age, maybe a little older); She’s a bit of a snob, and in the route I saw her in, she seemed very interested in Ikki so she may very well be a love rival for you there in Spade World.

Orion: This little guy is the reason for your amnesia (not a spoiler, it’s introduced before you even play the game for the first time). He’s a demon from another dimension who was “traveling to earth for important business” when his mind “collided” with yours, causing you to lose your memories. He’s now trapped inside of you, and if you don’t recover your memories, he will overtake your conscious and take over your body. In order to separate, you need to recollect your memories to push him back out of your conscious.

I like most of the characters, but I do not like the way Orion is presented in the game. He speaks for the heroine; thus the heroine is the only character in the game who is not voiced. If we are not yet fully merged, shouldn’t the heroine still think/feel for herself without being told what is happening in 3rd person all the time? It makes me unable to connect with the heroine which is bad because I want to care about her as much as I care about the other characters, but I really don’t because she is downplayed so much and presented “through” Orion.

Typically most visual novels leave the lead character somewhat of a blank slate; to help create immersion; but the fact is, they do have a character portrait for her, and several CGs featuring her, but the only time you see the heroine’s portrait (other than the CGs) is when you enter her name on the title screen.

I don’t mind seeing Orion SOME but I would have liked to have seen my player character some too; I know we are supposedly “linked” to where we feel the same feelings, fear, happiness, embarrassment, etc; but I would have liked the heroine to speak for herself and to show her emotions through her own character portrait instead of always “hiding” behind Orion.

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Because Orion also has a VERY distinctive personality, it makes it hard to immerse myself into the role of the heroine. He’s VERY immature, although he is kinda kawaii (cute) sometimes. He has an almost “overbearing” personality that I feel is so different sometimes from my own. Which brings me back to the point that typically most visual novels leave the lead characters more generalized; but because this game focuses SO much on Orion instead of the heroine, it makes it very hard to “plug yourself” into the heroine’s role. It made me feel less like I was playing as the heroine, and more as if I was playing AS Orion since you see him constantly throughout the game.

Graphics: 6/10 Why are the backgrounds not colored? Maybe there’s a reason for this plot wise (like I’m in a coma, or dreaming, or something). But so far I see no reason why the backgrounds are “black” and white (more like green and white). It is kinda “lazy” to me to leave them this way. It does draw more attention to the characters, and the character art is gorgeous. There’s a good number of what I call “CG scenes” in which you see special extended artwork (that’s usually more detailed than the regular game artwork). Still when you look at games like Nekopara or the upcoming Norn 9 Var Commons (which is also by Idea Factory); you wonder why there’s not more animation in this game. The character portraits have various emotions and expressions, which range from serious to humorous (Orion often has very many “anime” style expressions like the wide streams of tears, or two little beady eyes).

The interface is clean and simple, and the text is easy to read even from across the room while playing on my ps tv. But the whole “stat” thing confuses me, because as I said it does NOT need to be maxed out to obtain the good endings. And your suspicion can be maxed out and not get a bad ending. And there’s only one good ending per route (as far as I know); so why are there seemingly multiple “good” stats (Trust and Affection). One would think there would be a “Trust ending” “Affection Ending” “Normal ending” and “Bad Ending” but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s more likely that trust = normal; and affection = good ending, when if you think about it, a “good” relationship needs equal measure of both trust and affection.

I would have liked to have seen something graphically that made more sense to me here. Maybe show your heroine with various expressions, such as a blank stare for normal, a happy or blushing face for good ending, and a fearful, sad, or angry face for the bad ending. It would have been more clear than these sliders which dont seem very accurate. In heart world, my Affection was ALMOST maxed, but not quite, and my Suspicion (a bad stat) was completely maxed). My trust was high too but not as high as either of those, and somehow I still got the good ending despite not having either of the two “good” stats maxed, and the one bad stat’s bar being at maximum level. That’s just confusing to me.

Music: 10/10 Both the opening and ending themes are quite catchy and memorable and the music throughout the game does not feel repetitive or annoying.

Voice Acting: 10/10 The game is fully voiced and they keep the Japanese voice track which is a plus and what most of the people playing these types of games would prefer, so kudos to Idea Factory for that. The voice acting itself is very well done.

Replay Value: 10/10 The fact that you need to beat all 4 routes to unlock the Joker’s route makes you want to replay the game to learn the truth. Not only that, but the ability to skip read text helps with subsequent playthroughs in the same world trying to get the good endings.

Overall: 72/90 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”

Amnesia Memories Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Persona 5 delayed until Summer 2016

Persona 5 took center stage at Tokyo Game Show 2015 with a new Trailer (see it below); however, it also brought with it, the sad news that the game is being delayed once again, now with an estimated release date of Summer 2016. I’m disapointed by this news, as it was reported that the special Persona 5 event was in order to announce the “exact” release date. Not only do we not have an “exact” release date, but we learn that the game is once again delayed, and not even first quarter 2016, but instead, almost a full year from now – and that’s just for the Japanese gamers; the rest of us can probably expect an even longer wait.

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Oh well, gives me time to save up to buy a PS4 before the release. While we wait, check out the new trailer below:

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Persona 5 delayed until Summer 2016 was originally published on Geeky Sweetie

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (Franchise) Review

Note this series was never released outside of Japan, however, it has been fan translated by some great people in the otome community.


Check out the patch releases below.

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Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1 (Nintendo DS) Patch from https://sites.google.com/site/tokimemogs1/home

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2 (Nintendo DS) Patch from https://gokusaishiki.wordpress.com/

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 3 (Sony PSP) Patch from https://sites.google.com/site/otomeundercover/otome-projects/tmgs3-psp#TOC-Patch-Download

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 3 (Nintendo DS) Patch coming soon at https://gokusaishiki.wordpress.com/

For help patching your copy of the game please contact the patch providers above; they have written very helpful guides for patching your game on their respective websites.

The games can be purchased at sites such as play-asia.com and yesasia.com ; please do not pirate the games; we need to show konami and other developers that we are willing to spend money on these games and that there is a demand for Otome games in the US.


Title: Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (First Kiss, Second Kiss, and 3rd Story)

Genre: Otome, Dating Sim – also known as a Life Sim, Stat Raising Sim, or simply Raising Sim; It also contains visual novel elements such as multiple endings and branching plot.

Publisher: Konami

Platform: The original game was a Playstation 2 release; since then, it’s appeared on Nintendo DS, PSP, and IOS

Release Date: The original game was released in 2002; however, the versions used in this review are from 2007 and after.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 90/100 A-  “Excellent Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side is a spin off series from the popular Tokimeki Memorial gaming series. In this spin off, the roles are reversed and you find yourself playing the role of a young female in her last year of highschool. You must juggle your studies, part time jobs, dating, male and female friendships, after school activities, clubs, and your own health and well being. Your stats determine which guys you end up with, what job or study you go into after graduation, and also what secrets you see within the game. There are fun mini games such as making chocolate or a 3 legged race, and standard visual novel branching plot and multiple ending style gameplay based on the choices and decisions you make within the games.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is divided into daily activities which you assign at the beginning of each new week. These activities affect your stats, and your stats determine which boys will be interested in you. You also are given the ability to join a club and take on a part time job both of which also affect your stats and open up special scenes and activities to do with your honey. There are also numerous in-game events such as valentines day, sports festival, field trips, school plays, school festivals, christmas, or special events going on in the town (you have to read the news to keep abreast on the latest happenings, such as star gazing or blossom viewing, or what bands are playing or movies are showing that week.)  You can also check your horoscope and if you follow it’s advice your stat bonuses will be increased from it’s recommended activities. Certain guys like certain events and certain places to go on their dates more than others. They also like certain colors and styles of clothes. If you take the guy somewhere he likes and wear what he likes your date results will be more favorable; but the biggest indication of how a date will turn out is in what answers you give during the conversation with your sweetie on your dates. Not only do you have to please your “target” beau but you also must remember to spend time with other boys in your class as well or they will become jealous; and a “bomb” will go off. You can check with your little brother to see how each of the characters are feeling at any given time. There is also a dressup element as mentioned above, and lots and lots of clothing items to purchase. The clothing can be layered to create powerful combo effects and new styles. You always want to wear seasonally appropriate clothing as well as follow the latest fashion trends, or risk ridicule from the guys on your dates. The nintendo DS versions feature a “skinship” element to the dates, you can touch your date, and you must think carefully not to overtouch him or to touch inappropriately for the level of affection between you two. There are dozens of different date locations and tons of characters to date, including hidden unlockable characters as well. As you become closer to your date, he may also request to extend the date which presents new opportunities to get to know one another. He will also start calling you to ask you out instead of waiting for your call as well. If a date goes really well you will get a nice text message from him at the end of the date. The things the boys say in this game series are so amazingly sweet. They are like the perfect boyfriend(s). I have even swooned over the characters in these games lol. These games also all feature female best friends who also become your love rivals as well. It’s a well rounded experience that puts you in the life of a young highschool girl as she experiences her first love (hence the first game being titled first kiss). Each subsequent game features a new heroine and new romanceable men. Because it is a bit weak on story, it can drag at times which can make the lengthy game and repetitive gameplay elements a bit tiresome. However, it’s also strangely addictive and I find myself replaying these games more than any other games in my library.

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Story: 7/10 The stories in these games are a bit weak or bland and generic; It’s basically a slice of life tale with no action and little to no suspense or plot twists. The main mystery usually comes in the form of the “cannon” route who is usually a childhood friend however you two do not recognize each other initially since you’re both almost adults now. There’s usually a legend about the town; in the first game, it’s about a prince and princess, in the 2nd game it’s about a mermaid that fell in love with a human, etc; however, this bit of back story is never really fully explored; and you only hear bits and pieces of rumors, and the rumors vary widely from the school is mass producing robots, to if you go to the church with your true love you’ll always be together, etc. Aside from that bit of story presented there, most of the story simply follows the life and times of a highschool senior as she experiences her first love.

Characters: 7/10 The game series is full of stereotypical anime characters, the tsundere, the idol, the geek, the athlete, the student council members, etc. If you enjoy slice of life anime (which I do); you will already be familiar with many of the character types in the game. The neat thing about this series is that you’re not just limited to students, you can also date the teacher, and yes, even the principal which is creepy since he’s probably late 40s  – 50s and you’re a highschool student lol…. The game is very G rated though and the most you’ll ever do is kiss; so I don’t think that’s really the reason it’s not been released outside of Asia yet. Although those types of relationships are much more common and acceptable over there. There’s also hidden characters in each game. The characters feel very real, they’re dealing with the same highschool struggles many of us face in our own daily lives and past experiences. However, the character stereotypes are basically rehashed for each installment in this series; so many characters could be cut/paste over one another, and ultimately, many of them are not memorable in the end due to their stereotypical nature and lack of much storyline.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is a beautiful sight to behold; both because of the oodles of hunky man eye-candy and also because of the beautiful detailed backgrounds and kawaii clothing and shopping elements. I dare say it’s one of the most visually appealing games on the Nintendo DS especially for anime lovers.

Music: 10/10 I only have good things to say about the soundtrack in these games. It has almost a Kpop feeling to it; using “boy bands” for the opening and ending themes and “peppy” background music throughout the game play. For example, here is the opening theme from TMGS 3rd Story. It starts with an accapella arrangement, and then evolves into a kpop-ish boy band that both features each singer in solo parts, as well as features the group harmonizing and their rhythm talent. http://www.tokimekimedia.net/files/theme/TMGS3-SHINE.mp3 The band known as Primrose appears to be very talented; I love the ending theme of TMGS3 – it’s hard to believe this is the same band as the opening theme, it has a very different feeling to it. I love it 🙂 http://www.tokimekimedia.net/files/theme/TMGS3-floweroflove.mp3

Voice Acting: 10/10 The “Love Plus” edition of these games is fully voiced (while the standard edition has a lot of voice acting as well but not “fully”) The ones I played were “Love Plus” and the voice acting is exceptional. It really helps you to bond with each of the boys in the game. I really hope if Konami ever does port the game to the US that they leave the Japanese voice actors in the US version; they are so good! They convey so much emotion, from happiness, to anger, fear, shyness, sternness, playfulness, confidence, goofyness, etc. They make the characters come alive.

Customization: 10/10 When the game starts you can name your heroine, pick a room (which determines who your best friend / rival will be), enter your blood type, birthdate, and other options. Then as mentioned above, throughout the game you must buy new outfits to impress your date, and you can layer items to create new looks and styles. You also determine your path through the game by joining a club, taking on a part time job, and raising your stats as you see fit which determine which boys fall for you and what events you see as well as your end result including career, love life, and more after you complete the game.

Replay Value: 10/10 You will definitely want to replay this; the story branches early and often depending on your stats and which guy you’re going after. Some guys are quite hard to obtain so save often!

Overall: /100 90/100 A-  “Excellent Game For Girls”

At time of this review, this is the first game reviewed on the site to receive a 90 or above, or anything higher than a B+ rating, with nearly 50 reviews under our belt now. This alone is a testament to just how much fun, how addicting, and how engaging this game series is; not to mention the sky-high production values in terms of artwork, voice acting, music, and presentation.

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (Franchise) Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (Franchise) Review

Note this series was never released outside of Japan, however, it has been fan translated by some great people in the otome community.


Check out the patch releases below.

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js//

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1 (Nintendo DS) Patch from https://sites.google.com/site/tokimemogs1/home

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2 (Nintendo DS) Patch from https://gokusaishiki.wordpress.com/

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 3 (Sony PSP) Patch from https://sites.google.com/site/otomeundercover/otome-projects/tmgs3-psp#TOC-Patch-Download

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 3 (Nintendo DS) Patch coming soon at https://gokusaishiki.wordpress.com/

For help patching your copy of the game please contact the patch providers above; they have written very helpful guides for patching your game on their respective websites.

The games can be purchased at sites such as play-asia.com and yesasia.com ; please do not pirate the games; we need to show konami and other developers that we are willing to spend money on these games and that there is a demand for Otome games in the US.


Title: Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (First Kiss, Second Kiss, and 3rd Story)

Genre: Otome, Dating Sim – also known as a Life Sim, Stat Raising Sim, or simply Raising Sim; It also contains visual novel elements such as multiple endings and branching plot.

Publisher: Konami

Platform: The original game was a Playstation 2 release; since then, it’s appeared on Nintendo DS, PSP, and IOS

Release Date: The original game was released in 2002; however, the versions used in this review are from 2007 and after.

Geeky Factor: 

Sweetie Factor: 

Overall: 90/100 A-  “Excellent Game For Girls”

Concept: 10/10 Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side is a spin off series from the popular Tokimeki Memorial gaming series. In this spin off, the roles are reversed and you find yourself playing the role of a young female in her last year of highschool. You must juggle your studies, part time jobs, dating, male and female friendships, after school activities, clubs, and your own health and well being. Your stats determine which guys you end up with, what job or study you go into after graduation, and also what secrets you see within the game. There are fun mini games such as making chocolate or a 3 legged race, and standard visual novel branching plot and multiple ending style gameplay based on the choices and decisions you make within the games.

Gameplay: 10/10 Gameplay is divided into daily activities which you assign at the beginning of each new week. These activities affect your stats, and your stats determine which boys will be interested in you. You also are given the ability to join a club and take on a part time job both of which also affect your stats and open up special scenes and activities to do with your honey. There are also numerous in-game events such as valentines day, sports festival, field trips, school plays, school festivals, christmas, or special events going on in the town (you have to read the news to keep abreast on the latest happenings, such as star gazing or blossom viewing, or what bands are playing or movies are showing that week.)  You can also check your horoscope and if you follow it’s advice your stat bonuses will be increased from it’s recommended activities. Certain guys like certain events and certain places to go on their dates more than others. They also like certain colors and styles of clothes. If you take the guy somewhere he likes and wear what he likes your date results will be more favorable; but the biggest indication of how a date will turn out is in what answers you give during the conversation with your sweetie on your dates. Not only do you have to please your “target” beau but you also must remember to spend time with other boys in your class as well or they will become jealous; and a “bomb” will go off. You can check with your little brother to see how each of the characters are feeling at any given time. There is also a dressup element as mentioned above, and lots and lots of clothing items to purchase. The clothing can be layered to create powerful combo effects and new styles. You always want to wear seasonally appropriate clothing as well as follow the latest fashion trends, or risk ridicule from the guys on your dates. The nintendo DS versions feature a “skinship” element to the dates, you can touch your date, and you must think carefully not to overtouch him or to touch inappropriately for the level of affection between you two. There are dozens of different date locations and tons of characters to date, including hidden unlockable characters as well. As you become closer to your date, he may also request to extend the date which presents new opportunities to get to know one another. He will also start calling you to ask you out instead of waiting for your call as well. If a date goes really well you will get a nice text message from him at the end of the date. The things the boys say in this game series are so amazingly sweet. They are like the perfect boyfriend(s). I have even swooned over the characters in these games lol. These games also all feature female best friends who also become your love rivals as well. It’s a well rounded experience that puts you in the life of a young highschool girl as she experiences her first love (hence the first game being titled first kiss). Each subsequent game features a new heroine and new romanceable men. Because it is a bit weak on story, it can drag at times which can make the lengthy game and repetitive gameplay elements a bit tiresome. However, it’s also strangely addictive and I find myself replaying these games more than any other games in my library.

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Story: 7/10 The stories in these games are a bit weak or bland and generic; It’s basically a slice of life tale with no action and little to no suspense or plot twists. The main mystery usually comes in the form of the “cannon” route who is usually a childhood friend however you two do not recognize each other initially since you’re both almost adults now. There’s usually a legend about the town; in the first game, it’s about a prince and princess, in the 2nd game it’s about a mermaid that fell in love with a human, etc; however, this bit of back story is never really fully explored; and you only hear bits and pieces of rumors, and the rumors vary widely from the school is mass producing robots, to if you go to the church with your true love you’ll always be together, etc. Aside from that bit of story presented there, most of the story simply follows the life and times of a highschool senior as she experiences her first love.

Characters: 7/10 The game series is full of stereotypical anime characters, the tsundere, the idol, the geek, the athlete, the student council members, etc. If you enjoy slice of life anime (which I do); you will already be familiar with many of the character types in the game. The neat thing about this series is that you’re not just limited to students, you can also date the teacher, and yes, even the principal which is creepy since he’s probably late 40s  – 50s and you’re a highschool student lol…. The game is very G rated though and the most you’ll ever do is kiss; so I don’t think that’s really the reason it’s not been released outside of Asia yet. Although those types of relationships are much more common and acceptable over there. There’s also hidden characters in each game. The characters feel very real, they’re dealing with the same highschool struggles many of us face in our own daily lives and past experiences. However, the character stereotypes are basically rehashed for each installment in this series; so many characters could be cut/paste over one another, and ultimately, many of them are not memorable in the end due to their stereotypical nature and lack of much storyline.

Graphics: 10/10 This game is a beautiful sight to behold; both because of the oodles of hunky man eye-candy and also because of the beautiful detailed backgrounds and kawaii clothing and shopping elements. I dare say it’s one of the most visually appealing games on the Nintendo DS especially for anime lovers.

Music: 10/10 I only have good things to say about the soundtrack in these games. It has almost a Kpop feeling to it; using “boy bands” for the opening and ending themes and “peppy” background music throughout the game play. For example, here is the opening theme from TMGS 3rd Story. It starts with an accapella arrangement, and then evolves into a kpop-ish boy band that both features each singer in solo parts, as well as features the group harmonizing and their rhythm talent. http://www.tokimekimedia.net/files/theme/TMGS3-SHINE.mp3 The band known as Primrose appears to be very talented; I love the ending theme of TMGS3 – it’s hard to believe this is the same band as the opening theme, it has a very different feeling to it. I love it :) http://www.tokimekimedia.net/files/theme/TMGS3-floweroflove.mp3

Voice Acting: 10/10 The “Love Plus” edition of these games is fully voiced (while the standard edition has a lot of voice acting as well but not “fully”) The ones I played were “Love Plus” and the voice acting is exceptional. It really helps you to bond with each of the boys in the game. I really hope if Konami ever does port the game to the US that they leave the Japanese voice actors in the US version; they are so good! They convey so much emotion, from happiness, to anger, fear, shyness, sternness, playfulness, confidence, goofyness, etc. They make the characters come alive.

Customization: 10/10 When the game starts you can name your heroine, pick a room (which determines who your best friend / rival will be), enter your blood type, birthdate, and other options. Then as mentioned above, throughout the game you must buy new outfits to impress your date, and you can layer items to create new looks and styles. You also determine your path through the game by joining a club, taking on a part time job, and raising your stats as you see fit which determine which boys fall for you and what events you see as well as your end result including career, love life, and more after you complete the game.

Replay Value: 10/10 You will definitely want to replay this; the story branches early and often depending on your stats and which guy you’re going after. Some guys are quite hard to obtain so save often!

Overall: /100 90/100 A-  “Excellent Game For Girls”

At time of this review, this is the first game reviewed on the site to receive a 90 or above, or anything higher than a B+ rating, with nearly 50 reviews under our belt now. This alone is a testament to just how much fun, how addicting, and how engaging this game series is; not to mention the sky-high production values in terms of artwork, voice acting, music, and presentation.

Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (Franchise) Review was originally published on Geeky Sweetie