Black Wolves Saga: Bloody Nightmare Review

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BLACK WOLVES SAGA ~ BLOODY NIGHTMARE

Release Date:  April 26, 2012 (Japan)
Developers:  Rejet, Otomate
Publishers:  Otomate
Platforms:  PC, PSP, PS Vita,
CERO Rating: D (+17)

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This blog has been on hiatus for months (been playing too much rpgs that my otome gaming has been paused for as long as I can remember), but alas! Here we are, trying to get back on track for another otome review. Today, I’ll be reviewing, Black Wolves Saga (Bloody Nightmare). Take note, this will probably be my last PS Vita Otoge review. I will be covering otome games for the Switch going forward unless they’ll release a new one for the dead vita console which I highly doubt at this point.

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

The PS Vita version of BWS contains two games, Bloody Nightmare, and Last Hope. They basically follow the same story, except that Bloody Nightmare focuses more on the cat bois while Last Hope leans more on the wolf hubandos’ POVs. Please also note that this visual novel is ‘Japanese-only’ and does not have an official western release. That said, it took me months to finish this game because I can’t kanji 😭(sob!). Thankfully, there was an unofficial fansub released back in 2016 which was a huge help, if you’re like me who constantly struggles to understand certain kanji phrases. Don’t forget to give the translators a big thank you if you’re using their fansub!

I know this is kind of a hard pill to swallow, but since this is a Rejet game, I don’t think it’ll ever get localized. Rejet is *kind of* one of those companies that don’t like localizing their games due to piracy issues. ┐(‘~` )┌

 

ART AND MUSIC
Everyone who’s played Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ would instantly notice Black Wolves Saga’s similar art style, and yes! you’ve guessed it right! It’s done by the same illustrator, Kuruyoki.  I am a BIG fan of this artist, so I have nothing but full praises of her works. You can visit her Pixiv profile here.

Fun Fact: Black Wolves Saga’s opening theme, Dear Despair was performed by  (our beloved seiyuu) Yuki Kaji, who also voices the character, Rath in the game. Listen to this awesome OP track below:

 

Voice Acting

Kishou Taniyama “Guillan Guinor” – Ikki (Amnesia), Ren Tsukimori (Kiniro no Corda), Natsuki (Utapri), Gunji (Togainu no Chi), Vince Lugan (Jakou no Lyla)

Miki Shinichirou“Nesso Galland” – Hijikata (Hakuoki), Mr. Buckethead (Bad Apple Wars), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)

Toshiyuki Morikawa “Arles V. Felnoir” – Carla Tsukinami (Diabolik Lovers), Lizaru Shanasa (Jakou no Lyla), Moutoku (Sangoku Rinseki), Rai (Lamento Beyond the Void)

Yoshimasa Hosoya “Julian” – Yamato (Psychedelica of the Black Butterfly), Loki (Kamigami no Asobi), Yukimura Sanada (Ikemen Sengoku), Yusuke Asahina (Brothers Conflict), Kira Rintarou (Kenka Banchou Otome)

Yuki Kaji “Rath Vogart” – Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Finis (Code Realize), Souma Kazue (Hakuoki), Kakeru (Norn9)

Hiroyuki Yoshino “Auger von Garibaldi” – Heisuke (Hakuoki), Heishi (Norn9), Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X)

Takahiro Sakurai “Mejojo von Garibaldi” – Ruki Mukami (Diabolik Lovers), Alma (Bad Apple Wars), Astrum (Period Cube), Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)

Akira Ishida “Zara Skeens” – Kent (Amnesia), Kotarou (Starry Sky), Kiryuu (Sangoku Renseki), Kuota (Yunohana Spring) 

 

MAIN CHARACTERS & ROUTES

I have to say I was overwhelmingly impressed by how deep most of the characters could go in their routes (especially dem cats). I think the stories are more inclined with their own development as a character rather than a romantic partner to the heroine. Truth be told, I actually found it fun deciphering and piecing together their true individual nature as well as their main goals regardless if it’s inherently aiming for a good cause or the worst turn of events.

My recommended route order would be the following:
Mejojo — Auger — Julian — Rath — Arles — Guillan — Zara — Nesso.

 

I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum but here’s my spoiler banner to remind you all to read or skim with caution!

spoilersss

 

MEJOJO VON GARIBALDI

  • major inferiority complex
  • Dom af

It doesn't matter, After all, you're mine 2

Mejojo von Garibaldi is the crown prince of Weblin. Fiona often describes him as this beautiful and perfect prince of the kingdom. However, despite his princely exterior, Mejojo seems rather self-important and single-minded. He also has this unhealthy obsession of wanting to obtain the heroine as his bride and will stop at nothing to see that through.

I picked Mejojo’s route first because all I ever thought of was “Sakurai voices him, this route must be immensely good”. Boi, was I wrong! LOL

Well, actually, let me take that back! (laughs). It’s not that I didn’t enjoy this route. In fact, I REALLY love Mejojo’s story! It’s his romance with the heroine (if there was any) that I had a love-hate relationship with. Mejojo was very possessive from the get-go and this possessiveness was consistent all throughout his route. He’s an absolute control freak and this was all explained in the common story as to why and apparently expounded more as you go further towards his endings.

I feel like his “feelings” for Fiona simply gravitated on the fact that she was a vessel of something he could never obtain before, and acquiring her was his way of satisfying a deeper accomplishment. More than anything, It’s as if the heroine became somewhat his trophy wife.  Both his good and bad endings have no redemption and I actually applaud the writers for portraying him as is.

As far as the heroine’s POV, at one point I can actually understand how she felt towards Mejojo. How Fiona still has this trickle of hope that she can one day, change him when in reality there really isn’t anything she can do. He will continuously show his good side, so long as she remains his possession. It’s very intriguing how this somehow resembles an abusive relationship in real life, where the ‘abusee’ tricks herself to believe that everything’s fine and that life is good with her partner when on the contrary, it clearly isn’t.

Anyway, I enjoy a good problematic character route and Mejojo’s story definitely takes the cake. This was actually one of my favorite routes in BWS (laughs). The complexity of his backstory vehemently piqued my interest for some reason that I found it fascinating how much substance this character has.

 

AUGER VON GARIBALDI

  • S&M
  • sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whip excite meee!♪

I want to taste more of you 2

Auger von Garibaldi is Mejojo’s younger twin brother. A care-free young lad who has no interest to rule Weblin and would rather spend all of his time doing his beloved older brother ‘s bidding regardless of how morally reprehensible they might be. He seems to enjoy it most that way. 

After finishing Mejojo’s story, I already knew what I was getting into, doing Auger’s route next. I can probably write a three-page essay about this character, explaining his rather, hedonistic actions but to make it less spoiler-ey, I have to say, Auger has THE most interesting personality of all the major characters in this game. There’s absolutely nothing romantic or anything of the sort in his route. I still think to this day about Auger’s driving force in doing all the questionable (not to mention disturbing) things he’s done and I could come up with a couple of theories that would possibly fall into the same category.  Total Madness.

His good and bad endings gave me several impressions of how far long gone his humanity has receded from view and if there are any shards of it left, there’s probably no way to put em all back to place. As to why Fiona chooses him in his route, I have absolutely no clue nor words to defend it since no sane person would ever fall in love with a sicko unless they are sickos themselves too! lmao.

I expected f*cked up events going through Auger’s story and his route definitely delivers it with flying colors! Again, I applaud the writers for not even making any effort on excusing Auger’s behavior because I believe, this was the point of his story. Cutthroats don’t need reasons to be ruthlessly cruel. This character literally belongs in an asylum with barred steel doors. Fall in love with him and you get Auger’s route in a nutshell.

 

JULIAN

  • broken cinnamon bun
  • Some major spoilers ahead!

But, uhh your lips tasted like roses, i like it2

Julian is a gardener in the kingdom of Weblin who also became Fiona’s caretaker and her only friend when she started living in the castle. He is a soft-spoken young man who’s very kind and gentle to the heroine. Although he’s a very polite persona upfront, it is apparent that he possesses a lurking dark mystery around him that makes Julian more than meets the eye.

It was kind of nice to get into Julian’s route, after clearing the problem twin’s out of the way. It was a breath of fresh air to finally see the heroine having great relationship dynamics with a love interest. But good gawd! His psychotic tendencies were pretty horrifying and I’m not even talking about his “broken state”.

Just like Mejojo and Auger’s route, Julian’s story was a terrific character study where you can definitely see great depths of an abnormal psychological background. It was safe to say that his instant switch from being a calm, cuddly bun-bun to a disturbing psychopath stems from the torture he received from Mejojo and Auger and that it only activates when they’re around. What’s funny is that going down his “true ending” gave me more chills and goosebumps than finishing his good and bad end. The game made it very clear that Julian’s broken-ness definitely took a toll on him all the way where he can never be fixed.

Julain’s True Ending
Yes, he remained loving and gentle to Fiona. His true ending could’ve never been a perfect romantic story for the heroine. She and her love are finally free from torment and Weblin is a non-chaotic place again. But, here’s the catch, is Julian really cured of his broken state? Is it safe to assume that with the help of the heroine, he was finally healed from the mental suffering he for so long endured? I think this demented ending was honestly clear of depicting a person who can anytime become unhinged, unknowingly. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy it fully! (laughs)

 

RATH VOGART

  • fluffy munchkin
  • a good boi

You I dont want you to die, thats whats on my mind

Rath Vogart is the younger brother of Arles V. Felnoir, the leader of the wolf pack. Rath was separated from his big brother after their family was slaughtered under the command of Mejojo and Auger during the time when the entire kingdom of Weblin turned against the wolf race. In the prologue, we can see both wolf brothers reuniting after many years.

Rath is a very quiet character and remains very impassive towards the world and almost everyone in BWS. He has pretty much accepted the unfortunate fate of the wolf race and that changing their destinies is never a possibility in his point of view. His body also suffers from Zodiva, an uncured illness that was said to have come from the wolves, threatening almost everyone in Weblin.

I’ll get straight to the point here and say, Rath’s route in Bloody Nightmare was completely copped out that it basically ended in the middle of his story! Wth! I want my money back! I guess this is due to the fact that ‘Bloody Nightmare’ merely focused on establishing the cat’s backstory while ‘Last Hope’ does the same for the wolves. I see what you did there Rejet! 

Though this game campaign positively worked in getting you really immersed in Weblin’s storyline, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed how Rath’s route ended. He didn’t even get to confess his feelings for Fiona sob! It’s a shame because he was also the character I was gunning for this whole time. He was such a mysterious, sweet and adorable character, (top it off with Yuki Kaji’s voice acting *cries*) and the build-up of his story was really interesting only to end up abruptly in an open-ended phase.

Guess, I’m gonna have to muscle through the kanji off Last Hope to know what actually happened next! (laughs)

 

ARLES V. FELNOIR

  • the silver wolf king
  • bittersweet

In my dream, I couldnt protect you. I dream that Mejojo and Auger will kill you

Arles is the leader of the wolf pack. He’s now known as the “King of the Wolves” after the wolf raid in Weblin. Before their unfortunate fate, he was a well-known knight in Weblin but was later labeled a traitor who fled the castle for his crimes. His main goal is to get revenge on the Garibaldi twins and ensure justice for his people. Despite Arles’s, hatred towards Weblin and his brooding anger for Mejojo, he still possesses a gentle personality towards his family and his wolf brethren. Hence why everyone in the wolf clan respects him and follow him as their leader.

I believe I have liked Arles’s character more than I expected in this game. His backstory, although frustratingly sad, was also really bittersweet. You’d be able to tell why the character resents everyone in the kingdom so much, that he’s turned himself into a murderous monster, just as how Mejojo has spread the lies around the country about the once fallen knight of Weblin.

The heroine, who later on finds out about Arles’s gentle side, develops a sense of attachment towards him which was seemingly believable even though they obviously lacked some relationship build-up in this route. Though I’ve quite enjoyed his interactions with Fiona, his scenes with her left me unsatisfied as it was always cut short. In the end, I kept wondering whether Arles’s feelings for her were genuinely true or was it all because she resembled his dead fiance, Elvira and that protecting her was some kind of redemption he needed to accomplish?

Same with Rath’s route, Arles’s story lacked so much in both depth and romance because Bloody Nightmare’s main focus is on the cat faction. Thankfully his good ending didn’t end as awful and short as Rath’s (or else I’ll go completely ballistic! *laughs*). In fact, I believe I’ve actually enjoyed how realistic it (his good end) turned out to be.

 

GUILLAN GUINOR

  • bloodlust-ish
  • oujidere?

Woah! You're one enthusiastic woman!

Guillan is Arles’ right hand or rather, the second-in-command captain of the wolf faction. Very little is known about this character’s past nor background except that Guillan is very loyal to the wolf clan. He respects Arles as his leader and even proves his devotion to his king (in Arles’s route).

Despite his bloodthirsty exterior, we can all assume that Guillan’s personality is actually rather childlike that the heroine has even pointed out how he looked cute when she pats his fur (in his wolf form) or whenever he asks for her praises.

Guillan literally acts like a kid or I guess, I should say, the playful cub in the wolf pack. He’s pretty much like this all throughout his route. Romantic wise, this is perhaps a yay or nay depending on your preferences. Do you really want to romance someone who acts like a child? lol I mean it’s cute and all, I even thought of it as adorable to some extent. My main problem with his route is the fact that he gets no kind of backstory. His sudden shift from a bloodthirsty mad man to being a cuddly puppy wasn’t really clear to me either. Did the writers just outright design Guillan’s personality like this from the jump?  I also wanted to know how he came about knowing Arles and why he devoted his life to following him. It may seem that Guillian’s little backstory will be covered in Last Hope, but since he’s an exclusive Bloody Nightmare love interest, I’m not too sure now (shrug).

His “True Ending” left me all (⊙_⊙)……….!

 

ZARA SKEENS

  • vanilla
  • childhood friend route

I love you too, my lady..png

Zara Skeens is a war orphan whom the earl, Edgar Galland, the heroine’s father took in many years ago. He was appointed as Fiona’s caretaker while she lived alone in the tower her father built for her. Although Zara was only a mere butler in the Galland family, he was treated as a brother by Nesso and Fiona, to a point where his closeness to the Galland siblings are compared to none.

Zara has a natural talent for medicines and herbology. It is also because of him that the heroine was able to stay healthy all this time despite being a Lobeira (a person with a very weak body).

What can I say? I really liked Zara’s route but it was *kind of* too vanilla for this game. I guess this is a good thing because almost all the routes so far have been very edgy, so going down Zara’s story was such a relief! All throughout his route, and even on other’s, Zara was able to remain level headed, witty and very refined that I actually trust he wouldn’t do anything bad towards the heroine.

His backstory, though it wasn’t explored much was still very satisfying to read. You’ll basically understand where his motivations are coming from and why he decided to remain loyal and faithful serving Fiona and the Galland family. His relationship with the heroine was clearly established by the writers as the usual childhood-friend trope and although I am usually not a fan of these tropes, Zara’s was done unexpectedly good. It was also nice to see Fiona, discovering her own true feelings for him instead of just thinking of Zara as her butler. I had so much fun playing his story that I believe this was the only route where I didn’t get to twitch my eyebrows due to any odd or weird occurrences the game throws at you 😂 (laughs). Oh and I love both his good and bad endings. Zara’s story is one example of vanilla routes done right in an otome game. Kudos!

 

NESSO GALLAND

  • oniisan route
  • implied yand?

Now then, shall we dance.png

Nesso is the heroine’s older half-brother. That being said, he was born of the Earl’s first late wife. Nesso is also Weblin’s strongest Royal Knight and captain of the Gefreiter, an elite band of soldiers known for their incredible strengths and achievements in the kingdom of Weblin. Because of this, Nesso is always away on missions and spends less time visiting his half-sister Fiona in her tower in Sharlmessen.

Nesso has absolutely no qualms of declaring his love for Fiona and would even talk about wanting to marry his half-sister one day, (this may be a bit ‘eye-rolling’ but this is apparently acceptable in the Black Wolves Saga lore). He’s also very overprotective and is greatly in favor of keeping Fiona in the tower for her own safety as well as to keep her away from Mejojo, whom he knew was obsessed with his little sister.

I liked Nesso as a character in general. His route, however, just didn’t work for me. Even though it was perfectly explained how this ain’t a taboo in BWS… I just can’t with incestual routes, nope! It was a shame because I do believe Nesso was a great character in the game but as a love interest? Hell naw. Some “romantic” events in his route only made me uncomfortable that I just couldn’t wait to finish it. Ha!

Setting the incest aside (lol), I believe what actually made me enjoy playing Nesso’s story was his voice actor, Shinichirou Miki (voice of Hijikata in Hakuoki). I’ve been a big fan of this seiyuu since the first Hakuoki franchise so I guess I’m just being biased here when I say I “enjoyed” the route even though it literally made me feel awkward. Har har! Oh well! ┐(︶▽︶)┌

 

FIONA GALLAND (Main Heroine)

fiona

Born as a Lobeira (a person with a very weak body), Our heroine has been living in an enclosed tower of Sharlmessen for as long as she can remember. This was decided by her father, Edgar Galland and her half brother Nesso to keep Fiona away from harm and to preserve her weak body from contracting any disease that may end her life. Because of this, Fiona is completely oblivious to the madness and bloodshed that’s happening outside her home and all over the kingdom of Weblin.

I couldn’t really get myself to hate or dislike Fiona for her naivety and innocence because the game purposely implied her to be like that from the get-go knowing she grew up literally sheltered and ignorant to the darker side of life. I’ve expected her to be just another one of those standard otome heroines, but after finishing the entire Bloody Nightmare story, I strongly believe she isn’t. Quite the contrary, I feel that her character was well though-out. We sometimes judge heroines for their weakness and for making really dumb stupid decisions, but in Fiona’s case, it’s entirely different.

Her fate was already decided for her when she was born. People say, she could’ve been physically stronger but as a Lobeira, what choice could she possibly have? I also think her lack of common sense isn’t to blame for some of her mistakes (esp. on the twin’s route). Her sheltered upbringing played a big role with her being extremely naive and completely inexperienced and I think the writers were even relentless when showing this in the plot. Imagine growing up only knowing the good things in life (not to mention being confined in a secluded place due to health reasons), stepping into the real world for the first time literally means being thrown into the wolves…  or crazy cats for that matter! (Pun unintended haha)

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? (ノ´ヮ`)ノ*: ・゚
It took me such a long time to finish this game. Frankly speaking, this is entirely my fault after taking a break from otome gaming for months. However, gameplay-wise, I believe it’ll take you 30 hours to finish Black Wolves Saga Bloody Nightmare and another 20-30 hours to finish Last Hope. There were eight routes altogether and while I wouldn’t say it was a chore to finish, its linear storyline made it really mundane and repetitive after the third and fourth playthroughs.

Story-wise, I thought it was very good. The fantasy plot of Black Wolves Saga goes very deep in its roots regarding Weblin’s dark political history. However, since Bloody Nightmare’s all about the cat faction, I feel like the endings of other characters who aren’t, well… cats, were quite detached from the storyline. For example, in Zara and Nesso’s ending, it was never mentioned how Weblin’s ongoing war between factions was concluded. Did Auger and Mejojo completely eradicated the wolves existence? Where there any wolf survivors? Did Mejojo just let her bride which he was overly obsessed with for years, escape just like that?

Perhaps the writers intended for us to theorize our own closures and while I don’t mind this at all, I’d much prefer canon conclusions than letting my imagination run wild (cackles).

The routes/characters I liked in Bloody Nightmare were Rath, Arles, Zara and a special mention to my scum husbando, Mejojo lol. Rath and Arles’s route were cut short towards the end but I still enjoyed them nonetheless as main characters. Zara’s story was adorable and although his good ending was completely detached from the main plot-line, he still wins best boi in the romance category. Mejojo was a trash love interest but his story was extremely fun and interesting to explore.

 

Do I recommend this game? YES
I have to warn you though, this visual novel is not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a nice fluffy, romantic otome story about cat bois and wolf husbandos look elsewhere as Black Wolves Saga ~ Bloody Nightmare is not that kind of otome game. I don’t even think it fits perfectly well as an “otome” title because the plot still works as it is, even if you take the romance out. That said, this game gives you that fascinating “ick” feeling when playing it. BWS is edgy and off the chain but I can assure you that the experience is definitely worth it especially if you’re into dark romantic thrillers in fiction.

If you’re curious enough to even consider picking this game up, I dare you to do it and experience the wild ride first hand. *wink*

 

CHLO’S RATING: 8/10

Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles Review

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CODE REALIZE: WINTERTIDE MIRACLES

Release Date:  February 14, 2019 (North America)
Developers:  Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers:  Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS Vita, PS4
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

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I literally took my time playing this FD, knowing it’s the last (physical) otome game that will ever grace localization in the PS Vita.

Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles (Shirogane no Kiseki) is the second fandisc of the series, Code Realize. This game contains varieties of alternate and after stories that happened after the events of the last fandisc, Future Blessings.

 

This fandisc contains the following stories:

  • Cantarella (Side Story) – Walkthrough available here.
  • Finis’s Epilogue
  • Sholme’s Epilogue
  • Love Triangle Stories (Short Stories)
  • Wintertide Miracles “First Christmas” (Alternate Stories)
  • Special Epilogues (Epilogues for White Rose’s stories in Future Blessings)

 

ART AND MUSIC
I know this is probably redundant as I’ve gushed about it a few times in my reviews for Guardian of Rebirth and Future Blessings. But, the artist Miko has done it again! I could not for the life of me, describe how incredibly beautiful the CGs are for this fandisc. There were also new sprites available for all the main and side characters, wearing their cozy winter outfits. Even Queen Victoria gets a new sprite wearing her expensive royal fur faux garb!

What I also loved about this fandisc were the new BGMs added for the series, they were all unforgettable and were specially made for the game’s Yuletide theme. One song that really stood out to me was the second Ending theme (Finis’ and Sholmes’ ED) “Beside You” by the artist SHOJI. Listen to the full track below:

***I purchased the soundtrack for Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles in iTunes. Link here.
***Link to the original soundtrack CD of Wintertide Miracles (phyisical)  here.

 

NEW CHARACTERS

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Cantarella (CV: Mamiko Noto) – Fuuka (Persona 4), Kotomi Ichinose (Clannad), Inia Sestina (MuV Luv), Felicita (Arcana Famiglia), Marvis Vermilion  (Fairy Tale)

Miles Strand (CV: Keiji Fujiwara) – Kagura Mutsuki (Blazblue), Jiro Hyuuga (Binary Star), Reno (Final Fantasy), Kiriya (Senran Kagura), Sakuya Tougane (Psycho Pass)

Baron of Aiguille (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki) – Akito (Norn9), Thor (Kamigami no Asobi), Suou Hana (Ayakashi Gohan), Katsuragi Naomasa (Yunohana Spring), Kashika Galle (Cendrillon Palika)

 

SIDE STORIES AND AFTER STORIES
I did Cantarella’s route first, followed by Finis and Sholme’s epilogues, then knocked out the love triangle dates before I played the main course, that is the “First Christmas” alternate stories for Wintertide Miracles. I myself, enjoyed this play order, though I would suggest playing whatever story you feel like playing first because that’s the whole point of a fandisc! lol

 

CANTARELLA (Another Story)
This story happened somewhere in the middle of Guardian of Rebirth’s common route. On their way home, after watching a performance at the Royal Opera House, Cardia and the rest of Lupin’s gang witnessed an attempted kidnapping of the Opera House’s beloved songstress, Cantarella. They’ve managed to save her as well as send her perpetrator running for the hills. They then took Cantarella to her home for safety measures, which lead the gang to meet her so-called “father” Miles. In this story, Cardia finds a friend in Cantarella and later on, discovers her true identity as both their existence managed to connect each other’s fates.

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Just like “Lupin’s Gang’s” (side) story in Future Blessings, Cantarella’s route offers new likable characters and an interesting new plot for us to follow. Although I’ve very much enjoyed this story (for what it is), I didn’t like how the writers threw in these important characters on the third game, since canonically they don’t matter anymore as the main plot officially ended in Future Blessings. I would rather have this as an alternate story than a side story because It felt kind of unfair for Cantarella, Miles, and Auguille to get dissed like that after this little episode. lol Unless they’re planning on a third fandisc! (laughs)

Although the choices you make in Cantarella’s route, will not change the whole outcome of her story. It will, however, change a few scenes and dialogues in the game depending on the guy (main characters) your choices are inclined to. You can view my walkthrough for this route here.

 

FINIS’ EPILOGUE (After Story)
This after story took place right after the end of Finis’s route in Future Blessings. 

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Six months have passed since Cardia managed to save his little brother, Finis from the unfortunate Nautilus incident in London. During this time, both twins return to their home in Wales and spend each day cleaning and repairing their old abandoned house while enhancing their bond as siblings. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose when one of Isaac Beckford’s invention called the “Knockers” have been spotted destroying a couple of buildings in London. It was made clear in the story, that these supposed-to-be-quarantined inventions of Isaac were “wrongly” activated by accident and it is now, up to the  Beckford twins (Finis’ most especially, since he’s fully knowledgeable when it comes to their father’s inventions) to stop this heaving uproar that threatened London its peaceful days.

This was probably one of my favorite After Stories in the series. Not only we get to see Finis in his true nature, as Cardia’s adorable cinnamon roll lil’ brother. We also get to see Lupin’s Gang and the Gordon Family in action as they help out clear the disruption in the streets of London during the main incident. ***This epilogue was very heartwarming and I absolutely enjoyed seeing Finis’ soft side while he deliberately declares threats whenever one of the main bois flirts with his sister! *chuckles* (´ ω `♡)

 

HERLOCK SHOLME’S EPILOGUE (After Story)
This after story took place right after the end of Sholme’s route in Future Blessings. 

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It’s been half a year since Sholmes defeated his arch nemesis, James Moriaty (in Code realize Future Blessings). During this story, Cardia becomes part of Sholmes’ Detective agency together with his partner John Watson. The three of them fight crimes for the cause of good, even to the extent of ‘trying‘ to stop Lupin, the gentleman thief’s planned diamond heist of the prized jewel called “Mermaid’s Tear”.  Though try as they might, Lupin, as cunning as he is, still gets the upper hand and was able to escape with ease together with his genius engineer assistant, Impey. I know this was just a filler episode but it was kind of weird seeing Cardia as their enemy for once, but oh well…

Anyway, Sholmes actual main story revolved around finding a cure to Cardia’s poison.  As the Horologium still present in Cardia’s body, this fact still poses a threat that one day it will activate again, killing her along with the demise of London and its people. With this complication at hand, Sholmes gathered his A-team geniuses in the field of science and medicine; Victor Frankenstein, Dr. John Watson, Impey Barbicane and even the deviant genius scientist Nemo, who apparently now lives in a tiny cardboard box located in sewers (laughs) 😂 Poor guy! As all of them try their hardest to conduct research on a formula that will counteract the horologium’s poison, more problems seep into the picture that eventually causes Sholmes and Cardia make one life-threatening decision.

I like how Sholmes’ epilogue was narrated in a fairytale-esque kind of way. I enjoyed the story’s fluff content though, to be honest, this is probably the weakest story in the game (imo) as there really wasn’t anything “new” going on. Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of Sholmes, I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time discovering a few surprising sides of our favorite hot daddy detective. 

 

FIRST CHRISTMAS “Wintertide Miracles” (Alternate Stories)
These are “after stories” that happened right after Finis’ route in Future Blessings. It’s merely an alternate story where our heroine Cardia finds love during the Yuletide season. We get one story for every five main characters. What’s really special about these stories is that Cardia falls in love with one of the guys while his brother is alive! …THIS couldn’t be any more perfect, ❤️ I almost wished this was headcanon!

 

Spoiler Warning: I will only be posting each story’s premise but I’m putting up my spoiler banner just in case.

spoilersss

 

Victor Frankenstein
After Isaac Beckford’s Nautilus incident that wreaked havoc in the city of London six months ago. Victor ended up opening a clinic located in the downtown part of London in order to help as many people as possible at a cheaper cost.

Victor’s main story started when one day he receives a mail from his parents in Switzerland telling him to settle down. He, in reply, told them he has no plans in getting married anytime soon but then started talking about how he’s currently interested with this ‘one girl’ and went all out writing two whole pages regarding his feelings for Cardia. (´ ε ` )♡ Without thinking of any repercussions, he sends the letter back to his parents judging its only the right thing to do as he’s speaking honestly from his heart. uwu. The next few days, he receives a reply letter from his mom saying they’re coming to London for Christmas so they can meet their son, Vic’s girlfriend. 🤣

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In result, a panicked Victor travels to Wales to ask Cardia to be his “pretend” girlfriend just for Christmas while his parents are in town. 😂

***This was by far the cutest, most endearing “First Christmas” story I’ve read among the selections and I absolutely enjoyed it to bits! Besides its overwhelming fluffy contents, we also get to see Victor introducing Cardia to his parents (in CG!).

 

Saint Germain
Six months after the Nautilus Incident, Saint Germain, visits Idea’s leader Omnibus and reports that both Finis and Cardia, Isaac Beckford’s “problematic twins” are now living peacefully in Wales as normal human beings and are no longer a threat to humanity. As one of Idea’s faithful apostle, he awaits for Omnibus next order but was surprised to hear her tell him to take a long sweet vacation instead.

Still dumbfounded by their leader’s words, Saint Germain goes back to the mansion to find something to do with his newly acquired free time but since everyone in Lupin’s gang went about their own lives after London’s incident, he was left as the only resident in his house. This made him feel lonely and he admits to himself how much he misses the rowdy group clamoring inside the premise of his mansion. What’s more, is that he longs to see the face of his beloved, who he has not seen since his last visit in Wales.

This made him decide to write invitation letters to the group for a Christmas “Get-together” party. Though unsure if his anticipated guests would actually make it to the planned event. Saint Germain waits with hopeful eyes to see the faces of his precious friends again.

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***The part where he waits for his friends actually made me tear 😭. Why are Saint Germain’s stories always melancholic? Why?! Thank goodness, this ended really REALLY happy. I would also like to gush on the fact that this is the only episode in the whole series where we get to see Guinevere outside her armor! Seriously, you absolutely can’t miss this!

 

Abraham Van Helsing
After London’s Nautilus incident, Van decides to travel with Delly all over United Kingdom in search for survivors of the Vampire War.

During their travels, the duo hears about the upcoming Christmas festival in London and decides to come home for the occasion as well as attend the gang’s Christmas party at Saint Germain’s mansion. They haven’t seen everyone in a while, so this decision made Van and Delly both excited. While at it, Delly proposes to take a side trip to Wales before coming to London and see the Beckford twins. Van agrees with him with Cardia in mind. ( ´ ▽ ` )

A few days have passed and they both arrived at Cardia and Finis’ home in Wales only to be disheartened to see the twins not being around. But with optimism as their friend, Van and Delly decided to wait. Night falls, and finally, Cardia and Finis arrived in the most unfashionable way ever (their automobile almost came crashing towards the duo) 😂 Everyone says their greetings when Cardia noticed that Van and Delly have been waiting out in the cold for too long, so she insisted they stay for the night.

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The supposed-to-be one night stay turned into days and the group eventually decided to go to London together. While still in Wales, Cardia wanted to make everyone Christmas presents in the form of knitting and Van insisted on helping her with it.

***I love this! (/▽\*) This surprising side of Van Helsing is all I ever wanted. I’m so glad to see him happy, always smiling and in his positive beaming self. It’s so refreshing! I need more happy-ray-of-sunshine Van Helsing in my life!

 

Impey Barbicane
Half a year has passed since the Nautilus incident in London and Impey visits the deviant scientist Nemo in prison from time to time as he plans to re-invent the gravity alleviator and is currently taking notes on Nemo’s advise while at it.

One day, In Saint Germain’s mansion, Saint tells Impey they received word from Van and Delly saying they’ll be back in London for Christmas. Since Lupin and Victor are already residing in the city, they decided to might as well invite Cardia and Finis in order for the gang to reunite once more this Yuletide season.

Meanwhile, in Wales, Cardia, (while fixing their automobile) thinks of how Impey’s constant declaration of love for her makes her heart feel woozy. She gets confused because she’s sure she loves Impey back but also “loves” the other members of Lupin’ s gang as well as her brother Finis. With this train of thought, she pesters her little bro and forced him to say the phrase “I love you” (to her), to which a blushing Finis, with all the effort, reluctantly did. 😂 But then yo girl was like “Oh but why does it feel different when Impey says it?” 😂 😂 😂 ROFL. This was adorably hilarious! I just can’t! 😂 

Later that day, they received a package from London in the form of a miniature Impey doll with a recording of Impey, Saint Germain and Lupin’s voice telling the siblings to come home for Christmas.

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***I really enjoyed reading this one! I love how Cardia was strongly forward of wanting to explore her own feelings as she tries to discover the different meanings of “love”.  …and seeing Impey immensely blush time and again was such an awesome treat, I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear! Another plus point was that we get to see Nemo give love advises to yo boi and that, to me was the icing on the cake in this story! (laughs)

 

Arsene Lupin
After the Nautilus incident in London six months ago, Lupin is back doing his thievery schemes like the proud gentleman thief he is.

One day while on a mission to steal a prized necklace from a corrupt Duke’s estate, he ends up being chased by Leonhartd as usual and just when he was about to execute his dashing escape, he gets distracted (by thoughts of Cardia) and gets shot by a rubber bullet instead. This, not only surprised Lupin himself but his perpetrators, Leonhardt, and his men were also perplexed at how they were able to take out the famed gentleman thief in one easy shot. In the end, an injured Lupin still managed to get away as he limped his way back to safety.

Back at the mansion, Victor along with Impey confronts Lupin saying he’s not being his usual self lately and asks him to perhaps, take a rain check from work (theft missions). A week later, Saint Germain chimes in, telling him the same and suggests that perhaps he’s longing for “someone”.  Taking in the Count’s advise to heart, Lupin begins to think of Cardia and how her absence is taking a toll on him. He then concedes with his true feelings and finally admits he misses her badly and the only way to cure this yearning is to see her face to face. So he starts writing the ‘perfect’ love letter for his beloved lady. 😂

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***I must say, this after-story has the best CGs, as expected from the game’s headcanon boi. Just like Lupin’s uwu story in Future Blessings, it had its glorious romantic moments between the couple. As far as I see it, the game is clearly biased on Lupin’s story… the kabedon scene and that loooong kiss at the end, come on!  I couldn’t ask for more!

 

TRIANGLE DATES (More CGs!)
These are short stories which involve scenarios of Cardia spending her day with two main characters in the series. Although these are rather shorter stories compared to the ‘Wintertide Miracles’ selection, I was really impressed by how exceptionally good these little episodes were. You think you’ve had enough doki-dokis? Try this one on for size!

graphics-kawaii-small-223230Here’s a list of all the Love Triangle episodes (you can play it in any order):

  • Lupin and Victor pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Lupin and Impey pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Lupin and Van pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Lupin and Saint Germain pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Van and Impey pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Van and Victor pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Van and Saint Germain pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Impey and Victor pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Impey and Saint Germain pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Victor and Saint Germain pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11

Secret Episodes:

  • Delly and Sisi pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Aliester and Nemo pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11
  • Hansel and John Watsonpixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11pixel-hearts-png-11

 

SPECIAL EPILOGUES
These are short epilogue stories continuing the last events of Future Blessings (White Rose). These will unlock last, after finishing all of the above’s selections.

 

2019-02-26-213609IMPEY
It’s been a few days and Impey hasn’t returned home after going on a work-related project (fixing airships and submarine engines in London).  Cardia was left alone in the mansion and although she knows Impey will come back soon, she thought of surprising him by gathering a lot of research documents related to their ‘moon-project’. She leaves for Wales to collect any information her father might have written in the past that can possibly help with the project. Not to ruin the surprise for her hardworking husband, she leaves a note that says “I’m going”.

Impey arrives at home, finds the note then begins to panic thinking Cardia has left him.😂 So he hurries and follows her to Wales to clear out this whole silly misunderstanding.

 

2019-02-26-232213LUPIN
Cardia and Lupin go on a picnic at their secret place which has a great view of the industrial city of London and Lupin suggest that it’s about time to go on a honeymoon. Next few days, he takes Cardia to his birth city, Paris. There, they visit and the grave of his master, Theophraste and both of them said their prayers. They also ran into the head of the French police whom Lupin coined as someone equivalent to ossan Leonhartd. They had everyone (French police) chase them for fun and the couple gallantly escaped in style.

 

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VAN
Cardia and Van are finally getting married and Shirley helps Cardia put on her wedding dress. Cardia decided to step outside the church so she could practice walking in her high-heel shoes when a bunch of men in black suits kidnaps her and takes her to another wedding location. There she finds an impatient man wearing a groom’s outfit who urges her to walk down the aisle with him. Cardia remembers the combat techniques her husband taught her and throws the man to the floor. Meanwhile, a worried and upset Van bursts out through the church door and started taking down the men in suits Liam Neeson style! 😂 😂 😂 Before things get worse, the gang stops Van and explains this was all a misunderstanding as the kidnappers and groom were actually actors and the bride actress never showed up for rehearsals so they thought Cardia was her by mistake.

The Moral of the Story: Don’t mess with this couple… ever! 😂

 

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VICTOR
Cardia is now working as Victor’s assistant in the Royal Society and they spend their days doing research in Victor’s lab. Though they call themselves husband and wife, they realize that they never really had an actual wedding ceremony. So Victor asks Cardia if she wants to have a proper wedding and she says yes. A few days later, they began their search for a church in London but couldn’t find any since it’s peak season. Queen Victoria, along with Leonhardt notices Victor’s sullen expression and asks him what’s wrong, Victor tells them their circumstance and a snarky Victoria promises to help him only if he can prove to her how much he really wanted the wedding. After their deal, Victor comes home later than usual as he’s working extra hard to get her beloved wife that perfect wedding she deserves. Finally, the day has come for Victor to propose to Cardia and Victoria granted them permission to use the newly renovated St. Paul’s Cathedral. They got married in front of their friends and the Queen, and Cardia couldn’t be any happier.

 

2019-02-24-180658SAINT GERMAIN
Cardia is now free of her poison and she and Saint Germain return to London so they can hold their wedding ceremony. The Count buys the ship “Gloria” from their mafia adventures in Lupin’s Gang (Future Blessings) episode and tells her this will be their venue. A day before their promised wedding, Hansel takes Cardia to the enchanted forest and there they meet with Saint Germain and the leader of Idea herself, Omnibus. The old lady gives them her blessing, saying they will no longer be in the watchful eye of Idea and Saint Germain is now finally, freeee!  The couple both said their thanks to Omnibus. They got married in their luxurious ship the next day and all of their friends are with them happily celebrating the couple’s most special commemoration.

 

Will I be able to enjoy this game even if I haven’t played Future Blessings?
There were a lot of characters and events in Future Blessings that were present and added to this game, so I don’t think it’s a good idea to skip Future Blessings in the series. In addition, the main “Wintertide Miracles” stories continue from the last events of Finis’s route in Future Blessings, so, all the more reason not to skip the first fandisc.

Localization
There were a couple of typo mistakes that I couldn’t really overlook which makes me think that perhaps because of it’s promised released date on Valentines Day, the game was rather rushed and there wasn’t a lot of time spent dedicated solely on proofreading it. ┐(︶▽︶)┌

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? \(^▽^)/
My overall play length for Code Realize Wintertide Miracles was a good 10-15 hours. Despite me trying to make the game last forever for about at least, two weeks, I finished it pretty quickly because I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Cantarella’s side story was way better than the gang’s Mafia adventures in Future Blessings and I sure did wish the ‘Cantarella-characters’ would’ve made a cameo in the special epilogues, because seriouslywhat a waste of good characters to be squeezed in, on the third game. ┐(‘~` )┌

Finis wins best boi in my book. This was one of the things I really appreciated most in this FD, and I’m sure most Code Realize hardcore fans would agree. Finis’ character finally gets justice! We get to see more of his adorable side as Cardia’s little brother while maintaining his hostile and dubious personality 😂. Who would’ve thought this boy is such a tsun-tsun! ❤

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Do I recommend this game? YES (esp. to all Code Realize fans)
Take note, this game is the series’ second fandisc. So literally, one cannot play it all willy-nilly without fully playing it’s first two predecessors. Personally, I’ve enjoyed this game a lot but that’s because I’m already a huge fan of the series. Perhaps to those who aren’t into Code Realize, you probably won’t enjoy this as much.

With the production of PS Vita consoles and games, completely shutting down worldwide this year, Code Realize Wintertide Miracles was such a special treat for us otome fans ~ esp. now, where there is scarcity of otoge releases in the West.

The game’s romantic Christmas theme really took this one up a notch and the newly added side stories are really something to look forward to. If you already like Code Realize, loved it’s main casts and wished for more adventures with them, Code Realize: Wintertide Miracles is definitely worth the purchase.

 

CHLO’S RATING: 8/10

Nightshade Review (Nintendo Switch)

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NIGHTSHADE

Release Date:  December 20, 2018 (North America)
Developers:  Red Entertainment / LANTERN ROOMS
Publishers: D3Publisher
Platforms:  Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam)
ESRB Rating: (Mature) 17+

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Walkthroughs:

  1. Goemon
  2. Chojiro
  3. Hanzo
  4. Kuroyuki
  5. Gekkamaru
  6. Common Route

 

PROLOGUE (from Nightshade’s official site)
During the Sengoku Period the two main factions of ninja clans, Iga and Kōga, warred against each other for decades.
In the year 1593, Nobunaga Oda started the Tenshō Iga war, decimating most of the Iga ninjas in the process. The very few that survived were absorbed into the Kōga clan, despite their past rivalries. After 17 years the Sengoku Period finally came to an end, and Japan was unified.

Enju (Protagonist), daughter of Kandō Ueno, the Head of the Kōga clan, spends her days training diligently in hope of becoming a full-fledged ninja like her peers. At long last, she is assigned to her first mission but finds herself caught in a dark conspiracy.

 

ART AND MUSIC
One of Nightshade’s prominent features that’ll easily make an impression among otome fans, is its art style. The game credits non-other than the famous illustrator, Teita who’s fairly popular for her other works such as Norn9, the Juuzaengi  Engetsu Sangokuden saga and the recently released visual novel, Charade Maniacs.

I wish I could say the same for the game’s musical score. The OP theme was nice but wasn’t memorable at all. The END theme (Good End) however, “Taezaru Hana”  by MIKOTO was pretty soothing that I ended up purchasing the track in iTunes. Listen to the full song below:

 

Voice Acting
Nightshade honestly has the best seiyuu lineup. The voice acting was, in fact, one of the major highlights of the game. The VAs really did an amazing job capturing your emotions. I was already expecting this much from their topnotch VA list, but they did more than stellar performances with this game! Every seiyuu involved were magnificent, even the side character, Ieyasu Tokugawa (voiced by Koki Miyata, who’s famous for his role as Ukyo in Amnesia), did an amazing job portraying his cunning personality.

 

Hikaru Midorikawa ♥ “Goemon Ishikawa” – Tamahome (Fushigi Yuugi Suzaku Ibun), Zenya (Sweet Pool), Ayato (Diabolik Lovers), Hanate (7’Scarlet), Yutaka Nabari (Nil Admirari)

Wataru Hatano “Gekkemaru” – Asato (Lamento Beyond the Void), Lindo (Dance with the Devils), Kotarou (Hakuoki), Sakiyama Youji (Sweet Pool), Yuuto (Storm Lover)

Hiro Shimono “Kuroyuki – Shou Kurusu (Utapri), Senri Ichinose (Norn9), Sou Kiryuu (Harukanaru Toki no Naka De 5), Ricchie (Black Wolves Saga), Ray Blackwell (Ikerev)

Kenjiro Tsuda “Hanzo Hattori” – Chikage Kazama (Hakuoki), Soshi Amazaki (The Charming Empire), Leonardo Da Vinci (Ikevamp), Nathan Seymour (Tiger & Bunny)

Kosuke Toriumi “Chojiro Momochi” – Hajime Saito (Hakuoki), Kagiha (Psychedelica BB), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Lawrence (Psychedelica AH), John Watson (Code Realize)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (Spoiler Free)

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I must say, I love all of the characters and their routes that it was hard for me to pick a favorite. If you’re concerned with plot spoilers in your first playthrough, my recommendation would be to play the routes in the following order (from least to greatest in spoiler content):  Goemon – Hanzo – Chojiro – Kuroyuki – Gekkamaru. For enjoyability, I’d recommend playing in the same order. Goemon and Hanzo were the lighter routes, Chojiro was angst from start to finish and the brothers (Kuroyuki and Gekkamaru) have more plot revelations than you’d  expect. I would also strongly recommend saving Gekkamaru’s route for last, trust me when I say, this makes your last playthrough more worthwhile. 😉

 

GOEMON ISHIKAWA

  • The Japanese Robin Hood
  • ladykiller

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True to his name in history books, Goemon Ishikawa is the legendary Japanese outlaw who stole gold and other valuables from the rich to give to the poor. He’s very popular among the townspeople due to his ingenious thieving schemes. He is known to send prior notices to his targets before he robs them off their treasures. Goemon is also a highly skilled ninja who has the wit of a brilliant tactician.

Playing Goemon’s route first was a good choice since his story was the lightest among the bachelors in the game, plus I haven’t fallen in love with Midorikawa’s voice in a while, so there’s also that ha! I find Goemon’s story really refreshing due to his carefree personality and charismatic nature. Because of this, it was so easy to like this character from the get-go. Going down his route will let you discover a few revelations regarding Goemon’s past, where he came from and how he ended up as the notorious thief he is now. His route also offers a couple of plot twists and although it was a little predictable towards the end, it was executed really well where it didn’t feel awkward nor forced. As far as the romance goes, Goemon is a straight-up, ladykiller. It was fun to see his relationship with Enju develop all throughout his route. His playful teasing and his easy-going personality will have you falling for him in no time.

 

HANZO HATTORI

  • Mr. stoic ninja
  • kuudere

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Besides, being Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa’s personal guard, Hanzo is also the Tokugawa clan’s shinobi leader. Because of his resounding title as the strongest ninja history has ever known, he is very popular among all the shinobi clans in Japan. He is normally calm and collected but will not hesitate to become ruthless for the success of his mission.

Hanzo is the oldest among the bachelors (and I absolutely love him!) He is, I believe 33 years old, making quite an age gap between him and the heroine Enju, but LOL this is Toyotomi-Tokugawa (Edo 1600’s – 1800’s) period we’re talking about, where huge age gaps among couples are very common… But age aside, let me tell you… Hanzo’s route completely took me by surprise! I have no words! *Breaths heavily* I guess, I was already eyeing this character from the start since Kenjiro Tsuda voiced him. But I wasn’t expecting his arc to be this good that it literally caught me off guard. He ended up becoming my favorite of the entire game!

At first, he started as the very straightforward stoic kind, who’s only doing his master, Lord Tokugawa’s bidding. But after a few encounters where he teams up with the heroine and helps her survive, he begins to slightly soften up, giving us a glimpse of his true adorable fluffy nature. Both Hanzo and Enju go through tremendous character development in this route, especially the heroine. I just love seeing Enju prove herself time and again how much she wanted to make it as a true shinobi while she constantly faces hardships every step of the way (she’s freakin’ cool!) I also love seeing Hanzo unexpectedly supporting her through her struggles. It’s as if, rather than saving her all the time, he wants her to learn to depend on herself instead; and to me, this relationship was truly very refreshing, not to mention absolutely heartwarming. Expect a lot of badass back to back action scenes in this route, where Hanzo and Enju kick some ninja ass!

 

CHOJIRO MOMOCHI

  • Big Brother
  • Angst! Angst! Angst!

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Chojiro is the son of the late leader of Iga, Tanba Momochi . After losing his family and clan in the Tensho Iga War at the age of five, he joined the Koga clan along with the other Iga survivors. Chojiro is also the heroine’s cousin as well as her mentor/trainer. He is a man of a few words and he completely devotes himself to his missions without questions.

I made a mistake playing Chojiro’s route earlier in the game as I wasn’t ready for a sudden whirlwind of angst! At the start, Chojiro’s personality was very closed off, its almost as if he has built a wall before him to keep others away. Because of his tragic past, he doesn’t want to get attached to anyone, afraid he’d lose them at the blink of an eye just like how he lost his parents when he was young. This makes his relationship with Enju a little less intimate from the beginning. As the heroine tries her best to get a closer reach of him, he waves his feelings off because he’s conflicted between succeeding his missions as a shinobi versus his own desire to help Enju and stay by her side.

Chojiro’s route was also the most tragic in the game!😭 Ya’ll better prepare those tissues! Romantic wise, his story was not my favorite. The drama just out-weights the romance on this one. I do love the writing in his route though. It seriously gave me an emotional breakdown I wasn’t prepared for. 😅I suggest playing his route in the middle to get the angst out of the way. This, also kinda gives you more room to recuperate from the heavy drama before jumping into an even more dramatic finish as you do Gekka’s route last.

 

KUROYUKI

  • clever, cunning
  • soft yand

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Kuroyuki is Gekkamaru’s younger brother. Right after he was born, both boys became orphans and were taken in by Enju’s family. He was sent away on an extended mission when he was eight, by the heroine’s father Kando Ueno, who’s also the leader and head chief of the Koga clan. Kuroyuki is also the same age as Enju (16).

Not much is revealed about this character other than he is Gekkamaru’s brother who was sent on a secret mission when he was eight years old. Where did he go? What was he doing for the last eight years he was gone? It was rather questionable how his character (in other routes) always comes and goes sporadically in the plot.

I couldn’t really expound more on Kuroyuki’s arc without entering spoiler territory but going down his route will let you discover one interesting revelation about him and the game’s overarching plot. It was quite satisfying to play Yuki’s route because finally! we get to fill in some plot holes. I fell in love with his story for the same reasons some people are calling it out for. It wasn’t light nor easy-going as Goemon’s or Hanzo’s, it wasn’t tragic as Chojiro’s or Gekkamaru’s. It was dark and I probably wouldn’t have it in any other way. Kudos to Hiro Shimono for breathing extra life to this character!

 

GEKKAMARU

  • best boi
  • puppy eyes
  • true route ish?

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After losing his family at the age of three, Gekkamaru was adopted by the heroine’s parents along with his younger brother Kuroyuki. Gekkamaru was assigned as Enju’s trusted bodyguard when they were young and has proven his loyalty and devotion through time by sticking to his role as Enju’s protector. He is wholeheartedly committed to his master (Enju) to a point where he becomes too overprotective of her.

So after going through all kinds of heaps and hooplas of playing and suffering each of the character routes in the game, I’m finally down on my last one, Gekkamaru. I know you can just play his route whenever but I chose to do his story last for the experience. ohoho!

…and I have no regrets!😭 Gekkamaru’s route started with pure dramatic fluff as expected. It was just so precious and endearing to see how far this man would go for the sake of the heroine. His loyalty and dedication for Enju was such a pure bliss that it even pains me to see him doing too much😭. His route was a combination of action, romance, a side of humor and a whole lot of drama as he and the heroine struggled to survive by each other’s side. I thought to myself, “This story couldn’t get any better or worse, could it?” but then angst hits the fan through plot twists after plot twists (during the last chapters) and this was where the story really picked up. I was at lost for words. I felt really sad, angry and confused. His route put me through a tidal wave of emotions, I had to pause the game for a while, sit in a corner to get my head straight and my breathing in check! lmao! Gekkamaru’s route is like a slow burn, heart-rending gut punch and I absolutely loved it.

 

ENJU UENO (Main Heroine)

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Enju is a strong heroine and I adore her to bits. Unfortunately, her potentiality to become an even better shinobi was wasted in some routes because of the whole damsel in distress scenarios, with the exception on Hanzo’s and Gekkamaru’s route ~ these were probably the only arcs where Enju was able to hone her skills as a ninja and showed her true strengths.

Enju Ueno was literally, thrown to the wolves when she got caught up into this despicable game of survival, out of the blue. Not only that, but the ordeal she went through of betrayal, loss, and sorrow was absolutely too much to handle for someone her age. Still, despite all the hardships, she chose to live and survive. I was thoroughly impressed by her determination which I believe was one of her strongest points. YES, this is one badass heroine right here folks!

 

Side Characters

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Ennosuke (Left) – The fastest ninja in the Koga clan. He’s not romanceable, and I don’t think I’d want him as a dateable character either, heh. I love his friendly banters with Kyara.

Kyara (Right) – Proud, graceful, responsible, and badass on the battlefield. Her weapon of choice is a “chigirigi” which is similar to the “morning star” in medieval age weaponry. I ship her with Ennosuke. AlsoSaori Hayami voices her, so this to me was a plus!

Kasumi (Center) – the cutest, most adorable ninja…ever! She’s the youngest of Chojiro’s disciples. Looks up to Enju and Kyara as her older sisters. I love her so much! *must protecc*

 

SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
I purchased the physical copy of Nightshade (proxy shipped) which lets you choose three language options to start the game with (English, Chinese, Japanese). I can say, that the localization was fairly decent. I didn’t play the PC version, but I asked a few people who owned both PC and Switch copy and as far as their answers go, D3Publisher did not change the English translations for Nightshade on the Switch. They changed the fonts though! D3Publisher is known to deliver decent game localizations. They’re not the best but they’re not disappointing either. I’ve spotted a couple of minor typos in the game, but it’s NOT something that would ruin the whole experience for you.

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The Switch system was very comfortable and very easy to navigate from the jump. They even offer a “rewind” option for you to backtrack scenarios, which to me, was a saving grace. This way, making the correct save files became a piece of cake. The Nintendo Switch version also contains the game’s DLC “Special Content”. These are extra fluff episodes that happened in the middle of a character’s story. They also come with a special CG (one for each story).

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? (ノ´ヮ`)ノ*: ・
It took me a total of 30 hours to finish the game, and none of these 1800 minutes spent were wasted. Yes, I loved every bit of it.

Although the story was set in the Sengoku “Warring” period of Japan. Instead of the usual cliche battleground premise, that’s normally used in Sengoku themed animes and VNs. Nightshade’s story focused more on the darker side of politics during the said period. The indirect “battle royale” theme, I admit, was quite bracing and very well-paced, at that. It was something I never expected to actually work in an otome game.

Besides Nightshade’s gorgeous artwork, I wanted to compliment the game’s stunning special effects, such as the leaves falling in the BG, flower petals scattering about  (whenever Enju uses her ninjitsu), and the moving sprites (which played exceptionally well during fight scenes). The voice acting for Nightshade blew me away and I couldn’t have wished for a better seiyuu lineup. I guess my only gripe here was Enju’s inconsistency as the heroine. In some routes, she’s badass while in others, she’s weak and very dependent. Her characteristics as a whole seem to vary depending on who’s the guy she’s with. I still love her as the main protagonist though!

While I’ve enjoyed playing all the routes in Nightshade and their respective stories, the ones that made an impression on me were Hanzo’s, Goemon’s and Gekkamaru’s. Chojiro’s was good but it was too angsty for my taste and while Kuroyuki’s story drove me to the edge of my seat, this is the route where Enju is at her weakest.

Do I recommend this game? YES
This is the first-ever english otome game in the Switch that I would no doubt recommend to everyone at the drop of a hat. I’m so glad I’ve waited for this port, despite all the STEAM sales that have gone by the previous years 😂 (laughs). To be honest, I was even quite sad when I finished it 😅 and wished there was more content for me to explore. If you’re having second thoughts whether or not it’s worth shelling out 48 bux to get this game in your Nintendo Switch Library. Here’s my advice: GET IT! This one’s definitely a gem and imo, almost up to par with the big titles (like Code Realize, Hakuoki, CxM). If you want an otome game with impressive storyline and characters you can’t ever get enough of, I can’t recommend Nightshade enough!

 

CHLO’S RATING: 8/10

London Detective Mysteria Review

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LONDON DETECTIVE MYSTERIA

Release Date:  December 18, 2018 (North America)
Developers:  Karin Entertainment
Publishers:  XSEED Games
Platforms:  PS VITA, PC (Soon)
ESRB Rating: (Mature) 17+

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Walkthroughs:

  1. William H. Watson
  2. Herlock Holmes
  3. Kenichirou Akechi
  4. Jack Millers
  5. Jean Lupin Jr.
  6. Sarah Marple (Charmed End)
  7. Seiji Kobayashi (Charmed End)
  8. Baker Street Boys End
  9. Grand End

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

Fun Fact: Originally published in the year 2013 by Karin Entertainment as “Eikoku Tantei Mysteria” for the Playstation Portable (Japan), the game was later remade in 2016 for the PS Vita with a few minor changes (regarding the game’s artist and voice actors).

As XSEED’s first otome title. London Detective Mysteria has gained an overwhelming hype from otome fans when they first announced it’s localization during their panel in Anime Expo (2018). But has the game really lived up to its hype? We’ll get to that in a bit…

 

ART AND MUSIC
The game credits two artists responsible for the London Detective Mysteria’s BG art and character designs, Natsu Mimura and Shiroma. The epilogue’s CGs were different than the ones in the main routes and Watson apparently is the only character who gets a new sprite. I’m not sure which artist did which, but as per Shiroma’s official site, I believe she did the epilogue CG’s (PSV ver.) while Mimura did the main (PSP ver.). That aside, both artists did an amazing job as the overall artwork for Mysteria was exceptionally beautiful.

The game mostly made use of fanfare-ish  music to match that 19th-Century-London vibe. The overall soundtrack of Mysteria was great though it wasn’t memorable to me. I did like the Ending theme though! You can listen to the game’s soundtrack (sample only) here.

Voice Acting
I didn’t like Emily Whiteley’s voice. Her VA sounded “airy” as if she’s always runnin’ out of breath. Her “Kyaah“, “Eeep“, “Ngh” sounds were annoying as hell and her lines felt emotionless? I’ve looked up other projects by her voice actress, and it appears that she’s only had a few (and very minor character roles at that). Perhaps if her VA had more gigs and projects, her acting might’ve improved??  ALSO… Maybe it’s just me, but I think Holmes’ voice sounded muffled and out of character. ┐(︶▽︶)┌

Natsumi Ooshita “Emily Whiteley” – schoolgirl1 (Dance with the Devils), schoolgirl2 (Shinmai Maou no Testament) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Masamoto Nakazawa “Jack Millers” – Clear (DRAMAtical Murder), Giancarlo (LuckyDog1), Moriya Keiichi (Omega Vampire), Souichirou Iseya (Yoshiwara Higanbana)

Shirai Yusuke “William H. Watson” – Kumagai Chitose (Beast Darling!),  Blanc Lapin (IkeRev), Amemura Ramuda (Hypnosis Microphone), Eltcreed Valentin (Steam Prison), Hiraizumi Miki (FLML)

Chihiro Suzuki “Herlock Holmes” – Akira Kamio (Prince of Tennis), Noel Valmore (Wand of Fortune), Oshiba Hagane (Tokyo Babel), Kuuso no Mikoto (Scarlet Fate)

Masaya Matsukaze  “Jean Lupin Jr.” – Ootori Kyouya (Ouran High School Host Club), Hagakure Yasuhiro (Danganropa Series), Souryo (Dot Kareshi)

Hiraoki Miura “Akechi Kenichirou” – Hido Takafumi (Kin’iro No Corda), Mishiro Takumi (Storm Lover), Uesugi Kenshin (Ikemen Sengoku), Takayuki (Yunohana Spring!)

Yoshitaka Yamaya “Kobayashi” – Mitsunari Ishida (Ikemen Sengoku), Aki Miyoujin (lol) (Sweet Punishment), Kensuke Asagi (World End Syndrome)

Yuuki Ono “Pollock” / “Edward Moriaty”  – Hamelin (Ozmafia), Saeki Yuzuru (CollarxMalice), So Minjye (Possession Magenta), Kangatari (Arata the Legend)

 

MAIN ROUTES AND CHARACTERS (NO SPOILERS)

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The starter routes of the game are Watson’s, Holmes’s and Akechi’s. Jack and Lupin’s route will only unlock after finishing the “Destined End” of any of the other three former bachelors. There’s no specific route order for you to follow (spoiler-wise), but if you want recommendations, I suggest playing in this order: Watson / Holmes – Akechi – Jack – Lupin.

 

WILLIAM H. WATSON

  • Dr. John Watson’s son
  • Animal Lover
  • #sunshineboi1

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Similar to their fathers’ relationship. Watson Jr. acts as Holmes Jr.’s assistant as well as his best buddy. Although their personalities are the total opposite, Holmes and Watson have this strong bond of trust that benefits both lads when working as a team. As the son of a famous doctor, Watson is also very proficient when it comes to medicine and first aid. He’s a headstrong character with an admirable physical strength that comes in handy when a combat situation arises.

I wanted to love Watson’s route as much as I love his character and his VA Shirai lol. Sadly, his story falls rather boring and was convoluted with a lot of events that were all happening at the same time. At some point in his route, Watson went into the “woe is me” phase, thinking he’s not strong enough to protect the heroine from danger. Well love, if the heroine can just stay out of danger for at least an hour or two, maybe you wouldn’t have to worry as much. lol 😏 Romantic-wise, Watson’s character grew on me. You can tell that he’s already head-over-heels in love with Emily, even from the start and I thought their childhood encounter (memory) was really sweet. (´ ε ` )♡ All in all, this boi was a ray of sunshine! An awesome character, that was wasted on such a bland, mediocre story.

 

HERLOCK HOLMES JR.

  • tsunjerk
  • daddy issues

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Holmes Jr. is the son of London’s most famous detective Sherlock Holmes. That said, he takes after his father’s outstanding wit in solving cases as well as his stubbornness. Since Holmes is a man of logic, he usually looks down on Emily’s way of solving cases through an intuition-based approach and shows no mercy in calling her out for it.

The only thing to look forward in Holmes’s route is his CGs. While his CGs make him look hot, his sprite looked weird that it was hard for me to take him seriously (laughs). Holmes was an all-around jerk in his route too, not only to Emily but also to other characters in the game. His insecurities of always getting compared to his rockstar dad pretty much drained my interest. At some point in his route, when the cards took a turn against his favor, he was too prideful to ask for help from his father nor let his friends lend him a hand. ( ̄ヘ ̄) His douchebaggery was a bit too much that it ticked me off from the experience. Oh, well!

 

AKECHI KENICHIROU

  • Foreign exchange samurai student
  • perfectionist

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Akechi is an exchange student from Japan. He’s a brilliantly knowing young lad who’s detective skills are almost up to par with Holmes Jr. He is very observant and has the habit of taking down notes whenever he learns something new from his schoolmates and the people around him. He’s also very skilled with the katana, his weapon of choice.

‘Finally, a route that does not disappoint’ was my first reaction when I first finished Akechi’s ‘destined end’. The pacing was really good where it started off with the normal fluff E.g; Akechi confronting bullies at school and Emily crushing on him hard lol, then escalated into the main conflict where Emily (with her never-ending nosiness), gets kidnapped and Akechi, with his trusted assistant Kobayashi, fighting off some bad guys to rescue her. The romance, I have to say, was really cute, especially in his Good Ending, where both the heroine and yo boi Akechi confesses their feelings for each other. (´ ω `♡)  His After Story was also adorable that I would probably consider it, one of the best in the game. If you enjoy some endearing fluffy content, this route would be something to look forward to. 😉

 

JACK MILLERS

  • ‘Jack the Ripper’ but not really
  • star-crossed lover

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Jack is an East Ender, whose known to be fortunate enough to attend in Harrington Academy’s detective school. Although he keeps to himself at all times, he’s used to being talked behind his back by his schoolmates because of his “different” (East End) upbringing. He possesses a sharp mind but remains to have no apathy towards everyone around him.

Jack’s route was all I ever wanted from this game. It was full of angst and drama as expected, and I wouldn’t have it in any other way (^0^). In terms of story, I like how each character (In Jack’s route) was introduced in a manner where it didn’t feel rushed. I also loved how Jack’s romance with the heroine was portrayed as if it were the archetypal Romeo and Juliet (star-crossed lover) trope. Emily wasn’t a complete idiot in this route and to my surprise, made a couple of mature decisions for once! (laughs) His After Story was a little sad and as much as I wanted to see my son, Jack, have a happy ending with rainbows and butterflies, I find the “bittersweet end” an appropriate finish to his story.

 

JEAN LUPIN JR.

  • nerd by day, gentleman thief by night
  • mama’s boi

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As the son, of Arsene Lupin, the famous gentleman thief from France, Lupin Jr. lives up to his father’s reputation as a master of disguise whose thieving is often for a good cause, while operating on the wrong side of the law.

Lupin Jr. was the sole eye-candy of this game. His CGs were just gorgeous and even his character sprite was a sight for sore eyes! His route, however, left me a mixture of feelings. The romance was on point and I liked how his story started, but little by little you’ll begin to notice, how the events have gone from interesting to underwhelming, you just can’t wait to finish it.😪  I did like how Papa Lupin was such an exuberant character,😂 and their father-and-son banters were enjoyable to watch so to speak. To be quite honest, I wasn’t too impressed with Lupin’s overall story but I’m sure, due to the game’s clear bias on this character, Lupin Jr. will be a fan favorite to many. Though to me, his route was a letdown. His Oedipus complex just didn’t sit with me well lol  ┐(︶▽︶)┌ 

 

EMILY WHITELEY

  • Main heroine

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So after a couple of aggravating instances where I almost dropped the game due to the heroine’s shortcomings, I gave Emily a chance for the sake of completing Jack and Lupin’s route. While I’m glad she played out well in Jack’s story, for the rest of the game, Emily stayed an absolute disappointment.

Ms. Whiteley has a knack of sticking her nose and diving headfirst to obvious danger (she does this in almost ALL the routes of the game). She winds up getting rescued by either Pendleton or her love interest, ends up apologizing in tears, only to commit the same mistakes over and over again. I’m not sure if it’s her naivety or her sheer lack of common sense that makes her a total idiot. Perhaps, both! (⇀‸↼‶) I wasn’t too impressed with her voice actress either. Her character design was beautiful though! ❤️

 

SIDE CHARACTERS (Warning: Some Spoilers!)

2019-01-08-030541 SEIJI KOBAYASHI
The Friendzone Route
Kobayashi is #sunshineboi2. As Akechi’s assistant, he gets a lot of badass fight scenes in the game. Overall, a great NPC who got copped out of romance. His Charmed End consists of Emily friend-zoning him before he returned to Japan.😪

 

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SARAH MARPLE
The BFF Route
Marple is Emily’s closest girl schoolmate. She loves tea and baking pastries. Her Charmed End consists of Emily and her having tea together in the countryside and doing all kinds of girly things.

 

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MISS HUDSON
Annoying af
There’s nothing significant about this character other than her introductory chapter, “The Littlest Landlady”. Take her out of the picture and the game still remains as it is. Her chapter was a waste of time.

 

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RALPH PENDLETON
The True MVP of LDM
As the loyal butler of House Whiteley, this character has gone through all kinds of shit just to protect Emily from the danger she puts herself through. The fact that we never got any kind of backstory about him, was a big letdown and downright disappointing.

 

SYSTEM AND LOCALIZATION
The system was comfortable enough that it didn’t give me any setbacks in finishing the entire game. I find the scenario list extremely helpful for completionists like me, who’d want to unlock all the game’s endings. My only gripe was that there was no option to backtrack a scene. There is a text backlog which you can always visit in any case you missed a dialogue but there’s no way for you to go back to that particular scene. This became remarkably difficult while I was trying to make the correct save files.

Localization was excellently done as expected from XSEED Games. I could probably only spot very few typos and spelling errors which you can surely overlook due to them being very minor. The game’s translation was made to match the setting’s Victorian Era. You can tell that besides translating the game there was a lot of research done to it as well and I really appreciate that with localization companies.

However, I’d like to point out that doing too much can also become a little off-putting. There was a point in the game where the heavy purple prose on dialogues turned me off, especially during the fight scenes where every kick and punch comes with a fancy monologue. (>﹏<) The accents of East Ender characters were either necessary or unnecessary. I understand that this was obviously to distinguish those who live within the Poor District of London, to those in the City Proper. But I’m a total dumbass and I f’nd ‘t ‘ard  t’  an d’ur sta’n lines leik dis’. LOL

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? (´-ω-`)
With the heavy prose on writing and a very lengthy gameplay which will take you approximately 40-50 hours to beat the entire game, London Detective Mysteria became a chore to finish. It literally took me a month to complete it myself, and I wasn’t even being lazy or anything of the sort.

Story-wise, I was surprised how the main plot that was initially introduced (Emily trying to solve the case of her parent’s murder) was left untouched in each of the main character’s route. The fact that you have to unlock the “true ending” to know the story behind Emily’s parents was such an inconvenience. It was a mess! It didn’t help that the prologue and common route was overwhelmingly long and I believe some irrelevant chapters were unnecessary (E.g. “Ms. Hudson’s”chapter). I expected Emily to step up as a detective but all throughout the game she remained amateurish in solving no-brainer cases. If anything, she was extremely lucky (as most generic heroines are). I did like how some of the stories in the game brought up realistic events that were very common in the 19th century. Themes such as discrimination among Eastern foreigners and the segregation between the rich and poor were a few examples.

The characters that left an impression on me were Akechi, Jack and Watson. Akechi’s route was cute and tackled a few topics on cultural differences between the East and the West, it was an enjoyable read. Jack’s route tugged my heartstrings and made me cry (he wins ‘best boi’ in my book). Watson’s route was boring but he was such a delightful character, it’s hard to ignore his charm ha! (*’▽’*) The mystery cases in the common route were mere “child’s play” but the main target audience for this game are young teens so that’s to be expected.

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Do I Recommend this Game? YES but only if it’s on SALE.
If you’re a completionist, finishing the game can become a tedious task, so pick this one up at your own risk. Maybe if  London Detective Mysteria wasn’t too overhyped, I would not have been seriously disappointed after finishing it.

Still, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad game altogether. The game’s art was astonishing and remains it’s best winning point, and there’s a selection of characters you will surely love. The story, however, is very mediocre and monotonous where one full gameplay is definitely enough to perhaps satisfy your thirst for new otoges in the dying VITA console.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 6/10

NORN9 Var Commons Review

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NORN9: VAR COMMONS

Release Date:  November 3, 2015 (North America)
Developers: Otomate, Regista
Publishers: Otomate, Idea Factory International, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS VITA
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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Walkthroughs:

  1. Kakeru
  2. Senri
  3. Sakuya
  4. Masamune
  5. Heishi
  6. Istuki
  7. Akito
  8. Ron
  9. Natsuhiko
  10. Common Route

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

I purchased this game last year but kept putting off playing it for all kinds of odd unintended reasons like *cough* a broken vita charger. Plus, I had an overwhelming otome game backlogs this year that I totally forgot about this amazing title that’s been sitting on my shelf for almost a year and a half. Finally, the time has come for me to dive into the world of  N O R N !

 

ART AND MUSIC
Arguably, there are two artists responsible for NORN9’s overall artwork. First is Satoi, (for the game’s chibi character designs) – a Japanese Illustrator who’s incredibly famous for her other popular works (E.g. Diabolik Lovers, Nil Admirari, Ozmafia!, Re: Birthday Song). Now, she’s currently working on her next project with Otomate “Olympia Soiree” which will hit the Nintendo Switch otome market (Japan) in 2019.  Next artist is, Teita who’s responsible for the original character designs of NORN9. Teita has also done her fair share of producing beautiful character designs of today’s most popular otome games in the market. One of her prominent works is Nightshade “Hyakka Hyakurou” and the recently released Otomate title, Charade Maniacs.

Another notable aspect of  NORN9 Var Commons is its outstanding soundtrack. Almost all the BGMs perfectly matched the game’s unique setting and the OP and Ending themes were very remarkable.

Fun Fact: The vocals for the game’s OP, Nagi Yanagi also voiced the side character Aion. If you’ve watched the anime adaptation of Amnesia Memories, Nagi Yanagi also sang the series’ OP song “Zoetrope”.

Listen to my fav. Norn9 Var Commons track below, ‘Sunadokei wa Sora no Sora’!

 

Voice Acting
What distinguished Norn9 Var Commons from other otome games was their voiced heroine/s. I’m a huge fan myself, for voiced MCs in otoges, (this is why I’m an absolute sucker for the Psychedelica Series). Voice actors breathe life to a character and it’s definitely a huge advantage in a game whenever the main protagonist gets a VA. It not only contributes to the likability of her character but it also fleshes out her role more in the story.

Ayumi Fujimura “Koharu” – Ruri (Reine des Fleurs), Iwami Aki (Muv-Luv), Neferpitou (Hunter x Hunter)

Ayahi Takagahi “Mikoto Kuga” – Lisbeth/Rika Shinozaki (SAO), Kotoha (Arata the Legend), Young Son Hak (Akatsuki no Yona)

Asami Seto “Nanami Shiranui” – Akira Mado (Tokyo Ghoul),  Yui Michimiya (Haikyu!!), Ichiyō Higuchi (Bunguo Stray Dogs)

Daisuki Ono “Natsuhiko Azuma” – Ryouma Sakamoto (Hakuoki), Hyuuga (Neo Angelique), Hades (Kamigami no Asobi), Subaru Asahina (Brother’s Conflict), Yuuya (Muv-Luv)

Hiro Shimono “Senri Ichinose” – Shou Kurusu (Utapri), Kuroyuki (Nightshade), Sou Kiryuu (Harukanaru Toki no Naka De 5), Ricchie (Black Wolves Saga)

Koji Yusa “Itsuki Kagami” – Sanosuke Harada (Hakuoki)Mr. Gasmask (Bad Apple Wars), Bernardo (Luckydog1)

Tomokazu Sugita “Ron Muroboshi” – Takuma (Hiro no Kakera), Oda Nobunaga (Ikemen Sengoku), Rabbit Head (Bad Apple Wars), Reine des Fluers (Hubert), Sasuke Sarutobi (Kurenai)

Mitsuki Saiga “Sakuya Nijo” – Dantalion (Tokyo Babel), Ashley Curtis (Iris School of Wizardry Vinculum Hearts)

Hiroyuki Yoshino “Heishi Otomaru” Heisuke Toudou (Hakuoki), Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X), Auger von Garibaldi (Black Wolves Saga)

Takuya Sato “Masamune Toya” – Yuuma Kuga (Million Dollar Boyfriend), Katakura Kojuurou (Sengoku Night Blood), Ryonosuke Tsunashi (Idolish7)

Yuki Kaji “Kakeru Yuiga” – Finis (Code Realize), Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Kazue Souma (Hakuoki), Rath Vogart (Black Wolves Saga) Hayato Ozaki (Nil Admirari)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (NO SPOILERS)

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Although all the routes follow through the same storyline, there are some characters that are best played in the later part of the game. If you’re like me who’s concerned about major spoilers when picking which routes to start in a game, I’ve prepared a few suggestions of Norn9 Var Commons’ route order below:

1st Option (from least spoiler content to greatest):
: Heishi — Senri — Sakuya — Kakeru — Masamune — Itsuki — Akito — Ron — Natsuhiko

2nd Option (from least spoiler content to greatest w/ enjoyable pace):
:Kakeru — Heishi — Senri — Sakuya — Istuki — Masamune — Akito — Ron — Natsuhiko

3rd Option (I’ve enjoyed and played mine in this order):
:Kakeru — Senri — Sakuya — Masamune — Heishi — Istuki — Akito — Ron — Natsuhiko

If you’d rather deviate with the suggested order above, make sure to play either Senri, Heishi, Sakuya, Kakeru first. Then Masamune, Itsuki in the middle but be sure to play the last three routes in this order: Akito – Ron – Natsuhiko (as finale).

 

Heroines

2018-12-02-090822KOHARU

While playing the prologue as Sorata, Koharu is the first main character you’ll get in contact with at the start of the game. She has a very meek and gentle personality and because she lived her life in entire seclusion, she’s initially very innocent and gullible to a point of ignorance. Despite this, Koharu remains kindhearted to everyone she meets. She’s also one of the most powerful espers to board the NORN ship.

My first impression with Koharu was that I thought she’s going to be one of those bland naive heroines who’ll get dragged around by the guys. Luckily, she didn’t turn out that way. (Phew!) Rather, she went through an awesome character development, especially in Senri’s route. I have to admit her naivety is actually one of her charms!  Koharu is such a darling and I  believe she’s one of the stronger protagonists of the game.

 

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MIKOTO KUGA

Mikoto is the oldest of the three heroines. She acts very mature and keeps a strong sense of responsibility in taking care of the younger girls, Koharu and Nanami (kind of like their big sister). It is also because of her esper powers that she feels the need to protect others to a point where she pushes herself to her limit and abandons her own safety. Because she was born into a noble family she can be really uptight and bossy sometimes.

I remember really hating Mikoto’s character at first. She is a tsundere A-type heroine and her harsh rejections towards her love interests can be really off-putting sometimes (esp. to poor Itsuki) but I’ll be damned if her character depth and development wasn’t paced so well. Mikoto was perhaps my favorite heroine in Norn9. Her character really shined all throughout her (three) routes, plus she gets all the cool guys ~particularly, Natsuhiko and Istuki (laughs). 

 

 

2018-11-25-232744 NANAMI SHIRANUI

Nanami Shiranui’s family comes from a long line of a famous shinobi (ninja) descendant, dating back to very old times. Although her family does not live and practice a shinobi’s lifestyle anymore, they became famous because of Nanami’s esper powers which eventually rose them back to fame as they make a living out of her special “gift”. 

Nanami is perhaps the most popular and the most loved heroine in Norn9. Perhaps it’s because of her kuudere nature that makes it impossible for you not to like her character. She’s very reserved and polite and carries around a kunai which she uses from time to time, in case, her love interest tries to make advances on her. ha!

Out of the three heroines, Nanami was my least favorite. I think it’s because her personality is defined depending on the guy she’s with. She’s also the weakest heroine among the three, which was totally understandable since her powers aren’t combative like Koharu’s nor protective like Mikoto’s. Though I feel like she could’ve been more strong-willed in terms of making her own decisions and taking matters into her own hands. ┐(︶▽︶)┌ 

 

The Guys

2018-10-29-100428 KAKERU YUIGA

Kakeru is a bright, resolute young lad who’s esper powers can control and summon greenery (plants). He is sometimes known to be sadistic especially when *playfully* bullying Senri in the Norn ship. He wears a metal cuff in his left ear as a memento of his father.

Kakeru’s route went from smooth sailing with just pure love-dovey scenes with Koharu to a major train wreck near the end. The sudden turn of events in his story was definitely unexpected. It’s also because I played his route first hence I was so caught off guard. His story left me a little unsatisfied after it concluded in an open-ended finish (most of the NORN9 endings are like this)If it wasn’t for Yuki Kaji voicing him, I probably would’ve not enjoyed his route as much. ┐(︶▽︶)┌

 

2018-10-29-100529 SENRI ICHINOSE

Senri is a shut-in pessimistic boy who prefers to stay in his room for days rather than socialize with everyone in the Norn ship. His distrust towards everybody stems from a past experience that left him traumatized for years. He enjoys and feels more relaxed when he’s surrounded by bodies of water since no one can chase after him there.

I’ve actually enjoyed Senri’s route a lot! I wasn’t expecting this character to become extremely likable that he out-shined the other two (Kakeru and Masamune) in Koharu’s harem. I also believe he’s the best match for Koharu and I find it really cute how both their characters complement each other so well. 
Kudos to Hiro Shimono for his awesome portrayal of Senri!

 

2018-11-17-114952 MASAMUNE TOYA

Masamune is perhaps the oldest esper in the Norn ship. Because of this, he not only acts as the big-bro of the group but also as a reliable young adult, who keeps peace and order around the ship. He possesses a wide spectrum of knowledge and is the only member who’s responsible for reporting all activities inside the Norn ship to “The WORLD”. 

I’m not sure how I feel about Masamune’s route in general. I don’t really see him making any kind of genuine connection with Koharu.  At one point, Koharu just out of the blue developed this crush for Masamune and Masamune returning the favor by liking her back (or maybe he was just thirsty?? hah!)

Because Masamune’s an older character, he gets a lot of *cough*sexytime scenes with lil miss Koharu. This is either a yay or nay in his route depending on your preferences lol. (ʘ‿ʘ)/. Ngl, I may have enjoyed some of his horny urges because I’m just trash like that. lmao

 

2018-11-11-091917SAKUYA NIJO

Sakuya is Mikoto’s childhood friend. Just like her, he comes from a noble family and was regarded in the game as “a very handsome, almost princelike young lad”. He’s also very protective of Mikoto to a point where he’ll happily risk his life for her sake.

Sakuya was probably my least favorite route in Norn9. At the start, I feel like he was Mikoto’s very own lapdog who follows her around, anticipating for a treat – it was too painful to watch! Then we have Mikoto pushing him away, telling him, not to fall in love with her because they need to fulfill a certain “vow” they made when they were kids. I mean, I totally get the whole tragic story behind these “vows” but it went on for the entirety of his story, It was such a drag. I guess I’m just not a big fan of the childhood-friend trope? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Because I was the least bit interested in Sakuya’s story, completing his route became a chore for me.

 

2018-11-23-004259ITSUKI KAGAMI

Itsuki is a handsome young man who’s earned his title as the biggest flirt in the NORN ship. Because he grew up in the red light district, he’s developed this playful personality and is very good with his flowery words to woo dem ladies. Istuki is also very smart and cunning though he’d rather joke around telling lies than speak his mind and his true feelings. Due to his very lax attitude, almost no one ever takes him seriously.

Istuki is one of my fav. characters in NORN9. I guess I have a weakness for cheeky charmers with purple highlights! (not to mention my extreme bias in Koji Yusa’s sexy voice) ha! (°◡°♡) I had a few good laughs playing Itsuki’s story. His flirty nature was, of course, the highlights of his entire route lol. If you enjoy a steamy romance with a little angst, Itsuki is one for the taking.  His story, on the other hand, didn’t really contribute much to the game’s underlying plot.

 

2018-11-19-095657 HEISHI OTOMARU

Heishi is the most energetic esper to aboard the NORN ship. He’s also the friendliest of all the members and the mood maker of the team. He possesses the ability of telepathy, yet very unstable, as his personal thoughts and feelings often leak out.

Heishi was my least favorite guy in Nanami’s harem, but I do remember liking his story at the beginning. His banters with Nanami were just adorable. They make a good tandem when it comes to destroying the ship’s kitchen through their disastrous cooking shenanigans. More than anything, I think of them both as children than a mature couple.

Heishi’s story also has the least spoiler-ey content of the game’s overall plot, so I think it’s a good idea to play his route as a starter.

 

2018-11-25-193610 AKITO SHUKURI

The roughest, rudest esper to aboard the NORN ship yet everyone respects him because he’s merely the best cook in the team. Akito also treats Nanami, cruelly for some reason which you’ll get to discover why ~going down his route. Although he fronts a violent persona, Akito is immensely afraid of the hiyokos of the Norn ship lol, this is one of his weakness, which everyone finds extremely amusing.

Akito is a tsundere by nature, and I absolutely love him! His route was also very interesting as it didn’t follow through the overarching plotline of NORN9 but instead, mainly focused on his backstory with the heroine, Nanami. This route contains major spoilers so be sure NOT to play him first in the game. I believe Akito is Nanami’s true route, though I personally feel that Nanami isn’t a good match for Akito?? Oh well…┐(‘~` )┌

 

2018-11-28-031154 RON MUROBOSHI

Ron is another older member in the NORN ship. He usually just keeps to himself and doesn’t really contribute much during their occasional meetings. He’s also one of the earlier members to join the NORN. He can never remember anyone’s names nor cares to remember them at all.

Ron is prob the worst route in the game. No contest! You really can’t justify this character’s actions. He’s an all-around jerkass! But I’ll be damned if I wasn’t attracted to this insensitive asshole! haha

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So, yeah here I am trying to question myself for my horrible taste in (2D) men and the game’s attempt to giving this character a route that forces a sad excuse of a “romantic” finish up our throats. lol The fact that Nanami just quickly fell in love with him despite his violent and “abusive” actions was literally a giant exacerbated question mark. I tip my hat to Sugita’s voice acting for making this character such a wild treat.

 

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NATSUHIKO AZUMA 

Natsuhiko is considered one of the antagonist in the story (depending on whose route you’re in). Due to certain reasons, he’s after the lives of those aboard the Norn ship. As a scientist, he’s very good at inventing and handling machines. He’s also rockstar when it comes to piloting ships.

Natsuhiko is the BEST canon boy of Norn9. Since most routes concluded with open-ended scenarios following the game’s overall plot, Natsuhiko’s story is the only route that made perfect sense in terms of covering the whole NORN story, the “WORLD” organization and how the espers came to be. His route also does NOT hold back when it comes to *cough* steamy love scenes. 

It’s pretty rewarding to finally play his route after all the cliffhangers and the loose threads that were previously presented in the game. I’m glad I played Natsuhiko’s story last too, otherwise, the other routes that’ll come after him would be totally irrelevant. 

 

2018-12-16-193656 SORATA SUZUHARA

Wait… who? Oh, right! Sorata! The main protagonist of NORN9! 

One minor turn off was that the game totally failed to mention Sorata in most routes to a point where you’d be oblivious to the fact that he apparently still exist.  Sorata actually has his own story and by playing his epilogue, you’ll be able to finally understand how on earth did this young boy ended up as the main protagonist of this otome game! (Cackles) 

 

2018-11-17-120018 SETSU TAKISHIMA

Okay, Setsu is just a side character but I felt the need to include him because his character was just hilarious af! Setsu is an extreme masochist and he’d do anything, for you to spit disgust on his face. The dude craves for some good ol’ violent slapping, I kid you not! I guess there’s a tiny voice inside of me that wished for a Setsu route just for shits and giggles. lmao

 

MINI GAMES

  • NORN9 QUEST – this mini-game will only be available after you’ve completed the game’s prologue.  It can be accessed under “New Contents” when you hover over the option that says “???”, you’ll have to tap the ship from the top right of the screen to play it. You don’t necessarily need to play this mini-game but getting 5,000 points in it will unlock a PS Trophy. This can become a major pain if you’re a completionist like me as the game points you’ll be getting depends on sheer luck.

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  • NORN+ENSEMBLE – If you were wondering about those KEYWORDS that appear on your screen as you unlock a chapter in a route, they are for this mini-game.  The Norn + Ensemble can be accessed in the EXTRAS menu. This game, lets you mix and match character lines to simulate a conversation when you press PLAY after arranging the keywords together. The NORN+Ensemble PS Trophy automatically unlocks after completing all of the game’s ending anyway, so don’t even bother playing this mini-game.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? ♡ (˘▽˘)
It took me a whole month to complete the entire game. This is mainly my fault for playing it during the holidays where I barely have any time for gaming. With three character routes for each of the three heroines, the game lets you finish a whopping nine routes in total, excluding Sorata’s Epilogue story. So yeah, NORN9 Var Commons isn’t a short gameplay and will definitely take a lot of your time.

Story-wise, I actually love the game’s concept. The whole core plot of getting to decide on the “World Reset” was interesting from the very beginning but because there was an overwhelming amount of characters, the story became overly repetitive which kind of gets a bit mundane sometimes (esp. on routes that don’t really interest you). How the overarching story-line was presented was lackluster at best. Some routes contradict each other which leaves you a lot of questions and plot holes to piece together.  I guess it’s safe to conclude that the game intended for each route to have its own alternate reality.

My favorite heroine was Mikoto, her character development was phenomenal especially in Natsuhiko’s route, next is Koharu because even though she’s a total air-head, she’s at least got some backbone. My least fav. was Nanami, she’s not a bad heroine, but I find her personality too boring for my taste. My favorite routes were Itsuki, Akito, and Natsuhiko with a special mention to Ron for having an absolute garbage route I’ve shamelessly enjoyed. („ಡωಡ„)

Do I recommend this game? YES
Despite a few gripes I’ve stated above. I’ve quite enjoyed playing NORN9 Var Commons as a whole. It definitely presents a really unique sci-fi story as well as a solid game-play which never cops you out of interesting new characters to love. I recommend picking this game up if you haven’t yet.  Its story may not be perfect, but it’s still beautifully done and the game still stands out as one of the better otome titles that were localized throughout the years. 

 

Chlo’s Rating: 7/10

Kitty Love – Way to look for love Review (Nintendo Switch)

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KITTY LOVE – WAY TO LOOK FOR LOVE

Release Date: Novemeber 1, 2018 (North America)
Developers: OperaHouse Inc.
Publishers: OperaHouse Inc., DIGIMERCE
Platforms:  Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: E (10+)

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Just like Iris School of Wizardry ~ Vinculum Hearts, the game Kitty Love or Nyan Love “Watashi no Koi no Mitsukekata” (original title), was recently released to the Nintendo Switch console this year, although the game has been around since the year 2014 as a mobile port.

 

Walkthroughs:

 

STORY
Honoka Shinota (main protagonist) works at a flower shop and spends every day working hard at her job.
Then one night, at the park she always visits, an odd-eyed black cat cursed her into becoming a cat at night and human by morning.
“There’s only one way to break the curse”, the black cat said… and it is…

――True love’s kiss.

 

If you’re curious about the game’s localization, specifically, if the english subs have improved, my answer is nada. It is the same ol’ inconsistent subs from the last game Iris School of Wizardry Vinculum Hearts. A couple of typos and misspellings, some misused prepositions, a few lost pronouns here and there, you get the gist! It is tolerable so to speak and you can still follow through the plot if you have the patience for it, that is. lol ヾ(´∀`) Ha…haha…
Did this throw you off? If not, please continue reading.^^

 

ART AND MUSIC
The game’s artwork and character design were beautifully done by Japanese illustrator, Nami Hidaka – you can view her official page here. If you’ve played a couple of OperaHouse’s otomes before, you’ll recognize some of their bg stock images that were re-used in this game (totally understandable for a game that used to be a mobile port).

The theme was really cute – that I found myself humming the OP and Ending theme a couple of times. lol

Voice Acting

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Soma Saito “Takuma Suguri”  Mineo Enomoto (Collar x Malice), Levi (Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk), Rem Kaginuki (Dance with Devils), Sota (Possession Magenta)

Atsushi Tamaru “Kohei Natsume” Tsukimi (Koroshiya to Strawberry), Kasuga (Variable Barricade)

Hiroki Yasumoto “Shogo Fujimoto” – Razel (Lamento Beyond the Void), Karasuma (7’scarlet), Hyuga Shinobu (KLAP)

Maeno Tomoaki “Kyosuke Kawahara” Arsene Lupin (Code Realize), Onigashima Houou (Kenka Banchou Otome), Keisuke Sanjou (Collar x Malice)

Sakurai Takahiro “Narumi Saijo” Alma (Bad Apple Wars), Astrum (Period Cube), Ruki (Diabolik Lovers), Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (Minor Spoilers)
There’s no recommended route order in the game, However, just be sure to play Saijo’s story last, to avoid unwanted plot spoilers in the beginning. I played and enjoyed mine in this following order: Takuma — Kohei — Kyosuke — Shogo — Saijo.

I promise to keep the spoiler contents to a minimum below, but I’m still putting up my spoiler banner to remind ya’lls to proceed and skim with caution.^^ 

spoilersss

 

TAKUMA SUGURI

  • Flower shop owner
  • Loves Chinese food
  • Secret past

Takuma is the owner of “Flora”, the flower shop Honoka works at. He is a warm, friendly and understanding boss who seems to be very gentle upfront. In almost every route in the game, he remains supportive towards the heroine (to a point, where he even acts as a wingman for the other guys, in their respective routes).

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I played Takuma’s route first because I am forever thirsty for Soma Saito and he seemed like a good character to start (as suggested by the game). Despite his bright and gentle demeanor, I was anticipating some yandere tendencies in his route as he appears to be hiding something deviant up his sleeve. To my surprise (or rather disappointment, lol) Takuma is not yandere nor even close to one (laughs). He was, however, revealed to be a delinquent in his past, which made him reluctant towards admitting his feelings for Honoka, fearing she will never accept him and that he’s not deserving of someone like her because of his previous “bad record” Aww. What I really liked in Takuma’s route was how his romantic relationship for Honoka developed. It was so endearing to see him realize his feelings for the heroine as he tells cat Honoka at night how he’s beginning to fall in love with human Honoka. (*≧ω≦*) The fluff content of this route was pretty up there and his “happy ending” was surprisingly badass and def something to look forward to.

 

KOHEI NATSUME 

  • The childhood friend
  • Tsundere

Kohei is Honoka’s childhood friend. Because they grew up together in the same hometown, the heroine thinks of him as her big brother. In reality, Kohei secretly has a crush on Honoka, but decides to keep his feelings under wraps afraid it might ruin their friendship.

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Kohei’s route was full of fluffy surprises and was probably my favorite in the game. I’m usually not a fan of the cliche “childhood friend trope” but if there was one that was done right, Kohei’s story def takes the cake! Kohei and Honoka’s relationship build up was paced really well – it was so adorable – that I was grinning the whole time playing his route. Kohei Natsume’s tsundere nature makes him a darling of a character and it was so fun seeing him secretly hide his fascinations for all the neko he comes across with. It is also in this route, that the heroine reveals a traumatic past experience that involves her relationship with cats. Though Kohei’s happy ending is the best ending for his route, his normal ending was fairly as good as the other, so really, it doesn’t matter which ending you unlock as both of them were quite satisfying, so to speak. ♡(。- ω -) Out of all the guys, Kohei was perhaps the biggest cat mom of the bunch! He even owns a membership ID at this cat cafe by his workplace.

 

KYOSUKE KAWAHARA

  • Club Viola’s #1 host
  • Loves musical instruments

Kyosuke works as a host at Club Viola. He often visits Honoka’s flower shop to buy bouquets for his lady clients in the club. Besides his secret love for cats, he’s also secretly passionate about making music.

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In his route, Kyo, through cat Honoka’s support made him realize his true calling as a musician instead of a club host. I think one of the main highlights in Kyosuke’s route was his playful banters with human Honoka which I believe, eventually brought them closer together in his story. This is also the only route where the main guy gets into a nasty rivalry with a (spriteless) side character, who almost harassed the heroine out of spite. I like Kyosuke’s character development for the most part as he shares his deep passion for music with cat Honoka, and at the same time continues to care about human Honoka, despite her shady disappearing acts (while she turns into a cat at night). My only gripe about this route was that it had the most awful translations in the game that even the fluff content nor Maeno’s adorable voice acting couldn’t make up for it. Ah well… ┐(︶▽︶)┌

 

SHOGO FUJIMOTO

  • Mr. Kuudere Police man
  • Loves kawaii things

Shogo is the quiet police officer who often visits Honoka’s flower shop on his patrol route. Despite his stoic appearance, Shogo actually likes cute things and even collects adorable little knick-knacks (like knitting accessories and cat albums), he normally keeps in his room.

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I find Shogo’s route a little amusing because contrary to his serious manly appearance (not to mention his deep sexy voice, that makes you weak in the knees uwu), inside, is just one big fluffy husbando who finds interest in everything kawaii. The guy has a set of pink flowered china at home for goodness sake! Bless him! (ノ´ヮ`)ノ*: ・゚ During his route, an old lady who found cat Honaka in the streets took her to the police station after she transformed into a kitty for the first time. There she meets Shogo, who immediately took a liking at neko Honoka because of her cute appearance. After finding out Shogo’s unlikely adorable side, Honoka became more curious of the man so she decides to visit him every night (in her kitty form) at the police box he’s stationed.  Shogo’s story was cute although I wasn’t quite convinced why he fell in love with human Honoka that fast??? But hey, he broke Honocat’s curse with his luscious kiss in the end and that’s all that matters. Nyanhaha!

 

NARUMI SAIJO

  • The mysterious flower artist
  • Spoilers! Spoilers! Spoilers!

Saijo-san is the famous flower arranger artist who’s a regular customer at “Flora”, the flower shop where our main heroine works. He seems aloof at times and has this mysterious aura surrounding him. ***I couldn’t really talk more about his route without going into spoiler territory, so brace yourself!

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If Sakurai’s voice didn’t obviously give it away for you, hopefully, his character’s eyes did (laughs). Saijo Narumi is the odd-eyed black neko who in the prologue gave Honoka her cat-curse. His main reason for doing so was that a long time ago, his owner/master married a woman who was typically only using the poor guy for money, then one day abruptly left him for someone wealthier. As a result, his master grew sick, heartbroken and eventually died. Upon witnessing the cruel nature of the woman that betrayed his master, Saijo developed this seething hatred for (human) women, became a nekomata and randomly, out of spite cursed someone (Honoka) with the belief that because she’s a woman, she can easily break the spell by choosing a guy to fall in love with(ಠ_ಠ). Uhh..not cool mr.cat person sir! In the process of watching Honoka struggle with her curse every day, Saijo realized he made an awful mistake as he became aware that not all women are the same.

For some reason, Saijo’s route was the only story that had angst… and I wasn’t ready for it! lol Both his endings were left a little open-ended and although I liked that it was bittersweet, I’d much prefer the other route’s fluffy endings better.^^

 

honoka

HONOKA SHINOTA (Main Heroine)
Seriously though, what’s not to like about a cat MC?! (chuckles) But in all honesty, I actually quite enjoyed playing Honoka as the main protagonist of this game. After turning into a cat at night, she could’ve just stayed at home and waited until she transforms back into her human form in the morning but nah brah… I think Ima go check out what my guy’s doing at his house…lmao! My kind of heroine! Her curiosity is definitely a winner!

 

 

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS?
It took me about 10-11 hours to finish the entire game. Each route has eight chapters which you can literally finish in two hours sitting. This actually worked perfectly for me since I prefer my lighthearted novels short. Story-wise, I absolutely loved it! I am just weak for cat daddies guys who adore cats and I believe this is one of the game’s prominent charms that’ll instantly draw your attention. Each story was just too cute, I think I’ve enjoyed all of the routes but the ones that stood out to me the most were Kohei’s and Takuma’s.^^

The hype was real with Kitty Love and I’m glad I’ve played this game. It was very lighthearted with little to no angst at all. As someone who’s been playing darker themed visual novels for so long, this was definitely a great switch up!  The art, music, outstanding VA’s, not to mention, the cute neko lovin’ stories were definitely the game’s highlights. If it wasn’t for the bad translations, Kitty Love would’ve been close to purrrrfection! Nyan.

Do I recommend this game? YES
Get it for the story, get it for the fluff content that’ll definitely put a smile on your face, get it to support otoge localizations. But get it, only if you have the patience to sit through the game’s lack of proofreading (you have been warned! lol). If not for the aforementioned issue, I would’ve rated this game a 7, but for now…

 

Chlo’s Rating: 6/10


a game copy was provided by the publisher _ developer for this review


 

Hakuoki Edo Blossoms Review

2018-09-11-204456

HAKUOKI EDO BLOSSOMS

Release Date:  March 13, 2018 (North America)
Developers: Idea Factory, Design Factory
Publishers: Otomate, Idea Factory International
Platforms:  PS VITA, Steam (PC)
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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Read the game’s prologue here.

Walkthroughs:

 

ART AND MUSIC
As previously stated in my Kyoto Winds review, there were three artists involved in Hakuoki’s artwork. Kazuki YoneMiko, and Shiki Sakigumi. Most of the CGs are the same ones you get in the PS3 version of the game (Demon of the Fleeting Blossoms). The OP and ending themes for Edo Blossom were also done by the same composer and performed by the same artist of the game’s prequel. Listen to Edo Blossoms’ beautiful OP “Kaze no Nakade Saku Hana” on the track below:

 

CHARACTERS AND ROUTES (Spoiler Free)
I played the routes in the order that was suggested in the game (started with Hijikata and did Kazama last). Because it’s a sequel, there’s really no specific route order you need to follow as you will still be able to enjoy the stories regardless of which route you start or finish. My suggestion is to divide your favorites, where you play a fav guy first but also finish with another fav. so you’ll have that lasting “uwu” impression. (laughs) (*/ω\)

 

2018-10-02-213022TOSHIZO HIJIKATA
CV: Shinichirou Miki  –  Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Mr. Buckethead (Bad Apple Wars), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)

Hijikata’s story was the longest in Edo Blossoms (five chapters), it’s also the only route with most endings (seven endings). 

Just like Kyoto Winds, Hijikata’s route was mainly the story of the Shinsengumi itself. It follows through the Shinsengumi’s activities the day they arrived in Edo and ended with their defeat in the Boshin war. One of the highlights of this route is Hijikata’s strong determination to fight for what he truly believes in despite standing on the losing end. Seeing this man’s strong resolution and willpower, scene after scene was rather awe-inspiring so to speak (it made me tear, sob!). I also loved how his romantic relationship with Chizuru developed in the long run, where It didn’t felt forced nor rushed. If anything, I thought it was actually very realistic. Hijikata longing for Chizuru was just so cute!

Story: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

2018-10-02-213603 SOUJI OKITA
CV: Shotaro Morikubo – Impey Barbicane (Code Realize), Jocus (Period Cube), Toa (7’scarlet)

Unlike Hijikata’s route, Okita’s story was more detached to the Shinsengumi’s activities as it picked up from where it left off in Kyoto Winds (Chizuru stays with Okita at Dr. Matsumoto’s place in Edo, to help him recover from his illness). I like how stubborn Okita’s character was but then goes meek every time Chizuru calls him out. Finally! the heroine tames this sadistic hunk! It was great how their relationship dynamics worked out for the best as they progressed through the story. I also felt real chemistry between the two of them – Okita’s route is probably one of the better ones when it comes to romance. Moreover, I wanted to comment on Morikubo’s awesome portrayal of Souji’s character, his voice acting really stood out in this game. He’s done this character justice and I have no words! Recalling the scene of Okita’s breakdown really shook my emotions to the core! (applause)

Story: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

SAITO HAJIME 2018-10-02-213901
CV: Kousuke Toriumi – Kagiha (Psychedelica BB), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Lawrence (Psychedelica AH), John Watson (Code Realize)

To those who are Saito biased, you will definitely enjoy his route. For the most part, Saito continues his adorable kuudere nature as he juggles overworking himself to experiencing fatigue while keeping a watchful eye on Chizuru’s well being. His route had a couple of surprises that got me all ‘woah(Hint: Ear fetishes lol). My only gripe was that their romance didn’t surface until his last chapters and it is only because of Chizuru’s forwardness that this man was finally able to admit his feelings for her. But I guess this works out for some?

Story: 4/5
Romance: 3/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

2018-10-02-214225HEISUKE TOUDOU
CV: Yoshino Hiroyuki – Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X), Auger von Garibaldi (Black Wolves Saga), Heishi (Norn9)

Heisuke was such a great character in Edo Blossoms.  I liked him as an NPC in almost all the routes in the game. His own story, however, wasn’t too satisfying – if you ask me. Because he’s one of the first Shinsengumi rasetsu (fury), he spends a lot of time wallowing in grief and deep regrets (thinking about his life choices), questioning the “what ifs” and a whole lot of “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. This went on probably for the mere half of his route where Chizuru tries her hardest to lift Mr. Down-in-the-dumps’ spirits up. It was sad and annoying at the same time but I’m glad it didn’t last. There’s still good chemistry between him and Chizuru so, this is one saving grace that didn’t get me all disinterested with his story.

Story: 3/5
Romance: 3/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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SANOSUKE HARADA
CV: Koji Yusa – Itsuki (Norn9), Mr. Gasmask (Bad Apple Wars), Bernardo (Luckydog1)

Oh boy! Get your fans ready, turn on the AC as it’s about to get hot in here! (//ω//)

As I’ve said in my Kyoto Winds review, If you want romance, Harada is definitely one for the taking! There’s certainly a good story in Harada’s route but man, I got so distracted by all the fluff content on this one, it’s too inevitable to ignore (chuckles). It was funny how Chizuru secretly hides her crush with yo boi’, saying things like “this man is so handsome and caring, I will never be worthy of him and his glorylmao! …At the same time, Sano being such a big flirt and all won’t stop doting on the heroine… I…just…can’t… take it! Their relationship was too adorable! Sano’s route is def one of the best routes to look forward to in Edo Blossoms and his ‘good end’ was one of the most satisfying endings in the game. Make no mistake about that.

Story: 5/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: OH YES!!!

 

2018-10-02-214616 SHINPACHI NAGAKURA
CV: Tsuboi Tomohiro – 
Toshi Maeda (Sengoku Basara), Rikimaru (Tenchu 2), Taliesin (Tears to Tiara)

While Shinpachi Nagakura remains one of the most likable characters in the series. Just like Heisuke, his route falls rather short in terms of both story and romance. Mostly, Shinpachi spends a lot of time loathing on the fact that he’s become a fury (Recalling, the incident in Kyoto Winds, where he was forced to drink the water of life due to unavoidable circumstances). With this, Chizuru guiltily blames herself for Shinpachi’s suffering and wants to support him in any way she can. In return, Shinpachi still pushes her away and goes into a complete depressive mode to a point that he becomes a hermit for weeks (ಠ_ಠ) – lol I’m not even kidding! Because of this, he becomes too distant with the heroine, that I literally can’t feel any intimate connection between the two of ’em. It took him four whole chapters to suddenly admit his feelings for Chizuru which for some reason felt rushed (to me anyway). ┐(‘~` )┌

Story: 2/5
Romance: 2/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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KEISUKE SANAN
CV: Nobuo Tobita – Straizo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Kan Soo-Jin (Akatsuki no Yona), Capt. Gordon (Disgea)

Sanan’s character in Edo Blossoms can either become your ally or the antagonist causing all the mayhem, depending on whose route you’re on. I remember Sanan giving me the creeps when I played his route in Kyoto Winds. Luckily, he redeemed himself in this sequel and I’m so glad how his story turned out. I should warn you, his route was one emotional ride. Sanan was such a complex character where at one point you literally can’t stand him and on another, you just can’t help but fall for him (°ロ°) It’s madness, I tell ya! After playing his route in EB, I now, clearly understand why Sanan’s character has a solid unwavering fan base. *Tips hat*

Story: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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SUSUMU YAMAZAKI
CV: Takayuki Suzuki – Daedalus Munto (Demonion Series), Oota Hiroo (Koiken Otome)

WarningKyoto Winds Spoiler below!
I was so ecstatic to play Yamazaki’s route because unlike the other romanceable characters in Kyoto Winds, Yamazaki was the only one who didn’t make it to Edo. (╥﹏╥) (Hint: He died in the battlefield). Yamazaki (in Kyoto Winds) only survived in two routes: his and Okita’s. That said, Playing Yamazaki’s route was such a treat in Edo Blossoms, because… you know, he’s alive and breathing for a change! (cackles). His route was rather short though, I remember finishing it way too quick compared to others. Needless to say, I love Yamazaki’s character to bits. I still hold my ground when I say, he’s such a good match for Chizuru,  both of them complement each other really well. His good ending was a little predictable but gosh, it was too perfect, I wouldn’t have it in any other way!

Story: 3/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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HACHIRO IBA
CV: Mamoru Miyano – Akito (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Light Yagami (Death Note), Tokiya (Utapri), Okabi Rintarou (Steins Gate)

I’ve been reading a lot of mixed reviews regarding Iba’s route in Edo Blossoms from western gamers. We either hate him or love him in his route. Why tho? Is it because of his obsessive crush with Chizuru, or is it because of his rapey demon hand? lol As an Iba bias,(˙꒳​˙) I don’t really find his route, in any way shape or form, offensive nor creepy, towards the main protagonist. The reason for his “odd” behavior was thoroughly explained in his story and was even foreshadowed a few times during his first chapters. OR perhaps, I just really have awful taste in men (lmao) To be quite honest, I’ve actually enjoyed Iba’s route fully. I thought it was pretty good. It was dark, yes but his character depth was strikingly beautiful. I love how Iba struggles with his own demons but at the same time continues to fight for his beliefs echoing Hijikata & the Shinsengumi’s dedication and willpower. He has the nicest bittersweet ending and (i think) it could’ve been better if they’ve extended his epilogue.

Story: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

2018-10-02-215520 KAZUE SOUMA
CV: Yuki Kaji – Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Finis (Code Realize), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Kakeru (Norn9), Hayato Ozaki (Nil Admirari)

I like describing Souma’s route as the amazing race to get to Hijikata (laughs). Because this was literally what went down for the first three chapters of his story (considering, an entire route in EB only consist 4 of chapters total). I felt that Souma’s story got a bit mundane in the middle but then picked up really quick on the fourth chapter. As I’ve griped before in Kyoto Winds, I still couldn’t feel any chemistry between him and Chizuru (ノД`). Although I loved that there was comic relief in the last chapters of his story. – the whole gang playfully teasing the lovers and Iba getting extremely jealous – oh boy! that was one good laugh. His ending was really sweet too (their reuniting scene was so precious). It’s one of my least favorite routes in EB but it wasn’t bad altogether. Also, kudos to Yuki  Kaji for breathing life into this character. His voice acting was indeed one of the highlights in this route.

Story: 4/5
Romance: 3/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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RYOUMA SAKAMOTO
CV: Daisuke Ono – Hyuuga (Neo Angelique), Hades (Kamigami no Asobi), Subaru Asahina (Brother’s Conflict), Yuuya (Muv-Luv), Azuma Natsuhiko (Norn9)

Sakamoto’s story in Kyoto Winds was interesting enough to get me all hyped up with his route in EB. Sadly, to my disappointment, the intriguing factor of Ryouma’s character died down as his whole route was wasted chasing after his buddy Nakaoka and his band of evil furies from Tosa. There was nothing new of the sort that’ll get you compelled to keep going in his story. I honestly could not wait for it to end. Though I wanted to point out that it was his good ending that uniquely redeemed his route from dullness. I believe others may still probably enjoy Sakamoto’s route. This one just didn’t stick out to me in the game.

Story: 2/5
Romance: 3/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

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CHIKAGE KAZAMA
CV: Kenjiro Tsuda – Hattori Hanzo (Nightshade), Soshi Amazaki (The Charming Empire), Leonardo Da Vinci (Ikevamp), Nathan Seymour (Tiger & Bunny)

I am literally a Kazama bias, that’s why I picked his route to play last. He is arrogant, selfish, and judgmental towards humans, the perfect husbando! (laughs). Again, just like his role in Kyoto Winds, Kazama can either be your enemy or your ally in the game depending on whose route you’re at. In Edo Blossoms, he becomes Chizuru’s bodyguard as she journeys following the tracks of the Shinsengumi. He may not be upfront with his feelings towards the heroine, but you can clearly tell that his actions are genuinely all for her well being. It was such a treat seeing Kazama’s changed nature towards Chizuru. Like how he always ask her first, what her plan is and what she wants to do. I also enjoyed their couple banters with each other like how Chizuru calls him out when he had too much sake to drink. (´▽ `) It was cute to witness their relationship blossoming as they spend more time together. Plus, this is the only route where you can see Amagiri giving love advises and epic wingman talks to the heroine. lol

Story: 4/5
Romance: 5/5
Kissing CG: YES

 

Will I enjoy Edo Blossoms, even if I haven’t played Kyoto Winds?
Maybe if you’re only in for the romance, then perhaps you might? Though, to be perfectly honest, I don’t see the point of playing the sequel without delving into the main story first. Edo Blossoms is part two and the continuation of Kyoto Winds, so I’d always advise against playing it first if you haven’t touched Kyoto Winds at all. Perhaps if you’ve played the older Hakuoki games then you’ll probably get the gist of the story. Otherwise, you will be missing out on a whole lot of stuff.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS?
Edo Blossom’s transition from Kyoto Winds was pretty smooth sailing as it immediately picked up the previous game’s premise. While the main plot and drama were built-up in Kyoto Winds, Edo Blossoms breaks the ice as it brought the conclusion to each of the route’s cliffhangers. Also, unlike its prequel, Edo Blossoms does not contain a long repetitive common story so you can rest easy on this fact if you were bogged down from completing the last game by it.

I may have gushed about it in my Kyoto Winds review, but the writing for this remake was indeed, outstanding. The writers did a great job telling Hakuoki’s gripping story while building each characters’ individuality and of course their relationship with the main protagonist, and I believe this is what most of us fans, craved for. We want to connect, sympathize and know these characters more. Out of the twelve main casts, the routes that left an impression on me the most were Hijikata, Harada, Iba, and Kazama. Needless to say, each character has their own personalities that stood out individually from the other. Heck, even the side characters shined in this sequel. My personal favs would be Kyo Shiranui (he’s awesome in Harada’s route), Keisuke Otori (he’s really hilarious in Hijikata and Souma’s route) and of course our beloved chief Isami Kondou, who’s probably brought us the most tears in this sequel.

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To me, Edo Blossoms was a great read per se. I would definitely recommend this game to those who’ve played KW and the older Hakuoki games. Although, I wanna stress out the fact that this sequel’s angst was a bit overwhelming and while it worked out for me (I love torturing myself with immense angst lol), it may not work for some, esp. if you’re more inclined to enjoy light-hearted fluffy novels.

Overall, I would still give Hakuoki Edo Blossoms an A rating for its compelling story, brilliant characters that shone individually, an artwork to die for and for being one of the best visual novels that realistically tells the story of the last samurais in Japan: The Shinsengumi – of course, if you’re secretly a hopeless romantic like me, the romance factor is definitely a plus.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 8/10