Hakuoki Edo Blossoms Review

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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

Iris School of Wizardry Vinculum Hearts Review (Nintendo Switch)

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IRIS SCHOOL OF WIZARDRY ~ VINCULUM HEARTS

Release Date: October 11, 2018 (North America)
Developers: OperaHouse Inc.
Publishers: OperaHouse Inc., DIGIMERCE
Platforms:  Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

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Fun Fact: The Nintendo Switch version for Iris School of Wizardry ~ Vinculum Hearts was initially released in August 2, 2018 (Japan). But the game has been around since year 2014 as a mobile port.

 

Walkthroughs:

 

STORY (from Vndb):
The Iris School of Wizardry, also known as ISW.
A school where girls and boys blessed with intelligence, talent, and economic fortune gather.

They say, getting into this school is exceptionally difficult, but those who graduate are promised a sparkling future as elite members of every important institutions in the country.

The protagonist’ Aria’s parents died when she was a child, she spent her days taking care of her parents old rare bookshop and wishing she could someday become a fine magician like her father was. Then one day a letter came to her. 
It was permission to enroll into ISW.

 

LOCALIZATION
After the disastrous machine translations of Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku, I was so afraid this game will suffer the same treatment. ALRIGHT! SO…luckily, they didn’t do machine translations this time… However, the english subs were still faulty and I noticed some translation inconsistencies where in some routes you can technically understand each sentence while the others were left iffy and awkward.

Edit: A recent patch update was released fixing the game’s English translations.

 

ART AND MUSIC
If you’re like me who’s a total sucker for gorgeous, shoujo manga art. You will love this game’s art style. ISOW Vinculum Hearts’ artwork was done by illustrator / mangaka Fujinami Mari. You’ve probably stumbled on some of her works such as “Erto bengoshi wa dokusen yoku no kakusanai”  manga (エリート弁護士は独占欲を隠さない) and the recent R18 otome by A’sRing, Furue Yurayura to.

The game’s trailer had an OP song called “The Promise of the Beginning” performed by seiyuu Nobuhiko Okamoto (*´▽`*). It’s not available in the game itself, but if you want to listen to the song, a sample track is available in iTunes, or you can listen to the full track below!

 

Voice Acting

Tetsuya Kakihara “Clyde King” – Victor Frankenstein (Code Realize), Karasuba (Psychedelica BB), Isora Amari (7’Scarlet), Shin (Amnesia)

Tomohisa Hashizume “Matias Archibald” –  Ryousi (Taishou x Alice), Liam Miller (Ren’ai Princess)

Yuuta kasuya “Cyril Grundy” – Piece (Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica), Tomohiko Tachibana (Duel Love: Koisuru Otome wa Shouri no Megami)

Ryousuke Kanemoto  “A-Jay Blackford” – Yuzu (Gunka o Haita Neko), Trias (Captain Earth)

Kazuyuki Okitsu “Keith Knight” Kyrie (Ozmafia!!), Ray (Ephermal),  Motofumi Mashiko (Nil Admirari), Tatsukichi (Yoshiwara Higanbana), Caster (Fate/Extella)

Nobuhiko Okamato “Iris” Hiroya (Period Cube), Manabu Souda (Collar x Malice), Hansel (Code Realize), Yang (Piofore no Banshou), Akira Kougami (Nil Admirari)

Mitsuki Saiga “Ashley Curtis” Sakuya (Norn9), Dantalion (Tokyo Babel)

Atsushi Kakehashi “Lee Fitzwilliam” – Axel (Ozmafia!!), Miyanomori Susumu (Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku)

 

PLOT AND SETTING
Since the story’s setting revolves around “the fantasy world of magic” I couldn’t help but notice a few similar elements from Harry Potter. One example was distinguishing purebloods from the half-bloods and mudbloods humans. In this game, the purebloods are called “almus” while a half-blood is called an “ultio”. “Hide Street”, the dangerous alley of Fonnue city (place where the heroine grew up) was described rather similar to Knockturn Alley and a “summoning animal” was akin to a patronous

MAIN CHARACTERS AND ROUTES
Almost all the routes follow through the same plot line. “The heroine starts her new life as a student of ISW, partners up with her love interest during their midterm exams, spends time with him on their summer and winter break (Christmas Eve), and eventually ends up becoming King and Queen during graduation day”. I have to say some routes were surprisingly good while the others were just “meh” (shrugs). ┐(‘~`;)┌

(IMO) The story is best enjoyed when played in the route order below:
Clyde — Matias — Cyril — Keith — A-Jay — Secret Route. I’ll try my very best to keep the spoilers to a minimum in my posts below but keep in mind to still read with caution.

 

spoilersss

 

CLYDE KING
Clyde is ISW’s student council president. He’s a very smart & talented young lad who’s magical abilities surpasses other wizards of his age.

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In his story, Clyde and Aria became number one in their class rankings after partnering up together during midterm exams. As a treat for the heroine’s hard work, Clyde takes her out on a date to Fonnue city. During their date, Aria opens up to Clyde by telling him how her parents died when she was ten years old and that she’s been living alone ever since. Clyde then promised her that from now on, he’ll be her other half and that he’ll take half of her pain and sadness in life and make sure she’ll never be alone to endure them.

(Fast Forward) During their Christmas break, while Aria was getting presents for all the society members, she recalls a special memory of the day she lost her parents and was crying all alone in the streets of Fonnue. There was a mysterious “prince-like” young boy who approached her and gave her a special white flower, stopping her from bawling her eyes out. Since then, Aria has treasured the flower dearly and now she’s finally decided to give it to someone she holds special in her heart. In the later parts of this story, it was revealed that Clyde was all along the mysterious boy who came to Aria’s aid when she was young and he was waiting all these years for her to remember. Aww. In return, the heroine took the white flower to Clyde and told him she has kept it preserved all this time and now she wants to give it back to that special boy who’s provided her happiness when she needed it the most. There’s more to this story but I didn’t want to spoil too much about it.

I did Clyde’s route first since I haven’t heard Kakki’s voice in a while (laughs). His story was somewhat predictable but it was cute from start to finish. There was really good chemistry between him and Aria and their romance didn’t feel forced at all. I also think his route was a great start for the game as it contained no major spoilers of its overarching plot, nor any type of angst or major conflicts and was all just pure smooth sailing, fluff goodness.

 

MATIAS ARCHIBALD
Matias is a member of ISW’s student council who’s known to be very cold up front. His dream is to become a member of the Imperial Chilvaric Order after graduation.  Matias is also Clyde King’s best friend, and they’ve been inseparable since childhood.

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In his story, Matias and Aria became partners in their midterm exams which resulted them to land on second place, while Clyde (who partnered with Ashley) still first. After the exams comes the school festival, and everyone agrees to hold a masquerade ball for one night. During the event, Matias who dressed up as a knight approached Aria and stretches out his hand as if telling her to come with him, Aria blindly follows and they eventually arrived at a room which resembles an underwater view (through Cyril’s magic). Here, they exchanged words not by talking but by waving their wands to form words in the water with magic. Matias went first by telling Aria she looked like Juliet and she responds telling him “You’re like Romeo then” (I swear I actually love the heroine’s forwardness in this route! lol). After exchanging sweet nothings as if role-playing the characters, Romeo and Juliet, both of them ended up kissing each other as Matias pulled Aria’s mask away revealing her face. Aria, not being a total dummy MC knew she was with Matias all along but she still took the liberty to ask him his name one last time after their lips parted. She never got the answer as her knight began to skedaddle the moment their kiss ended. Pffffft! As cheesy as this was, I fully admit that I’ve shamelessly enjoyed this scene A LOT! lmao (*/ω\)

(Fast Forward) Before Christmas break, Matias and Aria went on a date to the city of Fonnue, and Aria was surprised to see a ‘megane’ Matias lol! (her man, wearing adorable glasses). During their date, both of them opened up to each other. Here, Aria tells him how her parents died and how she’s been living alone since she was ten and Matias in exchange, tells her about his eye problems which is his current hindrance of becoming a member of the Imperial Chilvaric Order. It was also revealed in the later parts of his route that it’ll only take a matter of time before Matias goes completely blind. (╥﹏╥)

Matias, I believe was one of the better routes of this game. His story offered great character development for both him and the heroine. This is also the ONLY route where the heroine gets into a *cough* physical relationship with her love interest. (//▽//) 

 

CYRIL GRUNDY
Cyril is the youngest member of ISW’s student council. He is a bright, intelligent, competitive young boy who possesses an abnormal sweet tooth.

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After Aria partners up with Cyril in their midterm exams, they ended up still second to Clyde and Matias despite doing their very best. This, however, didn’t stop Cyril from trying harder, not just from studying but he does his ultimate best every day as if it’s his last. In his route it was also revealed that Cyril has no sense of direction, so he bothers the heroine all the time to help him find his way around the school grounds.lol

(Fast forward) November 17th was Cyril’s birthday and the heroine decided to give him this pegasus feather which was believed to improve your abilities in flying. That night, as Aria hopped skipped her way to see her man, she found Cyril staring at the sky at the  House of White Rose’s balcony. Btw, the “House of White Rose” is the name of their student council house. Here, Cyril tells Aria he’s always been fascinated every time he looks at the stars & asked her how farther up does he need to go so he can reach them. Aria responds and tells him, someone’s probably thinking the same way on the other side and Cyril says he’ll let her know when he finally gets there. Now, this dialogue was an implication of how SAD this route’s about to turn out because what happens next was freakin’ heartbreaking! Before Aria gets the chance of handing her gift, Cyril began to collapse on the floor and abruptly started clutching his chest. Aria panics and tells him she’ll call a doctor but Cyril shook his head and painfully spoke out of breath that he just needs to take his “pills”. After helping Cyril take his meds, he finally calmed down as he rested on the sofa. Aria on the other hand curiously took Cyril’s bag of medicine and was at lost for words when she read what’s written on the package. It was medicine for severe heart problems. (ಥ﹏ಥ)

Cyril’s route was probably the saddest in the game. Don’t play his route unless you’re ready for angst from start to finish. I also felt his relationship with the heroine was more of like a little brother rather than a love interest. Not really sure how I feel about his story either. His good and bad endings were pretty much the same. (ノД`)

 

A-JAY BLACKFORD
A-Jay is an easy going member of ISW’s student council who unexpectedly has a knack for solving some of the school’s darkest mysteries.

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In his route, A-Jay invited Aria to his villa in Campanula during their summer break. Campanula is a place known for its expensive beach resorts where rich families own most of the luxurious villas in the area. There, Aria was introduced to A-Jay’s loving family who welcomed her wholeheartedly with open arms. The next day, Aria takes a stroll with A-jay by the beach and here she tells him about how his family made her reminisce the days back when her parents were still alive, she also told A-jay how she’s been living alone ever since her parents passed away. Her confession, for some reason, made A-jay tear up (his manly tears slowly gushing down his cheeks lol) and he tells Aria how he admires her for being so strong.

(Fast forward) One day, while Aria was on her way to get dinner, she stumbles on a mysterious door in one of the school corridors. Rather than entering, she decides not to and walks away to look for A-jay to ask him if he knew anything about the mystery doorway she just recently came across with. While approaching A-Jay’s dorm room, she noticed his door was open and decides to playfully surprise him (ಠ_ಠ) (because why the hell not?! lmao!) She stopped herself when she sees A-jay in the middle of changing and accidentally saw a scar engraved on his back which she recognized as a symbol for dark magic. Because of this, Aria became conflicted with her feelings for A-Jay and grew distant of him for several days. This little conflict was resolved (during the last chapters of his route) when A-jay confessed to Aria his dark but heartbreaking secret. In his confession, he explained how he got the scar on his back and how the experience haunted him his whole life until he met the heroine.

I liked A-Jay’s route because although it still followed the same usual plot line, it branched out completely different from the others. I also find A-Jay’s character depth to be quite contributing to the game’s overall plot, although I wished they would’ve delved deeper into his past as his route had a LOT of plot holes that needed some definitive answers (E.g. Cyrus). I’m glad his route’s happy ending was really sweet (ノ´ з `)ノ(It was nice and fluffy!) though I also find his bad ending quite interesting ^^; (chuckles).

 

KEITH KNIGHT
Keith is the cold commanding leader of the Imperial Chilvaric Order who’s also a guest teacher at ISW for the year.

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I expected Keith’s route to be interesting because ya..know! teacher x student relationship is always amazing! hahaっಠ‿ಠ)っTo my disappointment,  his story turned out very bland and predictable.

In his story, Aria partners up with Ashley in their midterm exams. They eventually came in second place in the rankings while Clyde who partnered with Cyril this time was first, and Matias & A-jay settle in third place. Besides being a full-time teacher, Keith was also gathering information regarding the upcoming “Thousand Year War”, where rebellious dark wizards are on the move, started by Voldermort Gillian Griffiths, their chosen leader. For the most part of Keith’s route, it was all merely fluff fillers where he gets to warm up with Aria and his backstory was never mentioned until the last chapters of his story.

(Fast Forward) During their graduation, Aria and Ashley became “class queens” after successfully finishing first place in their final exams. Aria also learned from the headmaster, Demetrius that it was actually Professor Keith who paid for her scholarship so she can get into the school. Keith eventually admitted on ghost paying for Aria’s tuition fees when she confronts him about it. Later that night, he takes Aria to the forest and calls out his summoning animal, a giant phoenix (ಠ_ಠ). Both of them hopped unto the phoenix called Ignis, and they flew in the night to Keith’s villa in Campanula. Here, Keith tells Aria his past story. How he’s an ultio (halfblood) like her and how he was raised by his grandfather in poverty after being abandoned by his parents. He also tells her of his grandfather’s death wish which was to get revenge at Alan Griffiths, the dark wizard who’s responsible for all the misfortune that’s befallen on them. Keith vowed to fulfill his grandfather’s wish but when he became the commander of the Imperial Chilvaric Order, Alan Griffiths was already dead, so now he’s chasing after Alan Griffith’s son, Gillian – the current leader of the dark rebellious movement who planned on waging the ‘thousand year war’ in the kingdom of Clarius.

Alright, I have so many complaints on Keith’s route. There’s just so much stuff going on! There were scenes that I believe weren’t necessary and are only creating plot holes after plot holes. I recall a scene where Keith mentioned “Aria could end the thousand year war” but after finishing his happy ending I got totally confused since there WASN’T any war nor any kind of fighting going on. I want some intense wand action dammit!!!

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Then I unlocked his “Endless ending” (Bad Ending) and this is where I got completely baffled, as this one made more sense than the other! (ノ°益°)ノIt was in his bad ending that Aria was able to somehow stop the so-called “thousand-year war”At this point, I just couldn’t wait to end my suffering and finish the game. lol

 

LEONORE “IRIS”
(Secret Route)

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I stumbled on Iris’s secret route while doing A-Jay’s route. When Aria sees a mysterious door in one of ISW’s corridors, instead of turning away from it she enters and gets magically warped into a whole new bizarre world. Here she meets a strange boy who calls himself Leonore. Although he acts really childish most of the time, Aria started warming up to him, and they both spend a lot of time together in this little strange ‘enchanted’ place. However, every time Aria brings up wanting to go back to ISW and the real world, Leonore gets disturbingly upset and shows a total different personality, turning into a sadistic murderer with a massive thirst for blood. I’m getting Amnesia Ukyo flashbacks here!

I was totally not expecting a secret route in an OperhaHouse game so this one took me by surprise. Iris’s complicated character was also explained in detail during his story and Nobuhiko did extremely well as his VA. Although I thoroughly enjoyed his happy ending, just like Keith’s route, his endless ending had most of the answers regarding some of the plot holes in his story. (E.g. his wing shaped necklace)  \(︶▽︶)/

 

ARIA AUSTIN (Main Heroine)

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I actually like this heroine a lot. Aria has proven capable all throughout the routes of this game and was totally not a doormat. In the prologue, she challenged Cyril to a magical duel because she couldn’t take being talked shit at as an ‘ultio’ (halfblood). I also like that even though she knows most of the students in ISW are talking behind her back because she’s a commoner, she literally shrugs them off and goes “whatever, I’m just thankful enough to get into this school so I don’t care what ya’lls think of me”. lol (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ  She’s one very talented wizard who’s special ability is to easily remember everything she sees and read in detail.

This sassy heroine can walk the talk!

 

SIDE CHARACTERS
Ashley CurtisAria’s androgynous (lady) roommate who’s rather flirty it’s almost cringy! Ashley was a great NPC, though I couldn’t care less about her character. I’m sure there are others who’d probably enjoy her and wishes for an Ashley route but pffft! I just don’t feel too comfortable of a lady roomie aggressively flirting at you the chance she gets (ಠ_ಠ), it’s just weird! (to me anyway).

Demetrius Bishopthe headmaster of ISW with a jolly personality but has a few secrets up his sleeve. Demetrius was alright. He has his own eccentric way of entering a scene like when he slid down that rainbow to announce their final exam (Clyde’s route), or when he magically goes through walls lol or sometimes, even dramatically falling off the sky Mary Poppins style. haha ^^;

Professor Lee Fitzwilliam – one of the teachers in ISW who used to be best friends with Keith Knight. His backstory was only introduced during Keith’s route.

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS(°▽°)/
The game’s play length was a bit short. With each route only having five full chapters plus their ending epilogues, you can probably finish one route in two hours sitting (or less). In terms of story, I’ve actually enjoyed a few routes (Matias, A-Jay, Iris and maybe Clyde). Some elements in the story may seem like a cheap rip-off of Harry Potter but after finishing the entire game, I didn’t really feel any kind of HP vibe as far as how its overarching story ended. Comparing it to OperaHouse’s previous selections of otome games, I’d say Vinculum Hearts probably stands out when it comes to it’s story elements. The secret route definitely caught me off guard so I’m giving them kudos to that, and the feisty heroine definitely took this game up a notch.(^ω~)

In terms of localization, I’m not going to sugarcoat this one. It was extremely awful the first time it came out in the eshop. It’s definitely an improvement from what they did with Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku but is it good enough for its full price? Nope. The english translations were still faulty which was a shame since the story was definitely NOT bad at all.

Edit: The good news is that, the game publishers recently released a patch fixing the translations for ISW Vinculum Hearts. I can honestly say, the english subtitles have greatly improved, so kudos to Digimerce for professionally taking action on this matter! (*´▽`*)

Do I recommend this game? YES
The fact that the translation errors were fixed, I’m delighted to say, the game is actually playable now. If you enjoy themes such as magic and romance with a few darker plot twists, I’d say ‘give this one a chance’.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 5/10


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


 

Gakuen Club Review (Nintendo Switch)

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GAKUEN CLUB

Release Date: August 30, 2018  (North America)
Developer
OperHouse, D3Publisher
Publisher: Dogenzaka Lab, D3Publisher 
Platforms: Steam, Nintendo Switch, Mobile (iOS and Android)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

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This game’s localized version was originally released May 10, 2017 in PC (Steam) platform and  a month later ported to mobile platforms (iOS and Android) in June 12, 2017.

 

Walkthroughs:

  1. Renji Kamiki
  2. Wataru Kagurazaka
  3. Toma Sakai
  4. Saku Takizawa
  5. Yuya Yamaoka
  6. Asahi Minakawa

 

STORY
Our heroine is entering her junior year of high school when she finds out she’ll be transferring to the famous Kirika Academy located in the city due to her father’s new job. 

She is quite excited about starting her new school life, but she stumbles upon a secret nightclub that is being operated after school hours, and gets herself roped into working the kitchen…

As she grows closer to the other wait staff of the nightclub, she learns of their past, and finds herself becoming more and more involved in a complicated web of human relationships and romance…

 

ART AND MUSIC
Perhaps one of the pros that initially attracted me to Gakuen Club was the game’s artwork. These lovely character designs were done by the popular Japanese illustrator “Melo”. Her other famous works are Suuran Digit and Taishou x Alice. You can view the artist’s website here.

Fun Fact: Gakuen Club’s PS Vita version gets an awesome opening theme, with a song called “UNMASKED” performed by the artist, Mao Uzuki. You can listen to the track below, or watch the video here.

 

Voice Acting

KENN “Minakawa Asahi” –  Fuuto Asahina (Brothers Conflict), Yuuto Kujo (Beast Darling), Kintaro Katagiri (Yunohana Spring!), Totomaru Minowa (Kenka Banchou Otome)

Tsubasa Yonaga “Wataru Kagurazaka” – Hikaru Onigashima (Kenka Banchou Otome), Yakumo Tachibana (Vitamin X-Z)

Kensho Ono “Toma Sakai” – Hozumi Kohinata (Prince of Stride), Mict Haruno (Binary Star), Kurokono Tasuke (Gintama)

Mark Ishii “Yuya Yamaoka” – Lev Haiba (Haikyu),  Chrono Shindou (Cardfight! Vanguard G)

Yuuichirou Umehara “Renji Kamiki” – Demento (Period Cube), Shingen Takeda (Ikemen Sengoku), Shinobu Kurosawa (Dynamic Chord)

Kosuke Toriumi “Saku Takizawa” – Hajime Saito (Hakuoki), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), John Watson (Code Realize), Shuu (Diabolik Lovers), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Ikemen Sengoku), Kagiha/Lawrence (Psychedelica Series)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (No Spoilers)

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All the romanceable characters are shotas (laughs) so If you’re into this archetype, I believe this game is for you!  Personally, I’m not into the whole “young love”, or the “innocent-high-school-trope” thing. I like my men more mature and older (Darling, don’t we all do?! *chuckles*) – So as far as the romance goes, it was a little hard for me to get really enthused by these characters.( ° ∀ ° )ノ゙

I don’t think there’s a specific route order you have to follow, so, by all means, start with any character you like. If you want route recommendations, I suggest playing in this order:  Wataru — Renji — Toma — Saku — Yuya — Asahi.

 

RENJI KAMIKI – a senior in Kirika Academy who’s also a talented young pianist. 

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I did Renji’s route first because he was the best looking of the bunch and the tallest! (kinda makes him look more mature than the other boys) lol (*/ω\) Renji is the flirty, outgoing type guy. He’s the boy you’d want to introduce to your folks because you’d know they’ll instantly like him. In his story, he’s not only very popular among the girls in the academy but also with the secret night club’s VIP guests (mostly women). Although Renji stages beautiful piano performances in a professional manner, he felt as if his music lacked something very important – and this sometimes puts him in a foul mood. Playing his route will let you discover Renji’s struggles that haunted him all his life and kept him from expressing his true self through his music.

Renji’s route was okay, it started good, got a bit repetitive and boring in the middle and ended in a rush. I may have enjoyed a few romantic scenes due to his flirty nature but overall, I thought Renji’s character was a little distant towards the heroine and I don’t think they really connected in his story.

 

WATARU KAGURAZAKAA very cunning and clever freshmen of Kirika Academy.

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Wataru is the youngest member of Kirika Academy’s Secret Nightclub. He’s a cheerful character, who knows his own appeal and tends to use it at his advantage. He aims to become number one in the secret nightclub rankings to help him gain and achieve a personal wish. In his story, Wataru hits it off with Akane but then angst follows when his uncle forced him into an arranged marriage to gain company relations and to help their family business.(#`Д´)

Wataru is the most shota of all the shotas in this game lol. His route wasn’t so bad although I didn’t really care much about it as it was plainly predictable from start to finish. His relationship with the heroine was good if you like the typical high school romance involving a young tsundere with a spunky attitude. His tiny squeaky voice didn’t help either and only got me more annoyed while going down his route. If anything, it made me feel like a cradle snatcher! 

 

TOMA SAKAIan unfriendly, handsome looking boy who’s frank remarks always stand out.

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Toma is a kuudere, he rarely talks and would only SIGH most of the time. In fact, you’ll hear him sighing all throughout the game (even in other routes). lol (っ´ω`)ノ Despite his unfriendly nature, he still remains close pals with his buddy Asahi Minakawa. In his story, Toma was revealed to be a child model who used to be really famous in the entertainment business – (this explains his very charming physical appearance). However, due to some internal family issues he’s been struggling with since childhood, he eventually developed health problems which lead him to quit his modeling career.

I never expected I’d enjoy Toma’s route but I actually found it surprisingly better than the others. Maybe it’s because I’m a total sucker for kuudere characters? haha It started really dull though but I’m glad it got better towards the ending. I liked his relationship with Akane and the way he opened up to her seemed very realistic, not to mention cute!

 

SAKU TAKIZAWAbookworm, a man of few words who possess a unique mysterious personality.

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Saku’s route was probably THE BEST one in Gakuen Club. Wow! This megane really got my full attention. uwu (*ノωノ)  Saku maybe a man of few words but he is one attentive fella with very good listening skills. He offers logical advises to the night club’s VIP guests’ personal problems – this is one of his distinctive charms that draw people to him. In his route, it was revealed that Saku’s parents were famous movie stars (his dad a film director and mom, an actress). You’ll also get to discover how he was raised all his life without receiving a single love from neither of them. SOB (╥_╥)

I find his story rather dark but very engaging at the same time. It started interesting enough to keep you going and ended with a great finish. Although going down his route was emotionally heartbreaking, his romantic events with the heroine never took a back seat and I enjoyed every scene they’ve had together including their cute exchanges in the library and their fluffy moments of confessing each other’s feelings during the school festival. All in all, this route was a perfect 10.

 

YUYA YAMAOKAa handsome, hardworking senior in Kirika Academy with a concerning dark past.

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Yuya was sort of a mysterious character at first. I’ve asked myself a couple of times, what’s so special about him? …and why is he even in the secret nightclub? To give you a non-spoiler answer; Unlike the other guys who are famous for their high status in society, Yuya is actually just an ordinary dude with a handsome face. lol He does have a dark secret up his sleeve which you’ll get to discover going down his route.

I have mixed feelings towards Yuya’s story. For the most part, it was all fluff fillers which aren’t even relevant. Yuya’s character was also very deviant compared to the other boys. He can be a jerk sometimes and annoyingly emo and I’m not even sure if his relationship with the heroine was genuine enough to last. haha! I did feel bad while reading his backstory (during his monologues) and I like how the VA Mark Ishii carried this character’s complex personality. It’s a shame he doesn’t have a lot of otome gigs!

 

ASAHI MINAKAWAthe son of the headmaster in Kirika Academy, who’s also in Akane’s class.

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Asahi is the heir of the Minakawa Group, the powerful conglomerate that runs Kirika Academy. He is bright, energetic and of course very popular at school. Besides being the genki guy who won’t leave you alone, Asahi Minakawa is also dat-one-character who’s born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His route was mainly him struggling to keep up his wealthy family’s high expectations.

I think playing Asahi’s route last, was a good choice since it contained most of the spoilers in Gakuen Club’s overall story. Other than that, his character development turned out very bland, dull and somewhat predictable. The romance was there but because of Asahi’s jolly-ol’ personality, it felt a little forced, like there’s no motivation behind his feelings for Akane, at all. Also, His open-ended happy ending made me flip. (メ` ロ ´)

 

AKANE KOIZUMI (You) – Main Heroine
Akane is your typical transparent heroine. There’s nothing special about her. She doesn’t have any likable trait whatsoever and was just blindly following and supporting most of the guys in their routes except maybe Saku and Toma’s, where her support actually made a  significant turn on how their stories were concluded.

 

TRAILER 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ
Well, I didn’t really have any high expectations from this game. I first played it on mobile, where I only did Toma’s route and got bored with it halfway through. Perhaps playing it on the Switch the second time around made all the difference? The game’s system was very comfortable whether you play it handheld or docked. I played it on tv while my console was docked, so this somehow prevented me from falling asleep! lmao.

The average play time in completing one single route was a good 2-3 hours (auto mode), though it took me a week to finish this game as I keep putting it down (ーー;). Most of the routes were boring as hell except for maybe Saku and Toma’s. These were the only two routes I’ve enjoyed, Saku being my favorite. I liked how all of the routes focused on very human stories and events, instead of the usual superfluous fantasies in otoges. Don’t get me wrong, I still love those good ol’ reverse harem fictions, but this was a good change of pace.

Overall, Gakuen Club isn’t as bad as everyone assumed it to be. It had a couple of pros such Melo’s gorgeous art and not all the main characters sucked.^^

Do I recommend this game? Yes, but only if it’s on sale. I’m pretty sure you’ll at least enjoy one route (Saku’s Route). Each of the character’s story does bring up realistic conflicts, which was a plus point to me. It’s a  very simple high-school themed visual novel though, so don’t expect it to be mind-blowing or anything of the sort (chuckles).

 

Chlo’s Rating: 5/10


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


 

Bad Apple Wars Review

BAD APPLE WARS

BAD APPLE WARS

Release Date: October 13, 2017 (North America)
Developers: Idea Factory, Otomate
Publishers: Idea Factory, Aksys Games
Platforms:  PS VITA
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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Bad Apple Wars was originally first released in November 19, 2015, Japan. Aksys Games, who’s known for localizing a few Otomate titles in the West initially announced Bad Apple Wars during their panel in 2017’s Anime Expo. The game was supposed to release September 29, 2017 (North America and Europe), but was later pushed to October 13, 2017 due to some delays.

I have to admit, it took me a while to pick up BAW from my backlog library. I acquired the game’s Limited Edition last year, from my Gamestop store and while I’ve heard a lot of intriguing mixed reviews regarding this game, I was pretty much pre-occupied finishing my other otoges, I keep putting off playing this one a few times. 

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

Walkthroughs:

1)Higa
2)Shikishima
3)Alma
4)Satoru
5)White Mask

 

ART AND MUSIC
The game’s artwork had a quite unique approach compared to the usual otome art, and its one of the reasons why I’m absolutely fascinated by this artist’s style. The character design was done by Japanese illustrator, “Suou” スオウ who’s also famous for her other works, such as “ALICE-ALICE” aka  Alice in the Forbidden World. You can find the artist’s official pixiv site here.

Another highlight of Bad Appe Wars is the game’s solid soundtrack. While the OP track “Mirror, Mirror” was rather catchy, I found the game’s bgms even more jammin’Listen to my fav track below!

 

Voice Acting

Sakurai Takahiro  “Alma” – Astrum (Period Cube), Uruki (Genbu Kaiden Kagami no Miko), Mejojo von (Black Wolves Saga), Ruki (Diabolik Lovers),  Rui Sagisawa (Nil Admirari)

Akira Ishida Shikishima” – Kent (Amnesia Memories), Zara Skeens (Black Wolves Saga), Tokita Shuya (Clock Zero), Unknown Guy (Period Cube)

Junichi Suwabe “Higa”Van Helsing (Code Realize), Ren (Utapri), Jae-ha (Akatsuki No Yona), Nobushige Sanada (Kurenai)

Hanae Natsuki “Satoru” – Libera (Period Cube), Sera Akito (Collar x Malice), Yuki (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Shirota (Possession Magenta)

Shinnosuke Tachibana “White Mask” – Louis Howard (Midnight Cinderella), Kousei (Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku), Tomoe (Kamisama Kiss), Suruga Akito (KLAP)

Shin’ichirou Miki “Bucket-head sensei” – Toshizo Hijikata (Hakuoki)Nesso Galland (Black Wolves Saga), Yuzuki Murakumo (7’scarlet)

Kouji Yusa “Gas-mask sensei” – Sanosuke Harada (Hakuoki),  Itsuki Kagami (Norn9),  Bernardo (Luckydog1)

Tomokazu Sugita “Rabbit head” – Takuma (Hiro no Kakera), Gin (Gintama), Ron Muroboshi (Norn9), Nobunaga (Ikesen), Reine des Fluers (Hubert), Sasuke Sarutobi (Kurenai)

 

MAIN CHARACTERS (Spoiler Free)

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At the start of the Common Route, you are prompted to choose a side; The Good Apples or The Bad Apples. For a more engaging gameplay, I strongly recommend to pick the Bad Apple’s side first and do the Good Apples routes last. For a specific route order, I suggest playing: Higa — Shikishima — Alma — Satoru — White Mask.

 

HIGA

  • Soul Totem: Baseball
  • tsundere
  • those abs doe

Higa is the tall bad boy from the Bad Apples faction. He carries with him a white baseball (as his soul totem), that can explode like a bomb and can sometimes transform into a baseball bat. He greatly respects Alma, calls him “aniki” (brother) and acts as Alma’s right hand.

Higa is one of my favorite characters in BAW, maybe because I started with his route first or perhaps I’m just totally biased when it comes to Suwabe’s voice acting? lol. His route, on the other hand, was a little lacking as far as how his story was presented. Although I enjoyed his cute little moments with the heroine in NEVAEH Academy, I think his happy ending was a little rushed? I actually, had to re-read his epilogue just to make sure I understood what was going on. His back story did tug my heartstrings though! Higa in general, was a great character in the game and it would’ve been nice if his ending was given more thought and was explained better. ( ̄□ ̄」)

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SHIKISHIMA

  • Soul Totem: Sketchbook and paint brush
  • the frustrated artist
  • Why so emo?

Shikishima neither belongs to the Good Apples nor the Bad Apples’ faction. Rather, he is considered an “Odd Apple” in NEVAEH Academy. He does his own thing and rarely participates in breaking the school rules but does not care for them at all either.  He speaks in a friendly but slightly formal tone and is prone to nature-based metaphors.

I didn’t really understand this character until the last chapters of his story… He is just soooo abstract, it’s hard to figure him out. Shikishima is also a very reserved (and very emo) character, that it is almost impossible to get a grasp of him, making his romance with the heroine very dry and nearly forced. It’s a shame since Shikishima seemed like a real potential deep character to boot, and his backstory could’ve worked if not for a gang amount of plot holes. I like that Shikishima was a curious persona in the game but his character development, not to mention is “happy” ending” – was poorly executed ruining the entirety of his route.  ┐(︶▽︶)┌

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ALMA

  • Soul Totem: Red thread
  • poker faced
  • the leader of the band

Alma is the leader and brains of the Bad Apples. He garners great respect from everyone in their faction because he’d always come up with a plan in mind whenever their group decides to break the 7 Unbreakable Rules of NEVAEH Academy.  Although he possesses an emotionless poker face, he is a man of great charisma – one of the many reasons why everyone deeply trusts him and his leadership.

Alma’s route was a looong one compared to the other two previous Bad Apple routes (Higa and Shikishima).  TBH, I wanted to like his route as much as I like his character but perhaps his story just didn’t appeal to me as much??? There were a lot of fluff contents to enjoy, E.g ~ him spending time with the heroine Rinka, in NEVAEH Academy. But it didn’t have anything new to reveal, that would explain more about BAW’s overall story – and this was such a letdown as I was expecting some sort of plot twist in this route – WHICH NEVER HAPPENED. (*°ー°)ノ  I guess the best part of Alma’s story (which I enjoyed so much) was his ending, YES, his good ending! Plus the CG!!! It was so fluffy that I forgot all about the plot holes and just snickered happily all throughout the end credits. lol

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SATORU

  • Soul Totem: Reference Book
  • naive
  • ❤ “choco banana!”

Satoru is the younger student who was admitted to NEVAEH Academy at the same time as the heroine. He is very obsessed with studying and would frantically spend all his time reading his guidebook as if his life depends on it. He is very naive and is unaware of his surroundings but at the same time couldn’t care less about it either. His soul totem is a reference book which seems to have vast information on an unlimited number of things, ranging from vocabulary to world history.

Satoru’s route was my favorite in BAW. His story had good pacing, great character development for both him and the heroine, and contains the best fluff and drama scenes to keep you entertained. To be perfectly honest I never really deemed Satoru’s character interesting until I played his route. His romance with Rinka however, is more of like a “nakama” compared to a lover’s relationship, I guess this is because he’s a few years younger than her. I also wanted to commend Hanae Natsuki for doing an amazing job portraying Satoru, I probably sobbed a few times, during his monologues. ha! This route was definitely fun, it hit the nail right in the head as far as stirring up your emotions go.

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WHITE MASK

  • Weapon of choice: Prefect’s Ruler
  • Soul Totem: Beads (necklace)
  • true route???

White Mask is the head of the prefects in NEVAEH Academy. He is a mysterious character who’s obsessed with correcting the Bad Apples. His weapon of choice is an (electric?) ruler that zaps students, causing them to be in a complete depressive state.  He wears a prefect’s uniform & a faceless white mask and he possesses a very strict attitude.

BAD APPLE WARS (010)

While White Mask was hinted to be the true route of Bad Apple Wars, I find it very hard to comprehend that his story was indeed the grand finale of the entire game because it gave me so many questions left unanswered. Just like Alma’s route, his story was lengthier than the others. He had a longer backstory and he gets to spend a lot of time with the heroine for that needed relationship boost. Maybe as a stand-alone route, his story can be considered really good for what it is, but I wouldn’t dare call it the true ending of BAW. I like White Mask as a character regardless, and I may have shed some tears when I read his backstory. lol I just wished there was more to his ending than angst and romance.

 

rinkaRINKA
(Main Heroine)

Perhaps one of the dullest protagonist I’ve ever played. Rinka has no kind of background, characteristics, personality or anything of the sort. This was also made clear several times in the game, during her monologues of being really “empty”. So this makes me wonder… Does the MC for Bad Apple Wars designed as some sort of personification of the reader or player?  Putting yourself in the protagonist’s shoes is somehow common in dating sims, (especially in mobile games) and although sometimes this set up may work for some, more times than not, IT DOESN’T when it comes to visual novels. It technically kills the likability of a character making the game experience less enjoyable. With Rinka, I wouldn’t say she’s a bad heroine altogether, she is however very boring to play because of the “self-insert factor” the developers made her to be.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? ( ° ∀ ° )ノ゙
Playing Bad Apple Wars was a love-hate kind of experience for me. I really liked how the game started. How the NEAVEH universe was introduced and how the main and side characters were uniquely presented in the story. These aspects alone piqued my interest in the game. However, my excitement sort of died down in the middle of the repetitive playthroughs and the open-ended routes.

The fun play of the “afterlife story” in BAW really had potential and I think it would’ve been so much better if the endings were coherently explained well instead of leaving them hanging in the dark. For the most part, I think the game is still enjoyable If you’re able to find a character that interests you and are willing to overlook some plot inconsistencies of the story, not to mention the blandness of the main protagonist.

Overall, I wouldn’t consider Bad Apple Wars a substandard for an otome game / visual novel in general. In fact, I would still recommend it to players that aren’t picky with their otoges and just wants a good visual novel to pass the time. Story-wise, this game may not be perfect but it certainly still has some redeemable qualities to look forward to such as its outstanding art style, soundtrack,  and really fun characters that’ll bring you angst and romance all in one gameplay. So…by all means, pick this game up and give it a chance~! ♡( ◡‿◡ )

 

Chlo’s Rating: 6/10

Hakuoki Kyoto Winds Review

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HAKUOKI: KYOTO WINDS

Release Date: May 16, 2017 (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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I know, I know! This review is late for the party… lol but here it is, finally!

Hakuoki was probably the first english (otome) visual novel i’ve played back in 2012. I have played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom in the PSP and really enjoyed it. In fact, I could never play any other (visual novel) game that has the Shinsengumi’s famous names without incorporating it with my Hakuoki characters, lmao it just doesn’t feel right. LOL Please tell me I’m not the only Hakuoki fan that feels this way!image

Although this popular series may have a lot of renditions and titles available on different gaming platforms (PSP, 3DS, PS3 and PS Vita), they tell  the same story and offer the same six potential romanceable characters (Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama). If you’re new to the series and don’t know where to start, Kyoto Winds is a great title to begin your Hakuoki journey.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds is the first half of the revamped edition of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. This title is also probably the biggest update the Hakuoki series has had in years. Some of the improvements they’ve made were the animated bgs and sprites (eyes blinking, mouth moving, flower petals falling in the bg, etc.). Not only that, but instead of the usual six dateable characters, they’ve added six more lovely samurais you can choose to romance with in the seriesimage. We now have new routes for the following characters:

  1. (The long awaited route of) Shinpachi Nagakura
  2. Keisuke Sanan
  3. Susumu Yamazaki
  4. Hachiro Iba
  5. Kazue Souma
  6. Ryouma Sakamoto

However, because of the added content and sub stories, not to mention the new routes of the recently added characters, Kyoto Winds only covers half of the original Hakuoki story. The new title, Edo Blossoms (localized version), which was recently released this year – continues the second half, covering the rest of the Shinsengumi tale.

 

Read the game’s synopsis here.

 

ART AND MUSIC
Besides more story content, this rendition also covers more art, and by that I mean, more exceptionally beautiful CGs to satisfy our hearts with. Arguably, there are three artists involved in the making of the game’s artwork throughout the years. Kazuki Yone, who’s responsible for the original character design, Miko (also known as the artist of Code Realize) for the game’s additional graphics, and Shiki Sakigumi for continuing the new and additional character designs after Yone left. The latter is also the official artist for the AU title,  Hakuoki SSL.

I think the game’s OP “Ruri No Sora E” is by far the best theme that suits the Hakuoki story really well to a T.  Listen to this track below!

 

CHARACTERS AND WALKTHROUGHS (Spoiler Free)image
For a more engaged gameplay, I suggest playing the routes in the order below:

  1. Toshizo Hijikata
  2. Souji Okita
  3. Hajime Saito
  4. Heisuke Toudou
  5. Sanosuke Harada
  6. Shinpachi Nagakura
  7. Keisuke Sanan
  8. Susumu Yamazaki
  9. Hachiro Iba
  10. Kazue Souma
  11. Ryouma Sakamoto
  12. Chikage Kazama

 

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

Also known as “The Demon Vice Commander”. Hijikata is one of the most devoted samurais of the Shinsengumi. Acting as the leader alongside Isami Kondou, he is not only respected by his men for his exceptional sword skill and talent in the battlefield but also for his pride and beliefs as a true samurai warrior.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was more inclined to the Shinsengumi’s story. I think it is fairly recommended to do his route first since it follows through the historical events of the Shinsengumi and their activities in Kyoto. That said, there is no romance in this route – sadly… Despite his cold and strict demeanor, there were a few cute moments where the heroine, Chizuru gets to warm up to him through their little interactions, making Hijikata still one of the most likable characters of the game.

 

2018-07-14-071735SOUJI OKITA
CV: Shotaro MorikuboImpey Barbicane (Code Realize), Musica (Fairy Tale), Toa (7’scarlet)

Okita is the captain of the first division of the Shinsengumi, he’s also known as one of the most notorious warriors in the battlefield. He posses a very sarcastic personality and a charmingly sadistic nature. This man is also very loyal to Isami Kondou and his top priority in life is to be the sword and weapon of the Shinsengumi. It is rumored that his sword skill is as good as Hijikata’s, although he personally claimed that he’s better.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was a little rough around the edges. His playful threats of killing Chizuru can be a handful sometimes (although this is one of his notable charms). I personally love how the heroine handled Okita’s complex personality. Because of her understanding and determination to support him, she was able to melt this man’s cold-blooded heart.

 

2018-07-28-204506 SAITO HAJIME
CV: Kousuke Toriumi
– Kagiha (Psychedelica BB), Poyo-Poyo (Period Cube), Hideyoshi (Ikesen), Lawrence (Psychedelica AH), John Watson (Code Realize)

The Captain of the third division of the Shinsengumi. Saito is another loyal member of the Shinsengumi who almost never question or complain about a task he’s given to do. He is smart and very rational, sometimes to the point of coldness. He greatly respects Hijikata as one of his superiors and willingly follows his leadership. He takes no pleasure in the battlefield despite his exceptional skill in a fight.

His Route, had plenty of doki-doki moments and probably had the best CGs. Saito’s kuudere nature was really adorable. I also find it cute when he’s so fired up talking about his obsession with swords. He may sport a very cold and distant personality upfront but inside is a very shy, and sympathetic gentleman who’s always looking out for your best interest.

 

2018-08-01-222854 HEISUKE TOUDOU
CV: Yoshino Hiroyuki – Sendo Kiyoharu (Vitamin X), Auger von Garibaldi (Black Wolves Saga), Otamaru Heishi (Norn9)

The Captain of the eight division who’s the youngest and probably the most cheerful and optimistic member of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains of the Shinsengumi who are very dedicated to serving the shogunate, Heisuke is rather the opposite. He has his own political beliefs regarding the unscrupulous nature of war and his role as a warrior participating in it.

There’s chemistry between him and our main heroine, Chizuru, so it was very refreshing playing His Route. Maybe it’s because they’re around the same age? I also loved Heisuke’s character development in his story. His wavering beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong seemed very realistic & sensible and I think his constant battle between what he believes in vs. his emotions brought out his character’s benevolent nature.

 

2018-08-04-183400 SANOSUKE HARADA
CV: Koji Yusa Itsuki Kagami (Norn9), Mr. Gasmask (Bad Apple Wars), Bernardo (Luckydog1)

The Captain of the tenth division, who prefers a spear as his weapon of choice. He is a very compassionate character and one of the most level-headed members of the Shinsengumi. He enjoys a good sake in his free time and maybe some friendly banter with his close pals, Shinpachi and Heisuke.

His Route is def. a fan favorite. Sanosuke Harada is every girl’s dream-prince-samurai. Besides his drop-dead gorgeous look and physique, he is always kind and very considerate when it comes to Chizuru, the perfect gentleman (if ya ask me!). If you want a more romance-inclined story in Kyoto Winds, Sano’s route is for the taking! …and just wait till’ you get to him in Edo Blossom!

 

2018-08-05-175438 SHINPACHI NAGAKURA
CV: Tsuboi Tomohiro Toshi Maeda (Sengoku Basara), Rikimaru (Tenchu 2), Taliesin (Tears to Tiara)

The Captain of the second Division and one of the most skilled warriors of the Shinsengumi. Unlike the other captains who started as a nobody before they claimed their Shinsengumi titles, Shinpachi was born into a samurai family but was never interested in a life of luxury as he wanted to earn his role as a samurai rather than reaping its benefits through his family name. He ended up in the Shiei Hall where he met the other captains and that was when Kondou took him.

His Route in Kyoto Winds, Is the sisterzone route. Lol, Besides him treating Chizuru as nothing more than a little sister, he also lacked a deeper connection with the heroine, which made his romance a bit one-sided (to Chizuru, that is). I do like Shinpachi’s character though, he’s a great comic relief to the group and ofc who could ignore those manly pecs’ from heaven?!image

 

2018-08-08-212217 KEISUKE SANAN
CV: Nobuo Tobita Straizo (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), Kan Soo-Jin (Akatsuki no Yona), Capt. Gordon (Disgea)

One of the Vice Commanders of the Shinsengumi, also referred as a Colonel in their organization. Sanan gained his position due to his intelligence in battle tactics as well as his headstrong personality which garnered him the respect of the other Shinsengumi captains. Despite his kind and gentle appearance, he posses an ominous side, especially when angered.

Sanan gave me the creeps in other routes. His Route in Kyoto Winds made him a little less creepy which is perhaps good? but not good enough to make him a potential love interest. Idk, maybe it’s because of his self-pity or his obsession with the “rasetsu” (furies) that turned me off in his story. I love his voice actor though, I think Nobou Tobita really did well in emphasizing this character’s dark and complex nature.

 

2018-08-11-090416 SUSUMU YAMAZAKI
CV: Takayuki Suzuki – Daedalus Munto (Demonion Series), Oota Hiroo (Koiken Otome)

Yamazaki is a member of the Watch division in the Shinsengumi. As a doctor’s son, he’s also well versed in the field of medicine. He is very devoted to the Shinsengumi and respects Hijikata as his commanding leader. Although most of his missions involved stealth and surveying, Yamazaki is also a skilled swordsman and can lend a hand in the battlefield when needed.

His Route in Kyoto Winds was very fluffy and surprisingly good. Yamazaki is that one guy you’ve completely ignored all throughout the entire game – you’ve failed to realize how much of a good man this character is until you step into his route. Because both the heroine and Yamazaki’s parents are doctors, I feel that they complement each other extremely well, they’re almost the perfect pair.

 

2018-08-12-170727 HACHIRO IBA
CV: Mamoru Miyano 
Souo Tamaki (OHSHC), Light Yagami (Death Note), Tokiya (Utapri), Okabi Rintarou (Steins Gate)

Hachiro Iba is a member of the shogun’s guard who has known the Shinsengumi for years. He’s also inherited one of the most popular dojo in Bakumatso, Edo, through his family name. Despite his charming looks and his very gentle & refined appearance, he is one badass swordsman who’s trained together with the Shinsengumi captains. He’s also Chizuru’s childhood friend.

His Route is probably one of the most interesting routes in Kyoto Winds. I find it REALLY hard not to like Iba as he was honest-to-god about his feelings towards Chizuru and it was very admirable how he always puts the heroine first above all else. The plot twist in his story also caught me off guard as I wasn’t expecting any of it, to say the least.

 

 2018-08-19-081429KAZUE SOUMA
CV: Yuki Kaji Kei Okazaki (Collar x Malice), Finis (Code Realize), Kanato (Diabolik Lovers), Yuiga Kakeru (Norn9), Rath Vogart (Black Wolves Saga) Hayato Ozaki (Nil Admirari)

A new recruit of the Shinsengumi who was a former soldier in the shogunate army. Isami Kondou, sees potential in him so he was immediately appointed as the chief’s page.

Kazue was a page in training under Chizuru’s guidance. He’s one very optimistic soldier who’s always eager and determined to learn more. I have mixed feelings regarding His Route though. While he’s a very bright and lovely new character, I felt that his relationship with the heroine was more of a “nakama” rather than a love interest… and the only time I felt their relationship, romantically went up a notch was around the last scene (chapter 5) of Souma’s route. It was a good thing he pulled through in Edo Blossoms! (smirks)

 

2018-08-20-210617 RYOUMA SAKAMOTO
CV: Daisuke Ono Hyuuga (Neo Angelique), Hades (Kamigami no Asobi), Subaru Asahina (Brother’s Conflict), Yuuya (Muv-Luv), Azuma Natsuhiko (Norn9)

Originally a samurai from Tosa, Sakamoto is the ronin responsible for negotiating the alliance between the Satsuma and Choshu in an effort to overthrow the Shogunate. Sakamoto has a very progressive view on politics and he believes that the Japanese government should become more like a democracy.

Before I played His Route, I have *sort of* spoiled myself with his story by reading an article about the real Ryouma Sakamoto in Japanese history. It was interesting that the game fundamentally follows through his life events and the highlights of his activities in Kyoto. I find Sakamoto’s route to be really good – plot-wise, as it ventured more into each of the characters’ different views and perspectives about war. His relationship with Chizuru was also really cute, though it became a bit angsty towards the end.

 

2018-08-25-073141 CHIKAGE KAZAMA
CV: Kenjiro TsudaHattori Hanzo (Nightshade), Soshi Amazaki (The Charming Empire), Leonardo Da Vinci (Ikevamp), Nathan Seymour (Tiger & Bunny)

The head of the demon clan in the west. Chikage Kazama posses an arrogant and cruel persona and is severely prejudiced against humans. He is somehow connected with the Satsuma Domain together with his demon comrades, Amagiri and Shiranui. He takes a special interest on Chizuru for some reason.

I am extremely biased on this character so it is hard for me to be objective with him.lol Kazama can either be the antagonist or an ally in the game depending on whose route you’re at. I think one interesting aspect about Kazama’s character is that you change your opinion about him (almost every route). ImoHis Route in Kyoto Winds was one of the most satisfying ones as it touched a lot on the demon lineage in the Hakuoki series. Because this was left questionable in the previous original story, it is so refreshing to finally get a grasp on this side of the plot, the Demon’s side. I also think that Chizuru and Kazama suited each other really well.

 

92913chizuru CHIZURU YUKIMURA
Main Heroine

The young girl who came to Kyoto disguised as a boy in search of her missing father, she was taken in by the Shinsengumi after accidentally witnessing one of the organization’s dark secrets. She became Hijikata’s page and eventually adapted living with the Shinsengumi soldiers, becoming accustomed to their lifestyle.

Chizuru is probably one of the best heroines I’ve played in an otome game. In this series, you can really feel her growing up, changing her ideals and perspectives in life, distancing away from her naivety as she gets more involved in the current (Edo) war and its corruptness. She knows how to wield her kodachi and although her skills are not up to par with the normal soldiers in battle, she is learned and capable enough to defend herself and knows when to flee or hide when the odds aren’t on her favor. I really enjoyed playing as Chizuru, her emotional anguish and helplessness, not to mention her desperate motivation in the game really grew on me and I just love it whenever you get to connect with the main protagonist like that.

 

HAKUOKI Kyoto Winds: “Wind Treasure Box”
Did you know that you can get Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ DLC, “Wind Treasure Box” for only $3.99 in the PS Store? The DLC contains six extra stories of Saito, Iba, Nagakura, Harada, Heisuke, and Yamazaki together with our main heroine, Chizuru. These short stories are mainly extra fluff content that happened somewhere in the middle of the common route of each bachelor.

Is it worth shelling out $3.99 for these extra five-minute content? As an avid fan of the series, I really enjoyed these extra short stories a lot, but it’s really up to you to decide. You also get an extra CG after completing the DLC.

 

TRAILER / OPENING MOVIE

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS? (´ ε ` )♡
Hakuoki is one of the best visual novels I’ve played and Kyoto Winds was probably the best remake of the series. As someone who’s a sucker for samurai cinema, this game was definitely a treat. I find it really interesting that the characters were based on real historical figures in Japan during the Bakumatsu period.

Because it’s the first part of the original Hakuoki story, Kyoto Winds focused generally more of its plot; which is the story of the Shinsengumi and the highlights of their activities in Kyoto. That said, the romantic events were pretty low. This game also contains one long introduction that’s quite heavy on the text and narratives.

If you’re not a fan of content-driven plots and prefer a story that’s solely focused on romance, this game may not be for you.

Kyoto Winds can also get a bit repetitive as you play through all the routes. This is because almost all of the characters follow through the same storyline, but hey this is where the SKIP button becomes your saving grace. lol image I personally enjoyed this game to heart.  It had the right amount of action, drama, and suspense enough to stir your emotions and will work you up at the edge of your seat. For the newer routes, I enjoyed Yamazaki and Iba’s story the most. Needless to say, all the characters grew on me and I believe the newer ones were a great addition to the game.

Do I recommend this game? YES.
If you’ve played the older Hakuoki games and liked it, Kyoto Winds is definitely a good title to consider (playing again), this remake is without a doubt one for the books!
If you want a good quality visual novel with solid content, great art, memorable soundtracks, and very likable characters, Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds definitely delivers all of these to your doorstep.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 9/10

Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku Review (Nintendo Switch)

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AYAKASHI KOI GIKYOKU

Release Date: August 2, 2018 (North America)
Developers: OperaHouse Inc.
Publishers: OperaHouse Inc., DIGIMERCE
Platforms:  Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M(Mature)

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Prologue
You were invited by your cousin to watch a live concert by a Visual Kei band called FOX EAR. As the band members stepped onto the stage and played their music, Your magatama (tear-shaped pendant), an ornament you’ve inherited from your ancestors that was passed around for generations started to give off a strange massive light. You fell unconscious during the sudden turn of events and eventually found yourself waking up in the backstage surrounded by five handsome fox dudes. Apparently, the members of FOX EARS are real-life mythical creatures and they’ve come to take the magatama from you. OH NO! …But instead of taking it by force, they’ve decided to make you fall for them so you can surrender the magatama at your own will and pace. Who will you choose to fall in love & trust the powers of the magatama with? The decision lies in your hands.. (⁎˃ᆺ˂)

 

Alright, so I’m gonna cut to the chase and say, playing this game made me appreciate The Charming Empire more. That game may have weak content, but the localization was pristine. This one, however, hit rock bottom.

 

A LOCALISATION MESS

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I’m talking about broken english that appears to come from a machine translation. The grammar and sentence structure doesn’t make sense at all. It’s a shame since the fluff content of this game is pretty normal and the VAs were top tier. However, incorporating it with horrible translations defeats the purpose of enjoying a visual novel in general.

The game allows you to choose a language to play it with at the start though, so if you know kanji, I strongly recommend playing it in Japanese instead, (It’s less painful that way)…

EDIT: A recent patch update was released fixing the game’s machine translations.

 

ART AND MUSIC
I like how each of the characters has their own theme (bgms) that seem to match their personalities. Keisuke’s smooth jazzy theme was my fav. ( ´ ω ` ). The artwork was also worthy of praise, imo. I think it is fairly above average compared to other recent otome projects these days. Heck, I even liked this game’s trailer.

Voice Acting

Daisuke Hirakawa “Keisuke” – Saint Germain (Code Realize), Tower Overlord (Psychedelica AH), Zain (Period Cube), Laito (Diabolik Lovers)

Ryouhei Kimura “Kasumi” Shiraishi (Collar x Malice), Kou (Diabolik Lovers), Ukai Shougo (Nil Admirari), Roche (Neo Angelique Abyss)

Natsuki Hanae “Yuki” Libera (Period Cube), Akito Sera (Collar x Malice), Satoru (Bad Apple Wars), Jonah (Ikerev)

Mamoru Miyano “Akito” Hachiro Iba♥ (Hakuoki), Tokiya (Utapri), Sou Tamaki (Ouran High School Host Club), Light Yagami (Death Note), Tamahome (Suzaku Ibun)

Shinnosuke Tachibana “Kousei” Louis Howard (Midnight Cinderella), White Mask (Bad Apple Wars), Tomoe♥ (Kamisama Kiss)

 

Main Characters and Walkthroughs
Story-wise, I would recommend playing the routes in the order below.

1)Kousei
2)Kasumi
3)Yuki
4)Keisuke
5)Akito

 

spoilersss

KOUSEI

  • Bassist
  • Tsundere
  • Best cook

Kousei / Kosei plays the bass guitar of the band FOX EAR. He’s also the band’s leader lol I actually thought it was Akito since he’s the ‘lead’ vocalist/guitarist but eh, it’s actually Kousei, surprise! The fact that this info was dumped almost at the end chapters of his story had my face twitching like (⊙_⊙) haha. Kosei also possesses a very stiff and perfectionist attitude where he can lose his cool at times.

In his route, Kousei puts a lot of pressure on himself & tries his absolute best when it comes to writing songs and creating new music for the band. It was revealed in the middle of his story that this attitude stems from being raised by very uptight (fox) parents, who hates humans and who are always comparing him to Akito. During his events, you, as the heroine tried to support him and make him rely on the other band members more rather than carry his burdens on his own.

I liked Kousei as a character, his tsundere nature was charming for the most part. His route, however, didn’t really make sense to me. There was a point in his story where several conflicts were all piled up together and was resolved in the most stupid fashion ever… And as much as I wanted to expound on this, I fear that this review will only get more confusing because this whole route was totally baffling as hell!  It was not good. Top it off with horrible translation, finishing this route became a nightmare! ヽ( `д´*)ノ  The CGs were nice though!

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KASUMI

  • Rhythm guitarist
  • Sweet Gentleman
  • Akito’s sickly twin brother

Kasumi plays the rhythm guitar in the band. He’s Akito’s younger brother who’s always looking out for your best interest. Unlike his older twin bro, (who’s got no chill lol) Kasumi is always calm and composed. Almost the perfect gentleman. His downside is that he was born with a weak body who can’t control his massive power inside.

I enjoyed Kasumi’s character build up. The fluff content at the beginning of his route was really adorable and I love hearing Ryohei’s gentle voice. His route, on the other hand, wasn’t any better than Kousei’s. In his story, Kasumi became really sick and weak and the only way to save him is for you to marry his brother Akito so he can use the magatama as the next chief of the fox village to save Kasumi’s health as well as make their village prosper. Kasumi, who wasn’t in favor of your arranged marriage with oniisan, kidnapped you (with consent lol), took you to an abandoned shack in the middle of the woods and asked you to stay with him there until his last breath. This angsty conflict was resolved by you wishing hard on the magatama to keep Kasumi well and alive. The magatama, (knowing how much you love Kasumi), responds to your prayer by granting him a vigorous health the next day. You went back to the village with him and he arranges a meeting with his parents and Akito and they all agree to make Kasumi the next village chief and your new husband, and both of you lived happily ever after. Wow, okay! so now comes the question…; why did you ever agreed to marry Akito, when you could’ve just talked it out in the first place? Beats me! It’s as if this wrench was thrown out there in the open just to have a stupid conflict that can be merely resolved by common sense! lol 

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YUKI / “U/KI”

  • Drummer
  • Cheerful
  • bipolar

First of all, the main character’s original name is YUKI, but for some reason, the english translation thinks it’s cool to replace “Yu” with “U/” …YESS “U/ki” is more trendy and fresh!! lmao.

Yuki plays the drums in the band. He is one cheerful persona and is also known to be a “genius” among the members of FOX EAR (he’s good in composing songs and writing lyrics on a whim). One interesting factor about Yuki is his split personality where he can be friendly to you at one point and in a split second becomes really ill-tempered and grumpy.

In the early part of his route, Yuki is revealed to be a half fox and half human. Because he’s not pure-blooded, it is quite difficult for him to contain his mythical powers. Hence explaining his bipolar tendency. As a temporary remedy, Yuki tries to control his powers through kendo training, to keep his wild side in check. But whenever he spends time with you, he struggles in keeping his emotions straight and goes into a frenzy of outrage after getting upset or jealous over other guys acting sweet towards you. Because he’s in a constant battle with himself every time, he tries to distance himself from you, afraid that he might hurt you in the long run. Nevertheless, you were able to confront him with this issue through the help of your trustee magatama.

The conflict in his story arises, when the elders of the fox village decided to meddle into your relationship with Yuki, saying things like ‘they cannot accept a half fox to receive the power of the magatama’. They went as far as putting up a fight with everyone and eventually took Yuki to the fox village and imprisoned him in the dungeons.

With the help of all the members in Fox Ear, you were able to get to Yuki’s prison cell and managed to come face to face with one of the fox elders. By praying hard on the magatama you unknowingly summoned/ unsealed the great fox inside it and him being the great fox and all confronted the elders, telling them they shouldn’t degrade someone just because he is half fox. After the incident, the elders suddenly had an epiphany, 😂  realized they were wrong, said they were sorry and eventually let go of Yuki. You and Yuki went back to the human world safe and sound and lived happily ever after. OK, I’m not sure if this resolved Yuki’s uncontrollable powers though, it wasn’t really clear to me but given that the fox ancestor of the magatama was unsealed, I guess this cured Yuki’s problem too? ┐(︶▽︶)┌ Who knows?

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KEISUKE / “K-SUKE”

  • Keyboardist
  • Mysterious
  • White fox

Keisuke is the keyboardist of FOX EAR. He is a happy-go-lucky character and acts as an older brother to the rest of the band members. Besides his mysterious personality, Keisuke is also a big flirt and will always tease you every chance he gets.

The real conflict in his route began when Pierose, another Visual Kei band consisting of other mythical creatures; raccoon, snake, cat, and a lion?? came into the picture and threw shade at Keisuke in front of the other band members. Here, they revealed that Keisuke is actually a white fox who’s been working together with a human master. I’m just gonna assume they meant, he’s the ‘kitsune’ shrine familiar? By working with humans, you are branded as a traitor to your fellow fox citizens. Now that his dark past was revealed, everyone was left with a sour taste in their mouth and they (the rest of FOX EAR) eventually decided to kick Keisuke out of the band and told him not to go near you nor the magatama. Some friendship huh? 

Anyway, a couple of flashbacks were shown consecutively about how “Byakuya” (the fox ancestor who was sealed in the magatama) and your ancestor, the Ying Yang master met. These scenes give you a clearer picture on what actually went down a thousand years ago (hint: they are this game’s OTP). The flashbacks also explained who Keisuke really was and how he became the white fox who worked alongside your ancestors. I’m not gonna go into full detail on these events because of too many spoilers… Though I have to say, this route was REALLY angsty but lol I’ve actually quite enjoyed it. (Surprisingly) haha.

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AKITO

  • Lead guitarist
  • Needs to get some chill
  • Jerk

BAHH! Okay last route, I can’t believe I’m almost done writing this review. Tbh it really hurts my head whenever I try to recollect the events of this game…(×﹏×)

So Akito plays the lead guitar of FOX EAR. He’s also the most unfriendly among the band members and he absolutely detests human beings. He was raised to believe that humans are sly creatures that cannot be trusted. He acts like a jerk towards you but because of your persistent attitude of wanting to get to know him, he starts warming up to you and eventually falls in love. You see, this dude’s a tsundere by nature. lol

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In his story, Pierose, who wanted to break FOX EAR’s career, kidnapped you by luring you into Akito’s apartment during one of their live concerts. Despite being warned not to go out on your own nor trust anyone, just like most regular MCs who lead themselves to slaughter, you took Pierose’s bait. The instant you reached Akito’s apartment,  the mythical cat (one of Pierose’s member) catches you by surprise and abruptly ties you up with some magical vines to keep you from moving. To add insult to injury, he magically transports you to the concert location of FOX EAR, suspends you in mid-air and makes you fall on stage. Akito, seeing the love of his life at the brink of her death, used his powers to leap high enough from the stage to catch you, preventing you from hitting the ground. He does this in front of thousands of people – and now everyone started freaking out saying “FOX EAR are monsters!” Rofl. I don’t really get this part, they could’ve just told everyone off that it was all an act but since they needed some conflict in this story, this was apparently necessary lol.

Eventually, the band broke up and everyone was in hiding. You, on the other hand, ended up with Akito in a small shack in the middle of the woods. This was a good 2-3 weeks after the controversy. Both of ya’ll try to live as lowkey as possible (e.g. you doing the laundry by the river and Akito chops some firewood lol) when another conflict occurs as Keisuke suddenly appears, threatens to hurt you and forces Akito to unseal “Byakuya” the fox ancestor in your magatama. Akito, who’s now madly in love with you was like “don’t hurt her” …so he goes and break the seal ~ and in an instant, he was overflowing with uncontrollable power and the only way to stop it is for you to seal it again through a holy arrow. Keisuke realized his mistake, and helps you with this but also tells you that the fox village will go extinct ones Byakuya is sealed again. You thought about it for a moment but then you realized how much you love Akito and you don’t wanna be separated from him so you decided to go with the plan and shot the magic arrow straignt into Akito’s heart sealing the fox ancestor, turning back everything to normal again. His ending involves both of you together with Keisuke thinking of ways to revive the fox village. (Hint: Akito wants to have lots and lots of fox babies w/ you lol). 

 

TRAILER

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS (҂ `з´ )
Playtime would be a good 2 hours to finish one whole route. Though to be honest, I had wished it was shorter as I feel like some of the content were kind of forced and completely unnecessary. They did establish a good amount of fluff to get you connected with the characters but I just couldn’t take the forced angst. I have twitched my eyebrows on this a couple of times, It REALLY wasn’t necessary AT ALL.image I like that they made use of the usual Japanese folklore about kitsunes, shrine familiars and mythical creatures… but how it was initiated was all over the place!(*°ー°)ノ

Do I recommend this game?
(Edited)
The fact that the publishers released a patch fixing the horrid translations was cool and all but I’m not really sure If I thoroughly enjoyed this game at all. I guess, first impressions indeed, lasts sometimes (laughs). I probably sound like a broken record for repeating this again and again but the best part of this game was their full house A+ VAs, Mamoru Miyano, Daisuke Hirakawa, Ryohei Kimura, Natsuki Hanae, etc. It has always been a guilty pleasure of mine listening to their voices. However, in terms of plot and story content, this game was still a miss for me.

Now that Ayakashi Koi Gikyoku is playable with decent english subs, I’m sure you can enjoy the game this time around without getting totally aggravated by the mess that is google/bing translate. I still don’t think it’s worth the full price though. If you wanna give this game a chance, pick this one up, whenever it goes on SALE.

 

Chlo’s Rating: 3/10


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