So I’ve been telling myself to not start on “new” otome games and to finish up on the unfinished ones lol. Or rather, I actually just really want to start on DMMd. Anyway, I’ve completed five PSP games: Harajuku Tantei Gakuen Steel Wood, Last Escort ~Club Katze~, Lucian Bee’s Evil Violet & Justice Yellow, Renai Banchou. Since I haven’t wrote anything on Lucian Bee’s Resurrection Supernova, I’ll review that too.
These are all 2010 releases by the way, what a coincidence~ ‘Cos I’d actually completed some routes in 2010/2011, I can’t do an indepth review, so am going with a general one. I’ll try to keep spoilers to the minimum! Even if they are any, it’s nothing specific to a character route, just stuff I’d like to mention to interest people.
Harajuku Tantei Gakuen Steel Wood
As you can tell from the name, it takes place in a detective school so a large part of the gameplay is solving mysteries~ The whole game takes place over a year as you solve mysteries in groups, while also having outside events. The mysteries are fun but can get repetitive and there’s no way to skip over them completely even if you’ve finished them once through, as it can have individual character routes in between too. And unfortunately, since it’s a school, Otomate also decided to insert a midterm exam and a final exam for you to answer too. The questions can be interesting to ponder over, but not when it’s a third language and you’ve a time limit. More often than not I would have an online guide ready for me to cross-reference.
Well I hope I haven’t scared anyone off as I dumped the cons at the front. Despite what I’ve said I did enjoy my play of the game at the end of the day! You play Horikita Yuki and there are five characters to go after: Matsuyama Yuu (CV: Suzumura Kenichi), Akizuki Junnosuke (CV: Suzuki Chihiro), and Misato Hibiki (CV: Kaji Yuuki) are the fellow teammates. Hirasaka Kyousuke (CV: Toriumi Kousuke) is the teacher in-charge of the class, and Fuyou Kaoru (CV: Maeno Tomoaki) is an outside acquaintances of Kyousuke and cooperates with the school for their activities too. Besides the main cast, there’s a lot of other side characters and they all have their own personalities.
But going back to the character routes, my favourite will always remain as Hibiki~
The start of my mysterious love for shota characters? I found his way of talking really adorable and he’s actually the secret genius of the team haha. His ending was my favourite too. The other characters were okay but I felt that the endings for Yuu and Junnosuke got short-changed, as opposed to the endings for Kyousuke and Kaoru. Kyousuke and Kaoru’s routes also got more interesting towards the end as Yuki got to work on the case of her older sister’s accidental (?) death.
For all the routes though, the romance factor didn’t feel enough/sudden burst of love and honestly, I’ve no idea why Kyousuke would return Yuki’s feelings even though I felt that his ending was sweet lol. Kaoru’s was better handled. The CGs aren’t the best to be honest, in terms of awkward positions and proportions, but still okay and the chibi ones are quite cute.
I liked that you get to unlock two extra stories once you complete the routes – one involving the other student team, and another involving Yuki’s older sister and childhood friend. Oh, and the normal end too which I obtained from Kaoru’s route. All in all, I would recommend this game to people who would like a taste of mystery. I wouldn’t push for people to complete the whole game though if they aren’t interested in all of the characters or the extra stories. Just play whoever you are interested in and that should be enough.
Last Escort ~Club Katze~ (PSP)
Like the title suggests, it revolves around a host club. I haven’t played other games in the Last Escort series so I can’t make comparisons. Anyway the heroine, Izumi, goes to visit Club Katze regularly in order to get some material for setting up another……okay I forgot the plot, as I played it too long ago lol. I’m sorry, but the initial plot they inserted becomes almost invalid as you progress in the game as you can skip through those parts. The main crux, as with all otome games, is that Izumi can get together with one of the hosts: Tsubasa (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke), Asato (CV: Abe Atsushi), Ryuusei (CV: Terasoma Masaki), Kanade (CV: Saiga Mitsuki), Rei (CV: Nakamura Yuuichi); the owner Hiiragi (CV: Suwabe Junichi); or the pianist at the club, Johan (CV: Sugiyama Noriaki).
The game system is that of a choosing choices and stats building. I’m actually really bad with stats building but Club Katze is quite straightforward. Just get a good guide and follow accordingly. The main points you should look out for is to visit Club Katze on the right dates, and that you need certain stats to prepare certain presents to give your guy; and to prepare the right one in time for his birthday – this is important ‘cos you’ll get a CG for this. I forgot this when I picked the game up again and had to play Rei’s route again.
My favourite characters were actually the ones I played over a year ago lol – Kanade, Johan, Hiiragi. I found both Kanade and Johan cute. Even though Hiiragi is a real pervert, his route was pretty darn entertaining pfft
I’m probably a pervert myself. I played Asato’s route first actually as it was recommended so (probably ‘cos his birthday is the latest) but I don’t really remember much. /o\ Ryuusei is an okay uncle, just that his route was a bit bland. Tsubasa and Rei’s routes were the really dramatic ones, and when I say dramatic I mean it so much – especially Tsubasa’s.
Unfortunately, the weakest character is definitely Izumi. She can such be a pushover and sometimes I wonder if she has any self-confidence at all; in the last three routes I played, she seemed to always be in disbelief when the guy confesses properly to her. It’s not even about whether she’s doubting whether he’s saying sweet words as a host or not – not when it’s that late into the game and she just put up with enormous emotional baggage of his personal life. And she thinks “am I okay for you?”. I think it should be the other way, “are you okay with a host boyfriend?” lol. This is my impression from Tsubasa, Rei and Ryuusei’s routes as I seriously can’t recall the previous ones.
I know that the art turns some people off but well, I actually found some of the CGs nice. Maybe I’m more tolerant. The sprites though are not as appealing as they’re too wide, and I really think that Hiiragi should change his hairstyle lol. The above CG and another one are the only ones where he looks acceptable. But well overall, I’ll only recommend to play for the characters you’re interested in as there is not much chemistry in the romance to speak of – so you’ll mainly be playing for the guy’s individual character instead (if that makes any sense).
Lucian Bee’s series (PSP)
To me, Lucian Bee’s series is one of the most fun otome game series! In all three games, you play A, who gets freshly recruited into Lucian Bee’s as their ace striker. The organisation’s main mission is to transform all the damen out there into ikemen lol. In the first game, A’s first mission is the transform the idol group ROMANXIA with the support of Q, M, and the Metropolis V members. You get to pick the target you want to go after, and each target has 5 missions to go through: fashion, food, hair, design and manner. There is an enemy organisation to overcome though – Daresign.
The game system is actually all choices, but they spiced it up by having the Stealth Kaizou Mission for each mission to make things more exciting despite it essentially being timed choices. Depending on your success for each mission, you can obtain three endings for each target and I recommend getting them in the order of: Endings 1, 2, 3. Once you finish all of them, you get an extra epilogue. In the PSP edition, they also added extra after stories. The omake feature that amused me the most though, was that you can pick any two characters, place them in a setting, and hear their conversation with each other. It was so random, but so amusing. I don’t even know what inspired them to do this but I enjoyed this randomness.
For the Romanxia cast, from the left you have Luke (CV: TAKERU), Remmy (CV: Miyano Mamoru), Van (CV: Suzuki Tatsuhisa), Katoru (CV: Kaji Yuuki), Jesse (CV: Terashima Takuma), and Angela (CV: Hino Satoshi). I enjoyed all of them except Remmy…lol. He was just too dramatic and self-absorbed at the start, and Miyano also uses an extremely high voice – good for laughs but that’s also the reason why I couldn’t take him seriously in the end. As for the rest, as mentioned I enjoyed them all with my favourites being Katoru, Luke and Angela (surprisingly).
I also enjoyed the interactions between the rival organisations – you basically see the hair specialist on one side interacting with the other and so on. My favourite are the food servers ‘cos the okama keeps calling D wiener-chan and D will occasionally make stupid mistakes pffft. Mission-wise though, I think the hair ones are the most hilarious – I mean the very thought of having to persuade the guys/take extreme measures to get rid of those ridiculous hairdos? Yeah.
The fandisks for the series has A either get together with the Metropolis V members in Justice Yellow, or the Honeybuzzard VI members at Daresign in Evil Violet. It’s basically all choice-based and a route can be finished under 2hours. Each character has two endings and once you finish them all, you get an epilogue which they added for the PSP versions. I recommend playing Evil Violet first before Justice Yellow as I feel that JY is more enjoyable. EV is more predictable in its story as it takes place in a different setting, whereby A’s first mission is to infiltrate Daresign and chooses to approach one guy – all routes kinda lead up to the same climax.
Honeybuzzard VI is made up of Rai (CV: Suganuma Hisayoshi), Jagar (CV: Itou Kentarou), Woo (CV: Hatano Wataru), Viola (CV: Toriumi Kousuke), Barbara (CV: Takahashi Hiroki), and Zephyrus (CV: Sugita Tomokazu). And it is so like the creators to have us play a route for an okama…ahaha. But trust me, Barbara is probably the most manly character you’ll get lmao. Anyway, in terms of enjoyment I would suggest this order: Jagar, Woo, Barbara, Rai, Viola. Rai is such an enjoyable tsundere but I really loved both of Viola’s endings so yup. I’ve trouble slotting in Zephyrus ‘cos he’s quite a standalone so play him when you’re in the mood for some android romance.
For Metropolis V, it takes place after the first game where A gets to choose to partner with one of them to observe ROMANXIA as a follow-up on their situation and make sure everything’s dandy. The members are G (CV: Yusa Kouji), D (CV: Suzuki Chihiro), N (CV: Kamiya Hiroshi), F (CV; Fukuyama Jun), and C (CV: Ootsuka Akio). Once more, you have to go after an uncle…but then actually C is only two years older than G, lol. Anyway, the routes vary more as it delves more into each guy’s background and you can see more fun interactions among the Lucian Bee’s members (Q, M included). My playing order for this was: C, F, N, G, D – as D is my bias: guy who can cook and the natural type who’s a bit slow on the uptake but also has his moments? Yes please~ Otherwise, both G and N’s routes are pretty nice too and for the first time you can see N being dere. For once, G is also a character voiced by Yusa whom I actually enjoy ‘cos even though he’s a flirt, he gets trolled by everyone else on the team pfft.
Now for my overall comments for all three games! All of the routes have their hilarious moments I don’t even know where to start. That’s probably the charm of the game for me. There are serious moments but in general, everything is handled with a nice, light-hearted tone which makes for amusing entertainment. I love the music and as mentioned in the last podcast, it’s almost signature of the LB series. The opening and ending songs are pretty catchy, with my favourite being EV’s.
A is a decent heroine – she doesn’t have a very strong character like Quinrose’s heroines, but she does have more character than some of the others. Even some of the game characters directly call A ‘slow’. It’s like they know they’re stereotyping certain characters by having certain exaggerations, including the heroine, and admit it. The CGs are not eye-candy type but I don’t think that it should detour people from checking out the game.
Lastly, the technical aspects are fantastic for a 2010 release. It may even beat some of the 2012 releases’ systems. The speech-mouth animation is more decent and there is an array of sprites, they really went all out with the various outfits and having sprites for several sub-characters. And I don’t know what I’d do without that non-stop mode in LB. All in all, I hope this encourages people to try Lucian Bee’s out. \o/
A spin-off from the talkshow hosted by Morikubo and Terashima, it basically has the heroine go ask for some love advice and so you can pick from the seven characters to help her dry love life over the course of one year. You can choose which character route to go into, from left: Renai Banchou (CV: Morikubo Shoutarou), Sawayaka Banchou (CV: KENN), Tsundere Banchou (CV: Nakamura Yuuichi), Pretty Banchou (CV: Kaji Yuuki), Yasu (CV: Terashima Takuma), Mysterious Banchou (CV: Ono Daisuke), and Sexy Banchou (CV: Toriumi Kousuke).
The game system is made up of the normal choices, and then timed choices to answer certain love-related teachings to have you fill up two parameters (favourability and love experience), which will determine which of the three endings you get. But to be honest, once you reach the 6th/7th guy your love experience parameter will be maxed out and then there is no point in answering those questions – if you constantly answer with the best answers every time previously. So I recommend just answering those questions with any answer you feel. The main focus is still the favourability.
As a disclaimer, I had to play this game THREE times, as I kept losing my save data for unknown reasons – meaning that I had to play at least two same routes three times. And now it makes perfect sense why I took so long to complete this game, right? If I didn’t stagger my playthrough in between I think I would hate this game unnecessarily. Anyway, if it’s not obvious, it’s the same illustrator responsible for Lucian Bee’s and I’m glad he changed his CG style. The colouring looks better.
But going back to the routes, I would say that I enjoyed Yasu, Tsundere and Sexy the most. Renai, Sawayaka and Pretty just kinda fell short. As for Mysterious…well I’ll just say that I stopped midway his route, and then only came back to finish it for this review after months. I followed the talkshow so I kinda expected how Renai, Yasu, Sawayaka, Sexy and Pretty would turn out. Tsundere was a new character but it’s rather obvious how he’ll be. Mysterious was just…too weird for me to catch anything. You can only choose Renai, Yasu, Sawayaka or Sexy at the start – once you get one done the rest are unlocked. So for the playing order, I would say: Renai, Mysterious, Pretty, Sawayaka, Sexy, Tsundere, Yasu. Of course, if you can’t bear to save all of the nicer routes for last, then feel free to mix them around. This was actually not my playing order. /I forgot what it was already lol. Or just play the ones you prefer – as the bonus content you unlock isn’t much.
The heroine…I think she has the best chemistry with Yasu, which was probably a reason why I liked his route – besides the fact that he’s adorable enough to make me play through his route three times. In fact, I think the rival banchou characters have better interaction lol. So well, don’t expect too much – after all, she’s a complete love novice. The other complaint would be that it’s quite a chore to skip through the repeated content of all the routes – and it’s quite a bit of content at one go. I would sometimes wish for that non-stop button in LB’s haha.
I don’t know if I’ll touch Renai Banchou 2. Maybe once I can erase the frustration of having to start over this game three times over – I will. I am interested in some of the rival banchou characters, but not enough yet to tempt me to play it now.
Anyway, this marks the end of this review post! \o/ I’ll probably be starting on Nitro+CHiRAL’s DMMd but I’m not sure if I’ll review that since…I don’t really review BL games for some reason? Lol. I’ll see how things go. Till next post~