This is a collaboration spoiler review for Hana Awase: Mizuchi hen by both Chromite and myself! Since we both
magically finished a common game, we thought that it’d be nice to post something together. I’ll be writing in the default colour and Chromite’s comments will be in blue!
Before playing, I was unsure about the whole plot and even hesitated to play lol but the opening movie got me into playing in the end haha. The storyline is pretty basic where the heroine has this massive power and the bad guys are chasing after her for that power.
Yeah so, the plot is very simple and typical of otome games/shoujo genres, despite the elaborate setting. Speaking of setting, the game didn’t really explain certain stuff like why did the powers come about, the school, Mizuchi’s and Iroha’s moon eye(s). I’m guessing everything will be properly explained by Iroha’s route. Hopefully. (Assuming he gets the last game release!)
To be honest I don’t think the plot is too special, especially at first glance when you read how the heroine, Mikoto, is a chosen senki candidate and has to prove herself etc. Moreover an antagonist, Goto, is after her potential. The setting is all rather hard to swallow at first (not to mention the jargon) and it appears that there’s some battle between good vs. evil going on…but I think that at the end of the day:
Mizuchi’s story is the main plot of this release in my opinion. I think that his story was okay, and there wasn’t really any surprisingly revelations. Only his route will have a happy ending. There’s the chance to do the other routes: Himeutsugi, Karakurenai, Iroha – but since this a spoiler review I’ll say upfront that they don’t have happy endings and they are all relatively shorter compared to Mizuchi’s. That is to say, most of the plot is told in Mizuchi’s route and I believe that the point of the other routes is to get people interested in the other characters (for their future releases).
I think that the characters are the biggest highlight of this game. Surprisingly, despite this being Mizuchi’s release, by the time I was finished with the game I grew up liking certain other characters over him. I think that it’s ‘cos Mizuchi’s personality ends up being the most predictable, unlike the other three guys. If I had to put things really shortly, I ended up liking Momotose, Love Me-kun (haha, I have my reasons) and Karakurenai the most.
Mizuchi (CV: Fukuyama Jun)
The stoic and serious type who is unexpectedly passionate despite his outward appearance (I like!). Appearance-wise, I really like his design, blazer design, eye-patch and all. It’s probably his eye patch haha. He has this line which was probably the only touching line to me in the game where he said that he’d rather die than have his feelings and memories of Mikoto taken away from him. T__T
I liked Mizuchi a lot at the start, but as mentioned, I ended up liking others over him eventually. His route was very plot-focused too so unlike the other routes where you almost get up-and-close with the guy’s character, Mizuchi’s one fell just a bit short in that department in my opinion. Still, I did Fukuyama did a really good job with Mizuchi and like Chromite, I liked that one line the best!
Himeutsugi (CV: Tachibana Shinnosuke)
The freakishly scary yandere. The scene where he kidnapped Mikoto scared the shit out of me lol. His tendencies to keep his feelings a secret from everyone is definitely a sign of danger since those kind of people tend to explode sooner or later. Despite his crazy fetish over the heroine, I do not mind him and found him very interesting and I really like interesting characters whether or not they are good, bad or insane, to a certain extent that is. He has been living up the expectations of others who expect him to act like a princess who is friendly and helpful to others and he suppresses his own feelings and personality. I also blame his parents for naming him that haha. I’m not a yandere fan but somehow I’m kinda drawn to him. Looking forward to his game and back story!
I like tragic characters, and I think that the game fleshed more of Himeutsugi’s character in this release since his game is next. But since they also held back on the content, I was also filled with questions. His route also had the most imagery in it which was good for him, but that raised my expectations (I played his route first) and I was a bit disappointed when the other routes didn’t really have them. That being said, playing his route first made me appreciate his appearances in later routes ‘cos there were those moments when his inner voice leaks out.
Karakurenai (CV: Hino Satoshi)
The manliest dude of the game. I’d totally want to have this potty-mouthed bro as a friend! When the other guys have their own angsty emo self-doubting periods, he just gives that feeling of “Goddammit! STFU and man up!”. So… he’s amazing in that sense lol. I found it especially endearing when his womanizing habits were actually a way to find the perfect partner for himself but just could not find one. So when he fell madly in love with Mikoto, he changed himself and avoided his nightly escapades. Ahh~ Gosh!
Karakurenai is really crude pfft but over the course of the game you also see how sharp and considerate he can be. I found it ironic how he appears to be the most emotional and aggressive at first, but unlike the other guys in their own routes, he shows the most restraint in his own route. It was a delight to observe these little things about him but unfortunately, I felt that his endings were the most anti-climatic. While I know that it is bound for a bad end, really, I felt bad for him ‘cos his endings were short-changed. It doesn’t help that you’ve to replay his route to get his END 1/3 and it was the most anti-climatic.
Iroha (CV: Terashima Takuma)
The super emotionless guy who is the top kaen and acts totally serious and cool but is someone who can’t take care of himself and loves sweets… almost like a kid genius. While I really love him in the other guys’ routes due to his sweets obsession and comedic moments with Momotose, his route made me go “WTF just happened?”. His problem is that he doesn’t show any emotions or expressions to Mikoto and suddenly he just bursts out saying he wants her. I might be missing something in the middle but I didn’t really feel anything for him when he committed suicide. I was just shocked that he would actually do that lol. All that said, I still have faith him in his own game if it releases. I refuse to accept that he is a scum lol. His route in here is just too wtf. I have to know his full story!
While I say that Himeutsugi’s route filled me with questions, and Karakurenai’s ends were short-changed, I don’t think any of those could compare to Iroha’s route. I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but I felt that the pacing of his route was abrupt and awkward. I usually like the gap moe, and I think Iroha has that, but I ended up liking him the least among the four guys despite enjoying his scenes with Momotose. I do think he holds a lot of key answers though – which are just not told in this game release.
Typical shoujo genre type who cries alot, dense, overly-kind and generous. Totally not my type of heroine but essential for otome games unfortunately lol.
I neither like nor dislike Mikoto. Unfortunately, perhaps of how they planned the game releases, I hardly saw any chemistry between her and the other characters. In other words, the dynamics in the game mostly took place between the other characters. She had interesting moments in Himeutsugi and Karakurenai’s routes, but I think that was about it for me. Yes, I know that she stayed true to Mizuchi throughout in this game release but still…sorry, I just didn’t really see much dynamics involving her. (If you read my other reviews, you know how I love dynamics.)
Himeutsugi and Karakurenai are kinda on par for no.1 position for me. No.2 would be Iroha and lastly Mizuchi (I’m sorry lol). Reason for choosing Iroha over Mizuchi despite his WTF route is that I’m very curious about him and I really like his silly childish side, while Mizuchi is kinda normal for me (maybe that’s why he’s first on the game release list?). I think my ranking will change after playing all four games lol.
Yura’s illustrations, the graphic elements and design are super awesome. Seeing her improvement in her work made me jealous LOL. Everything’s really sparkly and pretty and the graphic motifs all suit the game very well. I like how the illustration style brought out scary insane faces effectively. I especially love love love the opening sequence of the game. Omg, THAT is the shit man! No other otome game opening videos can top that. Congrats to the animator, designer and of course Yura.
I liked the promotional art and the character designs. Unfortunately the character sprites only had a few poses, but that’s not what really bothered me. It was the CGs. ‘Cos I think that (from the credits roll) Yura didn’t do them and the guys would look pretty inconsistent – sometimes I couldn’t even recognise them. Mikoto would look awkward in some of the ones without her face too, if you know what I mean.
The music is above average but not quite there to be at the top. However I have to say, the character songs are really good and catchy as they have a cool culture fusion going on (eg. rock + shamisen/oriental tunes).
The music was okay and actually the nicest tracks were the ones for the card battles, including the character songs.
The game’s interface design is very clean and neat which is something awesome for games. My pet peeve will be that they limited the display area by having black “bars” at the sides. They used that to display the menu panel and I guess, to add more decoration and interest? Honestly, it’s in the way and they could have placed the menu/options panel as a drop down box or as keyboard shortcuts.
As for the card game, it was very easy to play and very fun! I didn’t know what I was doing at first as I didn’t really bother reading the rules (as usual LOL). I managed to get a hang of it eventually and kinda did lots of grinding xDD. The opponents are easy to defeat and you have to reach a certain level in order to actually proceed with the game or get a CG. For example, Iroha is the strongest with 70 points for all stats and you might want to level up to at least 50-60 to defeat him with ease.
I wish they would have a separate section in the menu where we can play the game separately and have difficulty levels where we are able to memorize card combinations etc. Ok, sorry I might be asking for too much haha.
The choice making is really easy, direct, and very few so you don’t need a guide.
The interface is clean and simple, though personally one bug bothered me: I refer to the backlog a lot (in all games). But at times, the button to close the backlog would disappear in parts of the game for some strange reason. Also I wouldn’t mind if they just gave us the full CG in the gallery section without the gradients.
I think that the card game system is pretty polished – I don’t know why they don’t add it as a mini-game in the “Extra” section for you to play outside of the game. In-game, it’s addictive at first as you’d want to level up your stats. However once I was past the first route, the card battles in-game became a bit of a chore ‘cos I would win the game in seconds. Of course I admit that I grinded a bit too much but I think that for others, maybe by the third or fourth route you would have the same sentiment as me. I must also mention how the card game’s EX mode bothered me in terms of the distracting, animating background. It’s a nice touch to add the guy’s little EX mode animation clip but I wish they wouldn’t leave the background animating when your foreground is full of colourful elements already. Each guy has their own poem lines and I (jokingly) wonder if they could’ve done the animation effort for those instead, seeing how intertwined poetry is in Hana Awase.
It’s nice that you can ‘carry on’ your stats onto the next playthrough – though it means that you’ve to play the game from the beginning. The skip mode is fast but on my laptop at least, I’ve to keep the game window on the whole time – if I switch to another window to multitask the skip mode stops. You can’t skip the OP or the guy’s EX mode animation clip either and after a while, I didn’t mind skipping.
I love the game’s concept and its interface design. The fact that the guys’ names, faction names, and other terminology all go according to actual hanafuda card names/designs was a nice touch. The art is fantastic and the music is nice and catchy. I wanna proclaim my love for the opening movie again: It is freaking AWESOME! lol. The additional card game element is definitely something worth trying.
What I do not like is the lack of explanation of why certain things happen or exist. The plot was… eh… okay…. just okay. Not fantastic but I can live with it. Also, the fact that they had to split the game into four bugs me. Like I know you want to milk money off us but at least give us enough setting and plot foundation to make players like me curse less. I know you want to keep it in suspense and you’ll reveal it eventually but like please, just a bit more info? The problem with splitting games can also lead to a decrease in interest in the game so… idk it’s something that I don’t like lol but others might find it captivating because of the suspense and mystery.
If you enjoy a typical otoge-ish straightforward plot, mini card games, leveling up like a boss, pretty art, nice music, good game system, and anything that concern traditional Japanese elements, you’d like this game.
I’m definitely playing the other three games!
The problem I have with reviewing split releases is that: do I review the game as individual releases, or do I always have to take into consideration that this isn’t everything? But anyway, I do think that Hana Awase has potential, especially Himeutsugi’s upcoming release. The danger of split releases is that I think I would expect more from each later release, so I’m looking forward to more surprises. I couldn’t mention this earlier on but in every route it’s mentioned how all the guys felt as though they met Mikoto before, plus she would have flashbacks of a childhood she never had (?). My theory is “reincarnation” and it would be great if the creators pull off this theme well, alongside the “fate” one they already have. I don’t think they’ll change the petty complaints I have with the system so besides my hope for a nice “reincarnation” theme, I hope that they don’t short-change the other guys’ ends in the later releases as much as Karakurenai’s here.
I also want Utsutsu to make a proper appearance.