Here is my non-spoiler review of Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~. The only graphics I’ll show are the title screen, random screenshots of the interface, and a non-spoiler CG. Since some of the plot and characters are based on actual history, I have also included the wiki links. Be warned that reading those links may spoil some of the in-game events.
In a world of conflict and over the years, two ninja clans have constantly crossed paths with each other – Iga and Koga. However, the Iga clan was perished when Oda Nobunaga launched the Tensho Iga War. The few surviving members of the Iga clan were then taken in by the Koga clan. 17 years after that, the Sengoku period came to an end and peace finally arrived.
Our heroine is Ueno Enju, the daughter of Ueno Kando, the leader of Koga clan. She trains hard everyday, dreaming that she will get to go on an assignment one day. She is finally picked for her first assignment. However, little does she know that she will be involved in a bigger incident which will twist the fate of her home village.
I advise playing the game with just this basic knowledge, and not reading up any further information on the official website. As for the main characters who have a route…
Gekkamaru (CV: Hatano Wataru) is her childhood friend, and also her bodyguard. Likewise, Kuroyuki (CV: Shimono Hiro) grew up with her since young, and is Gekkamaru’s younger brother. Momochi Choujirou (CV: Toriumi Kousuke) is the son of the late Momochi Tamba, leader of the Iga Clan. He is also Enju’s cousin and the teacher of Enju, Gekkamaru, Kuroyuki, as well as Yamakura Ennosuke, Mikumo Kyara, and Kasumi.
Besides that, Enju will also encounter Hattori Hanzou (CV: Tsuda Kenjiro), who is said to be the strongest ninja and serves Tokugawa Ieyasu. And finally Ishikawa Goemon (CV: Midorikawa Hikaru), who is taking the city by storm as a famous thief.
Other historical characters that will appear in the game includes Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Yodo-dono, Toyotomi Hideyori, Ishida Mitsunari, Maeda Gen’i, and the rest of the Council of Five Elders. Different ninja clans will also appear in the game. (There is actually another famous ninja that appears, but that will be a spoiler.)
I played in the order of: Ishikawa Goemon, Hattori Hanzou, Kuroyuki, Momochi Choujirou, Gekkamaru.
Goemon, Hanzou and Kuroyuki follow a similar plotline, whereas Choujirou and Gekkamaru follows another. It is also advisable to play Goemon and Hanzou’s route before Kuroyuki’s for spoiler reasons. And I think that Goemon’s route is a nice introductory route. Usually, I would recommend interchanging (for example, like for Moujuutukai to Oujisama), so that you don’t play 3 routes with a similar plotline at one go as it may get tiresome. But…I think this is a good route order if you want to feel more despair as you progress. So I’ll stick to this recommendation.
As I just said, Goemon, Hanzou and Kuroyuki follow a similar plotline, whereas Choujirou and Gekkamaru follows another one. The “bigger incident” which Enju gets dragged into, is actually the same. However, it will progress into two alternate versions, due to spoiler reasons. So there will be repeated events (which thankfully you can skip through). But each route will reveal the past of the character you are going after, and perhaps even a bit of Enju’s past. Each route will also resolve the issue in varying ways. Honestly, it isn’t a long game so the repeated events didn’t bother me as much. The skip function is really quick too.
While playing this game, you’ll be made very aware of the role and duty of a ninja. This will become a large theme of the game. It will also become a point for your pain and despair. But it also reminds you that this sort of thing could very well have happened back then. In addition, the relationship between a master and servant, a leader and the clan. The characters who appear as an antagonist, have their own motivations and aren’t just acting to be the villain. Like I said, these elements make sense in that time period.
You will also notice that some of the characters are really young, like Enju. Again, it makes sense given the time period. You also need to remember that she led a sheltered life next to the over-protective Gekkamaru. So I was actually pleased by how she grew and matured as the route progresses. I like all of the other main characters too, and enjoyed all the routes. It’s nice that their personalities are consistent, and especially for certain characters, you will be able to understand their actions once you know their backstory. Hanzou was how I expected him to be. The same can be said for Kuroyuki, except that he surpassed my expectations (in a good way). While I sort of made fun of Choujirou in his own route at the beginning – the latter half made up for it. My personal biases are Gekkamaru and Goemon. I had a feeling that I would like Gekkamaru a lot, and it helps that his undying loyalty to Enju has an explanation as well. I do not always like Goemon’s type of character, so it was an unexpected surprise.
Similar to Jyuuzaengi 1 and 2, which RED, director Itou, artist Teita were also responsible for, each route has both a happy end and a bad end – the bad end also has a CG by the way. I enjoyed both ends in their own ways. Similarly, there is more focus on the story rather than the romance. But I still felt that the romance was natural enough – you could argue that the situation helps to speed things up. Actually, a similar issue was pointed out in Kuroyuki’s route. I was pleasantly surprised by this! There are some light-hearted moments interlaced as well, so that the routes aren’t 100% heavyweight discussions.
As for the name of this game, it is actually explained in Gekkamaru’s route. His route also makes use of the imagery of the moon (something which was heavily used in Jyuuzaengi 1 by the way). All of these, and how his route resolved the issue, truly makes him the poster boy. So again, recommended to leave his route for last.
The graphics are by the talented Teita, I just can’t get enough of the lovely art. It’s lovely how all of the main characters and most of the sub-characters get their own sprites. Also, how many of them get a variety of sprites in order to showcase their movement on the screen – and this includes Enju. This was also the case for Jyuuzaengi 1 and 2, and even NORN9. But Hyakka Hyakurou really took advantage of this during the battle scenes. It was great.
I liked the music, including the opening and ending songs. I felt that the cast did a wonderful job in portraying their characters too, and the fact that we got to see some “less frequent” names. Even for the frequent names, I liked that the characters were not completely within their usual typecast.
The system is pretty straightforward, and you get to unlock the CGs, scene replays, music, and movies. There’s even free downloadable scenarios for each of the characters, so be sure to download them from the PSN store. Each scenario comes with a new CG too. I just kind of wish to get more content of their after stories aka scenarios taking place after the good ends. After you finish each good end, each character will also say a few lines when you return to the title screen. I also wish there was a way to replay those lines.
By the way, in order to obtain the platinum trophy, you need to obtain all the scene replays which also means going through all of the possible choices.
Overall, Hyakka Hyakurou ~Sengoku Ninpouchou~ is a short but solid game. I also did not expect that it would have come with a despair element, so be sure to watch out for it. It has been localised in English under the name of “Nightshade”. If you would like to enjoy some historical drama and romance dealing with ninjas, do check it out! (Also, if you liked this, please do try out Jyuuzaengi 1 and 2 as well!)