Foreword: When it comes to BaseSon games, I’ve found myself enjoying them quite a bit. Examples include the ENTIRE Koihime Musou series (from the first titles up to Heroes), and Sengoku Koihime X which I personally enjoyed greatly for many reasons.
…Then we have this game. While I had heavy expectations, it seems that I was too late to realize that K.Bajo, the director for the two previously mentioned titles, was not even a part of this team. And it turns out the game falls greatly from my expectations.
I’m extremely hesitant to go through the fandisc for this game at this point because of the disappointment I received from this main game. I’d like to take this time to warn players that even if you enjoyed both the Koihime Musou series or the Sengoku Koihime title, you may not be a fan of this game. Keep reading to find out why.
For the most part, I will be comparing this game with the Koihime Musou and Sengoku Koihime titles. My apologies in advance if you can’t understand some parts of the review purely because you didn’t play them
Title: あっぱれ！天下御免 (The term “Appare” is a phrase often used to convey amazement or excitement)
Release Date: December 22, 2011
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v7881
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=716187
Game Type: Fantasy Charage with themes of what’s estimated to be the Edo Era
Summary: Yakumo was sent to this man-made island by his grandparents, and he quickly realizes that this isn’t the Japan he’s used to seeing; most of the city landscapes cannot be seen here as the streets are instead filled with busy shops and old-fashioned decor, and even some of the students are wearing clothes that seem unfitting for this day and age.
However, this island is actually run by the 100,000 students who study and reside; each of them are given a role in this society, and are given the responsibility of replicating the environment once existent in past Japan.
Regardless, Yakumo himself is quickly victimized by a pick-pocket who steals his bag, but it’s not until long a girl riding a white horse comes to the rescue and recovers his belongings. This girl named Arata soon become friends with Yakumo and later on offer herself to be his bodyguard as he is assigned to run a cafe.
The first customers to his cafe, Mitsuki and Yukari. They play very important roles in the main scenario
Story Length: Moderate (20 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Tedious
Comments: So unlike games like Alpharide which require grinding like hell, this game is quite tedious because the only choices you make within the game involve side-stories with respective heroines, BUT not only are you greatly limited to which heroine you can pursue (you are only given the option of choosing three scenarios at every intermission out of like, 10), they also have their own full ending and scenario… Which means you’ll likely have to play through this game at least maybe 10 or so times just to see everything. In addition to this, the main scenario between these intermissions are pretty damn long. You’re more than likely to utilize the skip function quite a bit in this game.
Really, this is bad planning. While there’s the fact that this game isn’t as long as Koihime Musou or Sengoku Koihime (these titles are probably around double or triple the length of this one), it almost takes the same amount of time playing those games merely due to how long the reader has to sit through skipping the scenes he has already seen for the 5th time (quite literally).
Character Design Rating: 6/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Protagonist Rating: 2/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 5/10
Rating Comments: Right, so ratings.
As with previous BaseSon games, the protagonist really needs improvement. A “typical” male who was simply at the right time at the right place is the worst possible excuse to have him as a protagonist, and how he wasn’t the center of the scenario for the most part (it seemed as if Arata was the protagonist, really) was something that was considered a negative trait. As I always say; a protagonist in a game especially like Appare needs to either be powerful or influential, OR unique at least. Yakumo was none of these. In the Koihime titles, the protagonist at least has something to offer, such as his “knowledge from the future”.
Some pieces of knowledge is to die for, though. Right Eimi?
Story is actually not that bad, with an episodic atmosphere which is always nice, and it seemed as if I was watching a play or perhaps even an animated series. There are highly climactic scenes and consistency across “routes” (if that’s what you want to call them, since this game is quite linear except for the “heroine story”), but the problem I had was that everything was just too convenient. I mean, a traditional Edo setting in a fictional future where people made an entire island from scratch just to have students run it? WHAT?! That has no basis and makes absolutely no sense. The shitty thing about this is that the game tries to take in both elements at once; the “setting” of Bakufu, and the convenient technology which gives birth to the so-called “Kendama”.
The game really should have stuck to one of them; either have a past-setting and dump all of this technology deus-ex-machina bullcrap, or stick to a Sci-Fi theme and change the setting completely. Personally, I think the latter would have worked out better.
I dunno, these kinds of CGs are pretty cool too, though
In addition to this crappy presentation of the environment, the game is also very choppy, moving from one story to another with almost no transition, I would personally like to say there is no transition between scenarios in the entire game; a simple fade-out takes the reader from one scene with one character to different scene with a different character. Basically, the flow seemed very unnatural and broke the story immersion quite a bit.
However on the other hand, I appreciated that this game took the time to actually create a focused scenario for each heroine (though to be honest, if they didn’t, this would be a kusoge LOL). From the 2-4 side stories relating to the heroine, you are given a bit of depth of that heroine along with more information about her, as if you were slowly getting to know your heroine bit by bit. Because of this, I found the overall lack of these side stories very unfortunate since both the development of romance and the depth of the heroine were heavily incomplete with only just 2-4 side stories. It was almost as if someone gave me a couple of pieces potato chips and expected me to be full with just those (I was eating potato chips when I wrote this review. Don’t judge my analogy :<).
Maybe dango would fill my stomach up a bit better
Characters are arguably the meat of this game, and purely because each heroine is considered quite important to the overall story, I’ll be completely skipping over the character summary. Hey, I’m not going to explain the background and scenario for all 20+ heroines in this game.
In my personal opinion aside from their design, I wasn’t too fond of the characters. While there was the fact that most of them weren’t developed properly, how there wasn’t really any “main” or “central” heroines (Even Arata or Eimi can’t be considered as such) was something that bothered me quite a bit. The game was almost telling me that each and every one of those 20+ heroines were important, and this caused none of the them to really “stand out”, as it did in other games. Along with how little side stories this game had for each character, this really resulted in that “not-enough” interaction and caused each heroine to be more shallow.
I think these three sisters are the prime example of this
Plus, I personally hated the design of some characters, most primarily Arata, which is quite ironic since she would be considered the main heroine for a lot of players (and she’s the most conspicuous on the cover box). This’ll be covered in the comments section since it’s my own personal opinion.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So I would consider this game a failure. BaseSon produces games that mostly have value as a charage, and while I enjoy charage myself, my personal theory for this type of genre is that it needs to come with a delightful side of a deep and heartwarming story; this makes each characters participating in that story become a lot more “like-able” and amplifies the effect of charage. Koihime Musou and Sengoku Koihime had that relevance to the novel and real-life, respectively, so I was able to interact somewhat with the scenario presented by trying to compare and contrast the game’s events to the events I remember in said novel/real-life events. On the flipside, Appare had none of this “real life relevancy” and botched up the story setting by attempting to mesh together two completely different environments (Edo/Sci-Fi), and then tried to cover up all of this with characters which didn’t receive too much development.
One of these characters who wasn’t developed enough was Jyuubei. Would’ve liked to see more of her
The repetitiveness of the main scenario was something I didn’t enjoy, and how the story itself was pretty choppy was something that needed more work. To be fair though, BaseSon’s games are considered a full-on charage, so I’m not sure if I should be expecting too much in the story department when I play their games. It’s strange though, since I thought Sengoku Koihime was pretty competent even with its story, though the choppiness was still present in that game.
I actually want to complain about a couple of things. The first was the voice acting was terrible for some reason in this game. From characters whose voices rang in your ears, some had volume problems (you couldn’t hear them well even at a high volume) while others sounded distant. I’m not sure what happened with voice recording when this game was being produced, but I have never seen this kind of error in other games. It’s not just one character either; I counted at least 5-7 characters in the entire game which had this strange problem, and as someone who really enjoys CVs in general, this annoyed the crap out of me. Admittedly, this is one of the bigger contributions to turning me off from playing the fandisc.
The second thing I want to complain about is ironically the design of Arata (Yoshine) herself. I’m actually not fond of Sakikabara Yui as a CV (she’s a great singer, but not a good CV), and Arata was extremely childish and naive was completely opposite of what I really wanted in a “main heroine”, or at least the heroine who is most prevalent/important throughout the game. How she was of “royal blood” as an excuse to become this important character was something that really worsened this design, since throughout the story, she was this “super special” person just like Arata for almost no reason (this is aside her fighting abilities). As with the protagonist, this was a very bad design.
If only she was a bit more mature…
So in a very short summary, this game was supposed to be a charage, but due to many factors including the lack of character development and kinks in the story setting, the game was just a chunky mixture of story elements which didn’t work out well to sell its characters like it was supposed to. I personally didn’t like seeing some of the heroines sometimes become idiots or cowards at certain portions of the story (how are you supposed to admire/appreciate/become affectionate towards these weak-ass, indecisive heroines?), and the ones who were more developed, which were not-so-important heroines, was in turn less prevalent.
Affection for the Characters: Low
CG Score: 6/10. While CGs were generally nice, I personally thought there wasn’t enough regular CGs for the number of characters and character-specific stories, and some of them were just plain fanservice CGs that were completely unnecessary.
Music Score: 5/10
- Many characters (although less than the Koihime titles I referenced throughout the review), with various CVs for people who are into CV-guessing, or enjoying the characters as it is
- There’s a focused character story and ending for each heroine, which is quite surprising since there’s at least 20 of them.
- Main Scenario for this game is quite climactic and fun to read, almost as if I was watching a play
- As a 10th anniversary game, there is more effort with subcharacters receiving sprites and voice acting
- The setting is absolute wank. Past Japan and Fictional Sci-Fi mesh isn’t going to work out well unless that mesh itself is THOROUGHLY explained for like, 20 minutes in the beginning
- Characters are very poorly developed, and some were simply annoying in my eyes.
- Protagonist is quite disappointing, as he is just like any other male in the story if not weaker; it’s just him being at the right place at the right time that gives him this trait.
- Battle Scenes are quite prevalent in this game, but unfortunately quite crappy since as with other Koihime titles, it’s just flashy effects with shouts; no explanations of the combat.
- CVs may be variable, but some are just horrible; even for the more older, professional CVs like miru or Yuuko Goto, their voices were ringing or not clear. There may have been some issues with the recording.
- While the game does feature specific endings for all heroines, it also means that the player is expected to play the game multiple times to see the same scenario over and over again. While the scenario is different each time, these differences are generally not significant.
Overall, Appare was a charage from BaseSon which was ironically inferior to the other titles I’ve already experienced. This is quite strange since this was their 10th anniversary game and I personally expected a bit more than this. The lack in both story and character design is in great contrast to their previous experience with games which caused me to be disappointed, and I’m thinking this might be because K. Bajo wasn’t directing this one like the other games.
Probably not going to go through the fandisk honestly, since my backlog is waiting for me. I’m going to try to unprocrastinate (is that even a word?) and finish up games that I’ve been putting off for too long.