Foreword: When I first played the Memoria remake in 2014, I thought it was a very good game with amazing character design and a unique gameplay, and found it unfortunate that the story was not quite up to par. My review also revealed that I had only gone through what was the tip of the iceberg, with two prequels that I’ve completely neglected.
Ikusa Megami Zero
Ikusa Megami Verita
I’ve taken the time the past 2 weeks to actually go through every one of these games in its chronological order (with a maxed out savedata; grinding is so annoying), and found out that the story is indeed much better in the beginning games than the successive ones. In fact, I felt like a dumbass when I figured out that by playing the remake first, I’ve effectively spoiled the entire series for myself. Fuck you, me from 2014.
What I’d like to do to myself from 2014
This’ll be a fairly long review WITH SPOILERS discussing the main characters, story, and gameplay. I’ll try to go deep into what I found good about the series and what I didn’t. Now, please do keep in mind that I’ve only played the Ikusa Megami series from Zero -> Verita -> Memoria (remake). This may have biased my viewpoints onto Serika instead of Louie. In addition to this, I’ll be less descriptive about the Louie side of the story, because I have not yet played this “arc” of the series. One thing to note is that “Memoria” which is a remake, is pretty much the “Ikusa Megami 1” that was released waaaay back in 1999.
Also, you may notice that I use my own spelling instead of the Englishese that Eushully presents in the game. I personally think their “translations” are freaking retarded, so please forgive me in this aspect.
Please note that this game contains HEAVY spoilers! It contains a LOT of my personal analysis on the implications made within the game.
Title: 戦女神 (Ikusa Megami; Battle Goddess) Series.
VNDB Link: Zero | Verita | Memoria (remake)
Game Type: Fantasy Novel with “Final Fantasy-Style” (SLG) Combat System
Summary: What do you do, when you lose your loved ones? How would you respond if the entire world hated you, and sought your death? What if your eternal, immortal life was filled with sleepless nights and silent anguish?
Don’t think society is the only thing that shuns your existence; gods will find your presence disgusting, monsters will haunt your back for as long as you breathe, and evil will always follow the path you walk.
At least for Serika, he didn’t know he would be walking this path as he returned from the Nohia Ruins after an expedition. As he is completely unaware of his eternal fate after returning to Markle, he meets a beautiful girl whose name was Satia.
Do you believe in Destiny? Serika replies with a strong “no”, but his own will drag him into the depths of Death and back. (more…)
Foreword: Happy New Year! It’s quite early, but I decided to start off 2016 with a relatively favorable post regarding a fairly old but considered to be the best of Whirlpool’s games, Suzukaze no Melt. As one of my favorite games easily placing in the top 10 of my list, Suzukaze was definitely a game of blessing through all the relatively poor ones I’ve been going through recently. In addition to how it also contained some of my favorite CVs (at least in the past; my tastes have changed since then o3o) I not only enjoyed the 20-30 hours replaying this game, but also felt quite a bit of nostalgia.
Simply put, there’s going to be only compliments for this game from me (with reasons to why), EXCEPT for one small but extremely important point that the writers (Damn, Daisangen is fucking amazing with writing) forgot. If they had fixed this flaw, this game would have essentially been a kamige.
Nonetheless, let’s get started!
There may be unintentional mild spoilers in this review! I’ve tried to avoid them at all possible, but please read at your own risk!
Title: 涼風のメルト (Suzukaze no Melt) [TL Note: Suzukaze means “Cool Wind”. For the reference, “舞風” (the sequel) means “Dancing Wind”]
Release Date: August 27th, 2010
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v3992
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=680120
Game Type: Fantasy-themed game with themes of “Wishes”
Summary: Akihito is actually a “Shinkan” (神官) who is a descendant of the very old family who has served the Tochikami (土地神) for hundreds of years. In this town of Mishiromachi, there is a legend that this Tochikami resides in a very special place and allows the granting of a wish every 10 years, and in honor of this service, the townspeople have performed a special ceremony of sending in a miko every 10 years into the forest to serve this god, with the wishes of the townspeople delivered by the shinkan.
However, aside from this seemingly super-special role, Akihito isn’t exactly that special. While he does get high grades in school, he doesn’t really have anything else that’s unique about him–everyone already knows that he’s the Shinkan, and in reality, it’s not that important because this title only becomes relevant every 10 years. Instead, his current relationships right now, including his childhood friend Nazuna, is more important to him.
This is until strange, unnatural things start to happen in Mishiromachi, and mystical beings appear out of nowhere. These are “spirits” that hold a special wish from someone in the past, and are only visible to specific people. However, these spirits were not meant to co-exist with the humans of this city, and it falls on Akihito and the people around him to capture these spirits and return them… but to where?
To the Other End of the Universe, of course!
Story Length: Moderately Long (25 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Comments: Quite an easy game to clear, there’s really nothing special about the choices given. It is, however, designed in the way you can really only pursue one heroine at a time (this excludes Suzu, who has her own route), so there’s that. Make sure that after clearing a heroine route, though, you go through the heroine’s “絆話り” route, which is essentially an “after-story” which is not actually an after-story because these are events that occur in the past. I’ll discuss this later. “神話り” (Suzu’s Route) appears after all routes and their after-stories are cleared.
The Fandisc includes an “after-after story” for each heroines plus a new heroine (CG below) plus a harem route (?!) AND additional stories for 5 of the subcharacters. Man, talk about loading up the plate for us players!
This is Kureha, the main character exclusive to the Fandisc. I’ll just point out that her route isn’t worth going through.
Character Design Rating: 8/10
Story Rating: 10/10
Protagonist Rating: 6/10
Game Quality: Low
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Rating Comments: There’s a reason why this game is one of my top favorites and one of the two games that Whirlpool produced a Fandisc Sequel AND a PSP-ported version. Pretty much perfect in terms of story, this is extremely rare because other games that have extremely good stories deserving of this score usually tend to have one or two routes that just knock the points off regardless (See Tsukiyori or this title). However, as mentioned in the foreword, even this “perfect” storyline has a small but critical flaw that took off a whopping 2 points off character design and knock this game down from being a “kamige”.
Akihito himself is actually relatively worthless throughout the entire game, but not as much as other card-board faceless protagonists since he does play important roles in capturing spirits early in the game. I admit I was relatively critical with this score.
Me when I rate protagonists
Let’s get into character descriptions.
Nazuna is first. Being beautiful isn’t the only trait that this character has; she is very supportive and actually already infatuated to Akihito from the beginning portions of the story. Often coming through Akihito’s window to wake him up since it’s actually faster than coming through the front door, it’s definitely not an understatement that these two characters are often seen as more than just childhood friends.
In reality, Nazuna is the very Miko chosen to serve the Tochikami for 10 years. However, this fact is hidden to everyone except the individuals related to the ceremony, which really adds onto the design of the story. As you progress through the story, it is shown why it’s Nazuna chosen to be the Miko as well, so this was a very good follow-up. If that’s not all, it’s explicitly shown that Nazuna herself has trouble “giving up” on Akihito on other routes, amplifying herself as a character greatly.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Expect a HNNNNGGGG moment when you find out why Nazuna became a Miko.
As essentially the perfect waifu material plus Tono Soyogi voicing this character, I had little trouble having Nazuna as my favorite character. It’s just that very little of her and Akihito’s past is presented throughout the entire series (which includes the fandisc too). One would think that there’s a reason for her to be infatuated to Akihito for years, but this was not mentioned. Really, that was the biggest flaw in Nazuna’s route, while a smaller, more insignificant thing to mention is that Nazuna’s route does have the element of bringing said “past events” out-of-the-blue instead of displaying them in the beginning.
Throwing a book is actually a running gag and a skill that Yoshika has, the head of the History Research Club. Quite the beautiful girl herself, she actually is a hardcore History Maniac which offsets her looks and repels many guys including Kousuke.
taking a book to the head.jpg
As if to support this ridiculous trait, it’s shown that Yoshika would even pretend to be Akihito’s girlfriend to sneak into the ceremonial rehearsals, because it is strictly restricted to outsiders and since Yoshika knows that Akihito will play the Shinkan role, she can try to pry in using him as an excuse. This trait follows along to her being suspicious of Akihito and Nazuna when they act discreetly.
Yoshika’s route actually involves various subcharacters to act as antagonists which is unique to her route. This darker atmosphere allowed Akihito to shine as a protagonist, which was a very good trait.
Despite how this CG is centered around the girl on the left, Yui, it’s actually Ui, the girl on the right, who is the actual heroine. Ui is actually a girl who transferred to the school in Mishiromachi during the middle of the school year, and Akihito originally meet her trying to buy bread from the store, but continuously pushed by the other students. They take her to the History Research Club instead, where they find that she possesses an item called “Shingu” which has some special power related to the spirits.
Ui herself is a very strong character despite her size. Being raised mostly by her grandmother allowed her to learn various tactics in daily lifework and altered her tastes from a normal girl. Yui, however, on the other hand, is very frail and requires continuous hospitalization in various places, which was the reason why Ui kept having to transfer to help her.
Ui’s route also has the romance coming out of nowhere, but was considerably more subtle than other ones, so I guess that was nice. When I first played this game, I actually expected a “shimai-don” route like they did in Magus Tale, but I guess I expected too much LOL
Next is the archetypical “senpai” heroine Tsukino. I say archetypical, but she’s quite a unique character herself, often spacing out or making small mistakes from nothing. I guess this was supposed to be her charm-point, but was actually slightly mismatched with said archetype.
Nonetheless, her route mostly involves how she gets involved in something dangerous involving her life (e.g. a building might collapse on her), but instead of dying, Tsukino doesn’t even have a scratch on her. Basically, she’s somehow able to escape heavy injury in many occasions for some reason. Both she and Akihito believe it may be Chocola, the dog-like (?) spirit that Tsukino has had for as long as she can remember
Tsukino is unique in the sense that in the 絆話り after-story… actually screw that. You can find out for yourself.
Last but definitely not the least is the tochikami herself, who is soon revealed to have a strange name, but accepts another name as “Suzu” (Note at this point that this is the same “Suzu” as in the title of game, Suzukaze).
As the god who watched over the lands for several hundreds of years, Suzu is very knowledgeable about the system of wishes and spirits, so Akihito and the group often come here to seek advice… if they could.
In reality, Suzu lives in a Restricted Area where no one can enter freely. There seems to be a special requirement for someone to enter this area within the forest, and if they do not meet this requirement, the person who enters this area would immediately be teleported outside of the forest.
The tochikami’s residence
Even as a god, it is shown that Suzu herself is relatively ignorant about the changes, and since she never really left this Restricted Area for hundreds of years, she has little knowledge for writing, modern culture, or even snacks. It’s shown that she does have a sweet tooth, which causes some humor in various places.
But she can still be serious at times…
The romance within Suzu’s route was frankly the worst in my opinion, with the two characters (Akihito and her) having absolutely no transition to being lovers. Despite this, the game did have a good set of story for this character, who actually changes her fate for her loved one.
So wait, is Nazuna the central heroine, or Suzu?? @_@
Sexual Content: Moderate
Comments: So this is where I’ll be discussing a lot of the story (oh the irony) and its designs. So first, the good parts.
Readers may have noticed that the beginning parts of the game are relatively slow, and even the character routes are pretty much your typical galge-style scenario with conflict -> resolution -> H-scenes. In fact, if you’re sensitive to the game’s romance at all, you’d also notice that there’s a fatal flaw in the sense that there’s almost no development. This was the small but critical “con” that I noticed in the game; how the characters literally felt affection for each other within a couple of days to even instantly with little transitioning. Basically, the initiation of the romance, although it was more well-developed in the later portions of the story, was extremely shallow; kinda like this game.
However, you’d also notice that a special “after-story” called “絆話り” opens for each heroine after you clear her story. PLAY THIS. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. YOU MUST GO THROUGH THIS AFTER STORY NO MATTER WHAT. Expect the quality of each route to freaking skyrocket after reading this after-story because it solves all the questions or holes left by the main one and formulates a strong and definite conclusion for the respective heroine. Like seriously; the game pretty much builds up everything for this very section and relates heavily to the game’s descriptions of “where wishes are drawn to each other”.
And there’s yur–*punch*
Affection for the Characters: Moderate
CG Score: 6/10. Frankly, I’m not TOO much of Tenmaso’s art, and in addition to how her art got pretty weird in the fandisc, I couldn’t help but lower this score a bit :(
Though SDCGs are freaking adorable. Drink more Poca Cola
I also love it when games reference their previous titles within the context of the story.
Music Score: 7/10. I’m generally favorable about the soundtracks of this game, but especially a soundtrack called “Innocence”, which has a very gentle and soothing melody
When your childhood friend brings in a girl.jpg
Conclusion: A great game from Whirlpool which is very different from the charage-crap they have and are producing. No one but the producers know why this piece of gold was mixed with the mounds of coal which is the other games, but it’s nonetheless a game that needs to be played.
Slowpoke moment here, but it seems that Whirlpool has a 10th Anniversary Game called “World Election” set to be released in February 2016. Looking forward to that since there’s actually FOUR ARTISTS including Tenmaso and Mamizu.
Foreword: And finished! Whirlpool games are obviously going to be on the highest priority for me, and for this title, even higher because of the fact that it was Mamizu who was the character designer. I’ve been captivated by her art since I first read 77-Sevens a LOOOOOONG time ago, and this wouldn’t be the last. Unfortunately, there are some things that I’d like to comment on her artwork when I get to the respective section.
Overall, this is your typical charage, except Whirlpool again make that last ditch effort to make this game hold a “story” by adding in a true route at the very end. Did they succeed? Well, head right down into the review to find out!
Warning! This review contains intentional mild spoilers! Read at your own Risk!
Title: 鯨神のティアスティラ (Kujiragami no Tear Stilla) [Lit. Trans: After a bit of digging around, it seems that the literal translation is “The Gentle Tears of the Whale God“]
Release Date: February 27th, 2015
VNDB Link: https://vndb.org/v16103
Getchu Link: www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=832478
Game Type: Fantasy romance novel with theme of “history”
Summary: Yuuma woke up to find himself sandwiched and crunched up against something hard, and soon find out that he can’t move his arms. With the sound of the ocean around him and suddenly with water flowing into whatever he’s stuffed in, he starts to panic and screams for help.
It is then a beautiful girl opens up the container that he was imprisoned in and frees him. In Yuuma’s eyes, this girl, Mitsuki, is an angel.
Now finding himself on an unknown island that Yuuma has no idea where or what this place is, Mitsuki takes it upon herself to show him around, including the “Energy Water” which seems to work as a source of power on the island.
Through a series of events, Yuuma falls into a river and gets swept all the way up the mountain (and how the hell is this possible?). In a forest after finally raising himself ashore, he finds a small shrine where a small girl suddenly pops up and calls herself a “Whale God”. This “Whale God” and Yuuma cooperate to return to the city, and apparently, the Whale God takes a liking to the poor boy and makes him her “servant”. Because of this, Yuuma now cannot leave the island, and it’ll only be when the Whale God’s powers return that he’ll be able to!