Saito and Hijikata would like to present~
Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi,
Goodness, don’t they just look so excited?
Thank you, to Aksys, for localizing this entry in the Hakuoki series! (Now, let’s go for Zuisouroku, Reimeiroku, or my favorite… Urakata! You’ll continue the Hakuoki series, right guys? Right??)
Now, this isn’t just a review of Memories, but a comparison review up against Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom for the PSP. These two are basically the same game- Memories being a port of the the former, with some extra modes added, and 3D effects.
Here they are, going head to head. Or rather, case to case.
First we’ll talk about the all sweet collectables packaged with the Limited Editions of both the 3DS and the PSP games. If you want to learn more about how the actual gameplay measures up, skip to latter half of this post. (…but why would you want to gloss over all this cool stuff??)
One item included in the LE is an artbook, and as you can see here, it’s the same size as a 3DS case. Not a lot of emphasis must have been put on making this artbook- it’s just a slip of a thing, with 6 sheets stapled together making 24 pages (counting front and back, and the covers). Still, the images are nice, and have a good print quality. There’s a few line art versions of the CG’s in the game (neat!) and some other color artworks of the hunky cast.
EPIC CENTER SPREAD OF SHINPACHI IS EPIC.
I heart this image so much.
Still, I have one big problem with the cute little artbook. Where’s my beloved Heisuke?! He didn’t get any solo images, and next to no face time in the whole book! …same goes for Harada but who cares about him…[NEWS BULLETIN: this just in, a blogger recently met their demise at the hands of enraged Harada fans.]
Seriously, you can totally judge this artbook by it’s cover. It’s pretty much all about fan-favorites Saito and Okita. So unfair…
YOU HAVE ANGERED THE HEISUKES.
…but we won’t hold a grudge. So, moving on~
This is the artbook from the PSP game on the left, a much more worthy and substantial piece among the two. It’s a whopping 72 pages of character introductions, group shots, and nearly all of the in-game CG’s (boring stuff like item CG’s were excluded). The print quality is fantastic, especially since a lot of the CG’s are in the dark of night and could’ve easily just come out totally black (but they didn’t). I adore this book. To the Memories artbook’s credit, however, it does include art not found in the PSP version. So for someone like me that spent money on both sets, I was pleased there was very little overlap in contents.
Here’s a peek inside the book, and the other item included in the PSP LE was a soundtrack CD. It’s pretty good- I did like the music from the game. Although there’s only about 4 tracks I like to listen to repeatedly, the others are all dark, scary, danger/battle music tracks. The latter aren’t really meant for easy listening, lol.
This concludes the extras with the PSP game. Memories however, decided to get a little more creative. Prepare to get cultured!
This time around we get a Sensu, aka a traditional Japanese folding fan. It’s pretty great! Very sturdy and easy to open and close. The paper is thick and seems quite durable. I’ve opened and closed it several times already, and the paper doesn’t seem worn or cracked. (Really, where do you get paper that doesn’t show it’s white core where you crease it? ._.?) The colors are vivid, the wood is smooth, and there’s a very light sheen to the paper. A nice item, but I never know what to do with fans. I have a few, perpetually folded, lying around somewhere. I’d get a fan stand if I had any shelf room left… ah well, I suppose it’ll get used for photography sometime.
Lastly, the Memories LE includes a tenugui, a thin cotton towel. I had to Google to learn more about this, and how they traditionally dye them- interesting stuff. The one here must be factory printed, but it does feel like cotton. I need to iron mine… (^_^;) There’s no tag saying what it’s made of so I guess I’ll play it safe and iron the backside with a lower setting.
A close up of the print (open image in new tab):
Personally, I really liked this series of line drawings, so I’m thrilled to have it in a large print form. I’m definitely hanging this up like a banner (much like I did with the other Hakuoki bandana I got from Aksys). It measures 12 x 25.5 in.
Okay, so now it’s about time I reviewed the actual game!
1)The opening movie.
They changed the movie that plays when you first turn on the game from the one that was in the PSP version. This was a good idea, as it was clearly designed to show off the 3D layering capabilities of the aptly named 3DS. It’s clean and crisp and looks good on the 3DS XL as well. The song is “Hoshi Shirube”. I do kind of miss “Yami no Kanata Made” from the PSP, but both songs have similar pacing and are performed by Aika Yoshioka, so it works just fine.
This isn’t the actual opening movie, but it has parts of it. Looks even better in 3D.
2)The main game.
This is pretty much the same between both systems, the only differences being superficial. Same story, same script. Still, this is a visual novel we’re talking about here, so naturally I’m going to get picky about, well, the visuals.
a)The character art in the game is not as crisp nor clear as it could be. Honestly, the 3DS displays a higher resolution than the PSP, so I was expecting better. Obviously, Idea Factory just ported over the low res images from the PSP game, rather than starting over with the source material at a better resolution. The art of Hakuoki is a big draw of the game, and it’s a shame that it’s kind of fuzzy and pixelated. The expressions are a little easier to see when playing on the XL, but it also makes it more obvious that they aren’t a good resolution. (This does not include the opening movie. They definitely started from scratch there, so it looks great.)
b)The 3D effect is done well. I recommend playing with the 3D slider all the way up, since it’s a bit subtle and having it halfway can make the images blur a bit more. (Although, everyone’s eyes are different, so maybe experiment.) It’s alright when it comes to having the characters and the dialogue box “pop out”, but it really shines when it comes to the backgrounds. It’s subtle and effective. I really liked the room with the crossbeams that appeared in chapter 3 (one of later Shinsengumi headquarters).
c)The 3DS is at a different screen ratio than the PSP (meaning it’s length is shorter in comparison to it’s height than the more “widescreen” PSP). So naturally, images in the game are going to cropped differently. For the most part they did a good job regarding how the characters and backgrounds are centered on-screen. Unfortunately though, they shifted some character art up, and a few others down, effectively changing their comparitive height. Okita is very tall, and Saito is rather short- it should have stayed that way.
Lol, poor Saito. Let me know who drew this and I’ll credit them here. Full comic is here- link.
It gets a bit annoying when you have someone that has been moved up (like Hijikata) and someone that has oddly been moved down (Inoue) so that they have a very noticeable and ridiculous height difference. Perhaps not too noticeable to new players, but it sure bugs the heck out of me!
d)The text appears differently on the 3DS- not just the font, but how it actually goes about showing up on-screen. It basically types out one letter at a time, really stiff. It bothered me so I went to the settings and put the text speed at max. That way the entire line appears at once. On the PSP though, there’s a bit more finesse in the way the text appears. It kind of… floats gently onto the dialogue box, a gradual fading in. The words can also afford to be more spaced out and in a bolder font since the actual screen measurement is longer. I have to hold my 3DS closer to my face than I would like while playing this game. The text is all-around easier on the eyes on the PSP.
e)The colors. The colors! After turning on the PSP version I immediately realized that they displayed a different tint in each game. The 3DS seemed to win this round for a bit, since the black was much more black, and for some reason there was a lot of green tones on the PSP. Then I went to the PSP’s system settings to see if you could adjust the tint. Well, turns out I had the “Color Space” set to “Wide” to make stuff more vivid. This is usually a good thing, but for Hakuoki it should be set to “Normal”. At first it might seem odd, like suddenly all the color was sapped out, but no, holding it to the 3DS game, they were much closer in hues. The PSP has a bit of a yellow tint, while the 3DS has a bit more red. Looking between the two, the difference is most obvious now in the skin tones, but neither color set seems to be wrong. It’s tough to say which is better.
f)The 3DS has more exciting new effects! The fight scenes have more animated sword slashes and stuff. Also, so far I encountered a CG with an animated overlay. I’ll keep it secret which one, but you’ll like it, I’m sure. Edit:I encountered a few more, and they were lovely~ A nice way to re-experience the game.
Well now, marching on to the new modes~!
This is set of six short side stories. Each are written from the perspective of one of the male main characters. All of the dialogue is voiced, and there are some sound effects as well. They were well done, honestly. Kind of like a drama cd, but with silent narrative to read. The only downside here is that they are really short. Really, they only seem to last a moment. Still, in that moment, there’s very deep and well thought-out characterizations, and if you pay attention to the text, it does in fact give some insight into what the characters have to deal with in the main story. I’m a pretty hardcore fan so I was happy to read these. To a casual player though, it really isn’t much content.
4)The photo booth.
This is a fun time-waster. Totally cute and easy to use. I think Aksys does a better job explaining it at their official website, or even on one of their videos (towards the end). Still, here’s a few results of playing with it~
Saitou: *grumbles* Okita… what nonsense did you call me out here for?
Okita: Oh come on, smile, Saitou! It’s not like the camera can steal your soul~! *snickers*
Kondou-san advertises you should vacation on Wuhu Island (PilotwingsResort).
I like to make silly pictures and send them via Swapnote, because everyone needs some Hakuoki spam, lol. Now that I think of it, the images of the frames and stickers in this mode are pretty nice and crisp. Seems to be less interpolation here, for some reason.
You can also make a photo without actually taking a photo (or uploading one from the SD card). It just has the default pink background.
So in conclusion, which is the better buy? Hands down, the Limited Edition for Demon of the Fleeing Blossom on PSP. However, if you don’t have a PSP, then Memories on the 3DS is a valid alternative. I know I’m being hard on it here, but it’s still a nice looking game, and the story is worth it. I figure the extra modes and special effects make up for the lower resolution of the character art.
If you have both systems which should you buy? Well, if you are a hardcore fan and want all of the new modes and stuff, you could buy the 3DS game and just get the download version for the PSP (alternatively, Memories is available on the eshop for 24.99, but at that price, I’d just buy a physical copy). Seriously, I recommend getting the PSP version for the main game… unless you have no eye for detail; then the 3DS version should be good enough. Either way, support Aksys and otome games in the west by purchasing a copy of either version~ There’s a reason Hakuoki has a lot of sequels- it’s really darn good!
EDIT: The newest english-language Hakuoki game is coming out May 2014 for PS3! I will be posting a review on that after its release. Look forward to it, this the first time we’ll have the 2nd game of the franchise (Zuisouroku/fandisc) in english!