Vote for English-release of Kenka Bancho Otome!

OH. MY. GAWD!!!! Spread the word guys, and vote for an English-language release of Kenka Bancho Otome!

kenka bancho otome
GO!!!! vote here!

Spike Chunsoft’s twitter is hosting a vote for a few titles that are being considered for a release on Steam. This is the only mention of a localization of Kenka Bancho Otome we’ve seen, so if you want it, go and vote!! I bet if we make a enough noise, they won’t be able to ignore us!

The vote is pretty close right now, so let’s close the gap and make it a win for otome! : D
Even if it’s not your cup of tea, spreading word and your support is much appreciated~ ❤

New add-ons for Beast Master & Prince Kickstarter

For anyone that likes visual novels or otome games (like Hakuoki and Amnesia) you should definitely check out the kickstarter for Beastmaster and Prince (Moujuutsukai to Oujisama) !

beast master and prince kickstarter otome english translation

The game is quality visual novel, and the english release will actually include content from not only the first game but the fandisk as well! There’s a lot of good artwork and fun minigames to be had, so please support!
Even if you aren’t interested in the game, just a dollar to support the visual novel community would be really appreciated too. : D

For those wishing for better add-on’s to the backer tiers, they just posted some nice stuff. It’s really great for those that want to get a physical copy of the soundtrack CD or the artbook in physical print, among other things. : )

beast master and prince kickstarter otome english translation

I myself really like the pillow covers… I am thinking they are like dakimakura~ x3 so i could hug one of the hotties, or hang it like a wall scroll.

beast master and prince kickstarter otome english translation

Spread the word about this kickstarter! Thanks!

Hakuoki: Stories LE & Comparison Review

Sato-san presents Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi, Limited Edition, for PS3!

hakuoki hakuouki stories shinsengumi ps3 limited LE review

This review will be spoiler-free, and features the items that came with the limited edition, as well as some of the technical changes in gameplay and content from previous games. You’ll be seeing some comparisons between this and the handheld versions on PSP and 3DS. However, I can tell you right now that the PS3 release is by far the definitive version of Hakuoki.

The outer box art is very pretty, featuring Hijikata and his cleverly designed reflection on the front, and the game’s overview on the back.

hakuouki hakuoki stories limited review

When I first held this in my hands, I thought it was huge! It’s like one of those over sized game boxes that retailers set out for in-store advertising. I’ve actually wanted one of those silly things so this was kind of cool, haha. It measures 10.75″ x 8.5″ x 1.75″.

hakuoki hakuouki stories shinsengumi ps3 limited LE box review

Slip off the outer sleeve and we have a lacquer-inspired box with a fairly traditional design. It looks pretty nice, and is made of glossy paper and material like thick, sturdy cardstock. Unfortunately, the paper isn’t very durable and most copies have torn corners. The fact that you can see the white core of the paper kind of ruins the effect of imitating lacquer. It’s just kind of sad to see something arrive that makes you think “damaged”. It’s not too egregious though so I guess I can just live with it, but I’m a tad worried it’ll get worse over time. I wanted to actually use this box, but I guess it’s just pretty packaging.

hakuoki hakuouki stories shinsengumi ps3 limited LE box

Still you have to take note of the fact that the box art lines up on the sides where the two halves meet. This is quite the extra step when it comes to manufacturing something, since it’s easier and cheaper to just let it be mis-matched. It seriously matches up exactly, very good indeed!

Take off the top lid and you’ll see this:

hakuoki hakuouki stories shinsengumi ps3 limited LE contents review

The limited edition includes a hairpin, comb, amulet, and of course, the game itself. Aksys chose to go with a very traditional theme with this LE and it does give a lovely atmosphere befitting the game. The items fit their slots well, and are easy to take in and out of the box. Let’s take a closer look at these goodies.

We’ll start with the comb. It’s made of a polished wood, and is rather thick. I fiddled with it a bit and gave it something of a stress-test. I didn’t want to be too hard on it, but it’s a tough cookie. I love quality material, even if it looks simple. The etching on one side has the American style Hakuoki logo and some cute sakura flowers. I like it!

hakuoki hakuouki stories shinsengumi ps3 limited LE contents

The hairpin was a bit disappointing. It’s very cute, but I can’t imagine using it. The stick is smooth and the decoration on the end is crisp. It’s made out of a squishy rubbery plastic that’s fun to feel and bend. It was hard to see what it looked like in the promotional image, but I was expecting it to be made out of a harder plastic (like ABS). I wish it was, because this feels too much like a rubber keychain, not something I want to wear. The decoration features sakura blossoms and the game’s logo. The kanji in the square is the same as the amulet.

The amulet, called an omamori/お守り, is fun replica of charms that have been available at Japanese shrines and temples for, let’s say, a really long time. They can be used to bring good fortune in anywhere from general luck to family blessings to passing entrance exams. Starting from the top right and reading down are three kanji reading
新選組 “Shinsengumi”. The next line reads 奇譚 “Kitan”, so basically it’s the title of the game.

The other side has a different design. I like this side a lot better. x3

hakuoki hakuouki stories limited omamori

I looked up the kanji and it made me laugh. It says 恋愛成就 Ren’ai Jōju, “Love Fulfillment”. It’s a love charm! Omamori are meant to be carried with you or on your backpack, so maybe if you do you’ll get a little luck in love! I’d rather just get lucky with the boys in Hakuoki though lol

Overall I like the limited edition, but it’s not for everyone. I was a bit let down with the box, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amulet. I will likely use the items for photography, unless I find shelf space to set up all my traditional stuff (I didn’t even realize how much I had until now, an unintentional collection!) I collect a lot of Hakuoki merchandise and toys, so I do appreciate that these items are unique compared to what I’ve seen on the Japanese market. Having something with the English Hakuoki logo is pretty special. Thanks Aksys!

Now let’s move on to the actual game. : )

hakuoki stories ps3

I have so much to say about it I can hardly begin. How about something like OMG OMG MY FAVORITE BOYS ARE ON TV AND IT’S GLORIOUS.

sakura excited fangirl
Yeah that sounds about right.

Seriously this PS3 game gives me a whole new appreciation for Kazuki Yone’s exceptional artwork. This is a far cry from small screens of the handheld versions, nor is it a lazy port. This is truly a revamped game that makes use of the source materials, and they display very nicely in HD. The backgrounds are marvelous too. In fact, thanks to the higher resolution I can now see details that were negligible before. You can now see the textured filter that is over the image, which makes it feel nostalgic. You can also see items that I completely missed before, like a vase in the main character’s room, or some training headgear in the common room. Just the background art alone has had enhanced my immersion into this fictional world.

hakuoki game screenshot background art
The handhelds didn’t do locations such as this justice, its truly stunning on the PS3. I loved the scene of Hamaguri Gate too. ❤

Also, since we’ve seen some of this story before, Idea Factory decided to make the game more interesting or immersive, with the new AAS feature. Let me jump back a bit here- See, Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi is the localized version of Junsouroku. It’s a compilation of two games on one disc, the first being Shinsengumi Kitan, the second being Zuisouroku. In English we already have Kitan titled as Demon of the Fleeting Blossom PSP, and the port Memories of the Shinsengumi 3DS. But this is the first time we get to see the second game of the series, which is kind of like a mid-quel rather than a sequel, and it’s the game often referred to as the “fandisc”. Sorry if that was a bit confusing, but since Hakuoki is so incredibly popular in Japan (compared to other otome visual novels), it got a LOT of games and re-releases on various systems. Add in the English titles and its just a mess haha

Okay, back to the AAS, which stands for Action-Animation-System. In short it allows the characters on screen to blink, lip-sync while they are talking, and they even breathe! To be honest I was a bit apprehensive to try this out. I was worried it would look really strange! The characters are indeed animated… but not quite in the traditional method. Yone-sensei’s original artwork was never designed to be animated, so they had to get a bit creative when working with it, while still maintaining its stunning quality.

hakuoki okita
Okita’s lookin’ good with his well-drawn everything. Seriously, Hakuoki characters drawn by Yone-sensei are where it’s at.

The AAS really is divided into three parts- blinking, lip-syncing, and breathing. Each feature can be turned off independently of the other in the settings menu. (I really love the settings menu since you can access it at any time during the game and the changes load instantly.) So you can have them only doing one of those actions, or completely turned off, or just blinking and breathing, or any combination you desire. I was pleasantly surprised by the all the settings you can customize in this game.

From the title menu I hit “Begin” and started up the game (erm, the first game/Fleeting Blossom/Kitan, let’s just call it the “main game” for the rest of this post) with the AAS fully turned on by default. I decided to bite the bullet of strange newfangled animation! and vowed that I would play through part of a chapter before fiddling with the settings (I love fiddling just for fun), so that I could get an uninterrupted feel for the new game. I recommend playing with the AAS turned on until at least the first time you get to make a story choice in the game. You might love the AAS right away, or you might think it’s odd, so give it a chance for a bit. By the time I hit the first choice I had gotten used to the AAS and even after trying the different settings, I tend to leave the AAS fully turned on and I’ve continued to get used to it to the point that I think it’s a bit bland without it.

1) The blinking function is flawless. It’s also the easiest to animate, but they made it look really smooth and the new animation frames for the eyes closing blend in really well with the original art. The game looks good with only the blinking function turned on.

2) The lip-syncing is both very impressive and a bit odd. Unfortunately the first person that speaks to you is probably one of the worst examples of it. Just ignore him and move on lol. The speaking animation really does match up with the spoken dialogue in terms of both timing, and the voice’s volume. Sometimes when a character speaks, they may start off sounding loud, but then trail off to a softer tone. The distance the mouth opens and closes varies to match that. Pretty cool!

A few characters do not have any lip-sync animation, but they are minor characters that are not seen for very long. So far I’ve noticed two characters that sometimes have lip-sync, and sometimes they don’t. It’s actually not as strange as it sounds, and they usually just don’t animate when they are grinning (which is a good thing trust me).

As for why the lip-sync is odd, well, most of the time it looks fine. It’s smooth and the inner mouth is colored correctly and shows teeth when the expression calls for it. The first problem is when the character has a big, full grin. When they aren’t talking and the expression is a grin, it looks silly when they start talking. You get an unnatural flapping of teeth, kind of like the animated skits in Monty Python or some other comedic animation of a portrait.
mouth animation joke

It’s better quality than those examples, but it’s still silly in those few instances. I think that you see it most with Kondou, so I just look at the dialogue box when he’s grinning.
The lip-sync probably looks best with Hijikata and Saito so far (they look great!) Since those two often talk calmly, they have more muted mouth animations. On the other hand, I still love watching my lively and adorable Heisuke!!

Speaking of Heisuke talking, it’s with him that I had one other problem with the lip-sync. Just one expression in particular, although its a sign of something bigger. It animates just fine, but it’s when his mouth is closed that it looks silly. It’s the moments when he would normally show his signature smile!

heisuke toudou stories hakuoki

My favorite expression from my favorite character is basically gone in this version of the game. It makes sense as to why, since they decided to animate mouth flaps. Naturally when someone is done talking their mouth is closed. So for about 2 or 3 expressions in the game, the still image has been changed slightly so that by default they have their mouth closed. When they speak it shows the open mouth that was there by default in previous games. So to see Heisuke’s glorious excited smile I have to leave lip-sync on even if I don’t feel like it.

3) The last function of the AAS is the breathing. This is where animation gets creative. In most media, animated characters are drawn and colored with that simple “cell-shaded” style, since the more detailed a drawing is, the more time you have to spend drawing that detail in each and every frame of animation. Kazuki Yone’s artwork was originally designed to be still, and not only does it have a lot of detail, but the expressions and poses are chosen to imply the sort of motion they are making at the time. The work it would take to animate them in the traditional sense while still maintaining use of the original art would be monumental.

So to animate the characters they basically stretched the artwork, to make them breathe or seem alive (since people don’t actually stand perfectly still as stone in real life.) I was shocked at how good it looked. In fact, it’s very subtle. If you stare at it awhile you can definitely see what’s going on, but as you play the game and focus on the text and all the sights and sounds, the fact that they are moving in such a creative way blends in rather well.

Saying the art is just stretching is over-simplifying it though. They actually cut them into layers, mostly on the head, so that some parts move a bit separate from others. Like long hair or ties behind the character will barely move while the shoulders heave up and down slightly. The face (eyes, nose, mouth) also appears to be its own layer, and kind of moves just bit while the head shifts making the characters seem to turn their heads! Sometimes it looks like they raise or lower they heads a bit, but its subtle and pretty natural, and I think that in combination with the impeccable artwork’s implied depth, they almost feel like 3D models in a way. I love it!

Wow. I had a lot to say about the AAS. The other technical aspects of the game shouldn’t take nearly as long to review, lol. Let’s take a short intermission:

hakuoki rest

ok, break’s over!
On to the more minor technical comparisons to the handheld versions!

The PS3 game resembles the PSP more than the 3DS version, mostly because of the screen ratio and the 3DS had a few unique gimmicks that rely on that particular system. The text appears on the screen with the same finesse as the PSP game, and the characters have their artwork placed properly on the screen (unlike the issues I had with the 3DS). In fact, now that we’ve moved to the PS3, and presumably an adequate TV, there’s a lot more breathing room for the characters now. The handheld has a small screen so the characters were blown up as big as possible, but now they are a bit smaller compared to the background. They fit the frame better and it is balanced correctly.

There’s a vibrate function in the game. I’ve only felt it vibrate once or twice so far though, so it’s definitely not overused.

The love animation that shows up when a character likes you is the same cherry blossoms as before in the main game. It looks kind of strange though since it’s so clear now xD. I have played so many times though, that I ususally just turn it off. But then I realized I need to leave it on for the other half of this game, (more on that later) and its a pain trying to remember if its on or off. So I guess I’ll leave it on. The cursor when you make gameplay selections is so cute. It’s still just a petal but it looks so smooth~ if only I could touch it, lol. So far I’m thinking bigger is better with this game.

A new mechanic is when you learn a new word for the encyclopedia, you can hit “down” on the d-pad to make that word’s entry pop up real quick mid-game. And then click it closed quickly too. It’s a lot more handy than before, since it was a chore to take time and read the entries and notes at some point. The encyclopedia is… as fun as ever. ~_~

An easy-to-miss mechanic is when a special CG appears. You can hit the circle button to hide the dialogue box and then use other buttons to pan and zoom the CG, since the full drawing extends past the height of the screen. Basically works the same as it does when viewing CG’s in the gallery. There’s at least one exception to this, but that was a particularly special CG with some overlays.

Something else they changed that made me VERY happy was when you are playing, and you hit circle to hide the dialogue box, the spoken audio continues to play. On the handhelds the dialogue would just cut short, so you weren’t able to listen to them talk with the box hidden.

At a few points in the game there’s a large fire in the background, and they have an animated overlay that looks pretty nifty. This was also on the 3DS, but I wasn’t expecting it on the PS3 to be honest (in Japan, the 3DS game came a year AFTER the PS3 one, so it stands to reason some effects won’t be present.)

Lastly, as far as content in the main game, the text has proved to be a verbatim copy of the text in the handhelds. I even pulled them up side-by-side for text I didn’t remember. Yes, I have in fact played Hakuoki that much… but hey, give credit to the English script writer for making the text so memorable! I did hear someone say they read new text in the Kazama route, but I have yet to confirm if this is true. Edit: It’s not. I’ve played through 4 characters now and the text hasn’t been changed at all.

hakuoki hakuouki zuisouroku fandisc

So after trying out the main game for awhile, I went back to the title screen, and hit “Stories”. This is the brand new content I’ve been so excited to see. Seriously, Zuisouroku/fandisc was what I wanted to see most as far as the Hakuoki series goes. Also, if you don’t want to play the main game, you can skip it altogether and play the stories mode right away.

When you start up the stories mode you get a brief tutorial on how to play. It’s different than a normal visual novel, because it’s a series of events you access in a chronological chart. That’s because the events take place during the timeline of the main game. In fact, it’s for this very reason that Zuisouroku doesn’t market itself as a stand-alone game, and the outdated PSP aside, it would have been a tough sell because of it. I’m sure that’s one reason why Aksys chose to release the game as it appears in the combined collection that the PS3 game features. It can bring in new players and current fans too.

The chart looks a lot like the “Record of Service” from the main game, since it’s got summaries of the events in the main game. This helps to tell you exactly when the new events happen. When you start an event there’s also a quick summary from the protagonist’s point of view of things that happened recently. I think it’s adequate, but if you haven’t played the main game in awhile there could easily be some things you’ve forgotten. It really doesn’t have too much bearing on the first events at least, since they are pretty much stand-alone things that happen.

I really liked what I’ve seen in stories mode so far. Some of it is romantic, in fact some say it’s the extra romance that seemed to be missing from the main game. Other aspects of the events really expand the world and its minor characters too. Finally, I can see some more information about what daily life was like for the protagonist. It always seemed like the historical events of the main game progressed too quickly, and it was hard to grasp the passage of time since several months would just fly by between chapters. Everything seems to match up too, as far as there are no plot-holes, nor anyone acting out of character. Some moments can get a little silly though, at least compared to how serious the main game is, but it’s well within reason so far.

There’s new background art too, and some reworked versions of ones we’ve seen before (changes in time or weather). The CG’s of course look great as well, having been drawn by the same artist.

When you start stories mode there is just one event available to play. The ones titled “Adventures, etc” play kind of like how the so-called “common route” of the main game does. You have several choices to make, and these choices changes where you go and what you do. After the event, you should end up unlocking another event, one that is character specific. And it just kind of goes on like that.

Unlike the main game, you don’t need to make a save file that holds your place mid-story (you can if you want though). After an event has been played through, you just need to save the system data and it will remember what events you’ve done. (It will save automatically, or if you turned off the autosave, the prompt to do so will appear). There isn’t a love meter like the main game, but rather, if you make good choices, you get points to unlock bonuses in the Ephemera mode (on the title screen). I haven’t unlocked anything yet; that will be covered in the follow-up review. To know if you’ve gotten a point you’ll need to leave the “love animation” turn on in the settings. It’s a whirlwind of cherry blossoms. There’s really no way to check otherwise since the ephemera tree is kind of vague.

What I like about stories mode is the fact that you can jump between that and the main game pretty easily. I’ve chosen to play the main game, and then switch to stories mode at the right time so I can see both games’ events all in chronological order. I just have one save for the main game, and anything I do in stories mode is saved in the system data. I’ve already seen everything in the main game, so it’s not much of a spoiler to read the chapter summaries in stories mode to find out the right order. There’s also the month/year listed on each event to tell you when they took place. If you are a whole brand new player to the series it could be troublesome, if you want to avoid spoilers.

hakuouki hakuoki review

So far I’m incredibly pleased with Hakuoki: Stories of Shinsengumi. There’s more I didn’t talk about, such as unlockable bonuses, the Sweet School Life minigame (which is HILIAROUS. It’s basically a short comic), and DLC (some of it is free! The paid DLC is good too.) Thanks for reading, and I hope this review was helpful!

Dramatical Murder gets an anime

(and the trailer gets a translation. you’re welcome.)

DMMd anime.
yes yes yes yes!!!

VERY YES.


.
I really love the kind of still format that visual novels provide, but it’ll be great to see the characters flap their yaps and moving around!!! I’m especially interested in seeing how they animate the cyber game “Rhyme” (and maybe we’ll see some brawling “Ribsteez” too!!!) Seriously, the visual novel was pretty vague on what it actually looked like to watch a Rhyme match on the street, since the game is virtual and in the players’ head.

dramatical murder rhyme anime
^It looks cool, but seriously, what the heck is going on here?

Anyways, the dialogue in the trailer is sparse but here it is:

Usui:
お待たせしました, 皆さん。
Sorry to have kept you waiting, everyone.

これよりライム開始します!
Rhyme will begin!

On screen text:
電脳ゲームに -Rhyme- 熱狂する人々…
The cyber game Rhyme excites people…
(alt. translation- makes people crazy…)

その影で起こる
Takes place in the shadows.
(alt.- I act from the shadows. maybe?? I think it’s referring to someone.)

-カミカクシ-
spirited away
失踪事件
disappearances

Aoba:
なんだよ?! これ
What the?! This-

破壊と 死を
Destruction and death.

Heh. Translating is hard enough, but it’s even worse when dealing with cryptic sentence fragments!! Yes, I’m relying very much on dictionaries and translators as well. It’d be easier if I was more familiar with using the language but hey, I’m working on it :p. lol, Aoba’s dialogue was the easiest. (Gee, I’ve NEVER heard a character exclaim in confusion in an anime before. /sarcasm)

Some tasty links:
Announcement on Nitro+Chiral’s site
Dmmd anime official site
dramatical murder dmmd congratulation

Hakuoki Memories Comparison Review

Saito and Hijikata would like to present~

Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi,
Limited Edition!

hijikata saito plush hakuouki hakuoki memories 3ds
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, or Reimeiroku… 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.

hakuoki hakuouki 3ds psp game
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??)

hakuoki hakuouki memories artbookOne 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.
hakuoki hakuouki shinpachi memories artbook
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.
hakuoki hakuouki angry heisuke toudou
…but we won’t hold a grudge. So, moving on~

Comparison check!
hakuoki hakuouki artbook limited edition
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.

hakuoki hakuouki artbook soundtrack
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!

hakuoki hakuouki memories fan sensu
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.

hakuoki hakuouki memories tenugui towel
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):
hakuoki hakuouki memories tenugui towel
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.
hakuouki hakuoki saitou saito okita
Lol, poor Saito. Let me know who drew this and I’ll credit them. 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~!
hakuoki demon of the fleeting blossom

3)Memories mode.
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 okita mini display figure hakuoki memories photo booth
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*

hakuouki hakuoki memories photo booth kondou
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.
hakuouki hakuoki memories photo booth hijikata

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!

hakuoki demon of the fleeting blossom

EDIT: The newest english-language Hakuoki game is coming out May 2014 for PS3! Look forward to it, this the first time we’ll have the 2nd game of the franchise (Zuisouroku/fandisc) in english!
EDIT again: The new review is up! see it here

Comcept Inc., my love for you grows Mightily.

The first reason being Comcept’s YouTube channel posted the cutest thing- a song on how to draw their mascot, 「KANE DE BOO」!

~~~adorable~~~(^◇^)I’ve only seen him appear in Sweet Fuse though. I hope he shows up again! If you want to sing along, I posted some lyrics on the video comments.

The second reason- their Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9 (a spiritual successor to Megaman). It has gotten a lot of support from fans far and wide- in only four days they reached 1.5 million in pledges! Let’s keep the ball rolling and hit that 2.2 mark for a console release! 😀 Please be sure to tell your friends too~!

mighty no 9 beck

You know what I like about the hero so far? His name. Beck. His assistant will be named Call (haha, get it? :p ). It’s cute, but more importanly, it’s a joke that won’t be lost in translation like all the name changes present in localized Megaman games. (Oh Roll, I never understood you. If only Rockman could have explained it to me…)

roll megaman mighty no 9 joke

Reading Mighty No. 9’s Kickstarter summary really gets me excited for this game. Scroll down their page and take a look at the development team- these guys really know how to make games! Quite a few have worked on the Megaman franchise as well, and with Keiji Inafune as founder and CEO of Comcept, it’s no wonder they have had an overwhelming response. Especially when you give a pledge, your voice will be heard by these amazing creators in exclusive backer-only forums. Nice!

Well, that’s a wrap for now. Have a happy 09/09, to all you Mighty No.’s out there!

Aksys’s lastest otome game “Sweet Fuse” is lit!

Yeah, I know. The title is a pretty bad pun. :p

If you managed to end up here, and don’t know what Sweet Fuse is, check out the official website. And then immediately proceed to buy a copy. Or ten. sweet-fuse.com

sweet fuse cast

This is game is great! I’ve just completed one play-through of the game, and I am about to start the next. I’ve been at this game non-stop since it arrived. Well, almost non-stop, still have to do the basic eating, sleeping, and posting on the internet. You know, vital stuff.

The game comes from both Idea Factory and Keiji Inafune’s Comcept Inc. (If you don’t know who Inafune is, I’m sorry. -_-) Inafune makes a brief appearance in the game as well, since in this fictional universe he’s your video-game-themed-amusement-park-designer uncle. I feel like this game is the product of a match made in heaven. Or a match made in a really nice family with good upbringing. Aksys did the localizing for the NA release; props to them for bringing otome and visual novels to the western market!

This won’t be an in depth review, but just few thoughts on the game so far. First, I just want to say the protagonist is very cute!

saki inafune
The art style for this game isn’t your usual fare for an otome game. At first I was thinking, um… why aren’t they drawn ridiculously pretty like shoujo manga? But once I had the game going, there were no more questions. The characters look great, and its nice to see something different- brought to you by Kumiko Suekane, who did the designs for the Ace Attorney series. In fact there are some other aspects of Sweet Fuse that are reminiscent of the Ace Attorney games. Such as the choice to call-out other characters after they do something really stupid or aggravating- Objection!-style!

what is wrong with you!! saki inafune

There’s also sections where you have to use some logic (much like finding testimony contradictions in Ace Attorney) to solve the death-trap puzzles your character enthusiastically volunteered herself for. Yep, volunteered. But hey, a lot of hot guys got thrown in with you too, so let the party begin!

Also, one more thing I’m just stoked about… the characters are animated! Their mouths move with the text pretty well, and they blink~! And naturally, they change expression and positions like any other visual novel as well. The backgrounds are some what animated too, such as moving clouds, or glowing lights. Pretty nice~! They only downside though is that it takes longer for each new line of text to load, but I suppose it does pace the game a bit so I’m not blazing through (heh). The skip text function is slowed down somewhat, unfortunately. (Edit: Well, I’m stupid. I didn’t see the “Install” option on the main menu. It cut load times considerably and the timing of the text with voice is better too. I srsly recommend installing this game.)

The game definitely has its quirks too. I seriously love the Piglets!

sweet fuse piglet 1

sweet fuse piglet 2
They do a lot of mime-like actions and they are just too funny!

Ok now here’s where I have to say-

SPOILERS AHEAD
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I was originally interested in the blonde guy.

shirabe ayumu sweet fuse

Then I found out he’s 32… nearly twice our heroine’s age! …which is only 17 in Japan, btw. Aksys also changed the youngest boy to be 17 in NA so you don’t have to feel like such a cradle-robber with a boy of a mere 15 years.

sweet fuse wakasa towa
But I know the truth… and now so do you! You’re welcome! 8D

Anyways, then I realized ol’ blondie reminds me of your missing dad in Trace Memory. : / …yay… looking more attractive by the minute, pal.

and then the game just slaps me in the face-

sweet fuse shirabe daughter mai

WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?! YOUR SEXY FACE BROKE MY HEART AND STOMPED IT ON THE FLOOR.

Although, I have yet to play his story so I really don’t know much about him. Perhaps blondie will redeem himself. :3 (Edit: He has!!!)

Ok! So! I did in fact complete one story from the game. Despite my best efforts (no seriously, I tried!), I couldn’t resist Shidou and his sexy… badge. “Oh~ Keibu-san~!! Protect me!!” Yes, he’s a police detective, and a damn hot one.

shidou subaru sweet fuse gun

Kyaa~! I love this game! XDDD

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MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD (mostly for other games though)
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This a bit of a rant, but if you don’t mind~

The end of Shidou’s route did that thing where you don’t find out what was really going on with the bad guy. So many things left unexplained. So now I have another reason to complete every character’s story, because I bet that’s the only way to unlock the secret character or true ending or something.

Lately, I… fear true endings.
>.<

And its all the fault of other VN's! In Amnesia you have to play every route before you get the true story… where you apparently DIED but were wished back to life, only to end up in the WRONG DIMENSION. Your boyfriend travels from world to world to find you, only to come at you with a nice, new, psychotic personality that wants to kill you! Good times!

Better yet! Same gameplay mechanic in Dramatical Murder (OMFG that game was good though) where you play and play until you get the true route and ending. It was all fun and games until your robot dog turns into a virtual man, who is actually a personality that used to be in your own body with you- a body that, by the way, was CONSTRUCTED IN A LAB along with your CONJOINED TWIN you once had and forgot about. THEN you have sex with your other personality in your own head, talk to a third (violent) personality, until finally you live happily ever after with your other self who is living in the body of your spiritually deceased twin brother.

But at least all my story-related questions were answered!

Right?
*cries*

sweet fuse scared kouta meoshi

Let’s hope Sweet Fuse doesn’t rape my mind at the end, lol. I mean really, what’s the worst that could happen in a bomb-filled amusement park of twisted and tainted games and attractions?