Okay, since Jast struck a deal with Nitro+, I decided to go and play a Nitro+ game. Since I can’t read Japanese and I’m still waiting for Chaos;Head Noah to be ported (of course, porting Steins;Gate would be even better), that just leaves the Chinese translation of Jingai Makyou. While I can’t say that it’s the greatest thing ever, it’s still a good story and I’m glad that it’s going to be localized (by the way, if you didn’t know yet, pre-orders for Demonbane has opened already, go and get it).
Also, I can’t believe that I got my backlog of games down to 5 (can’t remember the last time that happened). T-time is porting 11eyes Crossover and 3 days just got a patch. Forget I said anything about my backlog.
Made in 2006, and will (probably) be released in English in the near future. Not sure if the writer, 夜刀史朗, has worked on anything else. The artist, ＮＩΘぶろぐ, has worked on a few other Nitro+ games. Action/fantasy with lots of fighting but less gore than I expected. Very similar to Tsukihime at some parts.
Shamelessly stolen from wikipedia:
“The main character is Kumon Katsuki, a Japanese college student, who lost his parents in an accident and since then has been cared for by his landlady. His little sister Kumon Megumi, goes to boarding school in England, but still comes back to visit him from time to time. Still the main character is an unusual person, this leads him on a path to discovering the existence of the Narazaru and playing a vital role that will either save the world or lead it on the path of destruction.”
Sounds cheesy, right? Well, it IS cheesy, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Kazuki is a pretty average person. Okay, okay, I admit it, he’s not your typical eroge lead. Kazuki is heartless (literally), and while he tries very hard to read emotions and atmosphere through logic, he still insults more people than he’ll ever realize. His missing heart also gives him strange abilities, though he doesn’t realize it. Since he’s the most powerful human alive and every member of the Narazaru (monsters, demons, etc) wants to eat him for his power, this causes quite a bit of problems. Other than that though, he’s a good guy, plain and simple.
Ignis is a proctor of humanity. Despite only having a human body and wielding no magical powers, she’s constantly battling the (Narazaru) races. She’s very interested in Kazuki because of his powers and offers to train him. She knows almost everything about almost everything (and that dress is supposedly haute couture, though I can’t imagine anything other than a consume stop selling it). She’s very proud, and likes to manipulate and tease (later in the story she turns very tsundere).
I can’t say I liked her story too much. While some stuff was good, the ending was extremely confusing and none of the questions I was asking in my head were answered.
Kaze no Ushiro wo Ayumumono is a very, VERY long name, so I’ll call her Kazeno now. Kazeko is a girl from the tribe of the plains people (which are something similar to wolf spirits). Happy and jumpy, she is acutely in tune with nature and has a deep respect for the culture of her people. However, that doesn’t mean that she can’t kill, as she has some very powerful abilities from her friendship with the wind. She was planning to eat Kazuki, but then he bought her some ramen and a friendship quickly formed.
I think that Kazeko is probably my favorite character in the story. Her story (which can only be unlocked after you complete one of Ignis’s endings) isn’t as confusing as Ingis’s, with a lot more comedy at all the right places, leaving a strong impression with the powerful epilogues. I also love the song that she always chants:
“Today is a good day to die.
Today, I am alone.
It’s dark here. It’s cold here. It’s sad ehre.
Your figure isn’t here.
It’s because that the night is so dark that we yearn for morning.
It’s because that the air is so cold that we yearn for the sun.
It’s because this moment is so sad that I yearn for you.
I wish that you can welcome every morning.
I wish that you can always be caressed by warm winds.
I wish that you can have all the warmth of love.
It is so cold here, I can’t see your figure.
This must be a good thing.
Today is a good day to die. ”
The landlady is something close to perfection. She’s an amazing cook, she cleans, she comforts, she knows everyone at the market and store, and she takes care of her tenants to the point where you wonder if she can forsee the future (such as giving just enough money, down to the cent, to pay for food). Of course, that practically spells out “look here! Secret past alert!”
I think that her story is probably the best. The one major problem with it is that Kazuki keeps going “You’re like my mom, I can’t have sex with you” (which gets quite annoying). However, it is precisely her motherly strength that makes the story so powerful. Her story can only be unlocked after you complete one of Kazeko’s true endings.
The one on the left if Kazuki’s younger sister Megumi, in Japan on a visiting trip from her English school. She often gets frustrated at her brother’s inablilty to mingle with people, but she really cares for him. Before you ask, yes, they aren’t blood related and she IS in love with Kazuki.
The one on the right is Kazuki’s Iinchou. She’s a minor character, but when you’re playing, keep in mind that she’s actually Phantastica.
See that blond guy in the middle? That’s Mineyuki, Kazuki’s best friend. He’s been raised in a temple and his habit of quoting scriptures that makes next to no sense to other people and the way he looks has squashed all chances of him getting a girlfriend. Despite Kazuki’s unconscious ability to get girls to fall in love with them and then dump them really quickly, Mineyuki still supports him in the things he does and is an important character in all the stories.
Throughout the entire game, I was getting the feeling that the writer was using Type Moon’s works as a reference. This went from simple plot elements to the story structure itself (not only does the stories unlock each other, completing all 34 endings unlocks a special scene with Didi). The tone was also similar to Tsukihime, with a good deal of fighting, gore, bitter sweet endings, and some words repeating over and over again. This is quite unfortunate because it made me compare it to F/SN and the writing is definitely not on the same level as F/SN.
That said, the story was well written. The characters were endearing, with their motivations strong and clear. There wasn’t a lack of good plot twists, and I never felt bored. I’m not an action freak, but the fight scenes were pretty interesting, and all the blood being thrown left and right was nice. Some of the scenes were really disturbing (there was that one scene with Megumi that really gave me Saya no Uta vibes, though the two stories has different writers).
There was originally going to be 3 more routes in the story, one for Megumi (and how Kazuki gave her his heart), one for the classmate (and her existence as Phanstica), and one for the queen of the water people. However, for various reasons, they were cut (though the Phantistica story was told in the accompaniment novel).
Please look at the above images. Don’t you just get the feeling that they’re drawn by different artists? That’s what I felt throughout the entire game: inconsistency. Characters’s ages would fluctuate, and some images look awful compared to the better ones. Of course, I can’t say that if there weren’t any better images, and when the characters look good, they look REALLY good.
The artist has a great grasp of colors, and uses a strong contrast between light and shadow, coupled with a cool back light. You’ll almost never see the traditional “character is facing you with a text box at the bottom” kind of situation, as they have a quite unique way of placing characters which I wish more VNs would adopt.
Also, the chibi art (from the same artist who did the chibis for Otoboku, I think) is awesome.
You can imagine my amusement and delight when I found out that the opening song was Chinese. For those who know Chinese and can’t believe it, there’s the lyrics.
花耶夢耶 無情風吹不尽 空虚人心里
錯耶隔耶 皓皓月照塵世 面頬泪痕残
敞開胸懐 愁多知夜色 為君発悲歌
花則必枯 別離必有 風也切切 月光凛凛
花落時 君心復 寂寞往路途 月有陰
命則必滅 苦縁愛結 心也淡淡 思慮悠悠
孤高之魂魄 哀愁深 嗚呼
The music is very exotic, and marries exteremely well with the atmosphere. I loved all the tracks, especially the little touches (such as the sound of wind in Kazeko’s theme). Just what I expected from Zizz sstudio (who also crafted the unforgettable soundtrack to Saya no Uta).
The basic system was pretty average, but as I have mentioned before, they had this really nice way of placing characters. There weren’t much in terms of effects or animation though. When you have completed the true endings for all 3 heroines, you can unlock a special feature which lets you play the game, but replacing much of the character art with Chibis. It is epic.
Total: 87/100 A-
All in all? A solid story with touching themes. Romantic, funny, and exciting, with great production values. It gets better the more you think about it, but at first glance will be very confusing. Don’t expect complete explanations or happily ever after endings. Worth a play, make sure you grab it when it comes out in English.
P.S.: (Erogamescape’s rating for this game is lower than the average rating for Nitro+’s average rating. This is making me REALLY looking forward to Jast’s Nitro+ projects)