Thursday, February 11, 2010

Eroge Game Review: Princess Waltz

Originally released in Japan in 2006, Princess Waltz is an eroge Visual Novel published by Pulltop. The game proved to be a success overseas and in 2008 it was brought to our shores by Peach Princess. Like most eroge PC titles, Princess Waltz is rated 18+ and contains adult themes.

Princess Waltz takes place in something of an alternate reality that infuses a fantasy world and our own. What exactly is a princess waltz? Well, basically some princesses from the fantasy world of Eldelant duel (waltz) for the opportunity to become queen and ascend to the throne. Their dangerous dance is coming to our world and as Fukamori Arata you unwittingly get swept up in these events when a pretty new transfer student named Chris comes to town.
Soon enough Princess Waltz throws Arata right into the thick of it with magical princess transformations, huge monsters to battle, and plenty of danger at every turn. He used to be your average high school student, but now he's merging with princesses and fighting demons in alternate versions of our own world. With this kind of background the plot gets a little convoluted at times, but the script is quite good and you won't be lost along the way. There are plenty of characters to get to know, plot twists that take you by surprise, and by the time all is said and done you'll feel endeared by this world.
With that being said Princess Waltz's story lasts a long, long time. It was much longer than I was expecting it would be and in all honesty I'd equate the length it takes to get through the story to the average time it takes to beat a modern RPG. Granted a lot of time is spent on a few unnecessary plots and dragged out cut scenes, but those are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things. Really the only drawback with regards to the story in this game is the fact that it's entirely linear. There's no choice on your part whatsoever and you're kind of just along for the ride. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but some semblance of control could have gone a long way to rounding out the experience.

In fact that only real control you have over the game come in two parts: the combat system and the romance system.
On the combat side of things there will occasionally be breaks in the story that force you to fight against one monster or another. This is handled via a gameplay mechanic that is very similar to collectable card games. Basically there are blue, red, and green cards with attack values on them. They stack up against each other in a rock, paper, scissors format with attributes and bonus being applied to whatever color trumps the other.

Battles are broken up into two rounds. The first essentially determines who will be on the offensive. If your cards total more than your opponents then in the next round you'll be able to attack and vice versa. It's simple enough and all you're trying to do is lay out cards with higher value than your opponent on each turn. Adding some complexity to this system is the availability of skills that can be used offensively or defensively. In order to win you simply need to cause enough damage to your opponent to reduce their hit points to zero.
Quite honestly the combat system is very straightforward and simple. The game adds layers of complexity to it as you move forward, but the problem is that just as soon as you feel you get the hang of it, the game ends. More of a tutorial or more opportunity to battle would have been greatly appreciated. As it stands it serve as a nice break in the monotony of watching cut-scenes, but almost feels tacked on to a degree.

The romance angle comes later in the second chapter. While you get to conquest one character in the first chapter of the story, the second allows you to select a princess to carry your seed towards the end. Doing so unlocks a sex scene for you to watch, and if you have the time, or inclination, you may want to create a separate save at the point you make your first selection so you can unlock the other scenes. These are available through the extras menu from the title screen. The quality of these varies greatly. Some are fantastic while others aren't really worth the effort. Also available through the extras menu are a gorgeous collection of CGs and a full selection of music from the game.
Gameplay and story aside, the one thing that stands out most about Princess Waltz is the presentation quality. Not only does the game sound great with a vast amount of voice acting, awesome music, and solid sound effects, but it's just about one of the best looking visual novels you'll ever see. The art design is second to none and each panel is a sight to behold. The artwork is vibrant and very attractive as you can see from the screenshots I've included with this review. The producers of this game truly outdid themselves and I'd love to see more from this series in the future.

For reference Princess Waltz comes with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles.
If you're in the market for an eroge visual novel then by all means check Princess Waltz out! The story is fantastic from start to finish, the characters are endearing, there's a great deal of humor, and the action is solid as well. Sure sex isn't really the main focus by any stretch of the imagination, but the artwork and sound offer plenty of ecchi bits to titillate you in that sense. This is a solid title all around and definitely worth the cost of admission.

Maki Rating:

Princess Waltz is currently available through the always awesome J-list for $39.95.

Review material provided by Jlist.

1 comment:

Peter in Japan said...

Awesome review is awesome!

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