Friday, October 26, 2012

Games for Adults: Moero Downhill Night 2

Moero Downhill Night 2 Review

            Even though it was short and silly, I still liked the first Moero Downhill Night so I subsequently had some hopes for the sequel since it looked and sounded like it would have more to it. Shortly after its release of June 6, 2010, I got to see whether my hope for improvement would come true…and kind of got what I wanted. While the best sequels like Da Capo 2 manage to improve on every aspect of its predecessor, MDN2 is a case where for every step forward in improvement it makes over the first game, it also either takes a step backwards or no step at all.

Pros: Longer and more improved story, heroines have a bit more character than the first game, better opening theme, does have a good tie in with the first game, more race track diversity, better ero scenes.

Cons: Silly premise to the story, some heroines are better presented than others, linear story still makes the gameplay tedious after clearing a couple of routes, no real racecar diversity.

WTF?!: Who on earth would say this after getting punched?

            Moero Downhill Night 2 takes place over a decade after the first game and you play from the perspective of Akito Tsuchida, a racing game fanatic who ends up roped into being a navigator for his coworker, Rinka Asahina, when she’s challenged to an impromptu race. Said race reveals Akito has a talent for navigating as he’s played so many racing games with detailed tracks modeled after real ones, so he ends up joining Rinka’s racing club the Yotsuya Four Knights. This is a start of a partnership that will take the two down the road of many races and possibly even romance.

            Okay, again, since I don’t really play racing games aside from the occasional Mario Karts (the only other racing that I last played was the Star Wars Episode 1 podracing game on N64…hey don’t look at me like that, it was fun as a game!!), but the idea that you can be a skilled road racing navigator from playing a lot of racing games sounds pretty ridiculous. It’s like saying I’ve developed a talent for chemistry after playing the Atelier series and maxing out my Alchemy skill in Skyrim. Okay, problem with the premise out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff before focusing on the not so good.

            One improvement that MDN2 makes over its predecessor is it has a longer and overall better story. While it does have a slow start, it is interesting to see Akito actually develop some as a character over the course of each game, from his gaining motivations as a result of his time with the Yotsuya Four Knights as well as dealing with a significant problem from his past. We also get a larger cast of characters and the writer for the story did a good enough job in spreading them out into the plot so it doesn’t feel like there are too many characters and also each character does well in their respective story role that they’re not forgettable. I also liked how the game didn’t forget about its prequel and included a nice little tie in short story that I felt was pretty well done. Another way this game improves is that the heroines all have bigger roles than in the first as time is set aside to show some relationship development between Akito and them as you get to choose which heroine to interact with between story events, whereas in the first game the only heroine that got any real development in the area of romance was Michi. The best example I thought was with Reiko as not only do we see a relationship develop between her and Akito, we also learn a bit more about her and her butler Sendou as characters and we also get to see her discover a new hobby in what I must admit is an amusing reference.

            Here’s my route ranking:

1)      Reiko

2)      Rinka

3)      Kei

4)      Tomomi

            Unfortunately, the subject of the heroines brings us to one of two main flaws of this game; even though the heroines have a more improved role in the game, it’s kind of a mixed bag concerning how well their routes are. Rinka and Reiko’s routes seem to have had the most work put into them, Rinka because she’s obviously the main heroine and the focus of the game’s story is her partnership with Akito (though I have to admit I found Michi to be a more likable and interesting heroine than her when it comes to personality and the subtle development of her relationship with Daichi) and Reiko because her interactions with Akito are interesting and her route actually takes the time to look at her a bit as a character. I wish I could say the same about Tomomi and Kei as I found them to both be very interesting when they were both introduced. I will admit Tomomi’s ending was pretty good, but my main problem with her route is that not much time is given to develop her relationship with Akito before they start having sex and their interactions aren’t that memorable. In Kei’s case, her route is really good for the most part, but during the later parts it presents a good opportunity for drama that could have been better presented but is sadly only given the bare minimum in that regard. This is a problem because it’s supposed be a major dilemma in her continuing relationship with Akito, but it feels pushed aside when it should be focused on and it really ends up hurting the effect of her route’s ending.

            That all said, the second and main flaw of MDN2’s story is a flaw that its predecessor also had, though to its credit it was only a minor one: the story’s linearity. The reason the first game’s story didn’t suffer so much from that flaw was because it was short, but because MDN2 is longer the linearity causes a couple of problems. First, after you’ve cleared the game a couple of times, replaying in order to complete the other heroine’s routes becomes tedious, especially since you can’t skip the racing segments and the linger story means more segments that you have to repeat. Second, because Rinka is the intended main heroine there are a lot of scenes pretty much set in stone between just her and Akito and if you’re pursuing a different heroine it feels a bit off. It would have been more interesting if you got different scenes in the game’s main story depending on which heroine Akito was closest to.

            Now when it comes to the gameplay element, it’s essentially the same as the first game with you choosing what action your driver takes within a limited time period. Sadly MDN2 has you stuck with essentially the same car throughout the game. Now before someone else whose played the game points this out, yes you do change cars once as a result of story, and to its credit the game does put up a decent illusion of change, but in the end you’re still forced into driving the same car. One change that MDN2 does make to its benefit though, is that this time you’re driving on different tracks throughout the game’s story, which means you actually have to put in a bit more thought into what choices to pick instead of just memorizing how you completed the course in the last stage.

            In the area of presentation, MDN2 actually does really well. The artwork is really good, now everyone but Akito is voiced (and voiced pretty well I might add), and the music is pretty good not to mention the opening is very well done in terms of music and the way it presented its footage; it really does a good job in getting you pumped up and ready to play the game. The CG parts for the races haven’t changed that much in quality, but there are a larger number of them and I thought they were good.

            As for the ero scenes, I have to say this is another improvement over the first game. Not only are they all good scenes, but they’re longer and each heroine gets her fair share of them, including each one getting a special unlocked scene if you get her affection high enough. The game also avoids providing a cliché harem route by instead having it that you unlock three special extra scenes that can be viewed from the extras menu after completing certain routes.

In Conclusion:

            Moero Downhill Night 2 is an overall decent sequel to its predecessor in how it offers more improved story.  It’s far from a perfect sequel as the game does retain a couple of the flaws and could have done better with some of the heroines. In the end though, what it does right is done well enough that the game is more entertaining than its predecessor and is well worth the price of $19.95- $24.95.

Final Score: 7/10 Great

Author Recommendation: Buy it now.


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