Friday, October 26, 2012

Games for Adults: Moero Downhill Night

Moero Downhill Night Review

            I’ll admit I’m not much of a racing game fan, aside from the Mario Kart games, though that’s mainly because I play it with my friends. Still, I’m always on the lookout for something different from the norm in the VN area and considering there aren’t many racing themed VNs, at least any that I’ve heard much of, when I first heard about the licensing of Moero Downhill Night and its two sequels by Peach Princess, my interest was almost immediately captured. Released in English on November 9, 2009, Top’s Moero Downhill Night is the first in a trilogy that ironically make up one half of VNs that fall under the racing genre.

Pros: Pretty good art, impressive use of CG for the racing events, decent music, likable characters.

Cons: The game is way too short, it’s obvious who the canon heroine is, you only get to “drive” Michi’s car, the story is just…silly.

WTF!?: Must… resist… urge to pick the bottom two choices.

            In Moero Downhill Night you play as Daichi Shou a soba delivery boy who, by accident, ends up becoming a navigator of sorts to beautiful taxi driver and racer Michi Konosaki. Apparently, Daichi has this special ability that awakens upon impulse that enables him to navigate through any street racing course to a perfect win, and together he and Michi race against other street racers down a road that could very well lead to romance.

            Okay, let me make something perfectly clear: this game’s story is just silly. There’s no real depth to it at all, but strangely enough I still found it entertaining. There are two main reasons for this: the gameplay (sort of), which I’ll get to shortly, and the characters. While none of them are particularly deep, they’re still interesting and even entertaining. Though Daichi doesn’t really have much personality beyond being a basic comical eroge hero, the heroines are diverse enough as each one has their own unique look and personality that also matches they’re driving style and they way they’re presented over the course of the story does make them both interesting to read more about and at the very least amusing.

            Sadly in talking about the characters, we also come to the main flaw of this game: it’s too short. As I said, each heroine is presented as an interesting character with a good personality but sadly only Michi and maybe Maria are given any real character focus and subsequently the most plausibility as being love interests for Daichi, and considering Michi is obviously the canon love interest, her route has the most to it compared to the other heroines, which is why I can’t really rank favorite routes in this case. Michi also has two endings, one for if you decide to spend a little more time with the other heroines and choose her at the end instead of them or the true end where you focus on her the most. This also brings me to another flaw, the fact that because Michi is our only real heroine, we’re only given control of her car. I think it would have at least been interesting to be able to choose which heroine to race with in the last race stage and that could have also been used to choose which heroine Daichi ends up with at the end.

            Despite the story flaws, there is one thing this game did right, its gameplay of sorts. I hesitate to call this actual gameplay because to be honest during the racing scenes all you’re doing is choosing what action Michi takes while racing. The creators were able to tweak that though into what I would call an illusion of gameplay. You’re essentially given a limited time to make the choices and after you make the choice you see a short CG movie to show the results of it. Coupling it with good fast paced music and good writing, you actually do feel a sense of urgency and suspense as you make your choices to win each race.

            In the area of presentation, that’s another aspect this game does a good job with. Aside from having good artwork and pretty good music, this game also does a good job I its use of brief CG movies to show the events of the race. While admittedly the CG doesn’t go far beyond Playstation standards, their brief length and the fact that races are at night help to make it that these movies feel like a part of the game rather than sticking out like a sore thumb.

            Now in regards to the ero scenes, they’re okay. They’re well drawn, but way too short. Also I do have a problem with one feeling tacked on, but other than that, there’s nothing special about them.

In Conclusion:

Moero Downhill Night is a short but enjoyable eroge of the sadly rare racing genre. It’s unfortunate that the game’s shortness (I beat it in 5-6 hours and that was only because I was playing on and off) keeps it from adding any depth to the other heroines besides Michi and the relationship they form with Daichi and also means no diversity in terms of the car you race in. That aside, the racing scenarios are fun to play and admittedly Michi’s true end is a good enough conclusion. At a price of $19.99- $24.99 I’ll admit it’s a good buy, but only if you have money to spare since there are better eroge available for about that much if you don’t have them

Final Score: 6/10 Above Average

Author Recommendation: Try it out.

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