Sunday, October 28, 2012

Import Games for Adults Halloween: Kansen 3 ~Shuto Houkai~


Kansen 3 ~Shuto Houkai~ Review
 

                Well, another October another Halloween, so it’s only fitting that for the first of this year’s reviews I offer my thoughts on the third game in the Kansen series. Those of you who have read my previous reviews know I enjoyed the first game and was greatly disappointed in its sequel. Ordinarily I would have been wary of trying the next game, but I’d received reliable assurances that this would be better than the second game and some of the fanbase even consider this to be the best of the entire series. While I still have two more games to go before I can decide the latter part I can say that this game is much better than the second one (I’d even say some elements of Kansen 3 are what the second game wanted to be) and it also manages to surpass the first game.

Pros: Well written and diverse story, likable and memorable characters, excellent artwork.

Cons: The true ending routes could have used a little more diversity in their story, those @%$#*&^ time limits!!, game bugs.

WTF?!: If you’re trying to do something secretly, I don’t think this is the best way for one of your associates to dress.


                Kansen 3 takes places four years after the events of the first two games; Japan seems to have recovered from the outbreak and the survivors are trying to move on with a normal life. However, a new strain of the infamous zombie virus has emerged and Wataru Ayase and his group of friends will be caught in the middle of the outbreak.

                The second Kansen game I will admit did try to be better than its predecessor, but it just didn’t have what it took to back up much of what it brought to the table. From what I’ve heard the game was still a hit in Japan but not as well received as its predecessor, and if that’s true Kansen 3 is pretty much proof that the creators listened to whatever criticisms they got as we get a far superior story and characters you actually want to read more about.

                From the start, Kansen 3’s story draws you in first with an interesting setup regarding the return of the zombie virus that helps in building suspense when the story moves on to the more peaceful part of the beginning concerning Wataru and his friends. The glimpses you see of what’s happening in the background really help with invoking a feeling of tension as you wonder just how much time is left for the normal life Wataru and co. are enjoying and once the virus hits just how bad is it going to be. Still, it’s from that beginning part that we start to see each way the game trumps its predecessor.

                To begin with, the game really does a good job in establishing the lives Wataru and co. are leading before the outbreak starts, introducing several characters who they know well and how they figure into their daily life. This helps in getting you to feel for the core cast as that life is shattered and it becomes apparent that there won’t be any way that those normal days will come back as so many of these people they know get infected no matter what. It also helps in keeping you in suspense at to what the fate of the Wataru and co. will be as they try evading the zombies, find shelter, and avoid getting infected themselves.

                This brings us to the next story element Kansen 3 does better than its predecessor’s: the setting. Unlike in the first two games where the city where the outbreak occurs is just there to be the location, Kansen 3 provides the player with a good look around the city at the start so as to show locations that will be important later (there’s even an in game map function for each area of the city you’re in, even if it serves little purpose). Seeing the city helps in establishing the chaos brought on by the outbreak since you’ve seen how things used to be just before along with strengthening the aforementioned loss of the characters’ normal everyday life as the game does a good job in conveying the attachment most of them feel to it as their hometown. Finally, the city setting gives the game a more open feel than its predecessors and it makes for an interesting opposite to the first game’s school setting and how isolated the characters in it were.  This is a change that makes sense considering that in the first game the isolation of the setting went along with how little both the characters and player knew about the virus while the openness of Kansen 3’s setting goes along with how both the characters and player know a lot more about the virus now.

                When it comes to characters, Kansen 3 does a great job and this is the main story element where I would say that we see either what the second game wanted to be or should have been. Like in the second game, we have a larger and more diverse cast of characters, but the creators this time made sure to make all of these characters likable and/or interesting (the one exception to that is also handled well in that they downgrade him to comic relief for a good portion of the game). Even the redshirts introduced at the beginning of the game are given just enough background and personality when it comes to how they relate to Wataru and co. that you actually feel bad when they get infected. The creators also make an interesting change from the previous games by having the Wataru be a more average and reserved person who develops into a more heroic role as the game goes on instead of being a proactive guy who leadership comes naturally to and required only minimal character development like Yasuyuki and Hiroshi. I’ll admit I was skeptical about this change at first, but it didn’t take too long for Wataru to grow on me and after seeing how well his character development fit into the plot and in advancing his relationship with the heroines of the game I’d say this is a good example of taking a chance with making a change that pays off.

                In the area of romance, I’d say that Kansen 3 does a little better than its predecessors (though I suppose you could say “a lot better” in comparison to the second game), having three romanceable heroines this time with each of them having a good story to their route. The game does give a good set up for each heroine to have a relationship with Wataru by the game’s conclusion and their route’s stories do a good job presenting and developing their characters. Kansen 3 also takes a step forward from the first game by doing something few eroge are willing to do, have a subpairing where one of the MC’s friends and a nonromanceable heroine form a relationship over the course of the game. That particular subplot makes for a good story, though I do think one part kind of falls back on a cliché. As for which of the routes I like the best, that’s a bit of a difficult choice since all three routes are well written and each heroine so likable. If I had to narrow it down, it would be a tie between Ren and Margarita for which I like best. While I really like Yuuho’s route, in fact the way the overall game’s story is written kind of favors her, the route has two problems for me. First, some of the melodrama in her route is pretty eye roll inducing (though to be fair most of that is on Wataru than Yuuho), and second, while not as much as Alice in the second game, Yuuho also has moments where she comes off as a clone of Yu from the first game from some initial aspects of her character. Now while the game’s writer takes steps to fix that as the game goes on, you can’t help but wish that the writers of the Kansen series would make a different main heroine.

                With all this praise I’m giving, I’m afraid that I now have to point out the one glaring flaw that this game has in the area of story: very little plot diversity in the true end route.  Don’t get me wrong though, except for that there is still plot diversity as early on there are branching points that lead to a shorter more bittersweet route for Yuuho and Ren individually which are definitely worth reading. Also the true end route makes for a good and satisfying conclusion. It’s just that with the true end route for some reason you only get a few unique scenes late in the route that corresponds to the heroine you have Wataru romance but it doesn’t really affect the main story at all. Even the epilogue is the same and you don’t get even a unique CG for the heroine of the route.

                Now let’s talk about the system for this game as I’m afraid this is where it really got a strike against it. For starters, Kansen 3 is plagued with bugs; mainly the kind that cause the game to crash. The main three I encountered were as follows: if you click the game window too soon after you start the game will crash instead of skipping to the start menu, sometimes if you’re playing the game and decide to load a previous save like if you made the wrong choice and want to correct a mistake the game will crash, and sometimes while you’re skipping through previously read text the game will crash. Fortunately, the first one is avoidable and the other two don’t happen too often, but the worst of the bugs I encountered was one that caused the choices at a certain point of one of the routes to not appear, leaving the screen empty and the game practically frozen. Fortunately there is a patch that fixed that (but sadly not the crashing bugs), but applying it erased all of my save files and I had to start over.  
                The second problem I have with this game’s system is the return of the timed choices, and this is one area where I can say Kansen 2 did better in. While they were annoying in Kansen 2, at least there was a continue option that came up after the bad/dead end finished that took you right back to just before the timed choice. The creators of Kansen 3 for some reason decided to remove that, so if you haven’t saved for a while and the timed choice comes up, you’d better hope you pick the right choice within that three second time limit or be prepared to retread your steps.  Now if anyone’s going to say anything like this makes the game more difficult or challenging, maybe but it’s not the good kind of difficult or challenging that leaves you with a sense of satisfaction at overcoming it like a boss fight or enemy rush but rather the aggravating kind of difficult like quick time events that either kill your character instantly if you get it wrong or prevent you from killing a boss.  My advice to any who play this game is save often and if you have a walkthrough handy make sure it indicates when timed choices are coming up.

                In the area of presentation, Kansen 3 does excellently with artwork and music far superior to the previous two games. The voice actresses all do a great job in their respective roles too. Speaking of which, I do wish that the Kansen series would start voicing its male characters; I mean it’s an established series now with all but the fourth game receiving an anime OVA adaption so you’d think by now they’d at least give voices to the major male characters.

                As for the ero scenes, they’re all really good be it the romance scenes or the zombie related ones (assuming you’re a fan of the darker sort of ero scenes).  

Character Profiles:

Wataru Ayase
An ordinary school student whose hobby is stargazing, Wataru is an all around good natured and reliable fellow well liked by his friends. The events of  the outbreak four years ago have given him an appreciation of the peaceful life shared with his friends and family.


Yuuho Kannagi
Wataru’s childhood friend and classmate. As a result of her looks, good grades and excelling at swimming, Yuuho is very popular at school. Unbeknownst to her, Wataru has a crush on her but has not worked up the courage to confess.


Ren Ayase
Wataru’s stepsister and another part of his circle of friends despite an illness that frequently keeps her at home. A modest and quiet girl, Ren has developed a talent for playing the violin which she inherited from her late mother and it’s one of her most treasured possessions. Harbors a secret crush for Wataru as he frequently took care of her while they were growing up.


Margarita Vasquez Homura
The daughter of one of the embassy staff of a South American nation* and a recent transfer student to Wataru and co.’s school. Is part Japanese on her mother’s side and even briefly lived in Japan as a child, and part of the reason for her transfer is to relive a part of those memories. Practices martial arts as a hobby.


Mizuki Kugayama
Childhood friend of Yuuho and Wataru, Mizuki had dreams of becoming a singer and had also begun going out with Kousuke before suddenly disappearing without any word for years. Has recently reappeared in town working for Jin and his gang.


Kousuke Sai
Wataru’s best friend and Mizuki’s boyfriend up until her sudden disappearance. While a good and reliable friend, can be a bit of a hothead.


Jin Magatsu
High ranking member of a yakuza gang, Jin has been given the task of secretly transporting a girl who may have some connection to the viral outbreak four years ago.


Shigeyoshi
Jin’s main subordinate. A crude and perverse man, Shigeyoshi is mainly kept in line by his fear of Jin.

 
Tadahiko
A high ranking member of the local yakuza gang (different one from Jin’s), Tadahiko is a well respected member of the community and has known Wataru and co. for years. Both Wataru and Kousuke look up to him.

 

In Conclusion:

Kansen 3 is a true return to form for the series, improving on almost every aspect of the first game that made it so good including story, characters, and artwork. While it isn’t without its flaws in the area of story and system, most of the latter problems can be fixed or easily worked around. I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the first game (and parts of the second) or even if you want to experience a zombie game that isn’t just about killing zombies and enduring QTEs as Kansen 3 makes for a decent entry point to the series (though fair warning, you will miss out on a big reference to the first game).

Final Score: 8/10 Awesome

Author Recommendation: Buy it now.

                As for the anime OVA, I’d say that the first episode is an okay adaptation of Yuuho’s true end route. It has problems though such as skipping over the beginning of the game and taking odd liberties with the original story such as killing off two characters that don’t die in the game. The second episode is an odd combination of one of Yuuho’s bad endings and Maragarita’s bad ending. Don’t really know what to say about that one.

*On a side note, there's an odd writing flub where Maragarita, who's native tongue is probably supposed to be Spanish considering her nationality, reverts to speaking English at certain points like it's her native tongue. Sadly I couldn't provide any images since those only happen in her ero scenes.

10 comments:

  1. I've got a walkthrough but I'm stuck with Ren's route. I don't know how to unlock her True End.

    ReplyDelete
  2. http://www5e.biglobe.ne.jp/~poko2/kouryaku/cap.infection3.html

    I can get her bad end but I'm doing something wrong when I try to get her true end. I think the problem is when I load save 3. These two options don't appear 一応、見て回る
    上に見に行く

    I try but I end up with this one 聞きに行く

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ok, I finished the game. Just one thing. Memories 3-3 and gallery 6-4,I don't know where they are but I don't mind, I've finished all the routes and I hope someone translates this game into english so I can understand more, specially Maruko route. I know she speaks about her past and she mentions her mother but I couldn't understand much more than that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Feel free to be another voice (like me) begging Mangagamer for this series' localization:
      http://forums.mangagamer.org/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11

      Delete
    2. Excuse me for this but I have a doubt, I can't register there. I don't know the answer of the '00000' question....if you can help me I'd appreciate it and I'd post my message right away.

      Delete
  4. Hello BookwormOtaku. I've been trying to join Mangagamer but I get stuck in 'This is the forums for OOOOOGamer.com. What goes inside OOOOO?' I have no idea what's the answer of that question, if you can tell me that I'd be really happy, I want to post messages there and see if it's possible for them to translate any Kansen game into english.

    One more thing. Marie says ''Hello. Is there somebody?' when the gang leaves the sewers for the first time and they go into the streets. The moment it's right before when she and Ayase split up together to investigate and Yuho and Ren go to a different place, then there is a time choice and if you fail it there is a bad end there with the girl with the short green hair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You post Manga.

      Not sure what you're trying to ask regarding the time choice. Do you want to know which option to pick before the time runs out?

      Delete
    2. No, it's ok. I just stated the mistake regarding which language should be using Marie, that's all. I've finished the game at 100% thanks to the patch, because the game crashed when I was trying to get Ren and Yuuho true routes. What I want to know is the stupid answer to that question that Mangagamer asks you to register, the stupid 'what goes inside OOOOO?' question. I think in the next days I'm going to start Kansen 4, let's see how it is. Above all, Kansen 3 is my favourite.

      Delete
  5. BookwormOtaku I want to ask you something. When I'm playing Margarita route, after they sleep together, there is a moment she leaves the team or something. I don't know why that happens and I have no clue because I barely know afew words in japanese. Could you explain to me a bit? Thank you.

    Pd:Sorry if I've double posted.

    ReplyDelete