Saturday, October 27, 2012

Import Games for Adults: Last Waltz

Last Waltz Review

            I’ll admit that despite the fact that they are almost always inferior abridged version of the games that they’re based on, OVA adaptations of eroge can get me interested in seeing the main game and Last Waltz (released November 27, 2009 in Japan) was one of those. Despite the fact that it was released by Guilty, a company whose works have been pretty subpar in my book and the fact that the game had all the warning signs for a bad eroge that I’ve learned to look for, the idea of a Lord of the Flies-esque scenario sounded like a good story and since I’d heard there was a final good/happy ending, I decided to give this game a try. The result…this is one of the cases where I felt not only the 10 hours it took to complete it (it certainly felt a lot longer than that) but also the impact importing the game has on my wallet and the sadness of knowing that I can neither return nor sell this game.


Pros: Interesting story concept and start, our main characters are interesting at the beginning, artwork is decent.

Cons: Choices barely matter in the game, endings that don’t make sense, more interesting story elements are not explored, true ending is way too convenient.

WTF?!: Why does one of the students look like he’s at least 30?

            Last Waltz is set on an unnamed island somewhere in the Pacific that a Japanese school has leased from a foreign government to use as a summer camp for its clubs. Unfortunately, as we’re explained to by our main character Yuki, a civil war begins in the country that the island belongs to and the teachers, students, and staff are completely cut off from the outside world. Most of the teachers and staff take the only boat so as to try and make contact with the outside, but the boat soon disappears for days until finally it washes back ashore, wrecked, along with an unidentifiable corpse that could very well be one of the teachers or staff. Trapped on the island with no way of calling for help, supplies dwindling, and the strong possibility of a hostile force close by, Yuki and her friends try to maintain a semblance of order amongst the students, but it proves to be in vain as the fear and isolation take hold.

            From that summary, you’d think this has a potential to be a good game and as someone who was suckered in, I can understand why. To be fair, though, this game does have a good start. The characters introduced are for the most part interesting, they each have a unique personality, and how they relate to Yuki and vice versa along with dealing with what at first is just waiting for the teachers to come back with what they hope is good news is all fairly believable. Also when things start to fall apart upon the aforementioned reveal, the story does do a good job in showing Yuki and co.’s efforts to keep things under control and the growing hopelessness as it becomes apparent that they’re only delaying the inevitable as the students become even harder to deal with and some of the club leaders are even looking to take advantage of this. These are the best moments in the game as we get several scenes that show the growing sentiment of “anything goes” in regards to survival amongst the students not only in that particular characters attitude but also in how the majority of the student populace doesn’t seem bothered by this revelation. If the story had continued in its showing the gradual moral degradation of the majority of the students on the island, this game would have at least been more interesting story-wise.

Another example of a good story element that we’re presented with in the beginning comes in the form of one of the characters, Yoshiyuki Tada. If you scroll down and take a look at his character profile you’ll notice that he’s the least attractive looking of the male characters, and in games like this one a don’t usually portray fat characters, especially ones who like anime, in a positive light. Thankfully in this game, Yoshiyuki’s a welcome exception in that he’s portrayed as a good natured, smart, and reliable character (except for one case which I’ll explain later) who throughout the course of the game does his best to keep his circle of friends safe from the growing disorder. They also have a romance form between him and Hinako, which is very well started and could have stood to have been a more prominent a story element in the game.

            Having told you all this, I’m afraid after that high pointed start, it’s all downhill from there. After a surprisingly well written story setup, the game’s story devolves into a sequence of one rape scene after another with little in the way of story in between. While one could argue that this is for showing just how far the students have degenerated morally, that argument doesn’t have much to stand on considering that we don’t see the students do anything else aside from that to show the degeneration of moral values among them. There aren’t any conflicts of any sort between the three major clubs when it comes to things like authority or food, nor is there any delving into the psyche behind the growing madness of the students such as what other affects this isolation is having on them. For instance, in Lord of the Flies some of the kids were starting to forget things from home such as their address or phone number and not only did the story show that forgetting those things was painful to them but it also gave credence to their eventual downfall into savagery since that could be seen as a start to things from home that they’d forget.

            Now I realize this may look like I’m being a bit unfair, bringing up a classic novel twice, and let me make something clear: I did not and never did expect it to measure to that, it’s just that it has a similar concept that got me interested and the part I just mentioned was a potentially interesting plot device that could have been used in the story. Actually that’s one of the major problems with this game’s story, it fails to take advantage of some of the more interesting story elements presented. For example (besides the aforementioned bit with Yoshiyuki and Hinako), they make it clear from the beginning that Miyako is in love with one of our heroes, Shinichirou, who our main character Yuki also is in love with. At first it seems like Miyako’s case is really just physical attraction, but a scene between her and Yuki does a good job in showing her feelings are genuine and she actually has a more mature view on how she feels than Yuki does. Sadly this only happens in one of the routes and never figures into the plot of any of the others, not even the good ending route. It might not bother me if the other routes had some purpose aside from showing ero scenes, which brings me to another problem with this game’s story: the so called plot diversity.

            Shortly after what I consider the good part of this game, you’re presented with a few instances of choices in which Yuki decides in a meeting which clubs do what in regards to helping the students survive. Whichever club Yuki favors in these choices obviously gets more power amongst the students, and this could have been an interesting way of diversifying the plot by showing different ways in which the ruling club takes charge of the students. Sadly all this does is determine which club will be doing all the rape scenes in the route and that is all, so the only time your choice really matters is if you follow things to the choice that determines if you get the good ending or not. This makes for a very poor illusion of plot diversity made worse by the fact that these other routes have instances where they make no sense in context with the other routes. The worst case is in one route where Yoshiyuki’s club becomes the dominant club and Yoshiyuki suddenly turns evil. Why? Because apparently he’s secretly had a thing for Yuki and wants her for himself even though every other route has shown he’s in love with Hinako and, oh yeah, is a good guy!

            Now with all that, you’re probably wondering how the good ending is. To be honest it’s okay, but it suffers from feeling a bit rushed and one single instance of plot convenience to get everyone rescued that not even the strongest suspension of disbelief could handle. Want to know what it is? Highlight this spoiler: There’s a broken radio in storage that one of the characters conveniently knows how to fix so they can call for help.

            In the area of presentation, this game is alright with the artwork being decent so that the characters look alright (with one exception). The music was okay but there wasn’t any particularly memorable piece.

            As for the ero scenes in this game, they’re okay, but because they’re almost always clustered together with little happening in between each scene you quickly get bored with them.


Characters (click here for the male character profiles and warning NSFW content):

Yuki Mochizuki:

Manager of the school’s baseball team, Yuki has had a love for the sport since childhood thanks to her parents’ influence. Due to her experience as a student leader, Yuki ends up taking a major position in helping to keep things under control with the departure of most of the faculty. Sadly this responsibility is confounded by not only the growing unruliness of the students but also her feelings towards childhood friend, and baseball team captain, Shinichiro.

Maya Kenjo:

Manager of the rugby team, Maya is well known for her haughty attitude and tendency to look down on almost anyone she meets. This attitude has gotten her into trouble at school, so she’s taken the manager job in order to avoid potential expulsion. However, due to her being close to graduating, she tends to shirk these duties and pass  them onto the team’s assistant manager, Hinako.

Hinako Hino:

Acting manager for the rugby team ad Yuki’s best friend, Hinako is well known for her cheerful and friendly personality, despite Maya’s tendency to push all the work onto her. Her interest in rugby comes from her older brothers having played it. Another interest that rubbed off onto her was a liking for anime and manga, which has lead her to starting a friendship with Yoshiyuki as they frequently talk about it.

Miyako Karasuma:

The only teacher left on the island, Miyako puts up a strong front as a confident teacher, but is surprisingly mentally fragile underneath. As a result she doesn’t interact well with most students outside of class, with Shinichiro being one of the few exceptions as she has hidden feelings for him.

Cynthia Saguritto:

A member of the housekeeping staff, Cynthia has proven to be a reliable help in the current crisis for Yuki and co. Has been studying Japanese in preparation for working there, is currently taking her current job so as to cover travel expenses, but still has yet to master the language as she does get a word wrong from time to time.

Shinichiro Hatsushiba:

 A childhood friend of Yuki’s and captain of the baseball team. Is a pretty friendly and proactive fellow, but tends to act before he thinks.

Tetsuhiro Mizobe:

Captain of the rugby team, Tetsuhiro is the most senior member of the team and is practically its de facto leader. While an accomplished athlete, he tends to have a rather brutish attitude and has no problem using his strength to get what he wants.

Naoya Koga:

Head of the survival game club, Naoya can be described as very dedicated to the club activities and has a liking for guns. Has attended the previous year’s camp so he knows the island very well. While he exudes a calm and calculating personality, Naoya has a tendency to hold a grudge and will take the earliest opportunity to avenge an insult to his pride.

Yoshiyuki Tada:

Head of the animation research club and another of Yuki’s childhood friends. While he initially comes off as a light hearted fellow who enjoys a good joke, Yoshiyuki actually does have a strong sense of responsibility concerning his friends. Gets along very well with Hinako as she shares his love of anime and manga.


In Conclusion:

            Last Waltz is a game that has a very interesting story concept and several good premises that the writers simply failed to take advantage of. The good start and a few scenes that hint at possible character depth are squandered by the game favoring appealing to the lowest common denominator with one ero scene after another with often very little if any story in between and also by its lazy handling of story for some of the routes by inserting plot elements that make no sense. This is by far not worth the money to buy; it’s not even worth the cost of shipment for importing this waste of time.

Final Score: 3/10 Terrible

Author Recommendation: Avoid it.

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