Sunday, June 23, 2013

Games for Adults: Orion Heart

Orion Heart Review

                Well, what do you know? Another review up in such short a time…and, that’s mainly because the game I’m about to talk about is pretty short. I present to you Orion Heart, originally released in Japan by Portion a sub-branch of Liquid, and released in English by Mangagamer on May 24, 2013.

Pros: Good character artwork by Hokuto Saeki, voice acting is good, music has some nice tracks.

Cons: Story is weak even for a dark sex romp.

WTF?!: Sorry, this is only in the light novel.

                When it comes to story, there really isn’t much to talk about. This is your standard story of a demon taking sweet tentacle filled revenge on the magical girls that wronged him prevalent in hentai OVAs and dime a dozen dark sex romp games everywhere. If you don’t like this kind of stuff, this game certainly isn’t going to change your mind. Having said that, I have to say that even for this kind of sex romp eroge Orion Heart is pretty weak in the story area, and I know how that sounds given I just said this genre doesn’t have much story to talk about but I’ll explain.

While almost every game in the dark sex romp genre of eroge lack a story to write home about, the good ones at least establish the right context for the upcoming string of ero scenes at the start. Games like Black Lilith’s Taimanin series or Liquid’s own Conquering the Queen (original Japanese name “Mashou no Nie”) had a good setup at the start so we got a good feel for who the heroines were and how badass they were. For those who favor this genre of eroge this setup helps to make the ero scenes all the more satisfying in the way the heroines fall to the villains. Orion Heart only provides hints about the battle the two heroines had with the demon Gildart, with so little explanation I wondered if maybe MG had licensed a sequel to another eroge by mistake. Thanks to someone asking on MG’s forums, I found out that all the backstory hinted at is all told in a light novel released as a promotion for this game’s original Japanese release. Whether or not the light novel would have made for a better game I don’t know (but the pictures in the light novel sure make me wonder), but the lack of backstory really only serves to help make this game get lost in the endless sea of other eroge of its kind.

                While Orion Heart is weak in the area of story, Portion thankfully spared no expense when it comes to the game’s presentation. The character artwork is done by none other than Hokuto Saeki who has done artwork for many well known top tier eroge such as Rui wa Tomo wo Yobu (check out the OP here), Comyu (OP here), and the much desired Shin Koihime Musou (OP here). The background music is also nice with a relaxing yet catchy background in the beginning to some really nice piano music that does a good job in setting the atmosphere of later scenes.  The voice acting is also really good with the main heroine Yuka being voiced by Miya Serizono who many of you may recognize as Rin Rin from Koihime Musou and/or Sakura from Edelweiss, and while this role doesn’t give her much chance to stretch her acting chops her performance is still really good, almost enough to make you forget about the mediocre story.

                As for the ero scenes, they’re pretty much what you’d expect for this genre, though I can say they’re really helped by the aforementioned good artwork and voice acting.

In Conclusion:

                Orion Heart is at the end of the day a short (it took me about three hours to clear) average tentacle eroge. The bizarre decision by its creators to relegate the more interesting sounding story of the girls’ conflict with its villain to a light novel tie in would have in any other case sunk this game, but the good art, music, and voice acting manage to save it from being a bad game, but not enough to make it anything special. If you like this genre then this game is certainly for you, but only if you think it’s worth your $25.00.

Final Score: 5/10 Average

Author Recommendation: For Fans Only!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Games for Adults: Super Secret Sexy Spy

Super Secret Sexy Spy Review

                Of the three initial softhouse-seal titles to come out from Mangagamer, this is the one I was the most optimistic about. Having watched my share of spoofs of the spy genre from Get Smart to the Naked Gun series to Austin Powers, I was looking forward to what jokes softhouse-seal had to tell to match the ero content, so on its release date of April 23, 2013 I began my playthrough with high hopes. I mean how on earth could anyone screw up spoofing the spy genre? Years of spoof movies and shows can show it’s as easy to make fun of as…you already know where this is going don’t you?

Pros: The Lestie/Maimi route is actually good, Nana’s VA turns in a good performance, the artwork is good, a couple nice tunes on the music end.

Cons: Largely fails at telling jokes let alone spoofing the spy genre, for the most part the main character is unlikable, the Kusakabe sisters’ routes.

WTF?!: You know what, just take a look at the basis for this game in picture form…

                Continuing from that, you play as Iiyama Hunt, the top agent for said organization, and their goal of bringing pleasure to all women is opposed by an organization known as…you know what I’m going to need to show another picture…

                Now I’m sure after seeing what the premise for this game is, some of you might say in response to my soon to come criticisms on this game’s failings that I should have expected this. To that I say…you’re probably right, but in my defense both of the previous releases from softhouse-seal have stupid premises but both were able to use that well for comedic effect in their games (admittedly Sexy Demon Transformation did it a lot better than Boob Wars) so why shouldn’t I expect the same level of quality?

                By and large what makes SSSS fail is it’s just not good at telling jokes or spoofing the spy genre. The majority of the jokes just aren’t funny, and most of them are more focused on sex related jokes rather than ones parodying tropes from spy movies or shows (and anyone who’s at least seen the James Bond movies knows those jokes don’t have to be mutually exclusive). The humor isn’t helped any by the fact that our “hero” Hunt is not a very likable character, not only having all the characteristics that often make a perverted protagonist annoying but also coming across as a complete ass in regards to his interaction with the other characters.  All these failings are most apparent in the Kusakabe sisters’ routes, which are so terrible I have to give it its own paragraph.

                With this route (I’m only going to refer to it as a single route since the plot divergence is at the end anyway), everything that is wrong with this game is brought to the max. There is only one joke that gets even close to being funny wherein out hero defuses a dildo bomb, mainly because that’s the only spy genre related joke in the entire route (and one or two throwaway line references don’t count). The rest are simply unfunny regardless of whether they make sense or not from some odd references to the Vietnam War (which I guess is because that’s when the spy genre was in the height of its popularity) to an analogy of a character and curry that I still can’t make any sense out of. Moving on to our main character…while his behavior for most of the game is groan worthy with his acting like a jerk because the writers thought it would be funny, it’s in this route where he’s at his worst. It’s not just that he has no chemistry with either heroine, it’s that he seems to have no positive regard for them at all. The best example would be with how after he first meets one of said heroines, Ruri, and finds out about a certain mental problem she has his only thought is “I don’t have time to deal with this space case”. If that’s meant to be a joke it’s not funny and to be honest kind of offensive, but it’s not like this is a one off joke I can let slide since later on near the end of the route when said affliction is brought to a head in a scene that’s trying to be dramatic (and not doing very well at it) and Hunt is turned to in order to help do you want to know what the response is from our “hero”? He not only refuses to help, but also complains and tries to deflect the responsibility to someone else.  The fact that the route still leads to a good end for this guy that I’m supposed to appreciate and then ends on what’s practically an “f--- you” to the player really had me steamed when the credits rolled and I had to stop playing right there and I did not even want to touch this game for weeks, I was that pissed.

                When I did finally muster up enough endurance to play this game again, I’ll admit I played the Lestie/Maimi route first, but I’d like to talk about the Nana route first to get it out of the way. I can say that both of these routes are thankfully not as infuriatingly terrible as the Kusakabe sisters’ and they both actually manage to tell jokes that are related to the spy genre. The thing with Nana’s route though…even succeeding at that, her route isn’t very good. While part of the problem is that the ending is pretty bland and there’s not much in the way of chemistry between her and Hunt (which is still better than none unlike…that other route), another problem I have with it is how mean spirited the humor gets in regards to the enemy organization. I can understand why it’s there since this game came out in 2010 in Japan and that was when the whole Rapelay controversy was in full swing and we had a bunch of people claiming to represent feminist groups (should note, actual feminists that I talked to pretty much said these were just idiots who wanted to be on TV) raising a fuss over hentai in general and were calling for the Japanese government to ban it entirely, or for the UN to impose sanctions on Japan until it did so, or for fictional characters to be given human rights, and other  ridiculous stuff. All in all it got blown out of proportion because some Japanese politicians actually listened to that and while cooler (and smarter) heads prevailed during that time this whole controversy was picked up by the denizens of 4chan and 2chan and I don’t think I need to explain what happened next. Basically the humor in this route is obviously supposed to be directed at the bunch who raised the fuss about Rapelay (which I’m not going to review since it’s a third rate chikan eroge that I found boring), and whether or not the writers bought into the “feminazi” stereotype the controversy sadly helped to reinforce, it probably portrayed feminists (to them) as people who wanted to destroy their livelihood and I doubt anyone would take kindly to that. …And I’ve been talking more about an old controversy than the route in question…so yeah, Nana route: better than the Kusakabe sister’s but still not very good, especially in the humor department. Moving on…

                Finally we get to the Lestie/Maimi route, which I did not have very high hopes for since I’d just completed the Kusakabe sisters’ route but much to my surprise this route was actually good. While I admit the Maimi ending is kind of bland, the overall route path works for a few reasons. First, it does a pretty good parody of “the spy’s organization going too far and said spy goes renegade’ story trope complete with a pretty wacky chase scene, plus following into the Lestie end we get a decent parody of the bizarre gadget trope of the genre too. Second, following the former trope actually helps to make Hunt a likable character for once considering in this case he’s actually doing something genuinely good for another person (in this case Maimi) and we the players actually get to sympathize with him a little. Third, we actually get some decent character moments between not just Hunt and the heroines (finally some chemistry, especially concerning Lestie), but with the friendship between Maimi and Lestie that gives the story a little heart and even bits of character development on Lestie’s end (though I do admit the route could have stood to have more of that). So all in all I can say that at least with this route my money wasn’t entirely wasted.

                In the area of presentation, this game does well enough. The artwork is good and there are a couple of good tunes with its music, especially in its opening theme which does a nice mimic of the James Bond music at times. The voice acting is also good, and I should mention that whoever the voice actress is for Nana, she does an especially good job pulling off the comedic scenes she’s in. There’s just something in the way she pulls off the line that would make a normally lame scene funny. Sadly even her talents can’t save this game.

                As for the ero scenes, they’re good as ero scenes go with good artwork and voice acting. I think I’ve already said enough about the scenes in between most of them.


In Conclusion:

                Super Secret Sexy Spy is a largely unfunny comedy that I would not recommend to anyone. While there is one good route and the voice acting is good, it’s still not enough to save it as we have two other routes that just plain suck. Buy anything else in Mangagamer’s library, but not this, and if you want a good spy genre parody watch any of the three things I mentioned up in the intro or Linkara’s S.C.I. Spy reviews (click here for the first one).

Final Score: 3/10 Terrible

Author Recommendation:  Devil SPAWN!