Kyonyuu Fantasy Gaiden 2 Review
Bet you weren’t expecting this to be the Halloween review, huh? Seeing as the latest game in the series releases in Japan today and Halloween is about monsters and this series has more than its share of monster heroines and characters I think it fits…plus after playing my fair share of dark themed eroge I need something light to lift my spirits for the upcoming holidays. Anyway, with this we wrap up the story of Ryuto Hende in Kyonyuu Fantasy Gaiden 2, released in Japan on October 25, 2013. There are lots of cases where game trilogies end on unsatisfying notes such as Xenosaga Episode 3 or Mass Effect 3 (which for the record I consider okay with all story DLC but not satisfying), but thankfully Gaiden 2 spares us this by being a near perfect capstone to this trilogy many of us have come to love.
Pros: Excellent story that leads to a satisfying conclusion, great new characters (the good aligned ones anyway), both returning and new characters get the right amount of spotlight, great artwork, good music, excellent voice acting.
Cons: Side route seems a little pointless, Selveria has a couple character moments that feel a little rushed, an odd glitch late in the game.
WTF?!: To any who still feel this isn’t fitting for Halloween, the zombies have something to say…
Set 5 years after the events of Kyonyuu Fantasy Gaiden, the story begins in the Kingdom of Hillsland, now sadly a shadow of its glorious days under the rule of King Ruin Demedium more than a century and a half ago. In the midst of the kingdom’s troubles with the kingdom of Fronce an amnesiac masked man with red hair washes up near a harbor. Unfortunately for him, upon entering town the masked man discovers too late that aside from memories he’s also lacking clothes and is quickly arrested by the authorities. Soon after his incarceration the man, taking the name Mask for lack of anything else , is given a chance at pardon (along with a group of imprisoned mermen pirates) in exchange for defeating a monster that has taken up residence in Boinbara’s castle. Meanwhile in the kingdom of Edellant, King Ryuto Hende has been apparently bedridden for nearly a month with none save the queens and his advisors having seen him since this sudden onset of illness…
Okay, before I continue let me give a warning to those allergic to even the most minor of spoilers, it is going to be impossible for me to discuss the game’s story without spoiling the “twist” to the previous story summary. I’d like to believe anyone old enough to play these games has developed enough genre savviness to call what it is, but since I am aware no one likes to be spoiled I have to do this. If you want to see everything for yourself then believe me when I say this game is really good and if you have any investment in this series you owe it to yourself to play it. Observe the spoiler warning pictures below and either go to another page or scroll on down and continue reading (please be more of the latter).
There’s no beating around the bush, yes it’s obvious that “Mask” is Ryuto with amnesia but the game is written with that in mind. The readers are expected to figure this out from the start as the real story at that point in the plot is what’s going to happen to our amnesiac hero in this new setting (for him anyway) with the mystery of how this even happened taking a back seat until later, but still there as can be seen when we switch to the POV of the returning characters from the previous two games. To those of you worried about this part of the story involving Ryuto getting amnesia, I can assure you as someone that generally hates that kind of storyline when applied to established characters that Gaiden 2 manages to do this trope in a good way. Aside from using it as a way to introduce new setting information to the player without a feeling of story contradiction as Ryuto normally would probably know this already, it’s also used as a way to introduce and establish most of the new characters, taking full advantage of Ryuto’s identity being unknown so these characters will treat him normally. More importantly though, the story does not use the missing memories as an excuse to have Ryuto act in any way out of character; at his core he’s still the good natured (if somewhat perverted) guy we’ve come to know and love throughout these three games. Of course this is all helped by the fact that this particular story arc is a good one for a start as it builds up to a surprisingly awesome climax that then leads into a satisfying conclusion…and then we move on to the main story.
I have to hand it to the writer of this series, he knew this game had to be special and delivered. The story makes good use of its built up alternate Europe setting not only by giving each kingdom its own identity but also in making it somehow scale story elements up in some ways. You get a good feel of Ryuto’s actions having an effect throughout the continent and at several points the fate of countries end up depending on it. It all culminates into a final conflict with an overall satisfying ending with an epilogue that wraps things up nicely. That said, Gaiden 2 also does well in its slower moments in between each major story event, using these periods not just for ero scenes but also to give the characters their moments, a significant improvement from the slow filler-ish moments of Gaiden.
Speaking of the characters, Gaiden 2 does nearly everything right with both the new and returning ones. Regarding the former all the new characters are given good introductions so that we can remember them and (all the good ones anyway) are given the right amount of plot significance that they feel like a natural and welcome addition to the cast. The only exception to this would be Rosalyn’s father who proves to be surprisingly forgettable even for a minor character in this series. That aside all the other new characters are properly fleshed out, the best examples being with our new heroines. In Rosalyn and Estoria’s respective story arcs they both center around each of them having to deal with the sudden responsibility of ruling a country and the game does a good job giving these arcs their own distinguishable events and pacing but also in showing how each heroine ends up developing both during and after the arcs. Selveria’s makes for an interesting tie in with the final conflict Ryuto and co. have to deal with and she does have an interesting backstory, though I have to say her arc is weakened a bit by it occurring so late in the game as there are some character moments of hers that feel a bit rushed. Of course continuing what’s now tradition with this series, Gaiden 2 gives personality all the way down to the unnamed characters as we not only get a group of merman pirates who are in their own distinct way as delightful as the gnolls from Kyonyuu Fantasy 2 but a group of almost as entertaining Hillsland soldiers who do double duty as pirates and one of the better subplots in this game is these two pirate groups learning to cooperate.
Naturally the returning characters are given the appropriate screen time as would be appropriate for the finale in this trilogy. Starting with our heroines, this time none of them feel like they’re stuck on the sidelines. Isis actually has an active role this time and has about as much plot and action contribution as Gladys does. Even our non-combat capable heroines are given opportunities to demonstrate their effectiveness in their respective roles from Neris’ significant improvement in magic since Gaiden to Emeralia, Roxanne and Ruseria’s respective roles in helping the kingdom run. Still the heroine to have it best storywise is, naturally, Shamshel as not only do we get heavy story involvement from her but we also get some really good character moments from her ranging from the comedic to some very believable dramatic ones, especially in the first arc of the game. It also helps that many of these moments work to better tie things in with KF2.
Of course the rest of the returning cast is handled well. Martel for instance not only has more story involvement than in the last game but also has a very good subplot focusing on the student-mentor relationship he has with Felzen. Even minor returning characters get either a somewhat important role or a fitting nod by the end of the game. Yes, even the Alphabet Assassins…
For all the praise I have for Gaiden 2, I will admit even it has a couple story related flaws. Aside from the aforementioned bit with Selveria, the most glaring would be in the side route this game has. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad, but it feels kind of pointless and this is the only area I feel the previous Gaiden did better. While there was one canon ending the other endings had interesting story bits and some good character moments too that felt like nice little accompaniments to the true ending. In this case it doesn’t really feel like there’s much to take away from the route as it never takes advantage of potentially interesting plot points. A good example is Ryuto has to deal with a different set of villains this time which ends up leading him into getting on better terms with the main villains of the true route, Enperador and his wizard Istorias. The problem is these two are given nothing to do in their roles in this route as even though they get involved in the story’s conflict; they pretty much just stand aside as Ryuto inevitably saves the day…and that’s it. It also doesn’t help that the villains for this route just come off as rehashes of the villains from Shamshel’s arc in the previous game, except nowhere near as effective. Add in that neither Rosalyn nor Selveria are in this route much and Estoria doesn't even make an appearance only serves to make the route feel even more non-canon. All in all not a bad route but the only justification I can find for its existence are its handful of ero scenes.
There is one problem Gaiden 2 has concerning its system and that comes in the form of a strange glitch that occurs in the game’s epilogue where after a specific ero scene occurs, the in game screen shakes for a period of time before eventually stopping.
In the area of presentation Gaiden 2 does as well as its predecessors with its artwork as good as ever, both character and CG. Though there is one kind of exception with the former as Enperador's character portrait holds the same strange pose throughout the entire game even when his expression changes.The music is also good though the best in the area of sound goes to the voice acting as all the VAs turn in great performances, especially Shamshel’s as can be best seen in the aforementioned dramatic scenes we see early in the game.
As for the ero scenes, they’re as good as ever and this time around have the benefit of being better included into the story unlike in the beginning of the first Gaiden. In an interesting change though, Gaiden 2’s creators don’t seem to have been afraid to give the story some time before getting the players to the ero scenes. Don’t worry, the scenes are there and as plentiful as ever plus this time no heroine gets the short end of scenes, you just have to wait a couple chapters.
Characters (only covering the new major characters):
Princess and sole heir to the kingdom of Hillsland. Friendly and outspoken, Rosalyn’s desire to help her declining country has led to her adopting the guise of a pirate with a crew of loyal soldiers to harass any potentially hostile foreign ships.
Princess and sole heir of the kingdom of Nordlant and a friend of Rosalyn’s. Having grown up praised and admired by many throughout Eurodia for her beauty has given this princess a high opinion of herself that makes things difficult for her father’s royal advisor, let alone any potential suitors. Despite this, she is aware of her own kingdom’s coming troubles as the impending death of her gravely ill father, the king, will mean trouble with the neighboring hostile kingdom of Ostacia.
Queen of the kingdom of Iberia and wife to its ruler Enperador. A full blood nymph, Selveria is also a renowned fighter and commands much of Iberia’s forces in their ongoing campaign against the nation of Sultana.
Enperador the Second:
Ruler of the kingdom of Iberia, Enperador is an ambitious man who intends to rule the entire continent of Eurodia. His ambitions are currently kept in check by his country’s long standing conflict with the kingdom of Sultana, though that doesn’t keep him from making moves to manipulate events in the other countries to his benefit.
Enperador’s most trusted advisor and an accomplished wizard, Istorias acts as his king’s right hand through the many soldiers and spies under his command and magic.
Kyonyuu Fantasy Gaiden 2 is not only an excellent entry into the series it is a more than worthy send off to the characters who started perhaps the best series to be found in the nukige genre of eroge. Its enjoyable story and equally enjoyable main characters returning and new make this a game anyone who has experienced the previous games and liked them owes themselves to see. My hat goes off to the creators of this series, they’ve made a story with heroes and heroines that gave at least me some positive inspiration and through that they’ve earned the highest score I’ve ever given to a nukige. May whatever new entries in this series continue to do the same.
Final Score: 9/10 Must Own
Author Recommendation: Buy it now.
Just a quick note, yes I am aware of the side stories for Emeralia and Estoria but unfortunately I haven’t played any of them since those, like a previous side story for Kyonyuu Fantasy 2, are kept completely exclusive to certain buyers of the game.
Well, that concludes this year’s Halloween reviews. A Happy Halloween to you all and here’s hoping we can do it again next year.