…first off, let me start by saying I had no idea what compelled me to start (and even finish) this game. Sure it has cute characters… but it also has an equal number of disturbingly creepy characters. All of them in the name of fanservice. This game was pure disappointment for me from start to finish, but I’ll save my rant for another post…
Hinomoto Tsukasa was one day told by his parents that he was adopted… and not only that, his real father was the president of a rich and influential corporate group, to which Tsukasa was the heir. Of course, that would mean that he’d need to be educated accordingly, so he was moved to attend a school on an island… which 12 other girls would also attend as his bride candidates. These girls would compete in a Marriage Royale, to determine whom among them would be Tsukasa’s future wife. Since of course, the heir to an influential group would need a befitting wife after all.
Ok, here’s the chara intro… if you want the proper character intro, go to Wikipedia. My intro is purely my own perception/understanding of what the characters are like.
- Daiba Minato: The token childhood friend who obviously liked Tsukasa since they were small but was too shy to say so. Awesome cook.
- Umeda Minami: Another childhood friend who moved away when she was young. She was Tsukasa’s first crush. Was the school idol with her friendly and helpful personality. Plays piano.
- Uwajima Iyo: Big sister character. Joined Marriage Royale to ‘protect Tsukasa’ from predatory girls (or so she said). Had a habit of wandering into her own imaginary world, which tended to be ecchi.
- Asakura Miyako: Your token tsundere. Hates to lose any competition/game. Sees Marriage Royale as a competition, and so doesn’t want to lose and continuously claims that this was her only motivation for not dropping out. Good at tennis.
- Hidaka Yakumo: Quiet bookworm who stated outright that the Marriage Royale was a bother. Knowledgeable and spends a lot of time in the library.
- Tenryu Ena: Joined Marriage Royale to be with her idol, Umeda Minami. …was under the impression that the goal of Marriage Royal was to marry Minami, not Tsukasa… very outspoken about her adoration for Minami and ‘rivalry’ with Tsukasa.
- Shinjou Otoha: Imouto chara. Somewhat of a younger sister figure to Tsukasa, and had always been in love with him since they were young. Very outspoken about her love for her onii-chan.
- Akita Komachi: Noble ojou-sama who was raised to be Tsukasa’s fiancee; not only she accepted this, it’s her dream to be his wife. Very soft-spoken and mild-mannered.
- Hamayu Ebino: Not-so-closet otaku chara. …often made comparisons between Tsukasa and the games she played, although she tried her best to hide her otaku habits.
- Sanjou Asahi: At first glance, seems like a very polite, soft-spoken young man. Rather lacking in her self-confidence as a girl. Good at painting.
- Saeki Sera: A shrinking violet who carries her teddy bear everywhere. Seems to be deathly afraid of men.
- Nago Uruma: A happy-go-lucky girl whose motivation to join Marriage Royale… was that so her siblings could eat well. Feels like a naive village girl.
- Miku & Miu: …because no harem game would be complete without maids. One is serious while the other is playful.
…throughout my gameplay, I found myself questioning, over and over again, why the hell was I playing this. …I think it was simply curiousity that carried me through until the end… that is, wanting to know if this game was anything other than full fanservice. Sadly my persistence wasn’t rewarded, as it turned out this game really was *all* fanservice. …in contrast though… since my copy of Demonbane is in the mail, I decided to start playing Princess Waltz to clear my backlog. …ever had that experience where you get to have something *good* right after you’ve had something *horrible*? Princess Waltz did exactly that for me. Whereas playing Marriage Royale was a chore I was reluctant to finish, everyday I couldn’t wait to get back home so I could continue playing Princess Waltz. …although lately that had been supplanted by another game, but anyways…
Anyways… the premise of the game is very simple, and the execution is (almost) equally simple. You’d have a short event, followed by a map where you can go talk to the girls. Every time the map selection happens, there will be 6 girls you can talk to, but you can only talk to 3 of them. Event, map, event, map, repeat. During events or when you go talk to the girls, there’s often answers you have to choose… the easiest way is to save, pick one and see if that would increase the target girl’s affection point. The game would show a small icon of the girl whose affection was raised. This way the game would determine which girls have the highest affection points… and you can press L anytime to see the rankings. This will sort of determine whose route you’ll be on…
Game flow: common route -> group route -> individual White route. The game apparently have something like White Route, Yellow Route, Red Route etc where White Route is the romance ending for 1 individual character. The other routes… no idea, I didn’t bother to try and I have no idea how to get it either. If I’m correct, one of them would be one where the girls become idols or something.
…does that sound easy? You bet your ass it wasn’t that easy. Note that I wrote down the girls’ names above using different colours. Girls with the same colour are in the same group. This is IMPORTANT. Let’s say your top 3 girls are Komachi, Ena and Miyako. It doesn’t matter if Komachi is ranked #1 in the affections list, or that you’ve been stalking Komachi non-stop, or that you’ve been avoiding raising anyone else’ affection points, when the group route comes along, the game will put you on Miyako-Yakumo-Ena group route, simply because you have 2 girls from that group among your top 3. I played without a guide so I didn’t know this… and wasted a good 2 hours on the common route before entering the wrong group route (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻
There’s also a mini-game that looks like a race… and you can choose to support 1 girl in the mini-game. If the girl wins with your support, her affection will be raised. At the start of the race, there’s a question, and each of the square circle x triangle button corresponds to an answer. Pick your answer, and that’s the button you need to repeatedly press to accelerate your girl. Bumping into another character or object will slow her down. There are stops along the way, at which another question will be asked. Again, select one of the buttons to answer, and that’s the button you need to hammer.
And… that’s it. Yes, there’s seiyuu and they sound excellent, yes, it’s cute, yes, there are different girls to suit everyone’s taste… but other than that, I’m struggling as to what else I can say about it. There’s hardly any plot, just massive overdose of innocent fanservice (I mean, you don’t even see panties…). And when you come to it… there’s even hardly any romance. And a close-up CG of the girl’s blushing face with closed eyes hardly counted as a kiss. When it’s the only thing that happens at the very end, it was… disappointing, at best. At the end… if you’re happy with just moe and cuteness, then you’ll be happy with this game. Otherwise, stay away. Far, far away.