I haven’t posted on here for a week but I have a good reason sort of; Among other things I have been playing Peach Princess‘s newest translated visual novel Princess Waltz. If I had to summarize Princess Waltz in one sentence it would be a bishoujo version of Fate/stay night’s basic premise coupled with Nanoha-styled fight sequences played out using a card game. With such a strange combination of elements mashed up into one title I pretty much had no choice but to play it.
The story follows Fukamori Arata, a regular boy living out a normal everyday life with his mother and sister and a cute childhood friend until one day a new student transfers in. This good-looking newcomer named Chris Northfield gives off a refined air and soon becomes popular among both female and male classmates. Arata literally bumps into Chris early on and after a short scuffle finds a ring that Chris dropped and puts it on.
Partly compelled by the ring, Arata finds Chris on the roof of the school with sword in hand fighting a wolf-like creature dubbed a “Guardener.” Chris is barely able to defeat the Guardener but in no time another stronger one appears preventing their escape from the “Garden.” Arata attempts to stop this Guardener but instead is brushed away with ease. Chris grabs Arata’s hand when something weird happens; the rings on their hands react and the two boys combine…into a beautiful women. As the Princess of the Sword, Iris, the two are easily able to defeat the Gaurdener. From this point forward, Arata finds himself entangled with Chris in the titular “Princess Waltz.”
It turns out that Chris is actually the Prince of Seven Central located in an alternative world called Eldhiland. A thousand years a ago a hero and six princesses stopped a war between their respective nations and formed what is now Eldhiland. When it is time for the ascension of a new emperor in Seven Central to rule over the rest of Eldhiland, six Princesses from the six other nations armed with combat armor called “Dresses” fight in a dangerously simple ceremony called the Princess Waltz. The Princesses fight each other one-on-one until there is only one left to claim the title of the Prince’s bride.
During fight sequences, you get the chance to participate via a simple card game that is representational of the battles played out by the Princesses and Guardeners. At the beginning the player draws five numbered cards from three types distinguished by the colors red, green and blue. Red beats blue, blue beats green and green beats red or as Citrus put it, it’s like the basic grass/fire/water relationship in Pokemon except in reverse. During the first phase you put down up to 4 cards and the player with the highest number count gets to act. In the second phase, you either attack or defend depending on the results of the first phase. It follows the same pattern as before except that if the attacker has a greater hand, then she inflicts damage on her opponent. If the defender has a number equal to or higher than the attacker than no damage is incurred. After this round, the players replenish their five cards and these two phases are repeated until someone runs out of HP.
Skipping some details this is how all card battles unfold. After each battle the player gets experience points used to increase stats or to purchase special effect cards that do things like doubling attack power for a turn or increasing hand size to six cards for a round. These special cards inject some complexity into combat but at its core the card game remains rather simple but not in a bad way. Princess Waltz in no way tries to make the card battles central to the game but rather uses it to make the player feel like they are actually participating in the battle and to break up the story sequences.
Princess Waltz sports fantastic visuals but the most impressive aspects are the special effects. The event and character images by themselves are well-done but Pulltop graciously went out of the way to also add image and sound effects to the static images whenever possible to add much needed energy and excitement to the story. The music also does a decent job to keep the mood in line with the story but it is not quite up to par with the visuals; much of the music will most likely not leave a long term impression after finishing the game though they do well enough while playing. The game is entirely voiced with the exception of Arata and all the characters for the most part sound like they should. Pigeon annoys me though while Lun Lun and Liesel are love.
There are of course H scenes but they are relatively sparse and a majority only occur at the very end of the story with each Princess getting one while Chris gets two. Though I am not against not safe for work content, I try to keep it to a minimum here if possible so I’ll skip talking about the H in much detail. All the visuals are uncensored and the scenes themselves are rather lengthy. Did I mention you get to take all the princesses’ chastity?
The actual story itself is solid though I won’t say it can compete with the likes of CLANNAD, Umineko or Ever17. As long as you don’t come in expecting something as grand as Fate/stay night, then it is an enjoyable read. The story is almost entirely linear with most player input coming from the card sequences and a few decision points at the very end of the game which is not necessarily bad. It lets players new to the genre acclimate themselves to the medium and makes unlocking all the Event CGs and scenes very quick and easy. However it is also partially responsible for the main reason I have to complain about the story. They way they were presented, I genuinely was interested in many of the Princesses especially Lun Lun, Liesel and Suzushiro (which I’ll outline in just a bit) but due to the lack of decision points and thus personal time with each Princess, there isn’t as much characterization as i would have liked. I know the plot focuses on Arata and Chris’s relationship but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
*Skip to the last paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers*
Lun Lun was the first Princess to strike a chord with me. She has two distinct sides to her personality which I absolutely love. At one end she has a silly playful side who still holds the childish notion of one day marrying a prince with no particular reason why. Yet Lun Lun is also the oldest of the Princesses with the most combat experience giving her a sense of dependability. When she meets and begins interacting with Arata though, she starts to question her blind devotion to Chris. This dilemma climaxes during her battle with Angela and it is then when she realizes that she may be in love with Arata. Despite ultimately losing, she summons the strength to fight by thinking about Arata which I really enjoyed. Honestly Lun Lun end should be true end.
Unlike Lun Lun, it took me some time to warm up to Suzushiro. At first she seemed rather plain and I didn’t feel strongly either way and at sometimes actually disliking her somewhat such as when she got too defensive. However my opinion radically shifted during her fight with Liesel. Despite being seriously injured by the giant Guardener, she immediately stood up to Liesel and protected the severely weakened Iris. Facing an impossibly difficult challenge from Liesel, she never gave up and continued to fight despite massive blood loss regardless of her relative lack of skill and her damaged leg. It was especially amazing when she used her gravity manipulation skill despite increasing the strain on her own body in order to crush Liesel with her explosive punch. My respect for her really grew after this as I began to understand her level of determination and devotion.
What can I say, Liesel is just plain cool. With her ability to forge her own weapons on the fly from Alma, she demonstrated a versatility that no other Princess possessed. She was able to easily take down Iris and kept Suzushiro at bay for most of the battle. After her defeat I started liking her even more. I feel stupid for not realizing earlier that tall and awkward Riko was actually Liesel. I find girls like this cute for some reason so I really paid attention to her situation. She reveals that she isn’t really a princess at all but was only selected to participate in the Waltz due to a few chance incidents and the fact that the Dress she designed was too advanced for anyone else but herself to use. This along with her defeat by Suzushiro made her feel rather worthless about herself so I could really sympathize. I rooted her on as Arata helped her gain confidence in herself to become a true Princess. If Lun Lun were true end, then Liesel would be my preferred end.
As a whole Princess Waltz manages to be an enjoyable, solid if slightly simple visual novel. Peach Princess did a decent job translating this text-heavy game and I hope more plot-centric visual novels will get translated instead of just the smut games. You can purchase a copy at the official Peach Princess site or here at Play-Asia if you feel like helping me recover some of the money I just spent ordering my XBox 360.