Moroboshi Yuumei (moroboshiyuumei) wrote,
Moroboshi Yuumei
moroboshiyuumei

Game Rant: A realm men dare not tread... (Edelweiss)

By now, anyone who has been reading my little blog should have picked up a very common element in a lot of the games I review: many of these games have a setting that involves high school in some way, shape or form. While one could scoff at the setting and accuse me of hebephilia, I could argue that in part the vulnerability of the age group involved in the majority of these stories is ideal when trying to create a very circumstancial set of events. I could further argue that it can be difficult to place adults in a similar setting because of adults' own point of view and how they handle certain situations. Yet at times, you can have a scenario that contains high school protagonists with adult figures helping or playing important roles in not only shaping the story, but also laying foundations for important pieces of character development. With this in mind, I present to you, the reader, OVERDRIVE's first official work, Edelweiss.

Game: Edelweiss

Edelweiss was released by the softhouse OVERDRIVE on December 15, 2006. The game features not only a large part of the production crew from GROOVER (makers of Green Green), but also the majority of the voice talent used by GROOVER for the Green Green games.

The player this time takes the role of Haruma Kazushi, a second year high school student that is part of a large group of boys being transferred to Eiden Gakuen ("Ei" as in song, "den" as in legend) as part of a "study abroad" program. The school is located in Eiden Island (somewhere off the coast of Japan), and boasts of an entirely female population.

That last bit is what motivated many of Kazushi's classmates, including his three friends, into enrolling. Of course, Kazushi himself wants a chance to meet girls and test the waters, so to speak, but his three friends far surpass him in not only drive to accomplish this, but also in oddball quirks characteristic of hormone-driven boys.

Much to their disdain, Eiden Island holds countless secrets and fascinating sights, but the splendor of all this kind of vanish when they realize that the island itself rises into the skies shortly after their arrival. An even bigger surprise comes when we find out that Eiden Gakuen is not an ordinary dormed academy; it is, in fact, a school that specializes in the study and research of renkinjutsu, or as we call it, alchemy.

Thus, Edelweiss focuses on Kazushi and his three best friends (Appo, Pierre and Daigo) as they adjust to the change of scene, while proving themselves to be worthwhile members of Eiden Gakuen's student body (with humorous antics here and there for good measure). Needless to say, we have five girls for Kazushi to try to woo while trying to get a hang of the basics in both alchemy and romance.

Heroine: Aozora Haruka

The lead heroine of our story. Haruka can best be described as extremely pleasant, if a little too naive for her own good. Having spent her entire life on Eiden Island, she looks at everything that involves the boys with enthusiastic, yet somewhat curious, eyes.

Being the granddaughter of the academy's principal, Haruka has a very advanced understanding of alchemy, and seems to have a knack for performing successful procedures and experiments. At times, she lets her curiosity get the best of her, which often causes her to overstep her bounds as a student (at the beginning of the game, she tries to force her way into Kazushi's class, but is twarted by Mei-sensei, even after saying "You know that I'm the principal's granddaughter, right?").
Heroine: Hinata Mizuki

An active, yet reclusive girl. Mizuki is one of the many students at Eiden Gakuen, somewhat average yet extremely focused. Despite attending Eiden, Mizuki's true passion is swimming. The other girls tend to refer to her as "Umi no onna", which loosely means "Girl of the sea".

Mizuki initially has trouble interacting with the boys, mostly because of her first encounter with Kazushi (she went skinny-dipping on the day the boys arrived...you surely know how that one ended). She eventually resolves the problem, even if she is a bit bothered by the fact Kazushi remembered nothing of their first encounter. On a side note, she tends to get easily flustered when it comes to romance and relationships, and is usually the first one to try to change the topic of conversation. Much to her own chagrin, some of the girls are convinced that she's a lesbian because she has shown no visible interest in any of the boys that have recently arrived.
Heroine: Kamoike Ran

Ran is the resident money-grubbing girl of Eiden Gakuen. Quick-witted and astute to a fault, she finds the boys' arrival to be the perfect opportunity to make some yen.

Though she can pass off as (and at times has proven to be) a nice person, she more often than not attaches a bill to every favor she performs, be it food, setting guys up with girls, advice and/or criticism.

Oddly enough, Ran's focus on money is so strong that she doesn't know how to calculate feelings for another person outside of the use of monetary value. She has trouble understanding why she gets annoyed at seeing Kazushi around other girls, yet at the same time finds herself unable to express how she feels about him. On a side note, her current mission is to learn how to convert lead into gold.
Heroine: Amamiya Natsume

Natsume is the staple loli character. At first, not much is known about her, since she appears only before Kazushi. She eventually incorporates herself into the student body at Eiden after an overnight experiment caused her to appear inside the giant test tube that was used. Though everyone welcomes her with open arms, Kazushi can't help but wonder why this girl knows his name and that of everyone in his class.

Natsume's journey is in search of her missing father, which is why she arrived at Eiden Island. Outside of possessing decent knowledge of alchemy, she seems to have the ability to project illusions (including illusion copies of herself).

Natsume is a bit crass, and tends to place her ideas and notions before others'. She even goes to the point of designating names to the people that interact with her (she calls Kazushi by his last name, calls the principal by her first name, and calls Haruka "Ao").
Heroine: Ibuki Mei

Mei is a teacher at Eiden Gakuen. Even though she is supossed to be an authority figure, she allows her students to call her by her first name. At times, she tends to make really bad puns involving her own name, and has an odd sense of humor when dealing with her students.

Despite being a full-fledged educator of alchemy, Mei has proven to lack complete understanding of dynamics between people, and often goofs up when faced with a situation she is unfamiliar with. Concepts outside of her knowledge of alchemy tend to leave her pensive, which is somewhat explained when she reveals that she has amnesia. Being unable to remember anything before her awakening on Eiden Island three years prior to the boys' arrival, Mei doesn't understand things like friendship and love.

The Eiden Gakuen cafeteria has a mega-jumbo sized platter named in her honor, worthy of Mei's almost-endless appetite.

Story Structure and Game Engine

The setting is in the middle of the summer, and while no especific dates are given, we can assume that the actual game starts in early or mid-June (since one of the later events involves Daigo's birthday, which is on July 29th). Eye-catches are used during scene changes, but do not necessarily reflect a change in the day (unlike Green Green). The routes are fairly easy to decipher, and all endings are dependant on how involved Kazushi is during the interactions as well as how much each girl likes him.

A point of interest is the main character himself. Unlike most ero-game protagonists, Kazushi is definitely "one of the boys" instead of the strict and overly maleable avatar of the player. At times, he comes up with the plans that will be carried out by him and his friends in attempts to get the girls' attention. Other times, he just gets caught in the crossfire.

The engine is extremely clean and practical. The text box is almost invisible, and all options are on the right side of the screen. The text log can be accessed by scrolling up on the mouse wheel, and right-clicking will cause the text box to totally dissapear. Characters blink and move their mouths as their dialogue is playing. This is probably one of the least-intrusive game engines around.

Music & Video

Unsurprisingly, Milktub's score for Edelweiss is very fitting while staying true to their style of rock. On top of what is usually expected from Milktub for BGMs, we have six ending songs (five heroine ending songs and one song for the "alone" ending).

As for video, we have the opening movie for Edelweiss, which can be viewed here

Extras/Omake

As the player gets the endings for each girl, access to the CG gallery for the respective heroine and the lyrics to her ending song will become available. Upon unlocking all six possible endings, Movie Mode opens up, which contains a small tutorial on how to play Edelweiss' opening song, "Ashberry", on guitar. The second video is a clip from the OVERDRIVE Live Show at Ebisu LIVEGATE in Tokyo, which was held to promote the game.

Verdict

Impressive, yet I couldn't help but feel that this game was basically Green Green v2.0. There are a lot of similarities between how GuriGuri was structured and how Edelweiss was put together. In it's favor, however, I will say that Edelweiss really improved the story concepts Green Green introduced back in 2001, to the point that by the end of the game, I could really appreciate the differences and Edelweiss' own use of plot, comedy and atmosphere to get its point accross. The fact that the writers put in the research (a lot of common alchemy concepts are used in this story) only helps it earn points in my eyes. I'd be curious to see how this game would look like animated, but seeing how Green Green was handled, I think I'll just stick to audio dramas and doujinshi. Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.

-Moroboshi Yuumei
"z0mg l3rn 2 play ASHBERRY on t3h air-gu1t4rz & umbr3ll4!!1!one"
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Oh, by the way, here's a bonus picture.
Tags: ero-game review
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