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Review: Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi


Leah

Developer: Idea Factory

Publisher: Aksys Games

Platform: 3DS

Release Date: September 19, 2013

ESRB: M for Mature

 

A download code was provided by the publisher for this review

 

Before Aksys brought Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom to the West last year, otome games were largely unheard of here. Since they took the plunge, we've been getting more and more games in the genre. Now, Aksys's efforts have brought the samurai romancing visual novel to 3DS owners with Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi.

 

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Memories of the Shinsengumi can be described as a port of the original PSP game with some new bonus features. On top of the riveting main game that includes many routes and endings, Memories of the Shinsengumi also totes six new stories and a photo booth mode.

 

Those that have already played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom already know what goes on in the Hakuoki universe. This may be an intimidating title to others, however, especially because it’s an otome game. True, there is some romancing going on from the view of a female protagonist, but the game is largely focused on Japanese history, politics, action, and violence.

 

The point in time that Memories of the Shinsengumi takes place in is during the late Edo Period. As the game’s title implies, the game follows the exploits of the legendary Shinsengumi – a special police force. Much of the game retells the history surrounding the Shinsengumi, of course. However, not everything is as it seems… Supernatural beings such as bloodthirsty “furies†and demons cause strife throughout the story and make for an interesting twist.

 

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The protagonist, Chizuru, still manages to find love during these troubling times. Those interested in the romancing aspect might be a little disappointed that there isn’t much of it throughout Memories of the Shinsengumi, but there’s still just enough to satisfy that sweet tooth. All of the characters are quite well developed and have some great backstories. It’s very much worth it to go through each guy’s route and get all the endings. Be careful, though! You just might fall in love with these handsome men and won’t know what to do with yourself.

 

Now, unless you’re very well-versed in Japanese history, you may have a bit of trouble understanding what’s going on through Memories of the Shinsengumi. There are many people, landmarks, and battles you will not know and have to remember during the course of the game if you wish to comprehend what’s going on. Thankfully, there’s an encyclopedia provided for you in the game menu that is filled out each time you come across a new term.

 

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The art of Hakuoki is very beautiful, especially when it’s displayed at its best in the special CG scenes. My problem with the art in Memories of the Shinsengumi, however, is simply because it’s on the 3DS. Because the system’s screen is small, portraits and whatnot have been sized down and look very low quality when compared to Demon of the Fleeting Blossom on PSP. It’s a shame to do such a thing to such pretty artwork, but what can you do?

 

What about those new modes that Memories of the Shinsengumi boasts over Demon of the Fleeting Blossom? Well, the “Hakuoki Memories†mode (the six new stories I mentioned earlier) doesn’t offer much. The stories are extremely short, even if they do offer a little insight into the lives of the men of the Shinsengumi. There’s some very lovely pieces of artwork at the end of each story, though. The Photo Booth mode does offer some silly fun, but perhaps only for a few minutes or so.

 

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So, is it worth it to get Memories of the Shinsengumi over Demon of the Fleeting Blossom? If you have a PSP or Vita, you should probably get the latter. Those that just have a 3DS, however, should definitely pick up Memories of the Shinsengumi. As for me, I got the limited editions for both versions anyway!

 

I love Memories of the Shinsengumi and the Hakuoki universe. Not only is it an otome game, but it’s a great game for those looking for something different (or for some hot samurai boyfriends).

 


Pros:

 

+ Lots of routes and endings

+ Encyclopedia to help you learn important historical terms

+ A focus on history and action for those not interested in romancing aspect

 

Cons:

 

- New features aren’t very exciting

- Art quality is lowered from original game

 


 

Overall Score: 8.0 (out of 10)

Great

 

Those that have already played Demon of the Fleeting Blossom might want to skip Memories of the Shinsengumi (unless you want to support otome releases in the West!). Definitely pick this up if you haven’t played the original, though.

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