Prince x Prince Review
So I found myself somewhat bored of eroge lately, completely incapable of finishing a game and this got me thinking, what is it that I feel is missing? After taking a long hard look at myself and exploring some options I came to the conclusion that I prefer boys love. I am fully aware this may seem somewhat out of the blue but honestly I have been planning this switch for months now, I have just been wondering how best to break the news. Ideally I was going to post this about a week prior, however real life and the April releases post delayed things more than I had wished. At least I managed to get it out without the significant delay into April that I had been worried may happen, though this day may not have been the best choice, I am just glad for it to be done though personally. Regardless I will be reviewing more often as many people have asked me to, just that the subject matter I am reviewing will be slightly different. I don’t believe it should be that big of a deal to change the gender of the “Heroine” type character, and I for one am looking forward to meeting any new readers with similar tastes my change in direction attracts. Come to think of it, I suppose this does explain why Micchi and I never seem to get along….
With that out of the way I would like to apologize for some of the screenshots, as the game was being finicky to say the least, it kept resizing itself to go full screen while i was taking screenshots, which wouldn’t have been so bad had it worked, but instead widescreen seems to confuse it leading to an amazing hassle. In the end i was forced to give up and use a few older screenshots such as the title shot above which from when I first started the game.
Our story beings with the introduction of Kurt who is our protagonist while he is in a meadow near his palace on a walk with his pet goat, candy. After a brief dialogue we are introduced to his servant, Stella as he comes to inform prince Kurt that his father wishes to discuss something important with him immediately. After some obligatory pouting Kurt bravely agrees and is whisked away to an audience with his father who then informs our innocent prince that he needs more experience to become a good king and so must travel to neighboring countries to meet with the various other leaders and establish a relationship with them for the sake of his kingdom’s future.
Now I would like to take a moment to point out there is not a whole lot of story here by any stretch of the imagination this is a short game and as such I chose to use this as a test bed to see if I could make a boys love game work with my standard format, and if not give me an idea of what changes need to be made.
So after the brief introduction we are offered the choice of which kingdom we want Kurt to travel to, Celestine, Hinomoto, Chalcedony, or Fenrir. Upon arrival there is a short greeting with either the prince or the most active character in that region where the basic greetings are taken care of along with any initial statements of intent. Following the introduction is a screen which allows you to choose which of the two characters you wish to spend more time with, at first there is only one choice until you spend time with the primary character at least once. After you have unlocked the new characters you are free to choose whomever you want to spend bonding time with, of course this directly affects your endings as you are offered a choice in the middle based on the characters problems and past. Each character has their own unique set of circumstances and problems to be addressed and the manner in which you want Kurt to appeal to them changes drastically accordingly.
The main problem I have with the game as a whole is the lack of real interaction, there is too much “Click for boy love” without enough real build up to it all. Without some sort of forced story interaction and developments from all of the cast it feels as though there is something missing from the story. I would have preferred the characters be allowed to progress in a more natural way, less of a simple selection that leads to a fated encounter you knew was going to happen thanks to your selection and more of a flow to events that leads to these coincidental meetings instead.
Surprisingly there is a fairly large variation in the endings, from endings where everyone is happy to endings that wrench your heart open. Although the endings are rather short they do an admirable job of quickly wrapping events up in a satisfying manner, giving a solid conclusion to the story while also offering a projection into how the future will play out for the characters and their relationships. I do still feel they could have spent a little more time developing the endings, as much of the afterglow is lost thanks to it all being neatly wrapped up in such a concise manner.
The characters in Prince x Prince are undoubtably the main selling point to the game. With a wide assortment to choose from there is sure to be something for everyone, provided you are not in the mood for a domineering Kurt, if so you are fresh out of luck this time around. With all manner of royalty up for grabs, it is hard not to enjoy a game about traveling to various kingdoms just to meet the various types of eccentric princes.
Our protagonist, Kurt is the perfect eternal uke, childish and weak to the urging of those around him, the most resistance he can manage is an innocent pout that forces anyone to cave. The prince of the Adelheid kingdom we are introduced to Kurt and his relationship with his pet goat, candy right from the start. As the protagonist we travel alongside Kurt as he travels from various countries meeting the bishounen princes who each find their own unique methods of teasing him. A fairly one-dimensional character he nevertheless fits into his role perfectly, providing the cute reticence before succumbing to desire that we all want to see in such a protagonist.
The ever faithful sidekick to our weak willed protagonist, Stellan leads an existence based around taking care of prince Kurt’s odds and ends. As a supportive character Stellan is arguably the least forceful of the various choices our little princeling is offered. Not really my type personally, as Stellan is far too uptight and meticulous, although he does match our protagonist well, balancing out the childish mischief.
Reinhard represents the personification of the ideal princely traits one typically associates with the romantic interpretation of royalty. Prince of the Celestine kingdom the graceful and refined Reinhard never loses the feel of royalty, gently guiding our younger and more impressionable prince around he takes on the role of an elder brother for Kurt. Deeply concerned about the welfare of his elder brother, Reinhard has a darker side that breaks his elegance facade upon the mere mention of his elder brother.
With a name in katakana that is impossible to make heads or tails out of for what it could be in English I shall be referred to as “Yu” from now on is Reinhard’s ailing elder brother and as such the other prince of the Celestine kingdom. Weak in body Yu enjoys spending his time in the garden of his palace, often taking naps amidst the various plants and flowers. Somewhat standoffish towards Kurt initially, eventually his dignity as an elder is worn down and he opens up to the young and puppy-like Kurt, coming to rely on him as a companion to help pass the lonely days of boredom.
As the first prince of the Hinomoto kingdom Syuichi is a diligent and hard working person. As strict with himself as he is others, Syuichi keeps a tight rein on his emotions, rarely showing anything besides disapproval. It falls upon our mood setting protagonist to melt his walls and loosen him up as a person. Nevertheless Syuichi is ashamed of his hobby of collecting butterflies, and does his best to keep it hidden from others.
The king of Hinomoto and Syuichi’s father, Kiyoharu is a strong character with a streak of selfishness not found in his son. As something of a hobby he often patrols his capital city as an ordinary citizen, doing what he can to surreptitiously aid his people by whatever means necessary. An extremely popular king , he finds himself taking a fancy to the childish Kurt, treating him almost as though he were another son.
Nasser brings an air of irresponsible flamboyance to the cast as the prince of the Chalcedony kingdom, enjoying nothing more than teasing the innocent Kurt. Beneath his apparent nonchalance lies a capable leader coping with the stigma of an inconvenient birth, resulting in a personality composed of diametrically opposed traits that brings a greater depth to his character. As with all the characters much of the humor arises from culture shock type misunderstandings, however with Nasser these are taken a step further as he embellishes everything for the sake of teasing Kurt.
While I do enjoy the perfection of Reinhard, I cannot help but be captivated by the contrast in Nasser’s personality, the attractive playfulness coupled with a capable and responsible serious side has won me over. Hau~ Omochikaeri~~!
Fifi is well… a natural airhead of sorts. As the servant of Nasser Fifi comes across as a milder counterpart to Kurt, innocent to the point of naivety with an energetic and child like personality. Surprisingly Fifi retains the seme role in their relationship, despite being similar characters Kurt remains on the submissive side, allows Fifi to guide him something I feel should have been reversed to add at least some variety into the pairings.
And where would any eroge be without a few token animal eared characters? Leading the way is Wind the prince of the Fenrir kingdom (I have to admit the name is terrible). Wind is something of a bad boy type, gruff and informal, he acts according to his instinctual whims and does as he pleases or at least as much as he is able to under the watchful eyes of his retainer Katze. As might be expected he takes an aggressive lead in the relationship, almost forcing his will upon Kurt when the time comes.
The cool-headed servant of Wind, Katze’s main role is to keep the aforementioned prince from running too wild and causing problems. Another cold and standoffish character he rarely openly associates with anyone unless there is a good reason to do so. Once the walls Katze has erected around his heart have been penetrated by Kurt’s charm, an affectionate and caring personality is revealed beneath his icy exterior.
Certainly artwork plays a large part in any game from any genre and as such I can hardly ignore it despite a change in direction for the reviews. During Prince x Prince I noticed that while the characters in the CGs were drawn well enough to warrant no immediate concerns over quality the same cannot be said for the various backgrounds. It feels to me that they focused all of their efforts on the characters then tried to take whatever shortcuts possible for the backgrounds just to speed the process up. Yes backgrounds are not the primary focus in any image and often are horribly neglected *cough* Hoshikaka, in Prince x Prince however the neglect is less skillful than in the majority of games. Instead of trying to hide it by putting a little extra effort in for the backgrounds to seamlessly blend, the artists allow the contrast a continued existence that both pains our eyes and detracts from their work.
This brings me to a parallel point only instead of the CG it is in relation to the sprites. The sprites suffer from a similar problem as the backgrounds, feeling neglected and simplified for the sake of time and effort savings. Perhaps you can imagine where this leaves the backgrounds in use for the sprites… in fact a plain solid color background could almost be better than what they chose to use. Instead the powers that be chose a throwback to ten or so years ago with blurred pictures to make them look somewhat animated and fill in that wonderful empty space which would have otherwise existed. Combining the awkward sprites and terrible backgrounds, everything but the CG images themselves are almost physically painful to look at, a sad fact that will most likely haunt many a review from now on.
Sound, much like the artwork takes a backseat to the focus on the boys love aspect of the game resulting in a monotonous drone of annoying sounds loosely resembling background music, throw in some wooden voice acting and the ensemble is completed. Given that most games have a soundtrack made to squeeze to death any sense of ambiance during gameplay it may seem that the game can’t be all that bad, however I assure you that it is. In fact it was so bad that I replaced the background music with my own in record time, lasting maybe an hour of actual gameplay while I prayed it would improve, it did not. A relief then that the music stops when the window is no longer active, allowing a reprieve from sound so bad it may well cause ear cancer.
Mostly standard interface if a bit clunky sums it up nicely. There is also the issue of how bland the whole interface looks, granted the game is fairly old but even compared to games of its time it is sub par to say the least.
There are a total of forty saves, which leaves a lot to be desired, although the game itself is not very long so it should prove sufficient, so not much to complain about here other than perhaps the horribly obnoxious color scheme resembling something out of Soviet Russia.
And so we get to the real meat of the game, as everything in the end focuses on bringing the game to the boy love. Having yet to have experienced enough variety to properly evaluate the quality of the BL in this game as a true connoisseur would, I shall simply have to make do and do the best I can.
On the plus side the scenes are often touching as the two struggle with their romantic feelings towards one another while dealing with the barrier of being the same gender. The shift created by the individual characters and routes on how the scenes were led into and developed proved to be exquisitely done, providing a masterful combination of the central themes with a sense of helpless reluctance to give into their passions. Kurt perfectly fits his role in these scenes, showing the value of an eternal uke type of character. All in all a pleasant and rewarding experience to witness the accumulation of feelings expressed after overcoming all obstacles in their path.
While mostly good there is one problem that nags at me throughout the course of the game, and that is Kurt is always submissive, the uke role is fine and all but I would have liked to see at least one route where due to events or character development he is more assertive. I feel that a route with a flip-flop of his single minded and single dimensional character would have given a feeling of more variety to the scenes in general. When deciding a role I feel it is important to consider the unique factors for each relationship instead of simply pre-assigning roles then sticking to them with zealous fervor. By failing to offer a change in roles accordingly the creators of the game have cheapened their own story.
While Prince x Prince may not be winning any awards for creativity in the plot or writing departments, nor could it offer much in the way of eye candy for the majority of the game, it nevertheless manages to deliver characters who manage to overcome such trifling problems much as they overcame their gender barriers. While old Prince x Prince succeeds at a formula we see many eroge surviving on to this day, good characters. Still I cannot help but hope that the future brings games with not only characters worth the time it takes to play their stories, but stories that make the characters worth playing. Besides, why bother worrying about the usual five cookie cutter heroines and terrible protagonists when they are all male anyway, take your pick, I am sure one will fit whatever your tastes happen to be like a glove.
I use a percentage based system to grade the various aspects of a game in a final section here. The breakdown will be that a 50% is dead neutral, completely apathy, no plus or minus. Below that is bad and above is good. The Overall score is simply a rating of the game in its entirety and is somewhat unrelated to the other scores. It may end up being better or worse than the sum of its parts.
- Overall: 56%
- Story: 43%
- Characters: 62%
- Artwork: 34%
- Sound: 21%
- BL Scenes: 77%
Walkthrough for the game can be found here.
Getchu link : http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=159201&gc=gc