Now let’s dial back a decade for a little winter tale.
Infantaria is a 2001 game by Circus. It got an upgraded version with XP support and voices for more characters, Infantaria XP, in 2003. It also had a short fandisc in the 2002 game Utau Ehon 1 2 3 Hai!, along with Aries and Suika.
In the ever winter kingdom of Hiver, the princess Sofia Hiver Rallensia feels that her cloistered education is leaving her with little knowledge of how the people of the kingdom really live. So, with her father the king’s consent, he goes to work as a teacher in the Canary Kindergarten, along with the knight from the royal guard, and main character, Lancard Cable, who used to attend there, and who will be the new director (and ensure that nothing happens to Sofia). There, they meet the rest of the staff: childish imouto-type osananajimi Myschera Christin, daughter of the late directors, and cold and stoic magic teacher Lema Stanislaw (and chef and subheroine Corinne Airnile). And so, dealing with the young kids Sofia will learn about the world.
There’s also a dragon.
First a confession: I didn’t finish this game, not playing Lema’s route (and a secret route unlocked after finishing the three main ones). So there’s a chance it becomes godly there. I find it highly unlikely, but the chance exists. However, if it’s anything like the other two main routes, I don’t think I really missed much.
Maybe it was a matter of expectations: I came here expecting some medieval epic, or even not so epic, story, with, I don’t know, politics, some battles, the such (also because one of the writers, Kure). And while that’s not completely absent, you first have to trudge through a pretty conventional and not terrible medieval slice of life common trunk with the shenanigans and interactions of the MC and the kindergarten staff and children. Some scenes are somewhat amusing, though those are mostly concentrated outside the heroines scenes.
So, first a tip I could have used: don’t think on the title Infantaria as a word related to “infantry” but as one related to “infant” (so “Infantaria” could be taken as some variation of “kindergarten”).
The common trunk consists thus in the day to day of the kindergarten, with a map movement section where you meet (or not) the heroines, like Da Capo would later have; and like the original Da Capo, here it’s unmarked. Though less heroines and a tip section before the movement itself make finding the desired heroine less of a guessing game chore. The scenes themselves are not particularly funny or memorable: just some things that happen. There isn’t a lot of excitement to be had here, outside some foreshadowing of the future plot.
Which does exists, even if it isn’t so good. Still, comparatively, the plot could be considered one of the strong points; with drops and hints since the common trunk, it doesn’t come from nowhere, and all the three main heroines routes are connected to the greater setting and plot in some way, showing different perspectives on it (well, I’m in part just guessing that it also applies for Lema). It’s still pretty conventional and generic, and even when it does become grand the lack of effects and CGs or even of a more epic music and a plain writing make it so that even a RAMPAGING DRAGON is underwhelming.
The main heroines are not so bad, though their likeableness may come more from their archetypes rather than from their own merits; one reason I never finished the “defrosting ice queen” Lema is that I couldn’t care enough about her so as to go through her frozen stage. I liked more Sofia and Myschera, though maybe more interesting was actually the subheroine Corinne, with whom Lancard has a more “adult” relationship than the standard pure love one of the rest. One of the girls of the kindergarten was also pretty amusing (no route though, for obvious reasons). One thing that may bear mention here is that all heroines are teachers and thus (young) adults (even if Myschera could trick you), so the dynamics are (slightly) different from the usual school romance ones.
Another thing that hurts the game (though blaming if for that may not be really fair) is that it’s just old, so the game system is not as polished as one could like by now. Particularly grating is that you can’t ctrl though the “connecting” scenes between the main ones. One thing that it does is showing how far along the scene you are, an interesting function I haven’t seen elsewhere (even in other Circus games outside the very first ones, so maybe it wasn’t really popular). There’s also a picture showing how far along the scenario you are, but it’s not so reliable.
So, to wrap things up, there’s nothing particularly memorable here. As a princess game, it’s not terrible, even if conventional; a plain execution makes it so that the greater setting doesn’t manages to shine as much as it could (which is probably not so much in any case). In the end, the lack of strong points makes the whole game terrible generic and forgettable.