Akatoki!

Magic Cannonbal Girl’s Story

Akatoki! -Yume Koso Masare Koi no Mahou- is a 2010 game by Escu:de. It was followed by a fandisc, Akatoki!! -Hana to Mawaseyo Koi no Ishou-, the following year.

vndb EGS

Akatoki! -Yume Koso Masare Koi no Mahou-

Story

Some time ago, an unprecedented change took place. The world lost its light, and magic appeared. Strange stones, the Souzouseki, with mysterious properties, including energy generation, appeared, and along them the Kurayami, creatures taken straight from fairy tales. The Kurayami are very strong, and all but invulnerable to common weaponry, but there are two saving graces. One, they are more bothersome than actually dangerous, being mostly satisfied with pulling out pranks; and two, the Mahoutsukai, people who can turn the Souzouseki into Mahouki, magical weapons capable of facing the Kurayami.

The story begins when our protagonist, Yano Mayuto, arrives to Akatoki City, leading city in all that’s magic related, accompanying his osananajimis Tachibana Miyu and Kamishiro Yuuji. They turned out to have huge potential as magic users, and so were scouted by the magic academy of Akatoki to be part of the Mahou Kitai, the squad of the magic users who can manifest Mahouki and who defend the city against the Kurayami. On the other hand, Mayuto has basically no magic talent, starting with rank E (against the A+ and S of his friends), and not reaching yet C (the minimum to be accepted into the academy) after uncountable hours of training. His friends were actually very divided in the matter of going to the academy without Mayuto, but he managed to convince them, and so is now accompanying them.

But he himself has mixed feelings, and is very depressed about not being able the progress in his magic user aptitude after so much effort, and about how easy it was for his friends. And so is targeted by the Nameless Clown, one of the top class Kurayami, and one of the genuinely dangerous ones. He specializes in manipulating humans’ dark emotions, and wants to exploit all this regret and despair Mayuto has accumulated to weave the most brilliant story ever.

And so this is the story of the descent into the dark side of a hapless boy whose only sin was to have gifted friends.

…If only.

Mayuto ends up believing in The Power of Friendship, manages to reach rank C, and when the Clown makes his move is defeated by the three friends and the girls of the Mahou Kitai, the actual heroines (character profiles here, because I’m too lazy to make some), and to whom Mayuto joins, ending the prologue. Now as a full fledged magic user, Mayuto will spend his days fighting FOR JUSTICE and having hilarious (in theory) antics living with four (soon five) beautiful girls. Fun.

Review

The prologue is intense, and manages to convey the frustration that Mayuto feels, making for an interesting experience. The common trunk that follows it is not as good. Is not good, period; is rather the opposite of good. The girls of the Mahou Kitai are presented, as are the main Kurayami, and the story reminds the characters (and the readers) than the Kurayami are for the most part not really dangerous, and the tension goes down a level.  And so several chapters go on, centered in the different heroines, an experience that I would describe as “painful”, based on what I guess tried to pass as humor. (Well, maybe is not that bad, but is not very interesting either.)

A particular scene that dragged on forever (not from the common trunk, though)

The characters are not too bad, and if anything they’re interesting, going against the norm; their usual behavior, which follow the common archetypes, is just a persona that hides (with greater or lesser success) their real personalities, and that gap is an important plot point in their respective routes. (They may be not as deep as I making them.) The top class Kurayami are also fun to see, though with a better voice acting the Clown could have been way more awesome. The exception to all this is sadly the protagonist, which is incredibly dull. Not as in hetare (which he is, a little), or dense, but in that all his dialog is so very uninspired. Making a silent protagonist, JRPG style, would have had the same effect (or even a better one).

Maki pretending

The music is for the most part decent, and it does help raise the tension in the battle scenes. But there were a few tracks that so got into my nerves that I seriously considered muting the BGM and replacing it by something else. Luckily, they stop being used in the routes.

But in any case, probably the main reason most people would get interested in this is the gameplay (at least that was the case for me); the gameplay is the reason I could stand the common trunk. Following simple RPG mechanics, the main attraction is the clothing damage mechanics (why yes, I decided to play this exclusively for the clothing damage. Sue me).

But clothing damage only goes so far (even if it’s very far), and if the common trunk was a drag, the individual routes compensate for that. After some minor trouble with the Kurayami and happy school life, Mayuto gets into a relationship with one of the Mahou Kitai girls and they get all ichaicha. But then the Shit hits the Fan, and everything goes to hell.

In the routes the action becomes intense, and the stakes very high. Even if the story flow is somewhat predictable, the action is good, in a shonen-esque kind of way. What the routes do very well is in presenting a desperate situation, and then making the protagonists overcome that in a believable way (also MC gets all hotblooded, which makes him more interesting to read). They do rely heavily in the Power of Heart, but it doesn’t really fell ass-pulled (or maybe I have high tolerance for that), and in any case they’re fun to read, which I guess in the end is what matters. Also, the routes are very different between them, with completely different antagonists, every route working as a piece of a puzzle fully resolved in the Grand Route.

Enuma… ELISH!

These routes also made me realize exactly what didn’t clicked in Twinkle Crusaders. There there’s also possible world ending circumstances, but there never seems to be real urgency; and the opponents’ power, though not exactly just an informed ability, is almost exclusively put only against the characters, so you actually don’t know exactly what the real danger is.  Yes, the world is ending, but is somewhat like when you’re said “the world ends in December, 2012”. Here, on the other hand, the characters are thrown knee-deep into the world ending matter, and is very clear what would happen if they don’t succeed. And then the grand route takes it even more over the top. The only thing I’ve played with higher stakes was the third Galaxy Angel II game, and even that’s arguable (and those were really high stakes). (However, the higher plot density of the grand route means the romance aspect is not as developed, and that particular heroine really needed that development.)

The gameplay doesn’t necessarily help, though. There’s some story-gameplay segregation in that the gameplay is not very hard, and so you will win the battles handily but the narration says how it was a hard battle and the characters can’t go on. Every time the characters said “we can’t win!” I was “just show me the battle!”. Ehem.

In any case, once it gets it’s act together this is a decent, entertaining action piece. If you want some shonen-esque fun, together with some fun RPG gameplay (not too abundant, though), you can probably do way worse. Or maybe you just want to see the clothing damage. In which case you will probably like this.

Akatoki!! -Hana to Mawaseyo Koi no Ishou-

vndb EGS

The fandisc has two main parts. The scenario mode comprises short after stories for the heroines, and alternate scenarios for Mayu and Chikka. In the battle mode there’s trouble again, with alternate universes/time loops shenanigans, and you must fight your way until the end.

If you liked the gameplay, you’ll like the battle mode. You can unlock all the characters to use, not only the Mahou Kitai, and can try different party combinations; and some battles are genuinely difficult, at least in hard, the difficulty level I played because I’m not a wuss (special mention goes to one of the staff room battles). And even for those not so oriented, there’s alternate costumes for the girls, and new characters who can suffer clothing damage; and also unlockable H scenes, including some 3Ps.

So as a fandisc it delivers. If you liked the characters and the gameplay enough, you’ll probably like this.

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2 Responses to “Akatoki!”

  1. Amoirsp Says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing something like this again with a more intricate system and flow.

    • Maybe other Escu:de games? Circus’ RPG Gakuen seems to have clothing damage mechanics, but I doubt it would have a more intricate system and flow.

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