I’m pretty lenient when it comes to playing eroges – as I (half-)jokingly mentioned before, I don’t really have any standards when it comes to picking which titles I want to play, as long as it looks fun, interesting, and addresses at least one of my fetishes. I do, however, have one goddamn standard that I DO take rather seriously, as it is my barebones minimum requirement. That is, a title shouldn’t bore me to death.
Out of the two I’m talking about in this post, one of them has never failed to drive me insanely bored – with just the first Chapter ALONE. That one I’m referring to is Shukufuku no Campanella.
Why Campanella? I myself am surprised by it, because I remember going through it’s trial (which was also the prologue of the main game) and LOVING what I went through. It had a nice mix of love comedy, humor, and deredere heroines all with their unique quirks and characters, all presented in a colorful, vibrant world that looked so interesting it made me want to explore the whole place and learn more about it. Never did I expect that after the prologue came heavy, mind-numbing moments of sheer will-crushing boredom.
I understand that Campanella’s taking its time to lay the foundations in Chapter 1, introducing to us the various characters, the setting involved, and the circumstances the characters are involved in, all in greater depth. Or at least, it should, keyword being SHOULD. So far, I’ve gone eight quests in, and I haven’t seen anything new regarding the characters or the premise, except from what the prologue has already shown me. Which is pretty goddamn ridiculous, really. Yes, I have already gone on various quests for the clients of Clan Oasis, and have seen the different environments of Campanella’s world (and they’re all pretty lush and gorgeous), from the beaches to the snow-capped mountain fields to the underground mines and such. I’ve also had my share of fights, and have won them all. But all of those don’t really amount to anything when you don’t have any idea of just what the hell is going on entirely, relative to the game’s premise.
That’s part of the problem that I have with Campanella right now – the game has no premise, no NOTHING at all of what the whole game is about. Even the story section of Campanella in getchu is pretty much the prologue of the game’s events in summary form, nothing at all to tell you about what the story just MIGHT be about. Is it about Eru collecting? Is it about Lester making more and more inventions? Is it about Minette and that comet during that fateful night? From what I’ve seen of eight quests’ worth of Chapter 1, it’s about the characters going out there and doing stuff that are pretty menial. It feels like I’m slugging through an MMO-inspired quest one after the other, only no socialization with other players nor any back story or at least plot-relevance to at least keep me interested throughout the whole thing. For all its brightness and cheerfulness, it does nothing to relieve the feeling of trekking through sludge that I constantly suffer from every time I try to progress beyond this goddamned chapter.
I know that with this kind of pacing, it’s done to keep the player interested in future things to come as it’s just building up for things to come that would make the whole trudging through the boring sequences absolutely rewarding in the end once it starts picking up. But with this kind of pacing, it’s done with the premise kept in mind – and I’m still reminded of the fact that Campanella doesn’t really HAVE any premise at all to offer, aside from “here’s four ladies with various backgrounds and various motivations, you’re all part of a clan, here’s some quests to do, NOW GO OUT THERE AND TRY TO HAVE FUN“. Yes, the character interactions are nice and cute and a bunch of other things, but it’s all fluff whenever I’m reminded that everything I do and have done up to this point feels like it’ll hardly be relevant at all later on, seeing as NOTHING of importance has hardly happened.
So what’s kept me clinging to Campanella up to this point? Well, from what I heard, it’s a great title. Maybe the following Chapters are so awesome that it wiped the utter boredom that is Chapter 1 from everyone’s minds, which isn’t that far-fetched. Make no mistake; I’ve gone through my share of boring events in various eroge here and there, but in those titles there was a PREMISE that kept me going, that there was SOMETHING at the end of it all that rewarded my perseverance. For example, from the recent titles that I’ve played/replayed:
In Himegari: Former Maou trying to regain his lost body and reclaim his glory.
In Ikusa Megami 0: Serika’s story of origin and how he became this way.
In Chouko Sennin Haruka: Takamaru and his Sennin/s have to save the world from the Noroi.
In Yunibaru: Shinichiro and his residents cope with “everyday life” considering their “special” backgrounds.
In Shapeshifter: Ria Fouru(?) has to be protected from those trying to abuse its power in order to protect the Universe.
In Campanella, I’ve got nothing based on what’s happened so far, so I’m very much goddamned tempted to just ctrl-skip the entirety of Chapter 1 and see if nothing of value would be lost once I start with Chapter 2 onwards. THANKS A LOT.
Now, moving on to Apricot’s MapleColors2…I started on this one and ended up finishing a route all in the span of a day (give or take), not knowing that I hit the ending until the credits started rolling. Now THAT’S the kind of immersion brought about by a good mix of both premise and pacing! It’s not as over-the-top in its hilarity nor is it a continual flow of gags like Yunibaru!, but MapleColors2 balances the serious bits and the funny bits very nicely.
MapleColors2 is about Togawa Soujirou who, during his transfer to his new school, gets involved in an incident and ends up dragging his whole class, the notorious 2-B, along with it. With this, they are given an ultimatum: to either win the school’s upcoming “festival”, or to lose and suffer an indefinite suspension. Most of 2B has given up on the chance to win, though, so the responsibility falls on Soujirou to gather his classmates together if they are to try and remove the penalty of indefinite suspension.
Most of the first three chapters will involve the recruitment of your hesitant classmates, after which you will be asked to choose which of the three events during the “festival” you’d like to participate on – this will also determine which routes will be made available. MapleColors2 uses a gameplay system that really gives off the feel of an adventure game, as this system involves navigating Soujirou around sections of the school and clicking on items/characters in order to progress, with most of the character recruitment and exploration done via that system. It’s also got around eight or so minigames available which helps break up the monotony, in case you get bored or something.
Not that you’d ever get bored with something like MapleColors2, that’s for sure. Like Yunibaru!, MapleColors2 doesn’t waste much of its time floundering around explaining this and that; it explains things in precise detail and brings the characters to life with such clarity yet with succinct brevity that (unlike Campanella) it’s able to retain your interest as events unfold. It doesn’t linger too long on certain events, all flashbacks are properly utilized within the scenes that they’re employed, and again, unlike Campanella, everything you do in the first chapter alone points towards the premise of the game: that is, to recruit your classmate and win the festival in order to avoid the indefinite suspension!
Every action, every event is linked via MapleColors2′s premise, which Campanella has yet to show me. So while I’ve already finished a route and greatly enjoyed MapleColors2 during the time I took to play it, I have yet to even finish the whole of Chapter 1 during the whole twenty hours and more that I’ve invested in it. Which is ironic because I’ve finished PLENTY of games around twenty or so hours, but then again, in those games I knew what I was trying to achieve and progress towards, while in Campanella I’ve still yet to determine that.
If you enjoy comedy and liked Yunibaru!, you should (or should have already) try MapleColors2! As for Campanella…I think it’s about time to ctrl-skip the entirety of Chapter 1 and hope for the best.