By Joseph Puntschart / April 6th, 2016
|Publisher||Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia|
|Release Date||May 5th, 2015|
|Age Rating||CERO D (JPN)/18+ (TWN)|
The game discussed in question is NSFW and some of the screenshots in the article intend to reflect this. Likewise there are links that lead to NSFW places. Reader discretion is advised.
Genkai Tokki Moero Chronicle, known simply as Moe Chronicle in its translated form, exists very much as an experiment for Idea Factory when it came to releasing it outside of Japan. With the flack they got for censoring its card-battling predecessor Monster Monpiece, combined with the game’s ecchi content going up a gear compared to Monpiece (more on this later) Idea Factory decided to team up with Sony’s Asia division to get the game translated for the Southeast Asian market with English and Chinese subs instead of a proper localisation. This is so that those who wanted the game outside of these regions can import a copy without having to worry about censorship or the mainstream games press. An interesting setup for a pretty interesting game.
The game itself is set in the land of Monstopia, a land where humans co-exist alongside monster girls. One day, the monster girls mysteriously start turning evil and attacking the humans and it’s up to lazy villager Io to save the day alongside his childhood friend, Lilia. Along the way Io meets mascot character Otton and a plethora of monster girls to go on an adventure and find the cause of the mysterious evil that is affecting the monster girls. The catch is that Io is worried about the perverted thoughts he has about women – the only woman he feels he can talk to is Lilia, and even that gets thrown into question. It’s lighthearted, humorous harem fluff in the grand scheme of things – perfect for this kind of game.
As for the dungeons themselves, there are six of them. They are pretty visually appealing with straightforward layouts, but are nice enough for this game. You have your generic forest worlds (1 and 3) alongside this bizarre space world set entirely on gears, which means there’s a fair bit of variety in the dungeon aesthetics. The dungeons are pretty easy to negotiate, however you will need a little bit of memory to remember the quickest ways to the boss areas and hidden rooms, as there is no auto-map or landmark feature. It’s a very barebones map system (only the exits and save point is noted) and a more detailed map would have been appreciated.
Battles themselves are mostly random, aside from one or two select points on each floor. When battle starts, your party of monster girls will fight. Io acts as more of a support character, able to charge up his “Desire” before “Releasing” it to one of the monster girls to initiate a more powerful attack when they next move. The higher the charged “Desire”, the stronger the attack will be, but it also increases the chance of Io’s desire exploding, rendering Io unable to participate in battle, being present in “Calm Time.” Bear in mind that Io is the only way you’ll be able to use items, so it’s a careful balancing act here. Monster girls can also “Charm” Io to boost his “Desire” or get him out of “Calm Time” faster. It ties in well to the character of Io, and is a pretty simplistic enough system to use in the game, particularly in boss battles or the postgame rooms. It’s a nice idea, but not expanded on.
Pretty much every other feature required in an RPG battle system (spells, ailments etc.) are present and functional allowing for a reasonably fleshed out battle system. In regular battles, you fight against static portraits of various enemies with sexual connotations (should your dirty mind flag it up, though in all honesty it’s not that difficult, one of the enemies looks like a cross between a mushroom and male genitalia). Regular battles are pretty easy to sit through, and you could simply use auto battle and skip on easier difficulties, as there isn’t much challenge present in this aspect of the game.
Now onto Otton. I know him as the perverted seal, and the reason why is because he is where the ecchi content comes in. All of the 70 monster girls that you meet in the field can join your party – if you can capture them in battle. Instead of merely defeating them in battle as per most RPGs, there is a clothing degradation mechanic where the player has to attack the bits of clothing on their body and reduce them down to their bra and panties. If the player is able to remove all the clothing and fill Otton’s libido (the heart in the corner), you enter the Bumping Scratch minigame.
This is where it steps up from Monpiece. Whereas in Monpiece, you merely had to rub the Vita touchscreen up and down from anywhere in order to level up the cards, in Chronicle there is an added challenge. In Chronicle there are particular weak points on every monster girl that you have to strike in order to fill up the gauge within a minute. If you can successfully do this, you “capture” the monster girl and they will join your party after a generic lighthearted cutscene. Common weak points include obvious places like boobs and panties, to not so obvious ones like ears, forehead and tails. In context, this fits the game perfectly. It’s an interesting gameplay mechanic that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this is faithful enlargement (sorry) of Monpiece‘s version. If you think this sounds weird and haven’t played this series yet, you should take a look for yourself (skip to 2:52).
Outside of battles, there is also the Job Pantie system. This is where if you collect panties in the field, and are able to take them back to your hotel in town and use them on one of the many monster girls you meet to lay eggs, which can have alternative costumes. You can also do the same with building materials to upgrade their rooms. Alternatively, perform the Bumping Scratch minigame again on the monster girls you have captured can be done, likewise you can give them gifts, in order to raise their affection towards you. It also allows you to interact and have predetermined conversations between Io and at least one of the other characters at a time. Much like the rest of the dialogue, this is funny and lighthearted and a pleasure to read via a good quality translation with only a handful of errors (though Otton’s one-liners on the field are the best, such as the scenes where the party first meet Kargos).
When you look at this ecchi content more critically though, two things stick out. The first is that this is, in my view, too risqué for the West. Attitudes towards anime characters being sexualized in games in the West are generally negative (and are amplified even more by some areas of the media) due to them being perceived as underage. These kind of attitudes are what lead to games like Dungeon Travelers 2 being censored upon its Western release in order to mitigate the potential PR impact and meet the legal standards set by some regions, particularly in some PAL countries. An important thing to note with titles like Dungeon Travelers is that it was only cosmetic and wouldn’t affect the core gameplay, however with this title it’s different. If Moe Chronicle was to get a localized release, this minigame would get the carving knife (my guess based on MonMon, not all the clothes could be removed), and this would be to the detriment of the title’s unique flavor. I would argue to the detractors that to truly appreciate Chronicle (or any Japanese title for that matter) you try to look at the title from the perspective of the culture that it is produced in (i.e. ecchi is popular in Japan, Japan has an emphasis on youth in their culture, age of consent is as low as 13 in some places etc.). This is something I am still learning to do myself, and I hope that other readers and those outside of Chronicle’s niche try to do when reading about/playing with this kind of game.
This also leads to my second point – this minigame is where the main appeal of Moe Chronicle lies, and if you do not like it, you won’t like this game. The dungeon crawling is very simple and isn’t really fleshed out, and the story itself is pretty barebones, with a fairly simple character development arc. Catching all the monster girls and getting all the job panties available in the game is a grindfest which is standard course for Compile Heart games, though for me personally I have no interest in doing the latter. For me, games are meant to be played and enjoyed, not for endless monotony and postgame grinding for the sake of getting a platinum. That said, if you enjoy Compile Heart style grinding within this particular niche, you’ll be right at home here.
For me, my thoughts on Moe Chronicle can be best summed up as this – as an ecchi game, it’s fantastic. The ecchi is well put together, fits the tone of the gameplay perfectly, even though it may make you question why you are playing it. As an actual game though – it really does fall flat. My playtime clocked in at about 38 hours. As a fan of dungeon RPGs I was disappointed with the title from a gameplay standpoint due to a lack of depth even though I liked everything else, particularly the art and the quirky soundtrack. The art itself was done by Katsuyuki Hirano, and it’s gorgeous and the hand-drawn CGs and backgrounds stand out to me particularly. The soundtrack itself has a mixture of tunes from the upbeat rock of “Asian Purple” to the vocals of the opening theme “Dream Chronicle” to the more oriental instrumental choices in “OIRAN DISCO.” The game has a jukebox where more songs are added the further in the game you go. I recommend listening to it, as there is quite a large variety of music at play within this game.
If you are into Compile Heart, dungeon RPGs and ecchi – this game is perfect for you if you haven’t picked it up yet, even if you only want to show support for uncensored Asian English releases. However, for everybody else particularly non-ecchi fans, you may want to steer clear. Hopefully when Moero Crystal (the sequel) gets released in English the core gameplay will be improved on a bit. I think we can all agree on one thing though – as an experiment on whether Asian English releases of ecchi games would work, it has been a resounding sales success.
The quickest place to buy this game is from Play-Asia which you can do so here.
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