By William Haderlie / January 16th, 2017
Muv-Luv Extra is a pretty funny story. It’s not the funniest Visual Novel that I’ve ever read, but it does definitely focus on that part of the emotional scale. It’s certainly romantic, but any drama surrounding the romance is at worst bittersweet. And any serious melodrama is unfortunately rather ridiculously overblown (the music in these parts makes it even more overblown). Still, it can be very pleasant to just sit back and enjoy a Romantic Comedy where there is no real danger of there being anyone killed or seriously hurt or you ending up with a horrific ending screen. Honestly, I do wish the turned down a notch on some of the adolescent melodrama and some of the obliviousness of the hero. It’s nothing that particularly offended me enough to make me hate the game, but if I was only reviewing Muv-Luv Extra, the overall review score would have definitely suffered as a result.
As I said earlier, it turns out that Muv-Luv Extra had nothing to do with mechs. But you do see several video game sequences inside the game starring a (fictional) video game called Valgern-On. Because I knew that Unlimited was upcoming, and because I had heard about the mech stuff beforehand, it was pretty easy to figure out that this was foreshadowing. But some of the designs for Valgern-On, particularly in the Load Out screens, was pretty advanced for 2003. It certainly doesn’t hold up in 2017, though, so temper your expectations. It would have been a cool addition to be able to play the arcade sequences in the game rather than just select Visual Novel style options for what your arcade player does, but overall the arcade experiences in this game are not bad (even if you cannot win).
For 2003 the overall art for the entire game is pretty good. It was also innovative for the time to have the characters move into the background and actually show their profile or their back to the protagonist. Unfortunately, this is 2017 and not 2003, and even if that practice still isn’t part of every Visual Novel, it’s been done a lot better in recent times. The artwork looks good for other games I’ve played from that era, but it doesn’t hold up to something beautiful like Funbag Fantasy or Corona Blossom or an artistic example like The House in Fata Morgana. The artwork for Unlimited is a bit better than the art for Extra, even though they were released as a package even back in 2003. So I have to believe that Extra was completed well before they started work on the scenes from Unlimited.
The last thing that I’ll address in Part 1 of the review (I’ll talk about the music and voice acting in Part 2 since it’s almost exactly the same for both stories), is the adult content that is re-introduced with the Director’s Cut patch. If I had reviewed this game without the content added back in, I would have lambasted the game for it. That is not because every game needs to have adult content to please me, but it is a huge part of this story, and many other romance stories. All the adult content is very pleasant and romantic and, while there are few scenes of nudity of varying lewdness, most of the eroticism is involved in the descriptions of what’s going on and the voice acting. But as someone who reads a lot of romance novels in my spare time, I can safely say it matches what you would expect to read in any romance novel not written for teenagers. The sex is very vanilla, which is very much in keeping with the fact that everyone involved is a virgin (other than your teacher, and the sex scene also reflects that fact), but it’s also very emotional and passionate. In other words, the sex is in this game not just as a bit of fan service, even though there would be nothing wrong with that. If those scenes were completely cut, there would be a huge hole in the story and you would be missing a lot of the emotional payoff at the end of each relationship.
Muv-Luv Extra has 7 different endings, but only 5 of them are romantic endings that will have a direct impact on the story for Muv-Luv Unlimited. Still, I would strongly recommend you see every ending before you start playing the next phase, and at a minimum the 5 girls. There are quite a few different decisions in each route but they are only building up points for each girl, and you’ll end up with who has the most points. So it’s not too hard to get the 5 primary endings, but you may need a guide for the other two. Muv-Luv Extra is the shorter experience between the two stories (clocking in about 20-50 hours depending on how much save skipping or fast forwarding you do), and in my opinion, has the lower quality of writing. But it’s a mostly fun ride and worth experiencing even just to get to the better story in Muv-Luv Unlimited, which I’ll talk about now in Part 2.
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