REVIEW: Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

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Hope Which Turns to Ash ~ Issues

I’ve already touched upon splitting Hakuōki ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ into Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms several times up till now. So, let me just summarize my thoughts by simply saying this was a horrible idea.

Edo Blossoms | Confusion

No Heisuke, you look fine. I’m just utterly stunned that someone thought this was a good idea.

This plot was never designed to be told this way. While Kyoto Winds suffers from a lack of resolution, it at least sets up a plot and promises things to come. Imagine the poor person who hears how amazing Hakouoki is and picks up Edo Blossoms first. While the design of the game is outside of IFI’s control, the localization and quality assurance are once again not up to standard.

Eedo Blossoms | Beleive in the Shinsengumi

I wanted to believe in that Edo Blossoms would be just as good or better than Kyoto Winds. Sadly, I’m left wondering if justice has really has been done here. Is this the best Otomate has to offer fans?

In my Kyoto Winds review, I had concerns about both issues. There were more grammatical and formatting issues than normal. In addition, there were a few localization issues I found questionable. I reached out to IFI for clarification and was hopeful these would be addressed in Edo Blossoms. Of these things, only the formatting seems to have improved. Gone are multiple single line textboxes and everything feels more concise. However, the other two remain.

Edo Blossoms | Where to Begin

To be fair, this is the worst offender of the lot. However, I expect better out of IFI. Especially since they had feedback from Kyoto Winds about stuff like this.

In terms of QA, there are grammatical errors. In addition, the key terms have additional issues. While much like in Kyoto Winds you’ll find a few that aren’t highlighted or the highlighted term doesn’t match the entry. “Water Margin” being in the dialogue, but “Suikoden” being the entry is a good example of this. It makes things confusing for the player. However, for me the biggest issue is the return of “Miss Chizuru.”

Edo Blossoms | Keyterms

An example of a key term not being highlighted. I was trying to check the entry for “full mastery” on this screen, only to find that “Hokushin Itto” has one as well.

In Kyoto Winds this was a problem with Kazue Souma in particular. Now, it seems to have spread to Risaburo Nomura as well. I understand that the localization team was trying to communicate that both Nomura and Souma were being polite to Chizuru by translating “Chizuru-senpai” as “Miss Chizuru”. However, remember, her gender is supposed to be a secret. It doesn’t make sense for them to be blurting out a gender-specific pronoun. Especially when senpai would have been perfectly fine to use.

Edo Blossoms | Ms. Yukimura

Did we just throw out the fact that Chizuru’s gender was supposed to be a secret and I not get the memo? Even Nomura is doing it now.

This is not a situation where the use of honorifics would have confused anyone. Senpai is quite a well-known suffix among not only otome fans but niche gamers. In addition, the story is set in Japan during a time where we’re actively using less known words such as Daimyo and Shogunate. Not only would senpai have fit, it would have been informative as well.

Edo Blossoms | Polite Gender

In just about any other game, this would be a non-issue. Souma’s politeness is part of his relationship with Chizuru. Communicating that is important. But, this choice doesn’t make logical sense. Yelling Chizuru’s gender out on a battlefield is a bad idea for many reasons.

Souma’s route went from my most anticipated, to a chore because of this one decision. Each time I read the word “Miss” it pulled me out of my immersion. For precedent even, I’ll point out that Saori in Hyperdevotion Noire addresses the Secretary as “Secretary-san”. IFI has used honorifics before, why not here? Sadly, I don’t have an answer. I will say that for the most part localization is not terrible, and the game is still enjoyable. However, this is an example of how an unwise decision can tarnish an experience for a player. With my evaluations made, let’s start wrapping this up

Edo Blossoms | Poor Souma

Despite the “Miss” issue, Souma is still my favorite of the bunch in terms of character. The choice doesn’t ruin him or his route. But did it make me facepalm every time I saw it? You bet.

The Shinsengumi’s Legacy ~ Closing

Sadly, despite IFI’s obvious passion for this project, I found Edo Blossoms to be disappointing. Much of the blame for that can be laid squarely at the feet of Idea Factory Japan and Otomate. Splitting Hakuōki ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ in two only served to hurt the experience. Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms are the very definitions of “one game for the price of two.” Something that even IF Japan seems to have realized.

Edo Blossoms | Otomate

Omtomate’s decision to split a remake of ~Shinsengumi Kitan~ into Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms is baffling. What should have been a game to make fans rejoice, feels instead like it was done to maximize profits.

In 2017 a PS4 version of this game was announced which has both halves on the same disk: Hakuoki: Shinkai – Fuukaden. Why they didn’t do this in the first place, I have no idea. However, it’s safe to assume that IFI didn’t even know about the existence of this version. Remember, Kyoto Winds’ localization was announced at the end of 2016. That said, IFI isn’t blameless when it comes to Edo Blossoms.

Edo Blossoms | Created this Beast

And Otomate took care of it indeed, by announcing Hakuoki: Shinkai – Fuukaden for the PS4. The game that should have been made in the first place.

While I admit that IFI was dealt a tough hand, they are still responsible for the quality of the localization. In some ways, this was better than Kyoto Winds, but this was certainly not their best work. It’s telling that just before I played Edo Blossoms I spent the month of February playing through and platinuming 2016’s Megadimension Neptunia VII. The difference in quality assurance teams is noticeable.

To me, it feels like both Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms weren’t given the attention they deserved. Whether this is IFI not having the budget to put the game through more QA testing, or Japan not wanting to spend the time on it I don’t know. What I do know though is that otome and visual novel fans deserve better than this. Which is sad since there is a good game under there.

Edo Blossoms | Wetted

While grammatically correct, the use of the word “wetted” sounds odd. It’s little things like this, that make me feel like Edo Blossoms needed another editing pass.

If both Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms were released as one game, I could see this scoring very high. However, this review is about Edo Blossoms and it must stand or fall on its own. And sadly, it falls flat for me.

Edo Blossoms is a series of romantic short stories that drops you into the middle of a plot. While there are 13 routes, this is a case of quantity over quality. At $39.99, even for 30+ hours, I can’t recommend this one. Half a story is half a story. For that same price I can play Kindred Spirits on the Roof, Princess Evangile, or Norn9: Var Commons and get a complete experience. So, what’s my recommendation then?

Edo Blossoms | Answer the Door

Sorry Hijikata, but I’m gonna recommend waiting for a sale before opening that door. However, come back with a polished localization of Hakuoki: Shinkai – Fuukaden and you’ve got yourself a deal.

If you’re new to otome all together then skip this for now. Take a look at Norn9: Var Commons, Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth, or Sweet Fuse: At Your Side. If you played Kyoto Winds, like me, and just want to see the rest of the story then wait for it to go on sale. $25-$30 is about what I’d pay for this.

In the end, I don’t regret my time with Edo Blossoms. While I am disappointed, I did enjoy getting to know these people. The tale of the Shinsengumi men is one that I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget the struggles Chizuru had to go through. However, I expect better from both Idea Factory Japan and especially Idea Factory International. Hopefully, the company decides to bring over Hakuoki: Shinkai – Fuukaden for the PlayStation 4 and give Hakuoki the treatment I know only IFI can.

Edo Blossoms | Still Fighting

That’s true Kazama. And I hope that IFI doesn’t stop fighting to bring otome titles to the West. In the end, I just want them to do a better job. That’s all for this time though. Take care, everyone!

Review Score

Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

About Benny Carrillo

A gamer since the days of the NES, this professional otaku adores Mega Man, Super Robot Wars, Yuri, Visual Novels, the Slice of Life anime genre, and of course Hyperdimension Neptunia. His mission on oprainfall is to help deliver the news straight to you.

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