- Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of oprainfall as a whole.
Before I begin, I would like to encourage anyone reading this piece who has a knee-jerk reaction to my stance to fully read before commenting. I have reasons for preferring the all-ages version of Little Busters! over the 18+ version, and it has nothing to do with the simple fact that it’s 18+. Hentai content is not something I have a problem with in and of itself – see my past eroge reviews – but rather I take issue with poorly-implemented 18+ content. Now on to our regularly-scheduled programming.
As most who have been following the game are most likely aware, Little Busters! English Edition is based on the Japanese Perfect Edition – or more specifically the console Converted Edition – which contains the extra routes added in Ecstasy without any of that game’s 18+ content. Naturally, some are upset by this decision, releasing the all-ages version as opposed to the technically more content-rich 18+ release. However, I think the decision to localize the all-ages version is a good one, the reason ultimately boiling down to it having the aforementioned poorly-implemented 18+ content. I should also note that this is all based on the Japanese version of the game. There was no complete English translation, with the scenes added in Little Busters! Ecstasy being largely untranslated. As a result, my knowledge of the new scenes is based on a combination of machine translation, word-by-word translation, and my own rather limited knowledge of Japanese grammar. I acknowledge that there may be things I missed. However, as I will explain, I don’t think it matters a whole lot.
Also due to the language barrier, I didn’t read the extra routes added for Sasami, Kanata and Saya. For the original routes, I was reading along in the translated original version for context and to see where things were changed. Since I couldn’t do that with the new routes, and I’m not familiar with them to begin with, I figured it would take a lot of extra time that I don’t have to sink into this project. So, if you think that this lack of experience invalidates my opinion, then so be it.
All that said, the biggest reason why is because the all-ages version is the original. There’s no cut content in the main routes, but rather restoring them to their original version. Since the 18+ scenes were added after the fact – usually inserted into existing scenes and changing nothing else – most of the routes are not structured properly for them to make sense or serve any purpose. H-scenes serve a purpose in most eroge; they may advance the story, they may help naturally develop the relationship between characters, or they may provide emotional payoff that is built up to throughout the story. The only route where this is the case is in Kud’s route, where the H-scene is inserted at a point that is appropriate both for the scene itself and for Kud’s route as a whole, since it was accompanied by a number of small changes to the growth of Riki and Kud’s relationship that also appropriately built to the H-scene. The other routes did not receive the same treatment, with H-scenes inelegantly inserted into scenes where they didn’t belong – and for Mio and Komari’s routes, into bad endings.
Every good ending in the main routes can be obtained without seeing any H-scenes. This actually threw me off initially; especially since I did Komari’s route first, where the H-scene is only in the bad ending. This means that, by necessity, none of the H-scenes can contribute anything important to the story, and whether you read them or not you get the exact same text after the scene ends. Even aside from Komari’s, they seem easy to miss, with some, such as Rin’s and one of Mio’s, seemingly only being available after finishing Refrain once. Because none of the H-scenes are necessary to see, it’s not difficult to go through the entire game without seeing any of them. As a result, anyone who objects to the H-scenes themselves can easily avoid them without consequence. On the other hand, since none of them (aside from Kud’s) contribute anything at all to the story, nothing is lost by not including them.
VisualArt’s is seemingly trying to move away from being an eroge publisher. Little Busters! Ecstasy was the last new eroge released by the company back in 2008, aside from some re-releases, including downloadable versions of Air, Little Busters! Ecstasy and Kud Wafter in 2013, and Tomoyo After ~It’s a Wonderful Life~ Perfect Edition in 2014. In a recent interview about Little Busters! English Edition, Kazamatsuri asked VisualArt’s president Takahiro Baba about Ecstasy, who said that the 18+ version was released “due to fan feedback”, and that despite the fact that “the results of doing so were very good” from a business perspective, they will “probably not do it again”, due to the difficulty of creating that type of story. The response seems to be supported by the fact that neither Rewrite nor the Angel Beats! visual novel is 18+, and with Summer Pockets on the way we’ll see if that is also all-ages.
If nothing else, the game would definitely need to have a different song for the H-scenes, because the song in the game as-is, titled “Sha La La Ecstasy”, is hands-down one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard in a visual novel. It’s so cheesy, and, quite frankly, really funny:
The ideal situation would be VisualArt’s releasing two different versions of Little Busters! English Edition, both an all-ages version and an 18+ version. However, since that’s clearly not happening, I don’t see only the all-ages version being available as a great loss. The H-scenes add very little to the story, with very little effort seeming to have been put into integrating them into the story. They certainly don’t seem to be Fate/Stay Night-level of terrible, at least from what I could understand, but they’re far from being implemented as well as H-scenes in a game where they’re included as an actual creative decision rather than a shallow attempt to sell more copies. The game is written to be complete without the H-scenes, which ultimately amount more to empty fluff than actual substance. If all the H-scenes were done like Kud’s, it would be a different story, but as it is, any worries about cut content in Little Busters! English Edition are somewhat overblown. Avoid the game on principle if you like, but rest assured that the story of Little Busters! is still complete even without the H-scenes.