By Chris Melchin / March 15th, 2019
|Title||Magical Marriage Lunatics!!|
|Release Date||April 26th, 2018|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Eroge, Romance|
From my point of view, eroge generally exist on a spectrum. On one side, you have games like To Heart 2 or The Fruit of Grisaia; either adapted into an eroge from an all-ages title, or where the story takes center stage while the H-scenes are there to help develop it, the characters, and their relationships. On the other end, you have nukige, where the H-scenes are the primary focus, with the story mainly serving to string them together. Ordinarily when I play eroge, I’m mainly interested in the former end of the spectrum, such as the aforementioned games as well as the Da Capo/Dal Segno games, which swing slightly closer to the center. Further out than that is largely uncharted territory for me, and Magical Marriage Lunatics!! is a step beyond my usual comfort zone. However, it drew me in with appealing character designs and concepts, and a premise that sounded fun and interesting.
Magical Marriage Lunatics follows protagonist Yuta Ushio, who is suddenly approached by a beautiful woman who tells him that when he was a child, she made a pact to get married to him. She reveals her name is Luci Yami Astalité, and that she’s the vampire princess from another world, and shortly afterwards a large mansion for her appears behind Yuta’s house. In the following days, the succubus princess Julia Lyn Lord (also known as Juli), the Tenko princess Karin Amagi, the goddess princess Yorihime Mitsunotama, and the witch princess Luluna all follow Luci. Each has a similar pact to Luci, along with Yuta’s neighbor and childhood friend Yuna Shirahase claiming to have a similar promise. The otherworldly princesses all start attending school alongside Yuta and Yuna, and Yuta finds himself needing to choose one of the girls to marry. Other characters include Yuna’s father, Juli’s mother Adrianne, their classmate Megumi Shibuya, and Luci’s bat-like attendant Dora.
Being a visual novel, the entire game consists of reading and occasionally making choices, the only important choices being who to spend time with throughout the common route. If you don’t commit enough to any one girl, the game kicks you back to before the first meaningful choice so you can try again. There are no real choices once you actually get into one of the routes, so they’re all quite linear. Each one has several fairly lengthy H-scenes throughout along with the character’s main story, which are accentuated by the great art style and appealing character designs. It’s just a shame I didn’t care more about the characters.
It’s hard to say exactly why, but I found myself unable to get into the story and characters, generally feeling detached from what was happening. It didn’t feel like any of the girls had a full romantic arc, specifically because of the unusual setup where they came into Yuta’s life already wanting to marry him. Not being able to see the relationship develop from the start takes a sense of impact away from seeing the eventual culmination and hardships they face along the way, leading to that feeling of emotional detachment. I didn’t find myself empathizing with the characters the same way I have with other games, and even the H-scenes didn’t take long to feel samey, with the few more exotic scenes being a welcome departure from an otherwise very vanilla experience. The common route also feels less like a single story and more like a series of isolated events, lacking a general sense of continuity.
Ultimately my biggest issue with the story comes down to Yuta himself, partly in that he never really feels like a complete character to me, although again all this may be part of my expectations being based on a totally different type of visual novel and it may be the norm here. The game doesn’t do a great job of conveying him as having any life outside of the girls aside from his small group of completely one-dimensional male friends. However, the bigger problem comes from the game seeming like it sets itself up for a big reveal of Yuta’s true identity and never delivers. Throughout some of the routes the game drops hints at who Yuta really is and questions how he’s able to travel from his world to the princesses’ home worlds when they first met, but it never gives anything really concrete. The route that comes closest to explaining it is Luci’s, but even then, it never clearly gives a reason why Yuta has the strange ability. All that being said, Yuta’s true nature is never really the focus of the story, and even when it’s pertinent to one of the routes the explanations never go beyond what’s needed to resolve the problems presented. Even if it seems like a fairly major loose plot thread, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree with wanting it to be answered when, for the stories and problems presented, it doesn’t really matter for the most part. Again, all my problems may stem from unrealistic expectations, and those who actually know what they’re getting into may be totally fine with what I consider to be problems.
While the art and style are generally great, a minor but annoying gripe I have is the poses of the dialogue sprites. In general, sprites in a VN serve not only to show who is present in a conversation, but also to help construct a scene along with the backgrounds and any movement the game’s engine may allow. The poses of the sprites help to build the scene, meaning that for the most part they tend to be positions one would normally take in a casual conversation. Meanwhile, many of the sprites in Magical Marriage Lunatics look like the character is trying to pose for a picture, which isn’t the best for conversations. The only other time I’ve seen this particular issue in a game that I remember was in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, which used slightly modified character select artwork in place of unique sprites for dialogue in the story mode. It may be somewhat of a nitpick, but it was definitely something that irritated me while playing through both games.
The voices are generally good, although I have one minor issue with the way they’re implemented. During H-scenes there’s constant sound coming from the girl, and while I’m sure it was meant to add to the atmosphere of the H-scene, it really just ended up being annoying, leading me to turn off background voices in the game’s settings. The music is fine, but probably not anything I’d go out of my way to listen to outside the game.
I’m not going to say that Magical Marriage Lunatics is a bad game, mostly just that it isn’t for me. Ultimately what you get out of it depends on your personal preferences and expectations when it comes to visual novels and eroge, since there are undeniably plenty of things to like about it. It has bright and pretty visuals with appealing characters, and a premise that sets up for an entertaining if not necessarily particularly interesting story. Unfortunately, the ways the story falls short were a big hit to it for me, while others may not miss it as much. I found that even though the characters were well-designed they generally lacked depth and generally seemed underdeveloped, along with their respective romantic arcs. Knowing all this, if Magical Marriage Lunatics!! still looks appealing to you, I encourage you to give it a shot, and you may well enjoy it much more than I did. There’s also a fan-made restoration patch to change the names to more direct romanizations (such as Yuta to Yuuta, Yuna to Yuuna, and Luci to Luce), if the difference between the way names are written and said in-game bothers you. Even for me there was a fair bit to enjoy in its fairly lengthy runtime (listed by VNDB in the 30-50 hour “long” category) and price of $44.95 USD, so those more into this particular variety of eroge will probably quite enjoy it.
Review copy provided by publisher
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