Visual Novel Reviews
Shuffle! is a visual novel / H-game developed by Navel in 2004. Like many other games of it's kind, Shuffle! involves you, the main character, making various decisions. The decisions that you make determine which one of the girls you end up with.
Ten years ago, the door connecting the Human World, the Devil World, and the God World opened. As a result, Gods and Devils now reside among humans in everyday life. Surprisingly, they all seem to accept and get along with each other. It's much different from what you'd expect, and it's highly unrealistic, but after some getting used to, I came to accept it.
You play as Rin, the main character and male lead of the game. Rin has been living with his childhood friend Kaede for many years. Both of Rin's parents and Kaede's mother died in a fatal accident when they we're young, and they have been living toegther with Kaede's dad ever since. One day while walking home, Rin runs into two girls who somehow know his name. He seems to vaguely remember them from somewhere, but can't quite put his finger on it.
The next day he finds out that the two girls are new transfer students in his class. On top of that, the girls' fathers are the King of Gods and the King of Devils, which essentially makes them the princesses of the God and Devil worlds. They also claim that they met Rin eight years ago and have loved him ever since. Their fathers have decided that one of the girls will marry Rin, and that Rin has to choose which one: either Lisianthus (called "Sia" for short), the princess of the God World, or Nerine, the princess of the Devil World.
Overall the story is your typical clich harem with mild supernatural elements added. It's mostly nothing new, but it's still lighthearted, fun, and enjoyable. There are plenty of comedic scenes, and there's more than enough fanservice to keep one entertained.
By the way, SIA IS SUPERIOR
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As one would expect, the vast majority of the game's cast is female. Other than Rin, another main male character is his close friend Itsuki, who serves mostly a comedic role. He's the typical "player" character who's always talking about how beautiful all the girls in school are, acting like a total pervert all the time.
There are five main female characters in the game, and depending on the path you take, one of them will become your girlfriend. However, the story isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Each of the girls has her own secrets, or a hidden past, which you will learn more about as you get closer to her. Some of the stories get very emotional and are done well, while others are over-exaggerated. Overall though, these emotional "sob stories" help to develop the characters and will make one feel sorry or "moe" for them.
Gameplay is just like that of any usual visual novel. There's plenty of reading to do, just as if you we're reading an actual novel. The main difference, of course, is that you can control how the story unfolds by making various choices, which will determine your fate. In the typical dating sim fashion, acting favorably towards one girl will improve your chances of her becoming your girlfriend later on in the game.
One thing that disappointed me was a lack of keyboard functions. While most people play visual novels with their mouse, I actually prefer to map various keyboard functions to a PS2 controller and play with that. However, without keyboard functions, I couldn't do that.
What really upset me, however, was the game's shoddy translation. The game was translated by MangaGamer.com, a new company that specializes in English-translated bishoujo games. Having spent a decent amount of money on the game, I was expecting a high-quality translation with perfect grammar. Unfortunately, I was very wrong. The errors are a-plenty, ranging all the way from simple grammar errors to words being missing from sentences. Clearly, no one proofread this, and that's really upsetting. Despite this, it's still possible to understand what's going on. The errors aren't all that serious, but the fact that they even exist in a "professional" translation is what bothers me.
A typical day in Shuffle!
VISUALS & SOUND
As expected from a visual novel, the voice acting is superb. Especially during the naughty scenes. ^_^ The music is nothing special really. Typical visual novel music. But it helps set the mood.
The art, however, is where Shuffle! really shines. The art is incredible and very detailed, and may very well be the best anime art I've seen. I've actually been following the artist's blog for quite some time. The artist, Aoi Nishimata, posts plenty of her artwork on her blog, so check it out.
All in all, Shuffle! is a fun game to play. It's not incredibly entertaining, but it's good for some light fun. While I am glad that the game did see an official US release, it's sad that the distributors didn't do a better job with it's translation.
Any fan of harem anime that doesn't mind hentai will certainly enjoy Shuffle!, so if you're one of those people, be sure to pick up this gem.
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Posted in Photograph Post Date 12/17/2015