Harukoi Otome is a pretty strong Eroge game. For those of you unfamiliar, Eroge are visual novels (that is, you read the story and make decisions altering its path) that have some form of erotic involvement. Traditionally, it usually ends with the main character bedding one of the heroines. Pretty standard stuff, really.
Harukoi is a very standard Eroge. The characters are your traditional cast of a childhood friend, tsundere, imouto, nice girl, strong girl, etc. There is really no groundbreaking done here.
However, that isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s maybe a little above average. The art was good, and the characters that were voiced (only the heroines) were done well. The choices were paced nicely, and the story never felt stale. Overall, Harukoi was a fine game.
Let’s talk about what was good first. The menus were brilliantly executed. There wasn’t any slowdown or lag when interacting with the menus, which happens in visual novels sometimes. The colors and layout were pleasing and easy to understand and read.
One issue I had here, though, was the volume controls. The difference between 10 (full blast) and 2 was virtually nothing, and then 2 to 1 was like half the output, and then 0 was off. There was basically three settings – off, low, and high.
The art was great. The characters were all drawn in the same style, and each emotion still looked like the same character (You’d be surprised how many visual novels can’t keep the same character look between poses).
The gallery of pictures has some really great shots, and there are a good number of them. Overall, I had no complaints with the art or the designs.
The backgrounds were also beautifully done. And they were also connected. By that, I mean that to get to place e, the backgrounds would actually transition from a, to b, to c, to d, and then to e.
It gave the impression that there was continuity in the world, which was nice. Knowing what spots on the school’s campus were connected to other locales made the place seem more real.
One last thing I’d like to call attention to was a system this game used for voice acting. When a girl who was voiced said her line, it didn’t cut off as soon as you hit the next button, but would only cut off if another voiced line was triggered. This may seem like a little thing, but it was incredible to have.
When you read faster than the character speaks, you generally don’t get to hear the whole line, however, here you do. When most of the spoken lines are followed by one or two unspoken ones, you get to hear most of the dialogue without having to check your reading speed. It was something small that went a long way.
However, I have one gripe that I feel I need to say. First, I’d like to talk about what the localization did with the main character’s friend…or not-friend.
Either way, they took a character and gave him a British accent. Now, that’s a choice and I understand that it would help when the characters actually call attention to his accent.
My issue here is that the localization choice reflects the target audience. It would seem that they missed the mark here. (I apologize to people unfamiliar with this bit here.)
The friend speaks kansai-ben – that is, an accent from the area around Osaka and Kyoto, and can be very harsh and noticeable. Thus, characters mention it several times.
This got on my nerves, as someone who recognized what it was supposed to be. The constant British accent in the text, as well as rewriting things to make it make sense (which it didn’t) really bugged me. The localization team stumbled here, I think.
Most players of Eroge will have a decent background in Japanese culture, and most would have recognized what the characters were talking about when they said the kansai dialect.
(As a sidenote, subtitles also often translate kansai-ben as a southern-accent, which would have bothered me less, even.)
The only other thing that bothered me were that the choices were often too straightforward. Half of the choices in any given route had the character’s name on it, so you knew exactly which to pick when going for a specific route.
Also, just for good measure, I played through three times and got three good ends with Riru, Ayaka and Kisaya.
Getting back on topic, though, the rest of the translation was solid. The English matched the Japanese voiced lines well and never really strayed. I think, all in all they did a good job, worthy of praise. You can find Harukoi Otome: Greetings from the Maidens’ Garden here on Manga Gamer’s website.
The game was solid, with really only the one hiccup for me. If you like Eroge, I would say go for it if you have the time, but Harukoi Otome is definitely overshadowed by some better titles.
Harukoi Otome: Greetings from the Maidens’ Garden was reviewed using a code provided by Manga Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.