Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs
Chapter 4. PC-98: The Platform of Sex. The Soul Question. Why Rance Sucks.
PC-98, the most popular pre-Windows Japanese computer, is to fans of hentai what Jerusalem is to Jews: it doesn't get any holier than that. Every true fan of hentai knows that this platform was the one that put hentai onto a pedestal and made it god. It was hard to find an .EXE file written for this system that didn't lead to naked breasts. It was that kind of platform. A legend. A hormonal dream coming true.
Sure, there were some non-hentai RPGs for this peculiar system. But seriously, I think about half of the RPGs for PC-98 were hentai. Probably more. People who wanted to play serious Western RPGs in Japan turned to other platforms, like MSX or FM Towns, which had its own OS and was like a cross between the shameless East and the puritan West. So you could play Ultima VI to show everyone what a serious and highly moral RPG player you were, only to quickly switch to Branmarker when nobody was looking. "Avatar, Avatar, why dost thou look at fair maiden's nipples", that kind of thing. There was another system, Sharp X68000, but many of its games (and I think most of its RPGs) overlapped with PC-98.
I already mentioned Elf and their debut in the high realm of hentai RPGs. Now it's time to mention another famous company, also one of the founders: Alice Soft. And of course, its flagship series, Rance. And I do it reluctantly, because I don't like this company and its series. Why?
Because let's face it, Rance is just low-level. Not only from the point of view of gameplay, but also from the point of view of soul. That's something I'm always looking for in video games, and I don't always find it, but when I do, I become a fanatical follower of the game in question and defend it from all attacks. But when I feel a game has no soul, I'm merciless. Maybe you hate this pseudo-metaphysical mumbo-jumbo I'm feeding to you now, but you see, it's my article, so I write whatever I want, as long as it truthfully reflects my experiences with video games. So, in order to be truthful, I must mention this soul thing. It's crucial. Sorry.
So, back to Rance and why it doesn't have soul. First of all, it's because its protagonist doesn't have one. When protagonist has no soul, the player loses a part of his. (Man, that was deep). You see, Rance rapes women. That's what he does. All the time. In every game. His constant side-kick is also his sex slave, for God's sake. That's sick, and I don't care it's a video game, whatever, blah-blah-blah, I'm not listening. Rance doesn't have a soul, pure and simple. We are supposed to rescue girls who are being raped, you moron, that's what we should do in hentai RPGs! We can seduce and cheat and take advantage and be sinful and all that, because God will forgive that, but we don't rape. If God forgives rape, He should retire.
Besides, Alice Soft games in general and Rance in particular always have no taste in eroticism, what with their crude drawings and stereotypical situations. They don't really understand what's erotic and what's not. They also suck in gameplay, if you really want to know. Boring dungeon crawls with lousy interfaces and no feeling of satisfaction. So why should I play those games? I shouldn't, and you shouldn't either. And to think Rance is the largest and longest-running hentai RPG series ever! I'm actually sorry I dedicated so much space and time to this despicable Rance. Let's move on. To something good already.
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