Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs
Chapter 6. More Old Goodness. Mecha Voyeurs. Baker Street Goes Hentai.
If you think only D.O. did great hentai RPGs during the PC-98 era, you are wrong. Let's not forget our good old friend Elf, which I already mentioned two times. That's because I really like those guys. They don't do porn: they do good games with erotic content. They made Dōkyūsei, which is about as good as a dating adventure can get (not that it means much, but still), they made the interesting point-and-click adventure Yu-No, they made a lot of other good games in many genres.
But I digress - let's go back to RPGs. So, what about those Dragon Knight games? Honestly, I wasn't that excited about the first two, but the third is none other but the glorious Knights of Xentar. We'll get to it later, I promise. Meanwhile, I'd like to introduce to you another fine Elf creation: Metal Eye (1993).
It's a rough RPG. So-so graphics, very simple mechanics, some grinding required (not too much, though). But man, does this game grow on you. It has one of the best storylines I've encountered in a hentai RPG; it's interesting, emotional, and well-paced. It has a super-cool sci-fi, slightly post-apocalyptic setting, with robots that can be bought and added to your party. It has beautiful cutscenes, and I'm not talking just about hentai. Speaking of which, the content is mild, like in most Elf games, and much of it is optional - you can make the protagonist behave like a professional voyeur, but you can also skip the pleasures of flesh and go straight into battles against mutated creatures in the wasteland.
It's thanks to games like Metal Eye that hentai RPGs had the right to say: "We are not just dubious masturbation material disguised as games. We are more than that. As games, we are as good as our mainstream, sex-less, goody-two-shoes brothers. We have gameplay ideas that weren't even used in them. And our graphics and sound are on par. Plus, we offer sex. That's adult entertainment, and we are not ashamed of that". Yeah, they had the right to say that. Past tense.
Anyway, Metal Eye had a sequel, aptly named Metal Eye 2, but I haven't yet played it long enough to pass a judgment. What? You think I've played every hentai RPG out there? Come on.
The next one deserves a special attention. It's GunBlaze (1994). Honestly, hentai RPGs should get up, bow, and say to it: "We are honored to have you among us, brother". Active Software delivered a game that not only has (some) really tasteful and meaningful adult scenes, but also a very original setting: Belle Epoque (end of 19th century) in London! Zeppelins, guns, British Museum, Sherlock Holmes (okay, no Holmes, I just got carried away), and anime girls with colorful hair! If this does not spell "cool", I don't know what does. GunBlaze has style, atmosphere, memorable characters, good writing, and solid, if simple (like all hentai RPGs, really) gameplay. It's the pearl of the genre.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought GunBlaze was great. In 1998 it was re-released for Saturn as GunBlaze S, with enhanced graphics and all explicit sex scenes removed. This is your chance to get acquainted with this game in case you can't stand hentai. I suggest you remove your hat, in case you're wearing one, in honor of GunBlaze.
The reader may ask: so what else did Active Software do? Any other RPGs? Well, it's sad, but I'm afraid the answer is "no". Looking at their record, I only found strip mahjong games and - you've guessed it - visual novels. I think they even made an anime based on one of those. Sic transit gloria mundi.
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