Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs
Chapter 7. They Almost Made It. Indecent Mice. A Lesson Learned.
In this chapter I would like to talk about the few interesting hentai RPGs from the PC-98 era that I liked less than those discussed in the previous two chapters. Everything is relative, and maybe you'll like them more than I did. Or maybe I'll change my mind in the future. Anyway, I only mention those that interested me enough to give them a solid chance and play them beyond the first couple of dungeons. I'll try to be brief.
The most original one of that bunch is called Half-Pipe (1993) - like Half-Life, only with a pipe instead of a life. It was made by Aypio, and was actually this company's first game. It has the most unlikely RPG hero ever: a pianist. That's right. A pianist who plays in bars to earn for living. In Half-Pipe you don't get money from enemies - you earn it by playing piano. That's sheer goddamn genius. Half-Pipe is the only RPG in which the protagonist has the same profession as me. Music and sex are the best things in life, and this little game is the only RPG in which you can have both. I hope you are able to grasp the greatness of it. Unfortunately, it has the most primitive combat system ever designed. It's a close call - sometimes I found myself loving the game, while another time I would just get desperate because it has so little to offer as an RPG.
Dangel (1995), created by Mink, also seemed promising enough. Vast world, epic size, and a good story indicated the potential to become the greatest hentai RPG of all ages. But I simply couldn't stomach the excruciating combat, which was much too easy and extremely tedious at the same time. Agonizingly slow leveling up meant no sense of reward whatsoever.
Some people might consider Romance wa Tsurugi no Kagayaki (1995) a masterpiece of hentai RPGs. Indeed, FairyTale crafted a game with astonishingly deep gameplay and plenty of customization. My problem with it is the tactical combat. I just don't like Japanese RPGs in which battles take more time than exploration. Just like trips to the supermarket during a summer rush hour in Shanghai, I like them quick and possibly painless. But maybe other people enjoy this kind of thing. Tactical battles in Japanese RPGs, not trips to Shanghai supermarkets.
Jinn: Eternal Hero (1994) is completely first-person 3D, and has a very similar vibe to Bard's Tale games, if only Bard's Tale had naked breasts. You explore the surroundings gradually and your auto-map gets filled. Jinn also has a nice initial story, but you won't see much of it because you'll spend all your time exploring gigantic mazes with a party of silent girls. It was made by a company named Tenshindo, which sounds like a martial art technique or something. I have no idea what else they made. Even Japanese Wikipedia couldn't enlighten me.
For those who like Falcom-style action RPGs, I could recommend Briganty: Roots of Darkness (1995. Man, a lot of games were released in that year) and Yūrō: Transient Sands. But that's just because those two are the only hentai action RPGs for PC-98 I know.
Mokkoriman RPG (1994) was the only PC-98-era RPG made by Illusion. This company occupies a special position among eroge developers. After the fall of hentai during the Windows era, Illusion was the only company that participated in all those multimedia revolutions of the time. Mainstream games had pre-rendered backgrounds - Illusion started making pre-rendered backgrounds. Mainstream games had FMVs - lllusion started making FMVs. Mainstream games had real-time 3D - Illusion started making real-time 3D. Like many other hentai companies, Illusion started in the 90-ies with PC-98. Yes, that's true. Illusion has been with us for a long time, only we were too blind to notice that. Today people think that everything began with Sexy Beach or something. They don't even suspect that Illusion has been making games for over 15 years now. The youth today has really no pornographic education at all.
Mokkoriman RPG was the first game in which the now-famous synchronized mouse movement was used. In other words, you move the mouse, the guy on the screen moves his tongue or other parts to please the girl. How very perverse. How very genius. It also had funny stuff such as physical attacks displayed as a sexual intercourse, "Dirty Talk" instead of magic, equipping dildos (I'm not joking), etc. All this, however, meant pretty much nothing, because as a role-playing game, Mokkoriman RPG sucks. It's boring and utterly amateurish, and can serve as a convincing proof that it takes more to make a good RPG than invest all your money and effort into obscene mouse interaction. Everyone can learn a lesson from this game.
To my knowledge, Illusion stopped making RPGs after that, the sole exception being Brutish Mine, released in 2000 for Windows. Even though it had pre-rendered backgrounds, 3D character models that were as good as in contemporary Final Fantasies, and FMV movies, it still couldn't quite cut it as a RPG. Undeniably better than Mokkoriman RPG, it had awful camera, boring and confusing dungeons, and gameplay that was so slow that its battles felt like competitions between turtles and snails. All of that significantly impeded the enjoyment of playing it.
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