Leveling Down: The Story of Hentai RPGs
Chapter 5. D.O. Marks the Bran. How to Be Sweet. Yes to Sex, No to Tentacles!
Okay, I already feel much better because I'm done with Rance. So now, it's like a transition from the somber, sinister main theme of, let's say, Brahms' Fourth Symphony, to is heroically oprimist, lucid secondary theme. Except Brahms' Fourth Symphony has a beautiful main theme, somber or not. Much more beautiful than Rance in every way. So it's a lame comparison, but I just had to make one here.
We are moving to one of the most important hentai RPG developers: D.O.. Now, this will be a test for you. Do you know a very famous hentai game (not a RPG) that was translated into English and instantly became the favorite of noble-minded young men? That's right: D.O. is the company that developed Kana: Little Sister.
What most people don't know, however, is that by then D.O. has already become an established company with years of experience. Yes, like most other hentai greats, they have switched to stupid visual novels long ago. But before that, during the glorious PC-98 era, they made some of the finest hentai RPGs around.
They started with Branmarker (1991), a simple RPG with just one town, two party members and five or six large dungeons. They certainly didn't invent anything in this one, but they captured the old-school gameplay really well. Leveling up paid off, mazes were interesting to explore, boss battles kept you on the edge of your seat. In short: old-style RPG goodness.
One time I was browsing through the PC-98 library and stumbled across a game curiously entitled Branmarker 2. Using my sharply honed powers of deduction, I eventually came to the conclusion that this game was a sequel to Branmarker. It improved upon its predecessor in almost every way imaginable, delivering fun gameplay and interesting dungeons to explore.
Branmarker games are good, basic, unpretentious Japanese RPGs. They have mild sex content (just erotic pictures, no pornography), and their two protagonists are lovable and goofy. Branmarker is D.O. at their best, and a good place to start the acquaintance with hentai RPGs.
Unfortunately, D.O. somewhat marred their reputation with the questionable Legend of Rouge (1996). It was supposed to be the RPG swan song for PC-98, but that comparison can only hold if we believe that swans have tentacles. Yes, it taints itself with graphic depictions of tentacle rape. To me personally, this is about as arousing as being locked in a refrigerator full of Chinese stinky tofu. Legend of Rouge also has bad graphics and awful dungeon design, so skip this one even if you are morbidly curious about the tentacle thing (and you shouldn't be, trust me).
One would think that D.O. was about to consolidate its power after the fall of PC-98. But that didn't happen. Lots of things changed with the advent of Windows '95. Lots of things were globalized. The unique PC-98 machine died, and with it died the mass production of mainstream hentai. Windows became the One Lord of Platforms. And the once mighty D.O. stopped creating RPGs. Out of their hands came sweet, but gameplay-less visual novels. Darkness engulfed the Earth. (Sorry, been watching too many Lord of the Rings movies lately).
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