IT’S TIME!!! After waiting for 2 years, Walkure Romanze is back in full swing with the anime airing and the release of the
fandisk spin-off (as Ricotta emphasizes), More & More. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you have already dropped the anime (of course they’d pull a Majikoi, lol). Much like Majikoi S though, I still had faith in WR M&M and it’s been one of my most anticipated eroge releases this year. Aero and I did the first game’s review, but this time, he passed the reins to me. I finished this review much earlier, but I delayed posting because Ricotta just completed its general character poll for Walkure Romanze! I’ll add commentary to the end. (Okay, maaaybe I was absorbed in Ace Attorney 5 too ;))
I’m assuming the reader has some basic knowledge of the series so I don’t get bogged down with character intros and jousting. If not, you can check out the first review where Aero and I explained a lot, or watch the anime!
The world’s best knights gather at Winford Academy and it’s gotten quite lively with the jousting tournament nearing. Due to a misunderstanding, Takahiro’s osananajimi Mio was challenged by the proud Bertille to a match at the tournament. Since she hadn’t even rode on a horse before, he ended up guiding her to victory as a begleiter (knight’s assistant). With many watching the wonderful match, his skills as a begleiter were noticed by many students and they took quite an interest in him! However, he was unsure if he wanted to continue on as a begleiter or to return to being a knight. How will he fare in the both the arenas of jousting and love? (From Micchi)
More & More’s common route starts after Mio and Bertille’s duel in the first game (the common route up to that point is also available in this game). However, M&M branches off in the duel’s aftermath and the protagonist Takahiro’s sudden rise in popularity. The previous heroines that were pursuing Takahiro as a begleiter don’t have routes, and the promoted heroines aren’t interested in pursuing Takahiro (yet). Thus, the pressure for Takahiro to make a decision after the duel eases up and he gets a week extension of sorts for indecisiveness.
The promoted heroines—Akane, Bertille, and Ayako—don’t have too much in common. Consequently, the whole thing meanders as a short series of skits with nothing to keep it on track. Examples are events focused on select heroines (i.e. something’s wrong with Akane, the girls’ baking, Bertille’s training), unearthing issues in the first game early on (i.e. Takahiro’s knight background), or introducing new characters. The common route is still interesting, but it’s far from coherent. Like the first game, M&M takes a “save it for the routes” approach; you get a feel for the main and supporting cast again, but nothing beyond knee deep.
*mini-rant*: What’s REALLY annoying is that even though the duel’s done and Mio isn’t a heroine this time, she’s STILL a major focus in the game. In the common route alone, she’s practically glued to Takahiro and has more screen time than the prospective heroines! Not to mention EVERYBODY incessantly points out the flag for the Mio route (“Mio should joust; Takahiro should be her begleiter. It’s a real shame…etc.). This even creeps into the early parts of the main routes, like, more than the first game. It’s like the writer keeps banging over your head: “FYI, I like Mio. I like Mio. I like Mio.” To which I say, “Yeah, I WANT to like Mio too, but you cut her hair and gave her a shitty route!” Ai Shimizu or not, I’m baffled over why they continue to shoehorn WR’s least popular main heroine. *end mini-rant*
The previous heroines (excluding Mio) have also been reduced to minor roles that are borderline criminal if not for the after stories. Fortunately, the promoted heroines and the new characters fill much of the void in the lack of Noel and Celia. Some minor characters also get welcomed flesh outs like the announcer Shinonome-san and Bertille’s sidekicks (but needs more REINA!!!). I also liked all the new sub-heroines, but I’ll discuss them in the routes.
Once again, the main routes are all much longer than the common route. Unlike the first game, jousting is less emphasized and the majority of the 3 routes take place after or just ignores the tournament (so you can imagine the results). With the pressure of the tournament removed early on, the routes spend more time with character development and the relationship with the heroine before confession. Unfortunately, M&M has the reverse problem of the first game: they take their time with the build-up to confession, but they rush the story and the romantic development afterwards. Most of the routes have the dreaded consecutive H-scenes and post-confession push to wrap it up. I still liked the routes, but rushing the back end/post-confession development is one of my pet peeves.
Akane should have been a heroine in the first game, so Ricotta made her the main selling point of M&M and gave her what’s probably the longest route in both games. The common route only hinted at Akane’s problems, but you finally discover her begleiter has transferred and she needs another one. Without hesitation, Takahiro volunteers as a replacement and Akane eventually accepts. The two seem to be a great combination with high prospects in the tournament. Takahiro also sees more of Akane outside of jousting. As they get closer, they begin questioning if they’re more than partners and become uneasy. Much like Lisa, Akane avoids help when she’s in trouble; so she struggles with opening up to Takahiro. Due to the uncertainty in their relationship and Akane’s natural tendency to not rely on others, Akane performs poorly at the tournament and falls into a slump.
Glossing over the transition, because of Akane’s need to recuperate and some misunderstandings with her family, Akane and Takahiro get special permission to take a leave of absence from school and head back to Japan. The majority of the route takes place back at Akane’s home, where it’s as if you’re transported to another game entirely. Akane’s family believes the two are dating, so they pretend to be lovers as they recharge and help around the house. Most of the interaction is with Akane’s spirited older sister, Satsuki, who has an opposite personality and is very much like Noel (Satsuki Route PLEASE!). Akane’s reactions plus Satsuki’s antics provide a lot of humor in the route. Seriously, my onee-san sensor is going crazy ^^. After some key moments, the two finally sort out their feelings for one another and move forward.
This route is definitely the best main one in M&M and indulges you with Akane fan service. Akane has a broad wardrobe (miko, maid, pajamas, yukata, swimsuit, etc.). You also see her in many situations that exploit the charming contrast in Akane’s stern personality and her awkwardness/embarrassed overreactions to everything. Akane gradually becoming dere and an 甘えん坊 were also major pluses. My main complaints are the fake lovers bit went on for too long and almost all of her date scenes are before confession. Even though the route is pretty long, after the confession, it abruptly rushes through the rest of the scenes.
I REALLY struggled to take Bertille seriously as a heroine. Her route reminded me of the ones in Majikoi S where Minato-soft REALLY had to stretch it to make the route possible. Anyway, Bertille is on good terms with everyone after the duel and Takahiro inexplicably keeps bumping into her and watching her practices. At the same time, a new transfer student named Alice arrives; she is Bertille’s childhood friend, rival, and she’s intent on beating Bertille. Shit happens and Bertille needs a begleiter while Alice has fallen for Takahiro wants him too…plus Noel and Celia. Takahiro seriously waffles on picking a heroine and they use every excuse possible to drag out his selection until they finally have a contest…which Bertille wins. After the tournament and throughout the route, Alice and Bertille keep dueling over Takahiro.
Although you learn a lot about Bertille and her sidekicks, there’s also a bunch of filler with pointless training. To compensate, there’s plenty of comedy due to Bertille’s personality and the comic banter of Ann and Emma. On the other hand, the build-up to confession was superficial and forced. In addition to the sidekicks trying to hook them up, there’s no shortage of ero-hijinks and misunderstandings to push them in the right direction! <_< (I know…for eroge, this is like complaining that the sky is blue, but they can still be done well.) After starting a relationship, Bertille’s pompous personality does a 180. She becomes SUPER dere and her voice changes to dulcet tones…it’s mind-boggling! Ironically, this route had the MOST icha icha…if only Ricotta spent this much time on the other routes.
Overall, the route was mediocre. There wasn’t anything irritating or cringing like Mio and Lisa’s routes, yet neither was anything outstanding. I couldn’t get into this route because Bertille just isn’t my type. Alice, on the other hand, I wanted to learn more about. I find her more attractive and she has cute reactions like Akane. She also gets a sympathy vote for always being bested by Bertille (and that’s pretty low).
CV: 苺原コズエ= Ichigohara Kozue = Kaori Mizuhashi
Ayako’s route is the shortest and also focuses the most on Takahiro. Ayako has always wanted Takahiro to become a knight again, but she never pressed the issue until now. After several conversations with Ayako and others reminiscent of the Celia route, Takahiro confronts his past and chooses to be a knight instead of a begleiter. He starts practicing to take his knight exam with Kyle’s help. Realizing how much he’s depended on Ayako, Takahiro gets a secret part-time job to support the household while also jeopardizing his training. At the same time, the cousins gradually become conscious of each other as man and woman.
Add into the mix a first year student named Erimiya, a friend of Lisa and Fiona, who stalks Takahiro (but it’s a cute kohai!) and unabashedly confesses. She’s single-mindedly devoted to Takahiro and helps him throughout the route. Eri’s approach stirs Ayako’s jealously and a faint love triangle forms. PLUS, Takahiro’s former master Julianus (Celia’s brother) returns with a new apprentice that’s a transfer student…who is dead set on dueling Takahiro. Needless to say, the whole situation is a powder keg, but the resolution is pretty painless and I enjoyed the route.
Although the post-confession romantic development was short like Akane’s route, Ayako’s route still hit all the right spots of my onee-san sensor. Ayako is one of the few WR heroines like Noel who shows jealously. During the relationship, Ayako is also aggressive and dere…it’s awesome, but SHORT! Sure it glosses over the whole living with and dating your teacher/cousin…but that’s eroge. What sucks is I REALLY liked Eri too! For once, I understand the kouhai love. Seriously, Eri route PLEASE.
SO SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORT~!!! Rather than after stories, each original heroine has a short story. How short? About an hour each…so combined they feel shorter than a route. So the real reason Ricotta calls M&M a spin-off and not a FD is because they knew they were gypping fans on the after stories. I suspected as much given the minimal marketing of the original heroines plus the abnormal focus on one heroine (Akane). But man, total bummer. Mind you, I loved all the short stories and this is FAR from Applique FD bad…just Ricotta not getting more mileage out of the after stories is wasted potential.
The short stories take place a few months or a year after the main game. Mio’s story is about the school’s field day. In Lisa’s, she gets a part-time job in hopes of growing up as her first year anniversary with Takahiro approaches. For Noel’s story, she and Takahiro are finally engaged, but Noel’s overloaded with her duties as a noble. Concerned for her sister, Mireille nabs a hot-spring vacation for the couple to recharge and ICHA ICHA! Finally, Celia and Takahiro icha icha while home alone and later the whole gang takes a trip to Celia’s private beach.
This might be personal bias, but I rank the short stories the same way as the original routes. Unsurprisingly, Mio has the worst story again. Plus, Mio’s just downright ignores the ending of her original route <_<. All of the short stories have a decent dose of romance and selective fan service, like seeing all the heroines in bloomers and swimsuits. In fact, all of the regular routes could have benefited more from having additional content like this. Nevertheless, the short stories were not enough of a good thing.
M&M Route Rankings: Akane > Ayako > Bertille
Both Games Route Rankings: Celia > Akane > Noel = Ayako > Bertille > Lisa > Mio
The game has ~110 new CGs (SDs included) plus some reused CGs from the first game. The lower CG count is partly due to fewer H-scenes (see below). Speaking of which, M&M reuses the majority of the first game’s system, effects, and art assets. That’s not a bad thing, since both games have high production values and there’s still plenty of new stuff graphics-wise. Komori Kei’s new and old character designs are still top notch (seriously, his art’s killing me ><). The new heroines have way more sprites compared to last time and there are several new locations or previous locations that are more fleshed out. M&M has more SDCGs (again drawn by Hiduki Yayoi) and they’re put to better use this time around.
The game has 30 new tracks in addition to the majority of the first WR’s soundtrack…about 60+ songs old and new. While the old songs are a mix of pseudo-orchestral and acoustic, most of the new tracks are piano-like pieces or some traditional Japanese music. The OP song [Paint A Future] also has several piano variations played throughout the game. I raved about the first game’s soundtrack and I still hold the same opinion for M&M, the new songs just add even more diversity to an already great soundtrack. However, you can only playback the new tracks in the music player; the old ones are accessible in the first game’s music player.
Each M&M heroine has 2 Kissing Scenes + 4 H-scenes and each original heroine has 1 measly scene. Most non-nukige games are none the richer if you add or subtract to their ero content, but less H-scenes in a Ricotta game is a frickin’ tragedy. Komori Kei’s art shines in ero and Ricotta usually puts more effort into the H-scenes. They’re still good quality (long and 2-3 cgs each), but fewer scenes that are also piled up near the end of the route is sub-standard for Ricotta.
Overall: 80/100 (not a total)
No doubt this review sounds like I’m criticizing M&M more so than I’m praising it, but overall, I liked it as much as the first game…just Ricotta should have called it Walkure Romanze More & Less. While the original was a mix of amazing and bad, M&M is a mix of good and average…but shorter. With the same high production values and enjoyable characters, I don’t recommend skipping any routes (okay, MAYBE Bertille). WR M&M indulges you in a variety of fan service, but there was a disappointing shortage of some content. Overall, I enjoyed it…but I wanted MORE!!!
Character Poll Results
Keep in mind, the voting was Twitter only with one vote per account, so I’m not surprised at the voter turnout. Here are the Top 8:
The top 4 were neck and neck for most of the vote, but Celia pulled through in the end. Talk about conspiracy theory…the same as my route rankings! Mio’s still not low enough. I swear I was done before the results. <_< Although…the voters have good taste. ;) I was hoping some of the new characters or Reina would rank higher, but that would only be possible if casting multiple votes was easier (like the Majikoi poll). If Ricotta ever further develops Walkure Romanze, I hope they’ll consider this fan feedback. On a side note, guess who Komori Kei, the character designer, voted for…was NOT expecting that.