I actually had most of this written up a while back, but then I got distracted with Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC, which took like 60 hours. Highly recommend the series btw; more so than the game I’ve written about here.
For the stuff about the original Primal Hearts, I’ve mainly writing it off memory. So for those who have played the game, please let me know if I have made any errors.
The student councils: Gekka and Tendou
So the unique thing about this school, the name of which I never really bothered to remember (Ainoshima Academy according to VNDB), is that the student council is split into two groups; Gekka, and Tendou. Gekka focuses on promoting traditional values, while Tendou promotes innovation. These two student councils will promote their policies for a given issue, such as the location for the school outing, and then the students decide with a majority vote.
In PH2, the voting system in the school has taken an odd turn. Gekka is now associated with supporting sports clubs, and Tendou is now associated with supporting Culture clubs. School polls are now used to settle very trivial matters between sports and culture clubs, such as which side gets to use a particular space on a given date. On top of this, people are now voting based on which type of club they belong to (sports or cultural), rather than on their opinion of the matter.
Being the 777th student, Kazuma is bestowed the name “three seven” on his arrival at Ainoshima Academy. Early on Kazuma shows signs of wanting a girlfriend, and his speech towards girls is something like that of a retro playboy. Overtime this behaviour mostly disappears, and usually only surfaces again when he intentionally tries to lighten the mood. He gets close to both student councils as they show interest in his ability to solve problems, and his unique ideas. A number of different events regarding different matters being voted on are tackled during the common route, and we see Kazuma efforts to try to resolve things so that there are no losers. While he’s one to get things done, he often works behind the scenes, and doesn’t claim credit for his efforts. In addition to this, he is more than willing to damage his own reputation to help others that are in need. While all the heroines show interest in Kazuma as a person, only Yuzuki and Kanna display signs of romantic attraction outside of their routes.
So Sera’s the clear favourite of PH, and it shows since she won the character poll. Her hidden hobby is used in a cliche way to establish a connection between her in Kazuma. Even though it’s cliché, it’s still very enjoyable to watch, and I feel that most recent titles haven’t used a development like this. Seeing her all panicky and love-struck is a big plus for her route. The drama in her route sprouts from previous school documentation banning student council members from being in relationships, and from disapproval from parental figures. I enjoy how things get wrapped up, but I feel the second bit of drama I noted above was entirely unnecessary.
Haruhi’s route was very enjoyable, and I found myself surprised to say that since I’m not a big fan of lolis. The “I don’t know about love” heroine isn’t one I usually enjoy, but they made it work on this occasion by not dragging it out for too long. She becomes super love-struck, and the “lolicon-ness” of her route certain is entertaining (not entirely my thing though). There’s some mild drama thrown in there with Haruhi’s father, but it passes on a fairly light note. The route addresses a fairly valid flaw of the dual student council system of the academy, but it’s not presented very well so you don’t really end up caring for it much.
Yuzuki displays interest in Kazuma quite early, and her attempts to appeal to him during the common route are quite cute since they usually end in failure. Things start off rather shaky as Kazuma accepts a confession on whim, and it definitely shows as Yuzuki is a lot more enthusiastic about the whole thing. This awkwardness was quite surprising for what I thought would be a standard slice of life game. It wasn’t bad or anything; it was just different. Kazuma’s ulterior motive for seeking a partner is something that annoyed me, especially since this is the only route that it’s revealed that he has that train of thought. The drama for this route is VERY similar to Sera’s route, which makes one of them lack luster depending on which one you play first.
Kanna’s route contains a mixture of advances from both parties, but the confession scene doesn’t happen until the very end of the route. Kanna keeps evading Kazuma’s confession, and they form a relationship where they’re almost dating, but it’s not set in stone. So we somewhat see Kanna leading Kazuma by the nose, but providing him with a lot of service (not just the sexual kind). The reasons behind why she acts this way is realistic enough, but it’s mentioned way too briefly and doesn’t really hit home. No real drama in the route except for Kanna’s mind-set, which is good. However the relationship being so vague until the very end is something that did bug me a bit.
No route for Micchi/Bitch-san in this game OR the sequel, which really really sucks.
Primal Hearts 2
The common route for PxH2 is very similar to the original game. Daichi inherits the legendary name “three seven”, and puts in a great deal of effort to solve problems that arise. It could just have been me, but this game seemed to put more emphasis on the heroines rather than the student councils compared to the original. While the problem solving element was definitely still part of the mix, it felt rather uneventful. All the heroines show pretty strong interest in Daichi, and while only Tateha and Mashiro are clearly romantically attracted to him, I would say the other two are damn close. However the training Daichi’s received from his sister Micchi (aka Bitch) makes him pretty dense to this sorta thing, even though he can deal with women very skilfully.
Usagi was my personal favourite, and I would also argue that she has the best route. I generally don’t like “idol” routes because they almost always entail a plot which puts the relationship in danger. This route was no different, but it’s handled quite well. While Usagi’s true personality does contain some of her cutesy idol side, she has quite a cunning personality, and is quite blunt when speaking alone with Daichi. I think Usagi’s awesome personality contributes greatly to the negative factor that an idol route would normally bring.
The route is very well paced, and we see both Usagi and Daichi slowly getting more conscious of the other. Like the common route, the route is filled with lots of nice moments where Usagi gets frustrated that her appeal doesn’t work on Daichi, and it’s always something that ends up making me grin. However over time, her advances slowly show more and more effect on Daichi. The play their class performs for the cultural festival plays an important part in this route, and the results are nice, if not a tad cliché. The drama for the route makes sense (see above), but happens way too abruptly. The cast works together to help resolve things, and a couple characters from PxH make appearances to wrap things up. Like how the drama was presented, the way it gets resolved was also rather sudden, but it did have impact. Overall I was very satisfied with this route. The route doesn’t really address the main theme of the game, which is the split student councils, but I was perfectly fine with that. I suppose the only downside of this route was that we don’t really get to see much of Dachi and Usagi once they officially become a couple; all we really get is 4 mini after stories which are mainly H-scenes.
Alicetia timid personality and poor communication skills make her someone you really want to protect. The route begins with various events where Daichi works with Alicetia to help her overcome her shyness. The pair briefly meet with Kanna from PH, and she gives Alicetia some sound advice. This advice eventually becomes the trigger that leads Alicetia to realise her true feelings for Daichi, and this of course makes her very nervous around him. I wish they had milked this awkwardness between them for a bit longer, but given the fact that Alicetia is pretty shy by nature, I suppose skipping this stage wasn’t all that bad. Some assistance from Daichi’s very own Bitch (Micchi) provides some guidance steering Alicetia’s attack on Daichi, and they successfully become a couple. How Daichi suddenly realises he’s actually in love with Alicetia during the confession scene is pretty lame given how strongly he looked at her like a daughter/little sister. Some drama is thrown into the route when some of the more snobby students who come from prestigious families throw accusations at both Alicetia and Daichi. In Daichi’s case, they set out to have him expelled. This event compels Alicetia to act, and with the help of the main cast, she makes a strong statement to the entire student body.
Also, her smile is just adorable. Even though I liked Usagi more, I can understand why Alicetia won the character poll.
Tateha personality is pretty much the same as Yuzuki’s; energetic and diligent. Hell, her route is almost exactly the same as Yuzuki’s, and Yuzuki even makes a cameo appearance. Though, I would probably say that Tateha had better build up towards the confession scene. Daichi’s mind set threatens the relationship in the very early stages as he, like Kazuma, also accepts the confession in the spur of the moment. This matter is resolved rather quickly as Daichi mans up to show his true self to Tateha. While I appreciate his actions, I found it stupid how this problem only sprung up in this route. Like with Yuzuki’s route in PxH, Daichi’s problem is something that easily would apply to all the other routes. The relationship itself continues on smoothly, and I quite liked how Tateha puts in the effort to understand Daichi’s hobbies. More drama is added to the route as tempers between culture clubs and sports clubs start to heat up again. A very realistic issue I would say, because it wrapped a bit too smoothly in the common route. The ending was rather bland to be honest because the student body pretty much just accepts things without showing much resistance. A very energetic and soothing character, but the route doesn’t show any good events to show off these traits.
At the start of the route, Mashiro’s love points are pretty much maxed out. Despite this, the reason why Mashiro falls in love with Daichi isn’t all that clear. There are some solid events, and some misinterpretations. I suppose she’s a maiden who fell in love with Daichi slowly over the course of many small events. Her route starts off with lots of mood swings as Mashiro gets happy and depressed over small moments between her and Daichi. Didn’t like the confession scene as it felt rather forced, and sudden realisations following a confession aren’t really my thing. Hand to god, the MOST memorable part of Mashiro’s route is her first H-scene where Daichi misses his intended target, and ends up “back-dooring” instead. It was very amusing, and I’m surprised that Marmalade made such an unorthodox move. The remainder of the route shows Mashiro’s growth as member of the Gekka council, which was rather enjoyable.
Anna’s route being a side route, is considerable shorter than the main heroines’ routes. This is a pity because I found her really interesting as a character. Her “secret”, which is REALLY obvious to us players, gets exposed to Daichi. Of course being the hero he is, he keeps this to himself and even goes out of his way to back her up. The gap in her character when she realises her feelings is super cute, and it really sucked that it only last a short while. Her confession was a bit extreme, and while it suited her character to some degree, not really my cuppa tea. The route ends on a light note, which complements her route quite well. So yeah, a short and sweet route.
The protagonists: Kazuma vs Daichi
Kazuma and Daichi share a lot of similar traits. Looking past the obvious “three seven” title, they’re both good problem solvers and both put in effort behind the scenes because they don’t care about boosting their own reputation. They’re similar in other ways as well, but those two are the main common traits they share. The main thing different between the two is that Daichi is a lot more passive. Kazuma would try to appeal to girls and would contribute to the relationship. In Daichi’s case, it’s almost ALWAYS the girl doing the advancing. Yes the times I noticed this most was during the H-scenes, but it was also the case for other aspects of the relationship.
The other thing I suppose that needs to be mentioned is the level of thick-headedness. Both characters are quite thick-headed, but Daichi is clearly on a different level than Kazuma. Daichi doesn’t really display much reaction to females due to the training he received from his sister to become to perform love cyborg. Whereas Kazuma transferred over to the academy in hopes to find a partner, and as such, seems to be a tad more aware of his surroundings. In a situation where Kazuma heart might start racing a bit, Daichi seems to be more the type to wonder what’s wrong with the heroine.
Graphics, H-scenes, and After Stories
So it’s pretty obvious the graphics for both games are very high quality, and this is without a doubt one of Marmalade’s redeeming qualities. I won’t go too much into detail here since it’s something you can see from the various CGs I’ve plastered all over this post. Yuzuki and Tateha seem like they’re a bit lower quality than the other characters, in both character sprites and CG quality.
Both games have quite the number of H-scenes for each heroine, and the after stories pretty much just exist to add in MORE H-scenes. The heroines are probably the more assertive party when it comes to initiating sex, and as I mentioned, this is especially the case when it comes to Daichi. Something worth mentioned when it comes to Marmalade’s H-scenes is that they favour the scenes where the couple go at it all night long. You know, those scenes where heroines end up with that “vacant” look in their eyes. I actually quite like those scenes, despite how unrealistic they are.
Finally, I would have liked a few more SDCGs, but that’s just personal preference.
Something that really bugged me…
I know PxH2 is a sequel and all, but one thing that really bugged was how they felt the need to replicate the following CG:
The one with Sera and Haruhi is one I really liked. It’s used on multiple occasions, and the events were very entertaining. While the one with Usagi and Alicetia is very random, and Alicetia’s actions in this scene feel quite off from her normal behaviour.
Now I suppose the final matter to settle is which game I liked more? I would probably rate both around 70/100. Both games weren’t A material, but they were entertaining enough that I didn’t really get bored at any point. However the plot is never really all that interesting, and unless you’re a huge slice of life fan like me, this game might just be a bore for you. Might as well mention it here, but the guys in PxH2 were probably more relevant than the one’s in the original games. Both games have awesome heroines, but it’s a real pity that Bitch-san never got a route. Of the routes over both games, Usagi stood out the most for me. However when it comes to heroine quality, Sera probably beats her by a very small margin. If you read everything, you could probably tell that I didn’t really like the huge overlap between Yuzuki and Tateha. Sure I liked Tateha more, but her route is almost LITERALLY Yuzuki route 2 route. Instead of doing some clone route, I wish they had given Anna some more love. And finally…