It have been a while since I bought this game and I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing it. Since the console port for Chrono Phanatasma is close by now, it’s a good opportunity to take a look at this prequel to BlazBlue that is yet to be localized. A spin-off that take a shot in the crazy and corrupted world of the Galges!
This game production started when Mori Toshimichi was finishing planning for future Blazblue titles. It was when he noticed that there was a gap in the world’s setting that could either be filled by flashbacks or a completely separated title. He could have asked someone to write a light novel based on his ideas, but he probably felt it would not appeal that much to the public because there is already a Blazblue light novel series going on. Since Ark System Works also makes some visual novel titles, Mori’s team decided it would be a good idea to create a VN out of this, but giving a more “Galge” feel to it.The format fitted perfectly, especially considering that most Blazblue fans have gone through the game’s extensive story mode (that is pretty much a VN). But different from the main series, this spin-off setting is a bit less sci-fi so it could focus more on a normal school life plot, at least in the beginning…The story is about Kagari Touya, a normal high school student who lost his mother in a tragic accident and lives with his childhood friend’s family.He is a mature guy who works part-time so he can pay for his expenses, even though Himezuru Hinata – his osananajimi – keeps telling him he doesn’t need to. She feels bad he works so hard just to not cause trouble, so she is always supporting him by doing house chores and preparing his lunches (what makes his friends treat them like a married couple).One certain night, when Touya was returning from his part-time job, he was attacked by a salary-man that could shoot laser beams from his mouth (LOL), but was suddenly saved by a big-boobed loli wielding a giant sword named Es. After all that ruckus, he hurried back home only to find the little girl waiting for him at his bedroom. Since Hinata is a bit of an air-head, she didn’t get a clue of the situation and thinks Touya is only being hysterical for no reason (in the beginning she is kinda like that base-ball guy from Katekyou Hitman Reborn).Soon, two more guests come to the Himezuru residence: Unomaru Souichirou and Amanohokosaka Mei. They explain about the “Drive Infestation” that makes people become monsters called “Unions” and about their Mitsurugi section that destroys those that have lost their sanity and try to help those who are not in critical conditions. Since Touya seems to have a mysterious talent to feel the presence of those monsters, Es is assigned to work with him to fight against the Unions while she keeps a close eye on him, since he still could become one of them.Touya is soon surprised to see that, not only Es has transferred to his school, but she got in his same class, even though everyone agrees that she looks like a elementary schooler (except by her breasts). If it wasn’t enough, he finds out Mei is his Kouhai. He later becomes acquaintance with Kuon Gramred Shutleheim, a young mage from the magic association on a mission. She learns about Touya’s dangerous mission and decides to help on protecting him from Unions. Just guess what happens…
This game could be classified as having a “Shakugan no Shana” plot line. While there are other series with similar elements that came out before (like Bleach), SnS made it popular, especially in the Galge territory, because it had that Galge feel to it (full of cute girls in love with the main character). It’s the old story of a normal guy who gets dragged on a magical battle when attacked by random monsters and saved by a little girl. The girl comes to live and study with him while they fight more monsters and fall in love. Many Galges fall in this category and, while most of the heroines in Xblaze can use magic (except Hinata), it’s different from the “magic school” setting since the school doesn’t teach magic.
While the plot could seem cliché, this is only during the prologue of the game, since the characters soon grow out of their characters. One of the most noticeable ones is Mei – who would be considered a “tsundere” – does have good reasons to be irritated all the time. She even tries to be friendly with everyone since the beginning, but there is just too much going on in her head. Nevertheless, when things get dangerous, she just cut the crap out and does her best to help everyone.
Kuon is also a nice girl who can admit her mistakes and be very friendly with people she just met (seriously, she talks with Touya’s friends like she knew them ages ago!) and Es doesn’t take too long to start acting like human, since her character development is about other stuffs.
Even Touya’s friend is a good written character. He has his own background and acts like a person and not like a retarded monkey (which is the case for most “best-friend-characters”). The bad guys don’t fall behind, being very effective. Unomaru can be really insane, while Sechs is very mysterious and intimidating.It feels great that this is not one of those titles where beautiful women are always much stronger than any men (specially the ugly ones). Even the stronger female character (Zwei) falls on 3th place at best (Sechs being the number one). This gives more credibility to the plot, since it doesn’t feel like a beauty contest.It’s clear that Arc System Works was doing serious business with this game, spending a lot of money to bring a high quality title for fans and not a half-assed spin-off. There are many details and little touches that add more charm to the game and expand the experience. You can expect not only animated mouths and eyes (already present on BB’s story mode), but A LOT more.
This is one of the most “visual” of the visual novels I’ve played, which means that it gives you a lot of things to see other than just plain text describing the scenes for you. In fact, there is no narration, so you will not have to waste your time reading unnecessary lines like “I opened the door to go out” or “I ate the cake, it was delicious and moist”. The fight scenes are full of CGs to give you a precise idea of what is happening and the battle never take too long, so you never feel lost.
This also makes the game events be very fast paced, making the plot move much faster than most Galges, so you hardly become bored of a scene and there is always new developments that keep the game fresh and interesting. There are also those who use the term “visual novel” to classify those games with a format similar to Galges, but not focused on love simulation. XBlaze can also be considered one of those.
While there are individual routes for each heroine, it’s arguably if there is even one happy ending (even though there is a true ending), with the heroes getting only a partial happiness in the best cases. Therefore, those not used to those things could be displeased by this game. Nevertheless, this is no “School Days” (it’s closer to Rui wa Tomo wo Yobu).
There is a good deal of Chuunibyou in this game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, only in extreme doses, but this game knows how to do it. The characters don’t need to shout the names of their special attacks and there are things that stay in good plain Japanese.To choose your path, there is a innovative system called TOi (which stands for “Technology Of interest”). You use it by opening a mobile device with the square bottom and choose an article the application separated for you. Those articles could give you more argument to discuss with certain characters, thus, changing Touya’s involvement with them. But be aware as choosing to read every single article may lead you to the same route, over and over, or may even result in a bad end.
The voices are great! All voice actors do a perfect performance, even though not all of them are veterans. Even Touya is voiced! It’s a rarity to have a voice protagonist in a Galge. I love when they do this! It helps me feel that the protagonist is a character and not just an invisible spectator. The music is one of the best I’ve heard in a Galge. While most VNs have unremarkable soundtracks, XBlaze goes one step forward with the heroine themes portraying their atmosphere perfectly and battle themes giving the right tension. It’s not so “Hard Rock” like the Blazblue battle tracks, but it’s closer to the BGM from BB’s story mode (which makes sense).This is one of the best Visual Novels I’ve played. It made me care for the characters and world elements. I don’t think I will be able to enjoy other Galges like before for a while. Now I want a sequel! There are plenty of mysteries to solve, like: Who is Avenge? What Zwei asked him to do? Who is Touya’s father? And what the hell is this doing here?