Thanks to their previous game, I wanted to send AXL far away back to the bitch who gave birth to them, which is why I was “a little bit” skeptical about their new title, but even so, I played it for two reasons. The first being the lack of better options this month and the second is nostalgia, something that have betrayed me for many times, I hope it turns out differently now. So, let’s dive into Race All Marge…Wait, this isn’t right! What a weird name!
Story & Characters
Will Bradley enrolls in the prestigious royal academy in the capital, but being a naïve countryside boy, he loses almost all his money once he sets foot in town, which draws attention of Levin Volt, who gets moved by Will’s kindness and decides to show him the ways of the big city.Since Will was born on a small village where most people were of old age, Levin became his first friend of same age. They witnessed a blind young lady named Meryl Northrop being robbed of her exotic magical creature who worked as a type of guide-dog for her.Will was able to rescue her companion while being assisted by Levin and Mally Downes – a fortune teller who claims Will is the “shinning one”. He later becomes acquaintance of Meryl when he finds her working as a maid at the academy. She also explains she doesn’t like to be helped by others because she wants to learn how to defend herself against the many students who bully her every day.When Will finally reaches the school, he learns the lies about it being a facility with no discriminations between different social classes, as his roommate Loa Kelpie explains the commoners are nothing but servants with no paychecks working for their noble roommates. However, Will didn’t seem to bother about Loa’s abuses, which enraged him.This is because Will was raised by his many grandpas and grandmas to be one of the kindest people on the planet, to the point where he was even able to tame the delinquent princess Phyllis Redrup, who was feared by all.He also gains the respect of Alicia Cecil who is Phyllis’s roommate and is also known as the school coldest beauty.He also gets to meet Knocker Leprechaun, Levin roommate from a low-level noble family, but seeing through his appearance and social status, Will learned he was a genius businessman (who is voiced by a Oyajii…).Now with powerful friends by his side, little by little, Will would bring a true change to his society, even while not noticing it…
Routes & Themes
AXL can be counted among the veteran companies in this industry, that’s why they have already touched upon nearly every possible archetype or setting we usually see on Galges, and medieval fantasy is one of their most used scenarios. However, there’s something really different about this title: The main character doesn’t suck!It felt like there was a cancer within every single new AXL’s game, as their main characters were getting lamer and lamer with each new release. Last year, this probably reached dangerous levels with a story about the most incompetent inspector of a certain kingdom who had to be tortured by his childhood friend/bodyguard from time to time to be reminded about how much of a wimp he was. His mission was to investigate a suspicious village that was known as the lamest in the whole kingdom, and yet, everyone was stronger and smarter than the protagonist.That game was all about making you feel miserable and pathetic while you tried to put yourself on the shoes of that poor protagonist. Which brings the question: How they go from that to this? This new game has charismatic characters full of interesting interactions and funny moments. Even the boring and annoying characters are cool to watch because karma gets to them. It’s poetic justice and I love it!This is miles away from that previous title and I feel like AXL is finally back to their old “KoiTate“ days. I can finally feel nostalgic and happy while playing a new game from one of the first Galge brands I became a fan of!But wait! There is one heroine that still has to be introduced! The one who is connected to the most delicate and important aspects of the discrimination themed in this game: the racism! This really complicated matter is depicted through her who comes from a race of people who lost in a war against humans and now receive a treatment very close to that of slaves! This is Elulu Arlis, a little girl with purple eyes, blonde hair, big breasts and a skin as white as snow…Whaaaa?!Do I want her to be black? Not necessarily, but it would help a lot if her appearance was not so blatantly for “fan-service”. At least something that invokes more racial differences instead of the Japanese ideals of beauty. This feels so wrong that most of the characters who help her claim to be doing so just because she is cute, and not because they are against the cruelties to her whole race!You just don’t try to touch upon a subject as polemic as this one with such a silly approach! If you want to make people sympathize with the conflicts in your plot, it’s much more effective to create some type of connection between real-life events, especially when it’s about an element that’s has influenced so much in our history, because people will inevitably make comparisons! For example: Elulu is not dirt, scarred or traumatized, that’s because she doesn’t do any heavy labor, she just work in a circus, where she can shine as a beautiful star and is treated fairly well…for an almost-slave!It also feels very unnatural for everyone but one of Will’s friends to be free from any discrimination or misconception when they should be the ones to be more developed through the game. On this regard, Loa and other unnamed mob characters are ironically the ones who show more development about the main theme.
As usual, the art by Senomoto Hisashi is beautiful! This style feel very distinct from other Galge artists while managing to be a simple style at the same time. This probably comes from the way he draws hair and how he puts focus on making the eyes looking like jewels. Without mentioning every heroine is big breasted, but this was a trait this artist had since a long time ago…ok! There was at least one or two normal sizes before, but now they are all big boings!However, AXL is still using Osamu Tezuka’s star system, and this is probably intentional, since you can usually find Aoyama Yukari dubbing a tomboy with blue or black hair and Matsuda Risa as an innocent/naïve girl. Ha! But this time it’s completely different, because Matsuda Risa is an innocent/naïve fake-loli teacher…Anyway! This is not necessarily bad, as each character still have something unique that set them apart from their previous roles on other games.
The BGMs are not bad at all, they fit the atmosphere and sound nice to the ears. AXL has become “good friends” with KOTOKO, who also sang the theme for their previous game. This time around, she is singing “affection”, which is not among her best pieces, but is still a nice little song.The voice acting, as mentioned above, bring many seiyuus back to play similar roles from previous AXL projects. Since they are already used to it, their performances are great. They always keep this tradition, but this doesn’t mean they don’t bring new faces to the games as well. It’s not different for this time, as we get Shirotsuki Kaname, a relatively new seiyuu who dubs the main heroine Meryl.
With most blockbuster titles being delayed, Racial Merge was the remaining highly-anticipated game to actually be released this month. It was my favorite PC-Galge for this month, but I suspect I would have enjoyed FAVORITE’s new title even more had it been released as originally planned. Nevertheless, a good title from AXL. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it can be appreciated as a nice read if you can ignore all the racism-silliness! Still, it was a very necessary reminder about the things that made me become a huge AXL fan to begin with, which is their art, writing, music…OK! At first, it was only because they had the same name as my favorite Guilty Gear character!Now I can finally play some Atelier Logy & Escha…Yes! I am sure this is the correct name!