This August, Marmalade gave us PRIMAL×HEARTS – A story meant to make you feel strong emotions. It’s a shame that the only thing I felt by playing this was a Primal Rage, and not the type with awesome dinosaur fights…
Welcome to Ainoshima Academy (Ai-no-Shima can be read as “island of love”, even though it uses different kanjis. GENIUS!). This School has a stupid system where the campus is divided into two groups with a specific student council for each. When anything needs to be decided, the two councils give their proposal and the students get to vote for their favorite idea. The school is so divided, in fact, that there are two different uniforms. That’s why the announcer – who is suppose to be neutral – has to dress like this:This really is a stupid system. While it could look like a good idea on paper, it results in countless problems that make everything unnecessarily complicated. One of such problems appear right at the start, when it’s revealed that this system was never useful to begin with, since there’s an even number of students on both sides, ending all elections in a draw. However, this was about to change with the coming of a new student…As the student number 777, Tatewaki Kazuma gets the nickname of “triple seven”, and since his decisions would change the destiny of the whole academy, everyone starts to have high expectations for him. This puts him in a series of situations where he has to choose between the two groups: Gekka-kai or Tendou-kai!Hummm…Neither look good enough…Can I choose between these, instead?
Kuragano Sera is the beautiful and rich president of the Gekka-kai. She is loved by all, but she hides a pretentious attitude. She is also a sloppy girl who spends most of her time playing MMOs. Still, she is able to take 3 times the amount of work usually done by the greatest elite at the school.Komagata Yudzuki is the only girl at the Gekka-kai who is not filthy rich, so she has to work at a café owned by a (very stereotypical) okama to make ends meet. She feels indebted with Sera because she is the only person at her council that doesn’t treat Yudzuki like garbage.Tenjindaira Haruhi (what an obnoxious name!!) is the fake-loli president of the Tendou-kai. She is hardly taken seriously, which makes her feel very melancholic (get it?). She has to take care not only of her council at school, but she is also responsible for the gigantic Tenjidaira group.Kanna Kana (Yes! This is a name…) is Haruhi’s right hand and best friend. Therefore, she is the only one able to put a stop to her reckless actions. As the most beautiful girl in Ainoshima academy, she is always surrounded by yuri-fans and has to refuse countless proposals by students of both genders. Nevertheless, she never tries to become closer to anyone because she fears to be rejected.
Routes and Themes
I did not hold back when I wrote those profiles up there. This is because every character personality and design is paper-thin. Look at the scene above and try to pin-point the Otaku among them:That’s right! It’s the perverted, dumb and disgusting fatso. This fat otaku is always talking about his cute “waifus” and eating a lot. There isn’t much more for characters like him, since the main theme in this game seems to be “what you see is what you get”.There are stereotypes everywhere, which means the important teacher character needs to be a fake-loli, (because Haruhi wasn’t enough) and she has to be a virgin who is so desperate to get married that she throws herself at the protagonist just because he tried to “sweet-talk” her when they first met.Even the mob characters are not safe. Every time a “student A” character says something, it’s most likely to point out how awesome the heroines are or to envy the protagonist for being close to them. The mob-girls are not much different, either.Every attempt at making a character more likable is pretty transparent. Like Michi – a slut whose specialty is to be able to seduce any man (even the president) and she is known for having more than 50 boyfriends. To make her more sympathetic the writers just gave her a bunch of sisters she has to take care of, and that explains why she has to sell her body!This is the same for Sera. Her kindness was supposed to be outstanding just because she is the only person who isn’t a huge asshole with the only non-rich girl at her group. Yay! She is such a saint!Talking about Yudzuki, she could be considered the true main heroine of this game, since she gets more screen-time than anyone else during the normal route. This is quite unbalanced, and you will reach the time to choose a specific route knowing very little about the other heroines.By the way, the romantic development is pathetic! Looking for a good reason for why the protagonist falls in love with each heroine? You get no such a thing! Everything resumes to a single choice and this makes the main character immediately come to the realization that he is really interested in that girl.For Haruhi, however, this isn’t quite enough. Since Kazuma doesn’t feel attracted by her loliness, it’s necessary that he peeks her while she is masturbating. This makes our hero feel excited by the little girl, thus he falls in love!Well, but how about the heroines? Why do they come to fall in love for this guy? It’s easy: Kazuma is just perfect! He is unbeatable at anything and it’s simply impossible to out-smart someone who has the ability to pull a Deus-Ex-Machina out of his ass to solve any problem. Connections, knowledge, skills, technology, there’s no limits for this self-inserted monstrosity.Since this guy is so capable, all the dramas and problems get solved fairly easy thanks to Kazuma’s divine intervention. Likewise, it’s only natural that all heroines easily fall for him, as even them (while being quite formidable themselves) are no match for such omnipotence. Specially because they all seem to suddenly become incompetent idiots before his radiant presence. But even this god among men needs to have some weakness to make him more relatable with the player, that’s why his appearance looks are just average…There are games that make poetic justice by having those “god-like protagonists” facing arrogant and violent girls who doesn’t know any better, like in Hello Lady. But none of the heroines in this game is cocky, untouchable or unpleasant, so this type of protagonist wasn’t necessary.Like it wasn’t enough, every attempt at comedy comes as really desperate and awkward. It’s not just dull, but it’s childish and quite offensive as well. Just like all those stereotypes in the game.
One of the few good elements in the game! The style used by Sasorigatame, Ashishun and Kokonoka (SDs) is nothing unique, but the coloring makes most of their CGs look fantastic. The character designs, on the other hand, are as generic as the personality of those characters. This is not limited to characters, though. Take a look at how original this uniform design is:There’ also the huge amount of invisible supporting characters that the artists did not care to drawn, and there’s quite a lot of them!
I must admit that, during lovey-dovey events, the seiyuus make a splendid performance, which is why they are the other good thing in this game. They can sound pretty cute during their “iccha-rabu” scenes, but nothing out-of-the-ordinary for serious moments.
There are 3 to 4 good tracks (counting with the vocal ones, which are the best ones). Most songs use more digital sounds than anything else, resulting on very “midi-like” compositions. This isn’t necessarily bad and it works for most part, but the soundtrack ends up being quite forgettable and generic.
There IS salvation for this galge! All you have to do is turn-off the voices of mob-characters and the most ridiculous sub-characters to make this into a more bearable experience. The only thing that pains me is that I would be muting that fatty Norihiro, who is voiced by Hiyama Nobuyuki! I love his voice and he did such great characters in the past, like Viral from Gurren Lagann, Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho and even Joe Higashi from Fatal Fury! What the Fuck is he doing in this game?