Game Review – Toushin Toshi: GIRLS GIFT (3DS)

toushintoshi94Until recently, I believed the port of “Pastel Chime Continue” by 5pb for the PSP was the last time something from AliceSoft to be released outside the PC realm, and like most of their games, Pastel Chime is a SRPG without too much focus on the “RPG” aspects, which are just a “side-dish” for the DatingSim parts. This is not to my liking, but I suppose nothing can be done, since this isn’t their line of expertise. That’s why I got high hopes for this remake of Toushin Toshi II for the 3DS, since they got Imageepoch to develop it for them, and those guys really know how to handle this genre! Romance, battles, drama, conspiracy and a little bit of “ecchi”. Those are the elements that define the most controversial game on the 3DS(?).

Story

toushintoshi85Although he has no skills, Seed is on a relationship with Hadzuki the daughter of a famous doujou and the two dream about getting married.toushintoshi111Saddly, the strongest disciple on the doujou, Billnäs, humiliated him in a duel and declared their master would give Hadzuki’s hand in marriage if Billnäs became the champion of the Toushin Tournament, the biggest tournament in their world. Hadzuki, being too innocent/naïve, doesn’t suspect her father was lying when he promised to allow her marriage with Seed if she was to partaken in the tournament as Billnäs’ partner, leaving Seed lost and alone.toushintoshi08Not much later, he was encouraged by his sister Serena to participate in this tournament and prove himself as the one who is truly worthy of Hadzuki’s affection. However, right at the beginning of the tournament’s entrance exam, he was tricked by another candidate who backstabbed him. Seed was about to die when he was aided by a mysterious person in a cloak.toushintoshi04Thanks to it, he was not only able to pass the exam, but he also found within himself the power to absorb strong feelings of love and gratitude from females as new abilities called Gifts. toushintoshi112By using those Gifts, Seed started to win many seemingly impossible battles, getting closer and closer to his objective. Eventually, he meets with his mysterious savior again, who reveals to be Sakuya – a demon on a mission: To end this tournament by killing all its participants.toushintoshi30v2This new relationship would throw Seed in a chain of events leading him to a much bigger destiny than he could ever imagine!

Themes

toushintoshi113The main themes are growth, strength, maturity and love (of course). Despite the feel of a simple and straightforward shounen adventure the story gives at first, a sudden development gives the plot a turn to a more dark atmosphere that involves prostitution, slavery, drugs, brainwashing and even cannibalism. I am not kidding! This game gets heavy!toushintoshi114AliceSoft is a survival of the ancient era of Eroges, when “tsundere” didn’t exist as a term or neither as a fetish. Those were very different times, when players were not as masochists as nowadays. Therefore, they actually needed to make their heroines being likable in a regular point-of-view. This is one thing that I really love about their games, and since they never changed their minds about this, Toushin Toushi also includes a cast filled with charismatic characters with convincing motivations and interesting personalities.toushintoshi115This is not limited to females, as even Seed’s male friends and adversaries have all cool characters designs, decent voice actors, unique personality and an important role in the story. Seed can be a wimp in the beginning, but different from most recent Galges, this isn’t used to give more focus to the heroines instead. The story actually centers around Seed, who does have huge character developments through-out the game.toushintoshi25I also love every single heroine in this game! Instead of being the usual bitches who humiliate the hetare protagonist, they are always motivating and helping him.toushintoshi116When Seed finally becomes strong enough to be in a position where it’s the heroines who need his help, I felt really happy to be useful to them, which was exactly how Seed felt as well, and this motivation comes in handy later in the game, when things become pretty nasty for everyone!toushintoshi18

Development

Toushin Toshi II was originally a game of PC, running on Windows 95. At the time, the screen resolution and video boards were even worse than what you would usually find on console games. That’s why the original game was ugly as hell! Imageepoch made a complete remake for this title. Obviously, nothing was recycled from the old game, but nearly everything from the original was redone, modernized, remodeled and optimized.toushintoshi97This is no cheap port of the PC game, the differences between the two versions are like night and day, but you still feel like the new one is being faithful to the original. Which is impressive, considering Imageepoch knew almost nothing about the original when they presented the first prototype to AliceSoft (more about this later!). This was most likely due to TADA and HIRO from AliceSoft joining in soon after as supervisors.toushintoshi119Much of the story elements were preserved and the contents that got removed were just those stupid out-of-place H-scenes typical to Eroges. The elements that got changed were replaced by new concepts that made the characters far more interesting (at least, in my opinion).toushintoshi100Like Suzuya, who was a deadly kunoichi with a tomboy demeanor. She had a smart and cold personality. While in the new one, she was reimagined as a good-for-nothing warrior with no talents for ninjutsu and a weak mind. She got much more feminine than her counterpart, but she was much more childish.  This was a welcomed change, as it’s not always that I see a character like that. The new Suzuya also has much in common with Seed, which makes their friendship more convincing. Without mentioning she became really adorable!toushintoshi120Some few bizarre events were completely cut, but these were not full of gore nor eroticism. It was just plain weird! Even funny! Like when you have a practice duel against Hadzuki, you can actually kill her by accident as a possible outcome, which leads to Seed taking his own life in remorse right after…This wouldn’t work now, but it was different times. Some elements can be kept the same…toushintoshi106While some characters changed considerably, even though you didn’t try to…toushintoshi102There are also those who got just some slight changes but already look like different characters. toushintoshi101

Gameplay

toushintoshi87According to Mikage Riyouei from Imageepoch, the first prototype had Seed fighting alongside other party members. This was just a silly misunderstanding, since Seed was always fighting alone in 1-on-1 battles, and they didn’t want to change the basic formula THAT much. This concept of a sole fighter in a RPG was not strange in the past, but it has become somewhat uncommon and often considered “antiquated”. Although Imageepoch have successful titles such as Last Ranker and Fate/Extra to prove this wrong, which means they were the perfect pick to revive this game.toushintoshi11While the original was a Galge with RPG elements, the remake became a RPG with Galge elements, which in fact, is quite different. The battles have more strategy to it, and there’s more balance to the difficult as well, giving a comfortable difficulty curve which makes grinding nearly unnecessary. The elements used in combat are much more intuitive and plentiful than those Galge-RPGs. The combat doesn’t feel like a chore you need to do between exciting scenes with girls. The combat has become fun to play, now that it is much more polished!toushintoshi22The combat is a simple turn-based system, but it can offer a certain level of depth if you choose to play by the game rules and it’s extra elements. Another thing that was updated to nowadays standards was many collectables that give new abilities to Seed. You have Gifts from heroines you find through your journey. Some are mandatory to advance the plot, while many others are optional quests. You need to complete some conditions in order to make them feel gratitude for Seed, granting him new powers.toushintoshi99A peculiar approach is the way how this game breaks the 4th wall. When you get enough EXP, you don’t level-up immediately, you need to summon the Goddess of Levels to raise your level to you. You can accumulate as many EXP you want before doing a “level-up ritual”, and since your HP and SP are fully healed when you do so, you can actually use this strategically while you explore dungeons.toushintoshi02You can also capture “Monster Girls” inside magical cards in a process not unlike the one seen in Pokemon. Once captured, you can use their special attacks or a passive ability during battles.toushintoshi98They also get their own EXP with each battle and eventually level up. When a monster girl reach her level cap, you can battle against her again. By beating her once more convinces her to lend her most powerful abilities to you.toushintoshi07In order to raise the level of your monster-girls, you need to visit a “Card Store” which is kinda like a “Pokemon Center”. It takes money to do this, but other services like changing your equipped cards and taming new monster-girls is for free.toushintoshi103The 3DS remake also adds a new main heroine: Sakuya, she comes with her very own route, which you get into by choosing to meet her after each match in the tournament, instead of Hadzuki, but her very existence already adds much more depth for the main plot, independently of which route you choose. She is a great character and I recommend her route!toushintoshi121Beware! Since the action happens on the 3DS’s upper screen, you may be taken off guard when one of the multi-choices events pop up! Those are displayed on the lower screen and don’t come with a safer against button-mashing, so if you don’t pay enough attention, you could end-up killing a harmless little girl or even permitting an innocent child to be harmed! Yes! This does happen!

Graphics

toushintoshi24The original shared many elements with old Dungeon RPGs like Ultima, there was a giant map filling a good part of the screen, while the graphics with your characters were stupidly simple and took only a small portion of the screen. Since this interface already had something similar to a “dual-screen”, old players will fill right at home playing it on the 3DS.toushintoshi122The graphics during dungeons use 3D models in SD for characters with backgrounds that are part 3D models in real-time and part pre-rendered. Nothing impressive, but it’s decent enough.toushintoshi35During battle, you get a simple 2D background with a SD representation of your hero fighting a monster. The monsters have no animations, but there’s some basic flash effects to make them distort and float a little.toushintoshi26Seed is a little better, though. You see him jump from the menu and hit the enemy. He isn’t particularly well-animated and a lot of his animations are reused many times in different attack, just getting new visual effects. Still, this still better than not having Seed being visible during battles.toushintoshi33Outside dungeons, the game is pretty much a 2D Visual Novel with still-illustrations as backgrounds and 2D characters with normal proportions. The art is of high quality for those segments! The characters have a huge variety of styles, body types, face formats and fashion, which means they don’t look like the same characters using different wigs (which is the case for some DatingSim). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find who is the artist working in this game. Maybe there are multiple artists. Regardless, this is one of the best features in the game!toushintoshi93When you activate a skill from a card that is in its max level, a animation clip with the monster-girl will play. Those short clips are well-animated and pretty. It’s quite impressive they prepared a clip for each card in the game!toushintoshi107In 2008, a sequel to the original Toushin Toshi II came out for PC and brought back many characters from the previous game. That could be considered an alternative reimagining of this universe. So, here are some more differences:toushintoshi110Here is one that didn’t actually changed much, but the difference in art-style makes look like otherwise:toushintoshi109And, naturally, there are those who look completely different:toushintoshi108

Music

“Light of Love” is the opening theme. It’s a very upbeat pop song that easily gets stucked in your head. The vocal is by Katakiri Rekka who sang for Galges like G-Senjou no Maou, so it works, right?  Most BGMs you hear through the game are arranged versions of the .midi tracks from the original game and, surprisingly enough, they can still be pretty cool! I really enjoyed most of what I heard, even when it sounds out of place, like electric guitars, but that’s okey! After all, they got TVs in this medieval-fantasy world!toushintoshi06

Voices

Yes! Different from the original version, this remakes includes voice acting! And it’s almost fully-voiced, which is pretty impressive considering it’s a RPG on the 3DS! The team behind the voices is composed of very skilled and famous voice-actors. I have nothing to complain about their performance, it was great! The voices fit each character perfectly and the acting was perfect, even during dramatic scenes. It’s just great! Take a listen! 

Most Controversial Game on the 3DS?

Something very curious about this Japan-only game is the reception it had with the western public in its Japanese community. I don’t quite understand why, but everyday there’s more and more people outside Japan visiting this game’s Miiverse page. They don’t own a copy of the game nor a Japanese 3DS, so what are they doing there? A few among these are people who really want but can’t play this game due to how expensive a Japanese import can be.toushintoshi90This leaves us with the big majority of the visitors in that community: The people complaining about the game. This makes about 90% of the people there. They post comments like: I can’t believe this!” or “This game is a shame for the game community”.toushintoshi89Even my own posts get big reactions!toushintoshi88So, who is in the right on this matter? I’m in no position to answer that, since this game feels so “vanilla” for me. I’ve played non-Eroge games for other systems that got more questionable material than this one! What I can do is question why are those people wasting their time to complain about a game that isn’t even available in their region? Senran Kagura was localized, right? That game is more perverted than this one, and I don’t see anyone complaining about it! Anyway, Like the usual, here are some nice drawings from the user どんまる!toushintoshi91

Conclusion

“Toushin Toshi – Girls Gift” exceeded my expectations! It was the best 1st person RPG I’ve played in a long time! (not like there’s high level competition in this area, though). If I have to complain about anything in this game, it would be its epilogue. Not the ending as a whole, just the epilogue. The core of the ending is effective and very satisfying as it is, but then, the epilogue scene comes and it was kinda like a kick to the balls for me! That could have been done better in so many levels!toushintoshi86Regardless, this doesn’t erase all the fun I had playing this! I am already a big fan of Imageepoch, so this was like a marriage in heaven for me! I hope I can see they working together on another collaboration like this one! Maybe another remake? Or maybe even a completely new title? How about Toushin Toshi IV? Make it with lots of party members this time! And how about the battle not being in 1st person anymore? I can dream, right?

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12 responses to “Game Review – Toushin Toshi: GIRLS GIFT (3DS)

  1. Dude I don’t have a japanese 3DS. I need this on pc dammit….with H because for me everyrthing is better with out place H events kekekeke (Im very pervert) I didn’t like the original Touhin Toshis mostly because I was so used to newer Alicesoft games like Rance but I didn’t know that they changed it so much less that TADA and HIRO helped. The new monster capture seems like taken from Rance lol

    • This is so borderline-H that I don’t think the game would change that much in a PC release. Still, I’ve watched some gameplay videos of the original, and I don’t think I would enjoy those out-of-place H-scenes as much as you.
      Yes! They didn’t change the game as much as it looks, which can be bad sometimes. Some ideas really didn’t age well and look too silly nowadays…

  2. Omg I am so envious you could play this. By just reading I think I will like Sakuya as well haha ..and what a transition of quality wew technology. Why they no make english version huhuhu 😦

    • By seeing the reactions of western people in the Miiverse, I guess this game would have a negative reception in the U.S. or maybe not…Regardless, this is such a waste, because even if you get rid of all the borderline-H stuff, it’s still a pretty enjoyable game!

  3. Is that Toushin Toshi 3 in 3DS platform?

    Btw, dude, since you have 3DS, why don’t try play Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (Gyakuten Saiban 5). If you like murder mystery, I’m sure you will like this one. If you never play any Gyakuten Saiban series, I recommend you to play Gyakuten Saiban 1 to 4 first.
    Gyakuten Saiban 1 to 4 are available in NDS platform, so I’m sure it’s easy to get them (if you decide to play them).

    • No, this is a Toushin Toshi 2 remake. I only used some illustrations from the 3rd game to make some comparisons.
      Yes, I will play the 3DS Phoenix Wright. A friend already lent me his 3DS with it on the SD card. But I am afraid I might never come back to PC VNs and Galges once I start playing this series…

  4. oh, you’re right, it’s Toushin Toshi 2.
    I think I kinda understand what do you mean there, but Phoenix Wright is also VN too you know (though it’s not galge). Also, at least its quality completely justify why you have to play it than many mediocre eroge that released lately. Even a good eroge still lose to 3DS Phoenix Wright when comes to quality,

    • “Even a good eroge still lose to 3DS Phoenix Wright when comes to quality”
      That’s why I said I might not go back to the regular PC eroge/visual novels after playing something of high quality as Phoenix Wright. It will change my standards, as even my friends who are not interested in VNs love this series. Since my favorite VNs this year were not released on PC, I kinda understand how they feel.

  5. Yup, looks like you’re right that it might make you not go back to the regular PC eroge/visual novels.
    Well, I’m reading Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies (Gyakuten Saiban 5) now and already at the halfway of chapter 5. My opinion about this game can be told by one word. Kamige. yes this game is definitely in kamige level. The best ever Phoenix Wright series so far. It’s too amazing, especially its chapter 5. The beginning part (investigation part) of chapter 5 end with really amazing cliffhanger and it’s more than enough to make me say OMG for this game.
    Now I really think you should play it.

  6. I did. I love the series and returned to eroges like nothing happened. They are not that long anyway but if you play Ace Attorney from the first to the last, including Miles Investigation It will take a while to finish them all. They aren’t so highstandars but compared with half of the shit you read by looking at your galge reviews then of course is high bar compared to that lol

  7. This looks really intriguing, too bad its still not localised 😦

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