If you enjoyed a certain series, even if it was just a little bit, you will probably have a good time playing a Visual Novel adaptation made by Guyzware! This is the first time I’m playing one of their games since Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko for the PSP, and it’s also the first time I’m playing a PS Vita game developed by them. (Although I’ve played their Oreimo games for the PSP on my Vita). Since I find Captain Earth a pretty interesting show, this is bound to be a great experience!
Captain Earth is an awesome series! At least, it was for the first half of the anime! There was a bunch of silliness and weird sequences that didn’t make a lot of sense, but the main concept was interesting and the characters were really cool. Specially the protagonist Manatsu Daichi, because as opposed to most Japanese male protagonists nowadays, HE DOES STUFF!!But I will not waste anyone’s time by trying to explain the whole plot of the show. After all, Even though Guyzware tries to summarize most of the story right at the beginning of their games, I doubt it’s enough for non-fans to be able to understand what the hell is going on. This is already a serious problem when they are working with a slice-of-life series (which is usually the case), but for a series full of sci-fi elements such as Captain Earth, it’s basically impossible to give a non-boring explanation for the whole concept and its terminologies in one sitting. It would feel like a science class! Therefore: Let’s jump right into the story of this title:The PS Vita game is a retelling of episode 23, when the Kill-T-Gang aliens trapped the heroes inside a dream world when the latter were on an attempt to do an “entangle-link jump” to reach the villains’ main base.In this world, everyone is living together and happily ever after, even the villains! But, the game version of this episode gives more depth for this plot by introducing the super-computer responsible this whole “dream-world” mess: The Nickel Odeon! …Wait a sec!The original plan was to trap the minds of the heroes inside it, while the villains would provide the perfect scenario. However, they didn’t expect that the abundant energy generated by the heroes’ Livlaster would make Nickel Odeon get out of their control.The computer Bug forces heroes and villains alike to get trapped inside their ideal worlds, except for Daichi and the Kill-T-Gang leader Setsuna. Now, their only hope is to wake up each of the characters by going inside their minds, which will also provide enough energy to charge the Livlaster (the thing that put them into this mess in the first place), which they will use to burst their way out of that space.This episode in the anime was a huge waste of time for me, so I just skipped it, but I suppose this is the ideal part to be used in a VN adaptation, since the “dream-world” is a trope that gets constantly used in this genre. And, if the intention was to make a Galge out of a series like Captain Earth, it’s great to have such a convenient excuse to put all these characters doing all kinds of Galge stuff that was absent in the main show, like school life, hotsprings, beach, concerts, festivals and whatnot…Guyzware did a great job to use this opportunity to flash-out some of the most shallow characters in the show by giving them a more sympathetic personality and a more complete back-story, specially for some characters who were basically “huge assholes with big villainous smiles stuck on their faces”, like Jin, Rin and Ai, who finally get to do different facial expressions!There are also some characters that surprisingly work better on a Dating Sim environment than the setting from the original show. Like Setsuna, the fearsome leader of the villains, who is a cute loli “moe-moe kyun” who talks “nanodesu” at the end of her every line. She was born to live in a love-comedy!The first half of the game is quite interesting, as it shows the deepest desires of the whole cast through their dreams, but their hesitations are manifested as obstacles inside their dream-world. When Daichi helps them to surpass those trials, they are able to grow-up and understand each other more. Sometimes, they are even able to notice that they are living in a fake world, and start to interact with people from other dream-worlds. It’s an interesting plot-device for character development!What is not interesting in the slightest is the second half of the game, where you just need to see a bunch of random short slice-of-life scenarios featuring the characters from the show. This time, those events have nothing to do with escaping from the computer or with character-growth. Those are just pointless gag-scenarios that don’t go anywhere. It was a pain in the ass to watch all of those!
As most Visual Novels, there isn’t much to be offered in form of actual “gameplay”. Because of the short-scenario format used in this game, there’s a basic interface to select which story to play. This is presented as a giant grid map, where each hexagon is called “mind-piece” and has a story fragment in it.Each mind-piece has an owner represented by a different color, and the perspective of the story changes to the respective owner of the mind-piece. This means you get a different main character for each mind-piece color! This was quite a refreshing experience for a Visual Novel!You also get some occasional multi-choice events. The right answer is the more mature and realistic one, which is needed in order for the character to grow-up, while the wrong answer is usually something cute or silly. You still need to select both anyway, or else, you can’t watch the other endings.By watching the stories from certain mind pieces, you unlock even more mind pieces and collect energy to your Livlaster pistols, which goes to your “Libido Gauge”. After you fill that gauge to 120%, you get the first ending (which is pretty crappy). After this, you can keep watching the remaining mind pieces to get the gauge to 200% which unlocks the second ending.After the 2nd ending, Setsuna breaks the forth wall to tell the player that you can now connect the mind-pieces of different characters to create all kinds of “what if” scenarios with a system that’s also called “entangle-link”, and it has nothing to do with the entangle link from the anime. This is when the game gets lame! Most of those scenarios given by the Entangle-link are the above mentioned “gag-scenarios” (which are not even funny, by the way).After you make all the possible entangle-link combinations, you finally get enough Libido to raise your gauge to 300%, which awards you with the 3rd and final ending!
Like most Guyzware games, they did a great job at reproducing. There is a decent amount of CGs, and since most of the pro team from the anime is responsible for those, the quality is really high! It’s the same art-style from the anime series with some simple animations for mouths and eyes. However, the flash-animations that Guyzware loves to use is only seen on special scenarios found in the “extra” menu. Those scenarios are called “sections” and features Hana and Akari (and only those two) engaging in a girls-talk. For some reason, most commands from the normal game (like auto-play and back-log) are disabled during this mode.I doubt they did that to make the flash-animation run better, since it’s not even the best flash-animation made by Guyzware. Well, it’s not like there’s something important to watch in those “sections” anyway.
It’s fully voiced by the exact same cast from the anime. In other words: The voices-work is freaking perfect! They even got god-level seiyuu Ishida Akira! Although, Setsuna’s voice-actress pisses me off.
The opening is “Believer’s High” by flumpool, taken directly from the first half of the anime. It’s a really great song, but the scenes were all changed to a slide-show with the game’s CGs (I guess this is the usual for a Visual Novel, anyway…). As for the BGMs, they are pretty good! Nothing too catchy or unique, but it’s at least as good as the BGMs from the majority of the Galges I’ve played.
I can’t say Mind Labyrinth is a great game, but it’s certainly much more than I expected! When I first heard about it, I had nothing but doubts. After all, it is based on my least favorite episode from a series that was falling from grace. Nevertheless, Guyzware proved once again just how good they are at what they do best! I don’t even think Captain Earth is a good series to be adapted to this genre in the first place! And yet, they managed to pull it off, and even gave it a (somewhat) more satisfying ending than the one we got from the actual anime series! Color me impressed!I am proud to be a Guyzware fan, and I’m looking forward for their new anime to Visual Novel adaptation: Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata – Blessing Flowers (And I don’t even like this anime that much). I’m sure those guys are able to make a good VN out of anything! How about a Galge for Hitsugi no Chaika? DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!