Posted by: Leek | May 15, 2014

Eroge in Review: Juu Kishi Cutie☆Bullet

The next post of the new month and it’s (finally?) another eroge review. I’ve been slowly able to dig into my backlog of eroges that I either started and never finished, or ones that have just been sitting on the shelf gathering dust. So you can expect at least another after this one. That aside, you can expect a lot of fireworks in this review.


Guns and women. What could possibly go wrong?

Juu Kishi Cutie☆Bullet (従騎士Cutie☆Bullet) was released by Effoldom Soft (エフォルダムソフト) right around the end of March 2014. A full priced eroge, it hit shelves marked at a pretty penny and was a game that I had set my sights on for quite a bit. The artwork was attractive to me and it really seemed like a game I could get behind. Unfortunately, I had to put off playing it for a bit and only got to it around the middle of April. During that time, I began to get quite an earful about the game and that it was an easy qualifier for one of the biggest let downs of the year. After hearing a lot of this jabber I decided the only way to find out was to play it for myself.

Is Cutie Bullet really that bad? The long answer is what you’re going to read; the short answer is yes. Cutie Bullet has a host of problems and a lot of them are tied to it’s price tag. A lot of the game was me telling myself that “It can’t get any worse” or “It’ll get better from here”. Instead, I was generally met with a lot of painful nonsense that made me want to shoot myself in the foot. And then it ended. But before we get too riled up, let’s start going over the game.


Who says you can’t assemble a heist team and harem at the same time?

The starting premise and initial idea of Cutie Bullet isn’t really THAT bad. In fact, if you approach the game like a action comedy spoof you’ll find that a lot of it is actually pretty charming. So what is Cutie Bullet about? It follows the path of Ayato, a young soldier serving under the monarchy. The force is divided into the highly competent and revered “Red Roses”, while Ayato chooses to serve in the generally mocked and run down “White Roses”. After an incident of firearms being handed off to common criminals, Ayato and his younger sister Miyabi are charged with responsibility for the crime. But as they are about to suffer persecution, the two begin to suspect the leader of the Red Roses as the actual culprit behind the firearms distribution. The two as well as the remaining White Roses are left to assemble a team to infiltrate the headquarters of the Red Roses and uncover the real criminal.

Despite the fact it’s a full price game the cast is rather small and, not including the patch-in side route, only has four main characters that you’ll need to worry about. The main members of Ayato’s team include his younger sister Miyabi who, outside of violent sleep walking, has trouble firing a gun despite being a superior to Ayato. The next member in line is Mayu, a mercenary who goes by the codename Rodriguez and is constantly on the hunt for a legendary gunman by the name of d’Artagnan (don’t mind the reference). The third member of the team is Reina, the older of the two princesses of the kingdom that has a fondness of café au lait. The last member of your team is filled by Sara, a young sniper from a foreign land who’s native language just happens to sound really close to standard Japanese. The side route character is Miyabi’s childhood friend Wakasa, a member of the Red Roses who prides herself on working with matchlock firearms.

To be perfectly honest, all the characters from the main to the side are incredibly likable. The chemistry between the members of the White Roses is highly enjoyable and it generally feels like one of the stronger points of the game. The only real issue is that, for the pricetag, it feels like there is a lot missing. With only four character routes accessible without the patch (and the incredibly problematic true route) it’s hard to say that blowing $100 is that worth it. And with how much they work some of the side characters into the main story, it feels like it wouldn’t have hurt them to write at least one or two shorter side routes you could do (even post full clear).


Zinedine Zidane jokes? We’re really going to go there?

So at this point Cutie Bullet doesn’t seem like that bad a game, right? This is probably how’d you feel a few hours into it and you’d generally not think too much about it. The problem is it’s just hard to approach the game with a perfect mindset. While I said it fits the Rush Hour style “action comedy spoof”, it still tries to be cool, badass, and even serious at times. The problem is it’s humor is often poorly timed and turns a host of scenes from potentially serious into a painful gag that spawns you to force a laugh between your gritted teeth. It’s a bummer because it feels like the scenario writer had a stroke of comedic genius from time to time and manages perfect gags at the right times. But with all the times they attempt gags it was probably nothing more than a lucky break here and there.

And it’s not only that. Half of the character scenarios feel incredibly botched to the point that they even recycled the same ideas. It was something of, “I really don’t know how to make romance bud”. So instead we got a flurry of sadly forced scenarios where a few factors were swapped in and out. So rather than feeling each route was different and unique, it often felt like you were watching the same damn movie over and over with different characters. Oddly enough, none of the scenarios felt particularly long either or, if they did, it was more likely tied to how miserable I was going through them. If that wasn’t enough, a lot of them felt like they resolved nothing more than was done in the main story. There’s a huge impact the main route leaves before trailing into the character routes and you might feel like it would leave some ripples. Instead, you’re taken off onto a completely irrelevant path where Ayato randomly thinks to himself, “Is our battle REALLY over?” every so often without bothering to collect any relevant clues. And then if you walk all those random side roads, the main path finally opens up. Never mind all that irrelevant plot and sex, it was all just a ton of Looney Toons episodes where Wiley E. Coyote continually chases after the Roadrunner.

Oddly enough, that isn’t the REAL issue most people had with Cutie Bullet. Oh yes, there’s more. When you pay for a full priced eroge, you expect length (which the game already hardly delivered). But above all else, you expect artwork. And don’t get me wrong, the sprites for Cutie Bullet are gorgeous. Which is a great, great thing because you’ll be staring at them…a lot. In fact, you can expect to be staring at sprites for about 80% of the main game, the other 15% being sex, and the remaining 5% being random CGs strung poorly across the side stories. Yes, you guessed it. The game suffers from the saddest lack of CGs you could imagine. Instead, what you get is a ton of minor sprite variations and (as pictured above) a ton of random, awkward cut-ins where you’d think someone was calling their Persona. But let’s be honest. The problem has nothing to do with quality and the CGs you do get are gorgeous. That’s why it’s a waste you hardly get any.

It’s just sad that you go through the entire main story and have about five to six standard CGs that you see about once. Usually eroges will try and have one CG that they can recycle every so often for a few scenes. And frankly, I wouldn’t have had an issue had they done something like that. But instead, you’re left high and dry. You’ll see a scene and, if you’ve played a good amount of eroges, you’ll probably think to yourself, “Oh, CG incoming”. But instead, you get nothing. And after you escape the main route you expect a bit more CGs and, well, you do get some (a shame all of them are spent on the few ero scenes you actually get). And then you get the big finale, the mother of all the routes. And you know what the “Grand Route” has? ZERO. That’s right. The almighty end to the game gives you absolutely nothing but more sprites. Now keep it in your mind, people paid around $100 for this game.


I’m running out of age appropriate CGs over here.

But let’s get to some other points. The music is suitable but it feels poorly chosen at times. There are the odd times where tragic music is being played over a gag scene or intense music over a chase that isn’t really much of a chase. It just feels like everybody working on this game was isolated on their own respective islands and given no contact with the outside world. So, the scenario writer and music composer were told, “Write something related to a chase scene”. Unfortunately, more often than not, one went left and the other went right and it was very few times the two managed to meet in the middle.

Setting aside the problems, the voice acting is all legitimate and one of the saving graces of the game. Cutie Bullet boasts a good cast and everybody does a great job of capturing their character. Heck, even everybody’s favorite r-rolling, dandy voice makes a hefty appearance in one character route. And this is all what probably helps make the characters so damn lovable. They all seem perfectly fit into their roles and you can feel a good synergy between everyone. So props to you Cutie Bullet, you didn’t get EVERYTHING wrong. Money and planning was well spent SOMEWHERE.

As for today’s ero part of the eroge corner, we’ll give it a barely passing grade. Nothing in Cutie Bullet really stunned me and every ero scene thrown in just felt like it was for the sake of being present. And, once again, the problem was probably just number again. While I realize it would have been a complete sex fest had they stuck more in, it entirely comes down to the fact that the love stories and plots weren’t properly thought out or ever fleshed out. So in just comes down to the fact that one flaw of the game ended up hurting the others. And, again, it leaves players holding their hands out asking for more soup from the kitchen.


Well…at least it has pretty pictures.

It’s really sad because a lot of this review easily makes me sound like a whiny, spoiled brat. And that’s what I honestly thought of a lot of people before trying out Cutie Bullet myself. You just really can’t understand what a true, barren wasteland it is without throwing yourself at it. The game literally feels like wading through a desert and hoping to find that oasis. But literally everything you run at turns out to be a mirage and you just shovel sand down your throat until the agony from that makes you forget what you were doing.

But maybe I’ve just become really jaded after clearing the game. I mean, I did really enjoy the game in it’s early stages. I won’t argue that. But the problem is every eroge is really a marathon. It doesn’t really count as a play unless you full clear it and it’s usually the duty of a good game to make you want to clear it. I can understand not wanting to clear one or two character routes because you don’t necessarily like the character archetype and that’ll happen from time to time. But it’s bad when a game is just so damn badly put together that you just can’t stomach the idea of seeing a good character get dragged through a muddy, rehashed bunch of events.

And honestly, the “side route” patch just felt like salt in the wound. It’s something where you just say to yourself, “Did this make me anymore satisfied with my purchase?”. The answer is no. A big no. It’s something like, this shouldn’t have been some humongous patch I needed to download on my own time. Especially when it only added a few CGs for that route and didn’t even bother to really “fix” anything. It was really just there to give you the illusion that you got more content for your buck. But whether you add it or subtract it, it doesn’t make Cutie Bullet a better or worse game. It’s just adding on a zero amount that might just potentially act as a few more miles to that desert you thought you escaped.

Overall
Maybe, in the end, Cutie Bullet was some kind of divine lesson sent from the cosmic beings to make us appreciate what we get in most eroges. OR, it was just a poorly planned game that wasted a ton of money in random places and was forced to try and make up for it by cashing off of poor suckers.

I don’t know what to say about Cutie Bullet. It’s definitely not worth the full price but it’s hard to say whether it’s worth touching at all. Even if you were to see it at around $20 I still would call it a hard sell. It’s just that dry a game. It can only amuse you for so long to feel worth any amount of money you spend on it.

But maybe you’re a risk taker. Maybe you just have too much damn money. Or, just maybe, you really don’t care about CGs and want to work for those three to four minor ero scenes per character. Cutie Bullet is yours to grab; just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Responses

  1. ok this was largely unexpected… but… trackback is fine too right?… I’m making my personal Kuso-ge list and guess why I’m commenting on this one hahahahahahaha

    • Oh, by all means. The more people that know about the disaster, the better.

  2. […] Well… Need I say more? THESE GAMES… but worry not I also partially got this covered, the other half now that’s […]

  3. well with that posted so you bought the game? well I’m not sure but AKABEESOFT3 (the new AKABEESOFT from where EFFORDOM-SOFT is affliated) decided to give the third game of the Kishi series FREE to the people who bought this known disaster of a game if that’s going to be of any consolation… OHH it was reported that IIzuki Tasuku from LovelyxCation series will be doing the art as opposed to Yuuki Hagure (who did the art for Koi Kishi and Juu Kishi BOTH OF WHICH ARE DISASTERS)

    • I believe the general consensus on Koi Kishi was that it snuck by most criticism if not for the fact it didn’t suffer from the huge CG disaster (at least that’s what I’m told since I didn’t buy it). But I still heard the scenario was pretty balls event though everybody admitted Cutie Bullet managed to take it a step farther towards hell.

      And yeah, I’ve heard the company apology and all the nonsense tied to it but I frankly don’t care. Rather than giving me a free game I would have just preferred they fix what they had messed up. Frankly at this point I’d just prefer they cut and run rather than make another game.

      • well I read Koi Kishi, I would still say that peer hype made me jump on the boat and pirated it (yes there was Hype surrounded on that game for getchu to warrant “the best” sticker for it) and it pretty much left me a sour note, and many people agreed inclusing their own market Naka no Hito -Tokyo Hero Project- washed that sour note (by community standard Naka no Hito was mediocre but if compared glaringly with Koi Kishi the latter was a better choice) but… I can’t pretty much put the blame on anyone but myself when I decided to play a landmine known as Juu Kishi (well to be honest I was bored and I finished some games here and there by the time I decided to torture myself criticizing the game for how bad it is but hey it’s fun… LOL) and yes I pirated Juu Kishi on a latter date ahh right I started to play Juu Kishi while waiting for April releases, particularly Koiken Otome after finishing Clover Day’s


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