Posted by: Leek | October 31, 2015

Eroge in Review: Boku to Koisuru Ponkotsu Akuma.

Happy Halloween everyone. To keep with the holiday spirit I prepared a special post just for you guys. That’s right, an eroge review. Because when I think special occasion that’s obviously the first idea that comes to my mind. The actual story is that a former client was well aware that I’m a big fan of both Hirose Madoka and Sayori’s work and surprised me with the game as a gift. And it just so happens that the game itself happens to fit with the season pretty darn well. All that taken into account, I decided it’d be perfect for a Halloween post. Not to mention I had to finish it before the end of the month anyway because I have Koi x Shinai Kanojo coming, and I’ll never finish it once that arrives. Don’t tell anyone.

Don’t be afraid. It’s not scary…at least not the normal kind.

Boku to Koisuru Ponkotsu Akuma. (僕と恋するポンコツアクマ。) was released by Smile (スミレ) just around this time last month. It’s got the full pricetag and is only the third game to be released by the relatively young company. I’ll be honest in saying that even if I knew about the game in the back of my head, I didn’t have much intention of playing it, and this is the first Smile produced game I’ll be touching. And I know there was another game released in the month of September that I could probably talk about given that I reviewed Cutie Bullet. But let’s talk about a game given to me that doesn’t come off an uncomfortable background.

I’m sure a lot of readers (and potential readers of articles like this) are probably familiar with Sayori’s name by now due to Nekopara. And, actually, a slice of the scenario writers that show up in KoiAkuma are lifted straight from Nekopara as well. While I did play Nekopara, I won’t exactly say I have the highest opinion of it, but it’s a relatively easy name to throw out to ring some bells nowadays. KoiAkuma itself is close to the type of eroge I reviewed previously (Sukisuki) and exceptionally close to Nekopara. In fact, if you played Nekopara you pretty much know the exact flow you’re going to experience if you purchase KoiAkuma. It’s simple, it’s filled with sex, it’s incredibly episodic, and it’ll attempt to make you laugh. The keyword there is attempt.

What a little angel. No, I mean she’s really an angel.

The story of Koiakuma centers around the main character, Ren, who lives a peaceful day to day in an apartment alongside his adopted sister Emi. With his parents constantly out for work reasons, Ren plays the role of the personal chef for not only Emi, but his childhood friend Riria and her mother (as well as Ren’s stand in guardian) Reika. When Emi and particularly Riria’s childlike tendencies finally anger Reika, she has the three thrown out of their comfy apartment and into a new living arrangement. It’s at this time Ren finally learns the truth that the world wasn’t exactly the place he understood it to be. Riria (and naturally her mother) is a succubus, Emi is actually an angel, and all of his other acquaintances come from a magical world he never knew about. It not only becomes Ren’s job to play chef for the six women he’s living with, but help counsel them to be proper functioning members of their respective magical races.

So who makes up the main cast of magical entities? Ririra (as mentioned before) is a succubus who’s childlike mindset leads her to struggle with doing anything remotely erotic (lest lay a hand on a potential victim). Emi is an angel and descendant of the Cupid line who’s lack of trust towards others lead her to cling only to her brother and refute her own family name. Arle is Emi’s classmate and friend who has been like family to the two siblings. However, despite her own family being a line of mummies, she has certain issues keeping herself wrapped…or keeping any clothes on for that matter. The fourth member slot fills the transfer student role, Yuu, a snow woman who can’t stand the cold. The last main cast member is Ren’s senior at school and all around school celebrity, Miyabi. Miyabi comes from a long line of witches, but her trial and error methods have led her to become an addict to her own medications. Other characters you’ll see include the likes of your foul mouthed teacher who is actually a descendant of Bahamut, a Cerberus with only one head, and a wish granting whale who can only hear out wishes but has no ability grant them. This bunch of misfits makes up the creatures who are all essentially stuck in a magical halfway house until they can fix their respective problems.

In general, I’ll admit the scenario (once it unfolds) was actually really amusing. It initially feels kind of unique, and seeing all the dumb quirks each character has is pretty darn amusing. And with the five main girls, the animal companions, and a cast of three side characters (all with unlockable mini-routes), you’d think you’d be pretty satisfied. The problem is, the game still seems to suffer from a volume problem. I’ll admit there are plenty of games where I feel like they purposely bloat character scenarios just to add some extra length and not make the consumer feel ripped off. And, I’ll admit, there’s been very few games where I’ve ever felt like that’s been an issue. This might have been my first encounter with that scenario though.

Sometimes a man just has to assert dominance the hard way.

I’m not sure if it really comes down to an actual problem of volume as much as the writing of KoiAkuma really creates that kind of problem. It’s kind of fair that games of KoiAkuma’s nature really aren’t meant to be full bodied experiences. You don’t play games like KoiAkuma for a chance to rack your brain with interesting ideas and intricate plot. You play it because you want a break from the real world and are looking for something stupid. The problem is, you have to draw a line somewhere. It’s not that I’m saying Koiakuma’s routes are stupid, but a lot of them just feel incredibly incomplete. Given the main plot, you’d feel like there’d be an ultimate objective you’re going for outside of having sex. But at the end of every route, I generally feel like I just smashed a girl a few times, heard a few bad jokes, and called it good. Let’s say that helping each girl out would be considered some distance location to the north. Now let’s say that the majority of endings are a much, much closer location to the east. Now, if you were to be heading north, got lost, and somehow ended up in that east location it would probably be a game with some good, and interesting volume. The problem is, KoiAkuma seems content with taking two steps north before just heading straight east and landing you at that closer location. There’s no getting lost or real laughs along the way. It just kinda drops you off at that spot and takes your ride ticket.

Now, I’ll admit I wrote Nekopara to the back of my head and left it there for a reason. It just didn’t have writing that ever resonated with me. And I think that’s the exact same wall I hit when playing KoiAkuma. Now the thing about playing games like these is you really need to have a good sense of humor when playing it. But the game also has to have a sense of humor that actually strikes your chords correctly or you’re going to have a really, really bad time. And I talk about reference humor a lot on this blog. In fact, I do it a lot myself and just kind of throw them into posts from time to time just to see if I can get those “ahas” out of people. And, to me, this is kind of how you use that kind of humor. It’s meant to be quick and be witty in that sense. But that’s not always the trend sometimes. If you were to “aha” at every reference or meme worked into lines in KoiAkuma, you’d probably be talking over the game the entire fucking time.

It’s not that I hate this kind of reference humor, and it’s fine from time to time. But it’s kind of a problem when the amount of original dialogue that shows up in a game is vastly outnumbered by the amount of references and straight lines lifted from the internet. If you were to actually look at my twitter in the process of playing the game, you’ll see that it eventually started to get to me and I was begging for salvation. And it honestly becomes painful. I mean like, getting hit with a tidal wave filled with diamond tooth sharks kind of painful. But maybe, just maybe, you really think that kind of humor is really fun. Or maybe you just want to test your cultural knowledge or see how much time you’ve spent in the Japanese sector of the internet. This game will probably never bore you if that’s the case.

As for the side routes, they’re unfortunately nothing more than afterthoughts. I’m sure there are those times in an eroge where you see one of the side characters and think, “Man, I wish I could get a chance to bang her at least once”. Well, KoiAkuma answers your prayers and gives you a chance with all the side girls…one time. Each side route is basically a small scene with the girl and ends with you having sex and becoming lovers. Hilariously, the extra scenes you unlock from completing a main route are probably the same length if not longer than the side routes. I get that they’re not supposed to be a major thing, but you could probably have done a bit more than a single scene and sex.

Don’t give me those eyes.

The soundtrack itself is nothing really to go crazy over, and it seems like it was more of a another attempt to make you laugh. If nothing else to stay with the theme, the large portion of tracks are named via incredibly cheesy akuma puns. And, actual content wise, quite a few tracks are simply remixes of the main opening theme (which I do actually love by the way). So like most eroges, KoiAkuma is just a case where the in game soundtrack is fairly forgettable but has a lovely OP/ED pair for you to remember the game by. Which is fine really, but there is always a part of me that wants that game that just have a beautiful soundtrack underneath that makes me want to have the music volume setting a little higher than usual.

Much like the soundtrack, the voice acting itself is also nothing to go crazy over. And since there really is nothing I need to talk up generally, I feel I’ll just rather use this little section to give credit to Yui Ogura for her performance as Riria. I really loved Riria as a character and I think Ogura captured both sides of her character (the cute and the erotic) absurdly well. Everyone in the voice cast really did fit into their roles well, but I feel that Ogura filled her role a little too well. Or maybe this just has something to do with the fact that I feel like I have some long, special connection to Ogura. Either way, I felt the need to give credit where credit is due.

So in a game where the main character’s childhood friend is a succubus, you’d probably hope the sex scenes are at least a saving grace…right? Well, you’re in luck this time. The ero scenes of KoiAkuma are actually one of the few saving graces of thew overall writing. I guess where the scenario writers tend to skimp you on decent jokes and scenario, the sex somehow manages to tie it all together. Once you get into the main routes, the sex scenarios are all actually great and fit the respective personalities of all the characters well. There are also two animated scenes for each main character that you can expect (which either show up in the main or extra scenes post clear). There’s also a good variety in the types of play that happen, so it’s not just limited to one type of sexual relationship. The only real problem you’ll face is that your favorite kind of play doesn’t match up with your favorite character. But you can’t win them all, right?

Now is a good time to talk about eye contact.

Despite the complaints, KoiAkuma is still a fairly fun game to play, and, even though it’s not the most unique experience, it’s still something that can potentially be worth your time if you’re in the market for it. However, I do feel that it’s an incredible shame that the scenario suffered so much in the long run. It really was something that felt like it had a lot of promise and could have really exploded into a lot of good gags and amusing events. But the scenario writers ultimately felt either so drawn to doing up the ero scenes, or they really didn’t feel as strongly to their concept after coming up with it. Ultimately, it came down to execution problems and, luckily or unluckily, it just so happened the scenario was the only place that the execution fell short.

It’s a real shame that KoiAkuma has this problem because it’s production value seemed so incredibly high. It’s such a well put together game that I really don’t want to talk down that much on it. But it’s scenario really did not create a fun experience, and that’s what every eroge is going to come down to. It’s just a matter that the game itself promised you this and that with it’s scenario but hardly makes full use of it. It really felt like buying a new luxury car after years of only purchasing used cars. Sure, you didn’t need all the features, but a lot of them just make life easier and make your drives more enjoyable. So once you start out your car looks great, you feel great, and then you find out it handles like crap and makes getting places incredibly strenuous. First and foremost you want a car that can get you from place to place, and you want an eroge with a scenario that doesn’t make you feel empty at the end of it.

If you were a really big fan of Nekopara, then maybe this game will really resonate you (as long as the resonating factor wasn’t the cats thing). Otherwise, you might just be a ridiculously huge fan of Sayori’s artwork, or you just really want to get down and dirty with an adorable succubus (or angel…or witch…you get the the point). I don’t think it’s a terrible game to pay full price for as every other factor of the game kind of covers the price tag a little bit. But I really do feel that the full price you pay is for covering more of the production value of the game rather than the quality of the scenario writing.

If you happen to find the game a little cheaper than it’s original price (say 2000-3000 yen less), then I would definitely say it’s more worth your while. I really don’t want to sound like I’m talking complete crap on the game because there is still a lot of good in it. And the humor style it uses is up the alley of certain people out there. In which case, even if you didn’t like the scenario you’d still get a lot of laughs out of the game. Just because I didn’t laugh at 80% of the jokes, it doesn’t mean that other people won’t. And, in that scenario, the game will give you a lot more bang for your buck and probably won’t seem even half as bad as I made it sound. It’s definitely a game where you should hit the demo of first. If you happen to find yourself getting some good laughs out of it, then maybe you can think about taking the leap. However, just keep everything I said in this review in mind so you can’t hold it against me if you regret your purchase.

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