"Oh, hell no."
Those three words were the first ones that came to mind when I wrapped up Sweet Fuse: At Your Side for the first time over the weekend.
That's because, after spending about a week and a whole lot of hours on this PSP-based visual novel, the first ending I encountered was a bad one. (As in, the guy I had the hots for didn't admit to feeling the same about me, er, my 18-year-old female avatar.)
I considered that to be completely unacceptable, so I promptly decided to go through the whole affair again--which is easier than it may sound in Sweet Fuse (and many other such games), as it offers players the ability to fast-forward through text that's already been read.
The problem is, I made a wrong choice at the very beginning of that follow-up attempt (these games are all about making the right choices--to the extent that most fans refer to a guide while working through them) and as a result I wound up not being able to re-woo the character in question.
So, after that campaign ended an hour or so later--also badly, I might add--I gave it another go. This time lasted just 45 minutes or so, and guess what? I finally ended up with the man of my dreams. Er, sort of. I think.
Was it all worth it? Surprisingly, I think it was. Although Sweet Fuse started slowly for me, its story--a murder mystery set at a video game-themed theme park, basically--eventually sank its claws into me, as did its colorful cast of characters.
I have to admit that I only found two of its woo-able men to be at all attractive--the "mature" (he's all of 32) journalist, Ayumu Shirabe, seen in the screenshot above, and the wild-haired "escort," Ryusei Mitarashi--but the rest of the bunch were interesting enough that it didn't bother me much, if at all.
As much as I enjoyed this experience, I can't help but think only a small fraction of today's gamers would find it similarly enthralling. That's largely because of the Choose Your Own Adventure-esque gameplay, by the way, and not because it's aimed at women and girls.
Still, that hasn't hurt this game's main competition in the Western world, Hakuoki, from finding a surprising amount of success, so maybe I'm selling non-Japanese gamers a bit short?
Regardless, just know that the main thing you do when you "play" Sweet Fuse is read. Once in a while you're asked to select between two or three options that will advance the plot in various ways, but other than that you'll be advancing lines of text with your PSP's X button.
If that doesn't bother you, I'd highly recommend giving the game a go should you own the requisite hardware.
A game I wouldn't give such a hearty recommendation to at this point, although I'm admittedly still at the very beginning of its adventure, is Golden Sun for the GameBoy Advance.
I've had this one for ages now, but for all sorts of reasons failed to boot it up until this past weekend.
Now, before I get too negative, let me just say that already I like a number of things about this portable RPG: I like its graphics (yes, even though they exist in that rather unattractive and awkward space also filled by games like Donkey Kong Country), I like its basic gameplay (which is like if Shining Force were turned into a traditional, turn-based RPG) and I like its soundtrack, too.
What don't I like? For starters, I hope that whomever designed the stairs found throughout the initial town was fired shortly after Golden Sun's release. On more than one occasion I've become stuck because I couldn't see the steps that supposedly had been carved out of the stony backdrop.
Actually, I hope the person in charge of this town's layout was fired, too, as it's a far too circuitous for its own good, if you ask me.
Oh, and then there's the fact that after an hour or two of gameplay I've still yet to find my way out of said town. Admittedly, it's possible I just haven't been paying close enough attention to what the game's NPCs are saying, but I doubt it.
Don't worry, I'm not planning to give up on Golden Sun anytime soon as a result of the above-mentioned shenanigans, although I wouldn't expect me to beat it anytime soon. After all, I just began Bravely Default, and anyone who has been coming here for even just the last few months should know that game is likely to take the bulk of my gaming attention for the foreseeable future. (Hell, I spent eight to 10 hours on the Bravely Default demo alone.)
Speaking of Bravely Default, I've played about three hours of it the other day and, boy, were those three hours a blast. I'm happy to report the full game eases folks into the experience a lot better than the demo did.
My favorite part of Bravely Default so far: the "party chat" feature. I can only imagine how much time this added to the game's localization effort, so I'm glad the people responsible for it decided to keep it intact.
This feature allows gamers to gain a bit of insight into the feelings and motives of each party member, by the way. As far as I can tell it can be completely ignored, so those of you who'd rather just get on with things are free to do so.
Other than that, I'm also loving the game's battle system, of course, as well as its graphics (or maybe I should say "art style") and soundtrack--although none of that should come as a surprise, as I loved all of those things in the Bravely Default demo, too.
Are any of you also working your way through this beautiful RPG at the moment? If so, what do you think of it so far?
One last thing: should you want to read a few impressions of another game I've spent some quality time in recent days, click here to check out my initial thoughts on the Japan-only puzzler, Zoo Keeper 3D.
Also, click here to scroll through previous "Shall We Do It?" posts.