Love, Disemboweling, and Vast Rape Dungeons

February 10th, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things?

I’ve mentioned this game in passing a couple times, but now’s a good a time as ever to cover it in a little more depth. Also, covering things that I’ve already played saves me at least a couple hours in writing these kinds of posts. I’ve always had a soft spot for Softhouse Chara. They clearly enjoy their work, exemplified best by how all of their games contain unlockable galleries made up of nothing but scenes of the writers screwing around with the characters, like making fun of serious scenes in the game, or having characters explain all the ways that in-game sex is completely unrealistic. Even parody videos for EDs from time to time. They’re always very tongue-in-cheek and never bogged down with the kind of almost perambulatory teenage angst and insecurity that infests the standard visual novel. But anyway, onward and forward.

A long time ago in a kingdom far far away, the dragons got a bit uppity and tried to conquer the world. You know how dragons are. The angels and demons banded together to curb stomp them into the ground and then to make sure that never happens again, cursed all dragons to be slaves to their base desires. Male dragons are stricken with random sex-lust at the drop of a hat, and female dragons get the murder-lust. Enter Brad Blood Line (Softhouse Chara has problems with romanization), one of the very few male dragons left, who has been living the life of a slacker for the last few centuries in relative peace with a crappy lair, modest stack of treasure, and dungeon half-full of maidens periodically offered up as tribute that he can’t seem to get rid of and people won’t stop sending him. Ryumis, his long-neglected fiancée and a dragon particularly known for her short temper and propensity for disemboweling, has decided that she’s tired of waiting and the two of them will be married in a year’s time. If he doesn’t have a respectable lair and giant mound of treasure for her by then, she’ll be mad. Also, female dragons have a tendency to kill their mates on the wedding night regardless because of the whole pain of losing their dragon virginity thing, so he needs to solve the mystery of vaginas too.

The basic gameplay is split into three parts, managing your dungeon, defending it from invaders, and raiding nearby villagers. You can also spend time with the main heroines once the plot makes them available, or ‘practice sex’, eg visit the rape dungeon and let things take their natural course. Each of the ten regions of your dungeon have a number of unique(ish) preset ways to remodel them with more unlocked as your progress. Monster lairs and traps are the general 9 to 5 in dungeon defense, but there are also tons of different rooms for things like delaying invaders or improving your treasure acquirement in various ways, including things like a welcome desk or an in-dungeon casino. You can also summon (well, hire) monsters to sit in the lairs and fight off intruders. They all have their own stats, skills, and can level up to improve them, but if they die in their duty, they’re gone forever.

Sadly, there’s really not a whole lot you can do in the second or third parts. It’s not like Dungeon Keeper where you’ve got a bunch of spells to cast, or can dump your entire monster population onto the invading horde. It’s pretty much just watching things play out and hoping nothing goes too wrong. If they reach your treasure room, they take a chunk of your cash. Lose too much and it’s game over. In the later stages of the game, when you have veritable armies invading your dungeon, it’s just a complete clusterfiretruck. You raid villages by spending mana to play a bunch of cards which advance you down a track with various buildings along the way. Each building you destroy (along with ‘destroying’ the entire village) has an effect on a number of things, like your threat level, tribute, etc. It typically incites an immediate overreaction of invaders as well. Playing the cards in certain ways will have additional effects, but this isn’t a particularly well-documented game internally and it’s not like you’re even playing something against someone. The primary strategy 99 times out of 100 is simply to get within one square of destroying the entire village/city, so you get all the bonuses from the buildings without inciting a sudden mass-invasion/spike of your threat rating.

   

Way, waaaay back in the beforetimes, Dungeon Keeper was one of my first true loves, and there are enough similarities here for the comparison to fit. It’s all pretty light-hearted and like LWR, has less of a central plot and more of a bunch of character or humor focused vignettes that are strung together as you go which helps keep it from getting bogged down while you play. There’s less of any real overarching plot as much as character-specific events stringed together. The characters are… mostly tolerable. Blood can be amusing because he’s very distractable and over-analytical about sex, leading to completely unrelated info dumps about things like the history of the world in the middle of the obligatory tidal wave of sex scenes. The regiment of maids and their money-grubbing female-butler boss (a running theme/joke in SHChara games) are entirely there to be lazy and greedy to a militarized degree.

The four main heroines… well, they exist. Besides Ryumis, there’s a beast-girl with a dragon slaying sword who immediately becomes essentially your clueless housewife, a knight out to kill dragons, and a princess. Notice how the description shortened with each one. They’re not really bad or anything, and one thing SHChara does astonishingly well for a company specializing in protagonists who are constantly stricken with rape-lust, is little slice of life romantic scenes (as if characters having sex for weeks or years are actually in long term relationships… *gasp!*), but they’re still just about the least interesting parts of the entire game and you can probably guess their entire arcs from just the brief description given. There are a handful of other characters too, Ryumis’s brother, Might (again, names not being SHChara’s strong suit), and another female dragon, and… uh, that’s actually about it.

 

The big problem, as with many SHChara games (aside from the interface which looked dated even back in 2004 when it was released), is that the balance is all wonked up. Monsters are the backbone of your dungeon defense, and if you attract too many adventurers at once (or if the RNG just gets mad at you) and get most of them killed, you’re just kind of screwed and that’s it. No second chances. Not really enough time to recover, nada. Once Faye (knight heroine), starts showing up, she will utterly wreck your dungeon to hell. If you’re not able to take her out immediately, that’s pretty much the end of that playthrough. Hell, even just starting the game can put you in a big hole since you’re given a room or two for free right from the start. Maybe you’ll get a couple really nice and useful ones and have a huge leg up, maybe you’ll get garbage and be starting in the hole right from the get-go. On the other hand, once you do have some over-leveled regenerating monsters to sit down right at the entrance/in front of the treasure, that’s also kind of it too, but in the opposite direction.

It is designed for multiple playthroughs though and has a ton of different endings, including one where you just end up living a life of debauchery with your maid battalion. The first game is limited to one year (48 turns IIRC). Getting any non-bad ending lets you start with more cash/mana/threat and extends the playtime to two years. Completing Ryumis’s ending there unlocks the ‘real’ mode with further starting bonuses and three years of play. Each year, assuming you’re actually reading all the events, probably only takes maybe 6-8 hours to complete and far less if you’re skipping through stuff you’ve already seen. This does introduce problems on first games since Yume’s (housewife heroine) the only one you have a snowball’s chance of getting their ending due to the requirements for the others, so you’re sort of forced to do her events to unlock the rest of the game without that actually being made clear. Things open up a bit more when you’re given a stronger start and a lot more time to work with.

It’s a fun little sim for the most part that’s worth at least a strong glance if you’re interested in this kind of thing and a good introduction to SHChara’s style of games; lighter snacks in a world made of almost entirely bloated monstrosities. If you do play it, just save often and expect to reload if/when things go wrong, because when they do, it’s generally catastrophic. It’s long been on my list of games I think would be great to translate (and like most SHChara games, the script’s nice and short), but the existing tools do not put the script into what I’d call a particularly workable format. Oh well. Onto the ever-growing pile it goes.

Posted in Nesting Dragon | 11 Comments »

11 Shouts From the Peanut Gallery

  • Sanjuro says:

    Can you possess the girls in the rape dungeon?

  • Aroduc says:

    That depends on your definition of the word ‘possess.’

    That was really a feature every RTS needs.

  • IoWhite says:

    Funny and relatively easy compared other SChara games but not so long.

  • Kreweta says:

    Well, perhaps “balance is all wonked up” could be a good thing. If it were to be strictly balanced, it could get boring fast. Losing from time to time, even if you performed above average is always nice. Though, I didn’t play it, so maybe it’s worse than that.

  • Rz says:

    This seems interesting, especially that female dragon would kill her mate because the loss of virgin blood.

    I hope SHChara would make another game like this in the future.

  • Aroduc says:

    They did, sort of.
    http://shchara.co.jp/04develop/19mon/mon_0top.htm

    Guarding a sovereign city from various invaders. The defense portion is more hands on (and turn-based), but it’s a hell of a lot more tedious for it. Didn’t delve far enough to really get into the characters or plot, such as it is, but I’ve heard not much positive about them.

  • Rz says:

    Just done take a peek on the CG Samples.
    It’s remind Bunny Black 3, which is building an area from literary nothing into a big town. The Protag seems carefree and sharp-minded too. And like usual, SHChara is bad at made Protag’s name…

    ==
    >I’ve heard not much positive about them.

    It’s kinda what you said above:
    >The big problem, as with many SHChara games (aside from the interface which looked dated even back in 2004 when it was released), is that the balance is all wonked up. Monsters are the backbone of your dungeon defense, and if you attract too many adventurers at once (or if the RNG just gets mad at you) and get most of them killed, you’re just kind of screwed and that’s it. No second chances.

    SHChara RNG somewhat can be cruel and stressful to the players. One false step, it can be over. Maybe that’s the reason why it’s not too popular and gain negative response?

  • Apathy says:

    Ahw…I though you were gonna’ do the review through song.

  • Rz says:

    Hi Aroduc, do you will play and make review for the latest SofthouseChara game?
    悪魔娘の看板料理 just released and available now :>

    Nice timing after finished the trial of Rhapsody of God~

  • Aroduc says:

    It’s not high on my list. I poked at the trial a few weeks back and the SimRestaurant thing didn’t grab me.

  • Rz says:

    Got it.
    I’m still playing it atm. Well, this is quite challenging.