With visual novels (and eroge to an extent) continuing to grow in popularity in English speaking regions, it is something of a godsend that many foreign developers are finally recognizing the potential of such an untapped market and want to jump on the bandwagon. Alicesoft, a company that has long seemed out of reach is the latest to hop onboard with releasing Beat Blades Haruka, a simulation eroge. Of course, while its awe-inspiring that we are finally getting a product from Alicesoft…it is something of a weird selection from the possible alternatives. So is this selection worth adding to your collection?
To save you from the long preamble of the synopsis, Beat Blade Haruka follows the journey of Takamaru Ikusabe, a loser of a high school student that after a string of events becomes involved with Haruka Takamori, a female shinobi of the Crescent Moon society tasked with stopping the evil Noroi Faction from destroying the world. Takamaru’s role…provide her with the energy necessary through the Dragon Synergy ritual which he can only perform or as we normal people would say, sex. With the storyline being somewhat enjoyable in its own corny and trite anime infused way, it is very clear that the appeal comes from one part gameplay and the other…erotic content. Of course, even between three heroines and other side scenes catering to all matter of fetishes (rape included which seems to be in no short supply) the erotic content is a little ho-hum. That being said and the simulation element being the only thing remaining, that aspect is also less than appealing, especially after pealing back the thin veneer.
With 99 days to reach the end goal of the game (don’t worry, you won’t need that much), the simulation comprises of 3 time periods of the day: Morning, Afternoon, and Night where various options become available that will affect the heroines. During the Morning and Afternoon the player can either: perform the Dragon ritual to give the chosen heroine SP (sex points), train the heroine to increase her stats, search for enemies to fight at night, or learn new skills with the SP gained. Everything excluding resting (that restores dice rolls) and learning skills depends on a dice roll, so in order for the heroine to gain SP that is tied to learning skills and combat must be earned (unless provided by a random event), yet the dice roll is predetermined and not by chance. What this means that if you a roll a 3 and the event requires 6, reloading the game will still yield 3. While this sounds great and maybe a technique you can use to gain the system, it won’t matter much with the limited options and cause you to choose a less desired option like saving your dice for the next day. Even if you fail a roll – you still have the chance of receiving SP as well as lowering the cost next time around, but this an option you will most likely want to avoid and not rely on too often. During the night is when you can engage in combat by going to the world map and choosing your opponent. Based on the power level and information, your opponent can range between hard to easy, but in order to fight them the search enemy command must be invoked from earlier in the day. If not, the enemies will be shrouded in a black smoke and you won’t be able to choose that encounter. As for combat itself…a very simple affair.
Using a heroine of your choosing, battles are turn-based with the goal of lowering the foe’s barrier points to zero before they do yours. Issuing various attacks that consume SP, choose the appropriate one in order to win. Based on the skills learned, your attacks might be stronger, but also consume more SP over the course of the battle. In all honestly, it really doesn’t take much to win other than keeping an eye on your SP and making sure you trained the heroine to be near or above the enemies stats. If you win, after combat your SP limit cap will increase along with earning Peace Points, one factor of many that will influence what endings you can get. After battle and ending the day players will receive a summary of how they did along with restoring dice rolls and barrier points to start the process again. With many chance events popping up throughout the game, they will help in managing progress, but for the most part, everything else is up the player and really easy once you get into the swing of things. That being said, if you are expecting or wanting a tougher game, then this is probably the wrong one to seek out on that level.
As aforementioned, with the erotic portion being a major part, the artwork isn’t too bad coming from the team of Onigiri-kun and Kirishima Sen’ya Naosada. Not being too fond of some the darker fetishes and sexual scenes (which you can thankfully skip), the rest is okay, but far from palatable. I am fond of the character designs at the very least. The music composition is a mixed bag, many of the tracks not being all that memorable, but not offensive. The only ones that leave a mark and I liked is the boss fight tracks and the opening theme “Like a Blazing Wind, Like a Raging Flame” performed by UR@N.
Even though Beat Blade Haruka lacks much of the sharpness, gameplay scope, and perplexing sense of humor that makes up what Alicesoft is and what the rest of their catalog is like, it is a very fair and close preview for what English speakers can expect in the near future and keep the already initiated waiting with bated breath. Knowing that titles like: Rance, Pastel Chime, and Toushin Toshi are at the top of most peoples wish list, we at least have a fighting chance to get them and supporting Beat Blade Haruka for the chance isn’t a tall ask, yet probably the most ardent of fans will jump at the opportunity for a product such as this.
Pros: Easy to follow gameflow, battles are easy and offers some wiggle room for faliure, artwork is actually good for when it was originally released, extra corner does have a few messages tailored for English speakers.
Cons: Most the variant heroine routes feel like waste, range of sexual content might not be to everyone’s liking, incentive to replay for other routes is low.
Final Verdict: Beat Blade Haruka isn’t the most exciting or best offering from Alicesoft by any means, yet is an okay and simple example of the SRPG hybrids they have to offer. While most of the gameplay is easy and sexual content not suitable for everyone, I believe most hardened followers will have no problem with it. If you are wishing for something more story driven and more polished in terms of gameplay, best to look elsewhere.