Joint Review – Pretty x Cation

Written by Aero

Read the full review over on Amaenbou Dane~

I honestly don’t know how I found the time to write this thing because I’ve been spending a hell of a lot of time watching The International recently. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, “The International” refers to the worldwide Dota 2 Tournament which is happening atm. I don’t play Dota 2, but I really enjoy watching it. My brothers are also fans, and I’ve been getting distracted from my eroge whenever I hear them watching a game.

Anyway it’s me (Aero) and Fuzzyhobo this time. I’m both the black and red text, while Fuzzy is the green text.

Fuzzy, again. Unfortunately, no 3-way like in our LxC2 review. I was working on my next review game (with my meager spare time…I travel a lot for my job), but I took a break for PxC…I regret that decision now.

Before we start bashing, I want to emphasize that PxC has a different staff from the previous LxC games. More importantly, they switched several major positions: Scenario, Director, Character Design, Art/CG, music, etc. (most likely leftovers from Akabeisoft3). So I wouldn’t say hibiki works has jumped the shark…yet…

“Bashing” is a little harsh don’t you think? I think “having nothing positive to say about the game” is better =D

PxC Title

Company:hibiki works (foreign IP block)

Game site: PRETTY×CATION (foreign IP block)

Release date: April 25, 2014

Links: VNDB, Getchu, Walkthrough

Opening

As with LxC and LxC2, PxC also has a fantastic opening.

Personally, I think it’s the weakest of the three…but…SHIMOTSUKI HARUKA!!!

Well I admit that it took me a little while to get into, but it was still good. But I agree that it’s probably the weakest of the three.

To start things off

Our protagonist this time is a guy who has moved from the countryside into the big town known as “Tokyo.” Following the advice of his Aunt, our protagonist decides to go out and meet some girls.

That’s pretty much it.

Yep…they didn’t bother with a setup this time.

Progression

So how do you get the girl? You stalk, and stalk well =D.

Remember, it’s COINCIDENCE not stalking.

I’m joking…kinda. As with the previous titles, we see the dating simulation system put into action once again in PxC. Everyday you visit two areas; doing various activities or acquiring items while you’re there. These activities and items increase the protagonist’s stats, and if a heroine is at the the area you visit, you’ll initiate an event with her. It goes without saying that bumping into a particular heroine by chance over and over (aka stalking) is how you get onto that heroine’s route.

Same System...AgainMeeting certain stat requirements will unlock a very small bonus to H-scenes. In addition, a couple of H-scenes (overall, not for each heroine) are only available if you have acquired a certain item.

Admittedly, this system had some novelty when it was first shown in LxC. However, after playing two games with the exact same system, I can easily say that it has grown old. To be honest, I felt that PxC’s system was worse than LxC2’s because items and such felt a lot less significant.

Anyway, odds are that everyone who plays this game will be using a walkthrough.

StatsI thought LxC2 applied the system better. In PxC, some stats seemed useless no matter what route you were in. Well, I’m never playing these games without a walkthrough anyway…I wonder if they’ll ditch the system one day and be more like all those Giga Amagami Clones?

In general the the series is somewhat vague when it comes to what you need some of the stats for. Stats would be better utilized if the makers employed a system similar to that used in the “Persona” series, where certain choices are only available if you meet a certain stat requirement.

As I mention above, LxC2 does a better job when it comes to items. For example, if you acquired the “sports drink”, you would give it to a certain heroine after they finished club activities. Another example is where having “stockings” in your inventory would affect the CG of an H-scene. PxC does put in some effort to make items relevant, but it’s far from the level that LxC2 achieved.

Characters

Of the protagonists in the “cation” series, I would say that this one had the most personality. That’s not to say that he was good or anything, it’s just he was slightly better than the other two. The game is very insistent that the protagonist have very similar interests to the heroine you’re capturing, which I suppose makes him slightly less dull.

Well, I thought these heroines had the shallowest personalities of the series. They’re archetypes are attractive, but there’s nothing else to them…like cardboard cutouts. The past heroines had the flavor and variety necessary for a good charage. Not to say charage have deep characters…I’m talking 1 ft deep in the pool vs. 2 ft deep in the pool.

I agree; the heroines lacked individuality in their personalities. It’s like they made each heroine from the same template, and then they changed a couple of things from there. In a general sense the heroines are attractive, but poor execution is their downfall.

Nozomi

She's not really an otakuCV: 花澤さくら = Hanazawa Sakura

Your very friendly and reliable classmate, who happens to be a closet otaku.

Sakura

Movie ConnoisseurCV: 綾音まこ = Ayane Mako

Nozomi’s younger sister who is very trendy, and loves movies.

Leche

Silver FairyCV: 藤乃理香 = Fujino Rika

Nickname for Elektrychka. A Russian exchange student who loves pretty much everything about Japan, especially history.

Komachi

You gotta love treatment from senseiCV: 鈴谷まや = Suzuya Maya

A teacher at the protagonist’s school. She previously lived in the countryside, and often gets lost in various parts of the big city.

I’m glad they brought back a teacher heroine…should be the standard, lol.

Routes

As I mention above, the heroines are decently attractive in a general sense. Unfortunately this game is pretty much a broken record, and many events feel pretty much the same. During the common route you’ll eat breakfast, go to school, and then maybe see the heroine after school. You’ll pretty much see this over and over. Of course, there are some events that stray from this pattern, but trust me, they’re pretty bland as well. This repeating patterns continues even after confession, but now you’ll be eating lunch with her and doing her every so often. The lack of variety means that the heroines don’t get as much time to shine as they could have.

Since the scenario and character interaction isn’t as fulfilling as last time, most of the game felt like busy work. I wondered if I was in purgatory or limbo…almost every day was the same routine. One might argue that’s “slice of life,” but PxC was an uninteresting slice…except with sensei.

Oh yeah, that’s right, you had a thing for older women didn’t you?

 

THE TRUTHThe routes vary in quality to some extent, but they’re all pretty average overall.  Sakura’s route was probably the most balanced of the lot, and they used her movie hobby as a good bridge to create events. Leche’s route has a lot of focus on Japanese history, which I didn’t particularly care for, but it shows you just how much she loves Japan. Now Nozomi’s route was disappointing because it doesn’t really address her otaku-ness. Sure a few elements are slipped in, but most of the time she doesn’t even seem like an otaku. Komachi doesn’t have any hobby which brings you together, and you’re pretty much just helping her out whenever she gets lost. The relationship creates some amusing changes in behavior at school, but nothing that approaches the level where the two of you are exposed. The game does attempt to add in some drama at the end of the routes, but they clearly try to play things too safe. Issues presented are quite trivial, and are overcome way too easily. Nothing in the routes particularly stands out, and there aren’t many memorable scenes.

That’s pretty much it. Like many charage, whether anything stands out depends on your character preferences. I liked Komachi the most, but I won’t deny her route and the others weren’t anything special. In comparison to LxC1-2, I already have or will replay several routes whereas I have no such desire with PxC.

Ditto on the replay value for the game. I uninstalled PxC soon after I finished the game. Whereas LxC AND LxC2 are still there YEARS after I completed them =D

Sound and the Lovely Call system

I was a little surprised that they didn’t decide to call it the “pretty” call system for this game, but whatever. Personally, I felt that the voices for the lovely call system didn’t live up to LxC2. In PxC I often felt that voices felt off tone, whereas this was only sometimes the case with LxC2. As with one of the characters from LxC2, you can get Sakura to refer to you as “Onii-chan”. Selecting this option reduces Sakura’s voice over/under tone by tenfold.

Well, being called “Onii-chan” is kryptonite for me, so I stuck with Sakura’s crappy call. These seiyuu have a smaller track record than LxC2’s cast, so the weaker Lovely Call system is not surprising. On another note, the Cation series continues to revolutionize eroge by…letting you name your junk.

The Eroge Revolution

So you can have enlightening dialogue like below!

Yamato would be proudGiven your name, you should have really called it “Fuzzy Magnum” =D

Okay enough about the lovely call system, let’s talk about the game’s sound. I can’t really be stuffed talking about the game’s BGMs, so I’m heading straight into the voices. When I say “voices”, I’m pretty much ONLY referring to Leche’s. The creators of this game made her very unique and gave her a foreign accent to match her background. Here is a sample of what she sounds like:

She sounds like a trainwreck doesn’t she? When I first listened to this, I was banging my head against the wall while condemning the makers to hell. However, I can say it’s something that gets less unpleasant the more you’re exposed to it. I suppose it’s how Japanese people feel when they hear MY horrible sounding Japanese >____>.

I wonder if foreign accents are a fetish in Japan? I eventually got over Leche’s accent too, unlike in LxC2, where I could never get over Seine’s emotionless delivery. Leche’s character design help softened the blow. In fact, I would say Leche has some moe moments…her enthusiasm and clumsiness were occasionally charming…too bad the routes were as interesting as wet paper.

Graphics

Komachi DateThe graphics for this game aren’t bad, but I feel that it’s a step down from LxC2. What’s more, they clearly were aiming for a more “realistic” feel this things, and made 3 heroines have black hair. Seriously, each of these black haired heroines have at least one CG where they look pretty much like the other heroines with black hair. And can someone tell me how Russians = white hair? But yeah, a lot less color = a lot less impact.

Leche rocks the kimonoDifferent hair color = foreigner in PxC. The protagonist mentions that Leche looked like a “silver fairy,” so that’s probably the theme they wanted to transmit with her character. I like Oryo’s character designs and PxC’s cgs are still nice, just LxC2 with Iizuki Tasuku was better. After all, LxC2 won best character designs in 2013 Moe Game Awards and 2nd for best graphics in the 2013 Getchu Bishoujo Game Awards.

The user interface/menu is also similar to Koichoco…ugh…blacking out memories now…except Satsuki.

Koichoco’s storyline was just so over the place that….yeah, let’s not get into it… >_____>

Sakura DateNozomi DateH-scenes

Balloon Handler9 scenes per heroine. Most of them were average, but one particular naked apron scene with Nozomi was pretty good I suppose.

Seemed like a normal scene to me…never really understood the apron appeal…whatever floats your boat >_>.

Overall, the H scenes were shorter than previous games and they put hardly any effort into the setup or the dialogue. Seriously, for half of the scenes, you’re on a date or something… suddenly, screen goes black with some lines to the effect of “Of course we did it”–H scene–then you go about your business. It’s baffling and very lazy…like the staff had an H-scene quota and they threw them in as filler for the paltry routes. Costume change–H Scene–New location–H Scene–Bathroom–H SCENE–Breakfast–H SCENE. Mind you, the cgs are still nice…just mediocre execution…like a generic nukige.

Final Words

Overall: 50/100

If I were to sum up my impression of this game with one word, it would be “disappointed”. If you check my twitter, you’ll see me complaining about the game and how I was tempted to drop it. When it comes to good slice of life games, I require comedy, good romance, or both. Sadly the romance for this game was average, and there was literally zero comedy. Events are very average, and gameplay was repetitive. Heroines are somewhat attractive, but easily not used to their full potential. I wouldn’t say that  PxC was outright bad, but it certainly was very VERY average.

Overall: 60/100

Aero and I might vary on how we rate average…but yeah…average. PxC is just another lesson in how changing the staff can change the quality of the product. I think the scenario is where PxC suffered the most. Even if Iizuki Tasuku’s art came back for LxC3 (which might be a while), insider, the scenario writer of the first two LxC, left the company. LxC2 might very well be the pinnacle of this series.

Given how bad this title was, I have mixed feelings whether the next title in the series will be good. The new staff will most likely learn a lot, and the next game will no doubt be better than this. However, the real question is whether it’ll live up LxC2, which has become something like the benchmark for the series.

Read the full review over on Amaenbou Dane~

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Aero

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