With Tears to Tiara II
coming to the US, one might wonder, "Was I supposed to know about Tears to Tiara
I?" I donít know if this is a trend, but the history of this game seems to be as follows: Make an RPG with adult sexual content. Decide you might really have something with the characters and the world youíve built, and that can get a wider audience if you clean it up and re-release it as a normal mature/teen game. Thereís a pretty big gap between the original Adult game and the re-made Teen rated game (the original game was released in 2005, and the new version was released in 2008, with a subsequent enhanced version released in 2009); So it wasnít a rash decision, but with the popularity of other Eroge (Adult themed Japanese games or manga) games like Fate/Stay Night
, it might be a strategy we see more developers and publishers follow.
One might theorize that several times during the game, it almost turns into the Eroge genre, but just stops before it dives completely into those types of scenes. That being said, thereís plenty of what you might call fanservice in this game. One woman military commander seems to forget that her uniform was supposed to include pants and a shirt, not just a jacket. And then thereís the scantily clad girl (goddess) named Tarte. I donít know if that name is intentional, but it is hilarious.
In Tears to Tiara II youíre going to be reading - a lot. Or youíll at least be listening if you understand Japanese. Because this is almost solely the gameplay youíll get to experience, there are thankfully some options to customize your experience. You can set the text speed, set the game to auto advance, and even turn some voices off if you consider them particularly annoying.
A simple summary of the story of Tears is that it revolves around Hamil, a poor villager who had a very noble past. That past was stripped from him, and now he toils away, slaving and working under the Divine Empire. He appears to be a relative dullard and a bumbling klutz, but appearances are more than they seem. Though he has plans of his own, they are complicated by the appearance of Tarte, a young girl who claims to be the goddess of Hamilís people. Combine this with the fact that there is a hidden faction still loyal to Hamilís house; When things start happening to force Hamilís hand, the results are spectacular and unexpected. And Hamilís hand is more than anyone expected - he transforms into a god of war, obliterating anything in his path. That, however, is only the beginning of a story filled with conspiracies, goddesses, and enemies with hidden agendas.
The thing is, much of the story doesnít need to be nearly as long as it is. Much time is spent reiterating points that were already understood, and delving into ideas that would be fine if they were simply left implied. Itís not efficient writing by far. In fact, much of the first part of the game is a rather unnecessary retelling of the same event where the main character Hamil loses control of his power. I really spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was important to remember and what was simply extra fluff. After I got used to the long-winded style of storytelling, I did eventually feel that it could be enjoyable. Thereís some nice character development, especially with the intense emotions that run deep in the main character, Hamil. Then there are several amusing points in the story, including one character espousing the magical qualities of the art known as statistics. Oooooh, I say, as I wiggle my fingers in a mysterious manner! All in all, to enjoy this story, youíll just have to be able to enjoy lots of detail, lots of character introspection, and a pace that moves slowly rather than deliberately. Heck, the game even makes you fight to see the opening animation.
As for the turn-based parts of the game, it takes a long time to get to them, but they are decent. Thereís nothing particularly new about the gameplay style or rules here, so you can get comfortable with it quickly if youíre used to turn-based strategy. Youíll be doing the standard buying armor and weapons, leveling characters, and employing time-tested strategies such as using your armored sword swingers as shields while keeping your dainty archers out of harmís way. Thereís also a crafting element to the game that comes in way, way later. To say that you canít judge this game by the first few hours is very much an understatement.
What is unique about Tears to Tiara II is the elemental system. Not only is there a classic elemental system (every being is apparently born with an elemental affinity in this game), but there is also a "favored" element that cycles throughout the battle. If you have a favored element, expect to inflict some extra hurt on that turn. Then there are also the traveling deployment units, the Elephant troops. They carry around your undispatched troops, allowing you to deploy from different areas on the map at different times during the match. Using these wisely can make the difference between your demise and survival in later battles.