I just finished playing a somewhat old eroge, Shuffle! It felt like it hasn’t aged well. Unlike Key classics or Type-moon games, Shuffle! just basically focuses on the cute girls so it doesn’t leave much of an impression story-wise. There’s millions of eroge today featuring cute girls, slice-of-life stories and even better art, so I can’t get myself to like this typical plot. I’ve realized that I hate doing number ratings because it’s so formal, so from now on all my reviews will be informal and no number ratings.
The protagonist is Tsuchimi Rin, an ordinary dude who lives with his childhood friend Kaede. His parents and Kaede’s mom died, and Kaede’s father is always on business trips so the two are pretty much alone most of the time. Kaede does all of the housework and cooking (damn I want a childhood friend like that) and she’s also good at all subjects and popular at school. The guy is already a target of rage due to his perfect osananajimi, but then one day two really cute girls transfer to his school and want to marry him. They are Lisianthus (Sia) and Nerine, the princess of the Gods and Devils respectively. Their fathers basically push them onto Rin, so he’s got the three hottest girls in school to choose from with complete approval from their fathers and all of them deeply in love with him. And for the record, Sia and Nerine love him because he played with them once 8 years ago. As the background characters say, the guy must have extreme pick up talents if he could make such hot girls fall in love with him when he was a child. Rin is a boring protagonist with boring thoughts and actions, so I wasn’t fond of the fact that he had an instant top quality menu to choose from. At least be awesome like Morita Kenichi, if you’re gonna have so many girls after you! Or at least work for their affection! Aside from them 3 school idols, Rin’s also got the energetic Asa-senpai, and a loli with twintails called Primula who is a homoculus with lots of power. That makes it a total of 5 girls in this game.
Character route summaries (spoilers):
I went for Sia first because I liked her cheerful personality and she was pretty cute in a typical heroine kind of way. I don’t usually like the main heroine/cheerful types at first, but there wasn’t really anyone that I liked at first sight so I went for her. It’s a good thing I did her first instead of expecting the heroine to have the best route, because Sia’s route sucked. Basically, there’s another person living inside Sia, who is supposed to be her twin sister. Sia’s mother was the sister of the King of Devils, and out of the King of Gods’ 3 wives, only she got pregnant. She had twins, but only one body could come out. Sia was a G0d, but her twin sister was a Devil. They want to forget the devil child’s existence, so Sia takes over and lets her sister out sometimes. When Sia met Rin 8 years ago, both she and her sister fell in love with him.
I had major problems with the pacing of the plot. There isn’t any romantic development between Rin and Sia until like 5 minutes before the first h-scene. Then they basically went out after that, and Reverse Sia sometimes comes out. Depending on your choices, the next h-scene can be either Sia or Reverse Sia, but the story progresses the same. Sia decides to go to sleep and force Reverse Sia to take over the body. Reverse Sia goes on with life as “sia”, but they are different so people are disappointed at how “Sia” has changed. So Reverse Sia goes berserk and rants about how she has nothing because no one cares about her and they only want Sia, etc. etc. until Rin gives her a name. Then the two live inside Sia’s body, but instead of one being asleep while the other takes over, they’re both concious and can switch at will. I guess from now on, they’ll “share” Rin. Also, they didn’t show anything with Rin and Sia’s past so I felt nothing between them. All that happened was that Rin’s like “oh yeah I suddenly remember completely how we met lol.”
Nerine is the princess of the Devils, and is a soft-spoken girl with the biggest boobs out of the 5 heroines. She is also a lethal chef, and has very strong magical power. She has a beautiful singing voice, but hates singing for some reason. It gets explained that there were 3 homoculi that got created: one is a modified devil who blew up because the body couldn’t withdtand the power, another one is a clone who also died, and the third one is Primula who was made from scratch and is a gettable girl. It turns out that the second homoculus, called Lycoris, was actually a clone of Nerine. Nerine was too weak to move when she was little, so Lycoris was her only friend. Lycoris had no freedom, but one day she snuck out into the human world and met Rin and fell in love with him. Lycoris’ body couldn’t withstand her power, so she is going to die. However, before she dies, she gets merged back into Nerine instead. Now Nerine is healthy and can move, and also inherited Lycoris’ singing voice and feelings for Rin. Nerine doesn’t like singing because she believes the singing voice belongs to Lycoris. She also rejects Rin after their h-scene because she believes that Lycoris is the one who he belongs to. Of course Rin objects and says that she should sing and smile, together with Lycoris inside her, and everything goes well.
At least there was some more evident romantic development than in Sia’s route. Rin and Nerine actually had a kiss scene, and their first meeting 8 years ago actually got focused on.
Kaede is Rin’s perfect childhood friend who has taken care of him for a long time. They’ve got that typical, idealistic childhood friend relationship going on where Kaede’s like his mother and does all the housework, takes care of him and makes him lunch every day. This relationship seems like your normal osananajimi scenario, right? …
I thought so too, but there was something interesting in Kaede’s route. First of all, their relationship actually had proper development since their feelings for each other were probably already there but none of them said anything. It just needed to be triggered, that’s all. Second of all, Kaede actually hated Rin when they were little. Like, legit hatred. She pushed him down the stairs and threw a knife at him and basically did a bunch of stuff to try to kill him. All this is because she thought that Ri indirectly killed her mom. Basically Kaede had a fever and her mom + Rin’s parents were on a business trip. They decided to go home, but got into an accident and died. Kaede was close with her mother so when she died she refused to do anything and lost her reason to live. To make her stop emoing, Rin told her that he called them home so he was responsible for their death and not her. Kaede believed him, and started trying to kill him. Eventually she finds out this was not the case, so decided to make up to him by devoting herself to taking care of him.
Asa is the energetic bokukko senpai who is like a cooking master. Rin and her have been friends since middle school, as she was the president of the cooking club and Kaede’s cooking mentor. Asa starts collapsing in the middle of the day, and it eventually gets revealed that it’s because her mother is a homoculus. Asa’s mother, Ama, is actually the first homoculus, which was a modified devil. She didn’t actually die, but got knocked to Earth. There she fell in love and had a kid. Asa is part homoculus and has tremedous power, and the reason she is collapsing is because it’s too much for her body. The problem can be sovled by using magic regularly, but Asa doesn’t want to use magic because she doesn’t want to remind her mother of the fact that she is a homoculus. At the end, Rin decides to cut himself so she has to use healing magic on him.
Since Asa and Rin were already friends, the development was decent and pretty believable. Things played out like an actual romance, rather than have feelings developed 5 minutes before the first h-scene. I also quite liked Asa-senpai, since I’ve got a thing for green hair and bokukkos. Plus she is a senpai =D
Primula is the loli, and the third homoculus. It seems like the most effort was put into her route, and it kind of ties everything together. It’s a good decision that I played her route last, otherwise I would’ve been spoiled on all of Nerine’s route. Primula at first is an expressionless loli who doesn’t seem to care about anything other than cats. She moves in with Rin and Kaede in every route, but in her route she goes to school. Primula’s tendencies to wait outside at night and her fascination with cats is because Lycoris, the second homoculus, bought her a stuffed cat when she came to the human world. Lycoris was like the only one who cared for her like family, and the only one she expressed emotions to. One day, Primula is waiting in the rain, and Rin goes outside and tells her that she is not alone and he will be with her. She hugs him, and starts showing facial expressions. She starts calling him onii-chan, and they eventually fall in love. One day, Rin gets injured and Primula, who wasn’t able to control her magic before, used healing magic on him. Because of that the King of Gods and King of Devils decide to take her back to the Devil world for more experiments. This basically means Primula and Rin will get separated. They erased Rin’s memories of Primula, but his friends want them to stay together so they decide to help.
This is the only route where Midoriba (perverted male friend) displays his smarts and is actually useful. He bascially convinces the two Kings to play a game with him, and if he wins Primula stays. The game was basically a bet to see if Rin can remember Primula just by seeing her in the hallway, and he does. So Midoriba wins the bet and convinces the Kings to build a research facility in the human world and just make Primula get regular checkups.
Overall, Primula’s route had the best pacing, and their relationship developed well.
My route preference is probably Primula > Nerine > Asa = Kaede > Sia
My character preference is Asa > Primula > Sia > Nerine > Kaede
Overall, Shuffle! is a slice of life eroge with some fantasy elements, and drama thrown in at the end. The art is beautiful and the girls are cute, but none of them really made me go MOEEEEEEE or dokidoki.