Before anyone asks about what happened to my mother taking over the blog: she found a new job so unfortunately, you’re stuck with me. Also the リア充 life worked out so well I’ve left my room only for exams and McDonald’s for the past month. This otome VN is up for grabs on JP PS+, so I went ahead and played it.
Princess Arthur sets off with an ambitious setting, combining the legend of King Arthur and staple western fantasy elements to create an otome game with the premise “What if King Arthur was a girl?”
The former king, Uther Pendragon, has just died without any children to succeed him. The protagonist, Ar, is a normal girl who happens to be at the castle one day as her brother is trying to pull out Excalibur from the stone without success. Ar manages to pull the sword out, and is named the next king of Britain.
Understandably, there is much unrest and dissatisfaction from the masses. A random commoner girl is about as far as you can get from “reliable ruler of a country” in the eye of the medieval British public. As soon as Ar begins living in the castle, she faces multiple assassination attempts, threats, and even open hostility from the deceased King’ sister, Morgause, who desperately wanted her son to take the throne. A battle starts as result of the dissatisfaction towards England’s new ruler, and Ar witnesses the horrors of the battlefield first-hand. This only strengthens her desire for peace, no matter how naive or impossible it may be, and she swears to become a king who will carve a peaceful future for her kingdom. The high point of the scenario comes at the end of the common route, where the knights of the round table swear allegiance to Ar and her ideals.
Since Ar is aiming for peace, one would expect that she would place more effort into diplomacy. Her study of politics is done off-screen, as the player watches her spend her castle days talking with her knights and strolling around town and attending festivals with the round table knight of her choice. The political and kingdom management aspects of the story are handled weakly, and all the routes end far before the protagonist becomes a fitting king. For most of the plot, she is pretty much all talk and no action, with each route ending on the promise that she will make a good king but none of them showing it. I would have appreciated a good solo ending where the player actually sees Ar becoming kingly, but unfortunately there is none.
Most of the routes have poor pacing and feel unsatisfactory in solving the problems introduced. Things only go downhill after the common route. Plot elements that feel important are only briefly mentioned–the Holy Grail was spoken of at the end of one route and again in the (very short) final “epilogue,” when one would expect it to take center stage. The writing is very flat for the whole game, and build ups to most of the fights have little tension. Character motivations are elementary, and the text never goes deep enough into them to truly make them interesting. The villain speeches are lame, the prose in the narration bears no weight at all, and the majority of the serious scenes fail to instill any sort of emotion in the reader. They say the Lucius guy is strong, yet he shows up and gets defeated in about five minutes, give or take.
The fight scenes are terribly dull with their flat descriptions and cheap special effects. There are generally two ways for fights in visual novels to work, either through vivid description or well-timed effects and dynamic manipulation of the game’s visual assets. Dies Irae and Senshinkan satisfiy the former, MuvLuv alternative and Propeller’s action VNs are good examples of the latter. Muramasa probably fits both with its high production values and 30-minute sword-fighting theories. Of course, these VNs I listed have far higher budgets than Otomate is willing to allocate into any individual game (seeing as how they manage to output new games monthly), so this is just me being picky as hell. One would expect that a story like this would feature more engaging battles and touch more upon war strategy, but I guess there isn’t much demand in the otome market for long, heated fights.
The scenario was most definitely lacking, but Princess Arthur is actually quite satisfying when it comes to the appeal of its heroes. Sure, many of these knights are awfully impolite to their new king, but I’m sure some players don’t really care about how convincingly the kingdom hierarchy is portrayed when the guys are moe. In fact, if you weren’t expecting anything other than sweet romance, then my last three paragraphs worth of complaints could be thrown right out the window. Ar herself is not bad as a person, as she is aware of her inexperience as king and strives to improve herself. She has a couple of good scenes here and there, and while she may be irritatingly naive and idealistic at points, it’s hard to fault her for her stance. I mean, that’s the protagonist’s 王道, after all. There just wasn’t enough in the story for her idealism to truly shine. It’s not Ar’s fault!
As for the setting, despite being based off of Arthurian legend, there are enough liberties taken that it’s better to not get too caught up on the details of the actual works vs. this game. Also, there are sandwiches and macaroons in medieval England, as well as castle designs that look like they belong about ten centuries later. There’s some casual uses of magic and mythical creatures, but the game never goes too deep into the specifics so the fantastical elements are just kind of…there.
I typed too much, so I’ll try to keep the route impressions short.
Lancelot is the most knightly of the round tablet knights and actually gives off the impression of a proper knight. Anyone familiar with Arthurian legend would know of the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere, which is handled in the game as a way to evoke jealousy in the protagonist (and presumably the player). Of course, there is nothing between them and Lancelot actually likes Ar, but her not knowing that gives the climax a stronger impact. He has the most well-rounded route, I guess.
Gawain is the muscular idiot who can’t help but get flustered in front of Ar. He really brings out some of the best parts of 筋肉馬鹿 types, but the plot in his route sucks compared to the others. Dull tournament arc, sulking from not winning the tournament, final boss shows up in the last 10 minutes and goes down in about 5.
Tristan is an old guy with a beard who is still attached to the previous king and doesn’t acknowledge Ar as a fitting replacement for the position. He’s mostly off acting on his own, only arriving in the castle to bring bad news. Story-wise, his route was kind of refreshing.
Galahad is a cold tsundere who develops feelings for Ar, but since he has no idea how to come to terms with them, he gets obnoxious jealousy fits that made me want to kick the shit out of him for being a pathetic brat. However, his confession was massively adorable and his route had the best climax, even if it was handled in a very classic (read: probably cliched) way. He is very moe, like a little girl.
Mordred was a traitor in the original stories, but you don’t need to be familiar with King Arthur to even be able to guess that, because he is totally shady to anyone who pays careful attention during the common route. His route sucks in that it introduces a third party as an antagonist despite said third party being irrelevant in every other route when they had every reason to not be.
Merlin is not a knight, but an old wizard who doesn’t look as old as he should. Perhaps the most entertaining guy to watch as he engages in teasing Ar. His routes needs to be unlocked by doing Galahad’s, which raised my expectations through the roof as Galahad’s route felt like a prelude to something grand. Nope. Also, his fashion sense is shit. But his room is cool:
Side character-wise, Medraut gets the most shining moments and deserved a route. He makes for interesting route material, and would have forced the writers to break away from the template. Most of the routes ended too quickly and never bothered to tie up a good deal of the things they started, at least on-screen. Ar became lovey dovey with her knight/mage of choice, all’s good, who cares about all the other things you wanted to know?
Art is…unique, to say the least. It’s something of an acquired taste, the thick eyeliner that everyone has. The CGs also need better shading. Backgrounds are detailed and have good lighting, but the characters themselves need more defined shadows to reflect the lighting of their environments. There are a number of very good looking CGs that suit the soft coloring style though, and I was surprised at how many unimportant side characters got distinct sprites.
Music actually had several very good tracks that ended up being memorable, including the title theme and its arrangements. It’s a pity that there are so few tracks in total, and everything felt repetitive by the end.
Probably my fault for having too high expectations and hyping things up all on my own.For pure chara-moe appeal, Princess Arthur would do fine. The guys are cute, interactions are nice, and despite my grumpy complaints, there were some scenes that gave me a grin wider than Ume Aoki’s faces. Just don’t expect much from the setting or writing, else you’ll waste time and effort looking desperately for something that doesn’t exist.