…Which shall now be referred simply as Trigger Kiss due to how cumbersome the full title is to type out in any language. This is an otome game for the PS Vita that tries it’s hardest to be a cross between a sports and a battle shounen manga at the same time. The year is 2085, and a portion of the human population have developed superpowers. Team battles between superpower users are an established high school sport, with most high schools having a super power club that trains to fight against other schools in tournaments. The protagonist, Futaba, is the daughter of a famous superpower user, but decided to have nothing to do with powers after an incident five years ago. Nevertheless, word travels fast and upon her transfer to Akizuki High School, she gets tricked into joining their superpower club. The reason? Their first regional matchup is tomorrow and they don’t have enough members to form a team.
Akizuki’s superpower club was the national champion two years ago, but an incident caused their victory to be revoked and they were forced to disband the club for two years. Everyone except for two first year students left, and only recently did they start the club back up. Each battle is a 3-on-3 deal, and with their third club member in the hospital, they force Futaba to join their team as a placeholder. Their goal is to become the national champion again, or else they will be forced to disband forever this time.
The flow of the story is not unlike that of a sports manga or the tournament arc of a battle manga. This even reflects in the system and interface, where instead of having the usual ADV-style textbox at the bottom of the screen, the story is told through floating vertical text bubbles like the ones shown in manga. Not only that, but the game also makes use of cut-ins and panels during fights to simulate the layout of a manga. Gone are regular dialogue choices — in their place you choose the ‘tone’ you want to convey in the scene. For example, sometimes you get to pick the background special effect to convey the tone of a scene (hearts in the background? Or confused swirls because you are riding double on a bicycle and the guy is going too fast?), or choose the facial expression Futaba delivers her next line with. This is a fun take on the usual visual novel system, and I can’t get enough of Futaba’s smug smirk.
Futaba is also an unusual otome game heroine, in the sense that it feels like she’s modeled after a contemporary teenage girl, rather than some old guy’s ideal of what a teenage girl should be like. This is excellent, since you get treated to scenes where Futaba teases easily embarrassed guys, delivers well-timed tsukkomi, and generally says what’s on her mind (which usually matches what’s on the player’s mind). The romantic and “nice” options are not always the correct choices, and generally everything feels just so natural when it comes to reading from her point of view. For reference, she’s the kind of girl who refers to the guys as 野郎ども in her head and uses the お前ら when addressing them as a group, and reacts calmly when a guy talks in on her changing.
Despite being an otome game, it’s not a stretch to say that Trigger Kiss is 90% battles, club, and comedy, with 10% romance. The exact amount varies from route to route, but those buying with the expectations of a normal otome game romance would be disappointed. I like group scenes and the usual common route shenanigans better than individual route branches most of the time, so I actually liked this structure. There are some routes where all you get is a confession and a kiss at the very end, and even then the scene is in a comedic tone.
The story features 3-on-3 superpower battles, but there is a lot of repetition between routes and the matchups are predictable. You’d expect them to at least shuffle around the national tournament matchups to keep things fresh, but instead of having a common —> individual route structure, Trigger Kiss uses a common —> 2nd common (shared between two guys) —> individual structure which results in only 2 of the 8 chapters being truly unique. Even then, the two guys who share a 2nd common get pretty much the same matchup in the final fight. There’s a lot of text to be skipped, and even though the first playthrough might give the impression that the game is of a decent length, going for the rest of the routes reveal how little content there is.
Compared to the typical otome game fights, more thought and creativity are poured into the superpower battles here with the characters being given a variety of different abilities and the game actually explains how they work. Team members can be either an Attack or Support class, with the battle ending when all Attackers fall. Damage is recognized by the characters’ jersey, and one of battles used a grey-area trick where a character used his acceleration power to slow down the jersey’s damage calculation, leading to the opponent’s team losing their last life point first. Futaba’s ability, Trigger Kiss, lets her buff a teammate through bodily contact (with kissing having the strongest effect), but in some of the routes she manages to come up with a way to use it as an attack and becomes an ATK class. Some of the battles were interesting, but on a whole they still lack the buildup and excitement of a chuunige. The climatic battles all ended up being very conventional and felt like the same thing but with a different guy throughout the four routes. The really typical soundtrack is also to blame for this, since cool music timed at the right scene can make fight scenes that much better. Also the powerlevels are really down to earth, and even the overpowered ones have proper weak points. That’s a given, since this is a tournament story. I almost expected Miyako’s gravity manipulation to be able to create black holes and stop time, before reminding myself that this is the wrong game.
In addition to four main routes, there are two side routes that are extremely short, and actually contradict some of the plot points of the main routes. However, they do resolve some remaining questions regarding Futaba and the incident 5 years ago, so they’re not totally worthless in that regard. But there are still lots of plot points that remain untouched, like the sour relationship between Futaba and her mother.
The heroes are a colorful cast of likable archetypes that work well in unison. You have a hot-blooded idiot senpai and an innocent but hard-working kouhai, a guy popular with the ladies because he’s super smooth (but is actually more of a pervert than a prince), and a super tsundere senpai who gets the butt of Futaba’s teasing. The latter two stood out the most. Mikado’s route has the most romance and serious subject matter, and is the most popular according to the popularity poll. His character and route would fit right in with a normal otome game. While I can see his appeal, I’m 苦手 towards this kind of character. Meanwhile Yamato > *. The scene where Futaba got ahold of a bunch of lewd magazines from an old locker and upon seeing his flustered reaction, proceeded to make fun of him with them sealed the deal. He’s hard on the tsun side of the scale, which honestly makes things more fun because I like seeing tsundere characters maintain their tsun given that their tsun side is entertaining (which it is, in this case).
Overall, Trigger Kiss is a chara-ge through and through, which works because the characters are entertaining. Its strengths lie in the comedy and the visual presentation. The jokes are can be enjoyed even by those who don’t play otome games as their main, and I found myself laughing all the way through even as someone who mains galge. The story is not that great, but it falls in the expected range. At full price the short length and lack of content may be dissatisfying, but the game was going around for pretty cheap when I bought it so I don’t have too many complaints in that regard. The length also means it’s hard to get tired of anything, and none of the scenes overstay their welcome.