The sequel to Kikaijikake no Eve, and the next entry in the Machina Chronicle series. I guess you can say that this is the eroge that I’ve always wanted to encounter but didn’t know existed until recently, because it basically hits all my strike zones.
While the setting mirrors feudal Japan, this is most definitely a sequel to Eve. I wouldn’t blame anyone for not believing me, because in some ways, Amatsukaze is like the opposite of its predecessor. Coming in from Eve, there’s a massive dissonance with just how different Amatsukaze is. Eve is a game that makes less sense the more you try to describe its appeal to someone, but Amatsukaze is extremely focused and straighforward. It’s a serious 王道 ninja story through and through, setting its darker tone early in the prologue and maintaining it for pretty much the entire duration of the game. The text is also a lot denser, with its 4+ mb script that often has lines that fill the entire textbox (4 lines) of the engine.
The scenario is easily over 90 hours long, covering several arcs that can be made into a game of their own. The scale and length of the plot gives many characters a chance to shine, with side characters who exited the stage early on still remaining in my mind by the end. The main pair of antagonists are presented from a variety of different angles throughout the story that continue to change one’s impressions of them, which ultimately ended on a very positive and satisfying note. The legion of villains is also a distinct bunch, with Dougen’s kahaha laugh taking the cake as far as charisma goes. It’s no surprise that he ended up as the highest ranking male character on the popularity poll.
The main characters are very good both as a group and as individuals. Obviously Akebi and Sayo get a lot of the good scenes by Onikage, Natsume fulfills her role as the standard main heroine ridiculously well with loads of badass moments. Yuunagi, while having the weakest of the four routes, still has her moments despite her character not being explored to its potential. None of them leave a bad impression, and Jinma is the best protagonist I’ve encountered in anything I read this year. He plays the stoic, straight-laced guy role straight for the most parts, but has lots of cool scenes while maintaining just enough aspects that feel right at home for an eroge player. The climax of Akebi’s route is IMO his absolute coolest moment, but that route in general (as well as Sayo’s) has ridiculously good scenes. All the routes’ climatic battles are pretty good, but the lolis definitely steal the game.
Speaking of Akebi, she is easily the best heroine in the game and the best loli I’ve encountered in an eroge. Not only does she have the best battle scenes full of wuxia goodness, her and Sayo’s bonding scenes are some of the better “downtime” moments and her growth as a character surpasses that of anyone else’s. She also has some great lines that normally would not be heard from a loli character, and combined with Sayo, represent Onikage at his fullest. Most of the ninja stuff is Akumakko’s forte, so for the majority of the game it feels like Onikage is holding back to stay in line with the ninja theme. It’s also interesting to see how differently the two writers take things. Akumakko, who wrote the Natsume and Yuunagi routes (AKA the boob routes), pushes the ninja theme to the extreme in an 王道 way and Natsume’s route advances in a very “main heroine”-fashion with an excellent climax in the context of the supernatural feudal Japan-like setting and a final boss entirely unique to her route. Onikage’s loli routes are actually the important ones in the grand setting of the Machina Chronicle series, and you can see him reach the same chuuni heights as he did in Eve.
The connection to Eve is only slightly hinted at throughout the story, but a single line near the end of Sayo’s route throws the entirety of the weight of the setting at you. Amatsukaze is very solid as a standalone game, but having read Eve honestly brings in a whole new perspective. As a chuuni-ge, it’s extremely satisfying and skillfully pulls off a lot of elements that appeal to me. It does more to hype up the Machina Chronicle series’ setting than actually show it off since it doesn’t do more than tease you about the “outside,” which I guess is my only complaint for the game as an entry in a series, but the next game is said to tie things together more. I hope Onikage hires a janitor soon so he can make more games in the series, because this series hits closer to my ideal setting than any other.
There are 66 eroscenes, which is down from Eve’s 80+, and due to the length of the game, they are more evenly spread out as well. The ero is also a lot more normal and forgettable due to the nature of the story (there are only two dildos in the game), but that doesn’t stop it from have its share of ridiculous scenes like the game over dog rape early on. Most of the other eroscenes consist of ninja 房中術 training and interrogation rape (though I did like that scene with Eisai’s 式影 simply due to how unexpectedly it was used). Some of the later eroscenes with the main heroines left a strong impression because they are quite sweet, though.
There’s no more of that sex toy production SLG to go through, but rock paper scissors are back with a few improvements that make them a lot better. The new skillsets and character switching mechanic give the battle system a lot more depth, and you can actually purchase equipment as well. I really like how the ways later fights start parallel the characters’ situations in the story, and trying to win the fights that you don’t have to (and technically not supposed to) is a lot more fun. I’ve had my fill of rock paper scissors by the end of the game, but I thoroughly enjoyed it while playing.
A thing that I probably should have mentioned earlier on is the production values. In the opinion cards that users sent in regarding Eve, they complained about how the 演出 in the battle scenes were weak. So Keimaru poured ten times the usual time into scripting the scenes and Amatsukaze has battle 演出 clearly inspired by the very dynamic-looking MuvLuv Alternative. The action scenes are impressive with constantly moving and changing tachi-e, to the point where meticulous details such as ninjas jumping, landing, and dashing while evading are convincingly scripted. If the enemy throws shuriken and the protagonist evades them, they land on the ground and this is actually shown visually. The variations in tachi-e are ridiculous and they seriously pulled off the dynamic movement essential to ninjas. The art is still done by Ninetail’s in-house artists who worked on Eve, but the quality is a huge step up. The coloring is polished and the number of good-looking CGs is a lot higher. They still have some off-model pieces with odd anatomy, but overall the art is a lot more pleasant to look at. The more down-to-earth pallet certainly helps.
The fact that this game is 90 hours of dense text and manages to be good and moving at a decent pace the whole way through is also quite a feat. I don’t think I was ever bored, even when they are discussing politics. The writers know how to present information in the right amount of time, without skimping on details. The music is also awesome, with some extremely good tracks by SSH near the end. The “normal” tracks are high quality as well. I don’t know how this game is so good but I guess the eroge industry is full of surprises. 王道 stories are so great when they are executed well.
P.S. The staff comments in the omake are hilarious.