( In a galaxy far, far away. )
It all started with a flash game. It's hard to believe that my love affair with Visual Novels and my dalliances with manga and anime all sprang from the same source but it's true. Of course, I had watched anime before on both Fox Kids when I was real little, and on Toonami when I was older. The thing of it was I never really tried to seek it out on my own. If a show that I was watching stopped being aired then I stopped watching it. That all changed when I played the Galaxy Angel Sim Date when I was still a freshman in high school. It was on Newgrounds, which was at the time the most popular site for dumb flash games and videos. Of course, being the pervy high schooler that I was, I wanted what was in the adults only category. That's where I found Galaxy Angel Sim Date. Now I don't know exactly why but for some reason I really came to love that game, and I was very interested in finding what it was based on. That led me eventually to the anime, the manga, and much later to the visual novel. The internet can be a weird and amazing place.
(Tact Mayers, the man himself)
The Transvaal Galaxy has been gripped in terror! Exiled Prince Eonia and a huge fleet of unknown vessels have undertaken a massive Coup d'état against the Emperor of Transvaal, and the White Moon! Hope is not lost however, the famed Angel Wing has managed to escape with the last of the royal family aboard the Elsior. Now the fate of the entire galaxy is up to...you, apparently. You are Tact Mayers, a greenhorn layabout who usually leaves all the important work to your adjutant, Lester Coolduras. Unfortunately for your dreams of sloth you are chosen for a daring rescue mission. It's not all bad though as you are also given command of the strongest strike force in the galaxy, powered by only cute girls. Life, it takes and it gives. Basically, the plot is that you must attempt to outrun Eonia's forces for as long as possible. At first, the Angel Wing might not trust their new fresh off the boat commander but who knows, it's a long voyage, anything can happen, even dare I say it, love. Galaxy Angel is without a doubt a pure space opera. It wears it on it's sleeve and dances with it in the dark. It might not be the most intricate of plots but it is still filled with a lot of powerful moments. But just who are the mystery girls?
(Forte and Mint to the left, Vanilla and Ranpha to the right, and Milfeulle in the middle)
Characters are important to any story and in my humble opinion these are some of the best, even if they might not be the most well developed. More than that I've grown up with these characters so I know them backwards and forwards. Each Angel pilots their very own Emblem Frames, which are one of a kind ships powered by the fabled (and convenient) Lost Technology. Here is a breakdown of the characters and what they pilot.
Mifuelle Sakuraba: She pilots the Lucky Star and is the epitome of a air headed girl. She loves to cook and is gifted with a unholy amount of reality breaking luck. Milfeulle also happens to be the "main" girl of the VN.
Ranpha Franboise: Ranpha pilots the Kung Fu Fighter and is basically your typical energetic, and tsundere girl. She works out a lot and loves fortune telling.
Forte Stollen: Forte pilots the Happy Trigger and is in many ways the older sister of the group. She is obsessed with ancient firearms and is an avid collector.
Vanilla H: She pilots the Harvester and is the youngest and most quiet of the troupe. Vanilla is able to control nanomachines incredibly well and is an excellent healer.
Mint Blancmanche: Mint is the pilot of the Trick Master
and the source of all good things in this world. Mint is a telepath and because of this does not trust anyone easily. She is obsessed with cute and sweet things.
The story is centered around them with each chapter centered around a specific member of the team. This gives you a chance to get to know each of them while getting closer at the same time. At a certain point the story it is possible to choose a characters and their specific route opens up. There are also quite a few noteworthy side characters like Lester Coolduras who engages you with a galaxy spanning bromance. By some weird design the combat effectiveness of the Emblem Frames are determined by the mental states of each pilot. Your job as the commander is to basically make nice with them or else their performance will suffer. This leads me to one of the more unique aspects of Galaxy Angel, the gameplay.
The gameplay is pretty basic but it works. After every mission you briefing you give the Angels their orders and they engage in ship to ship combat. Each Emblem Frames have their own special advantages and weakness. For example the Kung Fu Fighter is the fastest but has the weakest shields while the Happy Trigger is the slowest but with the most firepower. Each ship also has a special ability that can be used effectively once a certain bar is filled up. When it does you can give the Frame a command and they will use it against the enemy. (The only one that does not is the Harvester, Vanillas special attack heals all the of the Frames.) Like I said before the gameplay is very bare bones though they often throw some new elements in play like stronger enemy types or more complicated objectives. There is one last ship that I have yet to bring up which is the Elsior, which is another piece of lost technology and the flagship that everyone resides in. It has extremely weak firepower though it mostly makes up with that by having the power to completely heal each Angel Frame. It's poor combat effectiveness and slow speed is easily the most annoying parts in the game. With it's awful firepower it is always advisable to keep it way out of enemy range. While that may be easy enough at first there are several missions when you must escort it through enemy lines which can be incredibly frustrating. The graphics also reflect the fact that this Visual Novel was released in 2002 so don't go expecting that much in that way. Still, the battles can be very thrilling at times and I think it would be quite a loss if the gameplay was not present. The later games really improved the mechanics quite a bit while keeping to the core concept. The second aspect of the game is moving around the Elsior and talking with the crew. This improves the relationship and combat effectiveness. It's pretty basic stuff and it is real easy to see just how each angel thinks of you.
(Oh yeah did I mention that this is all determined by a telepathic space whale?)
What can I say Galaxy Angel is still one of my favorite Visual Novels and I have a great deal of affection for it. It might not have the most compelling of stories, but it does something extremely well and that is make you feel invested with the characters. It can be pretty powerful stuff when they start to actually like and trust you. This is the first part of a great trilogy and it serves as a wonderful jumping off point. The only problem with the game is that since it was released in 2002 it is quite difficult to get working on modern computers. Despite that setback I would really recommend checking out. You might come to love it too.