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Ren'ai x Royale



This is the latest game by ASa Project, a company that rose up during the Golden Age of VNs, making a name for themselves as solid comedy charage makers.  To this day, their style hasn't changed significantly, but in some ways that gives them an advantage over modern charage, which tend to be less comedy-focused (actually, most newer charage makers don't seem to know how to make the readers laugh anymore).  

This game is focused on the harem of a young man named Hirotaka.  The situation is, structure-wise, a classic 'all the girls already love the protagonist' setting, a style that you don't see as often anymore.  Instead of the girls getting along and being friendly (the more common modern iteration of this setup), is almost 90% the girls fighting over Hiro.  Moreover, the girls are so over the top I couldn't stop laughing throughout the common route, to the point where my voice got hoarse by the end of the day.

There are four main heroines and two sub-heroines with one bad ending extra heroine and two male-oriented 'normal endings'.  The main heroines are: The returning idiot osananajimi who throws everything into chaos with her return to town, Mari; the narcissistic and more than a little perverted (too self-absorbed to realize she is a pervert) Shione; the yandere-ish little sister, Nonoka; and the idol who constantly goes back and forth between being a straightforward deredere heroine and deliberately acting cute, Renna.  The sub-heroines include the popular idol Yuuna and the class president Ikuyo.

Something important to note about this VN is that the constant byplay with the side-characters contributes a great deal to the comedy and bringing the heroines to life, another technique that requires skill that most modern charage writers lack.  The fact that Hiro is something of a forgetful airhead (who happens to be handsome and subconsciously seduces heroines without even realizes he's doing it) as well as being a bit crazy also helps, since it generally means that things never really ease up or calm down.


Yes, I did a sub-heroine first... but most people who get through the common route will understand why.  There are just too many reasons to pick Yuuna for a first heroine, even aside from her being an interesting character.  Though I call Yuuna a sub-heroine, she is actually a strong enough heroine with a long enough path to be called a main heroine.  

Her path  is mostly straight-up ichaicha and dealing with the main heroines insane levels of jealousy (seriously), as well as planning for the future.  It is generally heart-warming while also keeping the comedic atmosphere of the common route.  I liked that the path had a 'years later' epilogue.  


I had to play Renna's path after Yuuna's, because I wanted a good comparison between a sub-heroine path and a related main heroine path.  Renna is Yuuna's understudy and younger partner in the idol group Gloria Snow.  Renna is a pretty straightforward character who uses a 'cute' persona to seduce the protagonist.  In all honesty, since Yuuna was my favorite from the beginning, I kind of wanted this to be a 3P path, but ASa seems to be ignoring the trend toward such paths, lol.  

Like Yuuna's path, this one felt like an extension of the common route, with perhaps a bit more in the way of drama (short drama that doesn't really add anything to the experience) and about the same amount of ichaicha.  So, for those who just want the ichaicha comedy, it is roughly equivalent to Yuuna's path in those terms.  


I'm going to be blunt... this is the path that kind of made me stop playing the game.  It wasn't that it wasn't funny... but as a heroine, Shione's clumsy attempts to take control of the relationship made me nearly go crazy.  This path spent way too much time dancing around instead of getting to the point, and as a result, I felt like it took a lot of fun out of the more humorous moments.  


For fans of old-style comedy harems where the girls are constantly at each other's throats, this is actually a great VN.  If you want romance, it isn't.  I say this because, except for Yuuna's path, the romance is the weakest part of the game.  The heroines are mostly psycho (makes for great humor and catfights, but not so much for romance), so, while I spent a great deal of time laughing, I didn't get much out of the romance.  I did like that the girls never did stop trying to reclaim Hiro, even after he chose one of them... the way girls always seem to give up entirely in other VNs always struck me as odd.


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