Waga Himegimi ni Eikan o
This is the newest game by Minato Soft, the makers of Majikoi. As per usual, I'll be straight with yall and say that I thought this would end up essentially being a slice-of-life failure like a lot of Minato Soft's non-Majikoi VNs. However, this game is actually much closer to a chuunige in nature than I anticipated. In the end, I gave this one of the highest ratings I've given in a long while, but there are some issues, which I'll mention farther along.
Wagahime's protagonist is a young lad from the frontier called Shaon, the adopted son of the Great Tenken Master Figaro. Shaon is, personality wise, very much like the harem protagonists you see so often in charage. However, he does have the will to fight when necessary and the ability to commit to a course of action when needed, so he definitely stands well above that crowd. At the beginning, Shaon contracts with the Artificial God, Minjara, and gains the power to fight like, well... a god for three minutes every three days, in addition to his pre-existing Tenken, which lets him heal and strengthen others. He then sets off on a journey to see the world and find a wife, along with his little sister Ebiita and his father's friend Peta (a sapient rabbit-type person).
One negative I have to put forth about this VN, though it makes sense considering that the Tenmazoku route is the true one, is that the route order is locked, forcing you to do the Empire and Federation before you can do the Tenmazoku (Krone). There is no common route. Instead, there is a storyline for each country, with a single heroine (and a bunch of fake endings with other girls that just consist of H-scenes). In the case of the Empire, it is the Empress Noa. In the case of the Federation, it is the proxy PM, Erin; and in the case of the Tenmazoku, it is the Tenmaou (Queen of the Tenma) Krone.
The Empire route is the most SOL-friendly of the three routes, focusing on Shaon journeying across the empire, then his time in the capital, before the climax of the story. Due to events early on, Shaon gets his foot in the door and meets Noa in a fashion that is relatively realistic, albeit only within the setting (it requires suspension of disbelief that a 700 year-old Empire would fail to insulate their royals better from the nobility and commoners). Shaon, given his bond with Minjara, of course quickly manages to gain the interest of a number of players in the political game, making his stay there the most complicated of the three, in terms of personal relationships.
In many ways, this path justifies the locking of the paths the most. The drama here would lose most of its impact if you were aware of the events of the Tenmazoku path, and the drama is pretty good. Action scenes here are very similar to those of Majikoi, albeit often longer-lasting (Momoyo not being there to end things in an instant and most people being on more even terms when it comes to power). The romance portions are pretty innocent as these things go, though the issue of social status does come up (and is promptly squished).
The Federation path starts a bit more abruptly than that of the Empire. The Federation is a nation formed on the old frontiers of the Empire by escaped slaves and dissidents from one of the darker eras of that nation. It is a nation of numerous races with a system whereby each province selects a governor, who then votes for the PM. The PM is more of a 'first amongst equals' than a true federalist leader, and the elections are often... lively beforehand.
This path is more action-packed from beginning to end than either of the other two paths, for reasons that make perfect sense as part of the story. Erin, the heroine of this path, is an elf and a politician, through and through. That is not to say she is black-hearted. Rather, she is perfectly willing to use every opportunity to gain positive publicity in the course of pursuing the good of her nation. The protagonist's role here is a bit more specialized (outside of the romance).
As I said before, this path is more action packed than the other two paths, mostly because Erin is so desperately moving around to get elected as the next PM, which results in her personal subordinates having to deal with a lot more in the way of tribulations on a daily basis. Romantically, the issues here are predictable to anyone who has read enough high fantasy with relationships between races with different lifespans.
The Tenmazoku path's heroine, Krone is a lot like Momoyo (except about five times as powerful) if she didn't have her grandfather to rein her in and everybody around her encouraged her bad habits instead of restraining them. At the same time, she has the same intensity to everything she does, her affection bringing back memories of Majikoi for me. Honestly, this was my favorite path (obviously), and it was apparent from the beginning that this was intended to be the true path, at least to me.
This path is very revealing about a lot of the setting's peculiarities, certain characters' motivations, and a number of other issues. There are a lot of good action scenes, a lot of familiar comedy routines (to those who played Majikoi), and I honestly liked the parts on Rancage (the Tenmazoku continent) for the sheer contrast to the mainland countries. That said, I believe this path could have been greatly enhanced if more detail went into the early parts of this path after the arrival at Rancage, because it felt like there was an excessive focus on Krone's obsession with Shaon, lol.
The last stretch of the story (the romance is pretty much just an evolution from the main part of the path) is pretty much solid drama and action, and while it lacks the sheer impact of something written by Nitroplus or Light, it was still an enjoyable experience.
I'm going to be straight here... they set this game up for a Majikoi-style fandisc or discs. The other 'endings' are simply brief event and h-scenes that cut off abruptly once they've done the deed, which is less than pleasing for me, since I was looking forward to the possibility of actual heroine routes for some of the sub-characters, like Youksha.
Overall, if you liked Majikoi and Minato Soft's style, you'll like this game. If you didn't, there is a good chance you'll have the same issues here. This game has first-class production values and characters, but if you don't like the style, it might be hard to enjoy. The issue with the sub-heroines is a seriously annoying one, albeit one that is likely to be solved in a year or four with a fandisc or two. I gave this game a pretty high rating, and I don't regret it. I also don't doubt that some people will hate on this game, hard.