Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi – I Remember These Guys!

By Jenni . November 17, 2013 . 5:00pm

We’ve heard this story before. Girl’s doctor-father disappears. She dons the clothing of a man, picks up a sword, and heads to his last known location to search for him. Her first night in Kyoto, she’s attacked by ruffians, who are in turn attacked by monsters in Shinsengumi garb. More level-headed members of the group find her and bring her in. While debating what to do with her, they learn their goal is the same. She then becomes the group mascot, while also finding love with one of its members.

 

Did you have Angela Lansbury’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” running through your head while you read that? Because it was going through mine when I wrote it. Go ahead, reread it and keep it in mind when you do. It kinda fits, doesn’t it?

 

Since you’re here at Siliconera, I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re familiar with Aksys Games, Idea Factory, and the Hakuoki tale. For those who aren’t, the girl in question above is Chizuru Yukimura, the star of Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi. She’s looking for her father, Koudou, a relatively famous doctor who practices Western medicine. His last known location was Kyoto, so she decided to man-up and see if she could save the day. The Shinsengumi has need of his services as well, which means the group and the girl share a common goal. Naturally, they team up to find him.

 

Except, things get sticky. Mainly because certain members of the Shinsengumi have become Rasetsu. These are supernatural creatures with great power, but also a surprising hunger. Not to mention, a lot of people are taking an interest in Chizuru, and it isn’t just because she’s adorable.

 

Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi should look and feel familiar to anyone who enjoyed Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, because it’s the exact same game. Aksys’ fantastic translation and localization of one of Idea Factory’s most popular visual novels is amazing as always, offering equal parts excitement, intrigue, and of course romance. It’s actually better than the original Hakuoki translation, as Aksys took a bit of liberty to make Chizuru a more likeable heroine. A welcome addition, as this variation of her is much more interesting and stronger than the more wishy-washy version I encountered in the original Japanese, PSP release.

 

The visual quality does suffer a bit. I’m used to playing Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom on my PSP and Vita, with a wide-screen presentation that’s a bit more detailed. It’s a bit of a transition, seeing it on the smaller 3DS screens in Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi. It still looks good, but I felt like I was missing out on some of the more finer details of the character art.

 

Given this is a 3DS retelling of Hakuoki‘s now famous tale, 3D visuals have naturally been implemented into Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi. However, their inclusion really isn’t worth mentioning. It does give a slight sense of depth, but seeing as how we’re dealing with 2D character portraits against 2D backgrounds, it isn’t very impressive. The most noticeable change is that the text box appears to be floating above the character portraits.

 

While Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi is a wonderful otome visual novel, I have to admit there’s not much point in owning it if you already own Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom. Unless you have cash to spare and just want to support Aksys, in which case I can wholeheartedly endorse a second purchase. The main storyline content is identical, as far as I can tell. I haven’t completed a second Okita runthrough to confirm, but the common events remained the same with no new content. (I went for Hijikata for the first time with this playthrough instead.)

 

The only new features I saw were outside of the story mode. One is the Memories, for which Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi is named. These are brief story snippets with no new character art, backgrounds, or CGs that let players briefly experience a bit of the story from one of the elligible bachelor’s points of view. Each one is only about 10-20 minutes long, depending on how fast you read. It’s an interesting extra, and I especially enjoyed Kazama’s special moment. The insights aren’t incredible, but if you have a favorite character, you’d probably enjoy seeing some segments from his point of view.

 

The other feature is basically a Hakuoki Purikura app. You can either take or import pictures into the game, decorate them with Shinsengumi backgrounds, characters, and novelties, and save the new picture to the SD card. As you can see, I decided to send the Shinsengumi up against their most fearsome foe yet.

 

Those who have always wondered about Hakuoki, but couldn’t experience Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom due to lack of a PSP or Vita, should definitely look into Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi. It provides another wonderful, portable opportunity to enjoy a fine otome game that isn’t just for girls. If you have already walked in Chizuru’s shoes and fallen in love with a warrior, then I’d say wait for Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi before double-dipping. Still, I do recommend anyone with a 3DS, PSP, Vita, or PS3 and interest in visual novels investigate the version of Hakuoki that’s playable on their system. It’s an amazing, supernatural tale that anyone, regardless of gender, can enjoy.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. The 3DS version doesn’t allow you to take screenshots, like the PSP version did.

 

2. You may want to play with headphones, as I find the speakers on the 3DS aren’t as good as those on the Vita.

 

3. Toshizo Hijikata is one of the most adorable tsundere ever.


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  • Ereek

    I think I’m most fond of Harada.

    I’m not sure if my heart is quite ready to replay this yet. So much pain, so much death. Everywhere. Every character path.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Harada’s path is downright rosy compared to everyone else’s though. :P

      • Ereek

        True! Which is probably why I ended up enjoying it the most. Though just starting the game he wasn’t the one I was expecting to like as much as I did.

        On the other hand, Hijikata is just tragedy after tragedy. He’s a character I really like, I just don’t like his path.

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        i saw that he doesn’t have a different “version” of himself so i either figured he ended up dying early or him and the heroine got away before everything went down hill

  • British_Otaku

    So this is a good place to start the franchise and the translation is pretty sound? I’ll consider it next time I visit Rising Star’s booth, I’m only puzzled by how many installments seem to exist according to Wikipedia.

    Visual novels can be quite nonsensical with dozens of rereleases with addition story points and ports. What happened to numbers at the end to let me know what’s going on? >_>

    That said, there aren’t that many European or English releases to get worked up about.

    • Ziko577

      Some of the games are side games that aren’t relevant to the story like Yuugi Roku which is mini-games mainly. There’s also a prequel with a new character that joins the what was known as the Roshigumi, an early precursor to the Shinsengumi.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Yes, absolutely. It’s a great visual novel. I prefer Sweet Fuse now, personally, but Hakuoki is amazing.

      • British_Otaku

        That’s the one with Inafune isn’t it?
        I’m definitely getting a Vita with that on the list of titles I want to give a shot.

    • Kumiko Akimoto

      Hmmm well in japan it’s popular to make spin offs and fandisc which aren’t exactly relevant to the story, but more fanservice or for people with a different taste in genre.

  • harmonyworld

    TOSHIIIII!
    SAITOOOO!
    THE FEELS!!

  • Juan Andrés Valencia

    “It does give a slight sense of depth, but seeing as how we’re dealing with 2D character portraits against 2D backgrounds, it isn’t very impressive”.

    That’s a shame since I’ve seen the 3D conversions of Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society, The Lion King, Beauty And The Beast and The Little Mermaid and they all had strong depth, even with the fact that they’re technically 2D.

  • Hyli

    I thought I liked Saito the most on my first playthrough, but then Heisuke…he’s just too cute!! >w<
    but Ereek is so right, this game is downright heartbreaking sometimes(read: 90% of the time).

  • Nightmesh

    So I did some searching around since I watch a bit of this game anime and I found out I can’t get a route with shinpachi nagakura. So that bums me out since I loved him in the anime. I was also wondering if the audio was only in Japanese?

  • http://myanimelist.net/profile/Hayayandere Hayayandere

    Hakuouki, the game that made it easier for me to finally get into Rurouni Kenshin. Reading that manga after playing Hakuouki and the many references to the events that the Shinsengumi took role in was kind of surreal. Not to mention, a Shinsengumi who had survived the Bakumatsu makes an appearance in that manga.

    This is also my own theory: I think the yandere Souji Okita of this game was based on the same version of Okita that Soujiro Seta was based on. I think the book that Watsuki-sensei mentioned in one of his author’s notes was “Burn O Sword”.

    Hakuouki was the game that introduced me to the world of Otome gaming and encouraged me to improve on my Japanese to play more of them. My current favorite is Hanayaka Nari, Waga Ichizoku, which I encourage any company to license once it gets a Vita port

  • Pinkemon

    I’ve been interested in this series for a while, and have a PSP, 3DS and PS3, but I never got any of these yet cause I gave other games priority. So I guess for me it’d probably be best to wait for the PS3 version? Though portability is always a nice thing to have, it seems the PS3 one would have the most extras.

    • http://myanimelist.net/profile/Hayayandere Hayayandere

      The PS3 version will also include the Zuisouroku fan disk, which will be like getting two games for one. Even those who already have the PSP and DS3 version are seriously contemplating getting the PS3 version for the fan disk alone.

      • http://denpanosekai.blogspot.com denpanosekai

        Explain please, expand on this fan disk. I’m disappointed I bought both the PSP and 3DS games thinking there’d be substantial new content in the re-release.

        • http://myanimelist.net/profile/Hayayandere Hayayandere

          The fan disk is dedicated to those who are starving for more romance and fluff with he guys. It contains a few new scenarioes that depict the everyday life of the Shinsengumi and expand a bit on the ending for each guy.

  • Mordina

    Ah, Hakuouki <3 I finished a few paths on the PSP, but I think I will wait for the PS3 version before I go after the other handsome men that had to wait their turn. Also, your purikura is awesome.

  • Trinity

    This was the first visual novel I ever played…and I never was able to finish it, mainly because I had four routes going at once. I like this series.

    I hope this games’ success translates to more VNs coming over, like say….Diabolik Lovers?

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