Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars is a game with some connotations to it. I mean, the main mechanic for creating new warriors is called Classmating, the subtitle in Japan was “Please Deliver My Child,” and there was some to-do about the (incredibly brief) animation before every Star Child animation being censored. But, what people don’t realize is that this isn’t just some joke game. Yes, there’s wish fulfillment involving cultivating relationships with a harem of heroines. But, there are also surprisingly deep mechanics here that encourage strategic character development to ensure you can survive the Stardust Labyrinths and save a parallel world.
First, yes, there is innuendo in Conception Plus. Most of it comes from Mana, a floating red panda-like creature constantly stating the obvious. Think of her as a lewd version of Navi. (“Doesn’t that get you excited, Itsuki?” “You can have some fun with any of the Star Maidens at any time now.”) Though, a few of the heroines, like Lillie and Reone, have no problem often making comments too. This tends to be played up for laughs, and the idea is to give people an array of different character personality types to choose from so they can try and just pick the girls they like most.
But, Conception Plus is going to be really difficult if you don’t diversify. While there is that dating sim element, where you visit the Academy to check in with heroines and talk with them during visual novel segments to boost their mood and earn Bond Points, true success comes from playing the field so you have a well-balanced crew of different sorts of Star Children when dungeon diving. After all, each heroine has a certain sort of innate stat spread unique to her, which passes down to her children. Your first hour or so, you’re going to get a lot of Cleric, Fighter, and Magician kids, since their stat requirements are the most forgiving. However, if you want to start getting more variety, dating Farun a bit is a good idea. Once I made some headway into the Stardust Labyrinths and was into my second hour, I started being able to create Monk and Thief Star Children with her.
The thing is, maybe getting to know certain heroines isn’t entirely beneficial at the time. There are other factors at play in Conception Plus that keep you from going all-in to the dating lifestyle and focusing on one girl. For example, each heroine gets a bonus during certain months. Yuzuha is the Pisces Star Maiden. The game begins in March, which is her “month.” This means, you get a bonus when performing the Classmating Ritual with her, which you likely need when just getting started. Arie is the Aries Star Maiden, which means May is her month.
You also have to consider Star Children you already have. You need to have a group of four to unlock a team, and you can have three teams out dungeon-crawling with you. But, the team will be stronger if they share the same mother. So, if you already have two kids with Femiruna, it’s probably a good idea to have another two to fill out the team. A symbol will appear on character profiles in the Church if there’s a higher chance of having twins with them that day and, since each Star Child has a level cap, you’ll want to have a sufficient stable of replacements waiting in the rings. Prioritizing the ritual with that heroine becomes most important. (This isn’t even getting into Tri-Mating.)
Especially since the Conception Plus dungeons don’t pull punches. There is one for each season, with different bosses and paths at the end to amount to one for each astrological sign. While the first tier of a the Spring dungeon is incredibly easy to get through, the second and third tiers are far more difficult. You’ll need Star Children whose level caps don’t max out at 10, ones with more diverse classes would be helpful, and you’ll need to start thinking about collecting Matryoshkas from dungeons that allow characters to be tied to different elements at birth. Since these later tiers involve enemy fights where there will be more than one enemy on the field, you also have to be more aware of positioning. This is so your avatar and three Star Children groups take advantage of weak points, while also hopefully not being in a spot where another enemy is about to attack.
Conception Plus is the sort of game where people going to have misconceptions. They might see it and think it is just a dating sim where you pursue one heroine. Except if you do that, you could have a weak team, be missing out on stat spreads that could grant access to better classes, and not be able to create hybrid Tri-Mating Star Children. It might be brushed aside as frivolous, when really dungeon-crawling can be quite dangerous and involve a lot of thought about ally management and team composition. Someone might even think it’s something dirty when, while there is innuendo, it’s often feels rather goofy.
Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars will come to the PlayStation 4 and PC in North America on November 5, 2019 and in Europe on November 8, 2019. It is immediately available on the PlayStation 4 in Japan.