D3 Publisher’s cosplay strategic RPG is definitely one of the games with the most fanservice, but it offers more than that. I’ve just begun playing the game and Tactics Layer is interesting for quite a few reasons.
First of all, it’s a genre straddling game. It’s part strategic RPG and part dating-sim visual novel. I noticed that you’re mainly going through Takumi’s daily life, encountering events with the female characters who are or could join your party. You can encounter normal or sub-events that result in extra characters joining (there are 15 possible girls who can join) or build the relationship between Takumi and Risa, Yu, Eriko, Kiriko and Yuka. So far, I’ve spent more time talking to the other characters than engaging in actual battles.
The mystery of the cute, wicked, health and sexy stats is solved incredibly early on, if you take the time to thumb through the instruction manual. Think of them as elements. Depending on what outfits you have equipped, these stats vary, and enemies also have these stats. Cute beats wicked, wicked beats sexy, sexy beats health and health beats cute. It’s a lot more interesting than the the axe, sword and lance triangle found in Fire Emblem. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen these stats having a major effect on my playing so far. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have enough clothes yet, or if its just a subdued effect though.
There’s also an element of the game that seems a bit borrowed from Koei’s Pop Cutie. During the game there are little fashion battles. You dress up one of your characters and compete in a cosplay/idol competition with four judges. You can have one to three other computer opponents, and the goal is to get the highest score from judges.
First, you’ll receive an initial score on your outfit. Then, you’ll answer some brief questions, which can earn you extra points. After that, you dance/pose for the audience. Yup, you heard me right. You press the A, B, X and Y buttons to make your character perform. You have to be careful though, because if you spam an action or do something the judges don’t like, you’ll lose points. It took me one competition to get the hang of it, but it’s pretty easy to win if you just keep an eye on how many points your first competitor has. In the second two competitions, I managed to win as long as tried to make sure I had 30-50 more points than the first competitor. Winners receive a new outfit piece.
I’ve also learned that everyone can equip everything. There are no limits placed on characters. This means you can equip based on the situation. So far I haven’t seen any weapons which effect skills, so I generally go with whatever’s strongest.
You begin with a nice selection of initial outfits and weapons. School girl outfits, a nurse uniform and two kinds of swimsuits. You can mix and match outfit items, but there’s a nice menu feature which lets you instantly equip all available items in a set. For example, if you want the full pink nurse outfit and all the skills it comes with, just choose that in the dress-up menu. You still have to equip the skills though, if you want to be able to use them.
Right now, I’m focusing on teaching characters skills and hoping there’ll be a time when I can engage in battles just to level up characters and learn skills. I managed to recruit one of the extra characters, Nana, and think I’m close to recruiting Mami as well. Risa, the main heroine, seems surprisingly weak, so I’ve got her wearing the nurse outfit to learn recovery skills. Yu, Kiriko and Nana are really strong, so I’m trying to make sure they wear outfits with offensive abilities.
Also, I’m not sure whether to find the inexplicable jiggling during costume changes disturbing or funny. When you change a characters’ equipment, there’s a brief sparkle and the girls… jiggle. I’ve personally never jiggled when I change clothes, so I have no idea where D3 came up with that idea.
Siliconera will be posting more about Tactics Layer soon and offering a gameplay guide, so be sure to stop by again!