This probably seems pointless to a lot of you, but I thought that this might make for an interesting topic. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a game that will be released for the 3DS and Vita on April 15th in North America, and later in the year for Europe. The demo is available now for both consoles in North America.
Anyways, after getting several related emails as a result of being an “Atlus faithful,” this game has been on my radar, and due to my recent reluctance to buy games new, I downloaded the demo the first day it became available to get a feel for it. And just as a disclaimer – I played the full demo on Vita and part of the 3DS version, and they are a bit different, so I’ll expand on that at the end of the post. All of these screenshots come from my playthrough of the Vita demo.
To put it simply, this game is a lot stranger than I imagined it would be. Within minutes, the “Classmating” ritual is brought up, and contextually, it sounds just like a euphemism for sex, even so far as producing “Children.” And the main character has an abnormally high
sperm Ether count, and therefore has better odds for producing “Children” with each of the seven heroines.
The “Star Children” that you create will serve one of two purposes. Their main purpose is to be brought into battle in the labyrinths throughout the game, forming three teams of three that will join the protagonist and one of the heroines. The second is to be given independence, which will result in them helping the city to grow – the demo didn’t delve too far into this side of things, but it will likely be a big assistance in the full game.
In battle, your children will perform better when you bring their respective mother with you. So, if Fuuko was a trio’s mother (as the game forces to happen), they will perform better if you bring Fuuko along with you rather than one of the other six heroines.
Besides the labyrinth exploration, a big part of the game is building bonds with the heroines to improve the creation of Star Children. Does this sound like social links in Persona 3/4 to you too? If you’re familiar with the social link system, it might feel like a bit more of the same, although simply telling everyone what you think they want to hear won’t always give the expected results. One example is when I was talking to Ellie, the green-haired girl who literally has stars in her eyes (it’s like Misaki from Railgun S all over again). I said she was “built for confidence,” which resulted in her assuming that I was talking about her chest. Speaking of, that brings something concerning the visuals to my attention.
Conception II uses a visual novel-style presentation for dialogue similar to what you’ve probably seen in plenty of other games, but with a bit of a twist. The characters slightly move while standing in place, which sometimes looks a bit realistic (such as when someone’s surprised about something), but other times just looks a bit goofy. Along with this, when female characters change positions, their chests noticeably jiggle. I’m not even exaggerating this point, it’s impossible to miss it.
look at read more on the topic, go here.
By the way, there’s also this.
So anyways, the main chunk of the game is (probably) devoted to labyrinth exploration. Once again, the exploration is reminiscent of Persona (attacking monster blobs while walking around, items all over, random labyrinth construction, etc), but the battle system is very different. As I mentioned before, you will enter a labyrinth with four teams that travel together – the protagonist and heroine make one, and three groups of three Star Children make the others. The player has manual control of all four groups in battle, and a big part of how things work is where they are positioned.
At first, the battle system may seem very complicated. As you can see on the above screenshot, there are plenty of things to keep track of on the screen, but I’ll give a basic explanation of how things function. When a team’s turn comes up (turn order is shown by the five images in the bottom right-ish, from left to right), their potential actions include a basic attack, a skill, an item, guarding, etc – mostly basic fare for RPGs. However, if you choose an attack or skill, you can choose the team’s position in relation to the enemy. What this allows you to do is attack an enemy’s weak point, which is normally at their back, which will deal increased damage. However, attacking somewhere other than the weak point will increase the “chain gauge” (visible under the turn order). If the chain gauge is raised to a high enough point, the enemy will be slowed down, automatically allowing every one of your teams to go before the enemy moves again. If the gauge is maxed, none of the enemies on the screen will be able to move until you move each of your teams once.
In the very bottom right is the “Ether density.” When this is raised, all of your teams’ speed will increase, and this can be increased by defeating enemies or using specific skills. Finally, the “Bond” bar in the bottom left serves one purpose in battle, and one out of battle. In battle, this value can be used to perform “Mecunite,” which is when a team of three Star Children will join together into a single combatant, dealing increased elemental damage and looking a lot cooler. The other purpose of these points is to create Star Children via “Classmating,” but the points can only be gained through battles.
The demo does a good job of walking the player through each of the systems one at a time, so it’s never overwhelming.
The game definitely looks good, and it sounds good too – but for some reason, the background music volume seems abnormally high at all times. I had to set the BGM to the minimum and voices to max volume to be able to hear what characters are saying clearly. As a whole, the music sounds pretty good so far, and the voice acting has been above average as well.
And as I mentioned earlier, these are some key differences between the Vita and 3DS versions:
– As expected, the Vita version looks far superior. The higher resolution and brighter colors result in a clearer image and generally prettier presentation. The 3DS version even excluded the opening video!
– The 3DS version uses the bottom screen for menus and the various gauges and displays for battles, not for significant touch controls.
– While the 3DS version does use the 3D feature fairly well, it’s obviously optional. I do like how the translucent text boxes look in front of everything though.
– While the Vita version contains the prologue and first chapter of the game, allowing you to carry over your save data to the full version, the 3DS version feels merely like a demo of the gameplay – you’re thrown into everything rather than slowly being eased in.
Regardless of which you play, you’ll be able to get a good grasp of what to expect, but the Vita version has the favorable stance of starting right out with the main story while simultaneously easing the player into the various systems of the game.
Recommendation – Try the demo before buying the game. The demo is available for both Vita and 3DS (in North America at least), and it saves you ~40USD in case you don’t end up enjoying the game. Also, if you leave the data on your console, you’ll get some nifty bonuses once you begin the full game.
I expect to buy the full game, but I intend to wait a bit after release for the price to drop. Or for money to magically drop into my lap. Or both.
I actually won something for this post:
Also, the “About” pages have been updated once again. Woohoo.