Princess Waltz isn’t so bad…
I had meant to post my entry about Mechanicum yesterday but for some reason WordPress rejected it so you get two entries today, as an added bonus! Hooray! So, I just finished Princess Waltz today after hearing about it through the internet awhile ago. It’s one of the few visual novels to get a western localisation as far as I know, so I figured this was definitely something worth checking out. What I got simultaneously exceeded my expectations and left me very disappointed. I really liked the voice acting as well as the artwork, but I found the music a little lacking. Some of the tracks are overused a bit much and the battle music really grates on my nerves, which is one nail in the coffin as far as visual novels go, especially ones where there are, you know, fight scenes. Music is really important for those.
But I can put up with all of that, I decided. The first few chapters went smoothly and I was starting to enjoy myself immensely until I realised something:
“Oh shit, Chris is the main heroine?”
Alright, bitch at me all you want for spoiling the plot but come on, don’t tell me we didn’t all see that one coming. I mean I’m notoriously slow on the uptake but even I could tell that Pulltop was going to pull a big reveal at some point which was meant to shock the viewers or something. That aside, Chris is a really annoying character. At first I was sure I could put up with her and that she had redeeming qualities and that it wouldn’t impact the whole visual novel experience anyway but as time went on I could see what other reviewers meant when they said they don’t like Chris. The more I saw of her the less I cared about her. As much as I told myself I was going to try and like Chris it was almost impossible for me to do, and later chapters without Chris were some of the most enjoyable because Pulltop really got to develop some of the other princesses as characters.
That’s where Princess Waltz really shines in my opinion, all of the other princesses have more interesting personalities and I found them all quite likeable in their own way. In a way this made the last chapters much more enjoyable for me until, you know, Chris came back. Then I was sad again. I was even more upset by the ending, no matter which princess you choose to fight the final battle (and also have sex) with it doesn’t really change the ending, and that ending has Chris. Yeah, sad.
Gameplaywise, it’s standard visual novel fare with a battle system involving the use of cards to win the initiative and attack. I thought it was a pretty interesting system and served as an entertaining break in the story so, kudos. However the gameplay was not without its faults either as for whatever reason Princess Waltz does not appear to have a scene skip function. Seriously, Fate/stay night has scene skip. Tsukihime has scene skip. Utawarerumono has scene skip. I haven’t read a visual novel thus far that doesn’t have scene skip and when you’ve seen the main story already and especially when you hate Chris as much as I do, scene skip becomes an invaluable tool. People can sit back and enjoy the story if they want and I’m always eager to view new content or scenes that are different. In fact, Chapter 19 is just that, an important scene for character development and it’s different for each character, and I enjoyed each and every one of them. The thing is, each completed playthrough unlocks another crest on the main menu and I’m anxious to find out what happens when I unlock all of them. It is too time consuming when I have to sit through crap that I don’t like, or that I’ve seen already.
That aside, my last major gripe about the game has to do with the plot. I’ve seen people compare Princess Waltz to Fate/stay night and with good reason. Many plot elements and indeed entire scenes were borrowed from Fate/stay night and people who have played that game will see it immediately. I mean for heaven’s sake, the first fight scene in the game is between Saber and Lancer! Well, heh, I got a little carried away there. I’m not angry that they appear to have stolen ideas from Nasu, the idea of people competing for some grand magical prize is a pretty well-worn one and I couldn’t say where it came from. But then Arata is basically Shirou and the main villain is basically Gilgamesh and the purpose of the Waltz reminds me of the Heaven’s Feel route. It’s difficult to divorce myself from the similarities to Fate/stay night but aside from what I’ve said the story’s still good. Really the more I think about it the similarities are pretty superficial and the ideas in it were done by plenty of other authors before Fate/stay night and will be done by plenty of authors in the future. I think the main reason people see it as a knockoff (I still think there are a few knockoff elements) is because it often gets compared to Fate/stay night in terms of scope and storyline. Princess Waltz certainly isn’t as epic as the former.
Which brings me back to the title. Princess Waltz isn’t so bad. It’s just not the greatest effort on the part of Pulltop and the story itself had great potential that went unused. A lot of likeable characters, great art. If it had just been backed up by more good music (and believe me there was still a lot of that), less Chris, and a scene skip function, I would have been happier. All in all I’d suggest that you give it a shot. If you like it you like it, and if you don’t, you don’t.
(Author’s Note: After I published this, I actually figured out how to unlock the last “route” so to speak and boy did I feel like a fool when I realised how to do it. In reality it requires no scene skipping at all, and the scene skipping wasn’t even an issue. I enjoyed the end result (What can I say? Pseudo-incest is pretty hot.) so a lot of my anger has dissipated. I ask that you take those comments with a grain of salt, I was getting pretty frustrated at the time. Oh well, all content unlocked so we’re done here.)