Important Importables Review: Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 (Koei Selection) for PSP

January 23, 2010 - 3:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 (Koei Selection) for PSP

Section: Reviews, Exclusives, Originals, Features, Columns, Japanese Imports, Handhelds, PSP, Game-Companies, Developers, Publishers, Genres, 2D, Role-Playing, Sim

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Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 PSP box art

Title: Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 (Note: Play-Asia lists it as Harukanaru Jikuu no Uchi de 2.)
Price: $19.90
System(s): PSP (also available for PS2)
Release Date: November 9, 2006
Publisher (Developer): Koei (Koei)
ESRB Rating:N/A, Cero B for Ages 12+
Pros: Lots of mini-games, quite a few locations to visit, lots of different characters, voice acting, watercolor art style, fairly easy to build relationships and improve your character’s stats.
Cons: Battles and mini-games are, for the most part, exceptionally easy. Mini-games get annoying after a while. Looks a lot like Harukanaru Toki no Naka de.
Overall Score: 7/10

Koei’s Neoromance line is quite popular in Japan. Rather than referring to one series, it refers to multiple series, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de, La Corda d’Oro and Angelique which are designed to appeal to female gamers. All Neoromance games have some sort of RPG, simulation or strategy element to them, combined with dating simulation and relationship building elements. Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is designed to appeal to female gamers with an interest in Japanese history. Harukanaru Toki no Naka de is the second entry in the series, and has appeared on Windows PCs, the PlayStation 2 and finally the PSP.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de

Back to the past

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 starts in a manner similar to the original Harukanaru Toki no Naka de. Like Akane, Karin is from modern Japan. (You can change her name.) She is summoned to the past, specifically a region called Kyo in the Heian period. There is a split in government over who should be the emperor, the current emperor or the last emperor. There are also all kinds of demons and monsters appearing around Kyo.

Karin is chosen as the Ryujin no Miko and brought to the past to bring peace and order. She has eight Hachiyou guardians, who are supposed to aid and protect her. However, when she arrives in Kyo there is already a Ryujin no Miko there who has been recognized and approved by the last emperor, and all of her Hachiyou initially reject her. So, as Karin, you must win the trust of the Hachiyou, dispel the monsters, bring the people together and make Kyo peaceful again. Oh, and you can also have one of the eight guardians fall in love with you along the way.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de

An incredibly easy adventure

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 is easy. I know, it looks intimidating, what with how the dialogue boxes are displayed and what initially looks like an unusual RPG battle set up. Trust me, once you get started, it is incredibly simple to succeed.

First off, talking to other characters is very simple, even if you don’t know Japanese. That’s because next to the response choices there’s a little picture of Karin, or whatever you named the heroine. When you highlight a dialogue response, her face will change so even if you can’t exactly understand everything you’re saying, you can respond properly just based on mood. In addition to that, if you say the right thing to a character, his facial expressions change and you can generally tell based on that. Plus, dateable guys will have a little happy animation with stars in front of him showing if affection has risen or dropped.

Second, building up your stats is easy. You can just play simple little mini-games, where you help rabbits win races for example, to build up. Unfortunately, the mini-games, of which I’ve seen three – a rabbit race, a card game and one where you have to stop at dial at a certain spot, get quite repetitive and old quickly. You can visit certain locations to talk to certain people. Once you’re strong enough, you can face off against certain monsters inhabiting areas to cleanse them.

The RPG battles are fairly easy and straightforward as well. Your character is in the back, and two of the dateable Hachiyou guys are in front. Attacks are fairly standard and if you’re familiar with RPGs you’ll be fine. You can encourage your warriors, use techniques, help heal, attack, escape and also seal. You don’t control the two Hachiyou, so you don’t have all that much to worry about. You can use magic as long as your Hachiyou’s moral is high and you have cards, there’s no need to worry about levels or experience and your HP is restored after each battle.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de

Best for beginning gamers and those interested in period games

It seemed like, with Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2, Koei wanted to give fans more of the same. Both games are set in the Heian period, most of the characters in the sequel look similar to the ones in the previous game, the battle system is identical and many of the voice actors even return to voice characters in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 that look like characters from Hakukanaru Toki no Naka de. The story is different, but its so similar that it may actually annoying and discourage people who played Hakukanaru Toki no Naka de from playing Hakukanaru Toki no Naka de 2.

Personally, I just couldn’t get into it. It’s odd, because I enjoyed the little bit of Hakukanaru Toki no Naka de I tried. I think part of it is because it is so similar to the first time, and another part is that I’m not a big fan of period Japanese dramas, games, stories or tv series. So playing a game that shares so much in common with the previous entry really made it difficult for me to enjoy it. That isn’t to say that Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 is a bad game. It’s just that the setting and similarity to the previous game may limit its appeal to certain gamers. It’s my least favorite of the three PSP Koei Neoromance games I’ve had the opportunity to finish.

On the plus side, if you want to try one of Koei’s Neoromance games, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 for the PSP is a great place to start. It’s cheap, since it’s available in a best price version for under $20, it’s easy to play even if you have trouble reading Japanese and there’s quite a large fan community for the series. Plus, since you’ll likely have not experienced the first Harukanaru Toki no Naka de, you won’t experience the same feeling of deja vu and be able to appreciate Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 2 for its own merits.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports reviews the Final Fantasy Vocal Collection Vol. 1: Pray CD.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports looked at six highly anticipated games due out in Japan in 2010.

Read [Japanese Lifestyle] Also Read [Japan-Guide.com] Site [Play-Asia] Site [YesAsia] Site [NCSX] Site [Himeya Shop] Site [Strapya World]

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