Never A Dull Moment
I can still vividly remember the last time I immensely enjoyed
a bishoujo game. The title was Chain.
Sure, the guy hops from one woman to the other before you
can bat your eyelashes and you thought he’d never take
anyone seriously. I ended up sighing over the story anyway.
One other game that had nearly the same effect on me is Jewel
Knights – Crusaders. No, it’s not full of mysteries
and suspense, but it’s one heckuva parody that made
me sit back and enjoy myself.
Story and Characters
What really lured me in is the uniqueness of this game’s
feel. In a sense, the concept is fresh. Not that parodies
of bishoujo anime are new, but this one really highlights
the word "bishoujo" in b-games. The characters and
the story itself don’t take themselves too seriously,
and in fact even make fun of the entire idea of leggy girls
in magical thongs. They’ve also gotten the SailorMoon
basic plotline down pat. Read: Cosmic baddies always looking
for “treasures” inside human beings’ bodies/souls/spirits/what-have-you.
And get this, the Jewels are fighting against the evil force
known as Ragnarokrr. Now if that isn’t loaded with in-jokes,
I don’t know what is!
I find the protagonist, Ginji, utterly entertaining. He's
a bit egocentric and cocky (no pun intended). Ok, scratch
the "bit". The guy is full of it. But I find it
a refreshing change from all the cakeboys that have dominated
the b-game world. Ginji is the bad boy every girl dreams of
changing. Well, technically he’s a rapist and yes, he's
an ass. But then he's a jerk who calls a spade a spade and
he doesn’t even bother coating his beastly nature with
kilos of saccharine. He sometimes acts like a dumb jock and
asks the silliest questions, which, surprisingly, upon closer
inspection, actually make sense.
There are four sexy babes to choose from in Jewel Knights.
Meno, the oldest of the JK, is also the leader. Ginji describes
her best—a crybaby. I’d add spineless and naïve
in that equation, though, because she just lets Ginji walk
all over her. The only times she would actually unsheathe
her claws is when she’s being out of line; and it's
rarely directed at Ginji. Hisui, on the other hand, is basically
somewhat of a filler—meant to draw the Lolicon loving
fellows out there. Don’t see much use for her, but hey,
whatever floats your boat.
Ruri is the antagonist, the hilariously bitchy jewel who
has an unlimited supply of biting retorts. She just likes
to bait Ginji, going straight for his ego with jabs like,
“Besides, you can't tell anyone a girl knocked you down.
It's way too embarrassing." I call her path, the Fun
Route. I expected a tomboy who couldn't do anything else besides
fight, and I ended up seeing a fun-loving lady who dances
and frequents karaoke bars.
And the villain! ZeroCool deserves a thundering round of
applause for her existence. Arshura is recognizable at first
glance even though she's supposedly going "undercover".
But the thing is, she's been in the hero's life long before
the good guys came into the picture. She's naughty, but she's
not two-dimensional. She does have her insecurities but she
deals with them effectively. She's also hilariously vain when
she transforms. I’m sure hopeless romantics out there
would appreciate Arshura. I mean, you’ve gotta love
a woman who can tell Ginji straight out, “If you're
a real man, you should be kind to girls, asshole!” And
it came from an anti-hero, no less.
Whichever path you choose, you’d be assured of nice
little surprises. Yes, even for the boring Meno and the baby-looking
Hisui. Also, you might notice that Ginji isn’t the only
one whose point of view is shown. There is another person
who speaks here, which added a bit of depth to that character’s
persona, and which is why I appreciated this person’s
route the most.
Well, like most of the newer bishoujo games out on the market
right now, you can’t go wrong with this one. The graphics
are crisp, clear and so are the background music, themes and
the voice actors. Much as I’m not a huge fan of J-cups
and chubby-little-kiddie faces, I must admit that everything
here looks good. The weapons, the costumes, the fighting stances
are all superbly drawn.
Jewel Knights has a very anime-esque feel to it. It has eye
catchers and Next Episode Previews that make it seem like
you’re not really playing a game, as if you’re
just watching a TV show unfold. I really do hope they come
up with an anime version of Jewel Knights. At least I’d
know that there’d never be a dull moment in it.
The usual controls: save, load, voice settings, and message
speed adjustment panels. Auto-forwarding mode is enabled,
which means that your clicking finger won’t have to
bleed as you peruse through the story. You can just prop your
feet up and relax while you let the story flow by. Getting
all endings isn’t difficult to achieve either. I originally
intended to use a walkthrough after the first run through
the game, but then there aren’t any walkthroughs available
online as of this writing, so I had to get the endings on
my own. It’s pretty easy, since it has Character Selection
screens before every chapter, much like in Tsukushite
Agechau 4 (I’m Gonna Serve You 4). You can even
try the Harem Route, by choosing a different girl per chapter,
then brace yourself for a nice little surprise. Yes, I am
cackling evilly as of this moment. Heh.
Extra features include CG Galleries, Flashbacks, Theme Songs,
and Scenes from the Next Episode.
One word: bloody. At least, at the beginning. Ginji, by some
stroke of luck, goes into a cherry-popping spree without him
even intending to. That aside, there’s nothing much
out of the ordinary and everything—blow jobs, yuri angles,
actual intercourse—is shown in moderation. The only
parts I get a wee bit squeamish about are the anal sex scenes
Ginji does with Ruri. Hentai fans might want more sex CGs,
however. Those pictures appear like they could use some animation.