Reader Review: Bad Apple Wars (Vita)

A few months ago, I reviewed a visual novel game from Aksys and didn’t fare too well.  So when they sent me another one, I decided to let my brother Benjamin Woodham review it.  So here’s his take on Bad Apple Wars for Vita.

Bad Apple Wars is visual novel with gameplay elements, not necessarily a game. It makes very little use of the PS Vita hardware, and when it does, it is minimal. The majority of interaction that you have with the game is pressing the X button to get through dialogue, which, 90% of the time is dancing around the actually interesting parts of the story. The main character is clueless and is usually talking about the most mundane aspects of the narrative imaginable or repeating questions to herself without postulating an answer. “Why does Sotaru study so much?” was a line repeated at least three different times during a half an hour period, and an hour later the narrative had not revealed any answer to that question… instead we had to sit through the main character complaining about her lunch.

Let me repeat this, this is a visual novel. To me, there are major problems with visual novels as a medium. One of the major problems is that character models are stiff and have very few expressions. So, oftentimes when the game is trying to convey an action scene… it’s using only dialogue, sound effects, and unchanging character models that fade in and out of the screen when dialogue happens. This particular visual novel goes a step further by having characters such as “short girl” who have dialogue lines but no visual character models who are just there to point out the actions of the characters as they do things.

Another big problem with this game in particular is the sound effects. There are maybe two or three different sound effects used to convey action. The most prominent is footsteps. There is only one type of footstep sound, and it sounds like someone walking in high heels. This is problematic for characters who are men and have exaggerated upper body mass. It sounds like everyone is daintily walking through a mall in six inch high heels every time the game wants to convey movement from a character.

The last problem with this visual novel, is that the character situations and interactions are preposterously complicated… for no reason. One situation involved the characters participating in a game. In this game, they had to put a key into a basket. Part of the “Bad Apples” plan was making a fake key for every member, and somehow that made the real key appear on Sotaru’s “The one who studies” back. I don’t know how this happened, or why making fake keys was productive, but the narrative insists that this was a good plan hatched by clever people… to which I can only agree because this is a visual novel, not something like a video game where the player’s opinion is a factor.

So now that I’ve established that this game is extremely vague with small details, let’s move into another aspect of the game that should be the most compelling about any visual novel. The story.

The story of the game is… lifted from a variety of sources. The premise of this game is something I have seen only three times in anime (I’m sure there are more examples than that) and that premise is that the main character dies at the beginning of the story. So the entirety of the game takes place in the afterlife. Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, and most notably Angel Beats are all anime cartoons that have this premise. This game is very reminiscent of Angel Beats more than anything else. In fact, I would say that this game is very close to plagiarizing Angel Beats’ premise almost entirely. So much so, that it affects my opinion of the game.

Another sphere of influence that this game draws from is other anime based games, like Persona and Danganronpa. This is more apparent in the art direction of some characters rather than the story though, and I wouldn’t call it plagiarism at that point. However, it is clear that this game is targeting a very specific audience that would be interested in Persona and Danganronpa.

And that’s where I’ll end the review. This game is made for a specific audience. It is a niche visual novel meant for a niche audience. A lot of people will like this game simply because it fits their aesthetic preference. And maybe, the story gets better when you get further into it, but ultimately, this game failed to capture my attention.

4/10 would be the arbitrary number I’d give it.  –Benjamin Woodham

Kid Factor:

Bad Apple Wars is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Mild Violence, Mild Language, and Suggestive Themes.

One Response to “Reader Review: Bad Apple Wars (Vita)”

  1. Despite it’s flaws, I really want to get into some anime visual novels on my Vita.

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