Sunday, March 30, 2014

DEMO-lition: Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars

A video game demo review/first look.
Greetings everyone. All five of you who read my blog. Anyway, this week I'm going to be doing something different. Atlus has apparently set up a sweepstakes for it's latest game "Conception II," that being if you talk about the demo in any way, shape, or form and tweet or to Atlus, you get a chance to win a digital copy of Dragon's Crown for the Vita (We have it for the PS3 and I don't have a Vita),  Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (Which I own a physical copy), Etrian Odyssey Untold (Ditto), and Etrian Odyssey IV..... Okay, that I don't own. So I've taken this opportunity to try out a new segment for my blogs called "DEMO-lition" where I look over a demo (usually for my 3DS) and grade it based on whether or not the demo got me interested in the full game. So let's begin this experiment with the Demo to Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, a game that takes the Social Link and Dungeons from Persona, add an unique battle system on top of it, and thrown in every dating sim game you can think of into it and complete the picture with the most sexually suggestive gameplay mechanics since Ar Tonelico.

It's hard to find screenshots of the 3DS version, so some are in Japanese.
The Demo begins with two characters standing on opposite sides of the top screen facing each other. If you have played games like Devil Survivor, Disgaea, and Fire Emblem you should be familiar with this cutscene set up. The two things that I notice during this scene are that it is not in 3D (since this game is also for the Vita I can kind of understand that) and that the two characters animate like they are in an early flash animation, which made the conversation a bit awkward to witness but then again I am completely spoiled by Vanillaware's gorgeous sprite work. This scene pretty much just tells you that the demo is going to give you a sampling of the various elements in the game and tell you about the gameworld. From there you're sent to the map screen (again completely 2D), with your only options being the academy and the church. At the Academy you have your headlong dive into the Dating Sim aspect of this game where you talk to your hopeful love interests in order to increase your Social Links... or Bonds in this case.

Of course the game pays more attention to the female cast then the male.
Once you've selected your girl of choice, you get a dialogue sequence that looks completely different from the one you just saw. Here the girl in question stands in front of the camera (implying a First Person perspective) in a full 3D model as appose to a 2D sprite. These sequences are in full 3D but since the only object, besides the foreground dialog box, is the girl you are talking to there really isn't much to say about these sequences in terms of 3D effects. And that is pretty much the same with all of the 3D in this game, the only times it is in play is when you are talking to one of the girls or in dungeons and battle. Except for the moments where you go from flat 2D to 3D, the 3D effect isn't distracting, but it also doesn't add anything to the game unlike say Fire Emblem Awakening or Star Fox 64 3D. But as I said, this game is for both the 3DS and Vita, so it not using the 3DS's capabilities to their fullest is understandable. As for the dialogue sequences themselves, it is your standard Dating Sim fare. Each sequence requires you to respond with one of 3 responses and your choices will positively or negatively effect the girl's disposition with you. The three girls available in the demo are the average girl Fuuko, the eager kohai Ellie, and the odd duckling Torri, and while each girl is fully voiced, the main character only responses in short phrases ala Fire Emblem Awakening and Skies of Arcadia. I think this is standard for Dating Sims since Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love also did the same thing except the main character is not voiced at all during these sequences, but it is a little distracting. After talking to two of the girls you then go to Church where the Ar Tonelico section of this game comes in: "Classmating."

It's a BOY!
See your the destined hero of this universe, but in order to save the world you'd need kids... and you make these kids by "Classmating" with the various female characters in the game. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, your not the only one. Especially with the images of implied nudity of the female cast and the suggestive English lyrics of the soundtrack that accompanies these sequences. Anyway, this entire mechanic is here to create Star Children, who kind of act like party members when we get to the dungeon crawling part of the game. When a Star Child is born you get to choose his or her class, and their stats are determined by their class and the stats and mood of their "Mother." After choosing a name you get that Star Child as a party member and more suggestive dialogue with the girl ensue during the afterglow. Now, you go to the dorms to arrange your Star Children (8 precreated and the one you just made) into groups of 3, and then it is off to the dungeons. Now the dungeon is actually my favorite part of this demo because I actually really like the battle system. Before you enter the dungeon you select one of the 3 girls to accompany you and bring your 9 kids. The dungeons themselves are nothing special, they are the randomly generated dungeons of predetermined shapes that you've seen in say Persona 3 and 4, complete with visible monsters roaming around. Merely touching the monster starts a fight but there is no attack button which is kind of disappointing as Preemptive strikes and Ambushes seem only loosely based on the direction the characters are facing.

Where the game shines is it's battle system as it is one of the most unique systems I've seen in a while. Basically, your party is made up of 4 teams with you and your girl as one team and the remaining three teams being made up of 3 star children. These teams act as basically one character, with their individual stats and skills being accumulated into one team stat and skill list. Depending on how your teams are built, you can also have access to special Team Skills. I discovered one that happens when you have a Swordis and a Mage in the same team. While the battle system operates on the tried and true Turn Cost system seen in Final Fantasy X and Mana Khemia, what makes the game unique is it's positioning system. The battle field can be thought of as being divided into a 3 by 3 grid which enemies standing on these squares; however, your party's position is determined by the enemy as you can position yourselves in front of, on either side, or behind any enemy on the field, with bonus damage being inflicted by attacks from behind or sometimes from the sides. But be careful, because while the enemy has to burn a turn to reposition, it will cost more time on your party if you move position as appose to attacking from where you are standing. There are other mechanics to add different strategies to combat, including the Ether gauge which as it Levels up you're teams act faster in battle, and the Chain Drive gauge which when full will knock the enemies back on the turn order gauge and rack up bonuses the more times you attack the chained enemy. These mechanics are a little problematic, the Ether gauge I never got a good sense of how to increase it and the bonuses don't seem to effect the turn order that much, while the Chain Drive gauge is kind of counter to the flanking mechanic. See, it increases the least when attacking the enemy from a flanking position and more if you are attacking the enemy head on. The part of it that I really like is that the gauge increases the MOST if you are attacking an enemy during his charge up move WHILE standing in the line of fire (which are labeled Caution when selecting where to attack from) since this creates a fantastic "Risk vs Reward" mechanic, but with how infrequent the enemies do such attacks in the Demo, your probably going to get a Chain Drive just by repetitively attacking the enemy from a non-flanking position.


As I said at the beginning of this post, the point of DEMO-lition is to determine whether or not the demo succeeded in it's job of increasing my interest in a game, and in the case of Conception II, it has. Going into the Demo, my opinion of the game is that I will feel dirty if I ever am caught playing this game. Much like Ar Tonelico, it's the mechanics and the as subtle as brick to the head sexual undertones of said mechanics that will make this game a VERY hard sell. And that hasn't changed at all, the process of making a star child is one of the most uncomfortable sequences I've seen since Ar Tonelico Qoga's "Purge" mechanic; however, I am very intrigue by the game's battle system as I can see a lot of depth and complexity waiting beneath the surface and I want to know whether the game proper fills in that complexity as the game progresses. Overall, the Demo has increased interest, but not enough to make this a must buy.

Until Next Time

-Crescent, ........ See what I mean.


  1. Why did I look at the title and got Comception god dammit that Company ruin that word for me anyways that a funny way to say sex... classmating.....

    Student 1: Hey man I'm going classmate all over Yukiko this morning
    Student 2:Well you better wait in line every guy wants to classmate that ass

    Also sounds like a really enjoyable game probably the demo may not be a good representation of the full game but it still sounds like a fun demo.

    1. You think that's bad you've clearly haven't played the Ar Tonelico series where you "Dive into a girl's Soul Space". Though, the weirdest euphemism for sex I've ever heard was "Let's make Culture."

      Well, the problem with the demo is that it's really hard to demonstrate an RPG, especially a hybrid RPG like this one. I think they did a good job showing you what the game is like, though I think I'm going to be spending more euphemism time than dungeon in the full game. At the very least I'm more interested in the game now than I was before I played the demo, but that's only because of the Battle System, everything else was what I expected after playing Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love.