Review: Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (Nintendo 3DS)
- Publisher: Atlus
- Genres: Role-playing, Dating sim
- ESRB Rating: Mature
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
The downloadable version of this title for the Nintendo 3DS was reviewed. It came it at about 9979 blocks (2048 MB). The title was provided by Atlus USA.
Title Rated M for the following content: Mature Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Blood, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes.
The story of Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars follows the adventures of protagonist Wake Archus in the world of Aterra. Archus lives in a world ruled by demons, which are born of Dusk Circles, sites of demonic magical power that have formed in many locations throughout the world. The story begins with the wedding Wake's sister, who is tragically killed; amidst all the action, Wake discovers that he has a mysterious mark on his hand - this mark is the mark of the Star God. As this mark is something special, Wake discovers a school that is built to train individuals bearing this mark. He eagerly enrolls to figure out a means to control his power. This academy has many students, all of whom are in their teens. Wake enrolls and it is quickly discovered during a proficiency exam that he exudes a high level of ether energy. The high level of ether allows him to enter Dusk Circles and use up star energy, something which quickly stuns the researchers of the academy. He is quickly pronounced as God's Gift and will literally become an instant celebrity, wanted by the students. With this newfound power and the means to finally train to utilize it, Wake travels around to the various Dusk Circles and eradicates the demons.
A side note here: this game is very much based on the act that you might be thinking of. In this title, as Wake Archus, you will be working with the other female students of the Academy to create Star Children, through the process of "Classmating," where the two characters "touch each other" and give birth to a Star Child, which can be a specific job, that will be a part of your fighting force. I will leave the "Classmating" part to your imagination, but it really is a relatively chaste procedure that is not quite as colorful as originally thought.
The story thus far is pretty outlandish, as it is in most JRPG titles. It definitely is quirky, and sometimes has the flair for the ridiculous, especially with the dating sim element added to it. Unfortunately, however, I feel that the dating sim is a bit forced at times, and as a result it hurts the delivery that the title has in its dungeon-crawling capabilities.
Dating and the Creation of Star Children
Dating, complete with tsundere blushing.
As God's Gift, your role in society is to create as many offspring as humanely possible by Classmating your friends in order to fight the hordes of demons that are appearing in the world. Stronger children can be born by developing a stronger bond with your classmates. How does Wake develop stronger bonds with his classmates? Well, all he has to do is take them into battle. With a multitude of girls to choose from, the customization aspect of the game can be quite fun. The children have differing visual appearances depending on the classmate whom you participated with as well. It almost becomes a Pokémon game of sorts, where you can collect unique critters. I thought it was rather interesting that some of my offspring would call me "Daddy." It adds a personal touch to my units, but at the same time, it really feels like I'm raising them for slaughter, which I will discuss in the next section. To breed children, you must pay 100 BP at the church, which can be obtained by playing through dungeons.
What Do I Do With Them?
Raising your children in this game feels like raising children for slaughter. The children felt like tools, and I actually disliked that about the game. I wanted to take it a bit more seriously and develop a more personal relationship with them, but they were often recycled out. The way this title works is that when the children reach their max potential, you are to release them into the city to essentially level up your facilities, and unlock new ones.
This is one of the parts of the game that shined through, because of its complexity. The battlefield places you and your mother character and your three sets of children (you will need three teams of children, each team consists of three children, so you'll be doing a lot of classmating to get these kids) on a field consisting of four different positions. A monster will often have one or more weak spots. These weak spots could be utilized to end the battle quicker. The many aspects of battle felt pointless at first. I didn't really care to do it in the beginning as much, as I just didn't really see the need to practice all the different maneuvers, but as the battles get more challenging, this becomes key. Attacking the weak spot is actually not the best thing to do.
Keep dancing around them!
Attacking the weak spot is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. The beauty of Conception II's battle system is the chain system. To chain properly, you must attack from a vulnerable or defended position. In doing so, you will fill up a chain gauge. This chain gauge can be used to change the tide of battle to allow your entire family to attack at once instead of waiting for turns. It actually is huge to utilize this for a higher chance of success in battle.
In addition to chaining, there is another system involved that adds an additional layer of complexity to the system, which is called Ether Density. Once the Ether Density level is topped, you can attack even harder and even faster than ever before, and can be a fun system to keep you concentrated on the action and not just spamming "Auto battle." Yes, Auto battle exists if you are not feeling in the mood to play the game. But hey, what's the fun in that?
But wait, there is more! The heroines have specific attacks that can be utilized when the family is positioned in a certain way. These attacks are also unique because the children can merge in a thing called Mecunite, which can bring to mind Mega Zords from the Power Rangers franchise. It's actually quite humorous.
When you enter a dungeon, you are thrown into an environment that needs exploration. Thankfully, the dungeons are randomly generated, so to speak, to give a bit of variety. On the top screen of the 3DS, in the bottom left hand corner, is a small minimap which can be disabled at any time by pressing Y. Looking at the map, it quickly shows you where to explore and where you will need to go. Proceeding in the general direction of exploration will often yield items that appear on the floor, and wandering beasts that roam the field. These wandering beasts can be approached for battle. Defeating said beasts will yield experience and loot. Proceeding through the different levels of the labyrinth, you will eventually come across a boss monster (Dusk Spawner) that must be sealed in order to escape.
However, certain labyrinths are called "Sublabyrinths," which actually offer rare rewards should the player complete the dungeon successfully. I had time to wander a few of these dungeons, and they were relatively easy to work through. I would recommend exploring these territories as the loot is often worth playing for.
Setting up your dungeon romping crew is actually a standard affair. It's structured like many RPG games. From the field map, you need to click on the Dorm Rooms, and you can assemble from here. You're greeted with a menu. Items will show you your current inventory. Skills will let you equip different attacks for the parents and children. Equipping new gear is always a fun part of exploration RPGs, and if you're lazy there's an option to equip the best gear. Often times, from what I have experienced in RPGs, this option is not good because it can take away from item set bonuses. Team info will display your team's main stats, and Tactics is for if you want to auto battle. You can setup different styles that the characters can play. You can rest and progress time here, and save your data here as well. You will come back here often, I promise. If you want better gear, you can also check out the shop and see if there's anything that suits your fancy. Just click on shop in the world map.
The Training Facility
Now, it's not an RPG if you don't have to grind up your characters. And you will be grinding a lot in this game, as your children become outdated rapidly and replaced with newer and stronger ones. The premise of the training facility is to revisit dungeons that have been beaten, and play them at a higher difficulty. Pick a labyrinth, and the difficulty will be ramped up, yielding more experience. However, it will not give money or items, but will give a completion reward at the end. Sounds like a recipe to grind out your units.
Uh oh, you can communicate with other players. Just a heads up, this title is fully playable as a single player experience. You do have the option to blindmate with other players online, and you can also pick up downloadable content here. It does cost BP to blindly classmate with other players, please keep that in mind!
The answer to this question is both yes and no. The 3D effect creates an interesting distortion that ends up hurting the overall visual performance of the title, interestingly enough. The 3D effect is unlike any other 3DS title I have played with. It still follows the "staring through a glass" and deepening effect, but overall, the 3D visuals felt blurry and not as focused as other titles. The 3D effect is visible in the dungeon maps, the battles, and through cutsecenes.
The map visuals are rather poorly done, sad to say. The map designs are bland and often repetitive with a different skin, in dull colors. I often saw dull browns, blues, purples and pinks. I get that it's supposed to be a "Dusk Circle," which might sound like it has a degree of menace behind it, but honestly, the dullness made the adventure less enjoyable and more prone to me trying to find an exit as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the maps look like what you see in the backgrounds - rather dull and listless.
However, the game more than makes up for this with the cutscenes. The cutscenes have an anime-esque appearance, with relatively crisp visuals. However, they do not share the 3D effect. To me, it was a bit disappointing, but they looked decent enough.
The clips are relatively nice and vibrant.
I like my titles to have nice soundtracks. This soundtrack reminded me a bit of the music from The World Ends With You on the Nintendo DS; it sounds very "pop" when in battles. Around other areas of the title, the music is often reminiscent of a high-tech society type of music, with an urban feel. The music is unique because, at times, it doesn't really sound like a video game, it sounds like something you might hear at a store in Japan or something. I recall my father coming in as I was goofing around on the title, and he caught the music, and noted that it sounded like stuff he heard in random locations when he was on his business trips in Japan. In a way, the music kind of doesn't match with the dungeon crawling game that it is. In short, the music is kind of hit or miss. It works sometimes, but just doesn't feel right in others.
There really are too many relationships that I could have in this game. I feel kind of impure playing this. They're also underage and only 17. Not to mention, the old man Mattero in charge of Aterra's church facility is a rather disgusting old pervert, ogling the heroines and their breasts. Sir, that's distasteful for a man of the clergy! Thankfully, each heroine has a rather fun storyline attached to them, and it wasn't bland, a pleasant surprise! The dialogue is filled with sexual innuendos, but then again that's the premise of this game. You flirt with the heroines, and then slowly develop a strong bond with them, and then you, well, consummate the relationship by Classmating them, which takes place in a nice, neon and nude silhouette which is seen writhing around. Sometimes, though, interestingly enough, the girls just don't want to Classmate with you, as they could be in surly moods. Best you don't approach them on those days. Conception II really is a dating simulator through and through. You find a girl you like, and you have to buy her gifts, drinks, and tend to her if you want her to be happy and give lots of strong children, sometimes twins or triplets depending on how strong of a bond you have. As if one relationship wasn't enough in life, now you're going to have to deal with another. Bummer! ...or that could even be a good thing...
Side note on Classmating: As the game proceeds, your sequences of classmating will become much more raunchy. The sequences start getting more intimate, with butts going out, the wincing, hands going up on the walls. It's very suggestive, and I was being given some peculiar looks from people as I was playing this in public. Biggest mistake ever.
The battle system really won some points with me. I was really starting to get into the mechanics as time went on. At first, it felt genuinely boring and I was choosing to autobattle through the sequences. I thought it was a waste of time as I was killing things very quickly. As the game went on, things got harder, and the battles started getting full swing into the complexities of comboing, utilizing my children's skills, and just paying attention to monster patterns. I would suggest utilizing the basics of comboing early, and trying to get it early on because it will get harder. It's not unbeatable (and if it is, just take some time and grind it out a bit more in the practice area) but it will be a bit hard at times, which is part of the fun.
Overall, it felt like standard RPG fare, with a little too much emphasis in the dating aspect. It felt too suggestive for my tastes. My mind tends to wander and think other thoughts about this Classmating stuff, but that's just me. I knew a few people that were basically trying to hide their naughtier side when I was talking about this. The battle system is intricate and for the most part well done, but felt a little uninvolved. When I say uninvolved, it really felt like I wasn't doing a ton, when in reality I'm swinging a sword or other assorted weapons around. It felt a bit like I was watching a game of peek a boo in battle, where I would just dance around the monster, be like, "oops, you're too slow," poke him, and watch as he flails and misses because I was too smart for him.
+ Immersive battle system that keeps player engaged
+ Randomly generated dungeons keeps exploration relatively fresh
+ Dating element adds a unique customization element to offspring
+ There's a lot you can do with offspring
- Offspring are quickly replaced
- Game is a bit awkward and a bit too suggestive
- Dungeon visuals are bland
The game is really easy to get into. There's a lot of tutorials to view so that you can learn your way around the ropes. Points were taken off because the dungeons look a bit lackluster.
The battle is really immersive and complex, but unfortunately it plays like a typical RPG after that, right down to customization and team setups. Nothing has really changed from the formula to really make this a standout title.
The game can feel a bit repetitive doing the same thing over and over again, in different environments. There's a lot different things a completionist would like such as different character unlocks and offspring combinations though.
out of 10
(not an average)
Visuals could be better, and the suggestiveness could be toned down a notch or two. The combat system is solid, but it does not stand out from other RPG titles.