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Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque (PC) artwork

Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque (PC) review

"Between schoolroom lessons, you can send the girls out on life-enriching quests or "interact" with special guest tutors to earn fabulous magical prizes. Depending on how you train the girls and on which of the completely optional diplomas you choose to pursue, it's possible to achieve twenty different endings that would make even Princess Maker 2 vets jealous."

Who needs Harry Potter? Instead of playing the promising student, this is your chance to play the accomplished master! Assume the righteous Latin name "Domino Domine", bleach your hair blonde like Great Teacher Onizuka, and begin conducting lessons at a magic school right inside Olde Englande's spookiest tower. Now, even though Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque is a rowdy bawdy medieval hentai game, let's pretend that you're actually responsible enough to pose as teacher to two incredibly charming female students.

Yeah, right!

The gist of Romanesque is that you've got to guide two girls named Aria and Kaya through an entire year's magic curriculum. Between schoolroom lessons, you can send the girls out on life-enriching quests or "interact" with special guest tutors to earn fabulous magical prizes. Depending on how you train the girls and which of the completely optional diplomas you choose to pursue, it's possible to achieve twenty different endings that should keep even Princess Maker 2 vets busy.

Watch spry firebrand Aria take on a mace-swinging goliath in Gladiator! Smile as studious Kaya discovers ancient ruins in Historian! Gasp as charismatic Domino nails a forest elf in unnamed but very sexy ending! There are even a few dramatic epilogues if you're the curious type who looks for deep social commentary in your cartoon pornography.

With all those endings, a couple dozen items, and hundreds of action-dependent events, Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque is one of the better quest-based medieval hentai bring-up sims I've ever played. But that's not what makes Romanesque special.

Even with the ridiculous number of quests and special events, the majority of your time -- I've clocked in well over fifty hours -- will be spent on the actual magic lessons. Magic in Romanesque works a little bit differently than you might expect for a raising sim; instead of selecting spells to study from a Graduation-style menu, you have to purchase new abilities with "spirit points" earned during hectic dice-based puzzle sessions. That's right -- at heart, Romanesque is a puzzle game!

Red-headed Aria Van Cleef, your adorable English pupil, owns a set of red dice. Kaya Xavier has a set, too; hers is blue, matching her cool personality. This adds up to six dice in all, each marked with magical symbols instead of numbers. With their mightiest "EI!" and "HOI!", the two super-deformed girls simultaneously fling all six dice across a gorgeously painted background.

Each symbol that pops up earns a point in that "element" -- roll two crowns and four books and you'll earn two points in the "crown" element and four points in the "book" element. Simple simple! But there's a trick (you knew there had to be one). As you spend points between dice-rolling rounds, Aria and Kaya learn magic spells from a constellational chart (similar to Final Fantasy X's sphere grid). These spells automatically trigger whenever a particular combination is rolled... so if Aria's three red dice come up "cross cross cross", what used to be three measly points suddenly invokes the spell Spectrum de Longe, which causes holy spirits to mercilessly pound the dice over and over, extracting additional elements with every bounce! In short, three points turn into fifteen.

Kaya's dice come up as three crosses, too... but she doesn't know the first thing about Spectrums. All she'll earn are three "cross" points. Fortunately, being a wise and able tutor, you can exercise a bit of influence to help her out. By guiding your spiritual hand (MOVING THE MOUSE) near one of those three blue dice, and by giving the die a little kick (CLICKING THE LEFT BUTTON), it's possible to actually change the outcome! This can be dangerous; kick the dice too often and you'll be penalized. But one kick should be enough... yes, there it is... now it's a moon! "Cross cross moon". I wonder what spell that combination will invoke.

In sharp contrast to Aria's ecstatic squeals, Kaya calmly utters a single word: "Bolidis."

Ever played Final Fantasy VIII and summoned one of those Guardians? You know, the ones that launch a five-minute cinematic sequence to inflict EIGHTY-SEVEN THOUSAND points of damage? Well, aside from the fact that you can actually skip such long-winded scenes in Romanesque, that's basically what happens here. The camera swings up above the playfield, then pans to follow a gigantic meteor as it comes CRASHING down into the dice. While dozens of glittery points swirl around the screen, two more meteors explode into the garden, or the laboratory, or whichever room of the Magical Tower you happen to be destroying at the moment. Upon impact, this celestial trio causes a literal cloud of multi-colored points to dance and spin around the screen, until everything settles down and a few hundred points are added to each element's score.

I daresay Kaya managed to one-up her partner.

Romanesque features a hundred spells in total, which is awesome because, by the end of the game, you'll be creating random havoc without even trying. Every time Aria and Kaya fling their dice around the screen, icicles will start bursting from the ground, plants will sprout new dice, and wild boars will run around the screen.

Of course, peak performance does require some planning. I spent around 45 minutes jotting numbers and dice combinations on paper, calculating possible permutations to see how many spirit points I'd earn on average. I came up with two awesome combinations: one that would net me around 2000 per element per character, and another that would earn Aria around 1000 points but give Kaya a whopping 4800! Some quest-based medieval hentai bring-up sim puzzle game freak even posted an internet image of his 99,999 score. Apparently, his spell combinations were so potent they crashed the game. AWESOME.

After you spend tons of points to teach one of the girls a new spell (and some are very expensive), there's a cute "learning event". This is really just another excuse to insert more of Oyari Ashito's endearing hand-painted art, and I approve of that.

While garnished with hundreds of such gorgeous paintings, Romanesque has also been thoroughly marinated in Western fantasy. Celtic-styled music, celestial patterns, and rolling green hills speckled with ancient stone ruins lend a sorcerous flavor to this delightful mix of magic, mystery, and monsters.

Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque is easily one of the best games of 2005, but not because it's deep or profound. Even beyond the cute storyline and dozens of quests, Romanesque encourages obsessive-compulsive perfection; a new technique or clever trick can boost seven points all the way up to seven hundred. I spent several sleepless nights in front of the monitor, rubbing my stubbled chin, trying to figure out how to achieve the elusive "perfect win". With its engrossing atmosphere and mentally stimulating gameplay, it's hard to forget Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque even when you're not playing.


zigfried's avatar
Staff review by Zigfried (February 06, 2006)

Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.

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