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Imadoki no Vampire: Bloody Bride (PlayStation) artwork

Imadoki no Vampire: Bloody Bride (PlayStation) review

"As you'd expect from any Atlus release, the concept is nothing short of unique: thrust into the billowing cape of Phaid, teenaged vampire prince of the netherworld, you've been temporarily exiled to the mysterious human realm known as "Japan" in search of a virgin bride, not for tawdry thrills but in order to sup upon her sweet, innocent blood."

Halloween: the perfect night for masked maniacs, sticky treats . . . and totally awesome dating simulations.

Hey, get back here!

There's no need to take flight like some scantily clad coed, for the occult excellence of Bloody Bride isn't a trick by any stretch of the imagination. Expertly crafted by none other than beloved niche developer Atlus, it not only provides a glimpse into the future of their breakout Persona series but also stands proudly on its own as the finest such adventure of all time!

No, seriously.

Oh, and it's also fully playable in English via a translation patch, so now everyone can easily enjoy its elaborate plot and engaging cast of characters even if they wouldn't know nihongo from necromancy.

As you'd expect from any Atlus release, the concept is nothing short of unique: thrust into the billowing cape of Phaid, teenaged vampire prince of the netherworld, you've been temporarily exiled to the mysterious human realm known as "Japan" in search of a virgin bride, not for tawdry thrills but in order to sup upon her sweet, innocent blood. Despite the genre's sordid reputation everything in this game is likewise totally pure; you won't find anything racier than its lovely lasses soaking in steamy baths or slumbering peacefully in their pajamas. Unlike similar protagonists our hero is a perfect gentleman who seems to sincerely care about the happiness of his many female friends rather than seeing them as a harem of nubile necks, and the only penetration going on here involves his budding fangs.

Having been given three years to successfully locate and subsequently woo a maiden who possesses the incredibly rare "platinum heart aura" that will unseal his full array of unholy abilities, Phaid assumes the guise of a handsome transfer student at the local high school. There must be something in the sushi around there because right off the bat (haha) our hero runs into three perfect candidates starting with the highly religious Seira, whose predilection for crucifixes and midnight mass makes for some pretty awkward moments despite her charming naivety. Fiery tomboy Erika prefers boisterous arcades and torturing our hero with her diabolical science experiments, while the buxom Anna is an animal-adoring artist whose gentle demeanor is accentuated by her anemia-induced fainting spells. This eclectic mix is only made further chaotic after the arrival of two similarly disguised but diametrically opposed demons. The graceful emerald-tressed Lilicca's impassive facade of cold dignity is often sorely tested by the shameless shenanigans and nonexistent fashion sense of partner Karen, both plotting to tempt the prince from his original goal and thereby snatch power away from the nosferatu nobility if they don't come to blows first, particularly after the former begins to question her true intentions.

While to an immortal these many months amongst mankind seem to be over in the blink of an eye, this is without a doubt the longest dating sim ever made – and definitely in a good way. As in the epic Princess Maker 2, you'll have to plan out a daily schedule in order to strengthen your long list of stats ranging from intelligence to raw animal magnetism. But whether hitting the books, pumping up with weights, or just spending all night in front of the mirror primping your luxurious locks, it's important to make these choices with care; every girl demands certain lofty requirements in order to finally capture her heart at the end – of course you'll first have to significantly fan the little fillies' affections as a mere mortal, so it's even more critical to frequently invite them on romantic outings.

The sheer number of different dates available is truly overwhelming, to the point where you couldn't possibly encounter them all in a single playthrough. However you'll definitely want to try; these engagements are absolutely gorgeous thanks to beautiful character designs which frequently change their posture and facial expressions, whether to flush with pleased embarrassment or double over in laughter at your stupidity, and their seemingly endless showcase of elegant outfits are every bit as varied. While the same locations are shared among all the girls in roughly the same order, the actual scenarios that unfold within them are always unique and tailored to the current season, in addition to special encounters that are only available on a few specific days each year. Each rendezvous concludes with a choice of three possible statements challenging your insight into the girl's increasingly fleshed-out personality, hopefully raising your compatibility with that special someone or at least avoiding the answer sure to royally piss off your future queen of the night.

Speaking of which, after building up a sizable amount of trust with a specific girl she'll begin accepting a completely new set of dates in the evening, ironically freeing up your afternoons to cheat on her with someone else. This is actually a good thing since the current object of your desires won't always be free, especially if you've been neglecting everyone else, as the game attempts to keep all five girls' affection levels at roughly the same point until the time to hone in on a final choice draws near. Even then you still retain plenty of opportunities to see your pooped paramours at the school where much of the intricate story takes place, an education complete with bloomer-baring sports festivals and scenic trips to shrines haunted by hungry werewolves, to say nothing of all the lovingly rendered animated cinematics. But everything isn't as happy as it outwardly appears; behind the scenes the malevolent machinations of the demon realm slowly boil over into a fiendish scheme which threatens to destroy Phaid's peaceful life, and it shortly becomes obvious that one of your popular classmates is an obnoxious vampire hunter dedicated to eradicating the many evils that have begun to stalk his home.

For this adventure isn't just about wading through oceans of dialogue; you can also hit the city streets at night in order to hunt down vicious screen-consuming monstrosities that include a zombified tiger with its intestines spilling out, salacious succubi, and King Frost from Shin Megami Tensei. These brief RPG wanderings aren't just for show either, as gaining levels can seriously beef up your stats over time and there are a number of mandatory bosses as well as an entire dungeon to challenge as the plot gradually thickens. Improving your physical prowess at home definitely helps out here, but in further shades of the MegaTen franchise you can similarly equip one of your sexy devil helpers and thus gain access to her punishing selection of sorcery. There are also several optional girls to seek out in this urban sprawl at various points throughout the game, with these far shorter dalliances generally requiring only a few simple trysts and awarding you a major experience boost upon ultimately giving the lucky lady a taste of midnight bliss.

Considering the massive amount of quality content to plunge your teeth into, it's little wonder that this obscure gem is one of the precious few PlayStation titles to ever receive a completed fan translation – Atlus clearly put the same exhaustive effort into it as any of their celebrated cult favorites. Even if you're the sort of gamer for whom the merest mention of the words "dating sim" conjures automatic waves of revulsion, the masterful combination of blood and roses in Imadoki no Vampire is sure to burn away your dread.


sho's avatar
Staff review by Sho (October 31, 2009)

Sho enjoys classic video games, black comedy, and poking people until they explode -- figuratively or otherwise. He also writes a bit.

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zigfried posted October 31, 2009:

This game has now been added to The List.

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zippdementia posted November 02, 2009:

Wait wait wait wait... do you get to fuck in this one?
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zigfried posted November 02, 2009:

No, but you do get to suck.

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zippdementia posted November 02, 2009:

Bwa ha ha!

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