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Shall We Date? Princess Arthur — Lancelot Review

Whoo, the first of reviews for this game. I bought ALL the routes available so far and I’m delighted to get back in the groove of reviewing FULL COMPLETE GAMES versus FREE TIDBIT GAMES. And we have a lot of great otome games coming out for the PlayStation VITA and PC this year! I’m so excited!

Like seriously, not having to deal with that sinking feeling in my gut when the story gets good and I know my tickets are almost gone feels so good.

 

Princess Arthur is a spin on Camelot/King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table. This is a pretty smart twist if you’re going on otome conventions. You have a setting and lore already there. Just make a little twist of the lead character and voila! A lead and her harem, already set with minimal effort. It starts off with your character, daughter of a knight, pulling the Holy Sword out of the stone and becoming king.

Except Guinevere is there?? She’s a maternal figure this go-around. Haha, okay then.

They also call her Princess-King

Well, why isn’t she a queen? Because Guinevere is still Queen of uhh… whatever this land was called again. And since she pulled the sword that names the king, she is King. Okay, that is a little stupid, but it’s doable. So why, WHY, do they need to add princess? She’s not a princess! She’s the king!

Is it because girls would rather be princesses than queens? Then why not just call her Princess?

IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!

Marie’s LADY PRINCESS-KING is the worst.

Those eyes are going to steal my soul. *places bottle of holy water at the ready*

And also, your hometown, the place you grew up, laughed, cried, breathed every single breath and watched every single sunset? What is that name, of which you pledge your heart and soul to?

Castle town

Castle town is the sort of name I use as a placeholder when I can’t think of a name for a manuscript. Not the name you use IN YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT.

So it could use a little work in the name department. Whatever, you know, that’s okay. I’ve seen worse. I read a sample of a novel once that started naming off a girl with her group of friends and it was like “Jill, Amy, Taylor, Lacy, Persephone, Nancy, Emily” I WONDER WHO THE STORY WAS ABOUT??? So yeah, Castle town and Princess-King are pretty dumb but not that dumb.

So this part Strawbarely found pretty stupid, but I loved it.

LOOK AT THIS

It’s an inversion of the “sexy chainmail bikini” for women. Now it is the MEN who are scantily clad and +500 defense! IT’S ABOUT TIME GAME COMPANIES GOT ON THAT TRAIN CHOO CHOO CHOO BABY~

(for maximum effect please get this song into your head)

Sadly, Lancelot is not one of the scantily clad men. It’s okay, you don’t want a harem of shirtless dudes. Leave something to the imagination. Besides, otome anatomy isn’t exactly the best sometimes HAHA

(Like seriously they even strategically cover their nipples I CANNOT)

This game is LONG. I thought I could do a couple of routes in one day and I barely managed one over two weekends. I know some of you may balk at the 6$ route price, but you’re getting your money’s worth with it. And you can buy 3 at once in a set for $10, which is a fantastic deal! More games need to do this on the paid end!

So Lancelot, being the most famous and the face of the game, is pretty vanilla. Ain’t nothing wrong with vanilla. And for a “first” route of a game, a vanilla is a pretty good choice. Go into the more exotic flavors after you’ve developed a taste for the world.

The Characters

The cast, being so large, does well distinguishing their different personalities. I admit, I was miffed that in the beginning you spend most of your time with Merlin one-on-one (I’m not saying that I want 100% of the time with Lancelot, but you don’t get a SINGLE SCENE in Chapter Two with Lancelot). You also spend a lot of time with the other men in groups of two. It helps give you a sense of camaraderie between them all.

Standout characters are of course, Merlin, with his mysterious aura and gray sense of morality; Elaine, with her arc being a standout; Galahad, who goes from quiet to snarky; Nimue, a water nymph with a mysterious connection to Lancelot; and Tristan, who seems harsh, but is well reasoned and thoughtful.

Alu knows her way with a sword. In fact, one of the main conflicts with her brother is that she beat him in a duel. I enjoyed this power dynamic and the change from a damsel in distress. But in the end, she turns out to be the standard “Good heroine” archetype and doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

The villains are woefully underdeveloped. I would have preferred instead of going around getting approval of magic beings in the first four chapters they spent time on the villains and their motives. It would help Alu’s determination go from being “hopelessly naive” to “chaotic good”.

 

The side characters are numerous and that’s a good thing. It really helps to flesh out the world and broaden the scope of the story. I can’t say I cared for all of them, but I appreciated their presence in the story. A lot of side characters get sprites as well, which helps with immersion.

The Romance

The romance isn’t particularly well executed. If you’ve ever played Hakuoki, in which the romance takes a back seat to the plot for large chunks of the game, this is very similar. You don’t get a romantic one-on-one scene with Lancelot until Chapter Five. Sure, you get little vignettes before then, an amuse busche of a scene, but I wouldn’t call an actual meaty scene until Chapter Five.

Is that too long? Perhaps. It’s mostly format. On PC, I expect a long game with a generic story arc going into the individual character arcs. But on cell phone otoge, I expect the character’s story to be their story because on cell phone otoge you buy each route individually. This is a port of a PC game but you still buy each character separately. I feel that’s unfair to the cell phone readers who will buy characters individually. Now you have several characters who have very similar (if not the same) beginning chapters because they’re meant to be the generic route and only a few chapters with your designated lover. And you’re still paying the same price for all of these characters, so by the end of it all you’re getting ripped off (imo). I would prefer just releasing the PC versions and getting on with it that way (especially since you can skip what you’ve read at that point) but ehhhh what can you do? It’s either cell phone or nothing.

What is nice about it, however, is the spotlight on all the characters and multitudes of CGs featuring them.

Lancelot and her share a somewhat tepid relationship. Alu is too shy to express her feelings and Lancelot is too proper to express his. While you have an idea of the feelings between them, it’s not something that is overtly expressed. Lancelot also has several secrets, one of which is huge in terms of importance to the overall story and his character’s arc. The reason behind his secretive nature is explained well, but it comes at the climax. While that makes for a strong reveal, it doesn’t make for a strong romance. It’s borderline infodump, in fact. Lancelot keeps his secrets close and most of what Alu learns is not from him, but from a third party. This weakens their relationship. We’d get a better sense of trust if we heard direct from the horse’s mouth.

But in the few scenes they do have together, there is a sort of silent tension between them. This was more obvious on my second and third playthroughs when I knew what Lancelot was really thinking. A lot of scenes are better the second time around because what appeared lifeless becomes self restraint.

Can I complain about Lancelot being too nice? He’s literally The Perfect Guy™ and I just really wanted a single flaw from him. Something to give me some conflict. His biggest conflict is… his perfection. Seriously.

So Lancelot has this magical seal thing that works like IRL cheat codes and the other knights know this and so, well, they’re like “Well yeah he’s strong but he’s a cheater so whatevs.” Some characters are more vocal about this than others, but it does feel like a sentiment shared with them all. And that just bothers Lancelot so much. Oh, and his seal gets worse OF COURSE when he has a case of the feels….

But he’s so nice. He comforts you, he protects you, he won’t ever be mean because he’s loyal to his duty, he helps you with your swordcraft, he studies with you in the library, he’s there to make sure those meanies aren’t being mean to you and it’s just too much for me.Please, Lancelot, get angry about something. It can be something like your armor is chafing your nipples, or cry about something, maybe your sword isn’t sharp enough, just show me some sort of intense emotion.

The Plot

A lot happens in this game, but I suppose I can divide it into several arcs.

The first arc is becoming King by pulling the magic sword out of the boulder. The second arc is getting approval from all the magical beings, because idk??? They don’t play a bigger role later on in the story. The only one that does factor in later isn’t a magical race, it’s more of an enemy turned temp ally. The third arc is the first battle. The fourth is the ball. The fifth is more day in the life of Alu stuff. Last is the knight games/medieval times festival thing.

Some arcs are better than others. Chapter Two is a low point in the story. I had more fun in the story when they were warring than when they were not. It sort of goes from typical otome game trappings in the non-war parts to actually interesting dynamics during the warring parts.

No matter how capable the girl is, she must be less than the men/play the damsel role even if it’s established that she can carry her own weight.

It’s a conundrum in romance writing. You want the girl/reader to feel protected, but you also want her to be capable and “strong”. I honestly don’t prefer this; I would rather she be a damsel and have her emotional strength be the backbone to the story. That way I’m not rolling my eyes each time she ends up in danger and ends up being unable to use her skills from fear. Another option for this type of character is to have them work together to take down the foe. It’s a lot more fun to read them working together than it is to see a “strong” woman turn to a damsel when the plot is convenient. I give a pass for the first major battle of the story, because as her first battle, she would not handle it like a pro.

However, that’s not to say that she doesn’t have her own badass moments. Her first battle goes about how you would expect. Her second battle gets her on the field and fighting on equal ground with her soldiers. The third, well, THAT one was great.

Alas, it’s just not explained well exactly how good she is with the sword. If she’s able to defeat her brother, a man good enough to be on the Round Table, doesn’t it stand to reason that she can stand on somewhat equal ground with the other Knights of the Round Table? When the plot dictates, she’s able to stand beside the knights and work with them. But when she needs to be a damsel, she becomes a damsel. So just how good is she? That inconsistency annoyed me.

It would have been an interesting power dynamic if they kept her skills consistent. Let’s say she is their equal. Maybe not as good as Lancelot (remember he is Mr. Perfection™) but on equal ground with the knights and perhaps even better than them. How do they feel about this? There’s a question of their level of sexism towards it. Are they jealous? Indifferent? Awed? Do they see her still as someone they can protect, even if she may be in a position to not need their protection? How does she see them if she is more powerful than they are?

I also did not like the transformation of Guinevere at the second-to-last arc. In the original King Arthur story, you’ll remember that Guinevere and Lancelot had a secret relationship. For most of the story, she is devoted to her late husband and acts more like a maternal figure to Alu. Until that final arc, when it’s revealed Guinevere had the hots for Lancelot all along.

Ugh.

It was unneeded drama. From day one Morgause and Alu have had this undercurrent of hostility and mistrust and at this point the pot finally started to boil over. Why throw in this extra detail at the last minute? U G H.

The tragic/sad ending is awful. Not bad awful, but horribly sad awful! After playing the entire game (and it is long) to only get that ending… ah, it’s truly heartbreaking. But there’s a part of me that really likes sad endings so I liked that the sad ending was actually sad and difficult to go through as a reader rather than a simple cop-out of a bad ending. That ending alone elevated my opinion of Lancelot’s story.

The sweet ending is your every day happy ending. You know what to expect and it’s a sweet bookend to a story.

Additional Notes

As I mentioned, the game is extremely long for a moboge. There are plenty of choices to make. Some chapters have as little as five. Some chapters have as many as 12. There’s no meter or gauge for telling you the choices you make are the “right” ones. So I personally would do a blind play first and then do a walkthrough play, unless you want hours and hours of trying to figure out what choices make what ending. Though, the choices are telegraphed well after picking (basically if you pick the wrong choice a character will lead the conversation to the right choice) so if you like playing  manually it shouldn’t be too hard to decipher the correct choices. But unlike PC, there’s only three save slots, which makes it a giant PIA.

Final Thoughts

This is an interesting game from the initial setup. There are several big narrative arcs to read through. There is a plethora of side characters. All of this speaks to a fleshed out world. That aspect of the game is done very well. Lancelot is a good choice to introduce the world and story but he is the “vanilla” of the story world, meaning it doesn’t do anything special and at times can be stale, especially when you’re in scenes with characters who have stronger personalities. But the replay value on his route is amazing. Not only do you get a good “bad” ending, the knowledge you gain from beating it once gives older scenes an added value. Not a lot of otoge do that.

The routes seem expensive but the game is SO LONG that your money is well spent. You get a ton of CGs too.

Rating

heart1heart1heart1

holllywhat My heart scale is defined as follows – 5 hearts = a story everyone will fall in love with, regardless of preferences; 4 hearts = a well-done story that people who love the concept will adore, and people who don’t may end up liking it; 3 hearts = if you like this type of story or this type of hero, then you will enjoy this, but those who do not like either of those things will probably not; 2 hearts = it had potential, it squandered it; 1 heart = just a waste of time from the get-go; 0 hearts = why was this made?

Screens

I AM SO THANKFUL HER BROTHER IS NOT AVAILABLE AS A ROUTE CHOICE

Like that is creepy coming from him because they are shown to not really have a relationship AT ALL.

But if you did, just a little, YOU WOULD BE SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING

Oh god, so this ball is hyped up in game. Your dress is hyped to KANYE WESTTTTTT’s ego levels and you’re like OH DAMN I CANNOT WAIT

and since it’s, well, PRINCESS ARTHUR MEDIEVAL TIMES I’m expecting this HUGE ROCOCO XXXXTRA FANCY DRESS and she comes out in this negligee from Victoria’s Secret

NO SHIT NO WONDER WHY ALL THE MEN FALL OVER THEMSELVES TO SNIFF HER FARTS

Pickup lines courtesy Lancelot

He tried.

Merlin’s snark GIVES ME LIFE

I hoped for some hot teacher/student action but it doesn’t happen

I mean, it does, it’s just super sweet and not hawt at all

he sure knows how to let a girl down easy, daYUM!

I like honest characters

finally some realtalk and not this “everyone will be happy” stuff

LOOK HE GETS BETTER AT PICKUP LINES

Honestly my thought every time I see Morgause’s sprite is AACK that dress is cute SUPER low like there should be some sort of nip slip or something when it’s that low even adult film stars have less cleavage

 

 

 

 

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