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Review of Rance 01 - Hikari o Motomete -

SubjectRance 01 - Hikari o Motomete -
ByVote: 8istreakilaz on 2021-04-07
ReviewRance 01 is the Remake of the original Rance title that started it all.. way back in 1989.
While the core story has been more or less remained, much of it was polished and remade to fit the canonical continuity Alicesoft was going for after the success of Rance VI... although, actually the branch-off started with 5D: Lonely Girl, but it was set in it's own separate "World", so it hardly counts.
Also because, 5D.... which in my opinion.. has an engaging cast, but a horrendous gameplay!
<I mean, Rizna is one of my all-time favourite in the Franchise!>

I would normally start a long textwall here, going into extreme detail, like I'm chronically obsessed with... but i'm kinda tired from all the writing i have been doing lately, so it's going to be short.

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Rance I, the original was a decent ADV RPG Eroge, with an absolutely off-kilter protagonist, semi-quirky characters... and a not-terrible overarching plot. But what WAS the tedious and almost stressful thing about it.. was the combat... which is like the foundation for an 'Adventure' genre...
Basically, it was baaad, but it did it's job enough to not curse at it.
But, the story and it's characters had it's charms, as well as the amusing 4th wall breaks.

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What is Rance 01 then?
Well, it's Good Enough, but not a Very Good, ADV RPG Eroge, and a Card-slide based dungeon crawler with Chip based inventory management and turn-based combat.
Sounds similar but with added content? Not exactly.
The Plot is rewritten to be more streamlined, and thank god, hints are always present on what to do next, unlike the original.
Aside from the obvious graphical and musical improvement....
The Story is extended to a handful of Side Contents and usually a dirty CG to boot. These are worth it though, even if you'd need to grind up a little, which you need to do plenty of to get the 100% Completion Game Report.

The HCG roster is on the lower-medium end of decent length AliceSoft games... but is packed with the style and expertise of Gyokai, the Art Director's expertise.
As for the Music, which i always keep a lookout for in any content, and specially from Alicesoft of course... i expected some good tunes.
It was good enough, with some incredibly catching tracks and remixes of the original themes (as pointed out in the Mansion)...
With my favourites being:
- "The Estimate's Free" and "The Estimate's Free (Heisei 1)" (Willis Theme) [I totally share DJ C++'s taste for this one, it's too addictive, just like the original one]
- "Jackpot! Hong Kong Macau" (Casino Theme) [it's just incredibly catchy, for my tastes]
- "Go, Green, Go" (Leazas Outskirts Theme)
- "Royal Chaser" (Castle Dungeon Theme) [Somehow it's just a whole lot more Epic here]
But the very best is undeniably, to me...
- "See You Tommorow" (Nightime Map Theme).
Out of the non-bonus 23 Tracks, i'd say, the soundtrack did well enough, to get me to like atleast 5 them much.

While the ever present "Alice's Theme" is here as well, nicely remixed again... still nothing can beat the 4.1/4.2's version of it...

Thankfully, 01 has the Scene Replay option, that was missing from the 02 Remake...
And accompanying those Scenes, are the amazing looking H-CGs,
Sill without her comically poofy hair actually looks quite attractive for once...
Although, Rance shows his face properly in barely any of them... because he looks quite Handsome due to being younger looking... compared to his older sprites (barring Kichikuou.. he was just too handsome there...)
But then again....
The H-Scene sound effects sounds more like somebody gargling water or wetting up a dry lip with their tongue, and sounds... a little weird to be honest.
Which kind of takes out of the immersion of the scene.... of Rance being Rance, like usual...

While Rance 01 didn't have voice acting...
DiCE's writing style makes it unnecessary, as the dialogue is both hilariously punchy, moody or extremely Rance-like raunchy...
Along with a plethora of choices for the player... to kill themselves for the 19th time!

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Along with all these.... THE DIFFICULTY IS REAL!
It's not unnecessarily grindy, like Quest, or exorbitantly difficult.. but there is quite a fair bit of challenge to it.
You need to plan out your day ahead of time, and dungeon crawling gets increasingly difficult by leaps every new location unlock...
Although, one can get used to the card patterns and placements, some of the more rarer monsters are difficult to beat, specially if one is planning to overkill the later Gal Monsters, for their short HCG.
This, along with brutal trap placements and often unwarranted damage from ADV mode scenarios.. Which you can't even heal if you don't go outside into the map...
Make it quite a difficult hurdle to overcome for first time playthroughs, and early game situations...

A Little grinding never hurt anybody...
But the game clearly never got the memo to let up it's damning difficulty, even after jamming in some level ups.. and occasionally dying to the critical hits, or turn misses due to battle exhaustion
..Which is easier said than done, unless one has properly memorized the Dungeon Card placements...
But by level 25, everything should be easily manageable..
Yet, i was honestly surprised that there would be some fun short scenes to unlock after reaching as high as Level 30...

Then again, a gameplay nitpick is that the Side Quests are often obnoxious to progress by oneself, so a Guide is recommended.
And the game has a very awkward habit of only autosaving on dungeon entry and day starting.... But not after exiting a dungeon.. which has often led to some frustrating reloads, due to the unpredictable damages received from ADV Sections....

Surprisingly, the game runs quite smooth even on lower end devices, and bugs are almost... almost non-existent.
However, the game is quite slow in terms of combat speed, which is a little frustrating, since holding down the force skip button can end up skipping unread text right afterwards.

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Overall, it's a fun remake, that clearly dwarfs out the original in almost every aspect...
And possibly... intentionally, heh... as The Hanny King's Mansion entry suggests.

Amusingly, there is quite a few nods to the original Rance I, and the 'canonically' next in line games...
So it's always fun to see these pop up every so often.
Although.. given this is Alicesoft... references and in-joke should be the norm already enough.

But...
The few gripes that one could have are...

That it is a safer remake, without much alterations to the original work.... unlike what they did with 03..., but atleast better than 02. Quite a Linear plot, which they didn't add much changes to, except shuffle around things and giving characters more spotlight.
They had the chance to make it bolder, and more in line with the expansive titles that they had later made... but kept it small and simple.
Not really a game that one would really need to play, other than needing to know the story... which one can do just by reading the heavily detailed fandom wiki.

And somehow... the characters are more restrictive in their moodiness...
TADA's writing, even though he himself considered it immature looking back on it...
Had a lot of laid back charm to it, which seemed to fit Rance's own nature well...
In 01 though... this is somewhat missing of sorts... Which i kind of dislike.
Because this is one of the very few Rance stories where heavy themes are not in play for the majority of the story...
So it would have been perfect sense for the characters to be their older, more laid back self...
But here, they are much compact and keeps their thoughts to themselves... which is a little sad to see be changed.

And also... why some of the character's looks, and personality was changed... is unknown.
For example.. in favor of the story, Millie is made more reserved and hollower than she was in I, which wasn't bad per say... but her character appeal takes a hit due to this.
Similarly... why Patty's character design was changed... is weird.
Flanders was an interesting Bartender, while here he is more like a comic relief, and only if you try to forcibly engage with him again... And it's not as much fun, as the Mayor in "The Rebellious Maidens", who genuinely made me laugh out loud in his absurdity.
And Willis, Fey and Maris as well, get changed.
It might be fine enough for new audience, but older fans probably were attached to their specific characters already... As i was.

And somehow, it doesn't feel like a Rance game all of a sudden...
Rance has always been a bit of an Asshole, and he was even more so in the earlier titles...
So it feels weird, when he becomes a bit more tamer in the Remake... which honestly makes him a more likeable character than before, but also, his more Brutish nature in the yet non-remade Rance IV, 5D and even VI all the more noticeable.
The personality that Rance portrays in 01 is more akin to that of Sengoku, and around the mid-to-late of Quest.

And the biggest gripe of all....
The Game Clear Card....
Getting all of the requirements, and completing the chip collection is an endeavor that is, although not very tough, but requires some extreme savescumming and guide following.
It's a little hopeless to even try and guess them without reading up on it... it's such vague requirements!

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Despite all the final gripes...
It's a fun enough game, with an uncommon (rare? for the time of it's release) battle mechanic, and punishing early-to-mid game difficulty.
It's highly preferable to playing the Original Rance I...
And also preferable to watching the Adaptation OVA that had gotten a new wave of fans into series back when it was made.

....also... a 9000+ characters review is short huh? Guess i've been writing TOO much lately, to compare.
On the other hand... i get to write...
"IT'S OVER 9000!!!"

Comments

#1 by iwannarategames
2021-04-07 at 06:01
< report >Holy shit I beat the game today and you just wrote the review for me. I basically have the same opinions.
#2 by istreakilaz
2021-04-07 at 09:00
< report >#1 Nice! If you haven't tried them out already, there are the later titles localized by Mangagamer as well.
My favourites are VI, Sengoku and IX (Of what i could make out of it atleast, before my brain broke)

Going straight from 01 to 5D, the whiplash of the difference between Rance's personality really caught me off guard when i played it first...