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Review of Kin'iro Loveriche -Golden Time-

SubjectKin'iro Loveriche -Golden Time-
ByHelpfulness: 3
Vote: 6
sneedreader on 2024-05-14 last updated on 2024-05-15
ReviewI am going to divide this review in sections dedicated to the common route, Ayaka route and the Golden Ending as I don't have too much to say about the other parts aside from, "they were pretty good".

**SPOILERS FOR THE ORIGINAL GAME AS WELL AS THIS FD**

Common Route

Carrying over from Kinkoi's great common route, this fandisc succeeds in capturing the charm and banter of the original characters with the added benefit of being set in a future semester with pre-established character dynamics. Less time needed to introduce characters means that the writers are able to go full throttle from the start resulting in a brisk procession of scenes containing Sylvie/Ria being cute, Reina being funny, Ayaka being annoying or lewd and the whole cast together being delightful.
The game also takes this opportunity to give additional focus to the main heroines of this title; Ayaka, Mina and Ria. Included in this extra screentime is also Reina for some reason, but I'm not going to complain about more of a good thing.

Lacking in stakes and intrigue, but not to this fandisc's detriment, we are showered in a pure SoL experience and even treated to dynamics the original game was only able to show sparsely; such as Ria interacting with the full cast. Rating: 8/10

Ayaka Route

Insane. Jarring. Mindless H-scene montage. Nukige-level writing. All things that I have heard said by both people who despise Ayaka's Route and by people who adore it, I personally fall into the latter category and will attempt to justify why I not only think this route is great, but why I think this route is the best and most unique example of enemies to lovers in all moege.

Ayaka is the closest thing to an antagonist in Kinkoi as well as a very realistic example of a bully in eastern society. She despises commoners, particularly male ones and spends majority of the first game manipulating social pressure to turn our protagonist Ouro into a pariah. Kinkoi overtly and repeatedly shows the sadistic joy Ayaka derived from seeing Ouro ostracized, dedicating a pose in her sprite solely for basking in schadenfreude at MC's expense. Throughout all this, she somehow feels justified, citing kids being mean to her a few times as her reason to stamp down on anyone trying to transcend the social caste they were born into.

However, there is one caveat to her antagonistic personage - she is hopelessly in love with a boy she met 10 years ago. This boy is revealed to the reader early on as being none other than the MC himself, although neither character is aware of this. In a masterstroke of eroge scenario writing, her one sided crush turned her into a complete nymphomaniac anal masturbation addict who would drop everything and happily live out her life subservient to the MC if she was ever clued in on him being her first love. Although, sadly for Ayaka, this pen never drops in the original game as she does not have a route, leaving the plot point looming above our heads waiting to upend the status quo if a fandisc was ever made..

..and that it was! Coming in to KinkoiGT with Ayaka's background in consideration, any reader would be aware of the Chekhov's Gun staring them in the face and upon seeing Ayaka on the boxart one would start theorizing how a route would play out.
Obviously at some point during the common route, their past association would come to light and Ayaka's personality would 180, building up to a climax where Ayaka apologizes and confesses resulting in a happy, low-drama route. Right? Well... wrong actually.

Whilst a lesser writer may jump at this opportunity to use Ayaka's crush to start a relationship, the scenario writers decided against it, which first struck me as odd but was definitely the correct call. This approach would have failed to address the major problem of an Ayaka route:

People HATED Ayaka after the first game and such an easy romance route would feel unearned. Whilst Ayaka isn't even close to the top half of most evil characters in fiction, she IS an extremely realistic depiction of a bully - and that feels much more personal. You may be able to tolerate the screen presence of a supervillain, but the presence of a really bitchy, pompous bully can be far less palatable.

To get around this, Ayaka's route instead focuses on the latter half of the aforementioned hole in her armor; her Achilles' Heel or in this case Ayaka's Achilles' Ass.
Without revealing (or knowing) he is her childhood prince charming, our MC slowly gets closer to Ayaka and gradually triggers her sixth sense as a covert nukige heroine, that is - she gets increasingly horny around him.

What follows is a gradual, extremely graphic sexual corruption previous unseen within this genre, whilst the whole time Ayaka consents but puts up pitiful resistance and hilarious cope logic to try maintain friction between herself and Ouro. Seriously, at one point she devolves into "Ouro may have captured my ass but Ichi still has my heart".
These H-scenes are just as indulgent as you would expect, if you've ever played a Ricotta VN then you should know of the formula of combining sugar-sweet romance with indulgent, lust-filled feature length H-scenes. In the case of Ayaka's route, the setting and general low-fanservice approach to storytelling contrast with her H-scenes that feel ripped straight out of a nukige.

I'm aware that this plot has been explored in many nukige before, but seeing it play out within such a cheery, saccharine moege with great writing talent behind it satisfied me in a way I never expected from this vn.
Rating - 9.5/10


Golden Ending

Ria's alternative scenario, which I was not a fan of. I want to preface this by saying I am perfectly fine with an alternate "happy" scenario. I even agree that Ria's original route ending can be a suckerpunch to people who were lulled by the generic moege marketing. I do, however, disagree with the assertion that her death was a development that made her route worse. You are told early on that Ria - is terminally ill, that the medical consensus is it's a "miracle she's lived this long" and that she experiences frequent headaches plus extreme sensory issues.

I will briefly expand upon the topic of Ria's death throughout this section, but for now let's move on to 3 main points: where Kinkoi shone, what Ria's GT route needed to accomplish to replicate or surpass that experience and where her route in KinkoiGT failed.

Kinkoi was a fantastic experience, playing through the perspective of a depressed teenager discovering his "golden time" largely due to Ria's help, later considering at some point Ria was going to die offscreen after each route was profound but heartrending. Even more so after learning more about Ria and her plan to facilitate Sylvie and Ouro's relationship so they could find their golden time, a concept she had personally given up on seeking herself.

The culmination of this emotional journey where we convince Ria to seek out her own personal happiness in what little of her life remains, whilst also assuring her she isn't a burden and seeking out our own golden time was truly unforgettable. Ria's passing was the natural flow of events, but it can be argued that her death itself wasn't intrinsic in conveying the message that it is never too late to find your own Golden Time. After all, Ouro was able to pivot out of his baseball slump and achieve this himself in all 6 route variations.

KinkoiGT's iteration of Ria's story had one thing obvious to everyone before they even started her route - this was a "what-if" scenario where Ria would survive. The changing of this key detail to me meant that the primary expectation of this route was to provide a path for Ria to be romanced but with a happier tone.

I went into KinkoiGT expecting to call Ria's route a success if it accomplished at least one of the following; a happier SoL take on Ria's path, a route conveying the same message of the original with only the ending receiving significant changes OR if we got a happier but still nakige themed route with a different interpretation of the golden time theme.

Ria's route in this game attempts the third approach from the above list but ultimately fails at providing a warmer, happier experience. Events of Ria route in GT start the same as her route in Kinkoi; slow development of cute ichaicha scenes occasionally hampered down by the knowledge that she is dying. This ramps up into H-scenes and further depressing medical drama, unfortunately what follows is the massive misstep of this route. At the height of intrigue surrounding whether Ria is going to get better or not, she suddenly disappears for in-story length of roughly a year. More clued-in readers probably predicted the crux of this route's drama, regardless, Ouro and the reader are left to stew over feelings of a terminally ill loved one being apart for a year due to reasons no one will explain.

The payoff to all of this drama is that Ria was pregnant and feared if she stayed in Japan she would have been forced to terminate due to threat to her life, instead she made the decision to carry out her pregnancy abroad where Sylvie's royal doctors could personally attend to her. Ria then goes on to survive her illness and we get a happy ending that left me relieved but still frowning.

Considering the hook of this scenario is "Ria route but happy" it feels like a complete failure - it replicates same strong start of Kinkoi's Ria route, but has a much worse core conflict where we spend MORE time brooding over Ria's terminal illness compared to the original route, right up until the ending where we're finally afforded reprieve.
The one positive of this route is the unique perspective on Ria's golden time, or more specifically Ria achieving self-determination, she makes the selfish but sympathetic decision to jeopardize what little remains of her life in order to deliver a child and leave behind proof of her existence, I just wish Ouro was clued in and this theme was explored during her route, rather than presented after the pregnancy already transpired.

Rating - 4.5/10

I gave this game a 6 overall but that's more of a lowball since I put more weight on the Golden Ending than the rest of the novel, this could just as easily be a 7.
3 points