It was about time I started working on my backlog, so here we are…Nightshade! Is this what a Naruto romance-VN would’ve been like? ( ＾∀＾)Hahahaha~. Jokes aside, I really felt thrown back to my teenage years by this game. Back then I LOVED ninja-themed stuff. I can’t say I’m very hyped about it nowadays, but I still do enjoy it if done correctly. Though the reason I was so interested in this game (aside from pretty art) wasn’t really the whole ninja theme, but rather the fact that it was developed by Red Entertainment, who also worked on Juuza Engi, which I very much enjoyed. Nightshade received overall favourable reviews so I was expecting something like Juuza, except with ninja…and while it certainly looked the part, I can’t say its story & characters were able to live up to my expectations – and it’s not a translation issue, but the writing itself (I’d say the TL is…p. average, except for one thing: who thought it was a good idea to translate every “oniisan” and “oneesan” attached to everyone’s names!?).
Seeing as Juuza’s Kan’u wasn’t my type of heroine at all, I already anticipated to feel similar about Nightshade’s MC, but this time all the other characters felt quite mediocre too. And in some cases they were outright stupid. This and the fact that all of them were ninja, who’re kind of affiliated with the same two clans, offered only little variety. I mean, sure, some were older and some were younger, some were more serious than others, but the overall feeling was quite similar – kind of like in Hakuouki (except Hakuouki characters were more fleshed out IMHO). The routes were rather short too, so development happened quite abruptly at times. Overall it left me feeling like “it’s not bad…but I can’t really say that it’s good, either”. The visuals were beautiful and full of vibrant and saturated colors, yay! But proportions did look weird in some CGs, it’s not quite as hq art as Juuza (or even Norn9 for that matter). I also very much enjoyed the frequent use of stop motion (IDK what else to call it honestly), because not only does it help with comprehending fighting scenes, it makes them more interesting and entertaining to watch/read too. I already liked the use of stop motion a lot in Juuza, so those scenes in particular were my moments of “ahhh….that’s what I expected/wanted!”. It’s because we get to see back views of all the characters! For some reason I really like back views. It’s always a plus in my book when a game includes back views LOL.
In the end I think that maybe I had too high expectations because of how much I love Juuza and how positive the opinions on Nightshade have been. Maybe I’m also getting too old for fancy ninja stories? I don’t think it’s a bad game at all, but to me it simply didn’t stand out as much. It was entertaining enough to play through without wanting to kill myself, but I was unable to build any kind of emotional connection to the characters, except for one or two at most. I can’t say it got me hooked.
Gekkamaru -> Hanzou -> Goemon -> Choujirou -> Kuroyuki
♡ = favorite character
- cute design, but otherwise boring (reminds me of what I felt for Kan’u lol ; ; )
- like she’s got the assets to be really cool (being a ninja and all that), but I just don’t feel it man
- I had a hard time experiencing the story through her pov, maybe it’s because she’s so young…?? /shrug
Kouga-nin group (Ennosuke, Kyara, Kasumi)
CV: Ooshima Ryou, Hayami Saori, Han Megumi
- cute designs but otherwise annoying
- they’re all good friends with Enju until they get the order to kill her, and they obey it without questioning anything, even though they notice that something’s wrong ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- I don’t get their shinobi pride at all
- I mean I guess I’d understand if Kouga clan was worth their loyalty, but…it isn’t?
- like why would you be loyal to the clan and care about it, if the clan sacrifices its members without second thought?
- and like they talk about doing it to “protect their loved ones”, but what makes them think their loved ones won’t be the next scapegoat(s)? ( ಠ ಠ )
- I mean they didn’t even TRY to look for another way to do things??
- like let’s say they succeed in killing Enju, they most likely wouldn’t be able to live with themselves afterwards (Kasumi says so herself) SO WHY KILL A FRIEND FOR NOTHING DUDES??
CV: Saitou Jirou
- worst dad and worst clan leader
- all he’s interested in is provoking conflicts to spark wars so he can make money by selling his shinobi to everyone
- in the past he supposedly married Enjus mom to unite Kouga and Iga but that was a lie too, he’s always been shit
- why is he leader in the first place? Who likes him? Why are they all loyal to him?
- I really don’t get Kouga clan logic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
CV: Yamaguchi Kappei
- okay this is just an ugly old geezer character, BUT
- YAMAGUCHI KAPPEI AAAAAHHH
- other than his seiyuu there is nothing to like about him, he’s disgusting
- he digs up graves to collect dead shinobi’s hair locks for his flower collection…I mean WTF man, he’s nuts
CV: Miyata Kouki
- he would’ve been the perfect choice for a playable main charcter who ISN’T A NINJA, an opportunity for a different approach…but he was just a supporting character until the very end ´_`
- I’m not sure if I like the character or not (he’s a sly fox so to say…)
- but I definitely like his design (˘⌣˘ ) ♡
(in play order)
Gekkamaru ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
CV: Hatano Wataru
- usually I’m all for bodyguards who fall for their master, but no sparks were flying here ;_; HE’S JUST TOO DILIGENT FROM BEGINNING TO END!!! WHAT ARE YOU, MY DAD!?
- romance was ‘meh’ too, because all I could see in him was an overprotective dad lol…I’m so sorry Gekkamaru, you tried so hard, I know you did. But I’m afraid you tried too hard in the wrong direction (￣ ￣|||)
- events in his route were supposed to be painful and dramatic, but the drama and everyone’s deaths seemed so forced… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- okay so the brainwashing plot was kinda….yeah, but anyway: Gekkamaru’s mom is a horrible person! Why are all parents in this game such horrible people??
- bad end > good end, giving his life for Enju is a fitting end for Gekkamaru IMHO, and for some reason a tragic end to his love resonates more with me
Hanzou ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
CV: Tsuda Kenjirou
- (used to be) friends (and fellow clan mates) with Choujirou and Goemon back in ‘good old Iga times’
- I had no expectations and ended up enjoying this route quite a lot…Hanzou is a cute tsundere ossan!!! Such a cute tsundere ossan!!! I live for blushing Hanzou!!!!
- eldest chara and a huge lolicon, he’s like twice Enju’s age!
- but I like how the relationship between them develops over time & the way he treats Enju as an equal and respects her as a shinobi
- most importantly he was protecting her all journey long by fighting without killing (if possible), because that’s Enju’s “way of the ninja”, even though it was more inconvenient and troublesome that way…..OOOOH HANZOOOOO you softie (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)
- (˵¯͒⌄¯͒˵) I can totally see why Enju falls in love with him
- IMHO bad end is more fitting for Hanzou, but I kinda want him to be happy so good end is fine too
Goemon ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
CV: Midorikawa Hikaru
- wasn’t sure if I’d like him, but his easygoing nature (for the most part at least) was a welcome change to all that forced drama in previous routes
- also Greenriver’s soothing voice….I love it. I love it! 90% of my enjoyment was due to voice acting honestly /melts away
- the subplot with that little kid was so annoying smh; I’m also not sure what to think about him secretly being Fuuma clan’s leader, but eh…whatever
- I have to think of poodles every time I see his hideous hair (he’s still cute though)
- Goemon expressing genuine compassion for Enju felt really good to see….it made me like him a lot
- I can see why Enju falls for him (///Σ///)
- this guy has way too many aliases…
- good end > bad end, pls don’t cry Goemon ;w ;
Choujirou ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
CV: Toriumi Kousuke
- this type of chara is right up my alley trope-wise, yet 80% of his route were boring. Is this a Tori-san curse!?
- I can see why Enju would fall for him ( „•ω•„ )♡ (even his terrible cooking was adorable…I will eat all your burnt fish, Chou-nii!!!♡♡♡)
- sadly the ラブラブ got overshadowed by the oh so dramatic ‘muh shinobi pride’ monologuing and fist clenching; also Kandou and Toyotomi were extra disgusting and annoying here
- everybody dies, but this time I was actually a little sad…it seems that Gekka-nii grew on me after all lol
- I live for Goemo’sn and Hanzou’s teasing of Choujirou :3c
- good end = bad end; I didn’t like the pacing of the last 2-3 chapters, both endings could’ve been a lot better
a lot of things could’ve been a lot better actually
Kuroyuki(♡) ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
CV: Shimono Hiro
- playing this route last kinda saved the game for me LOL
- a problematic yandere, but also the cutest cutie
- KUROYUKI IS ADORABLE AND I WANT TO HUG AND PET HIM
- the way he clings to Enju and cries for her to not leave him behind and always stay with him reminded me of Ray and I’M WEAK I CAN’T HANDLE THIS RIGHT NOW
- I mean okay he’s an assassin and he did some bad stuff and also lied to Enju about the state of things…but then again, did he really?
- because if you think about it, what he supposedly lied about actually happened exactly the way he said it would happen in every other route; and it would’ve happened in his route too if Kuroyuki hadn’t taken action beforehand
- seeing the Koga group trying to warn Enju from “dangerous Kuroyuki” when it was always them going after her life in other routes made me ROFL irl…ლ(╹◡╹ლ)
- I’m actually glad they weren’t ordered to go and kill Enju for once….and all of them survive in the end!!! (It’s all thanks to Kuroyuki!!!)
- the “losing memories” bit was overly dramatic, but I’m willing to overlook it cuz I really enjoyed this route despite everything
- good end > bad end, because Kuroyuki deserves happiness after everything he had to go through!!!! LET HIM BE HAPPY!!!