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“Shall We Date” is a very popular series of free mobile and browser based Otome Games (Games for Girls) by NTT Solmare. Wizardess Heart is one such game in this series. I recommend this game for anyone who loves Harry Potter (or cute anime games in general). Check out my review of “Shall We Date: Wizardess Heart +” below!
Title: Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart+
Developer: NtT Solmare
Genre: Otome Visual Novel with Dressup Game elements
Price: FREE with optional in-game purchases
Where to Play:
Geeky: 3/5 There are numerous limited time events and the graphics are quite pretty – however, as is the case with visual novel games, there is not much meat to the gameplay and overall challenge or difficulty levels are low. However, it does earn some “geek” cred for the fact that it is sure to appeal to all Harry Potter fans.
Sweetie: 5/5 This game has everything a girl could ask for, beautiful graphics, tons of romanceable (cute) guys, dressup elements, a great love story, interesting characters, high replay value, freedom of choice, multiple endings, and lots of events
Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game For Girls”
Concept: 9/10 Wizardess Heart is a visual novel. A visual novel is a type of game, often without any combat or action, which allows you to see different parts of an overarching story by making different decisions at certain points which leads you to various different endings. As is common in many free or low budget visual novels, you begin this adventure by choosing which route you want to be on by selecting one from more than a dozen different men. I dislike this approach to visual novel telling. I prefer to not know which route I’m on and let my choices determine that, such as in more high budget premium visual novels such as Clannad or Stein’s Gate for example. I did deduct 1 point from concept for that, but that’s just my personal taste. Getting the route and ending that you want is really the only challenge in playing a visual novel, so removing that, by forcing you to select the route before you even play the game, significantly lowers the “gameplay” value by eliminating any sense of challenge from the game. It’s not just low budget games taking this approach lately either, many Idea Factory titles such as Norn9 Var Commons and Amnesia also take this approach.
Wizardess Heart does spice up the gameplay a bit by having 2 endings per each route, a “normal ending” and a “good ending”, and you must make correct choices to max your love score while playing to reach the good ending.
The game also offers dressup features letting you dress yourself, your guy, and decorate your room. The items in dressup also grant you stat bonuses such as your charm or magic score which will help you progress through the game. Many of the items are limited edition, making you want to login to play to collect the items before they expire. This gives you bragging rights and lets you show off your awesome items to everyone. The dressup features definitely keep you more engaged in the game than if they just had a straight up visual novel without these event items.
Sometimes there are also limited time stories that you can read, and they sometimes even let you vote for who should be the main characters in these stories. Once again, this encourages players to login and continue playing the game.
The sheer number of datable characters, charming cute graphics, and unique “Harry Potter-esque” story all make this mobile game stand-out in a sea of “sameness”.
Story: 9/10 Shall We Date? Wizardess Heart is an Otome Game that puts you in the role of a young female magician. Your magic gives you the ability to speak to animals; however, when it comes to controlling magic for use on non-living objects, you are significantly less skilled. It’s every magician’s dream to get an invite to study magic at the prestigious Gedonelune Royal Magic Academy; but, you never thought you were good enough to get accepted there. One day though your letter of acceptance arrives and you are transported to a strange magical world with talking stuffed animals, unicorns, magic classes, and most of all, really cute guys lol.
Each guy’s route has a different story, and each story has 2 endings. This makes nearly 30 endings just from the main routes. As mentioned under concept, occasionally, special event stories will be added, which if you complete before the end of the event let you see completely new mini-stories about each of the characters.
The average story length is long too, which is both a blessing, and a curse. Long enough that you will either need to spend several days/weeks playing each route, or break down and buy “story tickets” that let you advance the story. It adds to replay and keeps the game more interesting, but does interrupt the “flow” of the story when you want to play for long periods of time.
The translation and editing seem very high quality (I’ve only been playing for about a week so I have only seen one route admittedly). But compared to “Shall We Date? Guard Me Sherlock” which I also began playing recently, I see far fewer typos or “awkward” sounding translation phrases in Wizardess Heart+. I saw quite a few instances of these typos or translation “errors” in Guard Me Sherlock, enough to be jarring and take away from the actual story — However, I have not seen any, to my recollection, while playing Wizardess Heart+.
Characters 10/10: The Characters are all highly likeable and diverse. New Characters get added all the time. There’re tsundere types who rarely show their emotions, “Shota” style boys who act like little kids, Romantic “prince” like types, Aggressive/reckless types, secretive/mysterious types, “bestfriend” types, and anywhere in between.
Not only are there a wide variety of characters, but they do experience significant character growth and development throughout the game. The characters all have weaknesses, secrets, flaws, etc. Not just mary janes. This endears them to the audience, and makes them seem more real. It also adds some mystery and depth to an otherwise fluffy sweet story. Some of these guys have a few skeletons in their closet. Is your love for them strong enough to accept their flaws or will it tear you apart? In this way, it tells a more mature and deeper love story, one that may be closer to Josei as opposed to Shoujo, even despite the “Magic Girl” premise.
Gameplay: 7/10 Gameplay is pretty straight forward, you begin with a short prologue about your character and her magic. Once you are accepted to the academy you will be asked to select a buddy. This determines which route you will be on for this playthrough. You are allowed to view a preview of each character and read some basic information about them to help you decide.
Once you’ve chosen your buddy, you can begin reading his story. You will be awarded several story tickets in the beginning. Every few minutes you’ll end up coming to either a break in the story, or a decision you must make, both of which will consume a story ticket. When you run out of story tickets you can either purchase more for real money, or wait until they refill. I think they refill at a rate of 1 ticket every 2 hours – and you can hold a max of 5 tickets, so ideally, if possible, you want to be logging in and playing at least once every 10 hours so you don’t miss a story ticket from your inventory being full.
As with most mobile games, you can get login bonuses for playing consecutive days. After you login you can go on a “free date” once per day. Dates let you get special items such as dressup items, story tickets, in-game currency, and more. You can also challenge other players to see who has a higher charm score, winning here will not only grant items but also raise your charm, magic, and other in-game stats. Also winning 5 times in a row grants a special bonus.
Don’t forget to check the announcements for special events also! These events are the best way to get nice items without spending real money, such as new limited edition dressup items, or more story tickets to keep playing longer, or in-game currency.
You can also send free gifts to your friends who play, or invite friends who don’t play to come check out the game.
Dressup and decorating plays a huge role in gameplay. Not only is it cute and adds customization to your character, it also grants stat boosts and as mentioned above these stats let you challenge other people playing the game, affect your dates, and even affect the story. You do not have to be wearing an item to get the stat boost, it works just by collecting them and having them in your inventory. This allows you to dress freely as you would like without worrying about the stats.
While gameplay in visual novels is never a strong point, this game loses points in my opinion for the “choose your route at the beginning” format that it takes. However, it makes up and earns points when it comes to special events, dressup, replay value, number of endings, number of choices, and number of characters/routes within the game. It loses a significant amount of points for the “story ticket” system which forces you to wait before seeing more of the game.
It’s also a nice touch that the game will sync and allow you to continue playing on mobile, pc, facebook, facebook gameroom, etc.
Artwork: 9/10: The artwork is very cute and high quality, like that from a real anime. The user interface is simple, but it gets the job done, is user friendly enough, and is not distracting from the game. I deducted 1 point because I would have liked to have seen character portraits to indicate who’s speaking as it can be confusing when multiple sprites are on the screen. Otherwise, both the backgrounds and characters are detailed and beautiful. In the dressup game section the graphics change to chibi super-deformed sprites which are less detailed but instead give off a charming and cute expression which fits the overall cute theme of the game.
Music: 6/10: The music is good and fits well with the theme, this game does lack vocal tracks such as voice acting or theme song though. There also doesn’t appear to be much variety in music or sound effects.
Replay Value: 10/10 The sheer number of characters, each having 2 endings, as well as special events, etc make this game one that is fun to replay.
Overall: 68/80 85% B “Very Good Game For Girls”