Beat Blades Haruka
First a word of warning before we get to the Beat Blades Haruka review. While it is a nukige visual novel with much more actual gameplay than other titles in the genre, its focus is still predominantly sex. So, if you are not interested in seeing an H-scene pretty much every few minutes, then Beat Blades Haruka won’t be for you. We’ll get to the specifics in the review, but suffice to say there are lots and lots of sex scenes. The game also contains a couple of rape scenes, which once again is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. These scenes can be skipped, so you are not forced to watch them if you don’t want to, but they are still worth mentioning. If you are still interested then read on to find out more about what awaits you in this title.
Nukige titles usually come up with some pretty convoluted reasons why all the women in the story are throwing themselves at the protagonist and BBH is no exception. In the case of Takamaru Ikusabe, the hero of this tale, it is the fact that he is actually the 23rd master of the Crescent Moons ninja clan. This is not just an impressive sounding title, but also bestows upon him the ability to provide his sexual partners with supernatural energy. This is done via the process of “Dragon Synergy,” which is basically sex in all its copious and kinky variations. Of course Takamaru is blissfully unaware of this at the start of the tale. In fact, all his attempts at a love life was actively being sabotaged by Narika, the daughter of his landlord and member of the Crescent Moons. It’s not until the main opposition in the game, the Noroi faction, shows up that Takamaru is informed of his fate. Now Takamaru must work with the rest of the Crescent Moons, including Haruka, one of their strongest kunoichis, to bring down the Noroi faction and prevent them from wreaking havoc. The story is actually a lot more complicated and even involves time travel, but we’ll leave the rest up to players to discover for themselves.
BBH gives you 99 “days” to vanquish the Noroi faction and save the world, with each day split up into a morning, afternoon and night phase. During these phases you can select from a variety of actions. Initially, only Haruka is available to have sex with, via the “Dragon Synergy” option, but during the course of the game she is joined by two other girls. Having sex with the girls not only replenishes their “Synergy Points” for battle, but also increases their stats, depending on the type of sex. A dice system is used to determine if you are “successful” with the Dragon Synergy and able to view the H-scene. The dice rolls happen automatically, but even if you fail the girl recovers some SP and a lower roll is required for your next attempt.
There are a ton of H-scenes tied to the Dragon Synergy option, all of them completely uncensored. A lot of the visuals are re-used with only minor tweaks for many of these scenes, but you’ll also unlock new options by making the right choices during the story segments. The sex scenes start out normal enough, but soon ventures into more kinky territory.
Apart from the Dragon Synergy you can instruct Takamaru to raise his libido, rest, train one of the girls, teach them new skills, or search for enemies. The evening phase is where things get really interesting as it is when you can choose to deploy one of the girls to fight the enemies you uncovered with the “Search for Enemies” option. Defeating enemies increases the peace and the battles are played out in a turn based fashion. Like a role playing game you get to choose your attacks and special abilities while trying to whittle down an enemy’s health before they do the same to your character. In addition to the typical henchmen you’ll also encounter “special” enemies who put up a bigger fight and losing to these guys (and girls) usually triggers a rape scene. These scenes can be quite dark, but can be skipped if desired.
As you progress through the story you’ll also get to perform castle raids during the evenings, which involves storming Noroi faction castles. Your interaction is limited to choosing which “routes” to take and then watching an adorable pixel art version of the character slashing down enemies on her way to the guardian of the castle.
In between all of these there are plenty of story scenes where you learn more about the girls and even your enemies. What is interesting about this game is the way in which all of your foes are fleshed out characters with their own personalities and motivations. Initially they all seem to be evil for the sake of being evil, but we were surprised to discover what motivated some of them to “join the dark side” so to speak. Obviously we don’t want to spoil any surprised, but the story definitely has a bit more depth than you might think, especially for a nukige title. Having said that, it is still a nukige title, so expect lots of dialogue consisting of words like “splish,” “splash,” “splooshing” and also “bloop.”
The artwork in BBH is very good, particularly the character designs. There isn’t a lot of animations or locations, but the artists definitely made sure that they made all of the enemies very unique. In addition to the Tetra Sealers, who are the four leaders of the Noroi faction, you’ll also meet plenty of underlings with really cool designs. Unlocked CGs can be viewed from the main menu and there are so many H-scenes in the game that these take up 9 pages! On the downside the resolution is limited to 800×600 and it has to be said the civilian characters are all drawn without eyes which looks mildly disturbing.
A lot of effort clearly went into the audio of the game as virtually all the main characters, except for Takamaru is voiced (in Japanese). The actresses voicing the girls also did a really good job and their performances are not as ridiculously over the top as in some other nukige titles. The soundtrack is decent enough as well and thankfully there are a lot of tunes as BBH is quite a lengthy game.
Beat Blades Haruka is definitely a game that offers value for money in terms of the sheer amount of content. It even features different endings and because you can use different approaches to how you train the girls there is also a lot of replay value. We have to admit that due to the sheer amount of sex scenes we did end up skipping through a few of them just to get back to the story, but overall this is a quality title. Anyone looking for a nukige title with more content and polish than what you normally find in the genre should not hesitate to pick up Beat Blades Haruka. It’s a little easy and some of the scenes are a little sketchy, but overall the good far outweighs the bad.