Honya-chan‘s already written a review, so I won’t bother going into plot summaries. Instead, what will follow is a rambling commentary about the game. Do be forewarned of spoilers. Oh, and for the record, I’ve never even touched Fate/stay night, so no comparisons here.
First, the plot itself. I thought it was pretty so-so. The whole playthrough lasted me about 2 and a half days, on and off. I ended up skipping most of the eroscenes though. The story was pretty good, Fate comparisons notwithstanding. Plot twists were rather surprising, to be honest, and it kept me entertained for the most part. At least, to the point where I’m not fast-forwarding through anything. Pacing, however, was a problem. The first half was pretty draggy; it had some unnecessarily long fight scenes. On the other hand, revelations come pretty hard and fast the second half. Practically every chapter had a twist or so. Basically, the first half was pretty drawn out, while in contrast, the second half felt rather rushed. Chapter 20, in particular. It was basically, go to the palace, beat some gardeners/guardeners, miraculously rescue Chris, defeat Shichiou (they should’ve spent more time building the backstory they hinted at too; he comes off as one-dimensional), and there. The end.
It felt like Liliana and Angela’s battle lasted longer. And heck, even the epilogue is pretty lacking. You’d think they would expound on what happened to the Princesses and Arata and Chris or something, but no. Basically, Arata becomes a co-ruler with Chris, who doesn’t even show up, Nodoka meets Arata, she goes to Eldhiland… And that’s it. In other words, the plot itself is on an acceptable level, but writing and execution feel rather draggy or rushed and leave you with a rather raw taste in the mouth.
Of course, one cannot have a “Princess Waltz” without the princesses. They are (technically) the heroines of the game and I’ll talk about each one briefly.
Suzushiro. To be honest, I really didn’t like her character when you’d gotten to know her better. When I first encountered her, I had this misconception of her being the shy, perfect, yamato nadeshiko-like character. Turns out, she was this obsessed girl who gets overprotective about someone – Chris, in the case. Her fight with Liesel did earn her some respect from me though. She was suffering from massive blood loss, an injured foot, and was fighting against a highly mobile enemy who could attack from all sides, yet she still managed to beat her even though her technique was incredibly physically draining. Despite that though, I still can’t bring myself to like her on the more personal level.
Next up is Shizuka. First of all – the whole “beast princess” thing being her was painfully obvious from the start, once you’d gotten a good look at her sprite – the long black hair is already a clear indicator. Her background, being the daughter of the king of Fangs, as well as her mom being the Queen of Wisley, was a bit of surprise however. And of course, the loving-yet-not-related-by-blood-older-sister archetype is generally neat in itself.
Ah, Liesel. Her progression in likeability is opposite of Suzushiro’s – I initially hated her, but I eventually grew to like her. When you first meet her, you are faced with this cold, calculating, heartless princess who’ll do anything to win. That she was actually shy, Riko! I hadn’t the slightest clue that she was, until that incident in the school. The way she behaved totally did not match her at all, which made the revelation more surprising. It felt to me as if when she isn’t Liesel, she lacks self confidence because she doesn’t have her dress with her, the same way that M.M. does when she isn’t in Kemeko.
Angela is the typical, really-hot-battle-crazy-woman. It was pretty incredible, the way she kept going and going in the fights, no matter what you threw at her, or how many times you took her down. Yet without her dress, she was easily taken down by a bunch of gardeners/guardeners. I found it weird how she only had a passing interest in Arata, yet that somehow turned to love for him in such a short span though.
Iris is, well, technically not fully present, so I’ll talk about Chris instead. I’ll say it now – I very much disliked her character. She was continuously insecure (in more ways than one) and relied on Arata a whole lot, and then she goes and gets herself killed. What. Plus, while traps are love, reverse-traps are… reverse-love. Plus a lot of the dialogue you and Chris have didn’t really pull me in, and made me dislike her more, at times.
And now, we move on to the last Princess – and most certainly my favorite – Lun Lun. I liked how she has this really cute, energetic side to her, as anyone can see in Arata’s initial encounter with her, yet, being the oldest of the princesses, possesses an air of reliability and firmness in the face of danger. In the many “romances” that the princesses have with Arata, hers was the most reasonable. It was developed the earliest, and certainly feels like it has the most depth to it. Her fight with Angela only served to strengthen my favoring her; she was able to fight with her all, because she was able to realize that her prince isn’t Chris at all, but Arata, because he is the one that gave her strength to fight. Kinda sucks that she lost though.
The game has its good points. First thing anyone would notice is the high quality of illustrations in the game. There aren’t a lot of paper dolls, which is a shame, but the ones present are very well done; they look very polished. Character designs are also pretty varied. Each character, even the minor ones, look significantly different from each other, lending everyone their own separate personality through the art. The paper dolls move around quite dynamically as well, and though it’s unlike ef or Chaos;Head where even blinking and mouth movements are present, the game makes good use of what it has on hand.
Princess Waltz thankfully isn’t loaded with eroscenes, though another one or two per character wouldn’t have hurt.
The voice acting is good; nothing too outstanding, but Lun Lun’s voice actor, Takatsuki Sakura* (aka Taguchi Hiroko), does an outstanding job of portraying her character. She definitely sounds the part of the cute, energetic girl, yet she also has an air of
dignity about her.
The card battle system isn’t the most complex; on the other hand, it’s incredibly simple. Distributing stats doesn’t really matter as all you have to do is to allocate all of your points to strengthening your cards, maybe the occasional agility point (because initiative is key), and that’s it. To me, the card battles aren’t really there for the challenge, but more of to help break up the game’s awfully long dialogue (in a visual novel? good lord!), and it does it sufficiently enough.
Of course, the game has its demerits too. First off, and this is a minor one, is a lack of exposition about Eldhiland. Not that it’s a necessity or anything, but I would want to know more about the countries from where the princesses hail from. For starters, having more than just one background CG would have been good.
As I mentioned earlier, the epilogue is very lacking. Because there was barely any resolution about the whole thing, like what Arata and Chris are doing now, or what’s happened to the princesses, or with the school and Arata’s friends. It feels like the scenario writer(s) ended up running out of ideas and just truncated it right then and there, which adds to the overall feeling of rushedness in the latter half of the game.
Another thing that bothers me – and this is my biggest issue – is that whichever princess you pick gets shafted in favor of Chris. In other words, there is a lack of a non-Chris end. I mean, what the hell. Not only does the game not have any real plot-branching choices, save for the last part where the only differences are which girl you have sex with and whether or not you find out the truth behind Arata’s mom and Shizuka, leaving little replay value. Some people might not have a problem with this, but I do. Particularly because Lun Lun >>>> Chris. Quoting Honya-chan:
Honestly Lun Lun end should be true end.
Of course, don’t let these things hold you back from playing it. The game itself is enjoyable enough and though it’s not the greatest epic Visual Novel ever, it’s interesting enough to hold its own.