by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Okay, this one was a pretty difficult review to write. Not because the game is bad, or that it’s too difficult. I was not however, prepared for this level of fanservice. I did not play the first Nights of Azure, but I do love a good beat ’em up, and that it has in abundance. The stages aren’t terribly long, the action is fast and furious, but there are some qualms I have with the game. But let’s start at the top. Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon places you as Aluche, a girl with long red hair, very little in the way of clothes/body armor, and who is, because of reasons, now half-demon. With a cast of Servans (monsters/demons) to summon for attacks and a cast of up to seven other girls to choose from, you will run through areas, completing main quests/side quests, and race against the New Moon. Yes, it’s not just a title! Each chapter has a manner of time limit imposed upon it. As you complete objectives, time ticks on, and if you do not beat a Chapter by the time the New Moon comes, darkness falls upon the land and you lose.
However, I did not really have a problem with this. The timer for stages is not all that unforgiving (eventually), and from your HQ (Hotel Eterna) you can start a chapter over if you want to go do side quests, think you missed something, or simply think you can do it better. The timer starts off at 10 minutes, but you can increase it by leveling Aluche/spending skill points, and I do highly recommend doing so. I worry about the first timer (Moon Phases) though, because it’s like I said, instant game over if you reach that point. It uses a pretty standard combo system, mashing Square/Triangle, like you would in a dynasty warriors game. But there is a whole host of support/extra actions. From hitting Triangle+Circle to use your support action from your partner, L1+Circle to use your Double Chase (think a team Musou), using L1+D-Pad to boost stats temporarily and more for your Servans. So you wander pretty linear stages and can come back with Servans and unlock other paths/items, once you have them, beat up all the enemies, and move on to the next stage/chapter. It’s very straightforward, but the action is very fun. Most of the boss fights are more than just hack ‘n’ slash, but the regular bad guys tend to be dealt with in a pretty simple manner. Your HQ as I said, is Hotel Eterna, a very fancy hotel that the cast of characters stays at. It’s where you rest, save, buy/sell items, acquire weapons, drink fancy chocolates and strip down.
Yeah … there’s that fanservice part. Within the first chapter, I had a skimpy bikini for Aluche, and you can wear it around the pool and beyond. This game does not skimp on the fanservice, not even a little. Virtually every character has gigantic breasts, very little holds them down/covers them. They also jiggle a lot. Sure, you might think “Of course they jiggle a little. It’s an action JRPG”. But simply turning to the side causes a very visible wobble, and lord help you if you put on another outfit. The bikini hides very little, as a prime example. While I’m no stranger to fanservice or skimpy outfits, I have to say, this made me feel pretty uncomfortable. Like, I didn’t want to stream this game as I do most things I work on because it’s very forward with how much is showing. I mean, if that’s your kind of thing, no judgments, but it was definitely a lot to take in if you’ll pardon the expression. But that leads me to another minor complaint about the game. I don’t know if it was the translation or what, but there’s a “romance” between Aluche and Ruenheid. Or at least, that’s what you’re made to think. It’s very ham-fisted and pretty awkward. One moment there is flirtation and the next, blushing stomping and leaving in a huff. It’s weird, and it’s not terribly well-written, if you ask me.
Nights of Azure: Jiggle Fest 2: Bride of the Bounce House: 3/5
There’s a fair amount to do, like learning new abilities, increasing your reputation/friendliness with other Lily Partners (the other girls), but from what I’m aware of, you can’t take care of them all in one playthrough. That’s what New Game+ is for though, yeah? It’s not a long game, so I advise find a few that you really enjoy working with/looking at, and work with them, and then on subsequent playthroughs (if you’re the completionist type) work on the others. I mean, the game is fun. The combat’s terrific, there are so many different moves to use, some of the Servans become new weapons, the team-up moves are great. There seldom seem to be “big fights”, where you’re overwhelmed. The stages are reasonable in their challenge, and there’s certainly replayability. Which is good, because the game’s not really that long (20~ hours). Despite the heavy-handed romance (with no actual payoff), uncomfortable levels of fanservice, I still very much enjoy the action scenes. the combat is what really kept me playing the game. Fans of anime beat ’em ups will no doubt enjoy it, and all of the characters were useful in a party. The story/look of the game’s a bit much, but the actual gameplay is incredibly fun if you like beat ’em ups/action RPGs. The combo system is a lot of fun and I found crazy ways to pummel demons into submission.