Onigokko Review – Ninja Romance of the Week

    Title: Onigokko
    Developer: ALcot
    Release Date: June 29, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: JAST USA
    Genre: Visual Novel

In recent years, eroge titles have become shorter to keep up with the demand of fans while also being easier to localize in the west. This way, developers can release multiple short chapters, reuse assets, and hopefully see a slight return on their work. It’s not a bad thing, but I do miss the long-form narratives that are now few and far between. While many have yet to be released in the west, leave it to JAST USA to publish the 40-hour long  Onigokko! By ALcot from 2011.

Onigokko! stars Keisuke Urabe, our faceless voiceless protagonist who is transferring to Miyajima Academy. He and his sister Aoi are part of the Urabe family, born with some superhuman physical capabilities. They have been hunting down their family’s “mystic treasures” over their high school life. Their mission has led them to have been transferred to Miyajima Academy because someone left a calling card as “Phantom Thief Ura,” who happens to be someone posing as a family member. They’ll need to hunt down this imposter and see if he can recover some mystic treasures while they are at it.

However, he’s going to have some opposition. In the form of cute girls. Who he will also be able to romance. This is an eroge, after all.

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Onigokko! Is a decently designed visual novel for 2011, having a basic array of options and a distinct visual style. For example, you can mute any of the lead girls or the “other guys and girls” with their respective buttons, which is a helpful interface spoiler because the main character’s sister is not a romance option (thank god). There are a few font options too, but there isn’t a solid range of readable fonts, and unfortunately, comic sans is not among them.

I really like how Onigokko! plays with the classic UI setting. Instead of confining the text box to the bottom of the screen, this title has it jump around from character to character, with their text written in a different colored font. It adds some movement to the screen and makes for a unique method of presentation. Your standard “skip, auto, save, load, options, etc.” buttons are then displayed in the bottom right-hand corner once you move your mouse over the area.

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There are a total of four routes contained within Onigokko!, One for each girl, and once you’ve completed a route, you can re-access it from where it splits off from the main route when starting a “new game.” If you do this, you’ll notice the route split is quite bizarre.

This is essentially a kinetic visual novel, with only three questions that will influence your route. These questions are absolutely not at all straightforward on who’s route you’re setting your sights on, and the title’s route split is masked far more effectively than you’d expect. So it’s probably a good idea to just make some save files when you see questions pop up and then just take a wild guess.

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The quality of the common route is a mixed bag filled with all the standard comedic tropes you’re used to. Still, there are a few surprises, such as the standard male friend wearing a Bear helmet like Yoko Taro wears an Emil helmet or the sister having no romantic interest in the player character and vice versa.

The obligatory male friend’s perviness is actually being more subdued than you’re led to believe with his establishing character moments, but that doesn’t change how played for laughs he is. It’s a goofy story through and through, and you’ll have many moments punctuated with some fun chibi sprites that sell the lightheartedness.

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I actually enjoyed two of the heroine routes, Kana’s especially, with Suzuka being an absolute standout for those more interested in the heroines. The writing isn’t all there, and it’s a bit messy at several points, but it knows how to alternate between the more serious or comedic tones, so it never clashes.

This also means the routes don’t really feel like they overstay their welcome for the roughly 9 or so hours they’ll take a moderate reader. The character routes have some really cute CGs, and the rest of the CG art is of consistently good quality. This, of course, includes the H-content, and as this is a JAST USA release, you won’t need to download an external patch to access it.

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Onigokko! might not wow you with a shocking never-before-told story or plot twists, but it’s a comfortable visual novel with a fun cast and decent character writing to give you some good homey vibes. It’s far less action-packed than it would let you believe and is excellent for any reader that just wants to kick back and relax. With ninja girls, of course.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter