Tag Archives: Frontwing

Puzzler Essentials: Purino Party

With the rise in free-to-play mobile games, the humble standalone puzzle game has become something of a rarity.

That’s not to say that they don’t exist at all any more, however, and, more to the point, puzzle games as a genre generally age a whole lot better than other types of game due to their abstract mechanics and non-reliance on realistic graphics.

With that in mind, then, let’s kick off a regular look at puzzle games from both yesterday and today to run alongside the other Essentials columns for Wii U games and shoot ’em ups.

First up for examination is a modern title from Grisaia developer Frontwing, loosely based on their unlocalised Pure Girl and Innocent Girl visual novels: Purino Party.

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Grisaia: Yuuji – The Boy Who Was Broken

The Grisaia series may explore its five main heroines in considerable depth over its duration and various routes, but ultimately, the central character to the overall narrative is protagonist Kazami Yuuji.

Yuuji is one of the most distinctive, memorable and unusual visual novel protagonists in the entire medium. Through The Fruit of Grisaia’s exploration of him over the course of the five heroines’ routes, we learn a few details about him and his mysterious past. If you had come to the series completely blind, this would have the effect of gradually shifting your expectations: what might initially appear to be a relatively conventional high school-themed ren’ai (romance) visual novel slowly reveals itself to be much, much more complicated than you might expect.

And then you come to The Labyrinth of Grisaia, whose “Grand Route”, also known as The Cocoon of Caprice, finally gives us some concrete answers about who Yuuji is, why he is the way he is and the circumstances that brought him to Mihama Academy in the first place.

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Grisaia: Amane – The Girl Who Learned to Say Thank You

The Fruit of Grisaia doesn’t really have a “true” route or “true” ending as such, since the important plot threads are scattered across all the different girls’ stories.

But if there’s one path that stands out as being of particular importance to the overall backstory of the series, it’s that of Suou Amane. Not only does her route give us some insight into protagonist Yuuji’s mysterious past, which doesn’t get explored in detail until The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s Grand Route, it also introduces us to an important secondary character that, throughout all the other stories, is only hinted at.

Consequently, Amane’s route in The Fruit of Grisaia is a good one to save until last, since it provides a good means of wrapping up that game’s story and a pleasing sense of “closure” to the experience. It also provides some important context for The Labyrinth of Grisaia’s main plotline and an exploration of, for my money, one of the series’ most interesting characters.

Oh, and it’s also worth noting, perhaps more than any of the other characters, exploring Amane’s character particularly benefits from playing the 18+ version of the series, for reasons that will become apparent.

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Grisaia: Sachi and the Maid’s Burden

When we first meet Komine Sachi in The Fruit of Grisaia, she’s introduced almost as a caricature: she plays the role of “the perfect maid” to everyone else at Mihama Academy, right down to wearing a maid outfit when she’s not in school uniform.

But it doesn’t take a great deal of perceptiveness to notice her behaviour isn’t what you’d particularly call “normal”.

Specifically, it’s apparent pretty much from the outset that Sachi’s unusually compliant nature and tendency to take things literally is something out of the ordinary. Protagonist Yuuji isn’t quite sure what the exact problem is to begin with, but it gradually becomes clear to him as he starts to spend more time with her.

“She resembles me,” he says at one point. “Organising her life around diligently following orders, she never allows herself to doubt them, let alone defy those who make use of her. And almost as an extension of that, her ‘private’ activities are little more than the bare minimum routines of daily existence. Looking at Sachi, I’ve been seeing myself… and the discomfort I felt was a reflection of my uncertainty about my own way of life.”

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Grisaia: Yumiko – The Girl Who Learned to Be Loved

When we’re first introduced to Sakaki Yumiko in the common route of The Fruit of Grisaia, it’s clear that she is both troubled and likely to be trouble for protagonist Yuuji.

When Yuuji first attempts to introduce himself to her, she initially tries her best to ignore him, and subsequently goes to slap him when he persists. This eventually escalates into her lashing out at him with a box cutter whenever she sees him, a fact which Yuuji’s fellow students just shrug off as being “something she does”, because they’ve all been through it too.

Yuuji, being a certified badass, shrugs off Yumiko’s attacks without injury easily, and eventually they stop altogether, though she still proves herself to be a prickly individual who is generally unwilling to interact with others.

Except, of course, it’s not that simple.

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Grisaia: Makina – The Girl in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

We see a lot of different aspects to heroine Irisu Makina over the course of Grisaia’s complete story to date.

Initially, she’s presented as a shy, young-looking girl — a self-professed “loli” — who has difficulty trusting new people, so she finds it difficult to interact with protagonist Yuuji, who is himself not the easiest person to get along with at times.

It doesn’t take long for Yuuji to convince her out of her shell, though, and our hero subsequently finds himself an important part of the complete group of friends attending Mihama Academy — and an important part of Makina’s life.

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Grisaia: Introduction

Frontwing’s Grisaia series, which kicked off in 2011 with the Japanese release of first installment The Fruit of Grisaia, has come to be regarded as a particular high point for the visual novel medium.

Indeed, back in 2015, the /r/visualnovels subreddit voted The Fruit of Grisaia as number one on its list of top 10 visual novels (later republished on GameFAQs), and the community still holds the game in high regard today, as evidenced by its prominent position on the subreddit’s comprehensive diagram of recommendations.

Grisaia’s high ranking on /r/visualnovels’ list was particularly exciting to enthusiasts of the medium, as growing localisation company Sekai Project had already run a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the whole series West in the twilight hours of 2014 and the start of 2015, potentially opening it up to a whole new audience that was perhaps less familiar with acquiring Japanese visual novels and patching them with fan translations.

But what makes this series so remarkable? Let’s take a high-level look at it.

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