BRAVE SOUL / Peach Princess / PC
 
 
At first blush Brave Soul looks like one of the many hentai games ported off of the PC-98 or some older Japanese computer system, with very basic VGA graphics and interface and those bouncy MIDI tunes that take a second to start up when you move into a new area. But it was actually released in the early 2000s specifically for Windows, and I've heard (can't confirm) that it was actually made with RPGMaker 2000. By a professional "visual novel" company (Crowd) with presumably at least a decent budget, including voice acting for the major characters, and also with an action-oriented battle engine that's atypical of RPGMaker games, however.
 


You play as some slacker kid who gets tossed out of his house by his dad for just laying around eating all the food. Fortunately, even though you're a slacker, you're also somehow a bodybuilder and great with a sword, so you decide to become a Hunter -- guys that accept monster-slaying and treasure-retrieving missions from a local guild. You're also having these dreams about a silver-haired goddess bathing naked in a pool, and your most recent dream leaves you with a strand of her hair, so you're also keeping an eye out for that action as well.

Gameplay is actually action-oriented, and resembles controlling a small unit in an old-school RTS (like the first three Warcraft games) more than a typical turn-based JRPG. The mouse is your only control option, and you'll simply left-click to move about and attack enemies, and right-click to use the special ability you currently have equipped (a sword beam for starters). You only have direct control over your main character; your omnipresent mini-dragon companion and any gals you have in your party hang out behind you and either cast spells or use missile weapons on the enemies on their own schedule. They tend to be fragile, so your two main strategies are to either hurl magic/special abilities from a distance at a foe, or have the main tank and hack away while the girls pile on the fireballs and ice crystals and etc. from a safe distance.
 


Though it's definitely an H-game, hentai is really not the main focus here. At the outset of each new game you get one shot of bare butt and side-boob of the Moon Goddess, then that will have to sustain you for maybe 15-20 hours or so as you play through an almost totally non-sexual RPG with mild dating sim elements. The game opens with four training missions, which gradually introduce you to all the girls you can partner up with on your quests. Making time with the ladies means having them in your party when you complete each mission, at which point you usually get some moral choice that can win you unseen "love points" with that girl if she approves of it. You have to build up the "love points" gradually over the course of the game while also unlocking a series of date events by staying in the right towns or visiting the right areas in the right order. Go through all that nonsense and you're rewarded with a few of the usual static hentai sex pictures with your girl of choice towards the end of the game.
 


The writing of the girls and their individual personalities/abilities is actually the strong point of the whole thing. As they hang about with you you'll gradually get an idea of what kind of choices they'll approve of. For example, one of the first girls you meet is a mercenary money-hungry sorceress. Mission conclusions will often present you with a choice that most other girls will disapprove of, but she'll like because she's all about that $$$. Each girl also has some inherent abilities that can help you in dungeons. The priestess you start out with can read runes that give you puzzle clues (there's some basic switch-based and inventory puzzles here and there), and the thief girl can disable traps automatically if you walk into one, for example. Some will refuse to go on certain types of missions and bail from your party temporarily if you accept them; for example, the aforementioned mercenary sorceress is scared of ghosts and won't go near them.
 


Sadly, their individuality disappears once you get their clothes off. I couldn't be stuffed to actually grind my way to any scenes, but I GIS'sd them and the art department got real lazy here when it came to the nudie pics. They seem to have just used the exact same unrealistic-breasted body for every single girl in the game. On the positive side, that means there's no lolicon to worry about here. There's one catgirl, but that only extends to having ears, a tail and saying "Meow" at the end of every sentence. The game is also remarkably non-rapey for one of these affairs.

I actually kinda like the core concept of Brave Soul, and there's some stuff to like here, but the execution is off. Movement is sluggish even when locked at 60 FPS, fighting is way too repetitive and boring for a game that expects you to complete it multiple times to see everything, and the empty mazelike dungeon design is really irritating when paired with the slow movement speed. And if you're here just to perv out, expect to put in even more work than usual with these types of games for it.
 
 
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