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Lost Games: Blue Breaker


Foreword: 'Lost Games is a series of articles where I research and explore the games that we may never get a chance to play due to them never being released in English-speaking countries and having no available English translation, whether it be fan or official.'

With only my trusty brain as evidence (pick it if you please) I will say that dating simulation games are very much a niche outside of Japan. To companies releasing games in the west, releasing a date sim is like drawing blood from a stone, at least financially. These games are incredibly popular in Japan but never see an official release in the West. I do enjoy these games quite a bit. Not because I am trying to satisfy some kind of loneliness (I have a girlfriend who I love very much) or have a choice over which 'waifu' I get to claim but because: 1. I like romance stories and 2. I like the idea that I get a choice over how the romance between the protagonist and the chosen love interest of a story pans out. This is also why I enjoyed Persona 3 and Persona 4, because of their combination of RPG elements and the feature that allows the player to make different choices to change the flow of the protagonist's relationships (romantic and non-romantic). For a lot of gamers, this might have even been their first exposure to this kind of mechanic in video games. They came for the RPG gameplay and stayed for the dating/social simulation mechanics, and rightly so. But there was a game that achieved this blend of gameplay mechanics a decade before the fantastic Persona 3's 2006 release. This game was Blue Breaker and it was first released on this thing:



Remember how I'm drawn to obscure games? Well it probably doesn't get obscurer than this. This is the PC-FX, the failed sequel console to the very popular PC Engine (which was released in the West as the TurboGrafx-16 and didn't really catch on). It was only ever released in Japan and wasn't exactly a hit, so it is understandable why the game I'm talking about today never caught on either, and in turn never got released to English speaking audiences.


Anyhow, enough natter. I'll get onto the game. You play as a bloke called Kain who has to stop an evil Dark Lord who is threatening peace across the land. Oh and you have to find yourself a bride at the same time (presumably to protect his legacy... the legacy of Kain! Okay, I'll stop). The storyline of Blue Breaker is somewhat thin, but isn't the battle between good and evil (with romance thrown in) what we've come to expect from most works of fiction anyway? Also worth a mention is that a lot of the game focuses on cut-scenes and dialogue between the characters.
The gameplay of Blue Breaker works like a traditional RPG, except battles are automated. You explore areas in a side scrolling fashion until an enemy appears and they begin to fight automatically. There isn't a complete lack of control as you can bring up a menu that gives orders to your party members but it's not as controlled as some more contemporary RPGs. When you win battles you gain experience and nab gold and prizes, as expected.


When checking out gameplay videos of Blue Breaker, the menu and sprite graphics do come across as a tad bland, with the exception of some really cool anime cut-scenes and visuals. This is because the PC-FX was very good with full motion video but, compared to its competitor consoles, was vastly inferior in every other way. The scenes where the characters talk to you look fantastic! Games like Persona feature static images of the characters that simply swap with another static image of a different expression when relevant. Blue Breaker features moving animations of each character and this isn't just limited to the mouth movements. Oh no. The character's bodies animate when moving into different expressions and emotions, which adds real charm and attention to detail to the conversations. The gameplay video below contains many examples of this.


The relationship aspect of Blue Breaker is an interesting one. When I heard about this game being an RPG crossed with a dating sim, I imagined the date sim element would function in a similar way to a traditional visual novel, with choices you make in certain scripted situations affecting which relationship would prosper over the others (this relationship being the girl who becomes Kain's ultimate lady). But Blue Breaker goes deeper than just a few simple choice selections here and there. You woo your lady by giving her a good old bit of TLC (tender loving care).
Each girl in the game is someone who can become a member of your party. Aside from your childhood friend Asha (insert joke about anime tropes here), you find all of the other girls in different places within the game. The feelings of the ladies change when certain conditions come into play. When in battle if you order them around too much, let them die, or Kain dies in front of them, this affects their feelings towards him negatively. You must also talk to them a lot at the guilds in order to make them like you more (well, obviously) and finally encounter three FMV sequences for the woman you want Kain to fall in love with.


From reviews of the game, it is quite clear that Blue Breaker wasn't perfect. It is quite convoluted when it comes to navigating through the story, and although my explanation of the dating system may make it sound simple, figuring this out without a walkthrough is quite a chore. Despite this though, I really have to take my non-existent hat off (I don't suit hats) and tip it to the developers HuneX for what they set out to achieve, and did achieve, albeit in a slightly cryptic and not-translated-into-English manner. Blue Breaker was released on the Sony PlayStation and the Sega Saturn but never did it get translated. Which is a shame as, despite its flaws, it really was quite innovative and a very deeply diverse game for its time.

 
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