Game spotlight: Kichikuou Rance

The Rance series of RPGs is one of the longest running, rivalling that of Ultima and Final Fantasy. The series started off as a Visual Novel with very light RPG elements and started coming into its own at around Rance III where it added some tactical battles. However, after Rance IV, Alicesoft decided to experiment by going into a full blown Grand Scale Strategy RPG game.

If you’ve played any of the early KOEI Grand Scale Strategy games (such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms), the gameplay should be quite easy to pick up. It’s not that deep (though it does have the “one more turn” syndrome of Civilization), but that’s not where its strength lies…

Kichikou Rance’s World Map

In Japan, this game has the reputation amongst eroge players around the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7. It’s the sort of ambitious game that comes around once in a blue moon by a sort of fevered desperation and diligence and breaks new ground in the genre.

What stands out about the game is the amount of freedom and flexibility it gives you. Unlike the usual linearity of most JRPGs, you can conquer areas at your own pace to build up your powerbase, though there are certain plot-based time limits. It’s not an instant game over if you fail them, but the game will certainly make you wish you hadn’t!


The game is known for being very dark for its time, and combined with its huge amount of choice and consequences, combine for several gut-wrenching moments. Do you take the easy way out, killing an innocent girl who was soul-bound to a demon to end its existence? Or would you rather try to take it down through the battlefield, throwing away a huge portion of your army and sacrificing a noble hero to take him out? Do you give up a magician girl and instead take in her jealous sister, allowing the former to set off on a journey of self-fulfillment but losing her combat potential, or do you selfishly keep her, letting her sister enter a self-destructive lifestyle?

Compared to this game, Dragon Age seems more like a Carebear special, rather than the “dark, mature, gritty” game that it proclaims to be. This game is not for anyone expecting popcorn fluff.

In the end, life goes on

Yet in the end, the game does have an optimistic tint to it. Even with a protagonist who’s sort of an asshole and generally does things out of his own self-interest, it’s possible to end up making the world a better place to live in. The true ending to the game is probably one of my favourites in videogames.

The music in this game is surprisingly varied. Everything from the slow, dread-building “Ontlogy” of the Demon Army, the Arabic-influenced “Magical City” of Zeth, and the overly macho “Force” of Leazas Kingdom makes the game a joy to listen to. The breakout song from this game is probably its opening, “Rough Edge”, which has had several remixes and covers done for it.

The Rance series has gained a small amount of popularity in the English-speaking region due to the fantranslation of Sengoku Rance, another fantastic game and interest has been raised on the other parts of the series. Perhaps one day, we might be able to see this classic too in English, available to be enjoyed by all who would spend the time to check it out.

Alicesoft has released this game as freeware, which is actually a really generous move, sort of like if Blizzard decided to release Starcraft for free. If you are able to read Japanese, I highly recommend checking this game out.

Related Links:

Kichikuou Rance on Alicesoft Wiki

Freeware download

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10 Responses to Game spotlight: Kichikuou Rance

  1. Ash_of_Dinosaur says:

    It *might* be worth mentioning before you recommend downloading this game that the main VNDB tags are “Unavoidable Rape” “High Sexual Content” “Rapist Protagonist” “High Amounts of Rape” “Tentacle Rape”

    Not to pass judgment either way, just because you don’t mention it in the main text.

    • Davzz says:

      I dunno, I thought I covered that with “game was very dark/grim for its time”, “not popcorn fluff” and other such disclaimers but hey, valid point if you need more specifics I guess.

      Though it’s funny that people will not bat an eye on say, genocide but be pissed off by other stuff.

  2. GreatGodGanesha says:

    If I could speak Japanese… I loved Sengoku Rance and played Rance 1 thanks to the fanmade translations, but there are for the other Rance’s Games <.<

  3. Anon says:
    English Translation very close to release at the time of this posting.

  4. J says:

    English translation is 100% now

  5. otoko says:

    This along with Sengoku Rance are the best H games ever.

  6. Ta says:

    Playing this after Sengoku Rance and Rance VI.

    The juxtaposition between heartwarming love and the terror of war really draws you in. The scope of the game drowns out contemporary works. It has:
    1. 40+ employable characters with story arcs, 40+ love interests, and many more developed characters
    2. Real consequences, intrigue, murder, love, and romance
    3. Strategic gameplay

    There is a lot of rape and also a lot of sex. Although some people criticize it because of all of the rape I don’t see the issue. Most of it is completely believable, for example the pillaging and raping of a city that falls to conquerors. In fact the question I ask myself is why do other games pretend that doesn’t happen. There are some fantasy elements such as when Rance turns the tide of a war by seducing the enemy leader, but that is the sort of epic thing an epic hero does: sex is his greatest weapon. In general I find the references to rape more balanced than not, in no small part because it is refreshing to see a part of the real world addressed.

    Kichikuou Rance is sort of a dark bad-end game as far as Rance games go, so there is more rape and less love. Sengoku Rance is similar to this but is less dark.

    The gameplay is dated and the years have not been kind to it. It is from the brutal age where game design was like a mystery cult and the brutal game-over-at-every-corner style means you will either be save-scumming, restarting, or cheating. I suggest for those who like me are spoiled by good game design.

    I think that if you were to remove the H scenes and upgrade the gameplay this would be a huge hit in the western market, which has a huge thirst for dark settings.

  7. X says:

    The decision between Nagi and Shizuka is actually fine. Nagi is actually stronger than Shizuka in terms of stats AFAIK. So it was very natural to let Shizuka go, as she just hates Rance anyways. The only reason to keep her is for the CG I guess. One choice that is really a sort of “dark” is the “True Brutal King” ending with Satella, which I really like.

  8. X says:

    This is undoubtedly the best in the whole series. The later works are just a sort of eating off its glory. Sengoku is always the most popular among the non-Japanese players, but I guess that’s only because it is produced/released a decade later when the Internet is already pretty mature, and with almost immediate localizations. Sengoku didn’t really impress me that much but Kichikuou is just something different. Even without all the H content, the sheer size and (both literary and emotional) depth of the story can easily best many mainstream AAA productions. It’s all the more amazing that they somehow managed to cram so many diverse H scenes into it. It’s simply incredible. One has to play it now that the English version is available.

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