Game Spotlight: Deep-Blue Series

Kogado studios is one of the few Japanese PC companies which subsist entirely on non-pornographic games (along with KOEI and Falcom) and are fairly unknown in the English world. Their most well-known games are probably Symphonic Rain, a Visual Novel/Music Rhythm game and Gadget Trial, an Advance-Wars-like turn based strategy game due to their fantranslations. But we’re not going to talk about those (for now) and instead talk about one of their other “big name” series.

The first two games in the series, Tristia of the Deep Blue Sea and Neosphere of the Deep Blue Sky, are probably the best out of the lot. They’re essentially clones of the Atelier series games from GUST (not the Iris series, the original), about an genius inventor girl named “Nanoca Flanca” who starts a workshop to help out the town and its inhabitants.

The game does put a spin on the formula by having a huge focus on the game be on indirect town development though. By focusing your research and selling items to districts, you can unlock new buildings with new items and repeat the process (e.g selling food tends to open up restaurants, grocery stores and etc) Success rewards you with story scenes and the joy of having figured a puzzle out.

However, it does have its faults. Once in a while, characters will come by with requests and you better finish them if you don’t want to be cut out of plot threads, which are big parts of the game. This is aggravated by the fact that they usually give you the bare minimum of time to complete their jobs, which is doubly bad when you realize they want something high up in a technology tree while you’ve been heading in some other direction in your free time.

Unlike the Atelier series of games, which focuses on a Medieval Europe sort of world, the Deep Blue’s setting has an interesting dash of sci-fi in it with stuff like the lost “E-Technology”, starring hi-tech homonculus and golems even with its general “modern day” setting. This is one of the few fictional worlds I’ve seen which still uses “remote-controlled” Mechas ala Giant Robo, rather than the usual trope nowadays where Mechas tend to be like a seperate “costume” the heroes put on.

This does make the games be in a very strange spot of being very feminine (the main male characters in the games are, well, a robot dog and a combat robot.) and yet, extremely nerdy (most characters in the game are named after some sort of plane.)

For whatever reason, the “main” series seems to have ended at the 2nd game in favor of a couple of spinoffs. The first one, “Akatsuki no Amaneka to Aoi Kyojin”, is about a tomb raider (no, not that one) who has to balance out selling her finds for either fame (to museums) or money (to black markets) to take down a global conspiracy power group. This is marred by the fact that it is quite possibly one of the worse RTS games I have the misfortune to play in my life. The console ports on the Xbox360 and PSP may have fixed it, but I doubt it.

The 2nd one, Shirogane no Cal to Aozora no Jouou, about a government agent and her assigned duty as the bodyguard to the old princess from the 2nd game, is a lot less ambitious, due to just being a Visual Novel with a couple of card battle mini-games in between. The storyline is decent, a little reminiscent of Marina’s route in Eve Burst Error, but it’s a little shame to see what used to be a simulation sim be reduced to this.

Time will only tell what will happen to the series in the future, but I’m hoping for a revival myself. In the meantime, hopefully someone will eventually pick up or fantranslate the first two games in the series.

It might not be that easy to get a hold of this game since its extremely old at this point of time. There are several console ports with additional scenarios but you lose the ability to use machine translators for this game. The Chinese versions of this game are also an option if you can read that language instead, since they are fairly common and go for a surprisingly cheap price.

If you’re a huge Atelier fan and want to see a spiritual spinoff, consider trying to acquire these games. As a sidenote, there is an anime OAV of the first game, which isn’t an adaption and more of a fanservice to people who are already fans and a couple of fandisks if you decide you just need to have more from the series.

Related Links:

Kogado’s Official Site

An Amazon.jp list of a bunch of series related goods

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