Bad Apple Wars is the latest otome game being released in the North America region by Idea Factory and Otomate on Friday, October 13th, 2017. The game has been localized by Aksys Games, and the entire game now has English text, but still maintains the Japanese voice acting. Which, I find to be a plus, especially as a Japanese Major. It’s always interesting to see how the Japanese gets translated, and I have to say, they did a pretty good job with this one. There were a few off translations here and there, particularly with the character Naraka. They had him use foreign words like “Arrivedercci” and “Qoui,” even though he wasn’t saying anything strange or foreign in Japanese. They also had him use slang like “deffo” and “probs,” but putting that aside, overall they did a great job; especially by getting creative and translating things that do not have a direct translation in English. Coming up with the word “Vexam,” was almost more clever than the Japanese word combo that was used.
Aside from the translation and voice acting, another strong point of the game is it’s soundtrack. Not only the opening and ending themes, but all of the OSTs throughout the game were soothing and well-made. As you otome fans will know, music is a very important part to any otome game, since it’s completely text-based. You’re just sitting there, reading and listening to music the whole way through, so to hear such a nice soundtrack and variety of songs was A+! There is even a menu option in the game under Gallery where you can listen to any of the songs in the game right there, which I have not seen before in games, but I found it to be quite a nice touch. Another thing, I definitely had not seen before, is an otome game without choices. I know, let’s let that sink in. You do not make response choices at all in this game. So you may be wondering, well if there’s no choices, then how do you select a route and get the best ending? Well, let’s dive into that right now.
Bad Apple Wars starts off with you, the main character, as you walks along to what you thought would be your first day of high school; however, as you walk along the street you’re suddenly struck by a car, killing you, and leaving you instead walking into a new school for the dead surrounded by red skies, one you can never escape from: NEVAEH Academy. You are promptly greeted by a terrifying looking rabbit head man, and told that if you be a “good apple” at NEVAEH Academy you can return to your life as it was before the incident. As you then attend the opening ceremony, you quickly realize that perhaps being a “good apple,” isn’t the answer to escape.
A group of students deemed the “bad apple,” break in on the ceremony and make it clear that if you want to live you should come to their hide out. All of the “good apples” are wearing masks and have seemed to lost any semblance of personality, so you’re thinking it’s probably best to go see the “bad apples” who look like themselves. However, “bad apples” are punished by the Prefects of NEVAEH Academy, so you also wonder if it’s best to not go against them. This is when you are faced with your only real choice of the game: do you want to be a bad apple or a good apple?
I have played through both scenarios, and I’ll let you know my thoughts on each. But, still you may ask yourself: How do you determine your ending? That is done by the touch scenes. This is certainly an interesting new component that I haven’t seen before in an otome game. Basically, whenever a CG pops up in the game, you have to touch the character in the right place (could be the face, shoulder, hand, etc) and then you two become naked (if you did it within the right amount of tries) and a memory from that character’s past is unlocked.
This component of the game is a little weird to me. It makes sense to this story line that you would unlock a memory, but it’s still strange to me that they have to become naked… Even though they’ve added this new thing, I don’t like that this is now the sole determining factor of how the story will end. I think choices are far clearer as to if you’re on the right path or not. It’s impossible to tell for me what I did wrong or right with this new system. I played one bad apple route, the cannon character, Alma and I got the “true ending.” Then, I played one good apple route, who is the next up for cannon, White Mask (I won’t give away his name, since that comes out later in his route), and I got the “NEVAEH ending.” I feel that the NEVAEH ending is probably the bad ending, since the school wins. Either way, I wasn’t sure how or why I got those endings, so I wish they would have kept a choice system in place and had the touch sequences be a supplement. I now realize that it’s based on if you accidentally touch places that create blue instead of white, but it’s still kind of a guessing game. Besides, without choices, it felt less immersive, and more like a book about some character unrelated to you, which is not how an otome game should be.
The only other negative aspect of this game, in my opinion, is the sheer amount of depressing and sad moments. This may not be a negative point for everyone, but this game actually made me really sad. Even though I got a good ending with Alma, it was tinged with sadness, and Alma’s back story was truly the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Though perhaps, it wasn’t the saddest, because White Mask’s back story was crushingly depressing, and it’s never explained why the things that happened to him had to happen to him. After certain memories I’d see from either of these routes, I’d be in near tears. Although, this means the story and the writing was moving, which it was, so I praise the game for that. The story was very unique, but if I had to compare it to anything I’d say Danganronpa with less violence and a dash more romance. So if you liked Dangagnronpa and you also like otome games, you’d probably like this game too.
Even with the few problems I had with some of its components, I did really enjoy Bad Apple Wars. The story was so intriguing, and it made me want to read on to figure out more about this school and it’s oddities. After the first five chapters, the game shifts from a story heavy drama, to a romance that focuses on whichever route you are on. There are less romance chapters than there are story set up chapters, and those remain roughly the same from route to route, so you may find yourself skipping some dialogues when you play through the second time. However, they didn’t reuse much and tried to add new information to the same situation depending on which route you’re on, which is awesome. Of the two routes I played, I enjoyed Alma’s the most. I thought I wouldn’t like how it ends all the way up until the ending, which surprised me and I loved. If I would have gotten a good ending for White Mask, I think I would of really liked his route too, because I felt for his character even more so than Alma. So, I’ll certainly be re-playing to see if I can get his better ending.
There are three other characters that I have not yet played, one from the good apple side and two from the bad apple. So there are a lot of options, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. The game also puts a lot of heart into the side characters, some of which I actually fell in love with such as Yoh and Sanzu. It’s always nice to feel connected to all of the characters and not just the mains; as it’s a common issue with games to leave side characters as cardboard cut outs.
This game is a lot different from other games by the same creators such as Amnesia, Code Realize, and Hakouki, but that makes it stand out. It definitely stands out, and I think it will peak the interest of any otome fan. So I really recommend you to check it out! If you guys do check it out, be sure to leave some comments bellow on what you thought of it.
This review was written by a friend of the site who goes by the name Kayla. Kayla is a YouTuber who has both passion for, and knowledge of otome games, so we enlisted her expertise to cover Bad Apple Wars. Kayla will also feature as a guest in the upcoming season of our romantic anime/ manga podcast, Hopelessly Animanic, so look out for that. If you’d like to keep up with her we recommend checking her YouTube channels: Game Play Throughs | Personal Channel
Copy of Bad Apple Wars for PS Vita used for this review were provided by it’s publisher, Aksys Games.