After Peach Beach Splash, I needed something with a little less bounce, and that brings me to Blue Reflection. Coincidentally, both games were released on the same day, but (apart from a general theme of “cute girls doing cute things”) have absolutely nothing in common.
Well, I bought both of them. So maybe they have the target audience in common.
Blue Reflection is a very relaxed game. It’s a turn-based RPG divided into chapters, and each chapter offers a new set of missions to complete. After you complete enough missions, you have the option to go and talk to an NPC, after which the story advances to the next chapter. There’s no real urgency, no time limits, and you don’t really need to do every mission to hit the “enough” threshold. You would think this would be difficult to get wrong, and yet I managed.
In addition to the chapter missions, there’s an overall mission called “Let’s deepen our bonds”, which has a requirement of, basically, go and talk to your friends 99 times. More on this later, because it turned into a serious gotcha.
In keeping with the generally-relaxed nature of the game, you don’t get levels via combat and there aren’t really many required fights outside of boss fights. Instead, you periodically get given “Growth Points” as the story progresses. You can allocate these to one of your four main stats, and you go up a level every time you do. As your stats increase, you also get new Attack and Support skills.
Anyway, I was happily trucking along, enjoying a very light and fluffy JRPG, and then I hit the chapter 7 boss, who squashed me SO quickly that I assumed that it was simply one of those RPG fights you’re supposed to lose, and I was rather startled when I was sent back to the title screen after the Game Over sequence.
It turned out that I was expected to win, but I DID see another four Game Overs before I managed to pull out a narrow victory.
So, whatever, I beat it and I assumed that it was just a hard fight. Then I hit the next roadblock, which was where I finally realized that I had been super dumb.
The NPC I’d been talking to for chapter progression wouldn’t let me progress, because I wasn’t high enough level yet, and I couldn’t figure out WHY I wasn’t high enough level yet because I’d done every mission offered except for that weird side mission about talking to my friends and…
…and oh. Oh, dear.
What I did NOT realize is that the “Let’s deepen our bonds” mission doesn’t actually need to be completed to get rewards. Instead, every fifth time you talk to one of your friends nets you a new Growth Point, and every twenty-fifth time you talk to one of your friends gets you a new defensive skill. The level cap for Blue Reflection is fifty, and this one mission gets you twenty of those levels. It is a Bad Thing to not pay attention to, and the result was that I smacked hard into a boss while dramatically underleveled and with few abilities to mitigate the incoming pain.
But, that was an awful lot of talking about how I managed to play a game wrong and very little about what I thought about it when the credits rolled, so let’s get back to that.
Like I mentioned earlier, Blue Reflection is a very relaxed game and has a similarly low-key main character. You play a former ballerina whose ambitions were cut short by injury – you weren’t permanently crippled, per se, but you will never dance again. For extra angst, you were accepted to your current school because of your ballet talent, but your injury means that you’ve been demoted from the “talented” class to the “normal” class.
A bald space marine, you ain’t.
You spend most of the time running around a very small high school and its grounds, occasionally leaving to explore a very trippy emotion dimension called the Common, beat up the residents, and thereby help people in the real world deal with high-strung emotions. Once you’ve done so, you are rewarded with fragments of their psyche. Occasionally you fight massive bosses on the school’s track, and the boss fights are pretty brilliant affairs even if you are getting repeatedly stomped because you didn’t understand the leveling mechanic.
I can tell I’m not selling this game, and it’s not entirely my fault – the concept is a little out there.
Would it help if I told you that you – and your two mysterious new best friends – are magical girls, and get to wear amazing magical girl outfits?
That one of you uses a weaponized teddy bear in combat?
That going out for parfaits is of world-shattering importance?
OK, if you’re still reading, this is probably the game for you. Everyone else just closed the browser tab and went looking for something a little more manly.