Name: AmbivalenZ - Niritsu Haihan (Antinomy) (78.33% in 6 votes)
Release date: 1997
Reviewed by: Toshi
The story goes centuries back, in a faraway kingdom. Shura was a young knight attending on his beloved princess Sheia, who was one day kidnapped by an evil cult group as a sacrifice to its revered goddess Diadora. When Shura came to her rescue that was all too late. Sheiaâ€™s flesh, bones and soul, consumed in the process of giving birth to the evil goddess Diadora, turned to dust in Shuraâ€™s arms. Diadora trapped the enraged Shura into being showered with a dragonâ€™s blood, thus turning him into an albino (â€˜white-lingâ€™ with white skin and red eyes) that knew no death. Since then Shura, having shaken any human feelings off, has spent his deathless life in pursuit of Diadora and endlessly hunting out her odious minions - the Dwendi, cannibalic creatures of various forms that Diadora conjures up out of worldly evils and that have stirred up all the troubles in human history. The main part of the story begins when the final battle opens between Shura and Diadora in twentieth-centry Japan, where Shura meets a girl who is the exact picture of his long lost princess. With her help Shura goes through every kind of traps in search of Diadoraâ€™s six Dwendi daughters, finishing them off one by one. When he is about to do away with the last and greatest Dwendi, Diadora herself, a miracle occurs before him...
This game has been one of my most favourites from Alice Soft. The scenario is frankly captivating, and the characters fascinating. When this game was first released for NEC PC98 series it was seen as having opened new dimensions for Alice Soft's scenario-making. Satis verborum as for the story, if you understand Japanese and have a liking for romantic fantasy tales, youâ€™ll certainly enjoy AmbivaleZ.
Male Dwendi can be turned to dust with Shura's magical sword Kusanagi, but the female ones - the daughters of Diadora - have to be f**ked before being dissipated. So here is the somewhat laboured relevance of H-scenes to the story. But be warned, the story of the game is so serious that you'd hardly get 'turned on' by those H-scenes (^^;) In short, the H part of the game sits extremely ill with its scenario. This is exactly the sort of 'antinomy', as the game's subtitle unwittingly puts it, which is inherent in any H-games that try at the same time to have a good plot and/or gameplay: Doukyuusei, ToHeart, Koi-hime, Mugen Houyou, just to name a few. You always start playing an H-game to see H-pics, but when the game itself turns out to be a really good one, those H-scenes, and the trouble of having to click the mouse just to get them past, start appearing superfluous or even annoying. Itâ€™s probably not only me who feel this way...
The PC-98 version of the game (which is really identical with the Win version except for System3) requires a 256-colour board, but the quality of the graphics seems more reminiscent of that of 16-colour ones. So they wonâ€™t look great by todayâ€™s standards, especially when compared with Alice Softâ€™s more recent games that use 16-bit colours such as Dr. Katsumi and a series of games included in Aliceâ€™s Mansion 4-5-6 (Zero Type, Atlach=Nach'a etc.). Yet as a DOS-based game AmbivalenZ has good-looking if not outstanding graphics, as one would naturally expect from any average game released from Alice Soft. The characters, including Dwendi monsters, are also well designed as to reflect their intended personalities - perhaps with the exception of Diadora, who looks more like an S&M queen than a most-feared goddess who even tries to dominate the Netherworld... but hey, that canâ€™t be helped, this is an H-game after all isnâ€™t it?
There are battles as well as dungeon-style mazes. They are difficult (one wrong choice at a battle scene can immediately lead to 'Game Over'), but the interfaces are hardly impressive. Just think of the 'battles scenes' in those antique H games like Toushin Toshi or Vanishing Point, and you get the picture. The story is linear (can't be otherwise for this kind of scenario) but quite long. So you'd hardly feel like playing it twice, which I had to do just to write this review (^^;) But the excellence of the game really lies in its superb and complex story line and characters that come alive with vivid personalities - like the angelic heroin Karin, or the bloodthirsty (female?) spirit which dwells in Shuraâ€™s magic sword (supposed to be the â€˜yinâ€™ counterpart of the sword of Kusanagi which features in Japanese mythology). Personally I especially like the clown-like figure Arima, a young apostate priest-turned-black magician (or should be a â€˜bad magicianâ€™ in PC English?), and his â€˜girlfriendâ€™, the Devil Astarte in the guise of a little doll. Incidentally this chap Arima always ranks top in most of the reviews I've read on AmbivalenZ. Little wonder.
The story has seven separate 'acts' corresponding to the number of the Dwendi daughters, and at the end of each act you can view all the pics cleared so far. After the whole story is finished a photoshop option appears in Aliceâ€™s Room, which is the standard format for most if not all of Alice Softâ€™s games.
I gave a full bonus score partly because of my old penchant for this genre of novels, but largely because when I first played the game a couple of years ago, I was actually very, very much moved by the story and its ending. But tell me if you arenâ€™t.
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