Little Busters! Ecstasy review

Since most eroge blogs I follow seem to be pretty quiet right now, I decided that I should try to fill in the gaps.

I’ve been meaning to do this review for a long, long time. I’ve had tons of material ready for this review, but I never got around to it since I never got around to completely finishing the game. And I still haven’t. This review is basically for the material in the original Little Busters! + Saya since I never got around to playing all of the new routes. It’s been at least 6 months since I’ve played the original routes, so my description for most of them will be on the short side.

Warning: Spoilers in this review are actual massive spoilers. Do not read them if you don’t want the game potentially ruined. I don’t think the spoiler function works correctly in a feedreader, so I advise you to visit the actual site if you’re reading this on something like Google Reader and don’t want the game spoiled.

Game: リトルバスターズ!エクスタシー
Company: Key
Release date: July 25, 2008
Related links: Getchu


Such a great OP

Scenario

A group of osananajimi — Riki, Rin, Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo — go to school together, fight each other, and generally do nothing but mess around with each other. The fearless group leader, Kyousuke, decides that they need to do something new together. His idea? Baseball. And not just baseball for fun. He wants to challenge all the leaders of the sports clubs. The name of the team? Their childhood group name, Little Busters. But they only have five people. They go around asking everyone, and Riki ends up attracting a harem a group of new female friends to the team. Pretty much nobody he recruits has any prospects, but they train for the big day and generally have fun together as friends.

Characters

Naoe Riki

He has a face AND a voice (when playing from another character’s perspective)

The protagonist of the game, Riki is your typical nice guy. Physically, he’s pretty weak. He has narcolepsy and sometimes suddenly faints. Tired of being so weak, he’s determined to get stronger, both physically and mentally. He wants to catch up to Kyousuke, who’s strong and a good leader.

Natsume Rin

Rin is the main heroine of the game, and the main story essentially evolves around her. And boy, do you have to work to get her. In order to get her true romantic ending, Key decided to make you finish her bad end, every other original characters’ endings, her second bad ending, and a friendship ending. After that, THEN you get her true ending. And it’s quite short. Oh screw you, Key. Make a Rin After instead of one for Kud. I’ll even buy two copies. Rin deserves more. I’m not biased. I swear.

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Rin is a cat lover, and she frequently acts like a cat when she’s mad or surprised, as demonstrated above. Now looking at the above line, you’d probably think she’s a typical tsundere or something. Honestly, I’m not even sure I can categorize her as a tsundere. Other than a brief period in the beginning, she’s pretty much always friendly with Riki. They act like what you’d expect close friends to. They help each other, they joke around with each other, they hang out together. They act like, *gasp*, pretty much normal friends that you might find in real life. She doesn’t ever really hit him or get angry with him (though that’s not the case with her other osananajimi — she’s speaking to Masato in that line). There doesn’t seem to be a forced overfriendliness and nosiness of typical osananajimi. It’s refreshing to find a group of friends that (almost) act like how you’d expect a real group of friends to act.

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She can be quite tsuntsun toward everyone but Riki.

Like Riki, Rin is also quite weak. But unlike Riki, she’s just socially weak. She has no friends except her osananajimi in the beginning of the game. When she meets new people, she gets extremely nervous and hides behind Riki. Her brother, Kyousuke, is worried that Rin won’t be able to survive when she gets to the real world, so he does everything he can to make her stronger. Constantly unable to cope with the new social situations Kyousuke forces onto her, Rin uses her large collection of cats as an escape. Sometimes I get the feeling she cares about her cats more than anything else.

And there lies the main story of the game. Both Riki and Rin need to get stronger and learn the value of friendship.

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She says this after seeing Riki close to another girl, showing a side of him she hasn’t seen. Playing other characters’ paths is painful for me when she says stuff like this. I wanted to skip the rest of the path after she said this.

Even after Riki, Rin, and I(by having to play all the other paths) struggled to get to the end, there wasn’t much left. After Rin and Riki became stronger and learned to support each other by going through numerous trials, there isn’t much focus on the romance between them.

All they get is a rushed relationship. Even though they both got stronger, neither of them know how to act in a relationship. But the game doesn’t really mind. It pretty much immediately rushes toward their making out and sex right after they get together. I think events like what happened in the first bad ending should have been included in the true end. They need to learn what it means to become a couple after being friends for so long. In the first bad end, you get the feeling they’re closer to each other, but they’re still figuring out how to act around each other. One of my favorite scenes was them eating alone together and betting on/stealing each other’s food. They’re getting to be more than friends, and it’s a gradual shift that suits them. It doesn’t make any sense for them to suddenly skip all that and get straight to sex.

Natsume Kyousuke

Kyousuke is Rin’s older brother, leader of the group and a year older than everyone else in the group. He’s quite a spontaneously guy who forces the group to do whatever he thinks of. However, he’s quite dependable and often gives Riki advice. He strongly wants Riki and Rin to get stronger, and he comes up with all sorts of plans to do so.

Inohara Masato

Masato is obsessed with muscles. His only interests seem to be working out and hanging out with Riki. He’s quite stupid, but he’s a good guy who cooperates with Kyousuke to make Rin and Riki stronger. Think of him as the comic relief of the group.

Miyzawa Kengo

Kengo is the most serious person in the original Little Busters group, and if you can’t tell, he’s into kendo. He thinks many of Kyousuke’s ideas are dumb and doesn’t participate in the baseball team most of the time. Even though he has his disagreements with Kyousuke on how to help Rin and Riki, he tries in his own way to make them stronger.

Subcharacters

This might be a bit controversial, but I think all the other girls are subcharacters since they don’t contribute nearly as much to the central story as any of the osananajimi group.

Kurugaya Yuiko

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Yuiko is quite a straightforward person as you can tell from her above line.  Being extremely strong and deadly with a sword, she’s the most suited person in the group to play baseball. She’s also quite apathetic and emotionless about most things. She thinks she’s broken as a person since she can’t feel emotions like other people do.

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She’s also pretty perverted and into cute girls.

Noumi Kudryavka

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Her signature “Wafu~” phrase.

Kud is mostly Russian and part Japanese, and she moves to Japan after living in a foreign country with her grandfather. Because of her foreigness, everyone excepts her to know English (even though her name is clearly not English). But she’s really, really bad at it.

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Bad even when compared to a typical Japanese person.

As for her personality, she’s a genki and polite loli who tries really hard at everything. Nothing special. She doesn’t deserve an after story. Lolicon don’t need more encouragement. Give me more Rin.

Nishizono Mio

She’s a quiet, book-loving girl who constantly recites poetry and fantasizes about BL all the time. Unlike many other quiet types, she’s not quiet because of apathy or social issues. She stays away from others because she has something to hide, making her story slightly more interesting than other quiet types.

Saigusa Haruka

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If you can’t tell by her line above, she’s the genki and random type — a type of character I usually can’t stand. But surprisingly, I actually like Haruka. Her randomness is less annoying and more entertaining. She likes causing problems that’ll trouble the rule keeping committee thing at school. I don’t really know how to describe why I don’t dislike her. I think it might be because she’s doing it on purpose and isn’t naturally doing it because she’s an idiot. It’s more of a coping mechanism to deal with her family issues.

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Even she knows she makes no sense.

Kamikita Komari

Komari is Rin’s best female friend. She’s one of those super bubbly types, another type I hate. And unlike Haruka, she has no redeeming qualities to me. In fact, she’s the only character I didn’t have a screenshot prepared. I don’t know what else I can really say other than she’s really annoying to me and she’s obsessed with sweets.

Tokido Saya

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Oh the tsun. Saya is a new character added in Ecstasy, and she’s by far the tsundere of the game. And since I just completed her path, she gets more details than most other characters. Saya’s a spy looking for some treasure hidden underneath the school, and Riki accidentally stumbles on her doing so. Being a spy, she can’t let this go and she repeatedly tries to kill Riki. Obviously, she fails.

But hey, Riki’s amazing ability to avoid death will be useful for her mission, so she makes him her partner. Logic like this and her self-hatred mode whenever she fails — and she fails quite a lot around Riki — as seen above makes Saya great for laughs.

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As expected of Key, Saya has a bunch of weird… noise expressions.

Playing through Saya’s route is a bit tedious since you have to play a shooting game to get all of her endings, and you’ll be playing it a lot since her route involves playing it from Riki’s perspective and her perspective. In fact, I can’t even seem to get all of her endings despite following a walkthrough. If you can get all of her endings without a walkthrough, you’re either brilliant or extremely patient.

I frankly didn’t find Saya’s personality that interesting, mainly because there’s not much depth or development of her personality. She just pretty much goes from her self-hating tsuntsun mode to deredere. Being an entirely new character, she basically never interacts with anybody but Riki.

H-scenes

Since the original game had no sex, this is definitely not a game you play for the sex scenes. In fact, you might not get a single sex scene until your 5th character playthrough. The scenes that are in the game are nothing special. They do nothing interesting and aren’t important to the characters’ development.

Art

There are some body size consistency problems and art style inconsistencies in the game. Even at its best, the art is nothing to write home about. It’s pretty disappointing for such a high profile game.

System

Unlike every other game I’ve reviewed so far, Little Busters! actually has a system worth mentioning. There are several mini-games that run throughout the story.

Baseball/batting practice

The baseball mini-game consists of just batting practice. You hit balls around and the other characters field them and have their funny responses. Don’t hit the cats or Rin gets mad. The mini-game isn’t very deep since all you can control is Riki’s position and when to swing, but I found it entertaining enough to enable it on all my playthroughs. Whenever you play the baseball game, the characters get stat increases, which helps them in the fighting game and in the final baseball showdown.

Fighting game. Yes. Masato’s weapon is a cat. Versus a gun.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a mini-game since it’s not interactive. But it goes like this: in the beginning of a fight, each side gets a random weapon. They then battle each other with said weapons and gain skill points in those weapons, so it’s a good thing to get the same item multiple times. The winner of the match gives the loser a random weird/funny nickname.

And the fighting system leads to the ranking system.

Ranking system

Every so often, you’re given the opportunity to wander around and exchange items (which you get through the normal story mode) with the girls, get in a fight, or watch another fight. Whenever a fight happens, a potential rank change occurs.

I couldn’t get first in my game because I can’t fight Rin.

All the systems are optional, and I don’t think you lose much from disabling them, except for Saya’s shooting game, which is required to get all of her endings. I recommend the baseball game, but the fighting and ranking games get boring.

Overall

I pretty much went through the gist of the game in Rin’s overview, but for those who didn’t read all of it, this is a game about friendship and growing up. It’s about making Riki and Rin strong enough to deal with the problems they’ll encounter in real life. Romance isn’t a strong point of this game, especially in Rin’s route. The game seems to take for granted that Rin and Riki are going to be together, and they put their relationship aside to deal with other issues. To me, this game is all about Rin. All the other characters were there to support Rin and Riki. If you’re going to play this for any character but Rin, I think you’re going to be disappointed after seeing how much emphasis is put on her for the true ending.

Score

For an overview of my scoring system, look at any of my past reviews. I’m going to do something different for this and give two scores, depending on what you want from the game.

Though I wish Rin’s path had more of a focus on romance, the lack of it didn’t greatly affect my enjoyment of the main story. If you’re looking for a story largely based on friendship, growing up, and comedy that revolves around Rin, I would score it:

5/5

However, if you expect this to be more like a typical eroge, with a stronger focus on romance and all the characters, the game isn’t as great. Most of the characters’ routes, though decent, feel like something tacked onto the main story and are not memorable at all compared to the true route. The art quality doesn’t help.

4/5

I’m going to ask you again, Key. Give me Rin After.

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18 Responses to Little Busters! Ecstasy review

  1. Chrouya says:

    “However, if you expect this to be more like a typical eroge, with a stronger focus on romance and all the characters, the game isn’t as great.”

    Well then, don’t look at it that way. It’s not a typical eroge, not to mention it was originally all-ages and more based on drama than on romance anyway. You can say the ero was tacked on to it, but not the characters’ stories.

    Of course the main story is something bigger, and the character stories seem to be like something abundant, they’re all part of the main characters becoming stronger. Though I might say some stories are a bit weak, but it’s still nice to see all those different endings etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Looks interesting. I decided to buy the game (although I had to buy the regular edition out of fear for child pornography laws). Right now, the game is waiting for me at Tensō’s warehouse where it will have to remain there until Tuesday when I get more money. Let’s see if it is as good as you are suggesting!

  3. Erickira says:

    Where did you get this game? Because mine is bugged and the kanji didn’t work (they didn’t appear or is bugged).

  4. Reikon says:

    Sofmap. Probably.

  5. Veiron says:

    ohh~

    I just finished all the 5 Routes (including Rin’s First Bad Ending so that makes it 6 routes) anyway, I’m just curious. I have the EX version and played through all the Female Characters yet I didn’t unlock not even 1 H-Scene…

    Any Tips?

  6. Reikon says:

    Yeah a lot of the routes don’t have any sex in them. But I don’t think you can get a Haruka or Kurugaya ending without a sex scene… so I’m not sure what you’re doing wrong. Are you sure you’re not playing the regular version? lol

  7. Erickira says:

    Even if you have ex version if you use translation patch your game become regular version.

  8. Reikon says:

    I wouldn’t know since I played it in Japanese.

  9. Erickira says:

    Lucky, me the kanji bug..

  10. Reikon says:

    Are you sure you have basically all regional settings set to Japanese?

  11. VNLover says:

    Hi dude, just a question.

    Is it normal that I the new characters didnt pop up during and there were no h-scenes during the first playthrough?
    Bc I just finished my first playthrough and I saw none of it. Strange thing is, I dont even have this scene option in the gallery anymore, but I´m quite sure that I have EX, but not the dummy version (or what its called, dunno).
    Thanks for the ehlp

  12. Erickira says:

    Yes my pc is set japenese kn the option, and vnlovers, have you use the translation patch? If yes is normal because he turn your game in all age version.

  13. KOta-kun says:

    They have the EX english patch now so I dont see why it reverts to the original Little Busters, but one way to find this out is by watching the Opening, doing that will show if it is the Ex version or not

  14. Erickira says:

    Yes kota-kun. Now its possible we this patch, but not before.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why did the translation have to mess up EX >.<.
    (Looks for a bright side) All the more reason to Learn Japanese

  16. Sukito says:

    So all the translated routes don’t have h scenes anymore? Because i finished all routes and only the ones that were not translated we’re the ones that had h scenes

  17. Miholca says:

    can someone help me i have a very bouthersome bug,in baseball practice the characters just don’t apear,its like trying to play blindfolded and i remain stuck in baseball practice this is very anoying

  18. Kagari says:

    Imma explain the translations to you. First off if you want it go to Fuwanovel. Only the regular version without H-scenes and the new routes are available in English at the moment. EX is currently being translated but it’s taking forever, it might not have the H-scenes once it is translated and they’re probably going to release a partial patch with the stuff they’ve already translated soon. Hope that helps. Also you should really play it and not for the H because it is amazing. Especially Kurugaya imo.

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