Review: WAGAMAMA High Spec
Publisher: Sekai Project
Price: $39,99 USD
Release Date: July 27th, 2017
Wagamama is a strange game. The story isn’t about anything in particular and nothing much really happens, yet I can’t force myself away from it after I start playing. The premise of the game is that a young Narumi Kouki, an aspiring manga writer, is strong armed into joining his school’s student council. Later, it turns out that the president of the council is his manga’s illustrator. His sister and her best friend soon join after him, setting up a harem rom-com scenario.
After the initial setup of the plot, the game will enter a common route. The student council begins preparation for the school’s cultural festival, which is a busy and confusing time for them. Fixing up the mistakes of other students while doing their own share of work and performing odd jobs around the campus becomes the background for characters to deepen their relationships. This extends until immediately after the festival, after which the game will enter into the route of whichever heroine you’ve chosen.
Each of the character’s individual routes have their own separate story, unrelated to each other. As one might expect, the protagonist and his chosen heroine end up together at the end of each of them.
Throughout the common route, choices will appear during gameplay. Your choices will increase your affinity with one heroine over the others, which will automatically lead you into entering her route after the end of the common scenario.
Extras include a standard CG viewer and audio mode. Characters will talk to the player during menu transitions and during shutdown, albeit in Japanese with no subtitles unfortunately. The game’s language can be switched between English and original text, useful for those in the process of learning Japanese. Below are each of the option tabs.
There are a total of 28 tracks in the game, a suitable number considering the game’s length. 25 hours to read from start to finish. Songs transition between scenes and fit the general mood of the game, giving it a fun and laid back atmosphere. There are hardly any distressing scenes in the story, and the soundtrack reflects that reality.
If I had to choose between whether I like the songs or not, I would say I did enjoy them, although I can’t claim that any of them left a strong impression.
The really good stuff in this game comes in the form of its characters, and the voice talents that went into them. Wagaspec had some of them best voice acting I’ve ever heard in a visual novel, in particular by Mihiro’s VA. A quick google also revealed that she(and most of the cast, in fact) are JAV actresses. The game was originally 18+ after all. Japan is full of talented people everywhere.
I really liked this art style. So much that I’ve begun following madostaff on Twitter, just in order to see the art of their new products(even though Wagaspec is their only English translated game). Their artist and character designer very obviously likes frilly dresses, big boobs and light color palettes. It has a unique aura, different from cookie cutter anime designs while still being cute and moe.
Even more impressively is the amount of polish that goes into every scene. Although the game doesn’t feature moving mouths and blinking eyes, there are character sprites transitions on nearly every spoken sentence. What I mean by this is that rather than having character sprites change every line, they will react and move during a spoken line, in timing with their speech. Sometimes changing the shape of their mouth, their facial expressions or even turning the sprite around. During lengthier pieces of dialogue, I have noticed sprites morphing up to four times mid sentence.
Despite coming from a relatively small developer, the production values for this game are extremely high. It really does feel like a product deserving of having won an award.
As with almost every VN published on Steam, the game has cut content. There’s no way to patch in the 18+ content back into the game, to get the full experience you must buy it directly from Denpasoft’s website instead. In both cases the price is rather steep considering its length. Also you cannot romance Karen or the adult character, those are on the untranslated fandisc only. Nobody ever cares for the Christmas Cake characters.
As with any character-driven media, whether you like the characters and their interactions will make or break WAGAMAMA High Spec for you. Personally, I found that the silly humor and the unabashed flirting between the girls the protagonist to be endearing. If you think you might like this, then this game is definitely something I would recommend.
WAGAMAMA High Spec
- Unique art style
- Excellent comedy
- Good character interaction
- A bit expensive
- Nobody is translating the fandisc