So I came across this game back in 2013, I remember all the hype surrounding it, but at the time I didn’t have a PSP, so I wasn’t able to join in the first wave of players. I then was able to gain access to a PSP and a copy of the game and I absolutely loved it! While it is billed as an otoge, Sweet Fuse plays more like a adventure, puzzle visual novel than your typical romance visual novel. So when it went on sale in the PSN store I immediately went out and bought a copy of the game for myself.
The first route of the game that I played was Subaru Shidou, because I don’t know if I mentioned this before…but I have a thing for megane men. Plus he’s gorgeous, the typical otoge hottie and that suit…sexy!
- Alternative Title: Bomb Decision (Japan)
- Year: 2013
- Developer: Aksys
- Platforms: PSP
Sweet Fuse: At Your Side stars Saki Inafune, niece to legendary game developer Keiji Inafune. Saki’s famous uncle opens an amusement park and Saki attends the opening ceremony, but things really heat up when Count Hogstein—a malevolent pig—takes over the park, and holds everyone hostage. Saki, along with seven sexy men, decides to enter Count Hogstein’s deadly game in order to save her uncle and the other hostages. Will she be able to solve the complex puzzles that Count Hogstein and his merry henchmen have in store? And most importantly, which steamy bachelor will Saki choose?
-Official Game Synopsis
You play as Saki Inafune, the high school aged niece of renowned game creator, Keiji Inafune. She is on her way to the grand opening of Japan’s largest amusement park, with attractions based on several of her uncle’s video game creations. Everyone has turned out for the celebration, the press, idols, celebrities, and even the police, it’s looking like the day is going to be one of fun. That is until, the mysterious, Count Hogstein interrupts the festivities with a dangerous ultimatum. He kidnaps Inafune and the park’s board of directors and demands that seven of the park’s attendees participate in a seven day game or else he’ll blow the entire park and everyone in it sky high. With her uncle’s life on the line Saki volunteers
herself as tribute to participate in the dangerous game. She along with six eligible bachelors must solve the sadistic pig’s puzzles and save the hostages within the seven day time limit or suffer the consequences. But, there is more to these men than meets the eye, in fact they are all connected to an incident from long ago. So join Saki as she uses her intuition and brains to solve puzzles, defeat Hogstein…and find love along the way!
- Saki Inafune (Voiced by: Maki Kobayashi) is the protagonist of the game and the niece of renowned game creator Seiji Inafune. She is different from the other game participants in that she volunteered to participate. She is a no nonsense kind of girl and a bit stubborn, she uses her amazing intuition to solve problems.
- Subaru Shidou (Voiced by: Kenichi Suzumura) is a police inspector in charge of security for the park’s grand opening event. He is extremely rational and a stickler for the rules, coming off as uptight. But he is extremely loyal and great to have around in a pinch.
- Towa Wakasa (Voiced by: Yūki Kaji) is a member of the popular all boys music group Junior Jr. Boys (talk about redundant). A charismatic performer, Wakasa is a scaredy cat in real life. He is often seen cowering in fear or tearing up.
- Kouta Meoshi (Voiced by: Masakazu Morita) is an anti-social NEET. While he comes off as gloomy in person, online he is known as the legendary gaming legend Ares. What he lacks in physical strength he more than makes up for in gaming prowess.
- Ayumu Shirabe (Voiced by: Ken Narita) is a freelance journalist who is constantly chewing on a Pocky-like snack. Like most journalists he is always in search of the truth, stopping at nothing to find it. He often looks like he is in need of a nap.
- Kimimaru Urabe (Voiced by: Junichi Suwabe) is a gentle fortune teller. Beneath his eccentric appearance is a really down to earth and kind man. He is soft spoken and slow to anger.
- Ryuusei Mitarashi (Voiced by: Satoshi Hino) is the number one host in Ginza, he uses the stage name Ulysses. Unlike Urabe, he is quick to anger and prone to engage in physical altercations. In spite of that he’s a nice guy, with a secret love of video games.
- Makoto Mikami (Voiced by: Chihiro Suzuki) is a college student. His route is the secret mystery route. Who is this guy? What does he have to do with the attack on the park?
I absolutely love this game, it puts a nice spin on the typical otoge premise. While romance is a major plot point of the game, it isn’t the only point of the game. There was a lot of thought put into the Hogstein Game, and each puzzle presents a new, unique challenge for the player. Then there’s the mysterious incident that forms the basis of the game’s subplot. In order to get the whole story on that, you have to actually play all of the routes in the game, but most especially Makoto’s route.
The characters are fun and engaging, each with their own character growth and development. You actually get invested in their stories and get caught up in their struggles and successes both as individuals and as a collective group. While I will admit that there were some characters that I liked more than others, the each member of the cast has their own merits.
The art is lovely, as expected from a commercial game like Sweet Fuse. The character designs were nice and seemed to really fit well with each character’s personalities. The sound and music was perfect and it only served to really drive home the emotions of the plot. The gameplay is simple enough to pick up on, so there isn’t a huge learning curve. There are a healthy amount of choices in each route and the reading really isn’t that dense. Normal choices sometimes have an effect on the affection levels of individual characters. There are also moments when Saki will get angry and the player has the choice of letting her unleash her anger or restraining her emotions. This can lead to some hilarious results, so I suggest playing around with both. In addition to the regular choices, there are moments when Saki has to use her intuition to solve a particularly difficult puzzle. The player must select the appropriate key words and phrases from a floating list, if done correctly Saki will solve the puzzle.
The game utilizes a branching story line, so the character interactions and choices made throughout the game are essential to deciding which ending you get. All of the characters (except Makoto) are up for grabs at the same time, so if you are aiming for a specific character, tailor your choices towards that character. Overall, I enjoyed this game and I highly recommend playing it if you have the chance. It’s currently available in the PSN store, so if you have a Vita or a PSP definitely purchase it there!
*Individual Character reviews coming soon!*