Norn9: Var Commons First Impressions Review

Check out my updated review of the 2023 Switch release: Norn9 Var Commons (Nintendo Switch) Otome Review

Norn9: Var Commons is PS Vita port of the 2014 PSP game NORN9 Norun+Nonetto developed by Otomate and published by Idea Factory. The game was later released in English by Aksys Games in 2015. Norn9 follows a group of teen espers as they traverse the globe on their giant Death Star like airship.

Game Details

  • Genre: Sci Fi | Mystery | Romance
  • Rating: ESRB T
  • Developer & Publisher: Otomate & Aksys Games
  • Where to Get the Game: Aksys | AmazonPSN Store


Board a mysterious ship and go on a journey with 3 young women and 9 men to uncover the secrets that lie in Norn!

 While on a school field trip, child prodigy Sorata Suzuhara wanders off after hearing a mysterious song and blacks out. When he comes to, he finds himself in unfamiliar place, and soon encounters a girl who informs him that he’s currently in turn of the century Japan! In order to help him get home, Sorata follows her to a ship that she’s waiting for but when it appears it is not a wooden sailing ship, but a round aircraft that flies using technology that is beyond Sorata’s imagination.

Even stranger, he discovers that the other 12 passengers – 3 young women and 9 men – are all supposedly espers with special powers, and are on some kind of journey at the behest of a multinational entity only known as The World. What is the purpose of their journey? What is their destination? Who is The World? Before Sorata can even begin to take stock of his situation, the ship is attacked, and the mystery surrounding the ship only deepens. Delve into the story of the ship and its occupants through the point of views of each of the three girls, and unravel the mysteries trapped within.

Official Synopsis

Characters of Norn9 Var Commons

Unlike most otoges that have only one heroine, Norn9 has three different leading ladies: Koharu, a bubbly amnesiac; Nanami Shiranui, the quiet broody one; and Nanami, the dark haired mature one… Joining our heroines are nine bishies and one shota (you can never have too many bishies).

There were so many dudes to pick from that I was actually a little overwhelmed. Then I realized that each heroine was preassigned three exclusive bishies. Which I have organized in a nice picture chart!

character table

Blerdy’s Recommended Play Order

Senri → Akito → Heishi → Sakuya → Itsuki → Kakeru → Ron → Masamune → Natsuhiko

Norn9: Var Commons First Impressions Review

Before I start this review I have a confession to make, I didn’t buy this game when it first came out… I actually waited until it went on sale during one of PSN’s Flash Sales, so I don’t have any buyers remorse like some folks do. In fact I think I came out like a bandit with this game, because to be honest, Norn9 is worth exactly what I paid for it (and let’s remember that I paid $35 for Alice in the Heart)!

I try to remain neutral when starting a new game, that way I can be as unbiased as possible in my reviews. Since it’s release in the West, Norn9 has been met with some pretty mixed reviews.  On one side of the spectrum are the positive reviews which praise Norn9 for it’s unique plot and interesting characters. Then there are the negative reviews, that point out the various inconsistencies between routes and the gratuitous liberties Aksys took with the translation from Japanese to English. So, I didn’t know what to expect when we in That Game Club decided to pick up Norn9 as our next group gaming experience.

Norn9 Koharu

The first thing I noticed was that not all of the guys show up in the prologue. But, of the guys that did make an appearance; Akito, Itsuki, and Kakeru were the guys I most wanted to pursue. But, I didn’t really get to spend much time with any of the guys. Because someone decided to have us play as the jailbait extra, Sorata. So, I spent the entire prologue listening to a 10 year old genius throw shade. I’ve never really been a fan of shota characters. But Sorata takes it to another level, maybe I’ll like him a little more as the story progresses. But for now, Sorata is just really annoying.

I can’t really say much about Nanami and Mikoto, because we mostly stuck with either Sorata or Koharu aka ‘Hey you‘ aka ???, during the events of the prologue. I guess I like Nanami a bit more than the other two heroines. Koharu seems like an airhead and  Mikoto has this whole alpha queen bee vibe going on. When compared to the other two, Nanami just seemed like the most chill option. I’m curious to see how well my first impressions hold up as I progress further into the game.

Norn9 Heishi CG

I don’t know what people were complaining about, but aside from a few confusing bits in the beginning, I found the plot of the prologue to be rather easy to follow. Now, I will admit that it was a bit of a slow go at first. But once you get on the ship the story starts to pick up considerably. The sprites are really well done which is to be expected from a developer like Otomate. But some of the backgrounds reminded me of the old Voltage Inc games and not in a good way.

I mentioned this before, but the BGM track Hiyoko March sounds eerily similar to Hogstein’s Theme from Sweet Fuse: At Your Side. The overall sound quality is good. But there were a few times when the BGM overpowered some of the voice performances. This especially happened a lot with Senri’s VA. I tried to adjust the sound settings in an attempt to fix it, but nothing could rectify the situation.

norn9 death star
Hmm… I wonder if this is relevant to the plot in any way…

So, the plot of Norn9 is very, unique. You have a group of horny, super powered teens stuck together on a Death Star of Peace with no parental supervision. And, let’s not forget the mysterious individual attacking the ship. I’ve only played through the prologue, and I can already tell that there is just too much going on. Not to mention all the “mysteries”.

Questions I had while playing the prologue…

  • Why did Sorata time traveling? Why should I care?
  • Who is Koharu? Why can’t she remember her name?
  • Who was her mysterious benefactor?
  • Where are their parents? Will they be paid for their services?
  • Who is The World?
  • Why is their ship modeled after the Death Star? Maybe that’s why they keep getting attacked… Is the attacker Luke Skywalker?
  • Why is the female to male ratio so disproportionate? Do they expect me to believe that there are only 3 female espers in the whole world?
  • What’s up with the name translations? Sorata-kun≠ Mr. Sorata the same goes for Sorata-kun≠ Suzuhara… my Japanese is rusty, but even I remember that much.

Is Norn9: Var Commons Worth Playing?

So far, my feelings are mixed on  Norn9. Sure the premise is unique and the characters are pretty cool. But all of the bad press has me hesitant to fully invest myself in the game. I want to expect the best. But I’ve been burned before and I am not keen on repeating past mistakes anytime soon.

As far as the translation goes, I didn’t really notice too many fails, save for the wonky name changes. However, I have been assured that it’s only down hill from here… But, I don’t imagine Norn9 being any worse than that god awful Alice in the Heart translation from QuinRose.

Thank you for reading and supporting Blerdy Otome!

Blerdy Otome Logo Small

If you like what you see consider giving me a follow! 

Twitter | Instagram | Etsy | Twitch | Discord | Ko-fi

18 thoughts on “Norn9: Var Commons First Impressions Review

  1. lmao that Oprah meme!

    Like you, I got Norn9 on sale as well, and I definitely agree that it’s worth the sale price. I like to call Norn9 my “favorite hot mess” because even with all it’s problems, it’s still a lot of fun. I haven’t finished the game yet (I’m about 4 routes away from completion), but out of the routes I’ve done so far, Senri was my absolute favorite, with Itsuki coming in close second (…tho this might change once I get to Natsuhiko because the thirst is real and I’ve heard lots of good things about him/his route). I love how there’s three heroines to choose from, tho I do wish they weren’t limited to only their three guys. I didn’t think I’d like Mikoto too much, but she definitely grew on me and overall all of the girls are pretty damn amazing. I love hearing people’s thoughts on Norn9, so I’ll be looking forward to your reviews in the future!

    1. I’m 3 routes in right now (halfway through Heishi’s route) I would have been further along but I was distracted by Haikyu. 😄

      But I agree it is a hot mess, but you can’t help but enjoy it! Senri is my favorite so far too, but we’ll see how I feel after I finish all of the routes.

      Yes! We are on the same wavelength about the heroines. I wish I could mix and match the heroines and the love interests! I’d definitely pair Nanami and Itsuki, I’d love to see how that pair would work out!

      I’ll make sure to work hard on my reviews, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading them! 😁

  2. I have played Norn9 using the same route order. Yes, I did like the game and I sort of went on a rant when I wrote my review on the whole translations thing. I like Senri, Itsuki, and Ron the most. I dislike Shiro. I look forward to seeing how you react to the game.

    1. Ha ha ha I kind of deviated from the play order a bit, I swapped Kakeru and Senri…. and then I swapped Heishi and Akito 😛

      This is the one time my failing Japanese language skills have worked in my favor. I can’t tell what all was changed when Aksys translated the game in English. Sure the weird name translation and the obvious stuff sticks out, but the big stuff goes over my head lol

      So far I like Senri, but I’m hoping Akito doesn’t disappoint me like Heishi is right now…

      I hope you like my final reviews!😁

      1. I think that is still ok, but the last ones are rather important to the background story. I didn’t understand what was going on either in Japanese, but the drama that just came with it really bother me, especially when people were bashing it and they hadn’t even played the game. Senri is really cute! Akito is nice too, hopefully you’ll enjoy it. I look forward to your overall thoughts later on.

  3. Ha ha, I almost posted my Norn9 review today instead of my Iryuu post! 🙂

    I will say I’m still torn on whether my translation section should be a separate post. I had pages and pages and pages of notes. It really brings the game down. I think, overall, Koharu’s routes –> Nanami’s –> Mikoto’s is the best because of a) story, b) interest/mystery, and c) it feels like the game was translated in this order.

    1. Lol great minds think alike!😄

      I’ve been debating on how I’m going to go about writing up the translation section, because a lot of what I know about it is hearsay. My Japanese language skills are not quite up to scratch for a full out translation analysis. So, I’ll probably stick to a broad strokes kind of approach.

      I agree Koharu’s routes seem to be the ‘canon’ routes, but I’m not far enough to make a say anything specific.

      I look forward to reading your review when you do post it! 😁

      1. Well, you don’t need to know Japanese so much as English for some of the errors. XD

        Or, you know, basic facts like the names of the main characters of the game… -_-

      2. Oh my gosh! The names are the worst, it was so bad that I actually started calling Senri, Mr. Senri in my head!

        But I am catching a lot of the typos and what not!

  4. Grabbing stuff when it’s on sale is always wise. It’s amazing how much video game prices can drop. Alas I am too impatient and always want to play stuff on day one.

    1. I am the same way! But, I waited to get Phoenix Wright Duel Destinies and Nintendo just put the game on sale for 60% off!! So sometimes it pays to wait lol

  5. How can you not like Sorata? He was tots so good at throwing shade, his remarks are Senri level of badum tss xDDD
    My shota-ism is noticeable~
    I’m using the guide/walk and recc’ed play order by UnluckyHero and I’m really liking playing it so far.
    Man, I’m so looking forward to one of your rants (ᇴ‿ฺᇴ)

    1. I’m still trying to figure out why Sorata is even in the game… he disappears once the main routes begin…

      lol yup, your shota-ism is definitely showing 😛

      1. Poor Sorata…tho I agree…he IS THE CUTEST, DID YOU SEE HIS SUPER DUPER CUTE OUTFIT IN THAT ONE ROUTE? (is it a spoiler if I say the route or outfit? I won’t say it unless you don’t get which one it is xD; )
        ;_; But, he is super adorable, and also a vicious little thing <3

Gush about cute otome boys~