Norn9 Var Commons (Nintendo Switch) Otome Review

Norn9 Var Commons is a sci-fi fantasy otome game developed by Regista and Otomate and published in English by Aksys Games for the Nintendo Switch. This is the second time the game has been localized, the first time being for the PS Vita in 2015. This new port has been updated for the Nintendo Switch console and features an revised localization script (thank God)! Board a mysterious ship and go on a journey with three young women and nine men to uncover the secrets that lie in the Norn!

Game Details


A boy is swept away to a different time, carried on the notes of a mysterious song.
When he awakens, he finds himself in a strange place.
Old-fashioned buildings within a nostalgic world.
It was as if he jumped into the Taisho era pages of his history book.

It feels nostalgic, but something is off—.
After a period of isolation, Japan has shifted to a democratic government and a culture of freedom.
There is excitement amongst its people, and the country is vibrant.
The future is bright with youths leisurely striding down newly-paved streets.
There is no starvation or poverty in sight, and guns and weapons are nowhere to be seen.
All lives are equal, without discrimination or differences in rank. It is a world where all is blessed.

Did such a time ever exist…?

Here, a strange jamais vu mixes with nostalgia and discomfort.
Here, the history you didn’t even know existed will now be unraveled.


Norn9 Var Commons is unique in that it has not one, but three heroines to choose from. In the game you can play as either the sweet and naïve, Koharu; the quiet and reserved, Nanami; or the tsundere queen beautiful and headstrong, Mikoto. Each heroine has her own set of three love interests you can pursue.

Heroines of Norn9 Var Commons: (L to R) Mikoto Kuga, Koharu, and Nanami Shirainu

Koharu’s love interests are Senri, Kakeru, and Masamune. Nanami’s love interests are Heishi, Akito, and Ron. Mikoto’s love interests are Sakuya, Itsuki, and Natsuhiko. There is no cross over between love interests and heroines, but for the most part the LIs match well with their respective heroine.

At the start of the game, Masamune, Ron, and Natsuhiko’s routes are locked (for good reason), so you’ll have to play one of the other routes for their heroine to unlock them. While those are the only locked routes, the game does recommend specific routes you should play first:

  • Koharu: Kakeru or Senri
  • Mikoto: Sakuya
  • Nanami: Heishi

Personal Recommendation: Senri > Heishi > Akito > Itsuki > Sakuya > Kakeru > Masamune > Ron > Natsuhiko

Norn9 Var Commons Walkthroughs

Koharu (VA. Ayumi Fujimura)

Koharu is a literal walking ray of sunshine. She’s super sweet and bubbly, if not a bit naïve. It’s honestly hard to be upset when she’s around, Even the antisocial recluse, Senri finds it hard to snipe at her the way he does with everyone else on the Norn. This could easily be pretty annoying, but there’s just something really endearing about her that makes you wanna protect her from all the evils of the world. She’s been through a lot in her life, and because of that she is very secretive about her past and her powers.

Her love interests are Senri, Kakeru, and Masamune and in their routes her innocence and sweet personality help balance out her chosen boy. While Kakeru is technically her “canon” route, I kind of like her best with Senri—their clashing personalities lead to some fun moments and I love how she pulls Senri out of his shell a bit.

Senri Ichinose (VA. Hiro Shimono)

Senri is Koharu’s opposite in just about every way; where she is bubbly and kind, he is anti-social and bitter. He’s a smol bitter baby who wants nothing more than to stay safe in his room away from everything and everyone. Which makes him the target of Kakeru and his “well meaning” torment. Like Koharu, he had a rough go of it as a child, so he is distrustful of other people, but he is no match for Koharu’s unwavering optimism.

She really pushes Senri out of his comfort zone, and it’s super cute watching him learn to open up to her gradually. Their relationship is super adorable, giving all the awkward first love feels. He is my favorite match for Koharu.

Kakeru Yuiga (VA. Yuki Kaji)

Charming and smart, Kakeru is a born leader and alongside Masamune, he is seen as one of the “leaders” of the Norn group. He’s generally pretty personable and upbeat, so he’s close with most folks on the ship. But, beneath his charming demeanor, Kakeru is a manipulative little shit who enjoys pushing people’s buttons. Especially poor Senri, who he torments relentlessly (under the guise of “helping” him. Kakeru is one of those guys who knows they’re the smartest person in the room and goes out of their way to let everyone know it. While he isn’t inherently malicious, he does get a kick out of riling people up and watching the resulting chaos.

Thankfully, Koharu’s innocence kind of tempers some of his more sadistic tendencies and their relationship ends up being pretty sweet. Kakeru is Koharu’s “canon route” so it does get very plot heavy towards the end.

Masamune Toya (VA. Takuya Sato)

Masamune is one of the oldest on the ship and he is the (un)official leader and mama bear of the ship. He keeps everything on the Norn running smoothly, and the poor dear runs himself ragged trying to keep everyone from killing each other. He usually gives off helpful big brother vibes, and he has a strong sense of responsibility. He definitely knows more about the Norn and the other espers than he lets on, but he’s so good natured that it’s hard to be suspicious of him. He can be a bit awkward and clumsy at times, but in a sweet boy next door kind of way. Masamune has a hilarious quirk where eating sweets gets him “drunk” and he turns into a horny fiend. He also gets bonus points for being a secret megane.

I like Masamune well enough and while he is older than Koharu, he is pretty sweet with her, taking on more of a mentor role with her early on… that is until the horny takes over and he can’t control himself.

Nanami (VA. Asami Seto)

Nanami is kind of the middle ground between living ray of sunshine, Koharu and Mikoto’s intense sense of… justice. She is definitely my favorite heroine. Nanami is just really chill and down to earth. She’s besties with Heishi and Isuki, who she has regular game nights with and she just kind of goes with the flow. She isn’t the most expressive, she’s also not stirring up chaos like some of the other folks on the Norn. Nanami was raised as a shinobi and she’s seen and done some not so great things in the past. Like many on the ship, she knows what it’s like to have others use her for her abilities and because of this Nanami has come to resent her powers.

Her love interests are Heishi, Akito, and Ron, which is the weirdest collection of suitors I have ever seen. Of the three, Heishi is my fave pairing with her. They’re already besties and because of his powers he is the most in tune with the subtleties of her emotions.

Heishi Otomaru (VA. Hiroyuki Yoshino)

Heishi is best boy and no one can convince me otherwise. I love him so much! This super sweet sunshine boy deserves all the happiness in the world and then some. He is such and adorkable little sunbeam and I couldn’t help but smile every time he is on screen. Ever upbeat and full of energy, Heishi is super outgoing and personable. It’s really hard not to have fun when Heishi is around. Because of his powers his emotions effect those around him, so he tries to keep his mood chill so as not to bring down the vibes on the ship. Since his emotions have a tendency to leak out he is terrible at hiding anything—so by default he is the most trustworthy person on the Norn.

He can be a bit too open with others, coming off as a bit careless, often saying or doing something he probably shouldn’t. But, despite that he’s surprisingly observant when it comes to the feelings of others. I love his chemistry with Nanami and I really liked how he balances her out and pushes her to be more open with her feelings. Also, I gotta love a fellow flute player.

Akito Shukuri (CV. Noriaki Sugiyama)

Akito is the “delinquent” love interest. Foul-mouthed and gruff, he is kinda unapproachable and he seems to have a special contempt for Nanami. He spends the majority of his route treating Nanami like absolute shit. He insults her with every breath he takes and actively goes out of his way to avoid her. While he has his reasons for being a dick, it’s definitely overkill. Akito’s treatment of her is so bad that even Heishi gets pissed at him (and Heishi NEVER gets mad). Akito isn’t a complete jerk, he does have a softer side and I can’t hate a man that can cook. He is the resident chef on the ship, often having to stop Nanami and Heishi from poisoning everyone with their terrible cooking. Also, Akito is terrified of birds and it’s kind of hard to see him as a tough guy when he’s fainting at the sight of the cute Hiyokos.

Akito is Nanami’s “canon route”, but it’s kind of hard to get into their “romance” because of how awful he is to her for the first half of the route. Deep down he’s really sweet and he doesn’t mean the cruel things he says, but man is it hard to forget about it… Also, his route reveals something about another LI that I kind of wish was explored in the other route too.

Ron Muroboshi (CV. Tomokazu Sugita)

Ron isn’t a bad guy, just absolutely frustrating to deal with. He can’t be bothered to remember anyone’s names, he doesn’t do any work around the Norn, he never shares anything about himself, and he doesn’t know how to button a damn shirt. IDK what I expected from Ron, but most of the community has dubbed him #1 Trash Husbando, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I will admit, I kinda get the appeal. In the past people have equated Nanami’s worth as a person to her powers, but to Ron she’s just a girl. He doesn’t care about all that, he values her for who she is, not what she can do for him. Though he goes about it in the most roundabout (and frustrating) ways possible. He is a relentless tease and while I wouldn’t personally go for a guy like Ron IRL, I do appreciate that he pushes Nanami be more open and honest with her feelings.

BUT, the age difference between the two of them is an issue—Ron is 25 to her 16—and that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially given how easily he can overpower her (if you know what I mean).

Mikoto (VA. Ayahi Takagaki)

So when I first played Norn9 on the Vita I did not like Mikoto all that much. She’s a bossy rich girl who, while well meaning can come off a tad judgmental. I’m usually here for tsundere heroines, but she’s kind of high maintenance, so it was really hard relating to her in the beginning. But, after re-playing her routes in the Switch version, I’ve come to appreciate her “tough love” approach and I will admit that she has the best character arc in the whole game. Because of her powers she’s had to take on a lot of extra responsibility, to the point that she feels that it’s her life mission to be the protector of everyone. She is selfless to a fault taking on more than she can bear, and like Masamune, she often pushes herself beyond the point of exhaustion. She carries the weight of everyone else’s expectations and almost never asks for help.

Mikoto always has to to be the prim and proper guardian figure, even if that means suppressing her own desires and feelings. But, deep down she wants what everyone else does, to be free to choose what she wants and live a normal life. She acts like she has everything together, but in reality she’s very naive about her feelings.

Her love interests are Sakuya, Itsuki, and Natsuhiko. Mikoto has some of the best LIs in the game and it’s kind of hard to pick my favorite, because they all deconstruct her savior complex and help her learn to be more vulnerable. But, if I had to choose, I really love her with Natsuhiko (though Sakuya is really close second).

Sakuya Nijo (VA. Mitsuki Saiga)

Sakuya is Mikoto’s childhood friend who is obviously head over heels in love with her to the point that it almost feels criminal not to choose him. Childhood friend routes can be pretty hit or miss, but they did a really good job with Sakuya. He doesn’t undermine Mikoto and takes a very supportive role in her life. He puts her needs and wants before his own, and he goes out of his way to be there for her when she needs someone to lean on. Though I love the little rivalry he has with Itsuki. Sakuya is usually pretty princely, until someone starts getting too close to Mikoto, then the claws come out.

This route, is an emotional ride, because Mikoto and Sakuya have to kind of break out of their self-imposed friendzones and start to explore the next stage in their relationship. There are plenty of growing pains, but through it all there’s an ease and comfort to their bond that is a constant throughout the story. But, I’ll warn y’all now, make sure you have some tissues handy, because this route will hit you in the feels. I cried during his Tragic Love end (and sadly that end is canon in some of the other LI routes too… so prepare your heart)

Itsuki Kagami (CV. Koji Yusa)

Itsuki is one of those characters that I liked more as a side character in everyone else’s routes than I liked him as a main character in his own. He’s a huge flirt, literally hitting on ALL the girls on the ship, but it’s especially bad with Mikoto. He belongs in Horny Jail. It’s hard to take him seriously because he’s such a tease, and a lot of his flirting comes off pretty cringey. Like Kakeru he likes to push people’s buttons just to get a rise out of them, but there is a method to his madness (kinda). He is very observant and while he gives off the impression that everything is one big joke, he can get serious when those he cares for are in trouble.

Itsuki’s constant teasing and IDGAF attitude conflict with Mikoto’s strong sense of duty, so they butt heads a lot in this route. But, it becomes very clear that his teasing and jokes are his way of hiding his true feelings. Itsuki had a rough go of life, and he is no stranger to dirtying his hands to get by. He isn’t ashamed of his past, but he also has been hurt before so he tends to keep people at arms length. He may not be my favorite LI, but he is fun. I also do like that in his route both he and Mikoto learn that it’s okay to let their guard down and trust one another.

Natsuhiko Azuma (CV. Daisuke Ono)

Natsuhiko is the person constantly attacking the Norn and serves as the antagonist for most of the game. He is actively working against The World and seems hellbent on stopping the espers from reaching their destination. He has his reasons for pursuing the Norn, but that’s [redacted]. He’ is highly skilled with technology, using his abilities to craft new weapons and trick out his sweet warship. Because he’s the “bad guy” he really digs deep to give off the unapproachable bad boy vibes, but deep down he’s just cute star loving dork.

Natsuhiko’s route definitely surprised me. They really pulled out all the stops with him and the extra effort is appreciated. Natsuhiko is best boy! He and Mikoto both have similar convictions and while their goals are different they do develop a mutual respect for one another as the route progresses. This is enemies to lovers done right!

Norn9 Var Commons Review

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room: When I first played the Norn9 Vita port back in 2016, I was not a fan. While I really liked the sci-fi premise and world building, the original localization was rough to put it mildly, and the overall story was pretty lacking in some areas. But, it’s been a few years since that first playthrough, and I’m in a different headspace now (mostly because I forgot most of the plot lol), so going into the new Norn9 Var Commons Nintendo Switch version felt more like my first time playing the game than a replay.

In Norn9, a group of super powered teens (and 20-somethings) fly around Japan on a high tech Death Star-like ship tasked by the totally not evil peace keeping organization “THE WORLD” to use their abilities to stop war. Because they’re horny teens, romance inevitably ensues. As if that wasn’t enough plot for two games, the writers throw in a small child, Sorata Suzuhara who is transported through time from 2015 to the year 1919 and joins them on their mission. Right off the bat there is an air of mystery to everything, since despite it being the year 1919, a time when the most exciting technological invention was the short wave radio, everyone is cruisin’ the skies on a high tech disco ball ship. And no one questions the giant floating anachronism in the room, okay, well, the small child does, but he’s a child so they and the plot ignore him for most of the story.

Tensions grow as the story progresses and the Teen Titans discover that there may be a traitor on board the ship. So to keep an eye out for suspicious activity they take a page out of the Scooby Doo playbook and split off into pairs. There are three heroines, each with their own set of three love interests ranging from age appropriate cuties to grown ass dudes (who should know better). Each route explores the budding relationships between the pairs as they navigate their powers, hormones, and their duty to THE WORLD and their mission. In most routes there isn’t a satisfying conclusion to their mission, favoring the romance over giving us a resolution to the “plot”. Usually I’d be mad about this lack of answers, but the cast is so dang likeable I honestly just enjoyed following their growth over the story.

While Norn9 is a sci-fi game, there is a distinct slice-of-life vibe to the interactions between the characters. Everyone feels like a group of friends, they have meals together, cook and clean together, and even plan fun group activities like a haunted house to pass the time. Of course some folks are closer than others, Heishi, Nanami, and Itsuki are absolute besties and even have regular game nights; while others like Kakeru and Senri are at each other’s throats. It’s a fun mix of personalities and some of my favorite moments in the game were when the characters were just hanging out and chillin. Of course these platonic relationships carry over into the individual routes too and I really enjoyed seeing everyone pop up as fun supportive side characters in each other’s routes.

Otome games usually skimp on the female besties, but that isn’t an issue in Norn9. The three heroines, Koharu, Nanami, and Mikoto all become besties as the story progresses. They have late night chats, tea times, and when they need help dealing with the boys, they turn to each other for advice. Hell, when the boys do something dumb, the girls are each other’s biggest defenders! The cast of Norn9 is the biggest highlight of the game! I was actually invested in their histories and I genuinely want more stories with them in the future, so I am super excited that we’re getting the follow-up game, Norn9 Last Era in June!

Of course, Norn9 isn’t perfect. The individual routes are fun, but as I mentioned earlier, not every route explains everything. Some routes, like Kakeru, Natsuhiko, Ron, and Masamune’s are more heavily plot focused delving into the important issues like “the truth behind THE WORLD” and “revealing the traitor“. While others like Heishi and Senri’s routes completely ignore all that mess in favor of the romance. Then there are others like Itsuki, Akito, and Sakuya’s routes that throw in new love interest specific conflicts that have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the story. And then the game throws ALL of that out the window with the true ending, by shifting the focus to Sorata who the game has pretty much ignored up until that point. It’s messy. But, when you look at the game on an individual route basis it works, it just all falls apart when you try to connect any of it together.

There are also a lot of fun extras like Norn9 Quest, a fun text based pixel mini-game where you earn points that can be used to unlock extra images and short stories from the Norn9 Shop. There’s also Norn + Ensemble where you can mix and match key phrases from the game to make up conversations between the characters.

But, the biggest update between the Vita localization and the new Norn9: Var Commons Switch localization is the updated translation. Oh, my gosh, they put in the work to fix this mess. When I say the Vita version was rough, I mean, it was bad. So to see that Aksys revamped the whole script for the re-release does my heart good! There are some fun nods to the original script, which are fun little callbacks for returning players, but overall this is very good. I did an interview with Anne Lee who worked as Localization Consultant and Proofreader on the Switch port and she shared some interesting insight into the process of updating the plot, so definitely check that out for the deets: Behind the Games Interview with Anne Lee.

The updated localization is literally God’s work…

So, Is Norn9 Var Commons worth playing (on the Switch)?

Yes. This is the definitive version of Norn9 Var Commons. With the updates to the localization being the biggest reason to get this game on the Nintendo Switch. As someone revisiting the story after a few years, I have a new appreciation for Norn9. It’s not perfect, the same story issues are there and connecting the individual routes to the true end is messy AF, but it’s damn entertaining.

The characters are amazing, you’ll fall in love with each and every one of the main (and supporting) cast. The extras are fun, making for hours of additional content. Also, there aren’t a lot of sci-fi otome game localizations (publishers seem to favor the historical romances) so Norn9 Var Commons definitely stands out in that respect.

Thank you to Aksys Games for providing a copy of Norn9 Var Commons for this review!

Thank you for reading and supporting Blerdy Otome!

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6 thoughts on “Norn9 Var Commons (Nintendo Switch) Otome Review

  1. Sounds fun! I had planned to play the psvita version, but kept avoiding it. Now that it’s on the switch, I might play it for real

    1. Norn9 is definitely worth it on the Switch! I had a lot of fun playing it and the updated localization is SO MUCH better than the original vita version

  2. I was so sure you’ll do the full review for Crimson Flower that Divides first, so I was surprised that Norn9 came first. Not that I’m complaining, I’ve been waiting for this!

    I think I’ll give this game a try, I’ve been curious, especially having 3 heroines who are all voiced! XD

    By the way, you’re not making your overall LI and Route enjoyment ranking like usually did?

    Although, I’m very sure I would never like Ron as both a character and LI. Putting aside his personality and all, I was a bit surprised you brought up age difference between him and Nanami. I mean, there are other Otome games with huge age difference pair like Hakuoki, Birushana, even bigger age gap Enju and Hanzo from Nightshade, but you didn’t seem to mine.

    And, is it just me, or there’s an incomplete sentence in Koharu’s part?

    1. LOL I’m still sorting through my thoughts on that one, so it might be a bit before the full review comes out.

      I started playing Norn9 to see what the differences where between the vita and switch port and then I kinda got hooked lol It’s really good and I definitely recommend playing this version if you can.

      I traded the ranking for the little individual route banners. But, if I had to rank them… Natsuhiko > Heishi > Senri > Sakuya > Masamune > Kakeru > Akito > Itsuki > Ron

      Ron kinda grew on me. Also I haven’t written reviews for full reviews for Nightshade of Hakuoki, but I did mention having an issue with the age difference between Benkei and Shanao in my Birushana review albeit briefly.

      With Ron, he kind of comes off like a skeevy older dude trolling for high schoolers so it bothered me more in his route than it did in say Masamune’s route.

      (also good catch, I fixed it!)

      1. Oh, looks like I forgot about that in Benkei’s part. Yeah, you did mention that. My bad. (^_^;)

        You mentioned in your bite-sized Nightshade review that “the only LI worth pursuing is Hanzo, and even he is too good for this game”, so I just assumed you accepted Hanzo.

Gush about cute otome boys~