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Not Your Usual, But Nice

  • Solemus
  • 09/28/2017 02:21 AM
  • 559 views
This will be a quick-and-dirty review, since I don't have much time on my hands these days. If you are looking for screenshots, the previous reviewer did a great job, and you should check out what they have to say.
I've played a lot of home-made games produced by the RPG Maker 2000 (RM2K), and the truth is they are usually pretty shoddy; cliche, straight-forward RPGs with some quirks. This game actually made me think differently about what a game could be. For one thing, there is no fighting or leveling up. Instead, there is an involved story interspersed with play-through tasks that can include anything from cleaning a room to solving a puzzle. This game pushes the boundaries of what can be done with RM2K. And for that, I applaud it.

As I have said, previous works have underwhelmed me, so seeing something as stylish as The Maid of Fairewell Heights is a pleasant change. I hesitate to make negative comments about such a great work of art, so I didn't allow any of them to impact my overall score. But let me give a quick run-down of some areas of the game.

Graphics
The graphical potential of RM2K is pretty low, by default. This was one complaint I have about the other reviewer, NTC3, who talked about issues in this area. I'm not sure how much experience he/she has with RM2K, but he/she may not understand the limitations of the system. I actually thought all the original art was fantastic. The numerous face graphics used for the protagonist (over 50) make her truly dynamic. To be honest, those, plus the personality of the character, turn a modest, sensible girl into an incredibly sexy protagonist. And the maid outfit doesn't hurt, either!


Music
The music was well-thought out every step of the way, creating a truly immersive ambience. My personal favorite is the scene in which Marshie first meets Farewell Hyte, the 16-yr-old apartment manager who acts like he's twice his age. The piano ditty hearkens back to the early 1900s, creating a feel similar to classic detective films.


Story
Marshmallow Holly (Marshie) is an extremely cute character with a lot passion. She also has some pre-birth history that looks like it's going to come back to bite her. Farewell Hyte is a cynical, brooding young man who has become involved with some unsavory characters from a very dark place...and one of them is somehow related to Marshie!
Marshie stumbles into the aftermath of a terrible tragedy at Fairewell Heights, and she is called upon to summon all of her courage to deal with a haunted mansion, evil cockroaches, and a very stubborn dust bunny! Meanwhile, she wrestles with issues regarding her own identity and the fate of the man she is starting to fall for.
It's a fun yet meaningful story, full of humor, insight, and the occasional innuendo.


Gameplay
There are numerous novel activities to perform in this game, but very few challenges. The gameplay is obviously meant to be very light and to accommodate the story. There is no menu screen, no items to use (in the conventional ways), and no control over where you go (none of the maps even have normal teleports). There are also no battles, unless you count the win-or-lose cockroach battle (depending on whether or not you have Pesticide--managed by a switch, not an actual item).

That said, it is quite fun being able to interact with quite a few elements on each map, and to wear different outfits depending on the task at hand.

Summary
As a game, I rate this at a 4.5. I think it's definitely a worthwhile play for anyone looking for something fun and unique. But as an RPG...well, this game isn't one. It's more like an anime with minigames. So if you're looking for a hardcore role-playing game, this probably isn't for you. I would have rated it a 5.0, but the lack of control over my character really irked me.

While the game is fairly short, I'd say that if you take less than an hour, you are probably rushing it and missing out on some great dialogue. And that's what most of the game is, so if you're not a big fan of dialogue, you might want to pass. It took me about 3 hours to complete, including some fun game-end material - but I'll leave you to check that out for yourself!

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It's almost 10th anniversary of the game. ^^

Looking at his twitter account, it seems that Nora, the developer of the game, is still making funny games such as the one with the demon king creating "cats". To be honest, I have watched the trailer video of it but can't tell what kind of the game it really is. (of course I can even read Japanese though!)
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