Review: Long Live the Queen

Developer: Hanako Games/Spiky Caterpillar
Platform: Windows/OSX/Linux
Reviewed by: Carl Dayagdag
Game Website

For several years, I’ve been trying to get into visual novels to no avail. The reasons as to why would cover an entire blog post on its own, so instead of doing that I’m going to cover one of the rare exceptions of the genre that I really got into: Long Live the Queen.

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 2.32.28 PM

Don’t let the title screen fool you. This game is pretty dark.

The premise for Long Live the Queen is simple enough: the queen of a kingdom suddenly passes away, and her daughter is still too young to take the throne. She has less than a year before she can be officially crowned queen and your task in this game is to have her make the right decisions while not dying in one of the many possible ways the game will throw at you.

Game Mechanics

So how does Long Live the Queen work? Because it’s urgent that Princess Elodie be made the new queen as soon as possible, she’s been taken away from the boarding school she was attending in order to be taught about what it takes to be a queen within the safety of the castle walls by the best tutors in the kingdom. The meat of the game comes from you deciding what two subjects she should focus on for every week until the time comes for her coronation:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 2.35.07 PM

However, she’ll get a bonus or a penalty for learning a particular subject based on her mood:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 2.28.56 PM

For example, learning anything about music instruments comes easy to her when she’s depressed. However…

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 2.59.19 PM

… nothing sinks into her head when she’s trying to learn public speaking if she’s sad.

After the classes are over, the game will then play out a specific event that happens around Elodie for that week, which may or may not affect her mood. Sometimes you might have to make a decision during these events:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 3.04.36 PM

After that, you will be given an option of what you want Elodie to do during the weekend, which determines her mood before you have to pick the subjects to study for the following week:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 5.15.24 PM

And that’s pretty much how the game works.

So what makes Long Live the Queen interesting? Well, after around 18 weeks into the game, the real dangers of being the successor to the crown come into play:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 5.24.59 PM

And if you didn’t prepare Elodie for them, she dies:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 3.33.06 PM

What makes this game brutal is that you might not know how far back you made that mistake of teaching Elodie the wrong things, so you might need to reload your game session from at least 10 weeks ago to get her in the mood to learn what’s needed to survive that event. Fortunately the game specifically tells you what it’s checking for to see if Elodie passes it or not by default, but these notifications can be turned off for an added challenge:

Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 4.58.04 PM

If you’re a fan of visual novels, this is the R-Type equivalent to this genre.

How Elodie’s Moods Work

Each new game session in Long Live the Queen begins with a pop-up asking you if you want a quick rundown of the game’s menus and how Elodie’s stats worked. One thing that took me awhile to understand was figuring out how to consistently get the princess in a mood that I wanted her to be in. So let’s start by looking a random Mood screen:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.09.07 AM

If you look at the top of the screenshot, the game says that her current mood is Cheerful. What if you wanted to make her feel Pressured or Lonely from this point? To make her feel Lonely, you would have to make her spend the weekend so her Mood Chart would look like this:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.13.36 AM

So what happens if any of the other hearts in the chart move?

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.25.18 AM

She’s now Willful. Let’s look at another one:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.27.43 AM

Now she’s Angry, which is what I was feeling when I was trying to figure all of this stuff out. So let me point them out to you:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.27.43 AM copy

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.25.18 AM copy

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 2.13.36 AM copy

So determining Elodie’s moods boils down to two things:

– If one of her hearts is the farthest away from the rest, her dominant mood will be that one.
– If two or more hearts have the same distance away from the center line, the leftmost heart will determine her dominant mood.

Hopefully this will help you in getting Elodie in the mood to raise the right stats as quickly as possible.

General Tips for Your First Playthrough

Elodie cannot learn anything related to the Lumen subject until she completes a series of events beforehand, which shouldn’t be too hard to find out if you don’t make Elodie behave like a jerk at the beginning of the game. You shouldn’t need to rely too much on her magical girl powers until the latter half of the game, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get her in the mood to learn it with the default weekend options available to you.

Elodie’s stats in a particular skill cannot go beyond 50 until the other categories in that subject are at least 25 or higher:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 3.29.10 AM

So if one of her stats is 45, and she’s learning at a rate of 15 per week, you’re losing 10 points which could’ve been spent on another skill in that subject.

If Elodie has a total of 100 points put into any given subject, she’ll receive a costume that will boost her stats in that subject by 10 points, which can sometimes mean the difference between passing or failing a skill check:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 3.30.19 AM copy

Economics is the only subject that Elodie has no mood bonuses for. If you do choose this path, you should focus on getting Elodie’s mood ready for studying the next subject you want her to learn.

You also have over 100 available slots for saving your game data. Make sure to use a lot of them.

Graphics and Sound

I first heard about Hanako Games when I saw boxed copies of cute knight sitting on store shelves found at various electronic retail chains. I’ve always wanted to try out a Princess Maker game but they were never localized over here, and Cute Knight was supposed to be an English equivalent to it, but I never bought a copy because I couldn’t get past looking at the illustrations.

Long Live the Queen is the very first game I was genuinely interested in playing from Hanako Games because I could’ve sworn they hired a Japanese illustrator to draw Elodie and all of the other characters found in the game, which after a little bit of digging around the net for this artist, is exactly what happened. The illustrator’s level of craftsmanship for the characters in Long Live the Queen is leagues away from everything else Hanako Games has released so far, past or present. It also helps that I’m a sucker for shoujo aesthetics, which the characters ooze out from every pore of their bodies.

Of course, a lot of people are going to complain about the graphics anyway. One of the biggest ones they’ll probably talk about is the lack of backgrounds used for various events. For example:

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 4.34.25 AM

This is the background used for when Elodie has to go to court to give the final judgement on a particular case.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 4.34.25 AM

This is the background used when Elodie decides to participate in the royal parade.

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 4.34.25 AM

This is the background… Well, you get the point already. You’re going to be seeing this castle a lot during your playthroughs.

I’ve also seen the same online reviewers rag about the game’s soundtrack and mute it so they can replace it with their own. Unlike those people, I thoroughly enjoyed Long Live the Queen’s music despite most of them being piano pieces lasting no longer than a minute and looped forever. All of the songs have a royal presence to them (well, maybe except for the hunting weekend activity which sounds kind of bizarre) and always fit the mood to whatever was going on. One of my favorite pieces is the one that plays immediately after you select the classes you want Elodie to study for the week.

I’d post links to some of the music found in the game, but they don’t exist on youtube. The best way for you to listen to the soundtrack is to download the demo of the game directly from Hanako Games’ website since it uses most of the soundtrack found in the full version anyway.

Why I Like Long Live the Queen

You can argue the fact that the game’s production values are terrible compared to more commercial releases in this genre, and I would agree with you. Aside from Elodie’s art there’s not much else in the graphics department, sound effects are nonexistent, and the music is performed by a single piano for short durations while sounding very low-key. The game revolves around simple stat management which the game might check at certain points in your play session which determine whether or not Elodie lives long enough to see the next week.

But one thing that I wasn’t able to explain about this game up until this point because I was busy analyzing its individual parts is that the production values are “good enough.” Where the game really makes up for these shortcomings is the execution of its content. The struggles Elodie faces in Long Live the Queen doesn’t sound too far-fetched from the kind of political conflicts you’d see in history books. Now that Elodie has to become queen at all costs, she’s more vulnerable a target to several dangers her mother would’ve taken care of: power struggles within the nobility, territorial disputes between neighboring countries, assassins that either get up close and personal or lace food with poison, and, since the title screen has Elodie in a magical girl costume, enemies who wield magic. All of this contrasts with the cute art that you immediately see when you first start up the game along with the death illustrations that are presented to you whenever Elodie meets her untimely end.

And yet, this juxtaposition never feels out of place. You will be forced several times during your playthrough to make decisions that cannot please everyone with sometimes long-term consequences that will haunt you later. Elodie will die several times along the way because you thought she was prepared to handle it or were busy accumulating a wardrobe of clothes from different time periods (some of which shouldn’t exist in the game’s setting) by spreading out her studies across all of the game’s disciplines. But these deaths make witnessing the first time you see her coronation ceremony that much more satisfying because you worked real hard to make sure she survived everything the game threw at you.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s