So I’ve always been leery of manga adaptations of Otome games, just because I find the plots a bit too formulaic. Even though I do have a strong fondness towards reverse harem scenarios, so far the Alice in the Country of franchise is the only Otome game manga where I’ve felt compelled to read more than a few volumes. I’ve been very busy recently and needing a new distraction, so when I saw that there was a game out called Shall We Date: Destiny Ninja, I decided to give that a try. Falling all the way down the Otome game rabbit hole, I also started playing Pirates in Love as well.
I decided to start playing this because the name “Destiny Ninja” was hilarious. I was even more amused after sitting through a few minutes of the prologue, where the ninja are identified solely by their personality traits. The choices were Aggressive Pompous Ninja, Wicked Mean Ninja, Mischievous Masked Dark Ninja, Indifferent Merciless Stubborn Ninja, Mean But With an Angel Heart Brother Like Ninja, or Sexy Foreign Ninja. I decided to go with Mischievous Masked Dark Ninja at first.
Dark Ninja is Hyosuke, who seems to spend most of his time alternating between making jokes or indulging in cold and calculating revenge. He’s got a bit of a split personality.
The heroine of the story wakes up with amnesia near a battlefield, with no clues to her identity other than the expensive clothing and necklace that she wears. She’s taken under the wing of a local lord and his shinobi, and one of the ninjas is assigned to protect her. The heroine slowly uncovers the clues to her identity while falling in love with her chosen ninja.
Destiny Ninja is free to play, but it has some cumbersome game elements that are basically designed to frustrate the player into spending actual money. You can only progress forward through each chapter if your ninja has energy. You can revive your ninja by feeding him rice cakes, which you can attain through purchasing or winning them in ninja lotteries, or getting more energy through leveling up. Each energy unit is only worth getting through about a couple dozen lines of text, so it takes a long time to get through several chapters. The energy units also fill up at a very slow pace without using rice cakes. Players can earn points and virtual money through befriending other players. There are stopping points and checkpoints along the way where you have to have extra items like shuriken and passes. You also have to accessorize your chosen ninja’s companion animal by giving it scarves and masks. While I think it would be entirely possible to progress in the game for free, you would have to have a great deal of patience.
The storyline is fairly standard, and when the characters end up going through a lot of ninja history plot exposition it cam be a tiny bit boring, but generally I was entertained. I’m almost at the end of the storyline with the first ninja I picked, and I started trying to play from the beginning again just to see how the story would differ with a different character. This time I picked the Indifferent Merciless Stubborn Ninja, who indeed seems to be both indifferent and merciless as advertized, although as the story progresses, he begins to seem less and less indifferent.
There’s a complicated love meter for the game where depending on the answers you give, you can get one of four endings with each ninja. This means that if you have an obsessive personality and actually want to experience all the endings, you will have to play through the game four times per character. There’s a “sweet happy ending” which is more emotional or a “lovey dovey” ending which is evidently more risque. In terms of general romantic content though, the entire game is about at the level of a slightly risque harlequin romance novel. The English translation for this game is also not very good, but you can still understand everything that’s happening.
The game interface for this game is a bit crowded, because there are so many little add-ons and extra tasks needed for you to complete the story. I found the visual clutter a bit endearing, although I did get frustrated at the slow rate of progression for the game, even after spending money on rice cakes to power up my ninja. It was so slow I decided to check out another game, Pirates in Love.
This game requires you to pay for stories after a free introductory chapter. The interface for the game is smooth and easy to navigate, there’s some background music for the game that quickly becomes annoying, and the art looks less like clip art. With each decision point the heroine has three options, and there are no extra mini-games or tasks to complete. Pirates In Love functions pretty much like a classic choose your own adventure novel. It is easy to go through the storyline for a character in about an hour and a half or so.
I figured that when playing a game with pirate characters, one has to go for the guy in the eye patch.
As much as I enjoyed the looks of eye patch guy, whose name was Eduardo, I didn’t care very much for the storyline. He seemed to treat the heroine like a dim-witted mascot most of the time, and while certain aspects of Eduardo’s mysterious past were very interesting, there was a bit of a misogynistic vibe that I didn’t care for too much. By the end of the story he is much less of a creep, and he does get style points for the eye patch. I found the game interesting enough that I decided to play again with a different character, Russell the arrogant fencing pirate.
This storyline focuses more on the hero gaining a more mature sense of his place in the world, and it wasn’t as complex as Eduardo’s journey where he deals with his past, eye patch, and various conflicts with other pirates. It was less annoying but also a bit less interesting than the first character I tried. This game does a good job of balancing appearances from all the characters in every story, so it is easy to start wondering about all the different outcomes if you tried to play through the game with yet another character.
For my third time through this game, I picked the womanizing borderline alcoholic pirate captain.
Captain Morgan’s story involved ensuring an island’s water supply, mysterious twins, him being chased through a towm by all the woman in port that he wronged before, a hydra, and pirate captain political maneuvering. It was probably the most entertaining of the stories I’d tried so far in Pirates in Love, and of course the heroine cures him of his alcoholism and womanizing by the time the story is done.
Pirates in Love was much less frustrating to play than Destiny Ninja, because once you’ve bought a storyline you can play it until the end, and you can also go back and switch your answers to try to get a different ending without having to pay any extra. I actually played through three full stories in Pirates in Love for less money than I spend on buying rice cakes and other items in Destiny Ninja. Overall, I think Pirates in Love is a better value for what you get from the game, although I do find all the ninja quite amusing. I found my first foray into Otome gaming much more entertaining than I thought it would be. I’m going to continue with both of these games, as there are a couple characters with stories I’m still interested in from Pirates in Love. I might just adjust to the glacial pace of Destiny Ninja and play it more casually, as the lag time in normal game play makes it a bit frustrating to follow the stories closely.
If you do decide to give Destiny Ninja a try, my invite code is:CqWB9YLrSW (we both get bonus rice cakes!)