Spicate ~7-colored celestial sphere~ (spicate ~7-shoku no tenkyūgi~) by phantasmagoric
(I can’t find the lyrics for this one.)
It’s time for another Under Your Radar! Today, I will be covering Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, developed by Spike Chunsoft and localized by Atlus. It was released in Japan as Conception II: Guidance of Seven Stars and Muzzle’s Nightmare (CONCEPTION II: Nanahoshi no Michibiki to Mazuru no Akumu). It was released for the Vita and received a cheap 3DS port. Despite the title, it has no connection to the original PSP game, which was never localized, aside from basic gameplay systems. I played the Vita release.
Let’s just get this out of the way immediately: Examined strictly in terms of gameplay, I would recommend buying Persona 4 instead. If you’re examining the game as a JRPG with dating sim elements, it isn’t worth a purchase at any price. I will instead be examining it as a harem simulator. I will still explain the gameplay, but know that I do not recommend this game at all based on it.
Conception II takes place in a world where monsters have ravaged the land. These monsters are spawned from labyrinths, which can only be destroyed by sealing the bosses lying within. However, one must have a great amount of spiritual energy, or “ether”, to enter and have any chance of doing anything. Those with high spiritual energy are given the celestial mark known as the Star Brand by the world’s goddess, and are taken to a special island academy to hone their abilities. However, nobody is quite strong enough to enter the labyrinths.
You play as a self-insert character that has the default name Wake Archus. He receives the star brand, goes to the academy, and has such a high amount of ether that he becomes known as God’s Gift. In addition, there is a process known as Classmating that is intended to create Star Children, magical child constructs that assist in battle. The chances of actually succeeding in Classmating are low, but Wake has a 100% success rate as long as his partner (who, of course, must be of the opposite gender) is sufficiently powerful. There are only seven girls with sufficient power. And so the story begins…
The story is told in a very simple visual novel style, with all the usual bells and whistles. You’re occasionally given options to choose from, but these options only affect anything for heroine events (a few lines are changed at most otherwise). However, a major issue in multi-scene story sequences is that there are no transitions whatsoever, making it feel very choppy at points. The script is also very heavy with its innuendo.
The game gives you access to seven different heroines, only four of which are available at the beginning of the game. You can take one into a dungeon with you at any given time, and she will act as one unit with Wake. You can also carry up to three groups of three star children – each trio will act as a single unit in battle.
Before I explain the gameplay, I must compliment the transformation sequences you get when entering a dungeon:
Dungeons are randomly generated, and generally featureless aside from the occasional invisible trap. Enemies are strewn about and move around to obstruct you. What’s nice is that you can see enemies’ power in comparison to yours, and you automatically perform an instant kill on weaker enemies. You can also see which are needed for quests.
With a few exceptions, dungeon-diving and combat is similar to Persona 4. In battle, you can flank enemies from various directions, which will deal different amounts of damage depending on the direction and enemy. If your Wake/Heroine unit falls, you lose. Your trios of Star Children can create a giant mech to assist in battle. Also, the heroines you’re not using may call you at any time. You get a minor bonus if you respond to them, but you lose your turn if you do so during battle.
As a side-note, rather annoyingly, you cannot upgrade the armor for the heroines without getting specific armor for Wake from special chests in dungeons and submitting them for quests. It’s essentially a luck-based thing.
When not in dungeons, you can perform Classmating, get quests and the like. You can release your star children into the world as independent beings, which will level up the island town and unlock new things. The main thing that you get to do is speak to heroines to see events from them. You get to progress your affection with the heroines by doing so, and each one has their own sub-plot. Their affection, as well as which heroine you pick, affects the stats and level caps for Star Children during Classmating. Stats are also the main thing determining which of the many classes you get to choose from for said Star Children.
During heroine events, you may occasionally get to give the heroine a gift. Certain gifts can actually be worn, and will appear on them in any of their scenes, though not in battle – there are separate costumes for battle. For unknown reasons, you can only talk to 3 heroines per in-game day and have to rest in your room to progress time to the next day to talk to them more. However, “progressing time” has no effect on anything, making the entire thing pointless.
Aside from that, everything is nicely tied together, but the main noose around the game’s neck are the dungeons. At the beginning of the game, you have 5 floors and a boss fight. Each subsequent dungeon adds another 5 floors. That makes 40 floors by the end of the game. 10 floors was just about the perfect length to not have these dungeons outstay their welcome. Fill in the blanks. Admittedly, you can leave at the start of any floor, but this leads to the gameplay getting too long-winded and in the way of you continuing the story. The dungeons feel like a chore.
When you beat the game, which is quite easy aside from one difficulty spike at the end of chapter 7, you get to pick one heroine that you’ve seen all of her sub-plot related events for. You’ll know you have if she’s asked you out to the Star Conception Festival. Picking one ends the game with their ending. If you’ve already seen one of their endings, but can’t access the harem ending, you can instead choose to hang out with your friend. If you’ve seen all of the heroine endings and all of them have asked you to the festival during the playthrough, you get the harem ending without a choice in the matter (which means you can’t choose to hang out with your friend instead if you haven’t yet without replaying the game and avoiding the ending).
After getting an ending, new game plus lets you pick between restarting the game at the end of the second-last chapter and keeping everything, or you can reset affection and events with the heroines and restart the game from the beginning.
That, in short, is all there is to the game.
While there are no major issues to the gameplay, it is simply too boring, which is why I said it doesn’t even deserve a look in terms of that.
As a harem simulator, it is perfectly serviceable, and just about the only notable game of its kind available.
While the gameplay gets in the way, Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a perfectly serviceable harem simulator.