Bad Apple Wars is an otome game by Aksys games who have also localised fantastic games like Code Realize and non-otome games like the Zero Escape series. Bad Apple Wars is only available on the ps vita and features 5 romanceable routes. I know this game came out AGES ago, so it’s a bit late for a ‘first impressions’ post. But I only just got it from the PSN store’s January sale. It was about 60% off, so down to $25 instead of $63, I had heard mixed reviews of the game so I knew I wanted to wait for a sale before purchasing the game. I gotta say, I’m pretty happy that I waited, cause this game is definitely not worth the $60 price tag!
Number of Romance Options: 5 guys
My play through order: Shikishima –> Satoru –> Higa –> Astrum —> White Mask
Time Per Route: 2 hours max
Total Play Time: ~ 10 hours (max)
Overall rating: 6.5/10
Story & Gameplay
In Bad Apple Wars you play as a young girl who has recently died. Sorry to break it to you. Instead of heading to heaven or whatever afterlife (or lack there of) you believe in, you end up in a school called Nevaeh Academy. It’s an odd school with faceless students who mindlessly follow the rules, crazy teaches and a group of delinquents called the ‘bad apples’. If you’re a good apple, adhere to the 108 school rules and forget your identity you get a shot a reincarnation. But if you’re a bad apple you face expulsion, but expulsion may not be as bad as the good apple Prefects make it out to be…
While the story sounds very interesting, it’s almost the exact same premise as an anime called Angel Beats. You’ve got high school students who died without living their life to the fullest, people who follow the school’s order and people who rebel, plus a white haired prefect that the MC is intrigued by. So if you’ve watched the anime, you might find this game rather tedious. Even without the Angel Beats comparison the game isn’t too fantastic, from a superficial perspective it’s an interesting enough story. But when you look at it deeper there’s plot holes and aspects that just aren’t explained whatsoever. For example in Shikishima’s route the MC manages to break all these unbreakable rules which the other Bad Apples have been trying to do for YEARS. Why can MC break it when no-one else could? That’s never explained! She just can. I will also point out that while there are 5 romanceable options, paths only break at around chapter 5, and there’s only 3 route specific chapters. Routes take about 2 hours to complete (even less if you forward), so there’s less than 10 hours gameplay.
In terms of gameplay, this is honestly a visual novel in its purest form. There’s no dialogue options whatsoever and you get very limited choices on how the story will unfold. One choice is whether you will side with the bad or good apples, the other choice you get is when you can choose specific areas to hang out (which are colour-coded to the guy). Again this does make the game very frustrating, especially since the MC is so bland, and you can’t add any character to her with dialogue.
In terms of text bubbles there are two awkward design features. Firstly, the text is a bit of a struggle to read. I’m not quite sure why the translators chose this font, it does take a while to get used to it. Another thing I found was that I sometimes struggled to differentiate between when MC was speaking out loud or thinking to her self. For speaking out load the bubble would turn square and for thinking it would be circular (like above). But at times it was like other characters were responding to what MC was thinking rather than saying.
The one interesting part of this game is their touch controls which happen whenever CGs pop up. You tap around the picture to get more details of what’s happening. In later CGs after you tap around enough the characters get naked…which is kinda off-putting since they’re drawn like Ken and Barbie dolls.
My biggest frustration with Bad Apple Wars is that it has such a wonderful cast of characters which end up never being used. For example in the Bad Apple group there’s a guy who talks like a Samurai and he just pops in and out whenever, gets hints at a really interesting backstory and then disappears without any resolution. On the other hand we get a romaceable option like Sotaru who is so freaking unlikeable! He yells at MC because he has to study, contributes nothing to do the story and his character design makes him look like a crack addict. Other characters, like Shikishima, were interesting up to a point. I saw another blogger compare him to Kei from CollarxMalice and I gotta admit that comparison did make me a bit more sympathetic towards him. Otherwise I found him a very confusing character and I couldn’t quite work out what his goals were.
On to the MC who was honestly the worst part of the game. Our introduction to MC is her walking to school contemplating about how boring her life is -day in and day out she does the same thing over and over again. Which is fine, but what gets unforgivable is her at the academy. She joins the Bad Apples who are incredibly welcoming and kind to her, but she keeps talking about how much they must dislike her and not want her there. A character could literally go “hey want to hang out with me?” and in the next sentence MC will be “Oooh everyone hates me, I’m the bane of their existence, why am I here?” It was honestly insufferable. I would have preferred a bland, faceless MC over this woe-is-me BS character.
Finally I have a massive bone to pick with how the writers created the character of Naraka. Naraka presents themselves as female – dresses in feminine clothing, and speaks in feminine way. Yet in both routes I’ve played they’ve made a big deal of hammering in that Naraka’s birth sex was male, and made it into a big joke like “ooh he’s tricked you haha! Are you surprised!?”. Furthermore one character Higa, constantly makes disparaging comments like “what’s the point of a guy being cute” towards Naraka. I was just really disappointed that in this day and age we still have genderfluid characters as the butt of jokes. I will say that Naraka was a pretty important character in the game and besides the awful jokes about their gender they were pretty kickass too. So it’s a bit like one step forward two steps back.
Art & Music
In terms of the art, it’s nothing particularly special. I personally liked it, but compared to games like Collar x Malice or Code:Realize which have quite detailed art it can look a bit simplistic. In terms of sprites all the romanceable options had ones with facial and body expression changes. Good apples had a stock standard one for male, and one for female characters. On the Bad Apple side there were quite a few characters that didn’t have sprites at all, which again got a bit confusing when about 10 people were in a convo and 6 of them had no sprites. The CGs were quite nice, except for that naked moment that just felt weird.
On a very positive note I actually loved the music in this game. The opening theme song was fantastic, and I’ve now got it on my phone! The instrumental music really fit the themes of the game and added an interesting layer to sometimes quite boring scenes. The game is fully voiced, I quite liked all the voices except perhaps the Rabbit teacher’s voice. It was a bit grating and quite loud – best not to be wearing earphones when he comes on!
I know that so far it seems like I’ve been condemning this game, but I just wanted to point out all the negative aspects of it for potential buyers. I honestly don’t believe it’s worth the $60 price tag, when you compare it to other games with strong female leads, unique stories and detailed art. On top of this it really is a short game, with limited replay value, especially when you have to skip 5 chapters just to get to 3 with the romance option. I personally quite liked the art, and the music was definitely a high point for me. But with so little otome games coming out to the West, it can be very disappointing when we do get one, and it’s not that great. So unfortunately for Bad Apple Wars, I’ll have to give it a 6.5/10