Conception™II: Children of the Seven Stars follows from its predecessor: Conception: Ore no Kodomo o Undekure! released in 2012 on the PSP. While the first instalment of the game never reached outside Japan, luckily we are fortunate to have the second instalment of the series localised for the West courtesy of Atlus USA.
In this joint review, Colin & Aisha take a look at Conception II, available for download on the 3DS and PS Vita.
Colin:The game play is based on a dungeon crawler theme mixed with dating sim element. Most people who try this game or read these two phases tend to think of Persona which is no surprise to me.
Aisha:The game’s story follows the teenage protagonist with awesome hair who holds the power to vanquish demonic monsters who randomly started to spew out of the mysterious dusk circles around the world. ‘Itsuki Maines’ was the name I ended up choosing, but you’re free to name the protagonist whatever you want.
Colin:At the start of the game, the protagonist arrives as a student enrolling into a monster busting academy and surprisingly you save two students from their demise. With this starting intro, there is no surprise that you find out that you are an elite student. We soon learn that after an attack on his sister on her wedding day, that he bears the star god mark. Its turns out that he surpasses even the elite as the foretold “God’s Gift” and made into an instant celebrity, making him a hit with the girl and competition to the guys.
Colin:The graphics in the game are quite nice for a handheld game, with the vita version looking particularly better thanks to the beefier hardware. The in-game cinematics are spectacular and sometimes I wish they did the whole story telling in that 3D animated style.
Aisha: The Animation flowed so well from conversation to battling. Over are the days of static pictures above text, now we have emotive character portraits moving and social facial expressions.
Colin: Actually, I thought the animation of the character portraits seemed a bit disturbing at times.
Aisha: The battle system has gone for the traditional turn based style which I found charming and made me appreciate the graphics more.
Colin:By combining your power with other high ranking students, you can create a new being called Star Children which assist you in your adventures. Each Star Child has the ability to join a certain class to aid you. Classes can range from sword users or an almighty warlock. You may even have some luck to get a genius Star Child.
Aisha:Being a ‘GG’ (his in game nick name) he also have a rare 100% chance of creating Star Children with S-rank female students (the highest ranking within the school). Yes like the name ‘Conception’ you are in fact making matryoshka doll babies!
Colin: Most of the time I spent in the game was travelling through the random dungeons in the game. The dungeons remind me of Persona series how the most annoying thing is that each corridor is so small that most of the time you are going through doors, on top of that while going through each door there is a small blackout instead of a smooth transition to the next path.
Enemies in the game tend to start of being very easy early game. However as the game graduates you start to feel the difficulty rise which can result to grinding for levels to proceed further due to the difficulty spike as well as how you play.
Colin:The aspects I like about the game-play in the game are the class system and the large number of skills in the game including the secret team based skills. As mentioned previously, the class system involves choosing a specific job for the star child you produce. The type of jobs increases as you progress through the story, allowing the player to unlock new classes. However there are some rare classes which can only be unlocked via special items. These items are based on luck from certain monsters in the game so if you want the special classes, be ready for some grinding.
One bad thing is that if you decide to use a new star child, you will have to replace the old one in your team. This means you will need to level up your new child in the team to stand a chance to progress in the story. During you adventures you may bring up to 9 star children in groups of 3×3. Based on the classes in the groups, you may unlock special skills to help aid your adventure which I liked.
Aisha: One of the drawbacks of using the star children is you have to have at least three at all times, if you have only one you cannot equip him/her on their own. Your maximum amount of star children is 70 so you have to be prudent with which ones you train. I also liked that sometimes if the process was successful (matter of luck really) you could hatch twins or triplets.
Aisha:The game’s script never failed to amuse me as poor Fuuka was equally as weirded out by this process as I was.
Colin: Outside the dungeon and battling, you will need to progress with the story as well as the relationship building with each heroine. Each girl has their own storyline and it is up to you who you want to spend time with, this is where the dating sim part comes into play. There is no time limit in the game as long as you don’t proceed with the story. When interacting with the different girls, you’ll have 3 options at points in the conversation and it is up to you how you want to respond back to the girl. You’ll want to be mindful of who they may react when choosing an option as it can have an effect on the heroine’s mood. If their mood is bad, you won’t be able to create star children with them.
Colin:As for the overall story, I felt was too plain and the build up wasn’t that interesting. Some of the heroine’s individual story arcs weren’t too bad either. There’s also a lot of text in the game, especially when it’s trying to teach you how to play; I spent quite a bit of time at the beginning going through all the text before getting into my first actual fight.
Aisha: As a JRPG fan I loved that the game gave you lots of detail regarding story and you had the opportunity to probe more into subject through questioning character about classmating process or Dusk Circles. The opening sequence was fantastic like I were watching an anime. I really got engrossed in this game and have come to have a soft spot for many of the characters.
Colin: Conception 2 is a good game to keep you busy for a while. The many dungeons to explore and the extensive dialogue should easily give you more than 40 hours gameplay even if they decide to skip chunks of text during event scenes. Even though the dungeons can get repetitive at times, the game has a pretty decent combat system and makes good use of the randomising dungeon map to help change things up a bit. The Star child functionality is a nice feature of the gameplay which rivals Persona’s in terms of creating and training allies to fight for you, while the large range of skills to use as well as classes for your Star child makes the level of customisation even deeper, allowing you to craft your squad to your liking.
Grinding in game can get tedious and sometimes become annoying when you’re trying to train new star child and get secret items. The storyline could have been better and at some parts there was way too much text making some dialogue and story sections seem to drag on and on, but at least the story cinematic animations looked very pretty. I would have been great if they could have made the monsters look as good since some don’t really show much creativity in their character designs.
Aisha: All in all I think this has been one of the best JRPG games for a handhold console I’ve played for a while! With a great mixture of turn based battles, dating sim-style elements ,which we don’t get much of in the West, along with a visual novel feel in the story and event scenes. The classmating feature was unusual but it was a way to make unlocking different classes more different and enjoyable. The biggest con which is in more RPG’s is the constant grinding however if you’ve played a lot of JRPGs, this probably won’t come as much of a surprise.