Laevatein’s Readin’ Sessions x Mecha Monday: Muv Luv Extra

Hey guys, what you’re reading is probably Moar Powah’s first crossover post. And it couldn’t be more appropriate, as I’m reviewing my favorite Japanese franchise ever, Muv Luv. All self-centered ideas aside, I’ll also be doing my first review trilogy, as I’ll be reviewing each entry in the main Muv Luv trilogy over the next three weeks. The Boss (no, not the Metal Gear Solid one) posted a very short featurette on Muv Luv Alternative. Anyways, enough background, time to get to some real content!

If your first impression was "Hey, this looks like some ordinary harem!" then you're spot on.

Muv Luv is âge’s most important franchise, which came out a few years after their critically acclaimed Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (or Rumbling Hearts, if you prefer). The first part of the Muv Luv trilogy isn’t nearly as dramatic and depressing as Kimi ga Nozomu Eien; in fact, Muv Luv Extra (why yes, that is the first title in the trilogy) is an outrageous harem experience. If you’ve watched a harem, you can probably imagine what Extra’s like. Soooo it fails conceptually. But what it lacks in concept, it somewhat makes up for in execution.

The story for Extra is… well, there isn’t really a story. At least, not a main one. The main one is about two girls vying for the main character’s affection. The main story is broken down into several arcs, which vary in quality (though the Lacrosse arc is universally thought of as boring). Each heroine’s route has one full story per route, though two out of three of them are pretty bad. Now, while the story is by and large mediocre, what makes the game interesting is that it both manages to play harem stories straight AND parodies them to hell and back. The comedy, while hit and miss, is completely crazy, sometimes even crazier than Full Metal Panic’s (a series I love, but that’s neither here nor now). You have a ton of mecha and videogame homages/shout outs/parodies, including one gigantic reference to Virtual-On (“VALGERN-ON”), one character who is a complete and total parody of Initial D (who owns a 60 meter long limo and can easily win street races), and even a few references to Kiminozo here and there. While the comedy certainly isn’t for everyone, the game tries to be humorous very often, and the humor does succeed throughout the main story. Sadly, the side routes become loldrama, which is terrible. Still, if you like wacky comedy, you might find Extra very amusing.

That being said, I don't know how anyone can find the Lacrosse arc interesting in the slightest.

The art… is as cute, harem-ey as you can get. Character art is, additionally, over the top, with massive amounts of ridiculous hair (such as intake hair). Background art is drawn pretty well too, and CGs are also often done well . Granted, there aren’t a whole lot of breath taking CGs, but they’re still solid. In addition, the game uses a lot of super deformed sprites and scenes for amusing results. Overall, the art is very much there for the comedy and cuteness, and it does a good job of that. The sound is very fitting. The music is, on average, probably the cutest and bubbliest (if that’s even a word) VN music ever. Sadly, many of the songs are pretty damn annoying. Especially since they get repeated often. However, a number of songs also happen to be really good, such as the Initial D parody music. But there are a small number of songs (two) don’t fit very well in Extra. It’s kind of weird, only hearing those songs twice (aside from slight gag scenes). There are a ton of whacky sound effects as well. Voice acting’s as normal to the medium as you can get.

The narrative’s solely told from the main character’s perspective and as a result, is entirely either stupid harem stuff, silly comedy stuff, or dense harem lead stuff. Nothing special. The game’s engine, rUGP, is a lot more versatile than most, as it allows for a lot more freedom. Sprites can be placed nearly anywhere on the screen and at any size (the game even has the common sense to not stretch them!), and  âgedrew the sprites from many different angles. Sprites can also move, so it leads to pseudo-animated segments at times. It bumps up the immersion when you can see sprites actually doing stuff.

Makes fight scenes like this actually pretty cool.

I should also point out that the sex is standard stuff. It actually starts out pretty normal , but once you go down the routes, it gets stupider and stupider. By that I mean sex starts out in normal places (main character invites girl back to his place and they do it on his bed), but then he does it increasingly weird places. I guess that made it somewhat amusing, but again, not worth it.

The characters also happen to be walking cliches. You have the dense male lead, the childhood friend, the rich girl, the catgirl loli, the class rep, and the deadpan snarker. In addition, there are other characters such as your crazy male friend (yes, your only male friend, too), a crazy physics teacher, a more down to earth English teacher who can’t keep boyfriends (now that it comes to mind, Azumanga Daioh did this in reverse), and ninja maids. So, like I said before, concept fails. Execution? A bit better, but not by much. While the two main heroines (and the main character) aren’t all that fleshed out (though they do actually develop, miraculously), it’s the side characters that get a bit more fleshing out. Each of the other heroines actually have problems that they need to deal with, and they don’t involve the main character at all (though naturally, he butts in anyways). While seeing the heroines dealing with their problems can be cool, it’s hampered by the fact that most of the side routes suck. Considering this is the first part of the trilogy, setting up the characters should be what they focus on, and that’s exactly what Extra does.

Rating Breakdown
While the narrative is nothing special, the special effects are great, making the game seem a lot more active.
The main plot is very run of the mill, with arcs ranging from okay to bad. Sub-routes are bad on average, but if you're the type of person who enjoys wacky comedy and knows quite a bit of mecha and videogames, you'll appreciate Muv Luv's over the top humor.
While characters are silly harem archetypes, some of them actually do develop slightly, and have their own personal problems. Still, there's nothing amazing to be found in the characters, not even in the protagonist.
With very cute character art, pleasant backgrounds, solid CGs, and massive amounts of SD, the art does a great job of carrying the game's wacky tone across.
The game's music tries to be as cute as possible, and it comes out being weird, with some tracks being really annoying, and others being awesome. Tons of wacky sound effects are used, and voice acting is okay.
While there isn't much to expect from the story, narrative, or characters, the game's humor and craziness are enough to carry it to be at least decent.

While I did make it sound like Extra isn’t worth reading, compared to other titles, it’s actually required reading if you want to read Unlimited and Alternative, and both are very much worth reading (Alternative moreso than Unlimited). Extra acts as a set-up for the rest of the trilogy, so at the very least, being familiar with Extra will make you appreciate Unlimited and Alternative quite a deal more.

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One Comment:

  1. Pingback: Mecha Monday: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse Impressions | Moar Powah!

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