No spoiler review!
One week before the release of this game, the Cero B scared me off so I had it preordered and cancelled twice. But in the end, I found out it was Gold Rating, and mini games are waaaaay up my alley so why not!
This game reads more like a sports manga than an otome game, though naturally so, since it started out as a manga series anyway. If you’re looking for lots of cute love scenes and moe-able characters or good writing about the complications of having a crush on someone, you ain’t gonna find it here. But in return, what you get is (quite) a realistic story of how a team that was almost broken up gets motivated to run for each other and end up with good memories of a sport they once abandoned.
Also, for once, high school boys act like high school boys with their silly (but funny) play acts, dreaming that the heroine kissed them intensely(lol) and getting teased by the older people in the game. Strangely, even though the love between the characters are not obvious, it sits well with me because it’s a very typical portrayal of relationships where kids spend time with each other, knowing each other and helping each other out then getting together. All good.
A little bit about what Stride is:
Stride is an imagined sports where
- Characters run track-and-field through the town with obstacles in their way
- It’s based on the principle of ‘Kindness’ ‘Strength’ something like that, when let’s say, someone needs a heart transplant urgently but all traffic and stopped and you need to get the organ to the hospital miles away ASAP. So Stride is based on such relation where the baton of ‘hope’ is passed form one to another.
- Girls don’t enter because their strength loses to guys, and female relationers like heroine Sakurai Nana are rare
- Now this is a bit silly, but because it’s a large scale sport of running through town, and equipment is needed to track the players, they need sponsors for each team. Hounan’s sponsor is Hasekura Heath’s sister, Dianne’s apparel brand. As a result, the Hounan Stride team is often made to do modelling for the clothes lineup as compensation.
CGs, art: Suits the style of the game well, but few in number with only 12 per character. There are special illustrations in the reward section though! Below CG is what inspired Sakurai Nana the heroine to take an interest in Stride: two boys running at high speed and a beautiful relay!
The character positions are also really limited, either front or side, and they don’t roll in and out of screen like Rejet’s game system, but more like Otomate’s where they just appear or fade out.
Very beautiful BGs that suit the setting of the game perfectly with blue-tones and complexes where the Stride teams run! Other features include eye and mouth animation.
System: Something like Arcana and WOF’s Day-to-day, didn’t get annoyed though because Choro’s guide allowed me to only go through the common route twice instead of 6 times for 6 characters. Touch responsive, easy to access control panel, pretty save/load screen.
Music: BGMs fitted well with the scenes, no complains, and there are lots of songs by Galaxy Standard.
Mini Game: Runs on auto mostly except
- The choosing of runner’s order during the match.
Two runners are always locked into position so you can only choose three. The trick is to match the highest ability of each runner to the opponent shown on the right side, so if the opponent is strong at Gimmicks (obstacles), then choose the runner such as Kohinata who is strong at Gimmicks. Or if the opponent is good at start dash, choose Riku.
Getting this wrong will minus your overall points for the match and determine your game rank. The coach of the team Dan sensei will give you advice if you get it wrong but dude, this is so hard to get wrong, because Cero B. (;´･ω･) Full marks = S rank, 95-90 A rank and so on. The other part with interaction is this:
Here you actually have to hit the whitish area so you can get a proper relation runner with runner, and when you do it properly, the two runners get a perfect relation. If not, nothing happens, the game goes on but your final rank is affected. Can be done with touch or button, I preferred the button because it was hard to tap at the right time.
Apart from these two little bits though, there’s actually not much interaction for what I was duped into thinking was a mini-game. Nope. But saying so, I really enjoyed seeing all the matches! It had a ‘real’ feeling to it, and since I was very into the game from the start I think this “minigame” added to the overall atmosphere of the game.
Character interaction and overall Story:
I felt #4 was not really needed to carve a setting for this game, and which company in real life would bother funding a random high-school sports team unless it’s for charity? They don’t seem to be getting much for their advertising either, except for Saisei Team, which is an idol school and the members of Stride are all from Galaxy Standard, a popular idol group.
I enjoyed seeing the setting of Stride in town with #2 as its principle, though many factors would have to be taken into consideration in a real situation. The Relationer’s job is to tell the runners when they should Get Set to High Touch (pass the baton in a high 5) and I feel that anyone, other than the runners themselves, deciding when to connect with the other runner is nothing short of DANGEROUS. And accidents did happen in the game but they just needed a role so they could make it into an otome game. Yeah. Also, it levels on ridiculous in the bit where Nana is able to ‘hear’ the runner’s voices of their feelings towards Stride and the other runners so she can give good instructions. They call this skill ‘Telepath’. I call it a ‘every-shonen-manga-must-have-special-skill’
Other than the above two debatable points, the game was enjoyable. The character interactions were really funny, and realistic, and the heroine was not overly bimbotic. And she’s not fully voiced which was kinda meh. Some seiyuus play double characters. If you check their names you’ll be surprised they were the same person.
Some similar things for every character do happen, which bored me a little, such as:
-1 date scene whether accidental or planned, or not intended date
-Visiting heroine when she got sick
-Right after semi-finals match at Smileland, short date with guy
-Short talk with guy at night after combined training camp with Saisei Team
However, the storyline itself was pretty great, and it was nice to see how the characters overcame their losses or mistakes and started to build a team or themselves again. Kadokawa was not wrong to advertise themselves as a story built on ‘bonds’ (kizuna)
The playable and sub characters themselves were very interesting and strong in personality, which is typical of sports themed titles, and my personal favourites are Takeru and Kyosuke, both who are of the ‘cool’ type.1st year Takeru thinks of nothing except Stride and is always at odds with Riku, but his development at Stride is linked to his relationship with Nana, so it was endearing to see him. I’d think of Takeru as the main guy more than Riku, and Takeru is the moody kind of cool guy.
Kyosuke is the 3rd year with the motobike and what everybody calls ‘The Stride’ because he is a guy that encompasses all the values, helping old grannys and stuff wwwwww. Kyosuke looks like a bad ass but he’s actually the nicest guy in there and not awkward at all. And that gorgeous long white hair typical of Suwabe Junichi roles wwwww. Here’s pictures of Suwabe Junichi roles. First one by me, second by Lacal.
Man I’d love to see a guy like Kyosuke in real life! Totally husband material!
My other favourite character is Ame-Senpai from another team, but that’s just my Kaito bias speaking because ikemen voice. I mean, Kyoukai no Rinne anime is so trashy but I’m there every week for Kaito!!
Recommended Play Order: Fujiwara Takeru > Kohinata Hozumi > Hasekura Heath > Kuga Kyosuke > Yagami Riku > Suwa Reiji
What could have been better: Some jealousy from some other girl, some misunderstanding that the guy you like has a girlfriend, come on! The only other girl is Nana’s best friend from the editorial club and she does’t care a hoot about the Stride sexy men?! And of course Heath’s sisters who are way out of league. Lol.
Length of game: I CANT TELL WHERE IS THE COMMON ROUTE AND WHERE IS THE INDIVIDUAL ROUTES. But it didn’t matter much even though it sounds like I’m screaming but I’m actually just amused. This is due to the fact that everything happens (like I said) like a sports manga, so the matches last from start to end with individual scenes happening in between the matches for the guy you’re currently playing and there are only two ends.
Stride End: Guy confesses and kisses heroine right after the Final match. You can see how much they trust each other and they’re both so happy at the win it’s kinda romantic actually, what the heck. Epilogue.
Normal End: You still get together with the guy, but there’s no kiss scene right after the Finals, and it ends with Nana’s monologue of ‘Watashi ga Anata wo Omou Monogatari’ which kinda feels like a one-sided love because in Stride end, the guy also voices the bit “Boku/Ore ga Anata wo Omou Monogatari” lol. But yeah. Hang in there for ze trophy.
Omake: Lots of extras. Character Designs, scenes with each Stride team, epilogue for the Stride team as a whole. You get points (not really sure when you get them) probably when you clear scenes or endings, and you can use these points to buy the omake voices and character rough designs and epilogues.
There’s nothing much to summarise actually but there are no bad ends, and a refreshing epilogue for each character that ends with the ‘bright hope of the future with Stride and you~’ kinda thing which was really nice for summer. lol.
I give it overall a 4.5 stars because I enjoyed it, but if you’re looking for an Otome Game that is not plain entertainment, or you want more love story, I’d say give this a miss!