Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Amazing Aria & Sweet Serenade LOVE
うたの☆プリンスさまっ♪ Amazing Aria & Sweet Serenade LOVE
Broccoli / Nippon Ichi Software
Despite relationships being forbidden, Haruka and her partner have gotten tentative approval to date. But as the two of them take their first steps into stardom, can they prove that they aren’t just a one-hit wonder? And will their relationship stand up to new challenges?
Uta no Prince-sama Amazing Aria and Sweet Serenade LOVE is just waaaay too long. AASSL is the Vita port, and AASS will be the original PSP fandisks.
When I’m not feeling well, I often want to read. I also wanted to finally put AASSL away since the box is so big, so even though I have many other visual novels and manga still in my backlog, I decided to do a quick runthrough of this game even though Debut LOVE hasn’t even been announced yet.
So, as expected, Broccoli released the two original fandisks in one package. Like Repeat LOVE, AASSL includes the updated sprites, moving mouths, bonus stories, and other extras. The fandisks were the last games standing to use the old, ugly character models, so for that reason alone (well, that and it’s two games in one) makes AASSL a much more needed and desirable upgrade than Repeat LOVE was to Repeat. But AASSL made another major improvement… and improvement over Repeat LOVE.
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: THE MOUTHS DO STOP MOVING! I guess they got a lot of complaints sent their way…
For those of you who are confused, Repeat LOVE decided to make Uta no Prince-sama a little more realistic by adding lip flaps. Unfortunately, the result was about as professional as downloading a random app to add lip flaps to photos. Even if the character stopped speaking mid-dialogue box, the mouths kept opening and closing. It was super awkward for characters like Masato, who tend to be quiet and introspective. While still far from the most accurate “talking” sprites, at least AASSL stops for these breaks. I hope they don’t try to go the lazy route a la Repeat LOVE in the future.
The story in this game is divided into four chapters, and, unlike in some other UtaPri games, each chapter does not equal a month. For STARISH, the story starts right at the graduation audition. Generally, Shining Saotome puts some kind of condition on Haruka and her partner to date, and the two bask in their newly-acknowledged relationship while also facing some of problem (usually on the guy’s side). Based on the responses you (as Haruka) choose and how well you perform in the rhythm minigames, you will receive one of three endings. As is tradition, none of the endings are bad; they just have different levels of romance. In this case, it isn’t surprising since 7 of the 10 routes have Haruka already being in a couple versus the first game where her partner fell in love no matter what.
As I’ve mentioned many times, my Japanese is marginal at best, but I think it does some retconning of the original game ends. Some of the epilogues took place months later, so if not retcons, some of that content in the original game has to take place quite a ways into the future, after the AASSL and its sequel Debut. At the very least, the story doesn’t always feel like a natural continuation. Natsuki’s True Love ending and bonus story in Repeat showed his wild side, but this aspect never shows up in his fandisk route. Even more bizarrely, a lot of the conflicts arise late in the story, are built up to be something big, and then shortly resolved after. A few of the guys break up with Haruka because they were being angsty. Every relationship has their ups and downs, but the story is definitely a step down from its predecessor and some of its successors.
However, because Amazing Aria came out before Sweet Serenade, the developers had time to make some improvements to the story. Fandisks are usually pretty heavy into the romance aspect, and Amazing Aria just fell short in the squee-able moments. But even in the better stories, the pacing is often awkward.
After completing your first A or S class member’s route, you will unlock their teacher’s route. Ringo and Ryuya have been paired up quite often in fanworks and in later media, but their routes are actually quite solid. Of course, there’s the whole teacher x student issue (this is tackled in the story), but age gap-wise, it’s not much different than Haruka dating Reiji in subsequent games. Of course, she’s still very much a junior (although unofficial) member of Shining Agency, so even without the age gap, there’s still a power dynamic. Again, though, Haruka is still a kouhai to Reiji and the rest of Quartet Night in All Star, so…
Later, you will also unlock Shining Saotome’s path which involves his past self. His younger self and his story line is quite good except for one major thing. Now, I love Wakamoto’s voice as much as the next seiyuu fan, but he should NOT be playing a 14-year-old. His past self isn’t big on his rolling r’s or his other verbal ticks, so it was certainly plausible to find someone else to voice a younger Shining. And they really should have, as it is hard to see this youthful kid
sound like a 40+ year old man. Xemnas from Kingdom Hearts — among other characters — aren’t exactly young either, but having Wakamoto voice a 14-year-old teen who (unknowingly) flirts with his future student was a bad choice.
As for the Vita exclusives, each guy unlocks three bonus stories during their route. Some are from Haruka’s point-of-view like normal and others are told from an idol’s perspective. They’re pretty short, and one of the three is always focused on their rival, so these stories aren’t that great.
They probably could have been if the developers hadn’t wasted their time on the next bonus. Playing the game will unlock three storylines: Special Cool, Special Happy, and Future Stars. Instead of having additional stories featuring Haruka and her boyfriend, these are group mini-routes. Think of them as a worse version of the Rainbow Route in All Star. I didn’t care for Rainbow Route, but I don’t think I’ll ever complain again after these pointless mini-routes. The first two Colorful Stories feature A and S class respectively, and the third features all seven. You have to choose all the correct answers in the two-chapter route (and do well on the rhythm mini-game) to reach the epilogue. So it’s more puzzle-y than the normal game, and it was kind of a pain until I found a guide online as to why I was still missing trophies. Story-wise, the stories feature the idols discussing how to show a new side of themselves and completing some type of special event or challenge to help them complete the song. Haruka chimes in with her opinions and to guide them, but there is no romance at all. She could have been written out of the story very easily actually. So, why did we need decision points again? At the end, it feels more like long-winded thank you speeches to the players.
In addition, the story doesn’t seem to take place in any of the other timelines (taking place in any of the guys’ routes feels like a stretch), so I don’t know why we needed yet another separate reality. The writers should have just used these storylines for the anime, as I’d rather watch the seven of them face angry bears on the screen rather than just reading about them. If the writers really didn’t want to include more romance, then why not create something that helps bridge AASSL to Debut? A secret section featuring Quartet Night would have added a lot of hype. Heck, create something that supposedly happened while they were in school, I don’t care.
Or they could have just continue to run with their other bonus story:
Magical Ichiko OVA plz. Make Tokiya suffer! The Magical Ichiko Returns section is pretty long, but I’d trade 5 more minutes of magical girl-style goodness over the Colorful Stories. Come on, I want to see Darling!
(In this clip, Ichiko meets the other Music Princesses and prepare to fight together for the first time, and Shining Saotome somehow has a supercomputer that makes epic transformation sequences for the gang.)
As I mentioned, AASSL follows Uta no Prince-sama‘s usual pattern of choosing one of three options at certain points in a chapter and playing a rhythm minigame. Each route is divided into four chapters + endings, so a lot shorter than the 11 chapters + endings of the previous. To pad the routes out, the game has some alternate dialogues based upon your rhythm game results. In other games, this result just plays a factor in determining your ending. Here, however, you may get a bonus decision branch after the rhythm game, and what you choose will affect dialogue in the next chapter. Not significantly, as if it were a branching point, just slightly altered flirting or expanded information. So if you want to read all the texts, you have to get different results, choose the options, play through until you get new text, then reload. It’s rather annoying, and I’m glad the subsequent games didn’t do this. UtaPri generally doesn’t have branching paths, so it just feels like a waste. At least the biggest improvement over its prequel was that the rhythm game dialogue differences are now limited to S, A/B, and C/D, a pattern which Debut and all subsequent games would continue.
Unfortunately, though, if getting a Platinum trophy is important to you (or you just think visual games are easy Platinum-getters) you might have a more difficult time than you might think. One trophy requires you to get an S score on a Pro level rhythm lesson game. If you want an idea of S-ranking, take a look at YouTube. Sure, the rhythm lessons are designed easier than a song since it’s supposed to be her warm-up exercise, it’s still a challenge — and, most significantly, a right-hand killer. Repeat LOVE didn’t have a similar trophy, so I don’t know why this one does. Can we leave the music-related goals to the actual Uta no Prince-sama Music games, please? The best I could do was a B, so no Platinum for me despite getting 100% of the dialogue. I HATE YOU, GAME!!
Otherwise, the graphics are pretty much the same as the other games now. A few new CGs are included, and I can’t help but think poor Natsuki got the short end of the stick.
I also still think the speakers are secretly bear faces.
More than the graphics though, I’ve grown to realize how much I’m tired of the same old BGM. For a series about music, you’d think they’d have a lot of tunes. But players will recognize just about every song, and they’ll continue to hear every song all the way up to All Star After Secret LOVE — and probably Dolce Vita. I know this is a port, and it isn’t Amazing Aria or Sweet Serenade‘s fault that music would be continued to used for years, but it’s no less repetitive.
Graphically, Uta no Prince-sama Amazing Aria & Sweet Serenade LOVE is a much-needed upgraded with a major improvement over its prequel’s port, but I wish the other additional bonuses were more impressive. Seeing the teachers having a drink isn’t my idea of exciting bonus content. Hopefully Debut LOVE not being announced yet means they’re focusing on better extras, and considering it’s the only main game without a fandisk, there is plenty of room for heart-pounding moments.