Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 212020
 

In addition to all the shorter visual novels I’ve been focusing on this month, I decided to also play one or two longer ones, starting with the otome Bad Apple Wars.

(Okay, I intended to start with Code: Realize, but my PS+ copy is broken and crashes all the time.)

Bad Apple Wars begins with the protagonist on her way to high school when she’s hit by a truck and dies. She finds herself at a strange new school where she’s told she will start a new life if she obeys all of the school’s rules and graduates.

Doing this, however, means you lose all of your individuality and memories. There is a group of rebellious students known as the “Bad Apples” who are trying to break as many rules as they can to keep their sense of self and be expelled so they can return to their original lives.

Early on, you’re given a pretty innocuous choice that puts you on either the Good Apple path or the Bad Apple path. That’s the sole traditional choice in the game.

Because of that choice, there are two different common routes, although they’re closer than you might expect. If you pick the Good Apple path, the protagonist is conflicted about her decision and befriends the Bad Apples anyway, and the common route always goes through the same major events with specific spots where you deal with your love interest of choice, so they end up feeling more like two slightly different perspectives of the same route.

Still, the common routes do a good job of building up the strange setting and introducing the characters, although not all of my questions were answered by the end of the game.

Click for minor Bad Apple Wars spoilers
While the ending always explained the school’s true purpose, there are still questions to be answered. Who are the teachers? How did they get involved?

Who is the Headmaster and why does the game make a point of saying the Rotten Apple’s voice sounds similar to his?

What exactly is the requirement that lets the protagonist get past limits? (I have a theory about this, but it’s never quite explained.)

The main focus of Bad Apple Wars, however, is its characters.

Two of the love interests can only be pursued on the Good Apple path, and the other three can only be pursued on the Bad Apple path.

While there aren’t other true “choices” in the story, there are certain points where you can pick a location to go from the map. The location you pick determines which character you encounter there, which determines which character route you end up on.

One more aspect comes into play as you read the story, and that’s the touch system. At this school, touching someone lets you see their deepest memories. Certain key points have you touch your love interest and see glimpses of their past, told from their point of view. Eventually you’ll reach a special scene where the place you touch them decides whether you get their good ending or bad ending.

The characters are all pretty great. The supporting cast is strong, and the love interests are all pretty distinct from one another. Getting to see their past from their own perspectives gives it a nice touch and really heightens the emotion of those scenes. I honestly liked every route, although the epilogue of one soured it a little.

Click for major Bad Apple Wars spoilers
I’m talking about Shikishima’s epilogue, of course.

I didn’t mind the idea that because of how far apart in time they were and his incurable illness, they could never be together. I really liked how his good ending was going. If it had ended with the protagonist meeting his great-great-great nephew or whatever he is and leaving us with the implication that they would get to know each other, it would have been a sweet ending.

(Higa’s ending handled this quite well with his reincarnation, for example.)

Even if it had ended with him taking her to see the sunflowers, that would have been nice.

But having him be aware she keeps mistaking him for the original Shikishima, and even questioning it when she says she loves him (and her hesitation makes it really seem like she sees him as a stand-in) just made that ending feel unsatisfying to me.

Now, the weakest part of Bad Apple Wars is the protagonist. She constantly goes on about how she’s “empty” inside, isn’t good at anything, and doesn’t have any interests or even hobbies. The emptiness itself is okay, but it’s hard to take the repeated narration about how she has nothing. It’s especially bad on the Good Apple path, where she doesn’t want to help the Prefects but isn’t willing to join the Bad Apples, so her narration is just nonstop wishy-washy thoughts about how she doesn’t know what to do.

However, she improves significantly by the end of each route, gaining confidence in herself and realizing she has something to care about. Sometimes this is a little too directly linked to her love interest, but just seeing her become proactive is a welcome relief.

I’ll be honest, when I started Bad Apple Wars, I didn’t think I was going to like it, but the characters changed that for me. The characters and their backstories give Bad Apple Wars the boost it needs, and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a character-focused otome with a dark premise.

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  3 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Romantic: Bad Apple Wars”

  1. Sounds like an interesting premise. Shame it’s only on Vita

  2. […] I already have that you might want to look into. Tales of Hearts R, Bad Apple Wars (which I played and enjoyed), and Norn9: Var Commons are all exclusive to the […]

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