Kowloon High School Chronicle was like a monkey paw wish for me, a previously untranslated PS2 era game, Yes please! Visual novel elements, oh no!. Which class did I end up in? Read on to find out!.
So as I just mentioned Kowloon High School Chronicle isn’t a “new” game, instead it’s a title from the PS2 given the translation and port treatment. Originally developed by Shout! Design Works this version has been published by our good friends and Europe’s bastion of Japanese releases, PQube.
Kowloon High School Chronicle puts you in the adventurous boots of a treasure hunter, exploring Egypt and claiming treasures while working for an international treasure hunting community. Naturally you’re betrayed at your last gig and clinging onto life as you walk through the desert. You are saved and given a new assignment that puts you in a high school in the middle of Japan surrounded in mysterious curses and of course, nice shiny treasure.
Naturally being the setting is that of a Japanese high school it lends itself to all that drama, romance and cliche characters that have become all the more commonplace over the recent years. You’ve got clichés all over the place in the worst and best ways, it feels very much a product of its time in regards to the writing of the characters and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
The main narrative of the game and it’s lack of impact ties into my favourite aspect of the game and that is the presentation. The game is split into chapters which follow the day and night cycle explained a little later on, the intro feels very Cowboy Bebop and each section is very much “Freak of the week” until the end where it all ties up in a nice little bow. For me this was ideal as it came off a little more digestible to me but it did mean I cared less about the overarching story and more about what curse I was trying to dispel this time.
I also loved the absolute clash of themes between the High Schooler slice of life and the frankly Indiana Jones style, tomb raiding almost secret agent feel. I know this is something other games have likely done before and after but the pure contrast really enticed me to this game as it ticked all my boxes for quirky and bizarre storytelling.
The music and visuals are all extremely what I would describe as “my bag baby” and by that I mean if you have played any Kadokawa or Grasshopper game you’ll be on the money, dare I even say it’s almost “Suda-esque” at times without trying to discredit either.
The school map is very much like the classic SMT style where your character is more of an icon than character model and you select where you want to go/who you wish to talk to.
Character designs are all very cliche anime but have enough frames to go through every emotion. The designs also go a long way in showing each characters specific personality which is great in helping you speak to them all.
Dungeon sections are 3D first person affairs so the graphics take a more polygon style decorated in an ancient Egyptian garb.
As mentioned earlier the game is one of two halves, visual novel and dungeon crawler. We touched alot on the VN side of things at the start but there is a little more to it.
Every character you speak to you’ll be given a chance to choose your reaction from an emotion wheel, the font here is frankly impossible to read and I would suggest a guide to help you with what does what though I plodded through best I could.
Depending on who you talk to and how in your free time they will give you contact details and then will join you later on in the dungeon crawling sections.
The dungeon crawling in Kowloon High School Chronicle look and feel fantastic, there is a high focus on puzzles and having the right equipment/knowledge to take on the bosses.
Combat allows you to move around the field, interact with items and attack using various melee and ranged weapons, once you’ve used your “Action Points” up you end the turn and it’s your enemies turn.
While not the most in depth combat you’ve got everything most turn based games have, weaknesses being the best thing to exploit as the bosses are seemingly designed around this, it’s all here just slightly less of it and less unique than I would have liked.
Naturally you have side missions and these come in the form of requests you can accept through your computer. They have a agency feel and even require a fee before you can take them on.
There is also another adventure RPG within this game that acts as a mini game/stat booster which really evokes the feeling of mid 90s anime and RPGs. I spent a lot more time here than I would care to admit.
Clocking in at around 40 hours altogether, the handy small chapters make it well suited for the Nintendo Switch and makes it ideal to just chip away at.
I really enjoy Kowloon High School Chronicle even if on paper it wasn’t a game for me. The unique style really sold me on the game even if neither side of the gameplay was too in-depth. It has charm, atmosphere and is a genuine good time for fans of quirky anime adventures.
A unique and fun title that doesn’t set the world on fire but does feel like buried treasure has been found.
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