That’s the end of magical girl video game week! We hope you enjoyed it. Of course, this week has just barely scratched the surface of magical girl video games; in recent years visual novels starring magical girls (like Nanatsuiro Drops, Mahou Shoujo Kirara to Sarara or Stellula Eques Codex) have been popular, as well as spinoff games of popular franchises (like the above, lovely Cutie Honey game for PC-FX.) We’ll continue to cover these games in the future!
This last week has been an amazingly busy one for magical girls— announcements, leaks, deaths, all sorts of things have happened, so expect the next week to have a lot of recap and a lot of news. We’ll keep you updated!
Footage from Lilpri - Yubi Puru Hime Chen!, a 2009 arcade game that would later be adapted into the 2010 anime Lilpri (the full title being Hime Chen! Otogi Chikku Idol Lilpri.) The game’s premise is much the same as the anime’s; three elementary-school girls are given the power to transform into adult idols based on fairytale princesses Snow White, Kaguya-hime and Cinderella, a setup pointing back to Studio Pierrot’s Creamy Mami and Magical Emi. Notable differences between the two media’s plotlines include the fact that in the anime, the girls are given this power by three different magical pets with connections to their princess alter-egos; in the original game, Chris the rabbit gives them this gift. In the anime Chris plays a different role. It is also worth noting that the game features a different voice cast from the later anime, which starred the girls in the idol group S/mileage.
The gameplay involves using physical trading cards to unlock different outfits for the heroines, allowing them to engage in various magical song and dance routines, during which the player can gain points by tapping to the beat. For a game with a similar method, see the “dress up and dance” game Love and Berry.
Mahou no Shoujo Silky Lip saw two major additions to the franchise in 2008, Mahou no Shoujo Silky Lip: Sannin no Jouou Kouhou and Mahou no Shoujo Silky Lip: Otona-Hen (above). Sannin no Jouou Kouhou (“Three Candidates For Queen”) is a rather questionable riff on the original Lip story, casting Lip and friends as very young girls in the “loli” style. Otona-Hen, literally “Grown-Up Story”, is more of a sequel with a completely different aesthetic: it takes cues from fantasy/action visual novels like Fate/Stay Night and focuses on Lip as an adult, as she goes about getting into dramatic magical battles and, yes, very “adult” situations.
The original Silky Lip was developed by Telenet Japan, who have a long history of selling their properties to other developers to be made into adult “hentai” games. Both the Silky Lip remakes were handled by Waffle; in the years before, Telenet Japan also sold its popular heroine-headed franchises Valis and Arcus to seedy company Eants, who adapted them into pornographic games. (More on Telenet Japan’s strange downward spiral here.)
Images from Mahou no Shoujo Silky Lip, a 90s magical girl game for the Sega CD. The plot imitates works like Minky Momo and Sally the Witch, following Lip, a girl from a magical dimension who visits Earth to study. Released in 1992 (contemporaneous to the first season of Sailor Moon), Silky Lip just misses the coming onslaught of warrior magical girls who would dominate magical girl videogames in coming years. As such, the gameplay in this cheerful game is mostly based in guiding Lip through conversations with various earthlings. Of course, when her magical rival appears, there are some turn-based-RPG-style battles. Lip predates other “conversation sim” games that were vogue in 90s Japan, like Tokimeki Memorial; in later years it would get multiple remakes to conform in style to popular character-interaction-based games.
Fancy Coco's big cast of comic characters speaks to the mid-90s popularity of fantasy parodies: 1996 also saw the second season of the Slayers TV series, the end of Sorcerer Hunters, the second light novel series of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen and the launch of the (very dark) adaptation of the comedic Violinist of Hameln. Fancy Coco, with its bug-eyed characters throwing around huge magic spells and huger sweatdrops, fits into this aesthetic.
Stills from Magical Girl Fancy Coco (1996), a low-budget simulation game with a loose magical girl theme. Unlike most magical girl anime, the game does not deal much with the interaction between the mundane and the fantastic, but is set in a magical world where the heroine, Coco, aims to become a magician. However, in its magical transformations and clear Pretty Sammy influence, it suggests itself as a magical girl game.
The gameplay is similar to that of GAINAX’s early-90s “raising simulation” games in the Princess Maker series. The player must set up the perfect training regimen for becoming a magical girl, and certain routines lead to scenes in which Coco meets new people and pushes forward the plot.
Opening sequence to Makeruna! Makendo Z (1995), the final installment in the Makeruna! Makendo franchise. This game, an RPG with multiple full-motion video cutscenes and voice acting, introduces the third member of the series’ magical girl team, Saya, who is Mai and Hikari’s cousin. Most of the game is spent in dialogue; this game fully embraces the fact that the franchise’s popularity stems from its characters and not its gameplay. Full of madcap comedy to the end, Makeruna! Makendo Z takes the franchise out on a cheery note.
Due to its emphasis of story and character over gameplay, its zany sensibility and overpowering Japanese-ness, Makeruna! Makendo and its sequels do not have a large presence in the English-speaking world. The original game was drastically edited and rebranded as Kendo Rage in the USA, but the rest of the series remains untranslated. (You can view the intro to the Americanized Kendo Rage here.)
Welcome to Henshins Magical Girls Blog’s third theme week! This week we will not focus on a single series, as we have before, but on a category of works: magical girl video games.
The bond between magical girls and video games might have had its roots in 1992, with Naoko Takeuchi’s seminal Sailor Moon. The early arcs of this series are permeated with a love of gaming: Usagi models her crime-fighting persona off the heroine of her favorite video game; she has a crush on the boy who works at the local arcade; she wins new weapons as game prizes. Games are one of the few things that the directionless Usagi is passionate about at the manga’s beginning. Takeuchi, writing about the idea behind the series, specifically lists games as a key influence on the story: “I really wanted to write a story with a sexy girl, a good-looking guy, some romance, video games, and cute school uniforms!” Sailor Moon does indeed have a video game sensibility that later “fighting magical girl” series inherited: the heroine blows through stages of pesky monsters, minor villains and finally the all-powerful boss in a distinctly Nintendo-esque succession.
After Sailor Moon, video games starring magical girls grew more plentiful, including spinoffs of older franchises like Cutie Honey and Creamy Mami, and, of course, the endless Sailor Moon game tie-ins. However, original video games starring magical girls also emerged. One of the earliest was the Makeruna! Makendo franchise (1993, pictured.) The original game stars a magical girl with kendo-themed powers battling supernatural creatures in a side-scrolling platformer system reminiscent of the 80s’ Valis the Fantasm Soldier, or, indeed, the fictional Sailor V game. Later additions to the franchise would branch out and stage themselves as fighting games and RPGs. Each successive game introduced new magical girls, who proved quite popular— popular enough to warrant an OVA spinoff.
Many of these quirky little games and spinoff series have been buried over the decades, but hopefully this week we shall be able to uncover a few.
Card Captor Sakura (1996)-themed Tetris exists, by the way.
Character designs from Sailor Moon: Another Story for the SNES.
Fun fact: as a little 11-year-old, your friendly Henshins blog maintainer hardcore-fangirled Anshar, the “Oppositio” Chibi-Moon who is not pictured here.