Review: Conception II – “Classmating” With This Game Will Result in Good Star Children

A young man stands on the precipice of adulthood, his parents and sister slain by horrible and other-worldly monsters. A strange mark glows on his hand and at that moment he is given power to give others the same hope that was cruelly taken from him.

Through his later discovered ability as a God’s Gift, he becomes the very embodiment of the world’s hope.

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You play as the protagonist who is discovered to be a God’s Gift, a male disciple who emits a vast amount of Ether energy and can therefore provide a sort of bubble of it for Star Children and female disciples. This enables them to fight inside of the monster dungeons known as Dusk Circle, which wasn’t possible until now.

What makes this plot so interesting, however, is that this isn’t some government-sanctioned sector created solely to stop the monster threat and collect teenagers with the mark (aka the disciples). This whole shebang, including the training school for said teens, is run by both a massive corporation and churches that have cropped up to rule the areas. The very real issue that the mega-corp is profiting heavily from people’s suffering, as well as whether their end goal is to save the world or to keeping churning out said profits, constantly hangs over the player once the wonder and newness of everything fades.

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Moral dilemmas aside, gameplay in the Dusk Circle Labyrinths (Labyrinth being the term for each Dusk Circle dungeon) is naturally turn-based, given the genre. The protagonist pairs up with one of several S-class female disciples and can bring up to three 3-member teams of Star Children. These cute little tykes are born from a female disciple’s Star Energy and a male disciple’s Ether and aid in the extermination of monsters by using their arsenal of physical attacks and skills. A female disciple and the hero can also attack and use skills in the same way. When using a female fighter alongside her specific children, they become much stronger in battle.

Similar to Final Fantasy X, the key to mastering Conception II‘s battle system is learning how to maximize the number of ally turns while suppressing the foes’. This can be done by targeting elemental weaknesses, building the chain gauge in order to speed up ally turns, using certain skills, hitting enemies in weak areas, etc. By doing this, players minimize damage received and ensure a swift end to battles.

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Each Labyrinth has a Dusk Spawner (read: boss) that must be defeated and sealed into order to suppress said Circles. The Labyrinths themselves feature several floors that are randomly generated, making every foray into them a different experience. Level designs are pretty interesting and varied, even if not the most graphically impressive. I also really enjoy the conversations between the Star Children while I’m exploring.

The hero, female disciples and the Star Children level up through enough experience points, but unlike the former two, Star Children have a level cap. This cap is determined by a variety of factors, such as the mood and level of the female disciples. The overall strength and elemental alignment of each Star Child is also determined by the “mother.”

At this point you’re probably thinking “I get Star Children but what are bonds and how do you improve them in the first place?”

This is where the other half of gameplay comes in. Bonds forged between female disciples aren’t just a few sprinkles on top of an already delicious cake — they’re an essential ingredient. In order to ensure that the hero has powerful and trustworthy allies at his side, he must first get to know his comrades on a deep and meaningful level. The hero must speak with the heroines and occasionally choose one of three dialogue options. As in any dating-sim, picking the answer that coincides with each girl’s personality is key to getting closer.

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But these relationships aren’t just superficial. As I mentioned before, several factors are considered when creating a Star Child including elemental alignment, level cap, overall strength, stat distribution, etc. While the element is decided solely on which girl you choose, the other factors are decided by their strength and emotional status, which is what makes bonding and training with the girls so important — the stronger the bond, mood and level, the more powerful Star Children you can make.

It takes awhile to initially improve the ladies’ moods as you can only take part in a limited amount of these events before having to “Rest” in the dorm or go to a Labyrinth to make time pass. The limit is honestly very strange and completely unnecessary, since there’s no time limit in the game (essentially you can keep “passing time” for events indefinitely and then choose when to move the story along). It would have been more efficient to eliminate the “passing time” element altogether.

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The scenarios themselves were rather enjoyable, especially due to the interesting personalities of every student. A few of the girls do fall into certain stereotypes but they are developed pretty well. Other girls such as Fuuko, Ellie, Torri and even Chloe are well-done and unique from the start. I loved watching the relationship between the female disciples and the hero grow; unlike many other games in this genre, they felt like real people with faults, issues and personality quirks that really flesh them out.

There’s also the process of Classmating (great pun I know) itself. This involves the protagonist and a female disciple pouring their Ether and Star Energy respectively into a Matryoshka doll (a Russian nesting doll) in a special ritual. It does not involve any sexy-times. Sorry guys. Also you’re free to skip over the incredibly stupid “symbolic” scene, because I sure did. After this, the Star Child’s class must be chosen. This is important because each class has its own unique skill set and even special skills that can only be activated when certain class combinations in a team are made.

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What makes all these bonding sections really stand out is the artwork, which is really nice, well-detailed and consistently well-designed. Monsters get a bit shafted in the unique department but still suit each Labyrinth well. My only real complaint is that the art strays a little too much on the “moe” side for my tastes. Making it worse is the fact that only females suffer this issue, except for a thankful couple here and there (thank you Ruby and Feene) — the males are perfectly presented as their age. For the females I actually prefer the 3D renders of them, since they actually look their age.

On the music front, it’s not too shabby; nice, catchy tunes but nothing really memorable.

By the way, if anyone is still deciding on what system to purchase Conception II on, there aren’t many differences between the PS Vita version of this title and the 3DS version (which is what I played). It all boils down to whether you prefer a second screen for gameplay mechanics or a larger and more vivid image. For those wondering, this is what the PS Vita version looks like in battle:

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Conception II does an excellent job of combining both the dating-sim and JRPG elements and creating a fusion that make sense. While there are a few eye-roll worthy moments, such as the stereotypical boob-grab gag after falling over, overall the characters (both main and supporting) are all likable, believable and help to support a surprisingly engaging plot. Combat is equally fun and the simply yet deep strategy behind the turn-based system makes every battle shine.

While this title certainly isn’t perfect, Conception II will surprise you on just how much fun it is. If you’re a fan of turn-based JRPG with a dash of visual novel elements, then this title will be a solid entry into your 3DS or PS Vita library.

Join the Discussion

  • Anime10121

    Wow, sounds a lot better than I expected… May have to get this a lot sooner than expected…

    • Allisa James

      I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this game myself. It’s definitely a hit with me, though haha

      • Anime10121

        Good to know! I still havent even had enough time to try the demo out yet, so I’ma give that a go and if I like it, I’ll probably get the game later this month!

        • Allisa James

          Definitely! And if you can, a good idea is to try out both 3DS and PS Vita versions to see which one is better suited for you.

          • Anime10121

            Pretty sure I’ll go with the Vita version, if not only because of the larger screen 😛

            Made the mistake of buying a 3DS before the 3DSXL came out, and I can barely play the thing in long bursts (which kinda makes it harder to play jrpgs), heck I still havent even played more than half an hour of Bravely Default 🙁

          • Allisa James

            Ouch sorry to hear that. I can thankfully deal with the smaller screen but any 3D makes me cry tears of pain.

            The PS Vita version is easier on the eyes though, and has a sharper image to boot.

          • Anime10121

            Oh I dont even THINK of cutting on the 3D even when I do use it (tried it once and thought I was going blind) xD

            But yeah, I’ll be looking forward to it!

          • stealth20k

            The 3DS version was the base version, it does run a bit smoother.

  • Rickowned

    >.< next month needs to be here so I can buy a Vita 2000model

    • blaackstarr

      That when I’m getting mine, and will sell the BL2 code.

  • nonscpo

    Great review, really looking foward to picking up my preorder tonight 🙂

    • Allisa James

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy it!

  • islan

    I played the demo to this. I love indulging in some ecchi material now and again, but this game made me feel all sorts of dirty, and I have no idea why. Just the term “classmating” makes me feel like upchucking.

    • Allisa James

      Haha I can hardly blame you. The game is a bit on the strange side, although it’s really not too ecchi (just stupid moments lol)

      • islan

        That principle/priest dude is the worst of it.

        • Allisa James

          Ah yes that priest. The only saving grace is that he’s not as “in your face” as normal perverts. Then again, that could be a negative since he’s sneakier so….

    • [S]unjay Burn[s] Red

      Yeah, I love ecchi too but this game makes me feel awkward. I suspected that classmating was something dirty and it turned out to be true. *sigh*

      • Zackasaur

        Classmating is actually just holding hands and sharing emotional bonds to imbue life into the dolls.

        It is definitely a euphemism, of course. But it’s not technically dirty within the plot.

        • [S]unjay Burn[s] Red

          Yes, I noticed that they were holding hands and sharing emotional bonds but why were they panting afterwards? Sounds like they got physical, lol.

          • Zackasaur

            The game explains that it takes a lot of magical exertion. It’s a strenuous thing.

          • [S]unjay Burn[s] Red

            Okay, i’m convinced that it’s not dirty.

          • Zackasaur

            Not dirty, but definitely suggestive. 😛

  • dmysta3000

    So does the affinity system in this game have any overall impact on the plot? Like do certain scenes and dialogue change if you have high affinity with a certain girl?

    • Allisa James

      If you’re talking about main plot, then no. That generally happens unaffected (as far as I noticed).

      There are special scenes you can get depending on affinity. The affinity bars (that show how much a girl likes you) fills up every time you do events. When you reach close to maxing out the last ones you get special events.

      However, there are multiple endings for the game, which depend on your relationship status with different girls.

      Hope that answers your question!

  • Yacku

    All the reviews I’ve read so far are full of the same terms: “sexist, boring, gross…”. I like there is someone who gives a different view.

    I’ve played the demo as my sister did and i asked her, out of my curiosity, if she thought the game was uncomfortable to play, she said she was dissapointed because there wasn’t a sex scene and the “classmating” ritual was rather silly XD. Other than the priest comments I haven’t seen sexist commentaries (I’ve only played the demo though).

    The game itself is entretaining and it’s clearly destined to a specific market, that’s why most reviewers are complaining about it. In addition, the whole concept of the game tends to scare people at the very begining…
    PD: please excuse my english, I’m no native and I’m still learning it -.-

    • Allisa James

      Thank you, and I figured that would be the case so I tried to be as objective as I can. Honestly this game isn’t even bad–I feel like if that’s the only thing other reviewers take away, then they’re being superficial and not trying to really understand the game.

      And the game is really not sexist (there is fanservice but it’s not bad) and the Classmating is harmless (that ritual is very silly).

      The concept is really weird, though,and I must admit I was initially wary of the game. It’s really something you have to try out for yourself, which is why the demo is so handy 😉

      And don’t worry, your English is honestly just fine. It’s quite good for someone still learning 😀

    • ShadowDivz

      Let’s be honest. The word “sexist” is completely devoid of meaning now.
      It’s like “epic” or “lol”. It has been so overused that i just gloss over the word and ignore it’s existence.

  • Zackasaur

    It’s kind of weird that “DualShockers” played the 3DS downport of a Vita game. 😛

    At any rate, I’m enjoying it!

  • PrinceHeir

    Great review Alisa 🙂

    Btw you didn’t try the Vita version?

  • SaiyanJedi_Trunks

    I started the vita version last night and it’s fantastic…the cutscenes and visual novel presentations especially. After classmating, I hope to progress more into the dungeon areas now. Very nice review by the way.

  • AussieJo2001

    Some may find it sexist and such, but that’s Japan, my friends.