We have something a little different this time around. We have asked loyal customer and Rance super-fan, Rance-sama, to give us an in-depth review of our release!
Yo~! It’s finally here, everyone! Today, I’m here to talk about Rance 5D and Rance VI, the first officially localized entries in the infamous Rance series. Ever since Alicesoft was announced as one of MG’s partners with Best Blades Haruka last February, people have been anticipating a Rance title getting localized, and it’s been well worth the wait. I know I was excited to finally see these titles in English, considering I’ve been a fan of Rance and his antics for years now. Thing is, not everyone is familiar with Rance, or maybe just these two titles in particular, so I’m here to give an overview, as well as talk about why I like these games so much.
Before I talk about Rance, let’s talk a little bit about the company behind them, Alicesoft. They’re one of, if not the oldest surviving eroge companies around, having been founded in 1989. Rance is both one of their oldest and most popular IPs, with the first game released July of that same year, and with Kichikuou Rance, the entry right before Rance 5D, being one of the best-selling eroge ever. Most of their eroge are known for being both heavy on sex scenes and gameplay, though they’ve made a couple of straightforward VNs as well.
So what makes Rance so popular? I could say, “It’s just great overall,” but that wouldn’t be too helpful for newbies to the series. It’s true that the series has a lot to offer all around, though. The gameplay is simple yet challenging, there’s a massive cast of unique characters, the soundtrack’s pretty great, and it’s just fun from start to finish.
First off, let’s talk about the gameplay. The exact mechanics of Rance games tend to vary, but all of them tend to fit into at least one of these genres: adventure, role-playing, and strategy. Sengoku Rance, the most well-known in the West, falls into the latter two categories. Meanwhile, Rance 5D is an adventure/RPG hybrid with an unconventional RNG system, and Rance VI is a full-on dungeon crawler RPG. They’re meant to be easy to pick up, with pretty much all the modern games starting with a short battle to show you the ropes. Still, they offer a decent challenge without being too unforgiving. If you die, it’s probably because you didn’t prepare well enough, and you’ll know what you did wrong for next time. And you should expect to die a few times, so make sure to save often!
To elaborate on things a bit more, Rance 5D has three gameplay components:
- A roulette system that decides what action your party will be taking next.
- An adventure game-style deal where you use your party members and items on objects and hopefully that does stuff.
- Battle mode! This is where you will use the skills and characters you’ve set beforehand for your party and hope the RNG is nice enough to let you live.
It’s meant to be a very bite-sized game, with autosaving at multiple points per chapter. You could easily complete it on a day off like I did.
Rance VI, meanwhile, has two main components. The first is the previously mentioned dungeon crawling, where you can take a maximum of 16 characters through a dungeon, deploying up to 6 at a time for battles. Every time a character is placed into battle, they lose 1 point of SP, and once they run out, they can’t be used again until you either exit the dungeon or use some hard-to-get Viagro on them. Once everyone in your party runs out of SP, you’re forced to exit the dungeon. However, if your party is wiped out during a battle, it’s just Game Over. Thus you have to think about how you want to clear these dungeons. Do you wanna plow through them a little at a time? Grind adventure achievements through battles and map exploration for some necessary items? You’ll likely have to do the latter anyways, as it’s vital for the next component of the game.
The other part of the game is an action menu where Rance can interact with various members of Ice Flame. If you’ve played Sengoku Rance, the interface should feel vaguely familiar. You mainly spend orbs (gained through adventure achievements or by spending coupons you get from defeating special encounters), then either spend time with party members or have sex with the female ones. Spending time with them increases their FR, eventually allowing you to upgrade their skills. Sex increases women’s stats. How? No one knows. Seriously, they even question this in-game.
Both games have pretty solid replay value. Thanks to Rance 5D’s random elements, no two playthroughs will be exactly the same. You can even try for a high score, or to play through hard difficulty. Rance VI has an entire challenge mode available once you clear the main story, with brand new dungeons and bosses to really test your abilities, new character events to see, and more. You can even aim to catch every Gal Monster, collect every CG, max out every character’s FR level… The list goes on.
Next, let’s talk about characters, starting with our hero, Rance. Though I say “hero” here, in most cases he’s really more “horny jerk who happens to do heroic things once in a while.” He’s crude, he’s self-centered, and he rarely fights fair. Heck, the only reason he ends up saving the world most of the time is because there are women in it he still hasn’t jammed his dick in, consensual or not. If it were up to him, he’d just fuck and run, but he enjoys the extra attention and… rewards being a hero gets him. Still, even he has lines he’d never cross, and there are plenty of scenes throughout the series where he shows his more compassionate side. Rance is the sort of protagonist you’ll either love or loathe, and he’s a huge part of what makes the series so memorable.
Everyone has their own reasons for being drawn to Rance but for me personally, I think it’s because Rance is so genuinely himself. He obeys no master and plays by his own rules to forge his own path in life, regardless of what stands in his way. His self-confidence could easily be confused for delusional narcissism but you can’t help but admire it regardless, and it’s fueled with each victory. Rance is chaos incarnate, completely free and unrestrained of the shackles that bind most of us down, and just as much a source of mayhem and destruction as he can be a savior.
But of course, a good protagonist needs good characters to play off of, and Rance definitely delivers on that. Throughout Rance 5D and Rance VI, Rance encounters a whole bunch of characters, both old and new, and there’s sure to be someone to appeal to your tastes. Got a thing for tsunderes? We’ve got those. Cool, mature ladies? Got those too. Strong-willed beauties who happen to have terrible fashion sense? Rance VI has one of those. You into guys, too? There’s even some eye candy there (and thanks to Rance, most of them are single). There’s plenty of variety in H-scenes too, ranging from vanilla sex, to more fetishy material, to scenes that are pretty much torture.
And despite what Rance believes, it’s clear the world doesn’t revolve around him. There are plenty of interactions between side characters that really help to flesh out their personalities, motivations, and the world around them in general. This is especially true in VI, where topics range from girl talk, to the consequences of the mage/non-mage caste system, to reminiscing about old times. There’s plenty of character development throughout, most notably by Rance VI’s main heroine, Urza. She starts off as a frail, indecisive girl, easily persuaded by Rance. However, after some major events and revelations, she grows into… Well, you’ll see. Other characters have subplots dedicated to them too, with one in particular that’s part of an ongoing series plot line.
Which brings me to my next point…!
Being a nearly 30-year old series, Rance has a lot of lore to it, way more than you can reasonably fit in one game. Even the long opening crawl in Rance VI is just a sliver of info regarding the world’s history. It’s a lot to dig into, and every game uncovers a little bit more of the vast world that is The Continent. Thankfully, Rance is also made with new players in mind, so you don’t need to know absolutely everything about past games to play later ones. The continuity nods are more like treats for veteran fans, so when they pop up, you can go, “Hey, I remember that.” You’ll get a taste of it playing through 5D and VI, as a few of the heroines who first appeared there make a comeback. Especially Rizna, who has some pretty deep history in Zeth.
And the music… God, I could talk about the music forever. I’s so good. The Rance series is notorious for producing quality soundtracks that are guaranteed to put you in the setting. When it’s time for fooling around, you’ll hear the upbeat funky melodies that put a smile on your face or when things start to heat up in battle, the electric guitars start singing and give you such an adrenaline rush, that you feel like you’re riding with the Valkyries in the uphill battle against overwhelming odds and are determined to pierce the heavens with your hyper weapon! (Please don’t actually do this, but the Rance battle music is the kind of music that makes me want to go running 90 miles per hour down the freeway, against oncoming traffic, kicking every car and truck out of my way. TOOOOOOH~!!!) In Rance 5D’s soundtrack, you’ll find a lot of it’s funky, off-the-wall beats, but VI has some solid tracks too, with some heavy guitar and orchestral tracks to go with the game’s more epic scale. Actually, I was surprised by how often the menu music changed in Rance VI as the plot went on – it’s probably the most menu music changes of any Rance game.
I love the series for all of these reasons, but above all, the reason why I love these games so much is because they’re just so inspiring and silly. They make me laugh and fill me with a passion and drive I’ve seldom felt before. Which isn’t to say these games are never serious – when the plot starts picking up, there are plenty of moments where you’ll either wanna cry or punch someone in the face for being a massive asshole. But no matter what, there’s always a layer of silliness throughout. A lot of it is dark humor thanks to Rance’s antics, which range from mild jerkishness to downright criminal acts. The rest of it either comes from other characters’ over the top personalities, or general weirdness from the setting itself, usually thanks to Alicesoft’s love of references to both real life and pop culture.
5D is definitely the sillier of the two, which fits with the whole random theme of the game. Rance’s party usually get into some pretty big messes, more often than not thanks to Rance’s artificial girl/pet, Athena 2.0. Rance himself does a lot of things on impulse and generally makes everyone’s lives harder for half the game. Even the special game overs were entertaining, and thanks to the auto-save function, I never felt too frustrated when I encountered one.
On the other hand, Rance VI is a significantly more serious story, since it’s about a resistance fighting a discriminatory system right off the bat. On the other other hand, Rance is still as horny as ever, and continues to make terrible decisions using his dick. This leads to loads of mishaps and misunderstandings, both nearly getting Rance killed and being one of the few things that saves his life. Plus, VI’s massive cast comes with a slew of quirks to make each member memorable. Just look at King Ragnarokarc Super Gandhi over there.
I want to thank those of you who read this far, and those of you on the fence who are considering giving Rance an honest try. Even if you don’t like or agree with Rance as a character, I promise there’s still plenty in this series for you to love and get attached to.
Ultimately the Rance series is more than just a source of entertainment for me, they are irreplaceable life experiences that I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without. The laughter they’ve given me have stemmed the tides of depression and seeing Rance forge his own destiny, overcoming the insane odds placed against him and being so uncompromisingly true to himself, inspires and gives me an unfaltering passion and drive to do the same in life. Don’t ever give up or compromise on your happiness in life, and when in doubt ask yourself… What Would Rance Do? #WWRD #sorrynotsorry