Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dating Sim
My Score: 3 out of 5
Found at: www.DeviantArt.com
Other Age casts you as a princess in some kind of magical, far-away kingdom. It's your sixteenth birthday, and tradition dictates that it's now time for you to find a suitor. To help you with this, Chancellor Nitarou has created the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe!!!
First of all, let me say that the art in this game is absolutely gorgeous. It has a strong anime/manga influence, which may please some and repel others. Even so, the level of detail and quality is mind blowing; the characters and backgrounds are beautifully drawn, the title screen has little lights that gently float across it, and heck, even the buttons and the loading screen are cute! To top it off, the player avatar is animated, and some of the characters even blink! Truly, the art alone makes this game worth a play-through.
The writing itself is fair. Like My Cup of Tea, the author has based the game on characters from her other original works (In this case, her other games). The premise has a nice sense of fantasy to it, and there is also a bit of humor and occasional fourth-wall breaking. Where it begins to lose points is the English.
Go ahead and call me a Grammar Nazi; maybe I am. But, from early on I got the feeling that English is not Zeiva's first language. Oh, it's readable, don't worry about that; but little things like missing "the"s or s's, and words or phrases that just aren't quite right somehow, make it a bit awkward and disrupt the game's spell.
Also, while I appreciate the author's use of original characters, I feel it could be somehow handled better. If, like me, you play Other Age without first playing Zeiva's other games, then you'll spend much of the game barely knowing these characters at all. Since the format of this game doesn't really allow for relationship-building as much as the others, the suitors tend to remain nearly perfect strangers. There is an epilogue for each character that gives a nice sense of who they are, but personally, I think there needs to be a bit more build-up beforehand. You may disagree.
The one thing that truly sinks the game's score, though, is the game-play itself. All you need to know about the game-play can be summed up thusly: The game itself is free. The Strategy Guide costs money.
Other Age doesn't follow the typical Dating-Sim format; it's basically half personality quiz and half mini-game. This in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, my hatred of minigames aside. However, this game is - to borrow the phrase - Nintendo Hard. First, you must input a certain pattern of answers into the Luv Luv Nitarou Deluxe in order to get a certain suitor (and most of the combinations result in an individual that must be gotten rid of). Then, you must say the right things to persuade him to date you, and then choose a dating location out of 5 possible sites. Only 1 site will interest him, and you only have 2 chances to guess correctly. Finally, each dating site is a minigame, which of course must be won or you shall end in failure.
My main complaint is that most of the answers in this game are too unintuitive. I'm fairly certain that I've gotten the same character after feeding conflicting data into the machine on other playthroughs, and often it takes multiple playthroughs just to figure out what to say to a person and where to take them. Worse still, any single mistake made at any point will end the game and force you to start from the beginning. With few exceptions, the game is both unreasonable and unmerciful.
So what's the verdict, then? I think Other Age is both frustrating and somehow addictive. Its sense of beauty overrides the often frustrating gameplay. Frankly, I'm surprised that I didn't end up scoring it much higher, and once you play it, you may end up deciding that I've been too harsh in some of my judgements.