Review by TheSAMMIES

Reviewed: 02/14/14

The best of all time? Not really, but still very good as far as hentai RPGs go.

Warning! Harlem Blade is a role playing game with some sexual scenes. If you are too young to play games with these kind of things or if you don’t want to play hentai games, then you should probably skip this one. Also of note, this is an untranslated Japanese RPG. You won’t get as much out of this if you don’t know Japanese.

Harlem Blade is a role playing game that was released late in the PC98’s lifespan. It’s pretty detailed and is very long as far as RPGs go. The name Harlem Blade is actually a ridiculous typo that made it to the final product because the people at Giga obviously don’t speak English very well. Despite showing “Harlem Blade” right there on the title screen, the intended name was Harem Blade. Sadly, this game has nothing to do with globetrotters, dreams shriveling up like raisins in the sun, or visiting The Apollo.

Story- You play as Cain, a perverted boy who is supposed to be a warrior according to family tradition. Cain isn’t too interested in fighting, though. He’d rather joke around, flirt, and think of how great it would be to have sex with women. He’s a total loser and everyone in his town thinks he sucks. Cain’s brother, Abel, will try to get Cain to practice and get good at fighting, but Cain is never interested.

Things take a different turn when The Goddess of Time visits Cain in his dreams. She says that an ancient demon named Gargantuan has awakened and that only he can save the world. Cain tries to convince others that the world is in danger, but they don’t listen and treat him like a loony. Cain decides to go out on an his quest alone, determined to stop Gargantuan once and for all and prove to himself, his village, and most importantly, his brother that he is a true warrior.

Of course, Gargantuan isn’t the only focus of the story. Even though Cain is trying to be heroic, he’s still a pervert. He stops to ogle naked women along the way, try to find love in all the wrong places, and get into other usually comedic sex related situations. Harlem Blade is a comedy just as much as it is a fantasy story about saving the world. Expect more than a few detours along the way.

Of note, there are 17(!) endings, 15 good and 2 bad. All of the good endings depend on which heroine you get. The bad endings… Well, you’ll just have to play to see how to get those! Yes, there are fifteen different women Cain can end up with in this game. Giga had a tendency of making their games chock full of heroines and tons of different endings for them. Harlem Blade is no exception, as for a game with such length can have a good amount of replay value too with all those endings you can get.

Harlem Blade is actually the first game in a series of three. There’s a prequel and a sequel both released for Windows platforms that are set in the same world and expand upon the story immensely. For being a hentai game, Harlem Blade has a lot of story going on and it takes some interesting turns at about the two-thirds mark. A good RPG usually has a good story, and while Harlem Blade’s is hardly unique, it should be at least engaging and funny enough to hold your interest.

Presentation- Harlem blade looks pretty good for a late release PC98 game. The sprite work is pretty good and will probably remind you of 16-bit Final Fantasy. Characters move fast, zipping around the screen like they’re excited, even if they aren’t. Enemies have their own sprites too, most of them being fully animated with special effects for their attacks. Backgrounds look wonderful and really give a sense of awe to the landscapes. The CG looks nice too. Not all of it is pornographic either. Some of it serves the plot more than anything else. It’s hard to believe that this wasn’t on the PC9821 model, seeing just how good this game looks. No, you just need a standard 9801 model to play this. It really is amazing what Giga could do here.

The sound is equally impressive. It’s mostly MIDI sounding stuff, but Giga managed to make MIDI sound epic here. The sound is dwarfed a bit by the Windows version’s redbook audio and full voice acting, but The PC98 version of Harlem Blade still ahs some great tunes to accompany your quest.

Gameplay- Harlem Blade plays pretty similar to your average console style RPG. You have a party with their own sets of skills and magic. You can get items, equipment, and all that other good stuff by buying them in shops or from enemies dropping them during random encounters. You get plenty of side quests that you can do. It’s pretty typical as far as RPGs go, exactly what most players would expect.

What sets Harlem Blade apart from many other RPGs is that it’s humongous. There is a lot to do in this game, so much that it should take you scores of hours to complete it. Even then, you won’t be able to complete everything in one playthrough. You get fifteen different heroines for Cain to go after and each one of them comes with her own sub story and corresponding side quests. Harlem Blade will eat your free time like candy if you choose to try to get 100% completion. It’s a very long game with a lot of stuff in it, rivaling that of your average Squaresoft game. Giga really did want to live up to their name with this one, making their RPG as long and as large as they possibly could.

The battle system is okay, giving you four options at all times, fight, magic, items, and run away. It isn’t the most original battle system, but it works well enough and keeps battles from getting stale later on. The fact that you get so many potential party members helps too. There are some fun little tricks you can do in certain cases to make some particularly hard battles easier, but that’s more of the kind of thing to put in FAQs than reviews.

Harlem Blade isn’t perfect, though. The controls are terrible. You move with the mouse. This shouldn’t sound too bad at first. You just click on a place and watch Cain dash to where you want him to go. If you crash into NPCs, you talk to them. This doesn’t sound like it should be such a bad thing, but it is. Why? The pathfinding in this game is horrendous. Trying to guide Cain through a dungeon is like telling a dog to go fetch a stick and watching him run in circles before finally finding it after you remind him that there is a stick. It’s infuriating and really makes Harlem Blade a pain. Thankfully, the encounter rate is pretty low, so this isn’t a huge problem. It’s still a bit frustrating and it can take you out of the experience from time to time.

If you like RPGs, hentai, or both, then you really can’t go wrong with Harlem Blade. It’s a lot of fun and is the kind of adventure that I’m sure RPG fans would love. With or without the naughty scenes, Harlem Blade is a quality game and should be a great addition to any PC98 enthusiast’s collection. Just watch out for prices. Harlem Blade came on 10 disks and finding someone who has all nine of them and is willing to sell is hard, so it is not a cheap game if you plan on getting it.

Cool Fact- Harlem Blade was remade for Windows and notably includes full voice acting. It’s still in Japanese though, so if you can’t read Katakana, then you’re still out of luck.

Also Try- Giga made some good action games too. Try Variable Geo and Steam Hearts. Those games are solid. As for other suggestions, there’s the Baldr series. (Baldr Sky Dive, Baldr Bullet, etc.). I’ve never tried them, but I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding the series. They’re all robot-based action games that are pretty heavy on the story elements too.

Rating: 7

Product Release: Harlem Blade: The Greatest of All Time (JP, 12/31/96)

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