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Artificial Mermaid ~Silver Chaos 2~
In the future, the world is heavily polluted as the aftermath of a war that used chemical weapons. If a person is overly exposed to this polluted air, they could die within a month: unless they have a "Life Microchip" (LMC) implanted into their body. Because of this, there is a lot of crime surrounding LMC use. Therefore, the government has set up a special team to handle these crimes: The Lifemicrochip Crime Commando (LWC).
Yuuri Mimori, prompted from his childhood friend Ibuki, decides to join the LWC with him. Despite the extreme danger involved as a member of the LWC, Yuuri feels no qualms about it, thinking that as long as Ibuki is there too, he can endure the severity of the job.
On their first day, Yuuri and Ibuki are guided by Roy, the leader of the LWC, to meet the various members of the team that they will have to work with. That night, Yuuri returns to his room, a bit tense from the first day, and begins to lose consciousness. The minute his eyelids started to close, he felt a horrible pain in his chest.
Yuuri has suffered from a terrible illness since he was young. If he does not take medicine regularly, this disease will cause his body to deteriorate. As he starts to lose consciousness, he feels a warmth on his lips, and a voice at the edge of his senses is telling him to hang in there. Something cool passes into his mouth, and when Yuuri begins to return to consciousness, he sees Ibuki's worried facing looking down at him.
Since then, when Yuuri sleeps, he sees the same dream every night, where he feels submerged in water, like a fish, and a voice gently calls out his name from a deep darkness. Whenever he tries to confirm who it is, he wakes. What is the meaning of this dream...?
Yuuri Mimori - Yuuri is a beginner just assigned to the LWC. He has a fair and somewhat feminine appearance, and his manner is soft and gentle. He is ill with a strange illness that causes his body to slowly deteriorate if he does not take medicine for it regularly. Since joining the LWC, he has been plagued by a strange recurring dream.Seiyuu: Susumu Chiba (Game Alias: Progress).
Ibuki Takamura - Ibuki is also a beginner to the LWC who joined with Yuuri, his childhood friend. He is a very likable person that gives off a very invigorating impression. He likes to stay close to Yuuri because he is extremely worried about his bad health.Seiyuu: Suzumura Ken'ichi (Game Alias: Takigawa Daisuke).
Sein Kunisada - Sein is the boss of the LWC, and he portrays himself as a real gentleman. He lost his wife in "a certain indident" when his son, Rion, was young, and they have had an awkward relationship since then, not talking to each other much. Even so, he still worries about his son because of his reckless and selfish behavior. Seiyuu: Okuyama Michitaka.
Roy Kashizaki - Roy is the leader of the LWC. He is very serious and lives only for his work. He likes to harass his subordinates diligently on a daily basis, but Yuuri and Ibuki seem to bring about a secret inner softness within him.Seiyuu: Kosugi Juurouta (Game Alias: Hamagorou).
Jieru Koga - Jieru is a member of the LWC, and an expert gunsman. He is a loose person who likes to spend all his wages on gambling and alcohol, then ends up having to ask for his paycheck in advance, which causes him to get preached at by Roy. He immediately quickly aims for the newcomer Yuuri. Seiyuu: Konishi Katsuyuki.
Rion Kunisada - Rion is a member of the LWC. He is the son of the boss of the LWC, Sien, and lost his mother when he was young, causing him to be awkward with his father since then. He has a very intense personality with high pride. After Yuuri arrives, he takes an interest in him despite the fact that numerous people already like him for his graceful looks. Because he is so stubborn, he is constantly butting heads with Roy. Seiyuu: Iwanaga Tetsuya.
Firio Osakabe - Ferio is a member of the LWC. He has a very timid and hesitant personality, and is always being made fun of by the other members. However, when he has a gun in his hand or behind the steering wheel in a car, his personality completely changes. He has a love for machines. Seiyuu: Itou Kentarou (Game Alias: Sakanoue Hidemaro).
Tsukasa Shinonome - Tsukasa deals with the medical affairs and counseling of the policeman in the LWC. He is a very gentle person and good at healing. He loves psychology and seems to enjoy creating his own psychological tests in his spare time. Seiyuu: Tsukui Kyosei.
Mao - Mao is an outcast of society, being part human with animal ears and a tail. He is discovered by the LWC when he causes a commotion in town, and they take him under their care. Originally not speaking the language of the humans, Mao learns quickly though speaks very slowly and broken. He has a very innocent personality, and a huge appetite that causes him to try to eat just about anything.Seiyuu: Miyata Kouki.
Brad Hiruma - Brad is the director and a doctor in a hospital known for its use of lots of equipment and low fees, making it very popular among the citizens. Though polite, he gives off a very cold impression and an atmosphere that makes people want to keep their distance from him. He used to be a cheerful person with lots of friends in the past, but now he has a very closed off personality. Seiyuu: Ueda Yuuji (Game Alias: Tatsuya Fujiki).
Ragsiel - Ragsiel is a god that has had a constant battle with a demon, Herdeus. He seems to have a mysterious link with Yuuri, who ends up in the middle of this ancient war between the two forces... Seiyuu: Inoue Kazuhiko (Game Alias: Murasakibana Kaoru).
Artifical Mermaid is another ADV (adventure) boys' love game, so it is in the typical style of visual novel with selectable options to make turns in the storyline.
There is one normal ending, two bad endings, and eight character endings, with a total of 84 CGs to collect. The game mainly follows just the main story, with only the character events in certain points changing depending on the character you are aiming for. It can get pretty repetitious, but the game does have an auto-play mode and a skip feature, though it only works to skip over scenes you have already seen. By default, the skip mode is also a bit slow, but you can adjust the speed in the options. There is no Ctrl-key skip feature, unfortunately, so even if a scene only has mild changes, it could disable being able to skip over it, which can be annoying.
The game has 30 save slots, and you can save on option screens; it comes out to where you'll be able to save at most of the options screens (not all, but most). The game also colors options you have already picked, which is very handy when replaying (this also lets you know which ones the Skip feature will work on). If you miss any lines while playing, there is a backlog mode as well, to replay recent lines.
In the game options, you can toggle the levels of the background music, sound effects, and voice (so you could set the voice level a bit above the background music and such). You can also choose whether to play in full-screen mode or window mode: the resolution of the game is 800x600, so if you are running that resolution (like myself) you will only be able to get the full-screen effect, and it does not let you use Alt+Esc to do other things on your machine while taking up the full screen.
After clearing the game once, the main screen opens up a Music Gallery, CG Gallery, and Memories section, which lets you replay the sex scenes and endings you have won. When you have won all the endings, a special scene is unlocked in the Memories and you get the last CG from viewing it.
I found no problems playing Artificial Mermaid on a Windows XP machine set into Japanese as the default for non-unicode programs. Be aware this game requires native Japanese OS support: this means you will not be able to play on Windows 98/Me using third-party Japanese support software. You must have Windows 2000/XP set into native Japanese properly, or a Japanese version of Windows.
AGTH Compatibility - Artificial Mermaid is compatible with Anime Games Text Hooker. However, the GetGlyphOutlineA thread that extracts text is located below all the visible threads in the drop-down menu, so you will have to hit Tab, and then the down arrow until you find the GetGlyphOutlineA thread that is extracting the text. The address of this thread seems to vary between loads of the game, so /w cannot be used to automatically select the text thread.
Artificial Mermaid Capture Guide - A capture guide in English made by myself for getting all the CGs and endings in the game.
Artificial Mermaid Full CG Capture Save File - A save file that unlocks all the CGs in the game.
When playing Artificial Mermaid, I found it wasn't much different than the original Silver Chaos: fans of Silver Chaos should be overjoyed by this, but those hoping for something a bit different of the sequel may be disappointed.
The setting is different than the original game, now taking place in a Sci-Fi futuristic society, but underneath the basic gist of the story is the same: the evil of the demon Herdeus wants to take over the world, and Yuuri-tachi are out to stop it with the help of Ragsiel. Though, I still found the plot very good in comparison to most boys' love games, and I did enjoy it more than the story in the first Silver Chaos; if felt a bit less generic, and I liked the science-fiction theme, which isn't that prevalent in boys' love games. However, since it was a complex story, it was also much harder to follow.
The cast is also more-or-less the same as in the first game; now they are new individuals in this futuristic setting, but the character designs aren't much different and the vocal cast are the same; it is easy to tell the characters to their Silver Chaos counterparts. For the most part they also have the same personalities as well, with only minor differences in each character. It's best described to think of them as future reincarnations or the cast in an alternate universe.
The play also follows in pretty much the exact same format as the first game; the story flows in a fairly straight path, then you receive a set of options of different locations, where a location relates to a certain character so you can get their events, then keeps following along the same story path, inserts a yaoi scene with the targetted character at the same spot toward the end of the story, and then follows into the story ending (and after the first few times even on skip mode you get to hate going through that ending, trust me). You'd think that they would've used at least some variety in the format of the game. I'm again mystified why it was nominated as Best Gameplay in the 2005 Awards, as there is nothing original about the gameplay at all: my assumption is just because Silver Chaos is so popular with the BL gaming crowd.
The game has excellent art, done by Noboru Takatsuki, VividColor's resident artist. There are less CGs in Artificial Mermaid than there were in Silver Chaos, however; 84 when the first game had over 100. But they are still very high quality, a nice mix of story images, character events, and sex scenes. Capturing all the CGs is not too difficult either; with the use of a capture guide and setting the Skip Mode to maximum speed and using it to fly over the very repetitious scenes in the story, it doesn't take too long to play through a character's scenerio. There is also one CG that is only available if you have won all the endings.
The game had some great playability features, as well. There are thirty save slots and you can save on option screens, and there ends up being a very close amount of options per save slots, and it also colors used options pink which makes it easier to see what you haven't selected yet. After you have finished the game once, in addition to the typical CG Gallery, there is also a Music Gallery (and the game has a very nice soundtrack), and a Memories section, where you can replay the yaoi scenes and the endings, which is very nice so you don't have to worry about hanging onto save points to view them again, a problem I find I get with several games.
However, there were a few playability points that drove me nuts: one being that there is no Ctrl-key skip, you have to use the in-game Skip feature, which only works over scenes you've previously viewed, and you have to toggle the settings to get it to skip quickly (it's pretty slow if you don't set it to maximum speed). If there is only a very minor change in a scene, you are stuck rewatching it cause it will disable the Skip feature. I also had some personal trouble with the resolution of the game; I run my computer on 800x600, as I don't have a very large monitor, and anything larger makes the things on my computer tiny. Most games that run in 800x600 I just use Alt+Esc and I can still do other things on my computer while playing a game, which is essential for me, since I'm working on website reviews and capture guides as I play the game. The Alt+Esc didn't work on Artificial Mermaid, so I was forced to change the resolution to 1024x768 to multitask, and thus put some bad strain on my eyes since that shrinks everything tiny and hard to read on my screen. Of course, those that have a large resolution already should have no problem with this.
When it comes down to it, if you liked Silver Chaos (and most do, it seems to be the most popular boys' love game among fans), then you'll like Artificial Mermaid too, because they aren't much different. If you haven't played the first game, you can still jump in and play Artificial Mermaid since it is a different story, but you may still want to give the first game a play because of the connections between the two. It still has the things that made Silver Chaos stand out: a good plot, nice art, and easy to play, so it is worth checking out, but if you were hoping for something new and different in Artificial Mermaid, you won't find much.
VividColor's Official Artificial Mermaid Site (Japanese) - The company's site with information on the game.
VANITY (Japanese) - The personal website of Takatsuki Noboru, the artist of Artificial Mermaid.
Half Adder's Artificial Mermaid Capture Guide (Japanese) - A complete capture guide for getting all the endings in Artificial Mermaid.
Disclaimer: All written text and capture guides © Boys' Love Games Headquarters. All pictures and downloads are copyright of their respective companies and artists and are for promotional use only. I am in no way claiming the art as my own, nor am I trying to infringe upon the company's rights. I am trying to promote these games by allowing a foreign audience to see some artwork from the game.