I am usually one from those strange birds that like to create an opinion by themselves and for themselves before everything else. I am also quite hardly influenced by anyone's opinions and views regarding different topics... So... In general... What I am trying to say is... I fell in love with this game almost by incident and... it just so happens that it is one of the crazes going over the net at the moment especially in the anime/manga/gaming scene or in the Japanese otaku scene in general... People literally go crazy over it and it just so happens that I am one from those people... Also, it has been a while since I really used my LJ account for anything... So... Why not just fill it with stuff about said game?
Here it is... Plam talks... Touken Ranbu...
Touken Ranbu (刀剣乱舞) is a Japanese on-line browser game by the DMM and Nitroplus. It is available exclusively only within Japan on the DMM.com website, which to be honest sounded somewhat scary at the beginning. Me and Japanese games have somewhat of an unspoken agreement that whatever the case, whatever the game... most of the time, no matter how much I get into it and no matter how much I try to get my hands on it, most times I am only able to admire from afar... Watching videos on-line, watching other people play, looking for fan arts and reading about other people experiencing said games... 90% percent of the times, because of various reasons I am almost never actually able to play said games... I thought the same thing might happen with Touken Ranbu as well at first...
The first time I actually heard of the game was while I was browsing My Figure Collection. Figure prototypes with characters from the game started popping here and there on various figure selling sites as well. This in turn means that I am quite late to find out about the game. An year late to be more precise. While I wondered what this game might be I never actually got interested in it untill a random YouTube video popped up in front of me. (It was a video telling the history behind some of the characters.) And as usually happens one video leads to another and by the end of the third video I was already going through the Touken Ranbu Wikia page in order to check if there is a least a slight possibility for me to somehow manage to try and play it. You can not imagine my astonishment when it turned out to be something really easy to do and.... Even by then, just seeing the loading screen I somehow knew that I will be hooked... And I was right.
First of all... It is not an otome game. Usually this is the first thing that comes to my mind upon seeing a game full with cute "bishounen" and since I am not really very fond of those games, no matter how pleasant to look at they might be, to learn that Touken Ranbu is nothing even close to otome game was a huge plus.
That said, the plot is actually nothing special. In fact it is as simple as it could get. Basically the player takes up on the role of a Saniwa sage (審神者) who can turn inanimate objects into living breathing creatures and who travels back in time in order to stop an evil army from changing the course of Japanese history with the help of said inanimate objects, in particular historical Japanese swords. And that is it. The kind of plot that is there with the sole purpose of just having some plot. No other real meaning or purpose behind it.
The game's mechanics, visuals and combat system are also very simple and easy to get used to. You don't really need to know Japanese to make your way around. While it certainly does help, even without it soon enough you will get used to all the controls and sub-menus in the game, just because the course of actions in it is very repetitive. Also, being a browser game the only platform it uses is Flash, so don't expect some big bad ass battle sequences and stuff.
All in all... In terms of purpose you could say that Touken Ranbu is quite similar to a Pokemon game. You go around gathering sword after sword, after sword... You build the "perfect team" and after that spend the majority of time levelling up said team. If "Catch them all!" are the words that best describe a Pokemon game then for Touken Ranbu the saying should be "Smith them all!" (People playing the game know what I mean...)
And after all that said I am sure you are wondering - What the heck is making this game so damn addictive?
Well... I am sure it is something different for every fan of the game, but for me personally it is the variety and also the history of the swords. While I do like reading stuff about Japanese history and while I like the katana as a type of weapon, to actually sit down, to read about them... Let's say that when you attach a cute boy to said swords, reading becomes a lot more interesting. Especially when various facts from the history of the swords were taken as a reference into creating their personality as living creatures and also influenced the way they look. And they are based on actual real swords... They are not fiction, they are real Japanese swords, many of which are put on display in various Japanese museums, which is a unique concept in a way.
Not to mention that the swords in game... Or should we say Sword Boys... are quite pleasant to look at. There is such a huge variety in their looks, their personalities and their background stories that you could get lost in the game for hours just trying to get to know the new sword you obtained recently. (No otome game will ever give this much variety... Ever...)
Also, if the main plot of the game is so, so simple and uninteresting, the background stories of the swords are quite deep in comparison. Because they are actual existing weapons, that makes for some real awesome story telling. Not to mention the various interactions between swords if they belonged to the same person for example... And did I mention that the boys are so pleasant to look at?
Plus, there is nothing like the feeling when you finally get your hands on one of the rare or special swords or just a sword you've wanted for a really long time. It is like winning a lottery or even better. (I literally cried when I got some of the swords!) I am talking about variety now, while the total of swords in game is 58, with the newest one introduced officially just a few days ago. Saying is there will be a total of 138 swords... 138.... This means there are 80 more swords to come...
In conclusion... Yeah, it may be just a Pokemon game with gorgeous bishounen. It may be simple and repetitive but it is also unique in a way and quite beautiful to look at. It also manages to offer a somewhat balanced setting for a range of different kind of players and also fans of different genres. In my opinion it is awesome every time something so simple yet complex manages to achieve so much in the span of only a year. And with new servers added almost every week or two, with all the different swords that are yet to come plus the ever growing fan-base Touken Ranbu is not likely to leave us any time soon, so you might as well join the Sword Boys Hell.