Akabei Soft2’s 2006 remake of the 2005 doujin eroge A Profile. The scenario is written by Looseboy, who has become pretty famous for Sharin no Kuni and G-Senjou no Maou. I’m not sure how A Profile was first received, but apparently it was popular enough to get a remake.
A Profile is a school life romance drama. Of course anyone familiar with Looseboy will be able to guess that there’s a lot more to it than just that. The game is pretty short, and each of the three routes is very different.
This game has partially enforced playing order in that you’re forced to clear Rizu’s route before either of the other two. This is for very good reason. Her route reveals a lot about the past circumstances surrounding the characters. Similarly, it reveals a lot about the characters themselves, none of whom are what they appear to be on the surface. This route has a lot of the twists Looseboy is known for. I guess they were pretty decent. I’ve never been someone who cares much about plot twists, but at the least the ones in Rizu’s route had impact and were relatively surprising. Her route also has some nice drama. My main complaint about it is that the plot didn’t quite come together as well as it should have. I can’t put my finger on exactly why but at the end it didn’t feel quite as coherent as it should have.
After Rizu’s route I played Miou’s (what can I say, I love childhood friend characters). To me this was the highlight of the game. It’s simply a fantastic route. The drama in it is excellent and the climax is incredibly powerful and cathartic. It feels like it could have been one of Sharin no Kuni’s chapters. This is also the route where the protagonist really shines. Thematically there is a large focus on trust and forgiveness. It really offers a unique view on what it means to believe in someone. I have absolutely no complaints about this route, and if the other two were this good A Profile would have been close to Sharin no Kuni in quality.
For me Miku’s route was the weak point in the game. Miou’s route is amazing and Rizu’s is also very good, but Miku’s is only slightly above average. Her route is the one that focuses the most on romance, and to be honest the romance simply isn’t that well done. Similarly the drama isn’t that great. It introduces an interesting psychological concept, but it’s never fully explored. The route does have a decent theme, which could maybe be generalized as “moving forward,” but it could have been better executed. Still, the end of the route has a very nice scene. This route is also the one where the protagonist is the least impressive. He really impressed me in the other two routes but he isn’t very remarkable in this one.
I’ll also mention that the common route has a lot of comedy in it, though this disappears almost completely once you enter the character routes. The humor is very hit or miss. Some of the jokes are absolutely hilarious while some aren’t funny at all. Overall I would say the humor is good though. Another general note is that the game has Looseboy’s signature style of storytelling, which I absolutely love. The way he creates multifaceted stories that unravel as you read them is completely enthralling.
Hayama Rizu: Non-blood-related imouto. The no blood relation is actually a major plot point in this game. The drama in her route focuses a lot on her and Masayuki’s family situation. As for the character herself, she’s a very energetic girl and is pretty cute. She’s also very spoiled and annoying, but in a cute way. For the most part.
Souma Miou: The protagonist’s childhood friend. They went out for awhile. She’s now one of his only two friends. She’s a completely “ordinary” girl. This makes her the butt of a lot of jokes. She’s somewhat airheaded, which makes her really cute. Like all of the other characters there is more to her than meets the eye. She was my favorite heroine.
Ono Miku: At first glance a cold ojou character. She’s doesn’t play much of a role in the common route or the other two routes, so I only saw that side of her and wasn’t very interested in her. Of course, as is the trend in this game, once you play through her route her character is revealed to be much more complex. However I still didn’t like her very much.
Hirata Kaine: A rather typical idiot friend character at first, and not a particularly impressive one. He’s an otaku and really silly at times, and his contributions to the humor in the game aren’t that great. Of course he’s more than just an idiot friend, he actually plays a major role in the routes and seriouses the fuck up at times.
Hayama Riko: The protagonist’s step-mom and Rizu’s biological mother. For the most part she’s just a comic relief character, and not a very good one. When I said many of the jokes fell flat I was mostly referring to the ones involving her.
Hayama Masayuki: The protagonist. This guy is awesome. One of my favorite eroge protagonists. At first I thought he was going to be one of those spineless hetare protagonists, but boy was I wrong. He’s a really complex character, and while A Profile has a great cast Masayuki easily outshines all of the other characters. Going into too much detail would spoil too much because a lot about him is revealed in Rizu’s route. But I haven’t really said anything about his personality so I’ll vaguely say that he is somewhat similar to Shirou of Fate/Stay Night. He’s kind, altruistic, and believes in others, to the extent that some people would call it a weakness. However I think these types of characters are incredibly strong.
Overall the characters are very good. It was getting annoying continually writing “there’s more to this character than you first think,” but that’s the way it is. And it’s more than just a cheap simple twist where the characters turn out to be different from what you thought. Rather, they’re complex, multilayered characters with a well-established history of intersecting relationships. This is a cast you don’t often see in eroge.
The majority of the BGM is completely forgettable. There are only two good tracks, one of which for some reason always played at a very low volume (not sure if it was a problem with my copy of the game or what). The other one is a really great song.
The voice acting was also rather poor. Not only in terms of the acting itself, but even the recording quality was bad. It must have been really low budget. Miou’s voice actress had a really cute voice but her acting wasn’t that good. Rizu’s was somewhat cute but had even worse acting.
Pretty much the only redeeming factor in this area is the vocal tracks. The OP and ED are both great. The OP is one of my favorites.
The art is fairly good. The only problem I had with it was certain sprites look strange, like the squirrel teeth Rizu (more like Risu, 笑) has at times. Also a few of Miku’s sprites look really off. The game has bright and shiny Akabei Soft2 coloring, which I’ve come to like. I never felt like there was a lack of CGs. There aren’t many but it’s a short game.
I thought the ero was pretty good for a story game. Each heroine has only one scene, but they’re all very long (they go for like three rounds in each one). The art quality in the ero CGs is great and is probably one of the main reasons I enjoyed the ero scenes. The writing itself during these scenes is probably about average.
Pros: Great scenario and drama; a complex cast with complex relationships; a fucking awesome protagonist; some really powerful scenes.
Cons: Miku’s route is well below the other two in terms of quality (this would probably be in the 90’s if it weren’t for her route); the soundtrack is unremarkable; the voice acting is bad.
If you like Looseboy or drama this is a must play.