Photonmelodies Released!

August 2, 2020

The second of the Muv-Luv side-story collections, Muv-Luv Photonmelodies, is now available on Steam! Muv-Luv has put out bunch of side-stories spread across many different releases over the years, and eventually Age collected them into a pair of games to be released on the PS3, and now they’ve been ported to Steam.  While the first game, Photonflowers, collects a large number of shorter stories, this game collects only 3, much longer stories. So let’s do a quick introduction to them:

Altered Fable – A Shimmering Shard of Spacetime:

The one I’m sure everybody’s been waiting for – this story is set in the world that Takeru winds up in at the end of Alternative, a world similar to, but slightly different from, the original Extra world. The story picks up right where we left off in the final scene of Alternative, and from there, proceeds to go through the events of Extra again, only this time with the insanity turned up even more (and that’s quite a feat, considering Extra was already conceived as a typical visual novel with the insanity turned all the way up). The end of Alternative showed that Yuuhi and Kasumi had joined Takeru’s class, and this story winds up bringing in most of the new characters from Alternative, and a few new characters as well.

Despite the end of Alternative clearly leaving a hook for a fandisc to pick up, the Age staff insisted that they hadn’t been thinking of making a fandisc at the time they released Alternative. I find that a little hard to believe, but even if it’s true, the immense pressure from fans after Alternative’s release obviously convinced them to go forward with it, and Altered Fable was released a year after Alternative.

Technically, “Altered Fable” is the name of the entire fandisc. In addition to this story, called “A Shimmering Shard of Spacetime”, Altered Fable also included a sneak peak at Total Eclipse, an tactical RPG, and various goodies like a special recording of their radio show. In practice, though, most people tend to call this story “Altered Fable”, and use the two names interchangeably, so don’t sweat it if you see people switching back and forth on the name. I tend to call it “Altered Fable” because it’s so much simpler to say.

As I mentioned, the game was released only a year after Alternative, and was created by many of the same people who worked on the original trilogy. The main writer is Age’s main writer/director Hayato Tashiro, with several subwriters, and art is provided by Bou, just like the original series.

Some people might not realize how long ago Alternative came out, but Altered Fable definitely dates itself in one way: it features an extensive recurring parody of 24. Yes, that 24, and yes, that was a long time ago. Age used to do this kind of parody a LOT (and you’ll see another instance of it in Resurrection as well). Interestingly, the 24 parody characters are actually voiced by the same actors who dubbed those characters in Japan. For some reason, Age seemed to be able to round up some pretty major names back in the day, who they would then deploy in ridiculous parodies that, as Age was quite fond of boasting, were a complete waste of their talents.

Altered Fable is easily the same size as the original Extra (maybe larger), which means it is larger than the entire Photonflowers just by itself – you’re getting a pretty good deal on this game.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles – Adoration:

The remaining two stories are Chronicles stories that were made much later than Altered Fable, and it shows in the artstyle. Adoration was released as one of the stories in the Chronicles 02 game. It’s written by original creator Kouki Yoshimune, with art by Sou Miyata, the main Age artist at that time. Yoshimune has said that he consulted heavily with the younger staff at Age, to incorporate a more modern anime sensibility into the story, and I think it really shows.

Adoration is the first (and to date only) game to feature the characters of Duty -Lost Arcadia- (although at the time the franchise wasn’t called Duty, it was a subseries of TSFiA called The Euro Front). Age had plans for Duty to be the next Muv-Luv franchise after Schwarzesmarken, but things fell through and we haven’t really gotten anything since. Adoration is actually the longest and most detailed look we’ve gotten at the Duty characters. It’s the first time we’ve gotten to hear the Duty characters voiced (and I remain convinced a major reason Adoration even exists is to establish the voice actors for these characters in anticipation of a possible future anime or game featuring them).

Adoration actually isn’t told from the perspective of any of the Duty characters, though – it’s told from the perspective of an original character, a Royal Guard cadet from Japan sent to England as the final stage of his training. Adoration then chronicles his adventures interacting with the cast of Duty. It’s a highly comedic story, much closer to Unlimited’s light-hearted touch than the darkness of Alternative. Everybody is buying Photonmelodies for Altered Fable, but I think this is going to be a dark horse favorite for many people.

Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles – Resurrection:

Resurection was released as one of the stories in the Chronicles 03 game. It follows up on the positive reception to Adoration, and seeks to continue along the same lines. It is again written by Kouki Yoshimune alongside the younger writers at Age, with art again by Sou Miyata.

The idea behind Resurrection is simple – since Adoration was a hit with fans, let’s do the same thing again, only reversed. So where Adoration featured a Japanese protagonist traveling to Europe and getting into hijinks, Resurrection now features a European protagonist traveling to Japan and getting into hijinks. For its Japanese cast, Resurrection returns to Yokohama Base and the Isumi Valkyries, who we hadn’t seen for quite a while at the time this game came out. Resurrection provides the most detailed look at Miyata’s redesigns of the Alternative cast, which we got to see briefly in Confessions.

Both Adoration and Resurrection are considerably longer than the Chronicles stories we saw in Photonflowers, so there’s plenty of value in these two stories as well.

There’s more to talk about, but I’ll hold off on the more spoilery stuff until everybody’s gotten a chance to play Photonmelodies. So pick up Photonmelodies from Steam today and enjoy, and check back here in a month or two for more posts, including the story of the time Yoshimune tried to avoid spoiling his own game and failed…