Princess Waltz is a Visual Novel by Pulltop, notable for being easily the most graphically intensive and text heavy example of the genre to be published in the west. Indeed some reviewers have declared it a possible and quite intentional Crowning Moment of Awesome for publisher Peach Princess, who it is safe to say have produced what is easily the most accomplished of their localizations so far (which is to say that spotting a spelling mistake is rare).It is a tale of a land called Eldhiland, where for years the six princesses of the land have competed in the titular tournament in order to win the hand of the Prince of the Imperial Family. Now it is time for the ladies to compete for the hand of Prince Chris, these six beautiful girls showing off their graceful dancing skills as they discover the values of friendship, love and embroidery...Oh, it's not that kind of story? Ok, strike that, it seems the Princess Waltz is less about dancing, and more about said six princesses beating the unholy crap out of each other with a selection of improbably huge and unlikely weapons. With Eldhiland choosing to hold the tournament on present day earth, main character and good natured jock Arata is drawn into events when he accidentally befriends the local Enigmatic Transfer Student and discovers that said transfer student is the much coveted Prince Chris himself. For unknown reasons Chris has joined the Waltz in disguise as the mysterious Princess Iris, and after much Ho Yay Arata decides to aid him in his battle to beat the other five and win the tournament himself.Said Princesses include:Princess Suzushiro Shikikagura: On the surface the Token Mini-MoeProper LadySatellite Love Interest and Unlucky Childhood Friend of Chris. In fact it quickly becomes clear that she is also Hot Bloodedness and a Plucky Girl, along with being a very badassBare-Fisted Monk.Princess Angela Victoire Blendin: An unapologetic Blood Knight, she cares less about Chris and more about getting the best fight possible from her opponents. As such she is antagonistic but honourable, her Slasher Smile in combat mediated by her tendency to Pet the Dog outside of it.Princess Liesel Hansel: A Genius Bruiser and borderline Badass Normal, who makes up for her lack of physical ability with deadly cunning and her mechanical augmentations. The Little Miss Snarker of the cast, she prides herself on her lack of concern for the concepts of a fair fight and regularly derides those who choose Honor Before Reason .Princess Liliana Guenther: Genki Girl and Plucky Comic Relief, she is also rather Genre Savvy and could probably singlehandedly qualify for half the anime tropes on the site. Don't let it fool you, at least some of her personality is Obfuscating Stupidity disguising an experienced and clever combatant.Beast Princess: The last princess, introduced near the end of the story. It is implied that she makes a few appearances earlier on, protecting Arata from the shadows. Unlike the other princesses, she has little interest in the Princess Waltz and Chris, and is more concerned in protecting Arata. It is implied that she is closer than everyone thinks.Not getting by simply on the strength of its high production values (Even the minor characters get unique paperdolls!) Princess Waltz combines likable and interesting characters with a tone that shifts seamlessly between comedy and drama with equal attention and skill paid to both. The plot isn't anything new but it's well told, and even if it occasionally veers towards thin excuses for everyone to punch each other the fights are so damn good it doesn't matter. So good indeed that at times you ache for them to be animated, excellent sound effects and clever use of paper dolls combining with strong writing to produce some truly badass stuff.
Provides examples of:
Accidental Kiss: Between Arata and Liliana. Made funny by her lampshading it beforehand.
Adaptive Ability: The Guardeners. They start in a few basic forms—wolf, giant bug, etc—but regenerate into a new, more powerful form after defeat. The only way to prevent this is to destroy them completely.
Awesome, but Impractical: The skills in the game during the card battles. Sure they can deal way more damage than the usual damage but there's a catch. To give you an example: 1st phase throw a Feint: you get initiative. Fair enough. 2nd phase throw an Overdrive. Oh look, the enemy has a card and is using it to block using Parry. Too bad try again the next day. Skills are one shot only and they can only be refilled the day after.
Fortunately, the enemies have very specific criteria for them to use their skills, one of which includes you throwing out four cards in the right phase. They also visibly bring out the skill card whenever you fulfill the requirement, allowing you a chance to decide whether to bring out more guns, let it use the skill, or put the card which triggered it back (which also causes the enemy to withdraw their skill).
Well, ditto for Liesel: she actually isn't a real princess, as her homeland is a meritocracy without a nobility. For that matter, she's not the official competitor either. The girl chosen for Waltz was disqualified for... taking the celebration about the fact she was chosen too far. Liesel, who made her dress, was the only one who could have mastered it in the remaining time... And she did, wiping the floor with two arguably strongest princessess in the Waltz, only losing to a Love Power-up. Gah.
Batman-Gambit / Evil Plan / Gambit Roulette: At the end of the game, its still not clear what the hell April was up to, so there's really no way to know which of these apply. Maybe she was just following orders, or maybe she was just doing it For the Evulz. Except she might be the Goddess of Wings and the whole thing was a plot to get rid of Shichiou forever.
Well, to be fair, this game seems to be very Genre Savvy about itself, and considering the sheer idiocy that would result by insulting our intelligence, the designers thought lampshading this trope immediately would be a good idea instead. Considering how hard maintaining that plot twist would be anyway, that was probably for the best.
Even Arata feels like a moron after the reveal. It's THAT obvious.
Hell, on the official English site, Chris is referred to as a she. Which is strange, since it also mentions that Iris always appears when Chris is in danger, but is never around him. The reason is Heavily implied in the first chapter.
Hell just turn off Male voices...you'll notice she keeps on talking.
Cast of Snowflakes: Even minor background characters who barely do anything each have individual sprites, unusual in visual novels where background classmates are usually referred to as "Classmate A" or some such. Justified, because this helps set up the reveal that Riko Tanada, a minor background character, is masquerading as Princess Liesel.
Celibate Hero: All the Princesses, mostly for 'Love Is A Distraction' reasons (Seems a requirement for participation is being a Plucky Girl). Liliana has three married sisters and falls into 'Love is Beneath Me', she frowns on their lack of ambition and won't settle for anything less than a Prince.
It's a requirement to participate; this is a tournament to decide the Emperor's wife after all... Reference: Nanae.
Subverted. But then, it's an H-game, so how could it not be?
Chekhov's Gunman: Remember Kanada Riko? No? She's the tall girl in Arata's class. The one with glasses that swoons a lot and has a tendency to be a bit of a covert pervert? Yeah, that's the real Liesel. Also April.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Toyed with in the battle engine. Any card that you don't play one turn gets held onto for the next turn and increases its value by 2.
Christmas Cake: Liliana spends most of the game pretending to be a middleschooler, yet rather pointedly asks Arata if he likes 'older women'. His mother on the other hand outright accuses her of being a cradle-snatcher.
Combat Referee: Princess Waltz has two, Pigeon and Crow, Pigeon being a blue-haired boy wearing white and Crow being a pink-haired girl wearing black, Pigeon being the older of the two. Crow is completely on the level, but Pigeon betrays everyone because unlike Crow, Pigeon is old enough to be commanded by Shichiou's magical contract. However, it turns out Pigeon was looking for a way to sneakily get around Shichiou, and gives Crow vital information that helps our heroes win a crucial battle. But even that tiny betrayal of Shichiou almost kills him.
Combat Pragmatist: Liesel. This pisses off the other Princesses, who lecture her about using dirty tricks instead of fighting with her heart.
Could Say It But: This is how Pigeon explains to Crow that Crow needs to free all the princesses so they can't be used to power the devices that are causing the Super Elder Guardener's health to infinitely regenerate. To paraphrase, "Oh, do I hear a little mouse? I guess it's fine if I talk about this, since a cute little mouse couldn't do anything about it. It would be such a shame if I told anybody since I have to serve Shichiou or I'll die, but it's fine if it's just a mouse." Obviously he knows it's Crow who's listening and not a mouse, but this doesn't completely work as even this tiny betrayal almost kills Pigeon anyway.
Covert Pervert: Suzushiro and Shizuka are the standout examples. Suzushiro tries to be proper but her sex scene is the kinkiest in the game. Shizuka styles herself Arata's bodyguard/maid, but she...comforts herself daily while thinking of Arata.
CrazyPreparedLiesel has everything in her dress from a jetpack, to missles, to a frickin shield!
Liliana is another example. She has her water gun, which can shoot water bullets...and can change ammo so it can fire lightning or ice instead...and if it runs out of ammo it can shoot water whips or set up webs to trap the opponent...and if that doesn't work it can use Liliana's Blood Meridian to set up the Absolute Zero technique. Liliana almost beat Angela by sheer diversity of tactics, always one more just up her sleeve, losing only because Angela managed to beat Liliana's Absolute Zero technique, the strongest one she had. To be specific, Angela only beat Liliana because she had seen and therefore copied Iris' Limit Break attack from a previous battle. If Liliana had fought Angela before Iris, Liliana would have won hands down, by Angela's own admission.
Determinator and Plucky Girls: Everyone. Arata actually notes that more than anything else the Waltz seems to be a test of just how stupid and stubborn you are.
Deliberate Injury Gambit: Arata beats Suzushiro this way, along with a hefty dose of mostly justified Moral Dissonance. He allows her to punch him (breaking two of his ribs) before tacklehugging her, binding her with power neutralizing bandages and at the same time breaking her Can't Touch Men promise. Still, he feels bad about doing it, and she was the one who picked a fight with him.
Diabolus ex Machina: How Shichiou beats Angela in his first appearance. We suddenly learn that Angela's clan's deity, the King of Dragons, contracted with Shichiou so all dragons must obey him. Instead of fighting Angela fair and square, Shichiou uses the magical contract to command Angela not to move, and then he just keeps stomping on her and grinding his heel into her while she lays down helplessly on the ground, screaming in frustration.
Elephant in the Living Room: Chris and Arata are 2/3 siblings, having the same father and mothers who were sisters. This is never brought up by anyone, ever. Even though Arata does seem to have some issues about having sex with his adoptive sister. Granted, incestual marriages between royals aren't unheard of, but one of the two involved here was raised as a modern-day Japanese teenager.
However, the game does imply that he fell so hard for Chris he probably knows and still doesn't care! Which is actually a rather touching piece of Fridge Brilliance if true.
Also contains a mild subversion with Liesel. Since the country Palmied is run by a merchant oligarchy rather than a monarchy, "princess" is simply the designation for whichever girl is selected to participate in the Waltz, rather than an actual noble title...though it's hinted that the princess is usually upper-class, since Riko was only a lowly engineer, but the only one qualified to use the Dress after the original girl was disqualified.
Fake Defector: Pigeon. It technically starts off as real, since Shichiou is able to command him and not Crow since Pigeon is old enough to be bound by the Emperor's contract, but Pigeon gives Crow an opportunity to escape upon Pigeon's initial betrayal, and then Pigeon talks about how to beat the Super Elder Guardener while Crow is within earshot so Crow can free the princesses and take away the Super Elder Guardener's source of infinitely-regenerating health.
Game-Breaking Bug: There's an issue with fonts that can cause the game to crash when displaying a specific dialogue box.
Genre Savvy: If you look at some of the dialogue of the characters, especially Lun Lun and the Big Bad, they seem to be VERY aware of the H-Game and RPG tropes the game runs on. Angela also has a few moments where she does a very snarky Lampshade Hanging on how poorly the Chekhov's Gunman trope was hidden. In fact, Nodoka even notices the clichedness of the stock excuse that is given for Arata knowing all the girls, but Nanae convinces her to follow the MST3K Mantra. Hell, it approaches Leaning on the Fourth Wall levels when April and speaks with Pigeon about how the Elder Guardener has infinite HP!
The Big Bad is an interesting mix of Genre Savvy and Contractual Genre Blindness. He's aware he's a villain and is often one step ahead of the good guys, but he fulfills pretty much every stock villain cliche simultaneously. He even hangs lampshades on some of it.
Good Morning, Crono: In the grand Dating Sim and RPG tradition, the game begins with Arata waking up in the morning and discovering that he's overslept and is late for school.
Graceful Loser: After Shichiou gets one-shot by the Arata/Chris/6 Princess-powered Eldhi Arc sword he acknowledges that the heroes are stronger than him and Iris has won their millenium-long game, the two then make-up with Iris admitting she always loved him and the two gently fade away to the afterlife to watch over their descendants.
Grand Theft Me: Shichiou takes over Chris' body, so that he can seal the blessing that kept him bound.
Hero Ball: Arata repeatedly charges into battle against monsters that totally outclass him. It tends to work out for the best, but, as the other characters point out, it's extremely foolish.
Given how any and all of the Princesses tend to be a lot more heroic around him ( his Back-to-Back Badasses moment with Angela, Lun-Lun's resolve to fight returning simply from remembering something he said to her days before, Liesel's badass return to action in order to protect him, and the fact that they can join with him to become Iris), let's face it: Arata is the Hero Ball.
Ho Yay: In-Universe example; Chris and Arata, something commented on repeatedly by the other characters.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Liesel seems weak at first, very powerful but slow and clumsy. Then she reveals she can fly. And has missiles. And a backup weapon. And revolving spheres of death. And a giant fucking shield...
Idiot Hair: One of Arata's unnamed classmates, a girl with an ahoge who displays the amount of intellect you'd expect.
Pigeon, too. He comes across as a humongous jerkass during the moment where he betrays Crow in favor of Shichiou, and he almost kills Crow twice! But, turns out he did want to foil Shichiou's schemes after all, and was just looking for an opportunity to try to do so without being killed by disobeying the Emperor.
Kill It with Fire: Both of Angela's finishing moves are perfect incarnations of this trope.
Kiai: Used with Shizuka & Arata's finisher, an overhead swing, the most basic move in kendo.
Kill It with Water: Liliana's water pistol allows her to do all sorts of tricks with water.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: However, the mechanic is a bit different than other visual novels. Instead making a girl stronger and making her affection rise with "correct choices", it's mostly determined by picking a princess for Arata to fuse with. If he fuses with the same girl three times during the mansion segment, he'll get that girl's ending. If he fuses with a different girl every time, he gets Shizuka's ending.
Lightning Glare: Suzushiro and Lun-Lun have enough of these to power the entire East Coast for a few days.
Love Dodecahedron: By the end of the game, all the available girls like Arata to an extent from low with Suzushiro to outright love like most of the rest. Though Chris and Arata are the main pairing, each of their endings apart from the last implies a three way solution to deal with the situation.
Marry Them All: There are endings for each princess, though they vary so little in detail that you might as well consider them the same thing. However, each ending carries a level of Threesome Subtext apart from the final one, which implies more of a Marry ThemAll ending.
Not So Different: The Big Bad claims that Arata will eventually come to the same conclusions he did, which will lead to the exact same thing happening again. Iris retorts that if it does, then the current generation will have to deal with it.
Iris: Our time is done. It is time for us to go.
Obfuscating Stupidity: If you think that "Lun-Lun" is nothing more than an anime-obsessed Genki GirlDitz, then you haven't gotten to the scene where she points out that her family is in charge of the most powerful naval force in their world, and are responsible for constantly battling pirates. As a result, she has at least as much combat experience as ANGELA.
Actually, this troper remembers differently. Lun-Lun had more combat experience, but Angela had more raw power. Finesse vs Brute Force
Liliana's reaction is the same when Angela manages to burn her way out of Absolute Zero, her most powerful technique she had to use the Blood Meridian to charge, just because one of Angela's fingers wasn't frozen. Liliana then uses a much-less powerful version of it to try to just break Angela's tiara for a technical victory, and has another Oh Crap when that doesn't work either.
Out of the Inferno: If you go with Angela for the 2nd chapter, the battle with the Super Elder Guardener not only involves their Iris form doing this, but turning said inferno on their rival and REDUCINGITTOASHES.
Paper-Thin Disguise: No one connects Iris and Chris, despite the fact they even have the same hairdo.
May have something to do with Identical Grandparents. The real Iris and Cecilia (Chris' mother) look a lot like Chris as well. It might not be too surprising to people that every female that comes out of Soldia looks like Iris. Shichiou actually comments upon Iris appearance and reveals that Arata resembles her more than Chris do.
Even if you don't wind up teaming with the 6th princess, the game does a very terrible job of disguising who she really is.
Playing with Fire: Angela's Finishing Move has her cloaked in huge dragon made of fire. Also, as Liliana learned the hard way, if you leave something as small as her fingertip sticking out of the ice block you've imprisoned her in, she can burn herself out.
Made especially impressive in that said Finishing Move was thought of right on the spot, based solely on observing Iris' Eldhi Arc technique once, and figuring out exactly how it was powered perfectly just from that.
Porn With Plot: Very, very plot heavy, with the porn, while unskippable, brief, rather tasteful, and it compromises about maybe 3-5% of the game content at absolute best.
Psychotic Smirk: Angela rarely wears anything else. Suzushiro also pulls one occasionally when she's in a bitchy mood.
Marry Them All: Princess Waltz implies that this could easily be the case through dialogue, plot implications, and practical reasons. To wit:
Dialogue: ALL of the girls (especially in the true ending), wind up liking Arata to some greater or lesser degree, ranging anywhere from profound respect to outright love.
Plot Implications: We are given very broad reason to believe that not only is the world the Princesses have come from very relaxed standards wise (they aren't as hung up over illegitimate kids), but the Brother-Sister Incest implications in the plot are not regarded as Squick by the other girls. In fact, they SUPPORT Arata/Chris (with the broad implication on both sides that they wouldn't mind being haremettes or in a polygamous relationship, which is actually not uncommon for royalty)
Practical Reasons: Due to the events of the game plot having caused major political uncertainty, polygamy would be a great idea for political expendiency (with the added bonus the prince and princesses would actually be pretty okay with it), and considering the whole plot was an The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny to determine the continuance of the political balance, polygamy benefits all sides.
The above said, the plot begs for an extended epilogue Fan Fic.
And at the very least, the game pretty much says flat out that although Chris is the more important, Arata also gets together with at least the princess he merged with at the end.
Surprise Pregnancy: Twice in the backstory, disqualifying the princesses in question from participating in the Waltz. In the current Waltz, it resulted in Riko becoming Palmied's "Princess Liesel". In the last one, Nanae dropped out after becoming pregnant with Shizuka.
Tempting Fate: As Chris and Arata are about to leave the Guarden for the first time through a big door:
Arata: If this were a horror movie, this moment of relief would be when the monster would come crashing throw a window or something—
The Worf Effect: Shichiou proves his credentials by effortlessly beating Angela in his first appearance. Also a Kick the Dog, as he makes an effort to humiliate and degrade her at the same time. Although the only reason he effortlessly beats Angela is because Angela's ancestors' deity, the King of Dragons, signed a contract before she was born that all dragons must obey Shichiou. That allows Shichiou to magically command Angela and Glen not to move and then beat the tar out of the magically-paralyzed Angela.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Highly encouraged in this game, in fact, as damage past an opponent's last Hit Point translates into an Experience Point boost. Managing to drop an opponent to 1 HP and then unleashing everything you've got on them is an excellent means to level up faster.
This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: It's rather convenient that the only real "special technique" that Suzushiro has, besides her extreme fighting skills and strength of course, is a gravity-manipulation technique. Convenient that Suzushiro's single technique is somehow perfectly matched against an opponent, Liesel, that has been beating her so far by flying.
Totally Radical: Courtesy of Nodoka, early in the game: "What the hoppin' heezy are you doing!"
Tsundere: Chris and Angela, neither of whom fit the standard mold.
Chris keeps a princely mask up at all times, but underneath is a Type A Tsundere.
Angela is mostly Type A, but switches to Type B for her Pet the Dog moments. Even those are pretty harsh, though, and are more like "Don't screw up too bad" rather than true deredere moments. The only exception is her sex scene.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Poor Nodoka doesn't even get a second glance. And given the nature of the game her lack of a nude scene, more or less and H-scene is very telling.
The "true ending" you get after completing all the others implies that she follows Arata to Eldhiland and is determined to become a princess herself.
The Sixth Princess, Shizuka, uses a Halberd, a different kind of Blade on a Stick. Appropriately enough, there is some antagonism between her and Angela, due to their personalities being stark opposites.