Visual Novel: The Royal Trap
The Royal Trap
is an English Visual Novel
/ Otome Game
developed by Hanako Games
. It features an unusually active heroine and a twist on traditional gender roles. In this world, men rule, but women inherit. Property is passed to daughters and from them to the control of their husbands. That means, the next king is whoever the princess chooses as her husband... so any man with an eye for power has to catch the interest of the lady who controls it.
Which is where Madeleine comes in. Her job is to coach her employer, Prince Oscar, into being the sort of man that a princess would marry, while generally keeping him out of trouble.
Unfortunately, the princess he's supposed to be wooing disappears, and Oscar is the prime suspect.
Tropes specific to this game:
- Action Girl: Madeleine's job requires her to be able to climb walls, pick locks, and if absolutely necessary, fight to defend her charge. However, she's no soldier.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Madeleine can give one to Oscar, when it seems like he's going to pull a You Shall Not Pass on the peasants raiding the castle so the others can escape.
- Bespectacled Bastard Boyfriend: Inverted with Nazagi, who's generally friendlier with his glasses on. The is probably because he considers his poor vision a weakness; thus, showing the weakness to somebody by wearing glasses means he trusts them at least a little.
- Bishie Sparkle: Prince Gaston
- Blind Without 'Em: Prince Nazagi has terrible vision without his glasses but refuses to wear them because he thinks no princess would find him attractive in spectacles.
- Brick Joke: Early on in Nazagi's route, Madeleine jokingly mentions to him that the servants think he's a vampire. Later on, she finds out that some of the staff wholeheartedly believe this, to the point of carrying garlic on hand to 'ward' him away (they offer her some, too).
- Cassandra Truth: Early in the game, Prince Callum's crazy theory that Princess Cassidy is actually his little brother Prince Caspian is dismissed as the thoughts of a grieving brother who refuses to let go of the past. It is actually bang on the money.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Oscar/Madeleine.
- Changeling Fantasy: In Nazagi's route, it's theorized that Dolores is the true Princess Cassidy, though nothing is ever confirmed. In Callum's route, the theory is cleared up, and the truth zigzags this trope to high heaven. Dolores was raised by the Wisdom, and went under the name of Princess Cassidy...as part of a plan to convince the public that the Wisdom gave birth to another child after Prince Caspian. In reality, she's the daughter of one of the Wisdom's ladies in waiting.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Madeleine pretends to be this as part of the plan to rob the Royal Treasury.
- Damsel in Distress: Princess Cassidy spends a lot of the story being kidnapped or otherwise locked up.
- Madeleine becomes this for a brief period of time, after she's blamed for the kidnap of Princess Cassidy and thrown in the palace dungeons.
- The Dandy: Prince Gaston, oh yes.
- Dead Person Impersonation: There is a rumor circulating around the peasantry that the true Princess Cassidy died in childhood, and the current one is an impostor. The imposter Cassidy part is true...but not in the way most would think.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dolores is the most common offender, but Madeleine, Callum and Nazagi do get in on the action occasionally.
- Diving Save: This is how Dolores saves Cassidy from an assassin.
- Double Meaning Title
- The Dreaded: Nazagi has this reputation with the palace staff, partly because he is Not Good with People, partly because he looks rather intimidating, and partly because he's a farmakeist.
- Dual Wielding: Madeleine fights with a pair of daggers.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Cassidy wears one when she gets married to Gaston, while Madeleine wears one when she weds Callum. In both cases it's justified, since they're royal weddings. Madeleine's dress when she marries Oscar is a toned down, Simple Yet Opulent affair.
- Five-Man Band: Happens the beginning of the game, and is carried over into Oscar's route.
- Foreshadowing: All over the place.
- When Cassidy is first introduced, Madeleine mentions that it is rather hard to tell a noblewoman's exact age. This is a rather good thing for Cassidy, as no one will notice that she's a few years older than she's supposed to be.
- Gaston gets very upset when Madeleine brings up the topic of wigs with him. While at first this may seem like he's panicking about being found with a Cassidy wig, later on in his route it's revealed that that wonderful head of hair of his is fake; he is completely bald.
- When she's disguised as Cassidy, Madeleine notices that Nazagi takes an awfully long time to kiss her hand. After you play his route, you realize that this alludes to his rather bad eyesight.
- The lyrics of the opening theme are packed with this. In particular, pay VERY close attention to the mention of a 'facade' when Cassidy is introduced.
- For The Money: This is Dolores's ambition for most of the game, mainly because her lifetime goal is to be self sufficient on her own lands. Her first attempt to earn coin is ransoming Cassidy off to Callum and then, when that fails and she learns of the royal family's debt of honor to her, she sticks around hoping they'll give her some sort of reward due to that.
- Gay Option: Colette. The Dolores ending is a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Prince Callum is one, though at the time when the game takes place he mainly builds things as a hobby. His epilogue implies that he's moved onto making it a part time profession.
- Gender Bender: 'Princess' Cassidy was originally Prince Caspian, the youngest son of the Gwellinor royal family. However, the Wisdom could bear no more children after him, which was a problem as the family had no daughters to ensure succession. Desperate to maintain their hold on power, it was decided that a princess would be made instead. Caspian was separated from his siblings, under the guise of him dying from illness, so that he could be Raised as the Opposite Gender, and was given potions which stunted his growth in order to give him some of the physical features of a woman, such as a petite figure and a high voice. And thus, Princess Cassidy was born.
- Gilded Cage: Cassidy's life in the palace. This is heavily lampshaded in Oscar's route.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Prince Gaston clearly thinks so, from his comments about Madeleine and his maid Colette.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: The game gives just gems like 'corkhead', 'for soils sake' and 'you motherless son'.
- Dolores in particular comes across as charmingly vulgar without actually swearing at all.
- Grumpy Bear: Prince Callum.
- Heir Club for Men: Inverted - inheritance is only passed down through the female line, so despite having older brothers, Princess Cassidy is the heir of Gwellinor, and the next in line is her female cousin.
- Happily Married: Happens to Madeleine in both Oscar and Callum's endings. Cassidy and Gaston become this at the end of his route, and the epilogue of Callum's good end hints that this will be the fate of Cassidy and Oscar.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Madeleine is in charge of keeping Oscar from falling on his face before he finds a wife. In Gaston's route, she serves as this for him instead. In Callum's route, she and he are equals, while in Nazagi's route, she's clearly subordinate in both position and political acumen.
- I Have Your Wife: Callum gets Madeleine to swear an oath of servitude to him by holding Oscar hostage.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Princess Cassidy is so pure, sheltered and unsullied that she has no clue about the biological differences between men and women. This was intentionally done, as if she knew she'd have some serious questions to ask about her original sex.
- It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Madeleine says this word for word when questioned about why she apparently kidnapped cassidy in Nazagi's route. Though this is mainly because she can't remember the official version of events.
- Interface Spoiler: Reaching any ending shows the list of possible endings, including some that might not have been obvious options. Subverted because Gaston is not actually a romance option and the real option on his path isn't listed at all.
- I Want My Beloved Tobe Happy: In Oscar's route, even though she's steadily falling in love with him, Madeleine insists on pairing him up with Cassidy, as that will guarantee him a good future. His best ending is when she realizes that he'll be the happiest with her, and proposes to him.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Callum is extremely protective towards Cassidy. He was also this to Caspian too, before he died.
- Like Brother and Sister: Madeleine can let Oscar down gently by telling him she sees him as a brother.
- Large Ham: Prince Gaston.
- Long Haired Prettyboy: Prince Nazagi. Oscar tried to be this in his backstory, but eventually gave up and hacked the whole lot off.
- Lower-Class Lout: Dolores is a servant, but she grew up in an orphanage and has the delightfully common touch of her upbringing to show for it. She's much smarter than the stereotype would indicate, though.
- Mandatory Motherhood: In order to ensure succession, it is vital that the Wisdom produces a female heir. However, Princess Cassidy is completely unable to bear children, due to possessing male genitalia.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Level-headed Action Girl Madeleine and somewhat dreamy, unpractical poet Oscar fit this well. Oscar becomes a better fighter and somewhat more sensible during his route, but keeps his dreaminess and love for poetry.
- The Matchmaker: It's Madeleine's job to be this for Oscar, though she only succeeds in pairing him with Cassidy during the epilogue of Callum's good end and some of Oscar's non-good endings. In Gaston's route, she becomes this for Cassidy and Gaston instead.
- In Nagazi's route, after he theorizes that Dolores is the real Princess Cassidy, Madeleine can take some actions to try and make her sweet on him.
- The Mistress: Madeleine becomes Nazagi's after he marries Cassidy and becomes king. This arrangement is essential as Cassidy, being transsexual, cannot produce children, so the duty falls to Madeleine. All parties consent to this arrangement, and Madeleine is given the highest position of power possible in the Royal Court and is treated as an equal to the Royal Family behind closed doors. Also, since this is his best end, it is heavily implied that, in time, Madeleine and Nazagi will fall in love while both Nazagi and Madeleine will either become Platonic Life Partners to Cassidy or end up in a threesome with her.
- Moment Killer: Dolores in Callum's route. Eventually both him and Madeleine learn to tune her out.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Oscar's route, his and Cassidy's decision to publicly reveal that she was targeted by an assassin is very definitely this. While it does help to free Madeleine, it also sparks widespread panic among the castle residents, causes the guards to go on a witchhunt to find any more conspirators which leads to the death of an innocent maid, and eventually leads to the castle being stormed by peasants.
- Ninja Maid: Madeleine's job is something close to this, although with a different flavor. She does similar jobs but doesn't have the demeanour of a maid.
- Not Good with People: Prince Nazagi, mainly due to the fact that his sight is so bad without glasses he can't read visual cues like emotions or body language. He usually gets his valet to do the talking for him.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cassidy and Gaston, if you follow his route. Even though their engagement is very sudden, Cassidy outright admits to Madeleine that she could fall in love with him in time and, Gaston has been smitten with her since before arriving at the palace, going to the point of writing a heap of romantic letters to her.
- Pressure Point: One of Nazagi's skills.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Cassidy and Callum.
- Princess Classic: Princess Cassidy is kind, forgiving, and rather too innocent. She wears a pretty pink dress, loves flowers and poetry, and is completely non-violent. And still a subversion.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Everything about Cassidy is practically drowning in pink, from her clothes to her room. What better way to reinforce the idea of a ultra feminine Princess Classic? Her parents wanted to be very sure she saw herself as a girl.
- Raised as the Opposite Gender: Prince Caspian, AKA Princess Cassidy. See Gender Bender for a more detailed explanation.
- Reality Ensues: In Gaston's bad ending. Just because Maddie was able to imitate Cassidy once doesn't mean she'll be able to do it for a prolonged period of time and successfully fool the entire kingdom...
- Rescue Romance: A very minor variant happens if you follow Oscar's route, as he and Maddie first meet after she rescues him from a cellar.
- Rose-Haired Sweetie: Cassidy has bright pink hair and is the kindest character in the game. Subverted with the sour Dolores, though her ending reveals her soft side.
- Scar Survey: Nazagi has numerous scars on his body, which are the the results of failed attempts to improve his sight. Madeleine can find this out in his route after he (apparently) absentmindedly walks into her room and starts stripping.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Noble women are expected to act this way as their husband's Wisdom. Princess Cassidy is the best example; beneath her tender exterior is a strong young woman, who, depending on the route, might give herself up to a mob to protect her companions or abdicate the throne because she thinks it's right for her country. Madeleine even describes her in these terms.
- Troubled, but Cute: Prince Callum
- True Blue Femininity: While Madeleine is definitely an Action Girl, she is far from a tomboy, and her blue dress she wears is clearly meant to highlight this.
- Unable To Support A Wife: Though in Madeleine's case, it's more like unable to support a husband. This is the main reason why she's so against marrying Oscar at the start, since they'll both enter the marriage without anything to their name (Oscar due to the fact that inheritance is passed through the females of a family, and Madeleine because she's the second daughter of a minor noble house), and since neither is trained in a profession they'll likely suffer from extreme poverty.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Robbing the Royal Treasury. The plan isn't clear to the player until after it's already completed.
- Upper-Class Twit: Prince Gaston shows almost no indications of intelligence throughout the story, and is dependent on Colette (and possibly Madeleine) to keep him from falling on his face.
- Uptown Guy: Madeleine insists she can't marry Oscar because he's a prince and she's a servant with no inheritance.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Oscar, should you pick his route. Otherwise he becomes the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
- Women Are Wiser: The world's justification for having daughters receive the family property and give their "wisdom" to their husbands.
- Would Hit a Girl: Madeleine and Nazagi play on this in order to let him slip out of his room without an escort: she pretends he got angry enough to strike her, and then he gets the obviously concerned guard to stay with her instead while he (apparently) stalks off in a huff.
- Callum has no problem using violence against women if the situation calls for it, 'sparring' with Madeleine, and nearly strangling Dolores. Oscar tries, but is a little more reluctant to grapple with her effectively.
- Wutai: Prince Nazagi's homeland.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Callum, who has very light blue hair, and Cassidy and Dolores, who both have pink hair, are the main offenders. Nazagi is a more toned down example, as he has very dark navy hair that can pass as black.
- Yuri Fan: Prince Gaston would really like to watch his maid play with another woman, and is fully supportive of her actually getting a girlfriend.