I just finished this game, and I have to say that it seriously surpassed my expectations. From the ratings on the VNDB, it seems like people pretty consistently score it as decent, but not great, which was pretty much my assessment until a little while before the beginning of the second chapter. But I think the quality of the game rises pretty consistently from beginning to end.
It's not my absolute favorite visual novel, but once the story gets into its swing, I think it's reliably engaging, cohesive and comprehensible (I liked Fate/Stay Night, but there were a lot of bits where I felt the characters would just toss around some magibabble and pretend that matters had been adequately explained, and it sometimes fell on the wrong side of Sanderson's First Law
,) there are a bunch of twists and revelations that are legitimately surprising, and there weren't any characters I couldn't be motivated to care about, which is a big step up from a bunch of the games I've played recently. All in all, I think it's pretty underrated; there are a whole lot of games which have been voted higher up on the VNDB that I'm nowhere near as impressed with.
Arata being a complete dumbass at the beginning is in my opinion the game's biggest weakness. There's a piece of writing advice which holds that you can make the initial setup of a story as improbable as you want, but from there nothing should proceed in an improbable manner if you don't want to piss off the audience. I feel like the writers tried to apply that to the main character's intelligence and decided that they could make him as clueless as necessary to justify the initial premise, even if he wasn't going to be nearly as idiotic in the rest of the game.
I can't see how the ending doesn't result in a succession crisis or at the very least a massive civil war by opportunistic parties, especially since all the nations (even Soldia) have a legitimate claim to the throne.
Arata and Chris have the crown, and almost certainly the support of all the princesses. There's really nothing stopping them from ruling as emperor and empress, and instituting a regular monarchy now that the Princess Waltz is no longer needed. There probably will be tensions involved, not least because the real reasons behind the Princess Waltz were never public, so they're changing an international institution due to the resolution of a problem that most people didn't know existed in the first place, but I doubt it'll be that difficult to resolve. I get the impression that the Crown is sort of a Big Stick, and the people sitting on the throne and wearing it are in a pretty advantaged position with respect to keeping it.
A sequel might be nice. I didn't particularly care for Princess Waltz, but a continuation of the story might be interesting, especially if you consider the Shizuna ending the true end.
Personally, I don't feel like this game really has multiple endings so much as one ending preceded by different possible sex scenes. I think I'd rather not see a sequel (a bit ironic considering it seems I enjoyed the game a lot more than you did.) First, I think that the somewhat open ending is one of its strengths; maybe they don't all live happily ever after, and Bad Stuff happens in the not so distant future, but at least they're changing things and not stuck in the past anymore. Second, while it's easy to set up further conflict after the events of the game, I think it would be awfully hard to make it as epic without adding elements which aren't foreshadowed by the first game, making them feel shoehorned in.
edited 12th Aug '12 9:27:07 PM by Desertopa
...eventually, we will reach a maximum entropy state where nobody has their own socks or underwear, or knows who to ask to get them back.