The general idea behind Super Heroine Chronicle (SHC) is simple : to make a gigantic crossover between female characters from some of the most famous animes of the last years. Parity not being on the agenda, this very long tactical-RPG will be girls only (almost…).
SHC made a design choice I dislike, that is to say chibi characters (or super-deformed like we used to say back in the day). When this game was first announced, I was super excited to see my favorite waifus in 3D… in correct proportions. But life is unfair and I can’t always have what I want. This trauma behind me, I rather enjoyed SHC visually speaking. Animations are cleverly made and totally live up to the specificities of the various animes. Even tough there aren’t a lot of different attacks available (3 to 6 per character), they’re all pretty funny and gradually become more and more over-the-top. The devs clearly put a lot of effort in this, and had the excellent initiative of inserting 2D animated illustrations of the characters in the middle of the 3D actions. Add to this a rather large selection of sexy poses and a few nice cutscenes, and you have a very attractive game for anime fans.
The gameplay was created with great care, the game design is nearly flawless. Units are of 3 different types : sniper/archer, attacker and defender. The defender has te upper hand over the attacker, the attacker over the sniper and the sniper over the defender. You probably just thought «Fire Emblem» and «triangle of weapons», and you are right : the principle is similar and your frontline must be organized accordingly. SHC is stricter than Fire Emblem : dodging is not a common thing and damage is severe, not to mention that enemies can target multiple characters at once. There’s no permadeath but victory conditions can be tough at times : the game can ask you to protect a given character (placed right behind enemy lines to make things even harder) or worse, not to lose a single unit! Some challenges are insanely hard (I had some VERY narrow victories) and have you think hard and out of the box. Needless to say, the pleasure of hearing the victory theme is immense. Note that your healing options are limited, especially at the beginning since your only healer is… the one and only dude of the game! Archetype of the anti-hero lacking confidence, he is also an absolute zero in attacking and keep being bullied by the girls. In short, it is mots amusing to see him reverse 25 years of male/female role distribution in JRPGs.
But this is just the tip of the tactical iceberg. Every unit (friend or foe) has 3 color gauges that correspond to HIT, ATK and SPEED. At the same time you deal (or receive) damage, they deplenish and it affects the stats. One of those reaching zero will significantly weaken the character, and all 3 gauges empty means immediate KO! In other terms, you can KO an opponent without even having to remove all of its HP, which comes handy by the end of the game. The girls also have a flurry of active/passive skills that you’d better know by heart since their proper use is the key to victory. Difference of height is also taken into account so that taking the high ground often gives a decisive advantage. Let’s stress that the game let you save any time during battles, which is very convenient and avoids losing hours of efforts. The only snag is that characters don’t gain levels at the same time, which necessitates quite a bit of grinding in free mission. It’s not such a hassle since misses count and gained experience is proportional to the difference in levels.
In terms of content, SHC is quite lavish with two separate stories and regular scenario branches which modify the characters you get. 2 or 3 walkthroughs are necessary to unlock everything, but you need the patience to do 63 sometimes very long stages, which will keep you busy for around 80-100 hours. The story is kinda messy, I dropped it rapidly as it wasn’t voiced or very little. Free talk mode on the other hand is voiced, and slightly more entertaining, as you have private conversations with the heroines that stick to the humor of the animes. The music is dull generally speaking : battle music or menu music are underwhelming and annoying to hear. Fortunately, the little bit of voice acting recording is absolutely perfect.
SHC may suffer from an austere presentation and a boring story, it’s still an excellent tactical-RPG, and a great tribute to some of the most memorable animes of those last years.