REVIEW: Slobbish Dragon Princess

REVIEW: Slobbish Dragon Princess

Surprisingly polished for a game about slobbishness.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Whirlpool
Publisher: Sekai Project
Release date: 29 Jan, 2021

The Intro

While I don’t play that many “pure” Visual Novels (those with RPGs attached like Utawarerumono being another matter), I tend to take notice whenever Sekai Project publishes something. What they publish isn’t always something I wind up liking, but it is nearly always different, and since Visual Novels in particular can be quite same-y, the way that Sekai Project puts in the extra effort to try to improve what they pick up in some way attracts my notice.

Slobbish Dragon Princess is the story of a jobless slacker/martial artist trying to leech his way through life off of the stock childhood friend that nearly-inexplicably is in love with a bum like him because anime said so that’s why, only to have the world order thrown into chaos by an invasion of dragons. The world is saved because the dragon princess randomly happened to fall into his lap, and wouldn’t you know it, that dragon princess also happens to turn into a sexy horned and horny girl that is instantly in love with Protag-kun because anime said so, that’s why. The rest of this game, which assures you that all the characters are over 18 right at the start (and the childhood friend girl is in college, not high school, which helps sell that, at least), then has you teach the newly “awakened” (read: “can take the appearance of and think like a human”) dragon princess the basics of how to live in human society, with hilarious consequences. Or in other words, this is basically just a typical rom-com anime but in VN form.

The Patch

Yeah, yeah, I know there’s only one thing some of you came for. This link goes to the R-18 patch. Do note that it requires signing up for a Denpasoft account and giving an email address, although both the patch and account is free.

The Interface

Slobbish DraPri is notable for having basically every bell and whistle you might expect from a visual novel. I don’t know which of these were added by Sekai Project (who are known to do so), or if they were all in the Japanese version of the game, but there’s an extensive set of features like an options menu with full voice controls, advanced options like autosaving, and even voice lines from the four main characters whenever you do things like save or view the text log.

Individual character sliders are a nice touch that are sadly only on some visual novel games. Having the ability to crank up one character that’s too quiet, or down one character that’s too loud (like Haru in this game) is a nice feature.

One unique aspect (and it’s rare that a feature is unique in VNs), is the ability to save specific lines to the “Voice Test”, which is basically like a “favorites folder” for specific lines. Click the star button on the bottom, and the line is preserved. I’m not sure if there are many people who do so, but if there’s some favorite line you would normally save a game right before

Sadly, this is just a liberal translation of something that more literally reads as “It’s all over, everything is!” (But hey, maybe that’s how the line was translated in the Japanese release of Aliens?)

All your favorite one-liners are replayable along with the text they came with.

Another neat feature is that the game autosaves at every decision point, every chapter start, and every time you close the game out you can restart where you left off with “Continue” without needing to make a save. Basically, all the main reasons you’d ever save in a visual novel, the game does it automatically, but it still has ten quicksave slots and over a hundred spaces for manual saves.

It’s like they’re bending over backwards to try to find new ways to add more options and features to a fairly streamlined game form, and while it starts to get ridiculous with a genre so light on gameplay, as someone who constantly is disappointed in how little thought is put into the interface of other games with more need for player options, this earns high marks from me all around.

The Comedy

As the intro and title suggested, this story features a jobless slacker who introduces a dragon princess to jobless slacking. There’s just one little problem with how it’s presented: The guy seems to avoid getting a regular job so passionately he does stuff that is actual work just to avoid “working”. Since he has no money, he goes out literally scavenging for food, or catching rare insects to sell or doing other things that clearly are work, all so he can just technically still be jobless and have the childhood friend girl Suzuka yell at him to get a job… but if he’s resorting to actually doing work to avoid doing work, he has no real reason not to just get a job, now does he? Real people who aren’t getting a job either have family that support them enough that they don’t need to work (which Protag-kun doesn’t), and/or they have such serious anti-social personality problems or traumas that they aren’t capable of keeping a steady job or have retreated from society entirely.

The main character’s father abandons him to leave on a journey to train to fight dragons that shrug off nuclear bombs with his bare hands. For some reason, he’s not treated as a positive role model by the game, though.

The main character’s excuses for not working are deliberately flimsy.

The tone of the comedy is really set when the Protag-kun is stopped by his childhood friend, and he instantly complains that her life’s taken a wrong turn, because she’s a gyaru(/gal, a girl’s fashion trend that bucks traditional Japanese values and goes for flashy, western-inspired style), and that’s a negative for his own desires to find a woman he can leech off of without working his whole life.

He then complains that she’s stupid, and then she gets flustered and thinks “does that mean I still have a chance?!” when he implies he was considering her to be his sugar mama.

Granted, that probably wouldn’t work well in a comedy, and it seems to just be the running gag that the main character is just too stupid to realize the blatantly obvious solutions to his problems, even when Suzuka is directly telling him how to do so.

The main character seems to at one point accidentally discover that capitalism exists for the first time after finding an online auction site.

The Love Triangle

Speaking of blatantly obvious, Protag-kun is a Protag-kun, and therefore, his skull is once more shielded by a dense layer of protagonite, the densest material known to fiction, and he therefore cannot understand that Suzuka is in love with him even when she directly tells him so.

Protag-kun interrupts her.

It’s already a cliche that it’s pretty absurd that the main characters of these harem comedies would be able to win the love of not just the normal girls around them, but even 5,000 year-old goddesses who never loved any man in all of history before the random loser that just happens to be the protagonist, but it’s pretty glaringly obvious that Suzuka is too good for this schmuck, and in a strange twist, the game actually kinda-sorta does give a reason for why Suzuka would like him… because she’s into muscles, and she pretty clearly gets off on the violence when Protag-kun uses his martial arts training to beat up some randos assaulting a woman when civil order breaks down following the dragons showing up.

“Sure, you’re dumb, a total deadweight, and constantly insult me in the most infuriatingly hypocritical of ways, but on the other hand, THOSE ABS!”

This isn’t a great reason, but since 95% of these harems just have “he’s the first guy who was ever a Nice Guy (TM) to me in my entire 5,000-year life” as the only reason for literally every girl falling in love with Protag-kun, I still count this one as sadly above average for the genre even if it wasn’t doing this purely as a gag.

The other romantic interest has a different sort of Crash-Into Hello entrance, when she appears as a shooting star that crashes like a meteor. Protag-kun tries to loot the meteor to sell it for food money, then switches to trying to eat the “lizard” he finds second, only stopping when Suzuka tells him she’s begging for her life, so he takes Haru as a pet, instead. From there, the “lizard” learns to do things like how to work the remote control and what the TV programming schedules are for her favorite shows, which in no way tips anyone off that she’s not a lizard, as she continues to sleep in the same bed as Protag-kun.

Haru first appears as a shooting star that crashes to Earth hard enough to leave a crater, but without any damage. Also, she has bright red scales, big horns, wings, and obviously reacts to human speech like she can understand it… so obviously, Protag-kun thinks “lizard”, and is surprised she turns out to be a dragon.

It turns out that this is a dragon’s infant form, and after an “Awakening”, dragons just suddenly shoot up into adulthood. After returning from stopping the destruction of the world, Haru casually just slips back into bed with Protag-kun and leaps directly into the game’s first sex scene (if you’ve installed the patch). (To avoid having to make this an age-gated review, I’ll not be showing that part.)

As mentioned in the intro, the game starts off with a notification/legal CYOA that states all characters are over 18. The problem with this is that, while the amount of time that Haru might have technically been a “lizard” while in outer space may have been over 18 years, she’s basically a toddler with a mental guidebook downloaded directly to her brain by the dragon collective. One scene has her playing on the slide or playing house with kindergartners and Haru winds up making pretend food out of squeezing together dirt so hard she creates a micro black hole because she doesn’t know how to control her strength.

It’s basically like Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but they sexualize the dragons… Well, they sexualize the obviously underage one… well, it’s basically Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but they’re straight and it’s actual porn.

In stories that center around love triangles, the two choices the character can make tend to represent something larger than their own personalities. Betty and Veronica is a conflict between the comfortable everyday life girl and the rich girl with exotic tastes. Gwen Stacy was in love with Peter Parker and had no knowledge of Spiderman, so going with her would have meant living a comfortable everyday non-Spiderman life, while Mary Jane was in love with Spiderman, and was the romance that would have kept up the balancing act of Spiderman. One of the classic genre-defining series in anime rom-coms was Urusei Yatsura, where one girl, the Ur childhood friend character represented a comfortable everyday life where the main character just straightened up and did well in school and lived a normal life, when an amazon space princess came crashing in to cause the anime to happen. It’s a choice between doing what you’re told you’re supposed to and living a boring but comfortable life, or going for the lunatic in the tiger bikini who is likely dynamite in the sack but almost certain to get you killed on some alien planet within five weeks. Choices, choices. In visual novels, you obviously get to choose which girl wins yourself, but in regular writing, which girl wins is often determined by simply asking whether the whole premise of the story would still survive if the main character picked one girl and the life she represented. I.E. Gwen Stacy could never win because that would mean Peter Parker would stop being Spiderman, and that can’t happen, so Mary Jane wins by default. Betty has much more of a leg up on Veronica, though, because being whatever the author thinks is the typical life of a teenager in whatever time period the author of an Archie comic is still stuck in is absolutely the default mode of Archie comics.

On the one hand, Haru’s basically a toddler in a grownup’s body compared to the much more sensible Suzuka. On the other hand, Haru likes to spend all her time lounging in a tracksuit just barely zipped enough not to be explicit and glasses. She drives a hard bargain.

Well, apparently, they didn’t want to make a game about dragon girls where you might not pick a dragon girl, so they decided to just go ahead and make the “normal life” childhood friend character get turned into a dragon girl, too, so you can just have dragon girls in your normal life if you pick that. I’d say “spoiler alert”, but it’s spoiled by the trailer, the screenshots on the store page, and the friggin’ title screen, so it can’t get much more spoiled than that.

Also, I just have to point out that all four of the main female characters have the same “very large”-size breasts, just in case you were wondering the developer’s stance on DFC…

I feel like I should show Akino at least once in this review, since I talk about “four main girls”. She’s Suzuka’s mom, and a clear shipper on deck.

The Antagonists

When the dragons appeared in the plot (well, not counting the in median res start before the story rewinds), I thought I was going to write basically my entire review about how this one plot element was such a discordant note in a comedy that it threatened to ruin the whole story.

In the previous scene, the main character had shown how he was “better than the average man” because, as soon as the dragons appeared, some middle-aged men that assumed the world was ending (while Protag-kun remained calm) tried to “at least make some memories before they died” with an unwilling woman. (It’s pretty clearly implied to be rape, but the main character refers to it as “taking her wallet”. I’m not sure if this is a translation choice for the general Steam release that the patch doesn’t let go back to the original, sex-related version, or if this is just the Protag-kun being so dense he honestly doesn’t recognize a sexual assault when he sees one.) He then goes into a little speech about how we shouldn’t lose sight of our humanity even in the darkest of times or whatever to Suzuka, who, for her part, is ready to just strip and “make some memories before we all die” with Protag-kun, herself. So with the story beats establishing Protag-kun as in the right, what does he do? He just listens to the dragons and rolls with whatever they say, thus helping establish that the dragons are some sort of moral arbiters from on high delivering just judgement upon a sinful human society…

So it’s rather jarring when the main reason the dragons are here to kill all humans, then, isn’t the usual sort of gripe a Japanese story will have about why humans are evil, which is “you pollute too much – think of the Global Warming” about 90% of the time, but instead, that humans are too “proud” because they didn’t kneel down and pray to the dragons as gods the instant that they appeared. Yup, the reason humans have to die is because they’re too proud to do everything the dragons want instantly to satisfy their own pride.

“I don’t get it! Why did you stop worshiping us as gods and forget about us just because we were gone for the entire length of your whole recorded history just because we didn’t let you record history until after we left?!”

“If we don’t get to be kings of the world, then nobody gets a world!”

It’s the better option, considering the way the world under the dragons’ rule was being portrayed.

As I was reading it, I thought it was this huge mistake, and the overall tone of the story would have been more consistent if they’d just gone the Futurama route and said that humans need to die because Fox cancelled Single Female Lawyer in the late 90’s, to make the dragons look like total idiots on par with the humans. Then the rest of the game that focuses on any dragon but Haru is about how the dragons are total idiots on par with how the humans are portrayed.

See, they were going for that sort of plot. The problem the story has is that the actual presentation of the dragon’s complaint is delivered in a way that makes it seem like the story is agreeing with the dragons. In spite of the fact that the logic they’re using is built on such flagrant hypocrisy even a child could easily shoot this argument down, the main character (who’s shown as the only morally upright human by the story at this point) just sort of shrugs and passively agrees with them. (Jean Luc Picard would have a field day back-talking these dipshit alien precursors…)

Anyway, the day is saved when Haru suddenly turns into a full dragon, flies up, and tells everyone to slow down and she likes humanity, actually, so please don’t burn the place down. This stops the destruction of humanity because, while once again chiding the foooolish humans for having such imperfect systems of governance where a majority is allowed to rule, those perfect dragons never do anything unless there is a totally unanimous vote from the entire population. Yes, that’s right, literally any single contrarian voice can ensure that every possible policy is filibustered forever, as demonstrated by Haru being able to do so and prevent the destruction of human civilization for the whole plot. Presumably, this is also why the dragons have been apparently doing literally nothing for tens of thousands of years since just going somewhere else, because these guys can’t agree on the time of day. Once again, however, Protag-kun inexplicably keeps nodding along and acting like this isn’t the stupidest idea ever put to telepathic communication.

It’s also worth pointing out that the plot continues when Dorami, who’s apparently the designated sole dragon to get a sprite, shows up to continue being an antagonist, and help set up the climax for the game, while the rest of the dragons just do nothing all game. Dorami apparently gets together a cult to worship her and makes them dress up as – I kid you not – the KKK, but all black.

I guess they’re also like the Happy Happy cult from Earthbound, too, so maybe this is a reference to some cult in Japan, not the KKK, but it’s resemblance is too obvious not to consider.

The Presentation

In terms of praising where extra effort is taken, especially when comparing the visual novel parts of Utawarerumono to this game, I have to say that, while rare, the willingness to use some actual special effects at times helps sell the story better than just sound effects would.

Oh look, there IS an explosion on-screen.

Nobody ruins Haru’s Ice Cream. NOBODY!

That said, there is a shortage of characters that aren’t the big four female characters. Besides the cultist guys and the main character’s father (both of which are notably less detailed than the four main girls), there are basically no other illustrated characters. Even if they’re drawn quickly and cheaply, having some generic passerby characters would have helped sell some of the scenes. Still, visual novels are pretty clear “budget” titles, so I guess art assets that aren’t your main draw characters are just not a good return on investment, sadly enough.

The off Parts

One thing I’ll note is that there are a few scenes where the vocals seem entirely off for the lines the characters are speaking. I mentioned a few liberal translations before, and while that might not sit well with some translation purists, it’s not really something I’d write about as an out-and-out error. In a scene where Haru is playing in the park, however, there are lines that are so clearly out of place that I think some sort of error in which voice file to play was made in repackaging the game in English. By which I mean, there’s lines where a character says two or three lines of dialogue, but the voice being played just says “Enh?”, so clearly something is going far off script.

The voice file is someone just saying “Ohhh…”

Hopefully, this is the sort of thing that just is a few lines of code that got mixed up, and can be fixed in a patch.

The Verdict

Know what you’re getting. This is a 5-hour gag comedy about hypocritical jerk protagonists first and a hentai second. In terms of production values, this is about as good as this sort of thing gets, but if you’re the sort that wants to project onto Protag-kun, you’ll hate it because the game is about how Protag-kun sucks, so let’s all laugh at Protag-kun.

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