Title: Dandelion: Wishes for You
System(s): Windows, Mac
Release Date: December 1, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Cheritz (Cheritz)
ESRB Rating: N/A. I’d say it’s okay for ages 13 and up.
Dandelion: Wishes Brought to You has put me in an awkward situation. A computer malfunction left me with my original review lost, which sounds like a bad thing. Except it’s not, because the ensuing complication that occurred with the game after the crash has caused me to completely reevaluate my opinion of Dandelion, and provide a more informed review.
The result is this. A review which would have been glowing has been tainted by the hazards of always-online gaming.
5 animals change 1 girl’s life.
Dandelion‘s story is quite relateable. Heejung is a young woman just setting off on her own. She moved from Seoul to Busan to attend college and try living on her own. She’s going to college for Business Management, even though her true passion seems to lie in art. She’s young, unsure of herself, and has her whole future ahead of her. No one knows what could come next, and she’s a bit despondent because she doesn’t know which path is right for her and she feels she’s stuck in a rut.
Then, she finds three rabbits and two cats in her room. She’s not sure how they got there or why, but takes it upon herself to care for the critters. They help her relax and start to open up, and life seems to get a little sunnier.
Heejung finds that these animals, which she’s named Jisoo, Jiwoo, Jihae, Jieun and Jiyeon, aren’t ordinary animals. They’re five men, dressed in strange, almost royal, attire, who have been cursed. They can transform back into human forms, albiet with animal ears, at will. Part of the spell is that they can’t explain what’s happened to place them in this situation, but it seems Heejung’s involvement could provide a solution to their situation, and help her find a surer future.
A highly professional otome game, for the most part.
Dandelion is for the most part, a visual novel, with some mild simulation elements. Players follow Heejung through four seasons, deciding on her daily schedule and getting closer to her newfound pets/potential boyfriends. Each action can boost certain skills, or allow her the chance to become closer to the bachelors. The key to getting a good ending with one of these men, who are more than they seem, means reaching certain stat plateaus and spending enough time with them to build a bond. I does take some doing, finding out what each traits the bachelors favor, but players can make multiple game saves, so it’s easy to roll back to an earlier save.
Especially interesting is the fact that Heejung actually “levels up.” It isn’t explained as such, in Dandelion, but as she gets closer to the characters and goes through the adventure, she’ll eventually get enough experience to unlock new interactions in the apartment. For example, she may be able to cook as an activity. Her actions outside the apartment matter as well, as working could provide money to acquire new books. Still, working, playing and studying must all be carefully managed, as stress will rise if Heejung isn’t directed to keep up with her studies.
The writing isn’t as fantastic as other recent otome, or even visual novel, releases, like Aksys’ Sweet Fuse or Love Conquers All’s Hate Plus, but it is competent, satisfying and cute. Given that it was originally released in Korean, it’s translated pretty well and it’s quite easy to understand. Yes, there are occasional grammar and spelling issues, but that happens. I was disappointed to see it happen so often, however, given the high price of the game. It leaves the impression that Dandelion isn’t trying to be a pinnacle of excellence, just adorable and entertaining. It succeeds in that respect. Still, I’ve encountered similar games at a third of the price of Dandelion that had a better script, and it’s disappointing to see other aspects of an otherwise quality game show up what is probably the most important part of any visual novel.
On the plus side, Dandelion looks and sounds fantastic. The voice acting is perfect, and the casting is very well done. The actors do a good job of conveying emotion and everyone sounded exactly the way I expected to, based on the character art. Not to mention, the character art itself is quite beautiful. Heejung looks like an average girl, but her newfound companions Jisoo, Jiwoo, Jihae, Jieun and Jiyeon manage to look fanciful and royal in their otherworldly outfits, but like ordinary men in their modern attire. Not to mention, their animal selves are just the cutest things every. They’re absolutely adorable.
During my first playthrough, which was cut short due to a technical failure on my part, Dandelion proceeded smoothly. I was having no trouble pursuing Jiyeon and it ran perfectly on my computer. It was easy to play, and completely enjoyable. Then, things went wrong.
The problem is, sometimes Dandelion doesn’t work.
My major concern with Dandelion, however, stems from the fact that it requires players to be online. People must log in with a Cheritz account to play, and be constantly connected to the internet while you play. That isn’t the bad part. I use Steam and Origin, and am accustomed to these antipiracy check-ins. The problem with Dandelion is that this system can keep you from playing, even when you’re authorized to play.
Let’s go through my Dandelion horror story. My laptop died recently, about a week ago. I lost pretty much everything, which included my first draft of this Dandelion review, and the screenshots I took while playing. The last week was spent recovering, getting accustomed to a Windows 8 PC and catching up. Since I had a long weekend with the Labor Day weekend, I figured this would be a good time to retake screenshots and retake notes that I use when writing reviews.
Except I couldn’t. After reinstalling Dandelion, logging in and loading up the game on Saturday, I got the error message above when I chose to start a new game. I attempted to load the script five times. My internet connection was fine. I closed the game, and decided to restart. Except when I chose to restart, Dandelion suddenly stopped accepting my username and password, claiming they were invalid, even though I could log into the Cheritz website with that same account information. I tried following Cheritz’s troubleshooting tips, and turned off auto-login, re-entering the information twice to see if it would work, but to no avail. I decided to wait a few days, in case they had a server issue. I had the same problem Sunday and Monday, and sent an email Monday morning to a Cheritz employee.
Dandelion did allow me back into the game this morning, to its credit, acting as though there were never any prior problem. Still, something like this shouldn’t happen.
Always online ruins everything
I loved my initial experience with Dandelion: Wishes Brought to You. I liked the integration of simulation elements into the visual novel, otome experience, and the character art is very well done. The story is quite, though not groundbreaking, and it was a fun little adventure. That is, until Dandelion stopped working. The fact that the game relies so heavily on an internet connection and can die so suddenly, shutting out a rightful owner, should give players pause. If Cheritz were to remove the need to log in and remain online to play Dandelion, I would wholeheartedly endorse this otome. I can’t recommend a $30 game that can so quickly and easily lock someone out of it. Dandelion would easily get a “B” grade from me, if it weren’t for the always-online requirement and unnecessary antipiracy measures. However, the fact that I can’t even play to get screenshots makes such a grade impossible.