If you thought CP was hilarious then brace yourself for Variable Barricade
You are the high school girl Hibari, who is the child of a wealthy family and how its apparently due to the Japanese upper class your grandpa wants you to marry – soon. Therefore he chose 4 suitable bachelors you are to live with until you decide on one of theme to marry.
But upon researching your potential candidates you find out they are all unemployed sloths and seemingly involved in sketchy business.
I’ll actually start this time introduction the MC Hibari and her character plays a huge role in this game.
She is a true tsundere girl, being asked whether she likes her best friend, she would say something like 別にbetsu ni – not particularly. So yeah, she’s kind of a trope, but also has a very cute dere side that she actually shows quite often. And she’s not at all amused by the thought of having to live together let alone marry one of those failure guys.
Starting with Nayuta, who is deep in debt. He is the puppiest puppy dog I’ve ever seen. He loyally waits at the entrance for the mc to return home figuratively wagging his tail. He’s even called faithful dog by the other candidates and they are tempted to throw him a frisbee he would happily catch for them. That said he’s also very athletic or wants to be scolded or told want to do by his owner – I mean by the MC.
Starting his route he makes a very interesting 180. His route made me laugh the most, the humour and revelations are over the top hilarious in a way I haven’t seen before. Though comparable to some silly humour in Cupid Parasite. That definitely made him my favourite route.
Second, I played Shion. He is known for relying on others and somehow always managing that others do the actual work for him, what he calls his patrons, people who are HAPPY to support him – of course.
Being pretty himself, he also likes pretty things or decorating. He is more of the quiet and dreamy type, who observes more than taking action himself, though he is generally calm and soft, he can get really scary when he’s angry. Still he also cares for others and wants to be a pillar of support for the MC.
I forgot about his route and character as soon as I finished his route. Being so calm he didn’t leave a huge impression in the common route and also the character route didn’t have the kind of revelations I hoped for and was therefore slightly lacking character development.
Second to last I played Taiga, and really had to practise some self-restraint not to play him first, because he has the same voice actor as Yang or Peter in Cupid Parasite and you might know, I love this voice actor to death. So without further thinking about it – he’s my favourite character.
Taiga, whose fault among many is that he has a gambling addiction. He seems like a bully and is called oresama by the others. But being seemingly uninterested and cold to the MC he also has tsundere traits. But interacting with the other three candidates he appears like a leader or someone who is good in organising, appearing experienced and mature. And those two sides made him super interesting to me as a character as he changed between his gentle caring side, but then teased the MC relentlessly again. That’s why I think he has the deepest character and story out of all four – but again keep in mind, I’m heavily biased here
His route was obviously the most romantic to me, so though the game wasn’t particularly steamy he gets my most sexy award and I enjoyed seeing his character develop and discovering his past.
Now we come to the last candidate I really feared to play, because he annoyed me so much in the common route –
and that is Ichiya, who attempted marriage fraud. Apart from that he’s a huge sweet talker and actually does things like making an omelette and writing for “my love” on it with ketchup. He’s very good at cooking and that’s basically what he does the whole day filling the MC with delicious meals. That said he appears like the ideal man and soft husband and ugh, I couldn’t stand him from start to finish, he probably was too soft and cowardly for me, and the same time being overbearing doting the MC, and I really don’t want to be treated as if I can do nothing for myself. Thankfully the MC stood up against him and her tsundere side was at her best in this route
His route was the only slightly angsty route among those four. But still being overall a funny game, the angst didn’t make me feel emotional in anyway and you could maybe even say it felt misplaced, as it touched on serious topics but at the same time ridiculed them in this light-hearted storytelling and didn’t do them quite justice.
This game is a romcom through and through be it the silly characters or their arcs with the weirdest revelations you could imagine – I’m looking at you Nayuta..
This game has a rather long common route which is also due to the fact that you practically have to play the first chapter of each character route within the common route and I really didn’t like that concept because it tears apart the stories of the characters. This way the common route took me about 10-15 hours, whereas the character routes took only between 5 and 10 hours and felt exceptionally short compared to other games. Especially as story wise didn’t really happen much and the game is almost solely based on character interactions . That’s why I felt that Hibari fell in love a bit too fast and suddenly in some routes. The same actually applies to the love interests, who suddenly fell in love with Hibari for the strangest reasons. Again not even love can really be taken seriously in this game. I don’t mean this necessarily in a negative way, it’s just something to keep in mind, you won’t find dramatic romantic love in this game.
But next to the story sections there were also little episodes not directly connected to the story that show the characters just having fun together, like playing Mario Kart, where Nayuta picked Donkey Kong and Taiga picked Browser – kind of cute and interesting, isn’t it?
In general the chemistry between the whole cast is really lovely and despite what one would expect considering they compete against each other to be chosen by Hibari, the four guys actually support each other in a lovely way and don’t show signs of jealousy or possessiveness.
Concerning the endings there are quite a lot of different endings, some are silly, some are kind of sad, but overall I would say they don’t add much to the story.
What also doesn’t add much is the switch version, it has lazy after stories slapped on that just sum up what happened in the game and give you a rather unspectacular CG. So if you have the choice consider buying the Japanese vita version to save some bugs.
The voice actors that stood out to me – except for Taiga (Okamoto Nobuhiko岡本 信彦: Yang in Piofiore)- were of course the voiced heroine (Fujita Saki藤田 咲: Hatsune Miku), because you don’t have that too often, and she did a great job, voicing this tsundere with her super soft dere side.
But I also loved Nayutas voice actor (Shimono Hiro下野 紘: Garaiya in Shinobi Koi), because a quirky character like him could have easily been either childish or annoying, but his voice actor really managed to make every sentence unbelievably funny and hilarious.
Shion: Nojima Kenji野島 健児: Kurama in Killer and Strawberry
The music is not too good, not the worst, but still I only really like one track.
The CGs are nice, though only half of them truly romantic or even couple CGs. But the same artist also worked on Radiant Tale!
Especially in the background art you see that this game stems form the vita, the backgrounds are kind of raw and uninspired, but of course nothing game breaking.
The part I loved about the art were the chibi CGs– if you can call it that? They perfectly fit the silly tone of the game and were obviously super cute and always made me laugh. I might like them more than the real CGs
…well. I thought I could fully recommend it for beginners, but considering Hibari’s from a wealthy family and even has a butler, who uses difficult butler speech, I would rather recommend this game for lower intermediate learners than for complete or upper beginners. Though of course as always, if you love this game, just go ahead!
Would I recommend this game? Yes and no. It’s really a pure slice of life story and I found out for me personally that doesn’t quite do the trick, when there are no high stakes. But if you like funny slice of life stories, that mainly focus on character interactions and don’t mind laughing about the characters because the game likes to ridicule most of them then you should definitely buy this game and laugh like you haven’t yet before over an otome game.
“That was a helpful review!
To show my appreciation I’m gonna purchase it via Lin’s amazon link to support her!”