I picked up Norn9 about a month ago and have been playing an hour of it about every night. There are so many routes in this game that I decided I ought to just split my review blog posts so that I can get to them before I forget about a route entirely ^_^;.
To begin with, there is no single protagonist of the game. There are three girls who get paired up with 3 guys each. I like each of the girls pretty equally, although I’ve spent more time in the Mikoto route than the other two so far. I like her stubborn streak and I find her character more intriguing than the other two.
As for guys, here are the routes I have done so far.
Voice Actor: Hiroyuki Yoshino (Heisuke from Hakuoki, among many others)
Heishi is the ray of sunshine among those on board. I absolutely adore his positive attitude and honesty, and he’s super reliable to the girls in pretty much every route in the game. He’s paired with Nanami, who is the quietest and most introverted protagonist you can choose, so I think they complement each other pretty well. I go back and forth on liking this voice actor (the enthusiasm sometimes borders on annoying :x), but overall I think it was a good pick for his character.
The route itself was a little disappointing to me, in my opinion. It has little to do with the central story of Norn9. You kind of end up missing the second half of the central story. On the other hand, it was one of the routes with the least amount of conflict and probably the happiest ending, so that was nice. I think it’s also cute that Heishi is one of the older members on board, and even though he usually acts like a child he may be the most developed emotionally. I’m sure that has a lot to do with his powers :).
Voice Actor: Yuki Kaji (Phoenix Wright, Hope from FF13, among tons of others)
Kakeru is the too clever prankster on the ship. Often, it’ll seem like he’s just stepping out of line to annoy someone on board, and at the beginning a lot of the others warn you about him having a dark streak, but as you get to know him you realize that he’s really got good intentions for everyone overall and doesn’t really like to show it.
I like Kakeru in all the routes. He’s not quite the sweetheart that Heishi is, but he is a sweetheart, and he plays a part in everyone’s route since he’s one of the main characters on the ship. You learn about his powers from the get-go–he’s able to generate plant life. His extreme sarcasm and ability to jokingly(?) torment others while smiling makes him quite the entertaining character, although it also makes him hard to trust him right away. He ends up involved in a lot of the humor scenes throughout the various routes, though, which makes him an enjoyable character :).
I’d recommend his route for a first playthrough, as it seems to give the most barebones story out of all of the routes I’ve done so far. I mean, the girl seems like the main protagonist and I’m pretty sure his route with her is canon, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Also, I quite like all his CG art, as there’s quite a few squee! moments littered throughout his route ^_^. The story is also engaging, and I quite enjoyed it.
Voice Actor: Noriaki Sugiyama (Sasuke from Naruto, Ishida from Bleach, etc.)
Akito (or Akkun, as Itsuki calls him ^_^) is the tsundere. Emphasis on the dere. The kind that pretends not to like anyone but wants to protect people, the kind that likes to cook and takes it to heart if not everyone loves his cooking, the kind that will whack people over the head one moment and be blushing the next. He’s also terrified of hiyokos (little birds), which is absolutely adorable.
I have a weak spot for tsundere/kuudere characters AND characters with blue hair, so I was totally expecting him to end up as my favorite. He’s definitely one of my favorites, but I felt like his storyline sort of fell short of expectations. It’s clear from the start that he and Nanami have a past (as one of the two pairs of people on board who knew each other prior to boarding), and it spent a lot of time building up to the great reveal…which was still impactful, but I felt like they abused and milked the plot device until it sort of fell flat. It’s also clear that Akito forgives her for what happened in the past early on, but Nanami seems too dense to figure it out. I really like everything about Akkun, but maybe the delivery was weak.
More to come soon!