The Kamizono shrine has long been famous for its ability to fulfill love fortune, especially through the flowers that bloom there. One fine day, Shinozawa Mai, a miko who works part-time at the shrine, is asked by her boss to choose a flower before telling her to deliver a bouquet of them to a certain gentleman in their town whom he claims was blessed by the patron God of their shrine.
Mai herself is inexperienced with love but she has always dreamt of finding love against the odds like her parents. Little did she know, this simple trip to deliver flowers might very well lead her to finding her destined one . . . even if a romance might with the person in question might be unconventional and begin with a rocky start due to his profession and personal issues.
Double Score ~Cattleya x Narcissus~
DoubleScore -ダブルスコア- ~Cattleya x Narcissus~ (website)
Company: Blue Moon
Age Rating: CERO C (15+)
Date of Release: 30 August 2013
Voice Cast: Ookawa Tohru, Hirakawa Daisuke, Tomonaga Akane, Kimura Ryohei, Sakurai Takahiro, Kusao Takeshi, Fujiwara Keiji, KENN, Okiayu Ryoutarou, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Kondou Takayuki, Majima Junji
Double Score is a series targeted towards people who like older men and age-difference romance - the dateable cast’s age ranging from 25 to 46 and each of them are represented by a flower - which, as stated in the summary above, coincides with the premise of the game’s plot. This series is presented in the form of two sets of drama CDs (one set after they started dating but before the game's ending and another set after the ending that's currently being released) and segmented but unrelated PC games. Cattleya x Narcissus is the second game of the set and while there's a certain hitch, it still maintains the same good quality as the first game. Which is why I will be breaking my regular reviewing format a bit for this game to be less tl;dr and nix the individual section points because aside from the plot and the new cast, the game shares a lot of resources with its predecessor so my opinion for those aspects is generally the same as when I reviewed the first.
This section was one of strong points for the first game, and it still is. At first I was almost a little disappointed with my expectations because I felt like the sense of camaraderie here was less than the first when it comes to integrating with all of the characters (mostly because I expected some more from the other characters at the host club in the story itself, but then they got more in their individual POVs in the extra section) but then I realize that there is still that sense from the appropriate characters and the tone and theme of this game and the previous is different and the characters work in that scope.
Mai resumes her role as the protagonist of the game and she remains the same girl I came to know from the first game - a sweet, honest girl who's considerate towards everyone she meets, and while she might not be academically gifted, she's a clever girl who knows how to handle herself and sticks to her morals. In fact we actually get to learn a slight bit more about her and the only things that are different about her in this game are her love interests, how her relationship with them develops and how said relationship influences her as a character. Like the first game, when Mai officially begins the lovers relationship with her older boyfriend, it is when she's 18 and around a month or so before graduating high school.
The fact that Mai continues to be very much herself and despite the subtle differences in between the routes pleases me. I really liked Mai's character in the first game, so I was somewhat worried that to suit the new guys, they might drastically change her depending on the route/game like certain other dating games, but thankfully they didn't and they even tried to keep her development gradual/realistic and it became even less of a surprise as to why the guys in this game developed feelings for her because I ended up falling even more in love with her myself . . . even if her character in a certain ending might've made me raised my eyebrow a bit.
Shirosaki Rio (age 29, CV: Ookawa Tohru)
Rio is a host club called LADY MAGIC . . . which is kinda more of mixture of a host club and classy restaurant due to the good food it serves. In any case, Rio is the Number One host at his club under the pseudonym "Riou" and has a lot of guests (who the club has its hosts refer to as "Princesses"), some of which were referred to him by Todaka Yousuke from the previous game (though Todaka himself doesn't make an appearance in this game) but in addition to being a very flashy and suave host, Rio is also an omivore otaku who likes everything - manga, anime, games . . . it doesn't matter if they're for girls or for guys, if it's good, it's likely that he's into it. Rio's fanboyness often annoys his colleague Seiya but it's also because of his interest that he found a best friend from high school who's also an otaku as well as becoming online gaming friends with Mori and Kamizono. Rio is represented by the Cattleya flower.
As you might expect of someone who's a host, Rio comes across as an extremely flirty and frivolous person who doesn't seem a lot of problems on his mind, but contrary to what you might expect of someone from his profession, Rio's pretty responsible to a certain extent and is actually quite 'pure' - not in the traditional sense because he's a pervert just like the rest of the guys, but he's 'pure' in the sense that he is naturally a kind and optimistic person who's surprisingly easy to relate to, even if you might disagree with certain aspects of his reasoning when it comes to how he deals with problems. Unfortunately, due to certain aspects of his past, he uses the age gap as an excuse not to acknowledge his feelings and sometimes Mai comes across as the more emotionally mature one in path to their relationship but nevertheless he is still a very sincere - whether it be when it comes to his interactions with his guests or with his hobbies, and when it comes to the people he cares about, he's more than willing to go the extra mile to see them happy. Rio is my favorite character in this series so writing this section was a bit of a challenge to not dissolve into gushing and accidentally spoil or go too far off topic.
Saiga Rui / Seiya (age 34, CV: Hirakawa Daisuke)
Also known as the Twins as Blue Moon likes to combine them is the other route in Cattleya x Narcissus. Rui teaches Modern Literature and is Mai's homeroom teacher at school; because Rui lacks presence both his students and his other colleagues sometime don't even notice he's there, so his only friends seem to be Sano Fumiya the Infirmary teacher and Tachibana Ryuusei the math teacher who both joined the school around the same time he did. In contrast, Rui tells Mai that his younger twin Seiya became a host sometime during university and currently Seiya is working at the same club as Rio as LADY MAGIC's Number Two most popular host. Seiya also happens to be the person who manages the club and its funds for the owner. Suffice to say, Rui and Seiya's personality are like day and night.
Rui is a good teacher. He's kind, encouraging and genuinely cares for his students, wanting to make the effort to get to know them and help them with their problems but unfortunately, his lack of presence combined with his own soft-spoken and subdued personality makes it difficult for him to make an impression or get the attention of people outside a select few. However, while he may appear meek, he's not completely a pushover and there are moments where he might surprise you with his assertiveness and snippy sarcasm.
Seiya is popular amongst the guests at his club for being the 'do-S Host' so as the label suggests, Seiya is aloof, rough around the edges and generally gives off an intimidating atmosphere. Also, because Seiya is a frugal person who dislikes unnecessary wastefulness, the owner and the club's staff rely on him to manage the club's expenses to be reasonable while still being efficient. Seiya might like to make threats when people annoy him or tease/troll other people for his personal amusement, however, even when he claims that he doesn't like to frivolously concern himself with other people's troubles, it's still quite clear that he's a nice person from the gestures he makes towards those he cares for.
Mori Kengo (age 17, CV: Kimura Ryohei) - Mai’s friend and classmate who very obviously has unrequited feelings for her yet Mai never notices. He works part-time at the SIESTA bar/cafe.
Aihara Miki (age 17, CV: Tomonaga Akane) - Mai’s bff, she likes to tease Mori and has the uncanny ability of appearing at the most opportune time to be an obstacle in his crush towards Mai, but otherwise she’s a wonderful supportive friend. She's currently dating a university student.
Kamizono Kyouga (age 31, CV: Sakurai Takahiro) - He’s the Kamizono shrine’s priest and Mai’s boss who's also one of her 'guardians'. He has a wide net of influence and relations throughout the town, and in this game it seems he's a kinda a benefactor for the Host Club's owner.
Sano Fumiya (age 31, CV: Kusao Takeshi) - The infirmary teacher at Mai’s school, he's one of Mai's five 'guardians' and is both Rui's friend and work colleague.
Sakito Takuto (age 31, CV: Fujiwara Keiji) - The owner of the SIESTA bar/cafe and another of Mai's 'guardians' (the last two being Mai's cousin Chisato and Issei from the first game). The guys in this game often comes to hang out in his bar/cafe.
Tachibana Ryuusei (age 35, CV: Okiayu Ryoutarou) - Mai's math teacher at school who completes the teacher team with Rui and Fumiya.
Tomu (age 29, CV: KENN) - Rio's high school friend who's also an otaku. He's a famous idol who also happens to be Ryuusei's younger brother.
Taiga (age 20, CV: Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) - an unnumbered host at LADY MAGIC who Rio's mentoring.
Miyabi (age 20, CV: Kondou Takayuki) - an unnumbered host at LADY MAGIC who Seiya's mentoring.
Masaki Tetsuya (age 29, CV: Majima Junji) - a very skilled cook at LADY MAGIC, he looks up to Takuto.
As you might notice from the summary, the premise of the initial story is exactly like the previous game, and you again make the route choices right at the start when you choose between the Cattleya (Rio) or the Narcissus (Twins) as the flower Mai has to deliver. While there may be some similarities and some common events, the story after Mai delivers the flower naturally unfolds differently according to your love interest of choice under what I feel is an overarching theme of "Impressions" - whether it be Mai's first impression of Rio, Seiya's impression of Mai, Mai wanting to help Rui change others impression (or lack there of) towards him, and etc. Because the themes, how they present it and the character type of the love interests in this game are primarily things/subjects that strikes my interests, I ended up enjoying the story in Cattleya x Narcissus more than Cosmos x Camellia.
Of course, the story is still not perfect, and there was an unfortunate hitch towards one of the routes' ending regarding the pacing that frustratingly seemed both rushed and dragged out at the same time. It also might potentially be uncomfortable to some people because said ending dealt with the topic of 'Twisted Love". As it turns out, the game's staff themselves acknowledge that they had trouble writing that route in their developer blog, but I felt that ignoring that stumble near the finish line, the route itself as a whole was still well written. And most of all, I found it refreshing that in all the routes presented in this game, they didn't rehash the same conflict as the previous - and rather than being the central conflict, the age-gap instead plays a secondary role to the problem of the love interests' professions as either 1) being a host or 2) being an educator and then there's the guys' personal issues - how they either don't feel that they need love or the belief that they won't be satisfied with just one love. Also, it should be noted for whoever might be concerned about the Teacher/Student romance or the potential fallout of a Host having a real girlfriend, that this game also touched upon the potential stigma and problems that might come of such relationships.
In terms of presentation, Mai's POV is still the main narrative with the other characters' POV popping in at different points of the story, and this time I actually have to compliment the staff for such a clever use of the POV switch at certain points of the story and even gave Mai a full bodied sprite to accentuate the point of view. I also have to commend them for trying to keep things 'new' by not having the the Love/Trust balance for the ending requirements be the same as the previous game, even if they can be tricky to figure out without the help of guides.
Also just like the previous game, to unlock the full completion Congratulations section, it seems that you'll have to have picked all the choices in the game so make sure to go back to do that if you can't unlock it at first after finishing all the endings.
My impression is generally the same. I feel like there's some parts where they're improved and some parts where they slightly regressed. To be exact, the improvement is that I felt that contrary to how I found Mai's face to be awkward looking in some of the CGs in the previous game, here there aren't any that particularly stand out to me . . . though I'm uncertain if that's merely because I've grown more used to the art style or not. On the other hand, what I felt regressed was that the hand in one of the cut-ins look a bit awkward and some of the CGs felt like they were colored in a rush and looks slightly unpolished, though I'm also uncertain if that's because the artist was pressed for time since in this game, there are 204 CGs in total (counting the chibi CGs) - numbering at 37 for unique CGs that aren't variations. That's only 1 CG more if we only count the unique CGs but compared to Cosmos x Camellia that had 146 CGs in total, 204 is a significant amount more and some of the variations in Cattleya x Narcissus actually look like they were completely redrawn to fit different situations despite sharing the same base. An unfortunate part that's kept the same is that the sprite portraits are still blurry when they zoom in too much.
And if there was anyone wondering . . . yes, the food images in this game is still mouthwatering. In fact, it seems like Blue Moon realized this and step up the game by painting them to be even more delicious looking (complete with sparkles) and as you can see in the presentation section's screen shot, they added to the torture by making the characters describe the food as well.
This one is pretty much the same as the previous game as well. The voice acting is still lively and well-cast, while in terms of music there's only one new song in this game, so there's not much to say.9.5 I gave this game slightly more points than the first game because in addition to having stories that were engaging and relevant to my interests as well as my favorite character in it, I felt like Blue Moon definitely made effort to improve upon their previous game. They care about this franchise, they want to work to keep the quality of the games good and consistent just like they say in their blog posts and it definitely showed here. So just like the first game, I'd definitely recommend this game and the franchise to anyone who:
- Enjoy age-difference romance.
- Want a nice, engaging story of a respectable length.
- A heroine who is easy to empathize with. Who might not be physically strong, or academically gifted, but is certainly someone who is mature and knows how to take care of herself.
- An endearing cast of quirky characters and a good portrayal of friendship. Some of said characters might also be easy to sympathize with.
- Enjoys Teacher-Student romance. Or at least don't mind it because one of the love interests is the heroine's teacher.
- There is an ending that deals with twisted love. If you don't mind spoilers and decide to follow a guide, you can tell which one it is because the ending name is pretty self-explanatory. So, if that might potentially make you uncomfortable, I'd suggest looking up which ending that is and avoiding it, or putting it on skip if you want to collect the Full Completion section.