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Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Switch
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Idea Factory/RED
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

If I were to come up with a list of settings for romance novels – even romantic visual novels – I don’t think small 12th century Japanese civil wars would be anywhere near the top. After playing Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei, however, I’m thinking this is more reflective of a failure of imagination on my part than a lack of romance in that particular time and place.

Admittedly, Birushana is an otome visual novel, which aren’t generally known for allowing reality to intrude on their carefully-crafted fantasies. What’s more, while my knowledge of the Heiji Rebellion goes no further than what’s included in its Wikipedia entry, I have a strong suspicion that the warring factions in Japan-circa-1160 weren’t exclusively comprised of super-attractive men with flowing hair who liked to stand around showing off their pecs.

Still, given this is a genre that has also imagined a world where Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper vied for the same woman’s affections, simply placing Birushana in a real world filled with people who actually lived during the era in question counts as true life romance.

What’s more, it also means that the game has a wealth of material to work from – it’s not just trying figure out the right path for main character Shanao, it’s also helping her navigate through the complicated political environment on the eve of an even larger civil war. This means that while you’ve got to carefully weigh your answers in terms of Shanao’s love choices, you’re also occasionally asked to decide whether to try to defuse tense situations, or rush headlong into battle.

Mind you, this also highlights Birushana’s one drawback: it features a lot of action, and you don’t get to control any of it. I know, I know: it’s a visual novel, and that’s par for the course. Still, given all the swordplay, it’s hard not to feel like you’re missing out on the fun as steel clashes all over the screen.

But if you’re playing Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei for the action, you’re missing the point. This is a otome romance novel through and through – and what’s more, it’s a good enough otome that even if the setting doesn’t sound all that romantic, it still achieves its goal.

Idea Factory provided us with a Birushana: Rising Flower of Genpei Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B