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2012-09-01

Captive Market Review


Title: Captive Market (虜囚市場~罠に嵌められたエルフの女将校)
Alias: Ryoshuu Shijou ~Wana ni Hamerareta Elf no Joshoukou~
Release date: 2011-03-25 (2012-06-19 in English)
Developer: Black Lilith
English publisher: thetsuuyaku (as a fan-patch)

I have a love/hate relationship with Lilith and all it's brands. On one hand, I like dark and twisted stories with lots of rape that they dish out. On the other one, their games are really hit or miss for me and that depends on various factors.

Let's recap other Lilith games that I have played as I have never written reviews for them. "Taimanin Asagi" series - just terrible and the main reason for this is that developers just cannot write a convincing female POW (that's Point of View, not Prisoner of War :-D). Asagi herself annoyed me so much that it basically ruined the games for me. "Shion" was a lackluster game with very sucky true ending. "Misleet" was a good game in a "break-the-haughty" genre, however it had a very underrepresented second heroine. "Prison Battleship" was a great albeit short game. "Gang Rape Club" was my favourite nukige from this developer (actually it was released under Anime Lilith umbrella). So, where does "Captive Market" fit in this entourage?...
A tank drache battle.
The setting of the game is not a usual one. Unlike the other games mentioned above, it's not set in a contemporary or futuristic sci-fi environment, but rather in a post-medieval fantasy world undergoing an industrial revolution. That allows writers to employ the fleeting remains of magic and new technological advances. It would be a good setting for a story heavy game, but considering this is a nukige, it's expected, that all those aspects will be underdeveloped.

The "plot" of the game goes something like this... On a Celtoana Continent there are three nations: Fuluakia Empire and Celtoana Alliance that have been at war for a few hundred years already since the discovery of oil on the Continent (modern commentary FTW). The third nation is the neutral Union of Guilds that creates tanks called draches, that are used in the conflict by the two warring countries, and draws profit from that. Our two heroines are the commanders of the respective armies (because you can never aim too high). Their names are Anastasia and Daness and they are elves.
"If I say 'No' will you let me go?"
"What's that?", you say. "Elves?" Did I forget to mention that? This is the main attraction point of the VN and the reason it was translated, as thetsuuyaku liked the character designs. Of course the developer idea what is an elf is kinda wonky. These are not Tolkien's graceful immortal beings or tricksters of Celtic legends. Considering that Anastasia is referred to as a high-elf and Daness as a dark elf, I can only assume that Lilith devs were reading D&D manual while writing the story. Only the manual was in English and they couldn't understand a shit, thus creating their elves from the pictures and forgoing all the traditional attributes, like long life span, magic aptitude and etc. For all intents and purposes Lilith elves are just humans with long ears (I suppose that's a fetish for some, there must be a reason why "Shuffle" is so popular). At first I assumed that everyone in this game is an elf, but was quickly proven wrong as our protagonist is a bona fide human.
The only thing we know about our protag is that he has long hair.
Protagonist is a very important element even in a rape based nukiges. Nukige can fail just because devs chose an unlikable main character. For example, I really liked Vincent from CtQ or Bohgan from "Prison Battleship". They both are evil bastards, but manage to infuse the game with black humour. In my not so humble opinion, there is no worse thing than playing in the shoes of a villain protagonist without a sense of humour. Unluckily for me, Gagoze of CM just doesn't seem to have any funny bones and takes everything way too seriously. Sure, I understand that he is pissed after losing an arm to Anastasia and being deposed as a commander of the Alliance army by Daness, but, come on man, look at the bright side - soon they both will be sucking your dick.

So, ehem, Gagoze Aliriorge is an old fashioned military leader, who likes the war, scorns any talk of peace, happily embezzles money and runs a slave trade on the side. It's obvious that his mood sours when Fuluakian Empire, the original aggressor in this war, decided to start peace talks with the Alliance. It's just his luck, that the convention will happen in the neutral Union of Guilds that profits from slave trade and where Gagoze is a welcome guest. Gagoze is an unlikable prick with almost no personality and a short temper, so let's focus on the heroines instead.
A drink with extra spice.
I found that funny that Anastasia, as a Fuluakian knight was dressed in an Austro-Hungarian uniform, while Daness herself was provided with Nazi SS clothing. Doesn't make any sense in a historic context, but good for laughs. Anastasia is a fierce warrior and her soldiers are loyal to her, but privately she is demure and quite shy. Daness, on the other hand, is of a more aggressive type, gives her opinion without reservation and later to our delight discovers her calling as a switch. It's a shame, that neither of those characters has enough personality for us to sympathise with her. In many games I find it easy to root for one of the sides, be it the villain or the good guys. In "Captive Market" I was mostly apathetic as all the important characters were so bland.

There are two more female characters: a beast-girl Noa and Mercury Witch Jean, that runs the slave market. In retrospect, Noa is the least bland of the game characters and the easiest one to associate with, but she disappears in the last third of the game and is never seen again. A pity that... Additionally, Jean has so little screen time that it should be a crime. She doesn't even have any sex scenes, despite one of the paths apparently leading toward it and suddenly changing direction.
Just don't swallow those tags.
Obviously sex scenes is the most important aspect of any nukige and CM has 29 of them. The adult content doesn't really disappoint. There are quite a few really good and memorable scenes: a cap full of cum, an armpit affectionado, Noa with an unruly vibrator and Noa with a pig, a pussy full of wine and so on. Moreover, the remaining ones are basically old good anal-oral-vaginal rapey fun. There were only a few sex scenes that I disliked, mostly involving blowjobs, but that is nothing new. I haven't seen many eroges that managed to make a blowjob sexy. Usually the art and facial expressions in those scenes suck (pun fully intended). I liked the fact, that almost all the scenes are of just the right length and do not overstay their welcome.

As for the art itself, I found it quite weird. Not unpleasant to look at, but there is something off about the CGs that bugs me. It's not only that elven ears should be adherent to the head and not spread wide like two fans, but facial expressions look... unprofessional. Earlier Lilith games portray much more convincing ahageo faces, here heroines sometimes do not look like they are enjoying themselves, despite the text claiming otherwise. I have a sneaking suspicion that these graphics were not made by the same artist that did PB or GRC. Moreover, even the earliest VNs of this developer usually had animated H-scenes that are lacking here. It seems, that "Captive Market" was made on smaller budget than Lilith is wont to use.
Why is the sex with poor Noa always called beastiality?
The game has a total of 4 endings and quite a lot of choices, which is kind of strange, as Lilith games usually are pretty low on choices. At least the game has more or less proper endings as the previous games all sucked in the ending department. Lilith just doesn't know how to do endings properly and ends action abruptly with no explanation. CM manages to at least provide closures to three possible paths (the fourth ending still suffers from writer falling asleep just as he had to pen the epilogue). Here's a walkthrough for you if you want to get a 100 % clearance:
» Click to show Spoiler - click again to hide... «

Now let's talk a bit about translation. The problem with thetsuuyaku's translation is a direct opposite of the problems with Nephrinn's (Dark Translations) works. While Nephrinn couldn't make a correct English sentence structure to save his life, his grammar was not so bad. At the same time, thetsuuyaku is grammar illiterate, but there is nothing wrong with his translation structurally. Some of the pearls of his work: replace every instance of you're with your and they're with their, because he never uses those correctly. Every time beastiality is mentioned I want to put poor Noa out of her misery. Also let's not forget that he seemingly cannot make up his mind if Daness' moniker is "Flame Rapier" or "Flaming Rapier". And finally, if I see recieve one more time I'll shoot someone. Note, that this is patch v1.02 after proofreading. Still, the translation is perfectly readable, unlike early DT works.
Listen bitch, why don't you have a single sex scene?!
To sum up, this is a pretty rough and unpolished nukige, but I consider it of above mediocre quality, somewhere between "Shion" and "Misleet". While I do not have a long ear fetish, sex scenes provided just enough dark content and various other fetishes to keep me "entertained", even if I didn't feel emotionally invested in the game's characters.

Links of Interest

Visual Novel Database
Official Japanese page
Buy the game from DLsite English
Download English translation patch

Final Verdict: 69%

2 comments:

  1. Personally, my favorite translation typo in the patch was when Jean was showing all that "bear" skin!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. actually, i really thought back then you meant the fur that she was wearing :P

    ReplyDelete