Do you hate God, cursing the bastard for not making anime real? Do you want to be a sexy high school girl, while at the same time dicking all the other sexy high school girls? If so, TinkleBell understands your plight and invites you to take a bite of that forbidden fruit and enter into a haunted school full of lust and drama.
Welcome to the dreamlike world of Rondo Duo -Yoake no Fortissimo- Punyu Puri ff, more commonly referred to as simply Rondo Duo, the 2014 visual novel by TinkleBell that enchanted us with its emotive animation and beautiful art. Following up from a shorter comic, we the reader are treated to a dark folk/goth aesthetic and beautiful schoolgirls accompanying. The game is soaked in heavy-handed, decorative Christian symbolism and Brothers Grimm-era folklore, primarily drawing from Snow White. Drawing some amusing parallels between the poison apple in Snow White and the Forbidden fruit of the garden of Eden, Rondo Duo loves to tempt you with the evils of desire.
It was a shame that the game was untranslated for so long and we couldn’t delve into just why these gelatinous girls are growing cocks, or why there’s so much Christian idolatry (not that the latter needs explaining in anything anime). Thankfully, the game has been translated by a Hongfire user by the name of Octotap, and I can safely say it was well worth the wait.
Itsuki, our blue-haired protagonist, is a girl who has lived a sheltered live under the fear of God. After her parents parted ways, she was brought up by her deeply religious father. Holding bitterness towards his wife, Itsuki’s father forces her to dress in male clothing to guard her from boys who may be tempted by her form and keeps her inside most days. This causes Itsuki to resent her father on earth and in heaven; seeing some boys on the train after escaping her father, she comments “Men are made in god’s image, so I hate them.” Her only friend is the Succubus Katarina, a demon who visited her one night, turning her onto lust and giving her the freedom of mind to get away from her shackled existence.
Itsuki spends her time at a seemingly regular school with various friendship groups, but she remains alone as her upbringing has left her with an avoidance of people, though she does harbor some longing for those connections. The unique aspect of the school is the well-known rumor amongst the students of the “Devil’s curse”, wherein a female student will, through demonic magic, receive a penis. The only way to dispel this affliction is to cum inside another girl, passing the cock curse along. There’s a somewhat interesting series of conflicts housing all the main characters; the friendship groups are in twos and threes, with the trio of Haruka, Kaori, and Madoka arguably being the focal group. Kaori and Madoka have an allusion to something of mutual love between one another, and when Haruka is discovered to carry the curse, Kaori sets out to protect Madoka’s innocence.
Rondo Duo’s art puts most visual novels to shame. The game is lavished with Gothic style; opening the chapter select menu, for example, radiates holy light to reveal a clock wheel with the 12 roman numerals representing each chapter, and it’s beautiful. The load menu guides us to an ominous chapel while thunder and lightning crack and roar, Katarina’s face just barely visible as she watches over before the menu reveals. All this effort towards motion is thanks to what TinkleBell refers to as the Super 2.5 EXD animation system. Thanks to this animation style, all the girls giggle profusely, constantly in a state of motion, giving them a very gelatinous but lively look (which makes getting screenshots a pain in the ass too). The girls’ expressions are dramatic, punctuated by the camera swinging in sync with their actions. It’s a nice way to exaggerate both emotions and sex.
The animations for the girls do teeter on uncanny at times, with some of the girls having what look like abnormally large foreheads, so much so it’s become a bit of a joke. Sure, the girls seem a bit “blobby” at times but more often than not I find the style works well, with the fluidity and motion drawing you in. The camera isn’t exempt from this and can also go overboard too with the motion, swinging back and forth to accentuate the impact of sexual thrusting. Again, I don’t think it’s too much of a drawback, as the positives of this design choice pay off, though it can be uncomfortable to watch for an elongated period of time. Another, more serious issue is the painfully small resolution, getting some noticeable aliasing in fullscreen. I’d recommend playing it windowed if you can, and it’s a shame such a nice-looking game will only be further marred by increasing resolutions as technology progresses.
The soundtrack for Rondo Duo is lovely: it’s all fairy tale-styled synth orchestra, evoking something of a European theme, much like most of the game does. While its orchestral sound is solid, it’s noticeably ersatz; of course they couldn’t pull in an actual orchestra, so it’s not so much of a failing as it is just something you’ll recognize. The music is brilliant regardless of its components’ authenticity, and the voice acting is just as good. All of the girls are voiced, with erotic moans and gasps being instantly arousing. My personal favorite is the genetically foreign, but Japan born-and-raised school girl Riko, who tries to slip in the English words she knows wherever possible. All the girls are wonderful, and the fully voiced cast adds a lot to the already vibrant animation and music.
I will say right now that I’m not a big fan of futa. The idea of a girl with a dick generally doesn’t do anything for me. Having said that, Rondo Duo has done the impossible: it made me enjoy futa immensely. There is a lot of futa-on-girl sex in this game, from the perspective of the futa. The narrative reasoning for all these chicks with dicks is that due to the curse, the girls have a demonic dick that is summoned when she wants to fuck. This is just about all the reasoning I need to get on board with the idea; it’s magic, and I’m okay with that. It also helps that they aren’t always in futa form, as it comes and goes. If you’re a futa enthusiast, then this might be a little tame for you, there are no balls and it’s only futa on girl, but if you’re on the entry echelon like myself, Rondo Duo is a brilliant starting point, as it’s basically a bunch of awkward gay girls, but one of them is rocking a dick.
One of the nice design choices Rondo Duo sports is the interactivity in sex scenes. A dial and some keys are on display to change the animation and the speed. Each key is a musical note, ranging anywhere from A to G, which you can cycle through with the arrow keys while you can change the speed of animation with the mouse wheel. On select scenes, there’s also an interesting camera movement feature where you can drag the scene around while you’re focused in on a specific area. Personally, I don’t think this works too well as you’re really zoomed in too close, but it’s a novel idea nonetheless. These interfaces and the musical flavor is a bonus to keep you involved in the sex. All the motion during the sex can be a tad disorientating at times, such as with the camera swinging in and out with the rapid thrusting. Overall, I quite like the sex scenes in this game. While they get over-dramatic at times with the exaggerated movement, they’re still incredibly attractive.
Rondo Duo -Yoake no Fortissimo- Punyu Puri ff is a brilliant game. The art direction, while not for everyone, is wonderfully detailed and rich in a cohesive style. The story has intrigue and serves as a great backdrop and context for all these gorgeous girls growing dicks to fuck one another with. Definitely pick this up along with the English translation, as the contextualization of the scenes makes them so much more satisfying.