Posted by: Blue 6 October 2017
Welcome back to the wonderful world of October, where Christmas decorations are already on store shelves and goth girls are officially in season. That’s right, Halloween is fast approaching, better known as everyone’s favorite excuse pleasure themselves using fresh virgin blood as lube. While there’s plenty of time to prepare for this October’s horrifying events, such as Friday the 13th and a new Bubsy game releasing on Halloween, we’ll be gearing up for the devilish day in our own way. Seeing how we gave Succubus Hunter a LewdLook last October, it only seems appropriate to give the English version of the newest entry in the series a full-on, proper review. Ladies and ghouls, I present to you Succubus The SIX Spells.
In case anyone’s keeping track: I still have not been paid for those photoshops last year.
Succubus The SIX Spells (yes, that’s how the title is officially formatted) is the fifth title in Libra Heart’s Succubus series, which has gone through genres and whole-series references faster than I’ve gone through hookers. Formally revealed on Libra Heart’s website shortly after the release of Tower of Succubus back in 2016, the title was originally known as “Succubus The SIX of Magics,” with much of the gameplay and setpieces seemingly already established by then. Development seemed to be slow, though, as Succubus Hunter was released before the newly-renamed Succubus The SIX Spells. According to the power of broken Google Translate, AII, the game’s developer, grew tired of making action games late into 2016 and began work on a Succubus title set within the simulation genre. AII would eventually return to Succubus The SIX Spells around mid-2016, with the Japanese release hitting DLSite in August 2017, while the English release for the title was made available in late September 2017.
In which the series briefly turns into an episode of NCIS.
As this is the English release of the game we’re dealing with, this finally provides me with the opportunity to actually read and understand the deep, interpersonal narrative of a Succubus title and all its intricacies. The game takes place in the time frame of “sometime” in the far-off land of “somewhere fantastical,” where the titular six spells are the only forces that protect the realm from an ancient king. Predictably, these spells are suddenly stolen one day, leaving the titular succubus (who is never referred to as Lucia, but appears to be the same character) to journey across six stages to reclaim them before the king can be resurrected.
The plot might have all the depth of a fortune cookie, but it seldom tries to be anything more than what it needs to be. True to fashion for the series, more exposition is shed through side stories unearthed through tomes scattered among the levels. While they mainly exist to increase the amount of adult content in the game, some tomes do provide backstory for the levels, giving the otherwise static bosses some reason for how they came into possession of one of the six spells. There’s a very basic level of build-up to the boss provided by the tomes, which is appreciated in spite of how meager the effort is.
This is perhaps the most character development anyone receives in the entire game.
You don’t really play the Succubus games for the story, though; that’s like eating honey buns for the nutritional value. Gameplay is king in this series, and the gameplay in Succubus The SIX Spells has changed yet again from its predecessors. This time, the gameplay consists of jumping and shooting your way through the game’s six levels, which you can play through in any order through a quaint stage selection screen. The formula in this game involves picking a level and journeying through it until you find and defeat the boss, who gives you a new power-up that can be used to either conquer enemies in other stages or take down other bosses easier.
If that description at all reminded you of Capcom’s famous “jump ‘n shoot” series, don’t worry. Even the UI in Succubus The SIX Spells doesn’t try to hide the clear allusions to Mega Man.
That being said, Succubus The SIX Spells isn’t as similar to the blue bomber’s series as, say, Akumajou Succubus was to Castlevania. I had high expectations going into this title, as Capcom’s neglected little robot is responsible for some of my all-time favorite video games. Immediately, my trained eyes noticed that this game handles more slowly than I was expecting, with a stiffer, heavier jump that brings to mind the aforementioned Akumajou Succubus. With the new abilities letting the player hang off ledges and shimmy across ropes, this game feels a bit like the weird bastard child of Akumajou Succubus and the NES version of Darkwing Duck, another of Capcom’s early ’90s classics.
Sure was lucky that the dungeon keeper left this clothesline here!
Given that Libra Heart has proven they’re capable of making H-games that succeed on their merits as a game alone, I was sitting here at my desk, ready to sing the melodies of this game and how it’s easily Libra Heart’s best work yet. Make no mistake: Succubus the SIX Spells is certainly a very enjoyable experience, but the level design had me scratching my head at points. Immediately after the introductory cutscene, you’re jettisoned into a tutorial stage (which you can exit through a game over screen) that introduces you to all the available movement options: crawling through tight spaces, hanging off ledges, shimmying across ropes, firing a heart to seduce enemies and activate switches, and using a stellar new dodge maneuver. With the way these new mechanics are integrated into the tutorial stage, you would think the remaining levels would follow up on this and make use of the mechanics it just spent about five minutes teaching you about. Unfortunately, this game is one of those incredibly forgetful teachers.
Shimmying across ropes is seldom used in an interesting fashion, like in a timed platforming challenge or a vertical platforming section filled with enemies. Ledge-hanging does get relatively more mileage through the game, as it’s required for certain platforming sections and boss fights, but it still felt underutilized. The worst of the bunch is using switches to open doors; while “stop and wait” switches arguably have no place in a game such as this, why include the feature if you were to only use it two times in the whole game? Even crawling, the mechanic used the most in the game’s levels, isn’t used for anything meaningful outside of transitional purposes or cheap enemy placement.
Due to not taking advantage of the various level themes or the game’s own mechanics to the fullest, the level design can, unfortunately, come off as bland and phoned-in. Levels can be rather easy as a result of this, with many stages featuring barebones platforming challenges impeded by the occasional divebombing crow or red skull obstructing your path. With proper timing, half the stages can be beaten by merely holding right and jumping without putting much thought into it.
On the flipside, the dodge maneuver is a great inclusion that did seem to impact some parts of the design, as the levels do eventually begin introducing enemies that not only dish out damage but can’t be seduced to easily gain health back. With enemies sporting shields or tall projectile attacks, being able to dodge through and between enemies becomes a necessity to survive in the later levels. This is especially true for the game’s boss fights.
Sometimes, a hard-working succubus just needs to sit back and smell the tombstones.
While the stages are rather disappointing in their lack of variety and challenge, the bosses do help make up for it. Each of the six mystic hoes brings their own distinct attack patterns and challenge to the table, some requiring more intimate use of the game’s mechanics than others. Of particular note is the forest of illusion’s boss, a jarring, almost absurd difficulty spike compared to every other boss in the game. The final boss is also a grueling affair if you have no recovery items or weapon energy left by that point, though such a challenge is more expected from the final boss of the game. Both bosses demand more from the player than all others do, requiring a higher level of finesse and pattern recognition to conquer.
After beating one of the six bosses, you unlock their own signature attack for your own personal use. While they have limited ammo, they can make faster work of enemies in stages, increasing the overall replayability by providing more options for which special weapons to bring along.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to play out.
And you guys think Cuphead’s bosses are hard?
Tying back into the game’s level design, many of the obstacles encountered in Succubus The SIX Spells can be easily circumvented either through dodging or well-placed normal shots. Certain special weapons are also straight-out too gimmicky for practical use, and almost all of them drain their limited ammo pool very quickly. Compounding this issue even further is that weapon energy and health are not restored between stages — they must be refilled manually by paying the invisible magic fairy on the stage select screen for refills at the cost of 50 gold per category.
With weapon energy that can only be reliably filled between stages or through pre-set item drops within them, the special weapons are very ineffective in the grand scheme of things. While some weapons shine in boss fights, the cost of using them outweighs their benefits. The hundreds of gold coins you amass in-game are better spent elsewhere, like on healing potions that restore HP and weapon energy or secrets made clear upon the game’s completion.
Unfortunately, this also ties into two of the most glaring issues with Succubus The SIX Spells.
No, those are not the two glaring issues.
Remember that one boss I mentioned that spiked the difficulty right into the sand? I initially tried experimenting with various weapons to see what her weakness was, before soon realizing that I was out of ammo on all my weapons and couldn’t switch back to my primary weapon. Unable to attack the boss or switch back to my default weapon, I somehow softlocked the game and was forced to restart.
In terms of controls and visuals, Succubus The SIX Spells is without a doubt a finely polished game, but certain other areas remain jagged and coarse. My aforementioned issue with the weapon select happened numerous times through the game, cementing my loving relationship with the default weapon. Additionally, while the R key is intended to reset the game while you’re tabbed into it, I’d occasionally tab out to attend to more wholesome tasks, only be greeted by the game’s title screen once I tabbed back in.
Seeing how the version of the game I played was the 1.00 English release and the Japanese release is on 1.03 as of this writing, I’m presently unaware if these quirks have been addressed or not in some form.
Fortunately, Succubus The SIX Spells fares much better on the presentation front. Continuing off the 8-bit style that began with Akumajou Succubus and further improved upon in Tower of Succubus, Libra Heart continues to showcase a plethora of detail in their pixelated glory. Whether it’s rotting zombies, rustling plant monsters or bodacious women, the sprites are great and well-animated, especially during the sex animations. The illustrations shown in side stories, cutscenes, and the gallery are even better. Those with a keen eye may notice that the proportions of characters in Succubus The SIX Spells are a bit more realistic this time around. While still keeping to a similar art style and color palette, all the ladies look more mature and defined this time around. It can lead to the occasional perspective hiccup and an odd face or two, but the new style works far more than it doesn’t.
By comparison, the soundtrack fares a little bit differently. Rather than use instruments that bring to mind 8-bit systems like the NES, Succubus The SIX Spells uses a more modern, MIDI set of instruments for its songs. The new compositions generally lean more towards a mystical, atmospheric vibe than they do anything energetic. The only real fault of the new soundtrack is that the songs are far too short and don’t loop properly, which could potentially grate on your ears if you wind up redoing an entire stage.
Other minor additions on the presentation front in Succubus The SIX Spells include the option to increase or decrease the game’s resolution with the W key, and the in-game option to change between three different voices during sex encounters. They’re pretty minor inclusions, but welcome nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the succubus was unaware of the mermaid’s fetish for tragic romances.
Now that I’ve mentioned the sex animations, let’s get to talking about those. In true Succubus fashion, you can fire a heart at enemies to seduce them, forcing them to immediately submit to your will and start pumping their seeds into the titular succubus. Not only does this have the added benefit of restoring your HP, but each enemy has a different sex animation tied to them. If the several well-animated encounters don’t do it for you, maybe their accompanying illustration unlocked within the gallery will get your jollies rocking. This gallery is also where the various tomes strewn throughout the game’s various levels are stored, letting you relive the parts of the game’s lore that clearly confirms that raping elves is not only advised, it’s encouraged.
As with previous titles, the bulk of the sexual content is focused on women with huge breasts getting intimate with various monsters, ranging from slimes, ogres, zombies, and normal men suffering from the fatal “silhouetted penis” disease. Between dozens of illustrations and a dozen or so animations, there’s a meaty amount of sexual content here for those who love monsters and massive mammaries. The only missed opportunity is that the female enemies cannot be seduced at all. There was a prime opportunity for lesbian and maybe even futa content, but Libra Heart stuck to the same set of fetishes for this adventure. While I’m as much a fan of sahagins and tentacles as the next guy, it would have been nice to see the range of fetishes expand a bit.
By the year’s end, having your elven wives raped by ogres became a tradition across the land.
Overall, Succubus The SIX Spells is a pretty solid game in its own right. The core gameplay is fun, and there are glimmers of something greater that could be done with the mechanics introduced here. Unfortunately, mediocre level design, poor weapon implementation, and a few bugs hold the game back from rising above the bar set by Tower of Succubus. Going by the amount of stages, a plethora of unlockables in the gallery and a small bit of hidden content to keep you going for 100% completion, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth with this one. Succubus The SIX Spells comes recommended to fans of platforming action sidescrollers, fans of mature, busty women, and incredibly desperate Mega Man fans. While Libra Heart may be working on two more Succubus projects in completely different genres, I’m hopeful that this particular gameplay style is revisited and refined into something special someday.
If you’re interested in playing Succubus The SIX Spells for yourself, the game can be purchased off DLsite for about $8.60. If you’re interested in learning more about the other Succubus games, our past LewdLooks for each game in the series can be found here.
- Core gameplay is simple, but enjoyable
- Fantastic spritework and CGs
- Slew of unlockable CGs and animations
- Engaging boss fights
- Bare level design that doesn't make full use of game's mechanics
- Poor weapon implementation
- A few stand-out bugs
|Art And Graphics|