The OFFICIAL Evangelion Angel-Breeding Game
A real game that's actually pretty good!
First off, apologies for not having posted a lot of text version of my videos in the last month. I was very focused on getting stuff out as fast as possible and often didn’t actually edit the text versions of the scripts, but just edited on the fly during audio recording, so I’d like to go and re-read and edit a lot of those posts before I upload them here finally. I do intend to house all of my writing to this platform eventually, and so at some point there will be a “port flood.” For now, though, enjoy this Eva video I’m very happy with:
This is real. This is not a fangame. Look: it opens with a whole list of copyrights from the Eva production committee, to TV Tokyo, and Bandai, all indicating the canonical veracity of this Tamagotchi clone for a console no one outside Japan and maybe twenty-five people inside of Japan have ever played, called the Wonderswan. It came out in 1999, and to my abject surprise, it’s not only a ton of fun, but something scratched an itch I didn’t even realize I had as a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The game’s opening cutscene places us squarely at the end of episode eight of the animated series, when Kaji first arrives at NERV to present the embryo of the angel Adam to Gendo. In the show, this scene comes at the end of the episode--but here, it continues on, with Gendo instructing Kaji that he is to raise the fledgling to adulthood here at NERV. Kaji always was the most sincerely nurturing character in the show, what with his Watermelon patch and his advice to Shinji and all that, and he’s also the most memorable side-character that only barely gets a chance to shine in the original series--so letting you play as him and giving him an entire game to himself that actually suits his character in a strange way is already a really neat idea.
Even cooler is that this game allows you to explore NERV headquarters in practically its entirety, rendered gloriously with the strongest art design that its pixel density allows for. Most of the memorable locations from the show are here, and navigating your way around the slightly complex set of halls, elevators and rooms to find all of the characters you recognize and small talk with them is the first real big highlight of the game. I was a little disappointed that the NPC dialog doesn’t change almost at all, so it’s only really worth talking to most characters once, but there are a few delightful exploration events which come up that make at least a level of daily exploration worth your while.
Onto how this game actually works: each morning, Kaji wakes up at 9AM for a 12-hour shift. I can already relate perfectly. While you have the option to walk around NERV through the day talking to people and opening up chests to collect items to give to your little baby Angel, the main part of your work day ideally consists of monitoring the guy to make sure that all of his levels are okay. This mostly means maintaining the pressure and energy of his LCL bath, changing the filters very regularly, giving it items that can effect the way it evolves, and using the Magi computers to manipulate the flow of time, so that you can make it faster while you’re being actively attentive, and slow when you want to go wander around a bit.
How the actual raising of the Angel works is where the game starts to become extremely mysterious and reveal its dark and complicated nature as a way-too-accurate simulation of actual child-rearing. That is to say, you get no real explanation of what stats are ideal, what long-term effects the items might have, or what the hell energy delivery even does. My first time playing, I was raising a named Tony after very famous movie critic Tony from Hack the Movies, when all of a sudden I was told out of nowhere he was in critical condition, and feeding him one of the antidotes I was proposed to use for the situation had no effect, causing it to instantly die in a horrific explosive crucifixion. I’m pretty sure that the cause was having too high of pollution in the LCL tank, because changing filter only reduces it by ten or so percent, and I hadn’t realized you wanted it ideally at zero at all times, so I just hadn’t changed it as many times as necessary.
On my second round, I had a kid named Ride, who also started having issues relatively early on that I just couldn’t explain. It seemed like I was keeping my levels right, but the baby kept getting unstable and having to be fed antibiotics--but at least they worked, all three times. Finally, I realized that I still had all of the items which I had collected by exploring on my first attempt, and which I’d hoarded on the assumption that each one would have to be used to combat a different status ailment at some point. However, since I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was doing wrong, I finally just gave every single item that I could over to the baby. This seemed to work, as from then on it was even easier to keep everything stable, and there was never another sudden onset of sickness again on the first day.
At the end of Kaji’s twelve-hour shift, while the Angel is sleeping, you have the opportunity to explore the rest of NERV HQ after-hours when everyone is in bed. In one dark room, you find the key to Gendo’s desk on the ground. Near the MAGI, a guy pulling all-nighters clues you in that he’s been hearing voices in Gendo’s office each night. So you head up to see what’s going on, and… sure enough, Fuyutsuki’s kicking his ass in a game of Go. Return the next night, and you’ll find Fuyutsuki dominating at Mahjong, and so on and so forth. Return the next day, though, and unlock Gendo’s desk to find the key to the elevator to Central Dogma.
According to whichever of the three bridge buddies you choose to help you out for each two-day span of the game, the Angel should reach maturity in six days, having gone through four stages of evolution. Once it reaches larval stage, you unlock the ability to train the little guy for combat by playing a reflexive bullet-blocking game with his AT field. I’m sure a lot of gamers will have a much easier time with this game, especially if they’re not playing with the Xbox One joystick but just their keyboard instead and have experience with the Undine fight from Undertale. I found it quite challenging, only clearing it once in this session and not seemingly gaining anything from it, indicating you have to do this quite a few times to advance. Time stops when you’re doing the training, so it really ends up feeling like sort of a grind at a totally different skillset from the main game that might feel like a gate to those with shitty reflexes and a lack of desire to get good at this very rudimentary shot-blocking game--but I can also just as easily see coming back and getting addicted to trying to master this if it actually does anything interesting for your Angel.
Over the course of days two and three I kept close watch of Ride during work hours, and didn’t run into any problems with destabilization like I had at the start. I continued simply giving it every single item I picked up, only holding onto the antidotes which I figured I would need in the event something ended up going wrong. I didn’t do much daytime exploring on these days as it didn’t seem like anything changed, and I could run through and just loot all the chests each night, as they refill on each day with new seemingly-randomized items.
On day four, Ride entered its pupa stage and got incredibly badass-looking. I tried to feed it all of the items I had again, but I was told that giving it either of the two items that directly effect evolution would be “too dangerous” at this stage. Taking care of it continued to seemingly go fine for a while, but then at one point it all of a sudden started having a reaction just like it’d done as a baby, and the antidote didn’t work this time, causing an even more tragic and heart-wrenching crucifixion than ever before. Nearly two hours I’d spent taking care of this guy on stream was all down the drain.
I think it’s possible that the tank had rapidly become toxic while I wasn’t monitoring it for a minute or so, although this would’ve meant it spiked from nothing to dangerous in way less time than I was expecting; and I also think it’s possible that I’d given it a bad combination of evolutionary items at an earlier stage in development and made it unstable, or that I didn’t have the right items to cure it, or even that I was supposed to have used the antidotes preemptively.
On the one hand, it was incredibly frustrating to lose my angel to such unclear circumstances, and seemingly all-at-once. It really matched that existential Lovecraftian horror of having the rug pulled out from you when you’re doing great and being psychologically tormented like what the characters faced in the show, in a not-good way. On the other hand, the fact that there were so many possibilities for what I could’ve done wrong does kind of make it seem like the point of this game is cyclically experimenting and figuring out what works on your way to a perfect run. The fact that the progress of the lightly hinted-upon story is gated behind the survival of the angel is at once aggravating when you lose your advancement within it, but also a great motivator for you to pick up and give the whole thing another go with a different approach.
If you’re a hardcore Evangelion looking for a new and fun experience with the IP that’s actually been around forever and feels startlingly close to the source, even more so truly to its spirit than most of the other side-stories and remakes as it actually seems to take place within the story and try to remain canonical to its events. When you learn that Aoba the air guitarman is actually in a band from an NPC, or that the Casper MAGI had a reaction to the First Children’s attempt to interact with it, it feels like you’re really learning more about the cast of Evangelion. Granted, I think this game has nothing whatsoever to offer to people who aren’t at least somewhat obsessed with the original series; but I doubt those people thought they’d be interested in this in the first place. If this looks at all like something you’d play, especially past the point of losing a couple of precious children, then I would absolutely encourage it. I had such a good time I actually want to give it another go, if only because I know from the screencaps it was released with that Shinji is in the game, and I never met ANY of the three children on the first four days.
You can find the English translation patch on CD Romance, no I’m not linking it you have a search engine, and I played the game on an emulator called Oswan.