A Dose Of Sweet And Lewd

HIGH Somehow this game features a sexy skeleton.

LOW Grinding levels before moving on to the next dungeon – five times.

WTF That’s a Darkstalkers reference, isn’t it?

Developers Compile Heart and Idea Factory — probably most famous for their long-running Neptunia franchise — are no strangers to lewd content in their relatively light-hearted JRPGs, as their work is littered with cute girls in skimpy costumes getting into turn-based battles against incredibly repetitive sets of 3D monster models. There are playful jokes about breast size and the occasional groping scene, but by and large their games are fairly tame.

The Genko Tokai series — which includes Monster Monpiece, Moero Chronicle and now Moero Crystal H — is where these developers let off some steam by ignoring the elaborate settings and complicated plots of their other franchises and diving headfirst into fanservice. As a dungeon-crawling RPG, MCH is fairly basic. As an art repository of mostly-nude monster girls, it is unparalleled.

The story follows Zenox, a farm boy who comes to the big city looking for his long-lost father, and finds himself wrapped up in an adventure to save the world from the judgment of heaven. It seems that a suspiciously phallic seal has stolen the Bra of Darkness — an artifact which can turn monster girls evil if placed on their chests. It’s up to Zenox and his team of heroic monster girls to use the Panties of Light to return the monster girls to their senses so they can prevent the birth of an apocalyptic beast which is created when the lingerie set is apart for too long.

MCH’s main focus is on old-school grid-based dungeon crawling. Players look at a 3D dungeon in first person and have to gradually work their way through it, getting into turn-based battles with both random monsters and the monster girls that inhabit each area. Navigation is pretty much the same as it’s been since the days of Wizardry and Bard’s Tale — the only real difference is an auto-mapping feature that means players will almost never have to break out a pen and paper. I say ‘almost’ because each of the six dungeons has its own gimmick to make things a little more complex. One has teleporters, another is filled with one-way doors, and the last has a devilishly clever slippery floor sequence.

The combat is even more basic. The player controls all six of the characters on their team — Zenox, who uses items and buffs girls’ attack abilities, and five monster girls who fight more directly.

There’s enough depth here to keep things interesting as every character (and enemy) has an elemental affinity and weaknesses to specific attacks that are related to bonus damage. If the player chains together enough weak point hits they’ll also earn huge experience point bonuses and increase the chances that dropped equipment will appear already upgraded.

Monster girl boss battles are the real focus of MCH’s combat, though. While under the Bra’s spell, monster girls are nearly invincible, so players have to attack… their clothes. When enough garments have been destroyed, a phallic seal teammate will be aroused enough to stun them with a shower of, uh… golden coins… giving the player a chance to find and massage the girl’s three weakpoints. This massage distracts them long enough for the Panties of Light can be placed on them, thereby curing them of their madness and allowing them to be added to the team.

(And yes, I know that sounded like a pervert’s insane fever-dream.)

So yeah, this is a game about defeating monster girls via non-consensual groping. There’s no good way around it – it’s fairly questionable. Yes, the groping is the only way to cure them, but that’s only because the developers have designed the most morally pure situation in which this non-consensual groping can occur. It’s a credit to the writing and vocal performances of the various monster girls that MCH manages to remain airy and pleasant despite this content.

While the dungeon-crawling and combat may be fairly simplistic, MCH doesn’t hold back when it comes to sheer volume of content. The campaign has six dungeons with around ten monster girls in each, for a total of over sixty distinct characters that can be added to the player’s team, leveled up, and befriended in order to unlock bonus story scenes.

And that’s just the campaign. Once it’s done, each of the dungeons reveals bonus super-challenging levels, complete with bonus monster girls, for a total of more than 80 unlockable characters. As if that wasn’t enough, in order to fully power up each monster girl, the player has to travel into their ‘heart’, which involves another dungeon crawl with new monsters. Each girls has three dungeons, which means completionists will have another 200 levels to explore if they want to see everything the game has to offer.

Oh, and those dungeons are accessed via a vertical shooter minigame, because at this point, why wouldn’t they be?

Now, with all that said, Moero Crystal H isn’t without its problems. First is just how grindy the gameplay is.

Each move to a new dungeon leads to enemies that are exponentially more powerful than those in the previous, meaning that a player able to defeat floor 5 of dungeon 1 will likely have real trouble with floor 1 of dungeon 2. The game assumes that the player will be happy to hang out on the top floor of dungeons, grinding battle after battle until they’ve leveled up enough to take on the next area, but I found that it got frustrating quickly.

Especially annoying is the ill-considered ‘Easy’ mode, which makes the fights less challenging but punishes the player by giving them drastically fewer experience points, meaning that they’ll just have to spend longer doing the grinding. It’s so irritating that I found myself forgoing the entire elemental battle system and just spamming physical attacks until fights were over so I could get through them faster.

The other big problem is with the controls — some elements don’t work with the touch screen, and some elements don’t work with the JoyCons, forcing the player to switch back and forth between them. The massage minigame is woefully imprecise with the touchscreen, while the vertical shooter can’t be completed without using a reverse pinch motion. There’s even a ‘peeping’ system that doesn’t use the controllers at all. Players who want to see everything had better get ready to flip back and forth between control types on a regular basis.

There’s simply no getting around the fact that Moero Crystal H is ethically questionable and hugely exploitative, but at the same time, it’s a light, frequently sweet dungeon-crawling RPG that’s fairly charming. Players looking for well-drawn art of monster girls in their underwear need look no further, but those who want a classically designed experience with a ton of heart should consider checking it out as well. Assuming, of course, that the groping isn’t a deal-breaker.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Idea Factory and Compile Heart and published by Eastasiasoft. It is currently available on Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 40 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M and contains Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity, and Sexual Themes. The violence is so tame that I’m not sure any character ever actually dies in the entire game. As for the sexual content — there’s a lot of it. The groping minigame, the massaging to make monster girls like Zenox more, the ‘nude flashes’ where girls’ underwear is stripped away for a few seconds, their modesty protected only by cartoon hearts, it’s all fairly intense, and absolutely not for kids.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are no audio cues of any kind. All information is provided via text. The text cannot be resized. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game’s controls cannot be remapped. There is no control diagram. Face buttons are for navigating menus and working the weapons in the vertical shooter minigame. The left controller moves the characters in dungeons and selects menu options, the right thumbstick is used to find monster girls’ weak points in the massaging minigame.

Daniel Weissenberger
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