Jansei Gakuen Chrono☆Magic (PSP)  

DESPERATELY SEEKING COTTON

When I’m not busy grousing about something I read on the internet, I’m busy playing strip mahjong. And when I need a break from actual strip mahjong, I play a strip mahjong videogame. Published under Asgard’s “BOOST ON” brand, Jansei Gakuen Chrono☆Magic is the latest PSP stripper (soon followed by the inferior Jansei Utahime Chrono☆Star). It feels like a budget game in so many ways — despite selling at a non-budget price — but Chrono Magic manages to hit enough key points that I don’t feel ripped off.

As with every PSP game, there’s a neat picture before you boot up the UMD. Someday I’ll have to put together an image gallery for these screens. After I busted into the actual game, disappointment struck — there’s no intro! Just a title screen! The game’s official website showed off what appeared to be an introductory sequence with a cheery vocal song, so this was an unexpected letdown, kind of like when Gamecube’s Resident Evil omitted the awesome cast listing.

Clicking START offered me a story mode and a mahjong battle mode. Here’s a tip from a video mahjong veteran: the story mode is always the one that you want if you’re looking to disrobe curvaceous foes. That’s the one I picked.

True to its name, Chrono Magic’s “story mode” made me sit through some dull story scenes. These still-picture cinematics are presented like a visual novel, but with markedly low production values. That being said, the intermissions aren’t meant to advance an intellectual tale. The text-based interludes exist solely as a way to familiarize players with each girl’s quirky personality. This in turn makes it more fulfilling to see them naked. It’s too bad these scenes aren’t voiced; the way someone says something can be just as telling as the words they choose.

When the girls stop talking, they’ll test your might via mahjong kombat. This is where Chrono Magic suddenly starts looking good. The game superimposes the tiles atop an image of the opponent, which lets you see her reactions more clearly than other games that relegate characters’ faces to a tiny window in the corner. You can also hear the opponents, because the mahjong scenes are fully-voiced. Along with spunky voices, animated close-ups show off the girls’ energetic mahjong actions. That’s not a new technique, but Chrono Magic takes the rare step of fitting the animation to the girl’s level of undress. That may sound like a small (and obvious) thing to do, but so many of these games pit you against a nearly-naked opponent who suddenly becomes fully clothed during close-ups. Thanks to the nice visuals and catchy battle music, Chrono Magic actually feels somewhat professional.

Since Chrono Magic is set in a magic school, each girl can cast spells. There’s an assortment of incantations — prevent “ron”, magically summon the tile you need after claiming “riichi”, et cetera — and each girl eventually learns all of them. Spells can be cast when the clock in the upper-left corner makes a full revolution; or, you can let the clock keep running to charge up more power, similar to the super meter in a fighting game. Maxxing out the gauge lets you cast the ULTIMATE spell, which assures victory!

Casting the ULTIMATE spell isn’t as easy as just picking an option from a menu. Chrono Magic kicks into a full-screen pic of your character (which varies based on how much clothing she’s still wearing) and then you’ve got to go all DDR and press the proper buttons in the limited amount of time. The timer is pretty strict, but you don’t need a flawless performance to win. As long as you did reasonably well, your tiles all magically transform into a winning hand and your opponent is shocked when you declare “TSUMO!”

The spells seem like a nice way to break up the action at first . . . but once you become a super-caster pro, they make the game waaaaaay too easy. Not that it was particularly hard in the first place; the opponents don’t seem particularly brilliant, and you don’t have to deplete your opponent’s points to win. You just have to defeat her in three rounds. And of course, there’s a sultry prize for the champ.
 

If you eke out a three-bout victory, then you get something like this:
 

 

But if you send your witchy foe into negative points, then you get THIS:
 

Yeah . . . even though it’s filled with innocent big-eyed “moe” character designs, Jansei Gakuen Chrono☆Magic can be pretty suggestive. I’m fine with that; it never dives into the depths of actual hentai, and the girls are pretty cute — certainly moreso than in the “sequel”, Jansei Utahime Chrono☆Star (which blatantly recycles most of the music despite being released only one month after Chrono Magic). Given the audiovisual quality of the mahjong matches and the saucy artwork, I enjoyed this one in spite of the dull story scenes. But as with any import strip mahjong PSP videogame, it takes a special kind of person to appreciate what Chrono Magic offers.

Everyone else would probably rather play Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker or somesuch nonsense.