Blood+ One Night Kiss

Introduction

One Night Kiss is a licensed title based on the anime show Blood+, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and directed by Goichi Suda.
Unlike most tie-in titles, Grasshopper crafted their own setting which is nearly unrelated to the original anime show, to the point where it introduced an original playable character, the Rockabilly special agent Aoyama, and a whole cast of NPCs surrounding him.
In the context of the story, the meat of the plot actually revolves around the actions of Gou Aoyama, making Blood+’s star Saya feel like a secondary or ancillary addition. For this and other reasons (gameplay is not exactly stellar) the game was poorly received by Japanese audiences, failing to find an audience which probably led to its lack of an international release. (You can read a few examples of user reviews on this page.)

It is for that reason however that I became interested in covering the game. Because of the writing of Goichi Suda, the soundtrack of Masafumi Takada and the art direction of Akihiko Ishizaka, ONK feels exactly like a classic GHM title the likes of which we have not seen since the original No More Heroes in 2007, after which most of the key creatives in the company that weren’t contractors or Suda himself left the company. Even the in-game graphics feel like a direct continuation of Killer7’s artstyle, although the look was achieved through a different custom engine.

Since the game was never officially translated, I had elected to use an automatic transcription tool to generate a machine translation for the game in order to garner some interest and eventually approach an actual translator, though GoldenRakshasa decided to join the project right away making that first step redundant.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of in-engine subtitles, an actual translation patch for the game seems unlikely to be possible, since it would involve either altering the game’s code to allow for subtitles or producing a full blown fandub. Hence why I have opted for a subtitled playthrough.

This page will serve as a 100% walkthrough for the game (as it is my understanding that there is no english guide for this game yet), a hub for the translation and a collection of all news articles and interviews I could find about the game.

Game System:

The game itself plays like a weird hybrid between Flower, Sun and Rain and a prototype No More Heroes. Each chapter alternates between the story of Saya and that of Aoyama, and you’ll be interacting with NPCs on the map in order to ascertain the position of that chapter’s Chiropteran boss fight, much like you would in FSR to ascertain the location of the next Catherine puzzle.
As the game goes on, the investigative part is largely done away with and replaced with mob fights littered through the map which you have to complete before gaining access to the boss, a feature that would return in the recent No More Heroes 3.
Boss fights are similar to the original No More Heroes in the sense that the enemy will largely be invulnerable through the duration of the fight, with the challenge revolving around finding specific openings to hit the enemy and charge up your blood meter. Once the blood meter is filled, you’ll be able to disable one of the opponent’s limbs, until you can finally execute him with a minigame.

• Side-quests and collectibles
Most chapters in the game feature some sort of side-objective given to you by an NPC, which generally involves retrieving a lost item in a specific area of the map or delivering a specific item to a different NPC. The quest givers are labelled on the map with a red exclamation mark, while you’re left to your own devices on where to find the items or related NPCs. There’s also one NPC per character, generally located somewhere near the starting area, which will inform you of available side-quests, a middle-aged man called Uniform Angel for Saya and a high-school girl called ??? for Aoyama.
The reward for these side activities is alternate costumes for both Saya and Aoyama, which can be equipped in their respective headquarters.

This game’s collectibles take the form of e-mails. Each character has their own series, with Saya’s being a tourist guide to Shiki New Town and Aoyama’s being an episodic story released through a mailing list. Each e-mail spawns in different chapters and can be obtained by walking in a specific area of the map. The reward for collecting all of the e-mails is, again, an alternate costume for Saya and one for Aoyama.

It should be noted that, possibly due to a bug, Saya’s e-mails can only be collected when playing on Adventure (easy) Mode. The NPC meant to start the quest simply won’t appear on Action or Perfect Kiss mode.

• Modes and Difficulties
When first starting the game, only One Night Kiss mode is available. This is your standard campaign. Two difficulties are available from the start, “Adventure Mode” in which combat is easier and you’ll automatically block enemy attacks, and “Action Mode”, where the player takes more damage, the enemies have more health and the number of required mob fights is increased.

Completing the game once on either difficulty will unlock Perfect Kiss mode, which is an extra-hard mode reminiscent of Killer8 in which the player is given new tools to deal with the upped challenge, namely new weapons for both Saya (the sword she gets in the second season of the Anime show) and Aoyama (a golden grenade launcher). Not only is the challenge increased, but the number of obligatory mob fights is pushed to the point of absurdity. The Chiropterans in Perfet Kiss mode also sport alternate colors.
While most of the story is unaltered from the regular campaign, Perfect Kiss features some altered cutscenes in Chapter 21 and an alternate ending to the story. Completing this mode unlocks Blue Mountain mode.

Blue Mountain (a pun on the name Ao-yama) mode is a boss rush in which Aoyama is tasked with defeating all the game’s bosses in one go, even those that were originally faced by Saya in the campaign. Beating this gauntlet unlocks the final uniform for Saya, the one she used during the Vietnam arc of the show.

• Leveling up
The game includes some sort of level up system; when fighting enemy mobs in the sewers you will be occasionally rewarded with a health boost, an attack boost, new combo strings, more defense options and possibly other rewards I have not personally seen.
Unfortunately the way the level-up system works is quite obtuse, so I have not been able to figure out all its ins and outs. Even the only Japanese guide I could find for this game (Source) seems utterly confused as per its functioning.
Said guide posits that your behavior in battle will affect your reward. However, by comparing different playthroughs, I came to the conclusion that all upgrades were received during the same exact battles. While recording footage for Perfect Kiss mode (which would have been my fourth or fifth playthrough of the game) I realized that I would only get power-ups when fighting a specific type of flying beast. This led to my current theory, which is that upgrades are acquired after defeating a specific number of a specific enemy.
This would also be pretty weird considering the game features no optional battles whatsoever and that each encounter is fixed depending on the difficulty setting, but it’s the most likely scenario I could think of.
One thing I can confirm is that all of your power-ups, much like your unlocked costumes, exist across all of your save files. That is to say that starting a new game from scratch will not reset your characters’ progress.

Censorship:

One interesting quirk of the title is that while the show itself is quite gory, the game itself is bereft of any depiction of violence. In fact, during boss fights, you might notice sparks coming out of the Chiropterans’ bodies which look suspiciously like yellow blood sprays, and while the animations seem to imply that the enemies’ limbs are exploding, they actually remain in place for the duration of the fight.

While researching the game I had assumed it was originally meant to feature gore and it was censored at some point during development. I eventually ran into the following pre-release screencaps (Source), showing that indeed the sparks were blood-sprays which were re-colored to be yellow, and that the game was even going to have an effect where the blood would splatter on the screen.

Interestingly enough, according to interviews, it seems like the decision to tone down the in-game violence actually came from Suda himself, worrying that the game would generally attract a younger audience due to its nature as an anime tie-in. (Source.) That is likely the reason why the tutorials can get pedantic at times, over-explaining basic actions such as running.

It was revealed in The Art of Grasshopper Manufacture that some level of top-down censorship actually did happen during development. According to Suda, the original proposed scenario featured a twist ending in which Saya would die, but she’d be revealed as a Chiropteran clone of the original Saya. The producer rejected this idea claiming he did not want a depiction of the heroine getting killed, despite her being a fake. A Saya lookalike does appear in the game however, as Aoyama’s previous colleague (seen in his phone’s background) and is also seen escaping from a crashed truck in the game’s intro.

Do I need to know Blood+ at all to play this?

Luckily, due to ONK’s nature as a mostly original story in a different setting, if you happen to be a regular GHM fan that just wants to experience the game, you don’t actually need to know much at all about the original show to enjoy it.
The only characters from the show that appear in the game are Otonashi Saya and part of her support team, Red Shield.
Red Shield itself is an organization dedicated to the eradication of Chiropterans (vampires). It is comprised of human beings who, while unable to fight Chiropterans themselves, will act as a “blood shield” for Saya. The members who appear in the game itself are Hagi, Saya’s cello-playing blood servant who carries her sword around, Lewis, a dark-skinned Okinawan man who provides logistical and technological support to Red Shield, and David, the blonde-haired Red Shield executive directing Saya’s operations in Shiki New Town.
Saya herself is an ancient vampire from the 1800s, her blood being the weapon to kill other Chiropterans (hence why her sword is specifically crafted to house her blood). During the timeframe of the game, she is living with her adoptive family in Okinawa (which is referred to a few times during the game) having lost her memory of her ancient life.

In the context of the anime show, ONK takes place in a single day between episodes 7 and 8. The game was actually developed and released during the original run of the show, which led to the development team catching up with the show as it aired and ultimately to the decision of setting the game during the missing day between episodes 7 and 8. Which means that in order to get the full context necessary for the game’s story, at most you’ll need to watch 7 20-minute episodes, which isn’t as big a commitment as the full 52-episode show.
Not being a hardcore fan of the show I cannot tell if the events of the game are in any way contradicted by later episodes, although they’re obviously never referenced either. One recurring complaint I noticed in Japanese opinion pieces of the time is that the game shows human beings (namely Aoyama) as able to face and kill Chiropterans, but that contradiction is actually brought up and explained in-game.

Walkthrough and translation:

English map by Johnny Casket

#1 Namikawa x Nagaki x Isojima | 9.00 AM

– Talk to Tsubasa Fukuoka in the middle of the classroom
– Talk to Oi-chan on the classroom’s doorstep
– Read the tutorials around the classroom (four on the desks, two on the blackboards)
– Talk to Oi-chan again
– Coming out of the classroom, speak to Kanabun all the way at the end of the right-hand corridor, near the staircase
– Talk to Namikawa, Nagaki and Isojima on the opposite side of the corridor, near the staircase to the roof
– Take the staircase to the rooftop

Boss Fight:
This fight mostly acts as a tutorial where you’re meant to follow Haji’s instructions to advance. Namely:
– Attack with the square button five times
– Complete a combo-string by pressing the square button several times in a row
– Land two jumping attacks by using the cross button to jump and pressing the square button while pushing forward on the left stick
– Charge your blood meter by chaining combo strings, then mash the square button in order to disable the Chiropteran’s limb
– Initiate the execution with the triangle button and complete the minigame (alternating the square and cross buttons) to destroy the first enemy
– Block two enemy attacks with the L1 button
– Trigger five dodge-rolls with the right stick
– Trigger two emergency dodges by pressing the circle button after being hit by the enemy
– Trigger an emergency block by pressing the cross button after being hit by the enemy
– Trigger a counter by timing a press of the circle button
From this point onward you can just execute the two remaining Chiropterans normally; Their execution mini-games involve pushing each face buttons a certain amount of times and finding a specific pressure point within the left stick’s range respectively.

#2 Miyao Tsutomu | 2.30 PM

– Walk to the bridge area
– Speak with the officer there

Boss fight:
This boss has two attacks. One involving him shooting spikes from his body, which can be blocked, and another one where he extends his neck out, which must be dodged. He is always vulnerable unless he’s winding up an attack. Aoyama’s executions don’t involve playing a mini-game.

#3 Yasuoka Akihito | 4.00 PM

– Talk to Oi-chan near the 4th floor right-hand staircase
– Talk to Mamia in classroom 3-B, located near the right-hand staircase on the 2nd floor
– Talk to Malik in the track field, located to the back of the school building
– Talk to Mina, located in the 1st floor corridor near the right-hand staircase
– Talk to Lewis in the courtyard, behind the school building
– Enter the Gymnasium, located to the right of the school building when looking at its entrance, and speak with the teacher located within

Boss Fight:
This boss has a swiping attack which can be blocked (or can alternatively be salvaged with an emergency dodge), an attack where he drops on his back which can be blocked, but also causes a shockwave which must either be dodged or salvaged with an emergency block, and running grab attack which can be countered with the circle button, landing the enemy on its back and giving you an opportunity to start a combo. Otherwise, he is generally only vulnerable from its backside. The enemy can be executed after disabling five of its limbs. The execution involves playing a game of simon-says with the face buttons.

Sidequest #1:
– Talk to Tsubasa to the back of the school building
– The item is found on the roof, to your left as you enter the area
– Return to Tsubasa for your reward (Uniform #5 “Shikito High-school”)

Sidequest #2
– Talk to Chakky to the left of the School building as you look to its entrance
– The first item is found in classroom 3-B near Mamia
– The second item is found in the goal on the track field, near Malik
– The third item is found in the shoe lockers, near Dorian
– Return to Chakky to get your reward (Uniform #6 “Tokiwa High-school”)

Links:

Famitsu Interview / Announcement (Archive)
Magazine scans (Archive)
IGN Announcement
Nlab Interview with Suda and Fujisaku (Bood+’s director) (Archive)
Alternative link on Aniplex’s website (Archive)
Alternative link on Clappa (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
Famitsu story preview (Archive)
Japanese user reviews (Archive)