There will always be hits and misses when it comes to games based upon existing properties. Developers need to decide how true an adaptation is going to be or if they’ll be attempting something original inspired by something beloved. It can be uncommon to get something that ticks the right boxes for people, resulting in a game that can be appreciated by players who both are and aren’t familiar with the source material. Vampire Knight DS, a dating sim inspired by the Matsuri Hino series of the same name, is one such game that managed to achieve the lofty goal of perhaps pleasing everyone at once.
Instead of Vampire Knight DS attempting to exactly follow Vampire Knight, a nearly impossible feat due to the manga being a 19 volume series and the game coming out five years into its nine year run, it offers an original story with Yuki acting as something of a moderator between the human and vampire students at a boarding school she attends. It doesn’t try to get into the sticky details that come after Yuki learns the truth about her past. It doesn’t attempt to totally veer from the familiar things that made the game a success. It carefully straddles both lines.
It’s a gamble that works well for Vampire Knight DS. But sticking with the original heroine, Yuki, but offering obscured views of her faces during romantic moments and offering a rudimentary example of her daily life, people are able to connect with the characters, but not feel like some perfect original character cooked up for the game. By making the school setting and sampling from the early manga for the stage, people aren’t alienated by an overwhelming wealth of information. It’ remains accessible, since all you really need to know is there are these humans and some vampires and they all go to school together. It brings in plenty of familiar characters too, allowing someone to romance Kaname Kuran, Zero Kiryu, Takuma Ichijo, Hanabusa Aido, Akatsuki Kain, Senri Shiki and Toga Yagari, but doesn’t limit someone to the canonical options from the original material, Kaname and Zero.
Another point in its favor is Vampire Knight DS‘s willingness to embrace silliness. The original series can get a bit dark and real. It is dealing with vampires, after all. However, the otome adaptation is willing to take a lighter approach. Yes, there is a mini-game where Yuki is tasked with defeating bad vampires. (One in which the bachelors will like her better when they don’t need to come in and rescue her.) Some are typical otome fair. You have to participate in dances or deliver presents. Others are just plain goofy, such as when you need to be a peeping Tom and sneak glimpses of your favorite guys in their room at night or reprimand vampire fangirls.
Even though this does get quite outlandish, there’s an important thing to remember. These mini-games are absolutely examples of rather out-there fanservice, but they absolutely fit within the theme. Yuki’s role in Vampire Knight requires her to keep her fellow students in check, occasionally protect people from rogue vampires and participate in ordinary activities. None of these elements are out of line. They’re tailored to the situation, making Vampire Knight DS a better and goofier experience.
Vampire Knight DS is one of those games that did a good job of making decisions that would please most people playing it. It’s definitely a fanservice-filled otome game based upon a popular series. Yet, it doesn’t alienate the original audience or put off people who aren’t ready to get invested in a new anime series for a single game. It’s inclusive and makes good, though often silly, decisions for the sake of the greater good.