Hakuoki: What's the difference between all the versions?

With Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms out now, and 3DS, PSP, PS2, and PS3 instalments already out there, which is the best one to buy?

Hakuoki Whats the difference between all the versions  Everybody Plays
27th March, 2018By Sarah Hadley

With the recent release of Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms on the PS Vita bringing the Vita's telling of the Hakuoki saga to a close, you could be forgiven for not managing to keep up with the score at home. With the samurai themed romantic visual novel having seen countless releases over the years, each with a different name, mostly on different platforms, yet with almost all versions telling pretty much the same story (only with a different set of romance options tacked on), it can be a little tricky knowing exactly where you stand. With the differences between each iteration being crucial for deciding which is worth your hard-earned cash, I've been asked, as Everybody Plays' resident Hakuoki expert, to walk you through them all, and explain the difference between the many, many different versions of Hakuoki.

Hakuoki Edo Blossoms Screenshot

Harada is still our bae

To make sure we're all fully on the same page before we get going, Hakuoki is a story-driven game that plays out a little like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but with a romantic twist. You play as Chizuru Yukimura, a young lass who makes her way to Kyoto in search of her missing father, when she bears witness to something sinister. To keep her silent, she's taken into custody by the Shinsengumi - 1860s Kyoto's peace-keeping group of samurai. Before to long, she's overcome by a particularly bad case of Stockholm syndrome, and finds herself working together with them to locate her lost dad. Surrounded by buff samurai, it's only really a matter of time before she starts to develop feelings for some of them, and, through your dialogue choices, you'll get wrapped up in a historical tale of demons, deception and political turmoil as you uncover the secrets of the Shinsengumi, the mysteries from Chizuru's past, and eventually end up romantically involved with one of the crew...

Note that we're only really covering the Hakuoki games available in English here - if you can read Japanese, and feel like importing, there's a whole host of Hakuoki spin-offs, sequels and prequels you could sink your teeth into. But for us mere mortals, English localisations are the only way to go.

Hakuoki: Shinsengumi Kitan (PS2, Japan Only)

Only really included for completeness, this is where it all began - the core story of the men of the Shinsengumi, with the six original romance options. Only available in Japan, the original PS2 game spawned a myriad of Japan-only ports onto different consoles (DS, PSP, 3DS, PS3), but at this point visual novels, particularly otome games, were pretty much unheard of in the West.

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama
Notable Extra Features: None

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP)

The same story as the Japanese PS2 game (technically a PSP port of the PS2 game), Demon of the Fleeting Blossom marks the first time the Hakuoki tale was localised into English. It has the same six romance options and story, and comes with nothing in the way of extras - just your basic Hakuoki experience.

When he's not threatening to kill you at every turn, Okita can be a bit of a tease.

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama
Notable Extra Features: None

Hakuoki: Warriors of the Shinsengumi (PSP)

A bit of a different one this. Warriors of the Shinsengumi is a totally separate spin-off game based on the story found in the visual novels. A light Dynasty Warriors-style hack and slash action game, you'll step into the shoes of your chosen captain, and take the fight to the Imperial Army, Satsuma and Choshu personally. Telling the story of the Shinsengumi's downfall through the eyes of the men themselves, rather than the usual protagonist Chizuru, it's still relatively story-driven, but nowhere near as much as the pure visual novels - and it lacks the romance options of the otome too. However, it does have two different stories to play through, one following the Demon of the Fleeting Blossom story and another that acts as an alternate take, where the story of the Shinsengumi plays out totally differently.

Warriors of the Shinsengumi is a bit of a different Hakuoki game.

Romance Options: None
Notable Extra Features: Shinsengumi Chronicle is a brand new, alternate story of the Shinsengumi.

Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi (3DS)

Covering the same story, with the same six bachelors, this time on the 3DS, Memories of the Shinsengumi throws in a few little extras for good measure, including the 'Hakuoki' Memories, a series of short stories for each of the bachelors, told from their point of view. There's also a photo booth feature that lets you snap pictures and apply various Hakuoki-themed borders, stickers and decorations to your photos. As the game's on the 3DS, it also "benefits" (depending on your view) from the console's 3D powers, with some of the graphics being in 3D, most notably the background scenery, while the character portraits remain flat in the foreground.

Hakuoki Memories of the Shinsengumi Screenshot

What else can you do when a demon decides he wants you for his wife?

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama
Notable Extra Features: 'Hakuoki Memories', short stories from the point of view of each of the bachelors

Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi (PS3)

Once more, Stories of the Shinsengumi covers the same basic Hakuoki story, with the same six potential bachelors, only this time with added trophy support for the Playstation 3. However, this is does come with a number of extras to the main story, adding a selection of scenes, events and extra stories from the previously Japan only 'Fandisk' release. Despite technically taking place during the course main story, these new events albeit kept to their own area on the main menu rather than slotted into the story as and when they happen. There's also extra segments for each of the bachelors, as well as a number of bonus scenes with previously un-romanceable Shinsengumi members, such as Nagakura, Kondo, Sanan and Yamazaki. For those who don't have access to the 3DS version above, the bonus 'Hakuoki Memories' stories from the 3DS game can also be downloaded as extras from the Playstation Store (paid for DLC), alongside a few other extra stories and scenes.

Stories of the Shinsengumi contains a whole load of extra scenes, taken from the Japan-only fandisk.

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama
Notable Extra Features: 'Fandisk' content gives you loads of extra scenes and events, including a few bits with non-bachelors The Fandisk content is exclusive to the PS3 version of the game.

Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (PS Vita)

Arguably the biggest update the Hakuoki series has had in years, Kyoto Winds, together with Edo Blossoms below, together add six new bachelors alongside the original half a dozen, effectively doubling the content on offer. However, in doing so, they've ended up chopping the story in half to fit it on a 4 GB Vita cartridge, with Kyoto Winds covering just the first five chapters or so of the Shinsengumi story, and Edo Blossoms covering the rest. The story is still fundamentally the same as all the other Hakuoki games, but with many more scenes, events and sub-stories crammed in along the way - the only downside is that to see it all, you'll need to buy both Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms to get the full tale. For an additional £3.29, you can also purchase the 'Wind Treasure Box' from the Playstation Store, which gives you six previously unreleased short stories that expand on the Hakuoki lore, and give you extra insight into the lives of the men.

Hakuoki Kyoto Winds Screenshot

Finally, the Nagakura route we've been waiting for!

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama, Yamazaki, Nagakura, Sanan, Iba, Sakamoto, Souma
Notable Extra Features: Six new bachelor routes to play through, plus extra scenes for older guys

Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (PS Vita)

Part two of the PS Vita Hakuoki saga, Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms picks up where Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds left off, at around chapter six, following the Shinsengumi's trip across to Edo - which means you really need to play both games if you want to make sense of the overall story. Continuing the tales of the same twelve bachelors from the previous game, Edo Blossoms brings with it a whole lot of new content - whereas the routes in Kyoto Winds had minimal branches, Edo Blossoms is set after the point each bachelor's story branches, so you've effectively got twelve separate stories to play through, six of which are brand new. As with Kyoto Winds, an additional £3.29 can buy you the 'Edo Treasure Box' download from the Playstation Store, which nets you six more previously unreleased short stories to play through too.

Hakuoki Edo Blossoms Screenshot

All the Sanan fangirls will be more than happy the forgotten colonel finally gets his own ending.

Romance Options: Hijikata, Okita, Toudou, Saito, Harada, Kazama, Yamazaki, Nagakura, Sanan, Iba, Sakamoto, Souma
Notable Extra Features: Six new bachelors to romance, and extra segments for the original fellas

So which games would we recommend? Obviously it depends on what platforms you have access to, but we'd say that the combination of Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms is probably the definitive Hakuoki experience at the moment, giving you the original tale of the Shinsengumi, embelished with extra scenes, and with a whopping six new bachelor routes to play through too. However, Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi on the Playstation 3 is a great alternative if you don't own a PS Vita, and its additional fandisk content isn't to be sniffed at either, which sadly isn't available in any of the other versions. We also wouldn't be surprised to see a two in one collection of Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms coming to the Playstation 4 later down the line (seeing as it already exists in Japan), but that's merely conjecture at the moment.

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