Review: Time Princess - Dancing On Ice

Dancing On Ice is the latest visual novel in my favorite smartphone app, Time Princess. Unlike most of the other visual novels in this game, it has no fantasy elements or historical setting, which made it a hard sell for me. Still, I can understand why the developers chose to incorporate figure skating into a dress-up game. When I was younger, it was the only Olympic event that I cared to watch, and it was more because of the sparkly costumes than the athletic techniques. Figure skating incorporates some of the most beautiful and unique fashions that you will never see anywhere else with short flowing skirts, sparkly leotards, and rhinestones galore. Unfortunately, this story only included one outfit that reminded me of the ones that I enjoyed watching as a child. The rest are pretty modern and boring. I also thought it was the most depressing story in Time Princess so far.

Dancing on Ice visual novel cover

Dancing On Ice is about a fictitious Russian figure skater named Alina, who probably drew inspiration from many similar real-life skaters. Though the first chapter begins with a flashback or premonition about the thrill and glory of winning a gold medal, it immediately spirals into the troubling reality of Alina's life and gets sad very quickly. Right after the fantasy sequence, we learn that Alina is struggling with a two-year suspension from competitive figure skating due to a false positive on a drug test that she was unable to contest. To make matters worse, her own mother refuses to coach her or even let her practice in her usual arena because she is a horrible parent. There are some story paths that try to redeem her at the end, but nothing could possibly make me forgive Alina's mother for her disgusting treatment of her daughter. Alina packs her things and moves to a small town to continue pursuing her passion for skating. There, she meets the story's two main love interests--Nastia, an athlete for traditional ice skating competitions, and Honda, the down-on-his-luck owner of a small ice rink.

Alina proposes a partnership to HondaNastia asks Alina to watch her competeAlina is impressed with Nastia's determination

Alina's problems don't end there. Outside forces seem to be conspiring against her. Despite being a fairly renowned skater, she has no remaining fans on the internet after the drug incident. It's too cruel how many awful comments she finds about herself on social media and is enough to make anyone want to give up. In the second chapter, the story splits into two different directions depending on whether the player chooses Honda or Nastia as a love interest. Both paths are fraught with challenges but come to a satisfying conclusion if the player makes the right choices. Between the two, I thought that Nastia was a better love interest because she is genuine and supports Alina every step of the way, while Honda is introduced as a con man who tries to get as much money as he can from Alina to let her use his skating rink. His actions are theoretically justified when his tragic backstory is revealed, but he still doesn't seem like a very nice person overall.

Alina falls into Honda's armsAlina rehearses with NastiaAlina must make a difficult decision

For the most part, I was disappointed with the outfits in this story. There was only one option that reminded me of the sparkly leotards that I enjoyed watching in figure skating competitions as a child. The version that this story includes is pretty clever because it incorporates both the black and white swan characters from "Swan Lake," a not-so-subtle reference to another visual novel in Time Princess. Another outfit I liked was the traditional Russian dress, which added a unique cultural fashion to the game's massive wardrobe. The large matching crown reminded me of Anastasia. There was one other skating outfit inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," but it looked too masculine and not sparkly enough for me to enjoy as much as the "Swan Lake" one. The rest were boring modern-day outfits. At least one of them had blue hair, which was pretty cool.

Alina in a traditional red Russian dress with a matching red crownAlina in a black and white "Swan Lake" inspired figure skating costumeAlina dressed for winter in a pink overcoat and blue hair

Overall, this was my least favorite story in this game so far, even though I don't hate it. The modern setting and lack of supernatural elements make it feel like less of an escape than the other visual novels I've reviewed. I like the idea of more content and diversity, especially since there are no other Russian visual novels in Time Princess right now, but something about this one missed the mark. The story could have easily been more enjoyable if it wasn't so depressing. Alina's only family is so cruel to her, and everyone seems to be against her chasing after her dreams. There are no real victories throughout the story unless you get a few very specific endings. The visual novel's story chart was also a little harder to navigate than some of the others. There is one ending that you could only get by changing your decision on a completely different path. Overall, I would only recommend this to people who love figure skating so much that they'll enjoy any story about it or people who have already finished the other stories in the game and need a new one to play.

Dancing on Ice story map

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