Koiiro Sora Moyou Review
So here we have it, a review it seems a fair number of people were waiting for, which comes as no surprise given how high expectations appeared to be for this game in general. Sadly though not everything lives up to what we may come to expect and KoiSora as I shall henceforth refer to this game is no exception here. While it may be as much my own fault given what high expectations I had of the game to start with, KoiSora is by no means a bad game. In Fact truth be told the game was an enjoyable experience when all is said and done.
Our story starts out with Mr. heroic protagonist Seigo being pursued by the evil forces of the disciplinary committee. Chased out of the schoolhouse and retreating to the forested hills nearby he falls down a slope and comes face to face with a pair of white panties. Inside the panties is Kayoko whom after letting him enjoy the view helps him escape from the disciplinary committee. When Kayoko is finished with him Seigo continues making his way off the school grounds, after which he ends up running into a pair of pink panties.. erm Sera. Enjoying the fortunate scene he winds up being chased by Sera who just happens to be one of the captains of the disciplinary committee. While being chased he has the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of the soft chest of a girl on his back when Aya (Henceforth referred to as Wanko) grabs him from behind. After her introduction Wanko also decides to help him and he thus manages to escape the blonde twintailed demon Sera. Still a wanted man, he enters the school building via the student council room whereby he has an enjoyable run in with Shizuna and her ample breasts. Yet again one of the heroines helps him by redirecting the disciplinary committee and he is off searching for an escape route. After a few hijinks he finds himself out of options and runs into the infirmary where his little sister Mikoto is waiting. This time there is nothing to enjoy and she verbally berates him until he ends up successfully escaping at last. Quite a lengthy introduction, even despite my leaving out a few key details. The whole thing was blatantly staged for rapid character introductions and to be honest I felt it was a bit too much, while it did introduce everyone the forcible and sequential nature by which it all happened gave the impression it was anything but coincidental. Still giving credit where credit is due it was a more interesting, fun, and creative introduction than is typical.
Before I delve into the details of KoiSora’s story, I would like to take the chance to note how this game was organized. In essence there are three acts dividing the story into an introduction, saving the school, and finally the relationships or heroine routes. While the initial play through will be rather lengthy affair subsequent gameplay will feel extremely brief by comparison. Afterall the introduction and saving the school both compose the common route and compromise eighty to ninety percent of the story, while the third act composed of relationship matters feels basically just there for the H scenes.
Comedy is what KoiSora does best, and in that regard there are few games which I have played capable of claiming to match it. In fact were it to more faithfully follow a love comedy storyline KoiSora may very well have been one of the best games this year. Most of the comedic moments originate from the first and third acts of the game, whereas in between while there are funny moments they are far and few between by comparison, spaced out between long stretches of serious(ly boring) dialogue. What makes the comedy so noteworthy is how the writers remain true to the clichés of Japanese humor we know and love, and yet manage to throw us curveballs that bend our expectations just enough to feel fresh and new.
I really want to point out other good things besides the comedy but frankly the instant the game moves away from love comedy mode, and it will, for very long stretches which feel like eternity, the writing becomes tacky and infantile, the characters lose a lot of their appeal, and the story itself falls to pieces. Dramatic moments feel forced down our throats as the writers are incapable of using subtlety and instead take a patchwork of clichés and slap them together with scotch tape and staples. explanations are exaggerated and often just feel plain stupid. The writers did next to no research about anything regarding their subject matter, their references to science and scientists are dead wrong. Writers should either stick to what they know best, do us a favor and actually read other successful games of the type they are trying to mimic first, Or at the very least do some research before spewing garbage in an attempt to make a semi fantastical story grounded in a reality so false a ten-year old would have trouble suspending belief. What we have with KoiSora story is your standard save the “X”, in this case it happens to be a school, storyline with a bit of “Damn those adults and their dirty ways” thrown in for good measure. Kind of ironic when the people reading the game are supposed to be adults or at the very least on the very cusp of becoming adults. Either way the story is pathetically written, the characters various ideas, capabilities, methods, reasoning all feel out of place to say it nicely. In addition to the long winded writing and sometimes painfully boring dialogues / monologues the story itself remains about as interesting as measuring continental drift in real time. In fact the single reason I gave the story a barely positive score in the end is due to how enjoyable the slice of life comedy was, if not for that I probably would have given the story a twenty percent or less.
As a bit of a preemptive strike I would like to intercept any complaints about how harshly I am rating the story by pointing out no matter how much I like a game it will not keep me from mentioning whatever flaws it may hide. Frankly whoever thought it was a good idea to write this story should never be allowed to use written language as a form of expression for the remainder of their pitiful lives. The illusion of a decent story comes about only as a result of the enjoyable comedy, slice of life appeal from scenes where they are living their daily lives, and good character designs. If one is to ignore those all that remains is the sort of adventure an elementary student would write up for a language class.
Throughout KoiSora there were of course dramatic moments to be had aplenty, not that it is much of a good thing in the case of KoiSora. Problems begin to appear fairly early on most notably with the athletics festival event. Whenever there is a dramatic or action scene in play the writing takes a nosedive, which is a considerably bad thing to have happen when there is a lot of excessively unnecessary commentary to begin with. To elaborate a bit lets begin with the action scenes as they are easier to write about without spoilers. When writing an action sequence the most important consideration to bear in mind is how to manage the pace of your writing in order to match the events at hand. This is to say your words must correspond to the flow of events or else the reader will remain with the feeling of a spectator versus being drawn into the world of your creation. To produce such an involving scene you explain the situation first in detail according to the reader’s perspective then follow through with shorter explanations of the ensuing sequence in order to appeal to the fast-paced nature of the event. KoiSora on the other hand over explains and under develops the action scenes, leaving the reader feeling only how unnecessary the entire sequence of events they had just read really was. Essentially the point I am trying to make with all of this is that all of those action based scenes serve no purpose to further the story at all during any point of the game. Were the writers to completely remove all of these and change the characters and their pasts accordingly the amount of rewriting necessary to fill in the gaps left in dialogue and comprehension could be finished within a day. Not a single part of the story would change in the slightest bit after removing such scenes. If these scenes have no effect on the story we can safely assume they are superficial and exist only as an attempt to create a gimmicky appeal by using a Sekirei type scenario to broaden the potential fanbase. I suppose after all that it comes as no surprise when the elements of the story involved in the action scenes are poorly written and only succeed at detracting from the rest of the story.
Further compounding the problems with the writing in KoiSora the emotional moments often lack a significant impact due to clumsily awkward dialogue. Moments where you can feel the characters as real entities expressing their innermost thoughts are far and few between, if ever. The sterile and robotic approach the writers take to intimate dialogue is nothing short of a travesty in a game of this genre. It may be fine to mimic scenes found in just about every story if they are done well with proper consideration towards your characters and their individual personalities. However many of the scenes in which characters express themselves in KoiSora I am left with the feeling the writers were simply taking standard lines from other games and stories instead of making their own to suit their creation.
KoiSora ultimately suffers from a bit of identity disorder, often confusing itself by thinking it would be better to be a dramatic action story instead of a love comedy. Quite frankly this would have been fine had the writers been capable of pulling off such a story but no, no they couldn’t. Basically we would have to remove the entirety of the second act which is where most of the so called “Story” lies and replace it with more detailed heroine routes to achieve a real and proper game while playing to the strengths of the writers. I suppose this is what it all comes down to, the writers of KoiSora were completely outside of their element during much of the game, and as a reader you can really feel the difference.
For the most part the individual heroine routes are jammed into the final and shortest section of the game. While the choices exist mostly in the middle during the save the school campaign thus leading to a few scenes where you as the protagonist choose who to interact with and establish a lead in for finally starting a relationship; Nothing more than a few kisses which past the scene they occur in have absolutely no impact on the story whatsoever occur prior to the third act. In said third act we have two notable events, the true start of the relationship as well as a major hurdle which is necessary for the couple to overcome. Aside from the poor setup for their relationships considering there is so little interaction difference when on a heroine’s route compared to when on another route the “Trials” they must overcome together are poorly conceived at best. They felt so cliché and predictable they essentially served no purpose, to the extent which scenes meant to be the most emotional and touching, felt instead trite and boring. Truly there are few things more annoying when playing eroge than feeling bored when characters you like are going through traumatic events. When a choice is made to neglect writing individual routes in favor of focus on a common route and thus jam all the heroine’s individual stories into what ends up as little more than an afterthought meant to showcase H scenes you end up with KoiSora.
Assuming the point at which words cease being displayed upon the screen can be called the “Ending”, the so called endings for KoiSora were how shall I put it.. useless. In fact KoiSora has the worst endings of any single eroge I have ever played during the entirety of my existence here upon this earth. Endings consist of a scene change, a new CG, and a paragraphs worth of text essentially restating obvious facts you already knew before unceremoniously ending the game. There is little to no foreshadowing, with what little there is feeling hopelessly inadequate and unsatisfying. Oh how I would have loved to see an introduction to his parents along with a more concrete foundation for imagining their future, instead of “Here, have a CG, look they are together now THE END”.
KoiSora presents a generally typical cast and so sadly will not be winning any awards for creativity in this department, not to say the characters are badly done, just nothing new to see here. Moving right along I would like to point out that while certainly not an example of unique design KoiSora character designs do manage to still stand out a bit as exceptionally well crafted variations of the status quo. In fact story itself notwithstanding the character development itself is quite noticable as a somewhat subtle change over time. Perhaps it is a little more sudden than I would have liked at the end, as it sticks to a few scenes set in stone then a final change after the finale of the second act. Still, the change in characters relationships and personalities as they open up is at the very least more sedate than the typical sudden flick of a switch resulting in a one hundred eighty degree personality change.
For the sake of clarity given statements I make in other sections I would like to specify that while settings, past and their stories are a part of the characters I separate this from the scales upon I gauge the value of a character or characters. The reason for this is simple as those aspects are affected by the story and have no bearing upon who the character is as a “Person” in the present. I take the time to note this specifically in the case of KoiSora due to the relationship between the story and character designs which would otherwise incur contradictions in my writing. This is due to the weakness of the character’s supporting elements in the story as well as other issues such as voice acting.
Seigo is our protagonist, acting as our eyes, ears, and voice (Even though he has none!) while playing KoiSora. A typically nice guy and self proclaimed housework otaku Seigo lives in his parents house with his younger sister Mikoto whom he was recently reunited with upon moving to Kaminajima island from Tokyo. Since he takes care of all the household chores he is very much the “Mother” of the household and would even appear to enjoy caring for his little sister (And mother when she is there) despite her constant ambivalent scorn. Upon his return to Kaminajima island Seigo was reunited with his childhood friend Wanko and has since made close friends with Hisashi and Haruki, as a result it has become something of a daily ritual for them to all meet up together along with Mikoto and her friend Ai in order to walk to school together. Spending his life normally and lazily while teasing those around him and peeking at a pair of panties now and then is enough for him. Supposedly he is good at mental exercise and putting things together despite his sometimes infuriating inability to comprehend what is going on around himself. As such he is roped into becoming the leader of his group of friends, creating something of a “Sekirei Light” situation.
Kayoko is the first heroine we run into during the story as well as something of a “True end” heroine as her story has a bit more of an influence on the game than the other heroines. She lives by herself in the more rural area of the island in the dilapidated house and attached kendo dojo her dead parents left her. At the start Kayoko spurns contact with everyone, limiting what few comments she makes to short words and rude responses. As she is completely and utterly alone in the world she has a hard time dealing with maintenance of her house and her other daily necessities since her parents did not leave her much money. Though she hides a painful(ly stupid) past Kayoko eventually warms up to those around her, blossoming into a sweet and shy lonely girl who is extremely insecure with herself. Wanting and even needing to rely heavily on those around her Kayoko nonetheless always does her best on her own even taking it upon herself to become Seigo’s guardian. Having trained in swordsmanship since she was a young child Kayoko is by far the strongest of the girls surrounding Seigo.
On a side note Kayoko is by far my favorite character in KoiSora, she is so cute I almost died. HAAAUUUUUU~~~ OMOCHIKAERI~~~!!!!
IT APPEARED! The blonde twintails demon! Sera is the commander of the second division of the disciplinary committee.. even though she only has one subordinate, her best friend Yuuki. As a member of the disciplinary committee Sera and her tonfas are feared by the students of the school as the one person you do not want to have chasing after you. Absolutely hating to lose Sera is a brash and outgoing girl who lives by her own rules and loves to play games or tease people, essentially she will do anything if it will be entertaining. In fact she is often accused of becoming a member of the disciplinary committee just so she could rampage at will without penalty. Nonetheless Sera is a loyal friend who always manages to come through in a pinch. Being supportive and open hearted despite her teasing Sera plays an important role in helping the others interact with each other. Sera is one of those characters who are really just impossible to hate, as no matter what else she may be, she remains an honest girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, forcing everyone else to be as honest with themselves and those around them.
ばかわんこ. For anyone who has played Flyable Heart, Wanko whom some people nicknamed “Aya” will be intimately familiar as she is something of a Yui clone. Extremely stupid, cheerful, and hungrier than a herd of hippos Wanko is Seigo’s estranged childhood friend. Easily tamed with good food Wanko’s mood can change like a light switch, while one stray comment may cause hilarious misunderstandings followed by a mood crash, a bit of food solves the problem just as quickly. A bit clingy Wanko does still manage to be supportive of Seigo’s decisions, faithfully following whatever he decrees. Unfortunately all the good intentions in the world do not help when you are a headstrong idiot and at times it can be a little difficult to rein in Wanko’s enthusiasm. Finally I must note how they really overdid the whole “Wanko” bit with Aya, much of the time she really feels more like a pet dog than another person, hence my persistence in referring to her as “Wanko”.
On a side note this Wanko is not fully potty trained.
Shizuna is your stereotypical soft spoken ojousama, kind to everyone and immensely interested in anything outside of her limited experience. Admired by everyone both due to being from an influential family as well as her gentle atmosphere Shizuna nevertheless has few friends, mostly relying on her childhood friend and servant, Kiyomi. While aware of her social standing Shizuna would rather be treated as a normal person and indeed often tries her hardest to aid her friends to the best of her limited ability. Thanks to her sheltered upbringing however Shizuna is very naive towards the ways of the outside world and is thus somewhat vulnerable to suggestion, often picking up strange phrases and terms. Unfortunately for Kiyomi, Shizuna can not only be stubborn once she sets her sights on something but downright mischievous in an innocent childlike way. Nevertheless despite her seemingly open and frank personality Shizuna rarely speaks her mind about the things which truly concern her, preferring instead to bottle them up inside and deal with everything herself rather than burdening her friends. While several facets of her personality especially while she is in her home are something of a facade created by her strict upbringing, she still deeply cares for those around her even to the point of placing herself in unfavorable situations to protect the people important to her.
Mikoto rounds off the typical band of heroines as the resident tsuntsuntsuntsuntsuntsuntsuntsuntsundere. When not entertaining herself by verbally emasculating her elder brother Seigo, Mikoto can typically be found in the nurse’s office as she is a member of the health committee. Having a weak body Mikoto is forced to rely heavily on her doting elder brother for much of her daily necessities, much to her chagrin. Not that she appreciates it much, instead preferring to rain insults upon him instead of thanks. Every so often a tiny bit of dere briefly sparks to life before being smothered by yet more tsun. Typically the only dere she shows comes in the form of a light blush, yet somehow she does seem to care for her brother far more than she would like to admit as is expected of a younger sister in eroge. Mikoto is truly a character for the Masochist in people.
Other Important Characters:
Supporting characters are a difficult lot to deal with really, they have to be important enough to affect the story and validate their claim to existence, and yet cannot be too interesting or else they may eclipse the protagonist or heroines. While there is a fairly substantial list of sub characters throughout KoiSora anything I could say about many of them would be too much of a spoiler for those who may have yet to or just begun the game. As such I shall simply list those closest to the main characters since while playing you shall be seeing quite a lot of most of them.
Make way for the perverted friend who exists solely to make the protagonist look more attractive. Hisashi is predictably not only perverted but a complete otaku to boot, thus completing the circle and assuring everyone he is incapable of becoming a threat to the protagonist and his dream harem. On the plus side Hisashi and his masochist antics are rather entertaining at times, producing the odd smile here and there. While on the other hand Hisashi is a terrible friend, as he is highly emotional and does infinitely more harm than good to have around.
When a perverted friend just is not enough to round off the cast why not add in a brawn over brains character for some extra male bonding. Regardless of his lacking mental capacities, Haruki is a good friend who will always do everything he is able to in order to help those he cares about. Despite his generally fearless attitude Haruki is deathly afraid of Kayoko, mimicking the relationship between Sera and Wanko. In fact Haruki is something of a male counterpart to Wanko, with the deciding factor of him not being so wilful making all the difference in Haruki being a much better friend to Seigo.
Ai is Mikoto’s best friend and the secretary of the student council, as she walks to school with Mikoto she is also good friends with Seigo and his group. Everyone seems to treat her as a little sister, complimenting her shy, soft spoken, and gentle demeanor, turning Ai into something of a smaller Shizuna. A cute little girl who seems to greatly admire Seigo, looking up to him as a brother type figure at least I for one think her prominence in the story should have earned Ai a route of her own.
Kiyomi is Shizuna’s childhood friend and confidant as well as her servant thanks to the relationship of their families. A very strict person Kiyomi has her hands full looking after Shizuna while fufilling her role of vice president of the student council in addition to her family related tasks at home. Despite her official role she loves Shizuna deeply and is constantly watching out to protect Shizuna as best she can. Kiyomi wants nothing more than to serve by the side of Shizuna wishing for her best friends happiness. As such she rarely allows Shizuna independent action instead opting to stay joined at the hip to better watch over the whimsical Shizuna.
As Sera’s best friend Yuuki is also the only member of Sera’s division of the disciplinary committee. Yuuki looks up to Sera as an ideal for herself and is willing to, albeit a bit begrudgingly, follow Sera anywhere. Despite her Admiration for Sera Yuuki still lives by her own beliefs of what is right and wrong as such she is a perfect level headed counterpart for Sera given she has significantly more common sense. With a somewhat normal and bland feel to her personality Yuuki is strangely enough one of the best designed characters, as she perfectly fills her role of supporting the main cast without creating appeal for herself.
Pretty much never home Seigo’s parents leave him in charge of the household and Mikoto. Both are researchers at the lab established on the island, where his step father is researching the excavation of marine resources and is something of a local hero as he was responsible for building the bridge that connects to the mainland. However as they are both busy with their research it has taken a toll on their family life.
While I may personally have a few misgivings about the style in use for the artwork (Looks a bit loli), KoiSora nevertheless delivers acceptable quality artwork. In fact other than the style and how a few features are strangely accented there is precious little to complain about as far as the quality of the basic lineart.
Sprite artwork was consistently above par, with the creators of KoiSora often choosing to move the sprites about the screen in order to present a more dynamic feel to the game as a whole. Throughout the game you will be treated to plenty of zooming in and out with both sprites and CGs and as it is not done excessively and instead used to highlight the specific focus of you, the main character it adds much to the comedy and feeling of interaction. In addition sprites are rarely completely static very often changing their expressions, distance, or even moving all about the screen. While there are obviously significant limitations to using sprites with only facial expression changes, this does yield some awkward semi animated scenes though the overall effect remains positive if occasionally a bit tacky.
As the SD artwork was such a major part of the story and complimented the comedy elements exceptionally well I believe it warrants its own section here. Throughout the duration of the KoiSora story SD CGs will be the primary visual break from the sprites, which in the case of KoiSora is hardly a bad thing. Usually SD images are used for either comedy or to highlight something cute and in this arena KoiSora SD does a great job on delivering both. There are plenty of SDs where the combination of cute with the absurd fight with each other in your head as to whether you would rather laugh or cuddle. Not that any of this is a negative, I felt the SD images really helped the atmosphere of the story along, much more than normal in eroge. It is easy to tell they went above and beyond in making the SD CGs an enjoyable part of the story, afterall they even animated several of them.
So all is well then it would seem? Unfortunately though I wish it was, this is not the case and KoiSora has two major drawbacks to the artwork, while neither may be a deal breaker both do bear mention. First off there is the lack of CG, and second there is the way the few images in use fail to properly convey the emotion they are meant to impart upon the viewer.
To start with, I am sure everyone who plays this game will quickly note the lack of CG period. Anyone who has looked at a CG set for an eroge will be able to attest that typically the majority of CG focus on the H scenes and even then the majority are simply changes in expression or color over the same basic lineart. Of course adding a new layer to an existing CG is something we all accept as necessary and is not the issue I find fault with here, instead there really are only six or so CGs per character (Other than Kayoko, who has eight) that are not HCGs. There are many scenes which bear appropriate significance to warrant a CG of their own and yet are neglected, towards the end of the game I was left feeling a bit disillusioned by how ineffective the use of CG was. When considering the length of the game it almost feels as though they put so much work into the sprites and SD CGs to avoid using real CG as much as possible. In all honesty by itself the lack of CG is not a huge issue at all, it simply becomes more pronounced when the few CG the game has lack any real impact. Were the problems limited to only lack of CG, with a few CGs being used to great effect I would have little to complain about.
All of this leads into the second major problem with KoiSora CGs, they feel soulless. Yes I know this tends to be a highly subjective matter however considering the impact or lack thereof I feel it bears mention. Not to contradict what I said before, the artwork remains technically near flawless, however no matter how well crafted lineart is from a technical standpoint if there is no emotion being carried the significance of the CG loses all meaning. A part of this ties into a seemingly rather minor issue with the backgrounds being extremely simple and… well… dull. One could argue that the vague and simplistic feeling of the backgrounds helps to distinguish the characters by creating an even greater focus on them. Yet when backgrounds feel too bright and vibrant or too gritty and dull they detract from the overall scene through their contrast with the character on display.
Now we run into the next major cause for concern, lighting in general, though especially when it comes to the characters. Shading often feels completely neglected, light sources are simple and backgrounds are vibrant to the extent you can feel the artist’s desire to avoid work as much as possible. In fact if you take a good look at many of the backgrounds for the CGs it becomes easy to notice how the camera angle and focus is chosen to eliminate as much background as possible in many CGs. As far as the characters themselves are concerned the lighting in use on them compared to the backgrounds feels mismatched much of the time, almost as though they were both drawn separately, and possibly according to different interpretations of the scene. The lighting in use on the characters will normally feel brighter than the background and the shading will give off an aura of complete neglect of background light sources. Shading is so bad at times in KoiSora that if you bother to look you will notice shadows falling all over the place in random directions without a care for a coherent light source. Even worse, this is only the case for indoor backgrounds, outdoor backgrounds for the most part completely ignore shading and light sources altogether. Avoiding having to use shadows as much as possible was probably a good idea considering how bad the artist is at placing them, but in the end it just makes the CG artwork come across as immature and unprofessional.
If you for some reason happen to trust my opinions on faith or already agree with what I have said then this entire next section is not for you and you may safely skip over to Interface as it is fairly lengthy. I chose to use the above image to detail many of the problems with the artwork on KoiSora and out came the below paragraphs. By no means is this any sort of required reading for basic review purposes so unless you are raging at your keyboard shouting obscenities about how I have no clue what I’m talking about there is no need to read so much pointless text. You have been warned….
Once again I found circling the problems and leaving notes on the image itself intrusive so I will explain in words, sorry folks. To begin with take a glance at the bottom left shadows for the table and the right angle intersection between the table and the step which extends behind the girls across the image. First the tables shadow would indicate a light source above and to the left of the image which in this case given the angles and location we can assume is the light from the sun. As this is takes place in the morning the angles are completely off as is the color of the lighting, the angle indicates the light source would be much higher in the sky, most likely ten to eleven o’clock AM. Further compounding the issue is that the step under the shadow of the desk does not yield a slightly smaller shadow as would be expected. Instead it is apparent they simply made a dark transparent rectangle of opacity around 15% give or take 5% and placed it a layer above, insta two dimensional lazy shade. In addition, the step shadow running perpendicular to aforementioned desk and its shadow has no viable light source to create it. In fact in order to create the shadow running under the step one would require a light source emanating from just under the blackboard along its entire length. Even worse the desk on the bottom right details two light sources, the top of which we can safely assume as being a ceiling light in the classroom. Assuming even just this one light exists it should be eliminating, or at least weakening both shadows to the point of being barely visible.
Using the same desk on the lower right to establish the other, bottom light source we have two options, either the sun shining through the window or another artificial light on the ceiling. Rather than detail the two options I will get to the point, this light source even if we disregard the other light should be having a visible impact on the shadows of the girls. Speaking of which their shadows are pointing in a completely random direction, look at Miki’s shadow as it is easier to see where it is pointing. For a shadow such as hers to be created with this length we can infer due to its density and width there would need a soft light shining from off the top of the screen near the intersection of the wall and ceiling behind her. We could of course suppose it is the light source being reflected along the top of the bottom right desk thus perhaps solving the issue right? Nope, look to the left of Miki’s right knee and you will see a lighter area in a vaguely triangular shape extending across the top of the raised area mostly perpendicular to the step itself. Judging by the placement, this lighter area roughly matches the same placement as the point on the desk itself, and the point of all this is that to create a lighting effect of that type the light source cannot be behind Miki. Instead to create those highlighted areas the light must be emitted by something roughly above and a bit in front of her. Of course It would be silly for an independent light source to exist along the intersection of wall and ceiling anyway.
Along the left hand side of the image if you look at the blackboard you will notice a radial gradient centered near the bottom of the blackboard. This would seem to indicate the light source from outside is fairly low, much more correct than the shadows would indicate, only this gradient is far too bright and the wrong color to display that time of day properly. This brings up another key problem, the color of the lighting in general is entirely artificial. Unless there are glowing walls and no windows the sun would have to be a light source, separate from those artificial lights in the room itself. Yet aside a few poorly placed shadows there is nothing that really indicates this. We all know the sun does not emit pure white light and is affected by all sorts of environmental conditions. In this case given the time of day there should be a very slight yellowish tinge to the light. The light actually used however feels far too clean and sterile, having little to no effect on the image to indicate the sun as a light source.
Originally I was going to cover around six more points of specific interest in this image however once again I feel I have rambled on far too much already. So I shall finish off with a quick mention of a few things without detailed explanations. First just look at the characters carefully, there are so many shading errors just thinking about writing them all gives me a headache, hell just look at Sera’s feet if you cannot find any others, floor lighting for the win. By the way I also include the clothing and accessories as part of the characters as there are mistakes with those as well. I would also like to mention that while it may seem I am simply nitpicking I would be willing to bet even the most casual observer would notice something just feels off with the CG. Even if it is just a feeling that the CG has little to no impact, the little details which contradict what our eyes view as normal or real are off putting to say the least. After all when you are a professional simple mistakes in abundance should not be made, period. I am not saying people should be perfect, afterall there are a lot of much less noticable errors I ignored completely. I am willing to overlook many mistakes, but when they are all over in just about every CG, and the artist tries to change the scene to avoid having to bother with details there is something wrong. Even more so when the problems really dull the impact of the precious few scenes in which CGs are employed.
Writing about the music and voice acting is generally one of the more boring tasks when writing a review, given there is usually very little to say other than “The usual music” and “The usual voice acting”. Therefore needless to say I am a bit happy when I can write something else instead. In the case of KoiSora there is something of a reverse of my normal positives and negatives, which surprised me quite a bit while playing the game. Instead of the normal voice acting KoiSora felt a bit lacking, while the background music score is far less boring than usual.
Well lets start with the good things, background music for example. While many of the tracks fall under the category of same old eroge tracks, the few tracks that stand apart give a fresh and new feeling which compliments the scenes well. Further assisting the musical score is the rate at which tracks change, swapping the music with the constant mood swings of characters adds both a deeper meaning to emotions on display as well as preserves the fresh feeling of the music. Without stagnant tracks to put the reader to sleep, enjoying a somewhat lengthy game is made that much more enjoyable, especially when trying to avoid distractions. Kudos to the entire music team for being able to keep me from turning off the BGM in favor of my own music halfway through the game.
Then we have the voice acting, what a grim tale this shall be. Sadly one of the biggest problems I had with KoiSora was the voice acting, and most specifically Kayoko’s voice actor. While much of the voice acting felt a tiny bit off, Kayoko was by far the worst and as such I will be using her as the definitive example for the purposes of this review. Let us backtrack a bit first to address how the voice acting failed to compliment the story before getting to more specifics. At first everything seems great, voices match, lines are delivered with the right amount of impact, then when the reader is exposed to more emotions in dramatic scenes the voices begin to feel a little flat. Part of this problem lies in the extremely bad writing, however the voice acting and writing compliment each other, as such one can compliment the shortcomings of the other thus making flaws less apparent all around. In the case of KoiSora there is little of this harmony to be found outside of standard conversations and comedic routines. All of this results in the way a voice fails to suit the written emotions the actor’s lines are meant to display. Listening carefully to Kayoko’s voice actor almost all lines are delivered in a monotone with only a change in pacing, inflection, or the force with which lines are delivered. Result of all this being dramatic scenes where the character feels as though she couldn’t care less about what was going on. Sadly I rather liked the voice itself, I found her voice to be both attractive and fitting for the character.
Of course it is not just Kayoko, there are moments with most of the characters leading me to suspect it may not be the actors themselves per se, but rather the writing and directing. The other characters however do not have quite as large a contrast between the emotions written and actual performance. Or at least the other characters are not as noticable most of the time. They do however have very similar faults with the method lines are delivered.
KoiSora has no major surprises when it comes to basic gameplay interface, the layout is simple, minimalistic, is not pink, and works beautifully. With a well designed interface that breaks free of the normal box at the bottom I found myself better able to enjoy the view which considering the activity of the sprites was a wonderful thing indeed. I also love when a game color codes the text, this is such a great feature when you leave and come back to the game since it lets you pick up what was going on that much easier. There is also the matter of marking off previously visited options which was a nice touch I always like to see when playing through a game. This feature is a small but thoughtful detail that makes it a bit harder to click the wrong option on instinct, something I have a tendency to do when I see character names. In fact there is so little to complain about interface wise I have to resort to mentioning how the textboxes can at times clutter the screen in a somewhat obnoxious manner with their awkward placement. All things considered however there is one question I have, did anyone else notice the color of the text boxes seems to match that of the girls skirts?
There are a total of 72 saves in KoiSora which came up a bit short for me given the length of the game by the end I had used them all up, which is a really rare event. I would have much prefered the usual hundred or so saves to give that extra leeway for breaks or when you just want to save scenes to revisit later. Aside the lack of saves there is nothing wrong here and as you can see all the typical options are included so no there are no major problems considering you can always skip around after playing through the game to revisit scenes.
Once again it seems to be time for KoiSora to make an extremely good impression by not only doing something right but going above and beyond the call of duty to make something completely awesome. But first lets get all the boring stuff out of the way by addressing the standard menus and options.
First up is the CG viewer, cute looking interface but standard options, select marks your choice of heroine, click on the picture you want, images with multiple versions show up as a stack. No problems and no complaints other than the lack of CG in general as you can note from the fact there are only two pages available of which the second is not even full. On the other hand there are six pages of SD images when you click on the teacup, not that I am complaining.
Next we have the standard audio tracks, 55 of them in total, again pretty self explanatory really. The arrow on the right lets you change between the first and second pages and well.. if you don’t know what play, stop, next / previous track buttons are…
And then along comes the scene replays, sorry anyone looking for spoilers here I took the shot before I read Wanko’s route. Again nothing special here, same basic setup as the CG viewer, moving along..
This is where the awesome in the KoiSora extras lies, while it could use a bit of improvement on its own interface the sprite viewer is truly a thing of beauty, doesn’t look it though does it? Well to start with you begin at this blank blue screen with a few buttons, the top left buttons are the six individual scenes which allows you to have six different sprite setups concurrently while switching between them.
So when you click on one of the top left buttons the screen updates with a background and more options, yay! The top left of those nine blue buttons in the middle window opens the background options, in this case the default bridge. Well I am sure you understand the basics of this and what makes it so awesome at this point but I’ll explain a few key points and show you screenshots of the process anyway.
After choosing your background which I left as default here, and click on one of the five buttons with the icon of a person, the background options are replaced with sprite icons for everyone in the game.
Choose your sprite, Kayoko I choose you! Continue selecting new choices in each window to bring up further options until you have a single completed sprite. You may place up to five sprites, one for each button. At this point you can move your sprite on the screen to wherever you want to place it and then click the middle button on the bottom right to save the resulting image as a bitmap.
And there you have it perfection in an image. Of course this is just one variation of perfection, there are potentially limitless combinations for Kayoko’s face outfits and poses so feel free to experiment with perfection.
Joking aside if I recall right there was at least one other game with a similar system, cannot for the life of me recall which it was, however this is not a completely new idea. Whether it is a new idea or not does not make the feature any less fun, nor does it lessen the value of the sprite viewer as a thoughtful inclusion. I would dearly like to see more games include not only the same function but other fun little extras similar to this, would be nice if such things were the norm instead of the exception.
All of the H scenes in KoiSora are stuffed into the final short act, which given there are five or so per heroine they waste little time between scenes once everything starts moving. The scenes themselves are fairly well done, perhaps a bit on the long side however as some of them can continue on for a while. Despite having almost no support at all from the story itself the H scenes were better written than the rest, especially the early scenes. I felt the clumsy awkwardness the characters displayed towards each other during the early parts of their relationship a touching and realistic inclusion. As their relationships evolved so did the H scenes, resulting in a real feeling of how different each relationship was towards the very end of the game. Had there been a better written relationship story and more time spent developing the relationships both before and after dating, KoiSora could have made a much better impression.
It feels a bit strange to say considering how long it takes to actually reach this point of their relationships, but the H scenes did feel a bit rushed when the story does finally get around to them. After the second act ends things move along very quickly and the entirety of the third act can be read in an hour or two if you read fast, or double that if you are a bit slower. What this results in are how to start their relationship, five H scenes, and a relationship problem all in such a narrow timeframe. As you can probably imagine in order to make everything fit many corners had to be cut, leaving little time to develop things before jumping into the H scenes. In this respect KoiSora does rather poorly as it just does not feel like there are enough events to lead into everything properly.
I found it a bit funny how the game constantly insisted on condom usage, presumably to set a good example, and yet pretty much never bothered to use them when it came time for the actual scenes…
So, in the end the question is whether or not KoiSora is a good game or a bad game, and on that note I would most assuredly side with it being a good game, just not so good that it is something really special. Sadly the single component holding up the story is the comedy, without it this game would not even be worth a sideways glance no matter how good the characters and artwork are. It says a lot however that when all is said and done, that despite the myriad flaws and disappointments, KoiSora still manages to be a good game well worth the time it takes to play.
I use a percentage based system to grade the various aspects of a game in a final section here. The breakdown will be that a 50% is dead neutral, completely apathy, no plus or minus. Below that is bad and above is good. The Overall score is simply a rating of the game in its entirety and is somewhat unrelated to the other scores. It may end up being better or worse than the sum of its parts.
- Overall: 75%
- Story: 53%
- Characters: 84%
- Artwork: 76%
- Sound: 61%
- Interface: 82%
- H Scenes: 77%
The official Studio Ryokucha site can be found here.
Walkthrough for the game can be found here.
Getchu link : http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=634985&gc=gc