Paradise Heights (PC) review
"Based on arguably specious reasoning, I've concluded that the producers of Paradise Heights passionately hated making this game. For Exhibit A, I present two quotes from the main character, lifted from the opening introduction where he reflects on his time spent as a computer game programmer. "
Based on arguably specious reasoning, I've concluded that the producers of Paradise Heights passionately hated making this game. For Exhibit A, I present two quotes from the main character, lifted from the opening introduction where he reflects on his time spent as a computer game programmer.
''My previous workplace was awful. I was a computer game technician, and there were eight guys in that hovel, crammed in there for two weeks... After about a week of that, the room begins to stink to high heaven.''
''I must be tired, or maybe it's due to spending so much time making games in that dump. Those programmers were always grumbling about something... It was just a pain in the neck.''
One may argue that this was a writer's ploy, an attempt to extract a chuckle with images of programmers hunched over their keyboards, resisting thirst and hunger, all in order to churn out the game you're about to play. However, given my second piece of circumstantial evidence, the quote reveals itself as an excuse, or even a plea for understanding, from the game's makers. This evidence: Paradise Heights is not fun to play. I can wholeheartedly believe that this whole project was thrown together and rushed out the door in less than two weeks; given its paper-thin plot, superficial characters, unimpressive graphics, and entirely linear storyline. The game is an empty shell; it relies completely on its sexual content to appeal to players.
Paradise Heights is a hentai point-and-click text adventure starring Keigo Nakadai, a twenty-five year old slacker. Devoid of ambition, Keigo supports himself by taking whatever jobs he can get, but he’s just received the break of his life. Keigo’s uncle has given him a chance to manage an apartment complex, on where all the residents happen to be female. While he may claim to be the quintessential nice guy, Keigo’s quest to bed anything in a skirt belies that portrayal. Unfortunately for Keigo, he only has five initial women to make his targets. Ayako is an energetic, athletic, and outgoing university student. Miyuki works as a computer game programmer. She may look frumpy at first, but a dynamite body may be found under her oversized sweater. Keiko dresses like a straight-laced old school teacher; little does one suspect her extracurricular activities. Then there’s Kayo, an easygoing young blonde. Last and certainly least, in Keigo’s eyes anyway, is his cousin Misa. Keigo inexplicably characterizes Misa as an unbearable wench, despite the fact that she’s always polite and considerate of him. That’s just another black mark for Keigo, though; he’s just not shaping up to be a very decent person. Pity those poor girls.
At the beginning of the game, the player at least gets the sense that he can curb Keigo’s bad behavior, if he so desires. You decide how Keigo moves within the apartment complex and how he interacts with the tenants, seemingly giving you control over every aspect of any encounters with the ladies. This control, however, is merely an illusion. As Paradise Heights features a completely linear storyline, the player is the one following Keigo. Your main function is to find the encounter that triggers the next event, a task that involves aimlessly drifting from door to door. It’s a little like looking for a prize in a box of cereal; you know you’ll find it eventually, but the area is so small you feel irritated having to look for it in the first place. Unfortunately, like the entertainment provided by free trinkets found buried in foodstuffs, Keigo’s encounters are only slightly and temporarily satisfying. The subject matter discussed usually borders on the tediously routine. Also, each one has a preordained outcome, despite the fact that you will be presented with several choices for Keigo’s next possible action. Choosing the “incorrect” action only earns you a pat on the head and a quick loop back to make the “right” choice.
Given that the writers didn’t have to create multiple scenarios, they could have at least made the singular story interesting and engaging. They tried. The plot revolves around a pervert (besides Keigo) stalking the apartment complex, stealing panties, and threatening the ladies with letters. Even though this is the driving force towards the game’s resolution, it fails to provide any dramatic climax or even a hilarious misunderstanding. It’s executed in such a stale and level manner that the player will struggle to muster an interest in the story at all. Not even the characters seem worried about the threat; their wanton sexual escapades only become more frequent as the danger rises. Apparently, everyone involved in this game, real or imagined, knew the game’s only selling point would be sex, and they decided to focus solely on that aspect.
Because the sex is the only asset this game has to offer, it should be quality work. Fortunately, the h-scenes are much better than the normal visuals. The backgrounds, both inside and outside the apartments, are well detailed down to the specific accessories in the different units, but all the objects are the same color! The pictures of the girls during casual conversation possess static expressions; it’s a little confusing to read an angry outburst on the screen while the girl smiles out at you. The outlines of the body in these sketches are a little rough, but not enough to detract from the player’s enjoyment. The same is true of the lines in the close-up h-scenes. These may be too close in fact; you can see the texturing of the skin’s individual pixels.
The content of the sex scenes, though, is salacious enough to make anyone blush. The game delivers a good view of all the vital areas (maybe too good a view of Keigo’s). Most of the action is straight sex in a few routine positions. A little kinky S&M and lesbian action is thrown in, but it’s nothing that will turn off a player not into that sort of activity. The main problem with the h-scenes is their short length; each consists of only two or three pictures with a handful of dialogue. Given the game’s overall time span, which lasts well under an hour even if played slowly, the abbreviated h-scenes were necessarily used to fit in as many sexual encounters as possible. After all, every main girl gets at least two rounds with the irresistible protagonist.
The fact that the game is stuffed with sex does have one drawback; while the game amply shows what is underneath the character’s clothes, it doesn’t give us a glimpse of the personality that resides under that young, nubile skin. We hardly learn anything about a girl besides her name, employment, and favorite sexual practices. We do get more insight on Keigo’s womanizing personage, if only from his actions throughout the game. Actually, his theme music reflects his attitude, as all good theme music should. During the day an annoying, hum-drum little ditty plays, showing Keigo’s complete lack of satisfaction and drive in his professional life. Nightfall is when he comes alive, that mundane tune is replaced by a suave, bass-driven number. Neither, of course, compare to the midi porn music that queues up when Keigo reaches his penultimate goal. With all the characters seemingly driven only by animalistic desire, any player needing something more than sex will be left unfulfilled.
In the end, Paradise Heights is thinly packaged whacking material. It assaults the player with h-scene after h-scene, with no time for anything substantial in between. You won’t remember the story. You won’t remember the characters. You probably won’t even remember the quick and dirty sex. It’s disconcerting to imagine that anyone would consider this fluff to be even an average adult bishoujo game. Especially now, with the release of dozens of better adult games, its just a reminder to be thankful for how much more sophisticated these types of games have become.
Community review by woodhouse (May 16, 2004)
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