Three Sisters' Story (PC) review
"For an instant, the photograph appears to exude happiness. A father embraces his sons, an arm around each young man, and smiles light up their faces. Their eyes, however, remain obscured in ominous shadow. The Three Sisters’ Story prologue immediately reveals the family’s unfortunate fate. The proud patriarch, facing financial ruin and public shame, takes his own life. The mother, not even pictured, insignificantly fades into death, unable to bear any of her newfound burden. And the..."
For an instant, the photograph appears to exude happiness. A father embraces his sons, an arm around each young man, and smiles light up their faces. Their eyes, however, remain obscured in ominous shadow. The Three Sisters’ Story prologue immediately reveals the family’s unfortunate fate. The proud patriarch, facing financial ruin and public shame, takes his own life. The mother, not even pictured, insignificantly fades into death, unable to bear any of her newfound burden. And the brothers are separated and passed between reluctant relatives. When they’re reunited years later, they don’t share joy, just a bitterness festering deep in their hearts. It fuels a deadly determination to bring down the man responsible for their family’s destruction.
But this text-driven hentai adventure tells a story of redemption, not revenge. When we join the narrative, the sibling’s plot against their enemy, a ruthless businessman named Okamura, is nearly complete. The elder Eiichi has put his dubiously deep pockets and mysterious clout into action, while the younger Koichi has provided intel by insinuating himself into their target’s household. Together they’ve forced their prey into hiding, but the duo’s goals are about to diverge. Eiichi’s crusade continues as he sets his sights on the Okamura daughters. We experience the conflict through Koichi’s eyes, though, and in the three sisters, he sees the loving family he’s sorely missed. Gentle Yuki mothers him. Mischievous Risa adores him. Obstinate Emi loves him. And he’ll be damned if he gives that away. Now, the brothers must battle to determine who is right, and who is dead.
Three Sisters’ Story has its share of flaws: namely plodding, linear gameplay and gross overuse of sexual content. But when it sticks to the suspense generated by its sibling struggle, it nearly overcomes them all. Koichi must continually consider the combination of truth and lies that will allow him to maintain his newfound happiness. He also must try to reign in his brother, who becomes increasingly erratic and evil. In one early instance, Eiichi storms into the Okamura house, yells like a lunatic, and tears off one of the sister’s clothes.
Moments like that energize an otherwise tedious playing experience. In Three Sisters’ Story, menus control every action: talking, examining objects, and moving around. Eventually, you learn that the tale won’t progress until you click through all the options enough to make the text start repeating (though this trend is cheaply broken during the endgame). Occasionally, the drill works well. At one point, Koichi decides to trail his brother through the park in the dead of night. Every few moments he loses his nerve, and you have to prompt him to continue the pursuit. Each selection is an adrenaline rush, because it feels like Eiichi could suddenly pop out from the darkness and slit your throat. It’s about as exciting as this type of graphic adventure can get.
But mostly, the menu interface is there just to keep you busy; this game, after all, has only one proper ending. Two separate times, you have to guide Koichi through every empty classroom (sometimes he does find a random couple fooling around) before he’s allowed to move on to more important matters. The school nurse is also fond of asking him for random favors, like helping out certain (female) problem students. She does offer a very different type of favor in return, and these provide rare and hilarious lessons on practicing safe sex (how many kids do you want?). Despite their entertainment value, though, these episodes considerably dilute the sense of urgency this game thrives upon.
So do the copious amounts of copulation, an awkward problem for an adult game. Sex creeps into every scenario, and every female character eventually drops her clothes. When a girl faces any dilemma, a good screw is the only solution. Every informant is a woman, and she must be literally pumped for knowledge. Koichi’s promiscuity immeasurably damages his heroic identity. Eventually he really crosses the line and rapes a security guard with her own baton. He’s supposed to be focused on his cause. On his girlfriend. Not schtooping some stranger. The only genuinely touching sequence occurs when he’s in Emi’s arms for the first time, where peaceful, yet bittersweet music perfectly captures the weight of his love and his lies.
For all the eye candy, though, it’s not exceedingly sweet. The biggest problem are the G.O.U.L.S. (Genitalia of Unusually Large Size). At times, Koichi’s member simply takes over a scene. In one, it rivals his forearm in every dimension. In another, we get a crotch level perspective, and it’s as if he’s grown a third leg and stuck his foot where it really doesn’t belong. At least most scenes shy away from anything perverse, and since there are so many, you’re bound to find a few desirable poses. Of course, this game comes from the age of DOS, so the graphics have a few rough edges.
There is an updated Windows version, courtesy of the JAST USA Memorial Collection. However, the graphics are basically the same, just "enhanced" with an improved color palette; the point of the remastered compilation is to expose more people to classic titles. After all, JAST USA likes to refer to Three Sisters’ Story as, "The game that started it all." It’s a significant note, as it was the first release for the most successful – or at least longest surviving – conglomerate in the niche market of localizing these Japanese novelties. Regardless of its history, an intriguing plot and conflicted characters make this a worthwhile adventure. Any zealous fan of H games should check it out, and I mean it.
Community review by woodhouse (November 28, 2006)
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