"Once upon a time, there was a hentai game. But this wasn't just a parade of naked girls like you might expect. This one had insight into peoples' hearts and the nature of human interactions, culminating in a meaningful philosophical point. "
Once upon a time, there was a hentai game. But this wasn't just a parade of naked girls like you might expect. This one had insight into peoples' hearts and the nature of human interactions, culminating in a meaningful philosophical point.
The name of this game was Kana, Little Sister.
Or maybe it was To Heart.
Could have been _Summer, actually.
Tenshi no Inai December?
You get the point. Every modern hentai game except the cheapest of the cheap tries to convey some deeper message. Hentai fans expect it; sectioned Japanese reviews for these games often rate "plot" and "characters" separately, providing two routes for emotional drama and not-so-shocking-anymore insight to influence the final score.
The problem with this emotional drama is that it's transient. In a hentai game's first playthrough, you may hold the girl's hand in the hospital and discuss the meaning of life (which is really pretty rude, considering the girl's dying and can't even walk). Tears are shed, violins play, and -- after some hardcore hospital sex -- the game culminates in a funeral scene that fades to a still black-and-white image with the dead girl's voice narrating a bittersweet "live life to the fullest" epilogue.
Then you restart the game. Instead of comforting the sick girl every day, you chase after her sporty classmate and it's like all of the above never even happened. Instead we get the tale of the outgoing girl who's actually really lonely inside and just wants someone to understand her deepest feelings. In exchange, the male lead gets to feel her deeply. Point is, the hospital chick may as well not even exist. As you hone in on the object of your affection, everything else fades.
"Did you like the scene where Keisuke read the storybook to Motoko, and the animals' lives mirrored their own?"
"I don't know. I didn't pursue Motoko, so I missed that scene."
Then there's Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. This particular hentai game initially appeared to follow the same pattern. Protagonist Takayuki was surrounded by lovely lasses, each ripe for pornographic plunder. But then fate stepped in and changed everything. No matter how many times you replay this visual novel, KimiNozo's shocking scene of tragedy is unavoidable; it overshadows everything that came before and influences everything that comes after. The flash of police lights across the blood-spattered pavement, prominently featured in the KimiNozo music videos and replicated in the Rumbling Hearts anime, has become an iconic image among hentai fandom.
"Do you remember the scene when Takayuki was late for his date, and discovered Haruka..."
"How could I forget? I didn't even like Haruka, but my heart almost stopped!"
That brings us to Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Special Fan Disk. As the title suggests, it's a special disk created as a form of "gift" for fans of the original game. The kind of "gift" that retails for approximately 6000 yen. And what did the fans apparently want?
They wanted to be able to prevent the game's most memorable scene.
Yes, the Special Fan Disk's strongest selling point is a new version of KimiNozo's legendary first act, with more skirt-chasing options and the ability to actually avert tragedy. Simply show up on time to the date; Haruka will be safe, and you'll experience a very boring picnic ending. Or neglect Haruka altogether and nail her previously un-nailable little sister, you despicable pedophile! (Images of schoolgirl wailing in pleasurable pain withheld to protect innocent eyes.)
It's an interesting souvenir for fans, but thank goodness the real game wasn't like that.
Now you know why people (including me) bought the Special Fan Disk. One of the disk's other offerings -- Mary's Order 2 -- is the reason why people (including me) keep playing the Special Fan Disk.
Mary's Order 2 stars busty, bitchy waitress Ayu Daikuhji* in what could be summed up as an isometric block-pushing puzzle game. She walks through a series of diners, pushing blocks into pits to create walkways so that she can reach all of her customers. Ayu can't jump over the pits, you see. However! She cannot walk on top of dangerous red squares, so if you push a red block into the wrong pit, then Ayu could be stuck! (This is when you take advantage of the game's "undo a turn" feature). There are plenty of other colored blocks, each with their own unique properties. Through careful planning, you can even create a "teleporter" square, which lets you slide blocks through brick walls. Teleporter squares are marked by cute images of a grinning cat, reminiscent of Azumanga Daioh's hand-biter.
* I've never played the first Mary's Order. I presume it starred a girl named Mary.
Despite its seemingly simple block-pushing premise, the game's a challenging beast with dozens of stages, each of which introduce new elements. Perpetual motion blocks! Slippery ice tiles! It's all wrapped up in cute, perky, anime-stylized packaging. Ayu's exasperated cries when you screw up perfectly match her bitchy personality.
It's the most entertaining action-puzzler I've played since the original Lode Runner, and it features the same addictive map-building capability as its spiritual ancestor. Devious architects can put together an entire series of playfields and then share their nefarious constructions with strangers over the internet. Before a map can be finalized (and thus shared), you have to personally conquer it yourself, which prevents jerkwads from torturing others with unbeatable time-wasters.
For my part, I built a massive 64 by 64 square behemoth. The intent was to create a 50-room labyrinth that would act as "training grounds" for my friends to learn the ropes in one fell swoop. I only finished 20 chambers, but it's still a daunting series of block-pushing, teleporting, ice-sliding, and pit-filling. One room requires the player to push a block through a hole in the wall; the block then loops to the other side of the map, bouncing off of several "rotating" tiles, until it eventually fills an unfilled pit from an earlier room. Lesson learned: study the whole map before assuming you've lost.
Since it's a puzzle game, there's virtually no language barrier for non-Japanese gamers. Making a sweet deal even sweeter, Mary's Order 2 doesn't contain any naked women* and is independently installable, so I can actually load it on attractive female coworkers' computers and they'll never be the wiser! And they may actually enjoy it!
* The game does let you add your own "victory" images, so if you fill the game full of Playboy scans I would not suggest installing it on an attractive female's PC.
This Special Fan Disk also includes a radio drama (it aired on TBS Radio) and several short visual vignettes, some of which are dramatic and some of which are humorous. Alongside the revised first act, they're interesting inclusions, but not worth 6000 yen. Mary's Order 2 is the critical piece that makes the Special Fan Disk worthwhile. I could complain about charging PS3 game prices for what amounts to a disc of bonus content, but I'm too busy tearing my hair out and designing my own diabolical diners to feel cheated. This is one hentai disc that doesn't rely on predictable storylines, cheap theatrics, or recycled philosophy. Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Special Fan Disk is the rare hentai game that's worth playing because of its gameplay.
Staff review by Zigfried (July 15, 2009)
Zigfried likes writing about whales and angry seamen, and often does so at the local pub.
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