Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Piece of Wonder

Piece of Wonder is Hirameki's newest bishoujo game and certainly a strong addition to their line up. This is a science-fiction as well as a romance story and has a tactics style battle system built in.

Graphics - The graphics for Piece of Wonder are fun and colorful but not overwhelming. The art is clean and their is a sufficent amount of sprites for each character. Backgrounds were appropriate but nothing memorable. There are 34 event CG (9-10 per girl and 5 miscellaneous), not a huge amount but a decent amount since the game isn't too long. What is missing in quantity is made up in quality as these event CG are quite detailed and beautiful. I believe this was a doujin soft (amateur work vs. professional studio; not a free one in this case) but the art is very clean and professional despite that. I had no complaints with the battle system's graphics except that the enemies were shown as shapes that looked to me like giant elemental slices of cheese. 8/10

Music/SFX - The music like the graphics has a sense of fun to most of it. There are 19 tracks (Only 18 named in music mode however) and there are some common patterns shared between some tracks each is distinct. I personally enjoyed the music enough to rip the tracks out. (I don't know what happened to that program since the Hirameki boards went down XP) Not the best music but certainly enjoyable and some tracks are quite good. Sound effects are fine as well. 8/10

Voice Acting - The voice acting is well cast, however only the three girls are voiced. The protagonist and other main characters are not. I can't recall any flaws in the voice acting however there is a rather irritating bug with some sound cards. (namely whatever is installed in my Presario 2104 notebook) See system section. 9/10

Story - Piece of Wonder revolves around you and your friends fight against creatures called evolutions. You get your power from the same source as evolutions but you can control it with special bracelets. Once you get on a girls route (I think only one choice makes a difference) you will become aware of some sort of super-evolution (depends on which path) and fight a boss to save the girl. While this is rather formulaic the paths do vary significantly and are all enjoyable. There is also a nice after story "true end" that is a nice change from the traditional formula. 9/10

System/Gameplay (Battle) -Since the battle system is mandatory (at least on first play through) I consider it important enough for its own full section. I however do not play many traditional games so this section shall be supplemented by my RPG-loving boyfriend's opinion (Mr. JonFawkes)
The battle system is hard to learn without reading the instruction manual, but once you get into it, it's fun and quite addictive. It's alot like Final Fantasy Tatics. Regrettably, the AI can get a bit predictable. Some of the battles are also quite hard which is somewhat unexpected considering the genre. 8/10

System/Extras (Novel) - The GUI is clean the extras are fine (music/gallery mode and shortcut to scene menus) but the system is simple just too buggy. The main menus don't work all the time (click to another window and back to fix) and the BGM cuts out in battle mode sometimes (rarely). Also, the infamous voice problem. The voices cut out mid-sentence on certain sound cards. I fixed this by running dxdaig (start->run-> dxdiag.exe) and changing the hardware acceleration to "basic" under the sound 1 tab. Since almost all other games use DirectX also I found myself adjusting it back to make other games run smoother and eventually just placed a shortcut on my desktop. The card I have is "Conexant AMC audio" which seems, after research, to be the same card Hirameki says is incompatible (C-Media AC '97 Audio Device). This problem is fixable so don't let it stop you from buying the game. Also in terms of extras there is no print manual with the game, just a PDF so you don't miss out on much with the download version. 2/5

Overall - A fun game. The price is right and its easy to find. Despite the flaws it is worth the money.

Score - 44/55 - 80% - good

Trial and Download Edition: What is it and should I get it?

Piece of Wonder does not have a trial version per se. What there is however is a download version that you can play for one time up to 45 minutes with out an activation code. This can be downloaded from cnet's You can purchase a serial code through Protexis if you and unlock the full game for 24.99$. Protexis seems to be a well established and dedicated digital content distribution company (Microsoft uses them) so it is extremely unlikely that the DRM system will collapse and render your software unusable (this has happened with other content providers). You can only install the download edition to a single computer with internet access. I have not used this particular system but it is likely that the system would need to connect the the internet briefly every time you run the game, which is no big deal if you have broadband access. You may be able to contact Protexis to deactivate the license on one machine and then allow you to reactivate it on another but again I have not tried this. The pros of this method are a lower price tag and instant gratification. If you download music from iTunes this isn't very different.

The CD-ROM edition has no DRM and can be installed to multiple computers if you so desire. You get a DVD style keepcase but no manual except the PDF. I suggest trying out the trial even if you do not want the DRM version it is uninstalled easily enough.

1 comment:

Jenny Szablak said...

how can I rip the music from this game?