Visual Novels - because insomnia builds character.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ONE : To the Shining Season

  • Title - ONE ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~
  • Author - Tactics/Nexton
  • Style - Multi-path Visual Novel (interactive)
  • Rating - Not for sale to minors, 18+
  • Trial - No
  • Engine - Proprietary Engine by Nexton (System localization required for installation)
  • Price - 7,140 yen
  • Website - (English Version)
  • Get - Himeya's Erogeshop (18+)
ONE is notable in the visual novel community as one of the pioneers of naki-ge (crying games) and because it's staff went off to form a little studio called Key. Recently, a translation has become available in English for the full voice version.

Recent to when I started this review anyhow. This game isn't easy to score. One part of me says its a fabulous work while the other thinks its firmly "average". I've given up on this review so many times but here it goes.

Graphics - This game was released in 1998 and it shows. This personally does not bother me (I kinda like it) but the other effect of age is that the files simply are not of that high quality. Some of the art seems pixelated even in Windowed mode but the resolution (640x480) is fine considering its age (640x480 is unreasonable for modern games, Clannad!). Without regard to age, the overall feel is unpolished and it would be easy to mistake ONE as a doujin product. Itaru's style has always been very much a love or hate issue among fans and ONE shows why. Despite all this, the character designs are superb and the CG framing is solid. H-CG in particular are surprisingly tasteful. 8/10

Music/SFX - The music is one of the stronger points of ONE. Featuring Key's famed Shinji Orito, its no surprise the soundtrack for ONE is close to excellent. Over 20 pieces of music are used to great effect especially in dramatic scenes. SFX are well done but nothing more than standard stuff. 9/10

Voice - The first line still sticks in my mind "永遠はあるよ”. The voice acting reaches near perfection at some of the eternity scenes. The weakest part (as it almost always is) is the H-scenes. Everything else is well done and quite enjoyable but I didn't find my self stopping to listen to every line. As a side note, the voice acting is much newer than the game as it was recorded for the rerelease. 8/10

Story - The story is gripping. The characters are likable, Misaki-sempai deserves credit as one of the best bishoujo of all time. But why couldn't the writers change it up between routes more? The individual routes are sadly very similar, even the route of the "main" girl Nagamori. While this game did define the nagi-ge and certainly envoked tears, the plot follows one formula every time and slowly beats it to death. For maximum enjoyment play one route every month or so. 7/10 (Misaki route: 10/10!)

System/Extras - The system has all the standard features and fairly nice menus. CG mode is by character and a music mode is present. Also, this full voice version has brief interviews with each voice actress (even side characters without tachi-e) but these are in Japanese only of course. I would have liked to have an H-scene menu as is common nowadays. 4/5

Overall - This was a hard game to review. I really do love it much more than the score indicates but for the price the story really needed to be more diverse.

Score - 36/45 - 80% - Good
Omake - This demo video was released to promote the game.

Note: While screen shots were taken on Mac OSX (out of laziness) the game freezes on WINE when the music changes. ONE is only confirmed to run under a true Windows environment at this time.


LeMU "KoiNoDensetsu" said...

Thanks for the great review! This convinced me to purchase ONE from erogeshop. (and because it has KEY roots ^_^) That's disappointing to hear that the paths will mostly be the same though...

I just received it today and it seems pretty good so far. I think I'll try for Misaki first because you liked her path so much. She does seem interesting. (Satomura also seems like she has a good path) Though it's really depressing to know that a game like this won't be able to pass under EOC's new regulations simply because it takes place in a school. Hopefully, everything with eroge gets fixed soon in Japan...

Jyuichi said...

There are quite a few things in ONE that won't make the new considerations :(

Akane's route has a bit of a twist compared to the others :)

Gambit said...

Thank you for the nice review, though it came late for me because I already played this VN about a year ago. Agreed on all points, especially about Misaki.

You may be interested to know, if you don't already, that Key revisits the theme and many of the elements of ONE in one of the girls' routes in Little Busters. It's fascinating and that one route is much longer than all of the routes of ONE combined.

Gambit said...

I forgot to add that the English translation patch is exceptional. Really well done.

And there's an early tip-off in Little Busters that they're revisiting ONE: in class the a teacher gives the exact same English quiz sentence that you can mess up with Nanase. Kudo is picked and, darn, I really wanted to see how she mangled the English (she's horrible at it) but the scene changed, leaving her standing there in a panicked state (it's not her route). It's fun to imagine how bad she did and I was delighted that Key threw that in. :)

LeMU "KoiNoDensetsu" said...

@Gambit: Wow, THAT line is in LB!? I really need to play it now! O_O That line is probably one of the most epic Engrish lines EVER! I can't wait to see that. XD

And as to my favorite girl, I would say Akane. Misaki is second (or at least close) for me. I think Akane has the only path that fits the 'Eternity' plot. When I finished Misaki's path (and all the other girls as well), I ws like "WTF? O_O Please explain!".

Jyuichi said...

@LeMU My ranking is Misaki, Akane, Nanase, Nagamori (Liked the character but plot was kinda off), Mio, and lastly Shiina (ugh).

And sorry for the lack of reviews! Since I've been playing more commercial games vs. doujin games they take longer so the reviews are slower (and there is no Al|Together this year it seems :( )