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.