[editor's note: Although this is a review of the iDevice version of the game, it can be applied to the PC version as well.]
As a fan of the original PC visual novel/bishoujo title (Japanese interactive graphic novels), Kira Kira, I’m almost ashamed to admit that the iPhone version flew completely under my radar. After all, as someone who prides himself as one of the few published English-speaking Bishoujo game journalists in America, how could I miss this lovely port of what I consider to be the second best commercially released Bishoujo game in English? Sadly, very very easily. Especially, when a niche title like this doesn’t have any advertisement and relies solely on word of mouth. Which is a shame considering the quality of the port and the game’s emotionally-intricate storyline.
Since the iDevice port is a strict port of MangaGamer’s rather decent translation of the All-Ages game, let’s take a look at the original review of the adult-PC version from Gaming Target:
“[The game] focuses heavily on the themes of friendship and family, using slice-of-life vignettes to tell the story of Shikanosuke Maejima, a student at Oubi Academy, a private Japanese Christian school. Starting off with him filling in the reader on what led to his current life, we experience him being dumped by his girlfriend after he’s forced to give up his position as a rising teenage tennis star. Suddenly he finds himself living the life of a slacker and doesn’t put much effort into studying and lets his part-time job at a restaurant define him. All this changes, however, when he meets Kirari Shiino at work and suddenly finds himself joining a punk band.
Joining him are his childhood friend Chie Isurugi and a rich sick girl named Sarina Kashiwara. The three of them originally decide to join a band in order to pay tribute to their dying club, the Second Literature Club, during the school’s cultural festival. While they’re ill-prepared for their training at first, their dedication and practice allows them to succeed at their school concert. As with all things Internet and YouTube related, they suddenly become an overnight success thanks to a bunch of people online. While they originally only decided to do one concert and be done with it, people clamor for more and they decide to do a summer tour for their fans. That’s where the story really begins to take off.”
Although the storyline may initially put off some people due to your archetypal anime story arcs, it’s executed with such pizazz that it’s easy to ignore these potential shortcomings and begin to get emotionally invested with these characters. For you see, unlike most visual novels, there weren’t really any points in the game where I felt bored by any filler material or anything that felt extraneous. Each of the female protagonist has her own separate arc that leads up to the true ending of the game; all of which contain solid emotional romantic storylines. Most notable was Kirari’s emotionally gut-wrenching ‘normal’ ending. What happens you ask? Let’s just say that it’s something that would never happen in K-On!
Thankfully the iPod version is a strict port of the All-Age/PS2 version of the game, meaning that all of the original awkward hentai-scenes were removed. This greatly improved both the game’s overall flow and accessibility. All of your usual visual novel feature are included in the game starting from having multiple save slots, being able to fast forward through the text, etc. all within a tap of your fingers. That said, as a game that relies considerably on your iPod’s hard drive, be prepared to see your power bar drain hastily.
Everything that made the original PC version great is retained in the iPod version, except for the aforementioned h-scenes. The mini-concert movies, the strong voice acting and character CGs all remain intact making this the definitive version of the visual novel. Add in the fact that it’s considerably cheaper than its PC counterpart at only $9.99, portable and contains over forty hours of gameplay, and there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone interested in visual novels, anime or generally strong stories not to pick this gem up.
Length: 30-50 hours
Recommended playing order: Kirari (normal) > Chie/Sarina (normal) > Kirari (true)
Review Score: 9/10
- Come for the music, stay for the characters.
- It’s OVERDRIVE, and UR@N together. AGAIN!
- For you lucky iDevice owners, there’s no reason not to download it. It’s a fantastic price for a great product.
- Needs to be marketed better – not enough people know about it!
- It’s a visual novel, meaning that if you don’t like reading…you better look elsewhere.