Has everything that a bishoujo game needs. Extremely good, and a good introduction to the genre.
The GoodCritical Point
's greatest asset is its story. Helmed by veteran anime screenplay writer Kenichi Matsuzaki, the game's script manages to balance science fiction, suspense, and sexuality extremely well. With no less than 25 different endings, this game is sure to hold your interest for a while.
The game takes place in the somewhat distant future. You play the role of veteran fighter pilot Captain Leiji Osumi, now working as an intelligence officer. You have been ordered to investigate strange happenings on a remote moon base - presumed to be sabotage. As if that weren't enough, the base's almost entirely female crew seems to be acting a bit strange recently...
This is a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style adventure game. It plays through at its own pace, pausing on occasion to allow you to make a decision, resulting in a plot branch. Depending on what choices you make, you will encounter up to 21 such points in the game. As mentioned before, the game has 25 different endings, each numbered so you can keep track of what you have and haven't seen. The "true" ending is numbered #99, while there is inexplicably no #12 (design snafu?).
Generally speaking, there are two different types of plot-branching bishoujo adventure games. The first revolves around a harem of girls, and the choices you make will decide which girl you end up with; thus, a different ending for each girl. In the second, the game is more story-centric, and your choices take you through basically the same plot, to happier or not-so-happy variations of basically the same ending. Critical Point
gives you the best of both worlds. While there are several different girls that you may woo (and eventually end up with, should you survive), your choices alter the plot of the game drastically. You may end up in an "alternate universe" from the "true" one, completely changing the story's antagonist and his/her motives. Normally I wouldn't need to see all 25 endings of a game such as this, but Critical Point
drove me to play until I had viewed them all. The "true" ending, incidentally, is quite satisfying and well worth the effort.
The character design in Critical Point
also deserves mention. The game isn't overloaded with girls the way some games in this genre are, allowing each one enough screen time to be fairly three-dimensional even in the relatively short amount of time it takes to play through the game (your first run-through will probably take about 2-3 hours). You will see different sides to the characters as well, since subsequent plays through the game will change the plot completely. I particularly liked the character of Elise Triad, Critical Point
The game's graphics are quite nice; while not quite as colorful and detailed as in newer games, there is nothing to dislike about them. The girls are attractive while thankfully not being quite as anatomically disproportionate as in some anime games, and the sex scenes are tasteful and for the most part do not go over the top.
I would have liked the game to be a bit longer, but I think most adventure games are too short so that's only a small complaint - and a compliment to Critical Point
. Most bishoujo games wrap the story up nicely, eliminating any need for a sequel, and this title is no exception. This may leave you wishing you could have spent a little more time with this story and cast of characters.
The Bottom Line
This is probably the title that I would recommend to an anime fan interested in trying a bishoujo game. The story isn't as moving as Kana - Little Sister
or Private Nurse
, nor is it as exciting as Chain - The Lost Footsteps
- and the graphics don't measure up to any of those three titles. However, it is a good introduction to the genre because it is an example of a "standard" bishoujo game done extremely well. The artwork is appealing, the characters are memorable, and the plot is both suspenseful and moving without being too intense or a tear-jerker. In addition, the sexual content, while graphic, is tasteful, straightforward, and sometimes romantic while avoiding (for the most part) any taboos or fetishes. It's just a very, very good game.