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SummaryMystery, cheese, hormones... no wonder they forgot the gameplay
The GoodThe original PC-98 release of Eve Burst Error was one of the countless hentai adventures made for that platform. However, so many people got interested in the game's story that it was re-released for several other platforms, with all the explicit sex scenes removed.
The game's narrative is indeed a commendable effort. A complex murder mystery full of characters, intrigues, and political issues develops in front of our eyes. The good thing about it is that it remains realistic almost all the way. Only near the end of the game there is a decisive turn towards sci-fi, but I feel even that was unnecessary. It is interesting enough to follow the game's story from an everyday point of view, without waiting for some sudden divine revelations or hidden evil within.
The core of the game's story is a political intrigue, in which many people are involved. Very slowly, piece by piece you unravel a mystery that will keep you glued to the screen till the very end. What? Who? Why? You won't know it until the final moments of the game (and even then you have to guess the names of the killers by yourself). There is an enormous amount of characters in the game: about twelve major characters who are all important and relevant to the story. And every character has something to hide. In the beginning of the last day (on the ship) you'll be firmly convinced in one thing: that you can't be firmly convinced in anything. You have the impression that every character keeps some sort of a secret, that every character is potentially the criminal, and till the very end (and even after it) you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys.
The game starts pretty lightly. Kojiroh, a penniless private detective, finally gets a job - he has to find a missing painting. Marina, a super-agent, is hired by Mido, the ambassador of a fictional foreign country, to protect his daughter Mayako. The two stories seem totally unconnected in the beginning, but slowly you realize they are both a part of a much larger conspiracy with tons of secrets and mysteries. There are plenty of suspenseful, movie-like scenes, including finding dead bodies, shooting, and jumping into pools.
Hentai games usually contain very little eye-candy. Most of the time you are forced to stare at still pictures and motionless images of girls. Eve Burst Error also looks like that for the most part, but it also has a few short animated cut scenes. Other than that, the backgrounds are nicely done, and the anime characters don't look as if they were taken out of a picture collection and carelessly pasted over the backgrounds.
I have more bad than good things to say about the gameplay of Eve Burst Error. However, it's not completely awful. Often there is interesting stuff to try, a lot of "thinking" to organize the tremendous amount of information the game throws of you, and available commands that are unrelated to the story and are just there for you to try. Also, the ability to play two different characters and viewing the story from two perspective is a very good idea. Many events get "unlocked" only if you have performed a certain action with another character, so I suggest switching between them as often as possible, rather than trying to play the whole scenario at once.
Many times the game also lets you try some amusing stuff. For example, at one point you can choose what to open: the gate or your mouth. In the midst of a suspenseful situation, you can choose to knock on the door or on your head. It was a nice comic relief in a serious situation.
The BadMost of the bad things you hear about Japanese adventures are right here - that those are games for people who don't know how to play games, that those are just series of pretty pictures tied together by a story, that there is zero gameplay in them and no challenge at all. Games like Snatcher or Policenauts at least had a few puzzles and action sequences; others prompt the player to make choices that affect the narrative.
Unfortunately, Eve Burst Error offers none of those. Basically, it pretends to have gameplay. You can control the heroes and tell them where to go and what to do, but it is hundred per-cent linear, without any branching stories or alternate endings. The linearity and the inability to choose would be a lesser problem if the game at least offered some other diversion, but it doesn't. All you do in the game is scroll through endless dialogues, occasionally participating in an illusionary adventuring that allows you to wander around and trigger events, nothing more.
The dreaded "triggering" is back with a vengeance. I complained about those things when I was playing Snatcher, but I didn't realize at that time it could get so much worse. Virtually the whole game is built on those triggers. You constantly get "stuck" in locations and are forced to spend long minutes in front of the same still screen, choosing every option twice or thrice, until something happens. There is no way to tell when this something will happen, when will Kojiroh or Marina finally notice something worthy of notice, or when somebody who was supposed to appear will do so. You just have to go through all the options, often many, many times, hoping to get a different response from the protagonist. Some sequences (finding Mayako in the school at night, hacking the computer, and others) really go too far with that. The game is often frustrating without being truly challenging.
Sure, the story if good, but it takes a very long while until it finally kicks in. The largest part of the game (basically the first two CDs) is dedicated to introducing the numerous characters and preparing the ground for the events to follow. You aimlessly wander around, having lengthy dialogues with everyone you encounter. The dialogues are much too long, full of unnecessary exchanges of repetitive phrases ( "I'm sorry... oh, that's you?" - "Uh?" - The man I saw yesterday?" - "Oh, it's... " - "My name is Himuro. Himuro Kyoko". - "I see". - "...." - "..." - "And you are..." - "Amagi Kojiroh". - "Oh... nice to meet you". - "..." - "..." - "Well... " - "Well?" - "U-hh..." - "Yes?" - "I'll be going now. I'm sorry". - "..." - "See you later, Amagi-san". - "Yeah"). Also, there is just too much accidental bumping into each other in the game. Are they all so absorbed in their thoughts that they don't see people on the streets?
Another problem of the game is the amount (and the quality) of quasi-erotic scenes it contains. The English PC release doesn't have scenes with naked women; instead, it has plenty of scenes with women in underwear. Every female character of the game (and there are a lot of those) displays her panties at a certain point. I think one or two truly erotic scenes instead of the countless semi-nude encounters would have been much more satisfying. More disturbing is the never-ending sexual innuendo in the dialogues. Kojiroh just can't keep his mind on the case; he is more busy making constant remarks about various female body parts and attempting to touch them (which the girls of course don't allow). Again: eliminating this sexual cheese and throwing in a couple of strong erotic scenes would have had a much better effect.
While the narrative is strong, it is also very corny in that specific Japanese way. The fictional Middle Eastern country of Eldia doesn't resemble anything that exists in real life, being a laughable copy of pop-culture Japan populated by big-breasted anime girls. It's hard to take a political murder mystery seriously when an exotic Middle-Eastern queen is an underage blonde, blue-eyed "cutesy" school girl-like character with an obligatory crush on the horny hero.