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SummaryVile...yet strangely playable. Although you'll need to shower afterwards if you're human.
The GoodThe problem with this game is that despite all it's hideous problems, I couldn't put it down. You are able to move around the surroundings at will, thus giving you the illusion of some sort of control (despite the fact you have none). The premise is also, in my opinion, quite interesting. I liked the idea of being stuck in the grounds of a mansion and having to change yourself and the lives of the people there to be able to leave. Some of the characters are mildly interesting, such as Misao: a woman who never grew up. It's also interesting to see how things change around the mansion, not just the people, but the things you discover such as secret rooms, switches, etc.
The BadIn case you're thinking this may be worth your money in some way, it isn't.
I wonder about the Japanese. I'm obsessed with their country and culture because it's so strange, so full of apparent contradictions. Some of what comes out of Japan is incredible. Games like Kana: Little Sister are not rare in Japan. These are games with such warmth, love, beauty, and sensitivity. Film-makers such as Shunji Iwai, like Kurosawa and Ozu in the past, are creating some of the most beautiful, tender films ever. Japanese artwork is so full of delicate observations of life. The Japanese people I've met are so friendly and caring. If this was the only side of Japan you were exposed to you'd think it was a country of pure love. And then you discover the massive popularity of the "Guinea Pig" films, ultra-violent sports, and games like Nocturnal Illusion. (If you've never heard of the Guinea Pig movies...just don't. Even if it's out of curiousity...just don't. Stay away. Forget I mentioned them.) There are scenes in this game of a woman being sexually tortured. There are scenes where a woman is having sex with her brother who happens to be a huge purple-skinned demon with a penis as long as your arm. Your character gets to sleep with a mermaid and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as the two women previously mentioned and all the other women in the mansion, including a girl who looks and acts no older than a 5yr old but is called a "woman" in the translation so that the sweaty, overweight, hermits who masturbate over her can have their consciences free of guilt.
This game serves no purpose other than to arouse. Everything is thrown in. Name your perversion. One girl refers to you as "master" for a bit, one as "brother", you can sleep with a mermaid, you can sleep with a feminist, there is a kind of consenting rape with one of the characters, it's all here. If this is your thing, then er...well I guess you might like the game a bit. But if you're reading this review and you want something to arouse you, then you must have the internet, so look at some free pornography instead.
If this game STILL seems enticing to you, consider the fact that the game sometimes demands you wander around and do nothing before you can trigger the next event. This is supposed to simulate time passing. It sure as hell works. You can feel your life flaking away. A certain other semi-serious (and hilarious) review of this somewhere else on the net, described the midi-quality music as "cocaine-induced piano playing". That's a perfect description.
At best, bishoujo games can restore your faith in the world. "True Love", for example, shows how enjoyable and easy it can be to meet people. It might be a rose-coloured view of the world, even without the sex stuff, but so what? It's an optimistic view of life for guys. I was so inspired when I first played it that I started working out and worked my physique up pretty damn fine. "Nocturnal" is on the other side of the fine line and suggests that you should wait around for women to throw themselves at you, and that one word of consent from them gives you the right to do whatever the hell you want. If I was a girl and I knew about these games I wouldn't be best pleased....
The Bottom Line...And yet this game is still playable enough to hold your attention to the end. That might be because, like most bishoujo games, the story is quite good and the characters are fair. Believe it or not, it's even quite relaxing if it doesn't make you angry. But there are lots of better ones out there than this. If you're addicted to bishoujo games, and you've already played all of those other ones, then maybe...MAYBE...you might want to try this but it'll probably bore you. I wouldn't buy it. Ever. This isn't even the worst stuff out there though. There are many many more with sicker content, less plot and no character development. I've seen screenshots of Japanese games that are basically just child porn. Increasing awareness of games like Kana means increasing awareness of games like Zetsubou and Battle Raper because most people aren't interested enough to tell the difference. In that sense, throwing support behind bishoujo games in the West is one serious uphill struggle.
If these games do end up in the stores, expect to go into a video-game shop and see Kana sitting next to Water Closet 2. I shudder to think what'll happen when the media gets a sniff of that considering one newspaper blamed Microsoft Flight Simulator for 9/11
If you've never heard of "Water Closet 2"...just don't. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever.