Kira☆Kira is the 1st Visual Novel I’ve successfully completed on the iPhone. But a word of caution: Just because it’s on the app store it does NOT mean the visual novel is all-ages as other review sites might claim. The adult imagery may have been removed, but all other content remain. The app itself is rated 17+.
With that aside, I’ll keep this review clean enough for a PG rating. So how did it fare?
In a nutshell, protagonist Maejima Shikanosuke quits the school tennis club and gets dumped by his girlfriend for being cold and insensitive. He joins the 2nd literature club as a “ghost member” to fulfill the school’s criteria of being in a club, after being persuaded by his childhood friend Isurugi Chie, the club’s president.
Shikanosuke meets main heroine Shiino Kirari by chance when she applies for a waitress position at the same restaurant as where he is part-timing. He finds out that she too is a member of the same club. She persuades him to attend the club meeting, where it is revealed that the club will be merged with the 1st literature club, effectively disbanding it.
There he is introduced to the club’s few active members, Kashiwara Sarina, Mai and Miyuki. All are in favor of doing something memorable before the merger, and following Kirari’s suggestion decides to form the 2nd literature club band, or d2b (short for dai ni bungeibu), with Chie, Kirari, Sarina and Shikanosuke as the core members of the band.
Punk Rock is the genre of d2b, and with the coaching of one of the members of the game’s most popular punk rock bands, Star Generation’s Tonoya Kenta (who also happens to be Shikanosuke’s classmate), they pull off a stunning performance at their school festival. Impressed by said performance, the leader of Star Generation, Yagihara, arranges for them to perform in Nagoya. The 4-member band then embarks on their live tour, with branching story lines at the end of the tour depending on the choices made over the course of the game.
Major spoilers ahead. Skip this section if you haven’t played the game.
Protagonist of kira☆kira, and the bassist of d2b. As he made his debut in d2b as a ‘female’, he finds that to maintain the band’s popularity he has to continue cross-dressing while on the tour, resulting in the widespread use of his unofficial female name, Shikako (-chan).
Sarina’s the guitarist of d2b, and despite being the “school idol” she doesn’t seem to be overwhelmingly popular and it is apparent her only good friend is Kirari…but lets put that aside. She is refined and soft-spoken, and despite her family being rich she doesn’t get much spending money, so she’s not spoiled either. She stays in a mansion in the city with her grandfather and her maids.
In Sarina’s route, she confesses to Shikanosuke at the beach. The group is introduced to her uncle, and they decide to take a detour to work at one of the hotels owned by the Kashiwara group to extend their tour as they’ve run out of money. Their tour ends (Nothing entirely eventful happens. Really).
Once they return, Sarina comes down with a bad fever, and she is brought to her mansion in the outskirts which is identical to the one in the city for recuperation. No, actually it’s an evil plot by her granddad to keep her from ever going out – she’s prevented from going to school as well.
Shikanosuke pays the mansion a visit and attempts to persuade the granddad to see reason. You are then treated to a long, drawn out affair on the stubbornness of old people, her family background and eventually something clicks and you have a happy ending. :)
The leader of d2b, its drummer and the most level-headed of the group. Oh, and your childhood friend. Can’t have a VN without one of those now can you? You’re probably gonna like her. She’s adorable. XD
Her route will see you dealing with her family issues. (Yes, the entire novel’s about family issues. So there.) Her parents divorced (initiated by her dad, who has someone else out there), leaving Chie, with her mother and her two sisters to fend for themselves. She was retained a year because of this, even though she’s a bright student. So despite being a year older than Shikanosuke she’s the same grade.
Things take a turn for the worse when it is revealed that Chie’s mom, unable to let go of her hatred,
kills them takes her ex-husband to court and sues him for a HUGE amount of compensation. While she’s at it, she might as well sue his mistress as well (and she does). Her estranged father naturally cannot afford to pay, and the resulting arguments only led to a downward spiral of depression for her family.
Amidst the chaos, love blossoms between Chie and Shikanosuke. Yup, right when you least expect it. They get caught up in some Yakuza event too. XD Shikanosuke privately investigates her dad’s mistress. It’s revealed that she’s already a good number of months into her pregnancy, yet she understands and accepts the hatred directed at her, and continues to work to pay off the amount.
In a nutshell, with Shikanosuke’s support, Chie’s mom eventually drops the case, and Chie comes to terms with her dad’s mistress, and requests that she let him see her unborn brother once he is brought to the world.
Shiino Kirari. d2b’s vocalist. Also with her own share of family problems, largely due to poverty. Her route gives you some important life lessons: There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, you need money. :D
Kirari’s route is divided into two parts, a normal end and a true end which is only unlocked after you’ve played through all three heroines. I won’t spoil more, because hers is the longest route (it is the ONLY route in the game that has a Chapter 4), so I can only make it sound bland at best if I attempt to shorten it. The only way you can appreciate it is to play through in its entirety.
What I will say is, it’s an extremely heart-wrenching experience. XD
Kirari’s normal end will stick with you for a long time to come. But rest assured – the true end won’t leave you depressed. :)
Well, now that that’s out of the way, how did it do on the iPhone?
I haven’t played the original PC version, so I can’t compare with that. But for a visual novel ported to the iPhone, it was generally alright. No major crashes (it still crashes occasionally – especially if you abuse the skip function), no sudden bugs. The controls will probably be the greatest headache if you didn’t first look at the help file before starting the game. XD
You can skip read messages with a right flick, all messages with a left flick, read the log with a down flick and hide the text with an up flick. It’s pretty responsive. What isn’t is calling up the menu, which is placing two fingers on the screen simultaneously (they call it a “double-tap”, which can be misleading). You tend to accidentally activate the skip or the auto message (which is a long tap and release), which can get a little annoying at times.
This appears to be a complete, unedited port from the PC version to the iPhone, with the only change being the removal of adult CG. This meant that all the bad translation followed it here as well. :P
Bad grammar, spelling errors, contextual errors, you name it. Just one decent editor would have made all the difference. But it’s good for a few laughs. =)
The audio is also out of sync with the text pretty often, and it isn’t the phone’s problem. It’s again the insufficient checking done before release. The audio and the text are complete, just the first piece of audio always gets shifted to the last position and it gets played somewhat like in this order:
- Text: 1 2 3 4 5
- Audio: 2 3 4 5 1
Well, it shouldn’t affect you much if you don’t understand a word of Japanese. But it does get noticeable when you see a paragraph of text but hear only a few words spoken.
Localization errors shouldn’t deter you from playing this game. It’s basically like an extremely long multi-path book that you can’t put down. The small screen of the iPhone might get tiring over long periods, but the routes presented are well written (save for Sarina’s, which probably ended a little earlier than I’d have liked), and it’s one of the best visual novels I’ve played (not just on the iPhone).
However due to the numerous alcohol, drug and sexual references it is not a VN I’d recommend for the young. In fact, I see little difference after the removal of the CG because you’re still presented with some of the dialogue and even choices during those encounters that could’ve easily been removed were they really serious about reducing the age rating – basically the only difference is the background is a black screen. But human imagination can sometimes think up worse, so they might as well have included it. -_-“