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First Impressions: Piece of Wonder

January 22nd, 2007, by zalas
Posted in VisualNews , Tagged: ,

First Impressions: Piece of Wonder

While initially reporting on the release of Piece of Wonder as download software someone reported to me that the downloadable version of the game as doubled up as a “time-based” trial. Having known about Piece of Wonder for quite a while and being amused by “battling polygons”, I was eager to give the game a shot. I immediately started downloading it from CNet when I found out… and god is CNet slow >.>;;. Maybe I’m just too spoiled by VisualNew’s release server these days >.>;;. While waiting, I decided to pull up Erogamescape and check out how the Japanese had rated PoW. When I arrived, I was dismally disappointed to learn that PoW had a rating of 50 on EGS. Nevertheless, considering there was only one review, I decided not to take that into account and finished my download. I was also kinda curious what this “time-based” trial thing was.

The game finished downloading after forever, and I installed it. While watching the installer, I noticed something kinda of funny. All the installer was doing was moving the files in the installer directory to whatever directory you designated. It makes me wonder why Hirameki didn’t just bundle everything into one install file to make the downloadable a bit cleaner. I started the game up and I was present with a screen with a couple options, one to purchase the game, one for something (I can’t remember of the top of my head), and another just to play. I hit the just play button which prompted me to fill a bunch of personal information like where I lived, email, and all that stuff. Given that it was already midnight, I needed to go to work in a few hours, and wanted to get this quickly over, I just filled it in without much thought. Afterwards a message popped up to me essentially saying this: “You’ve got 45 minutes to play this game, then after that, its bai bai time sucker~ =P”. I glanced at the clock, calculated how many hours I would get to sleep if I played this, and decided “Fuck it, I’m curious enough I’ll stay up another 45 minutes!”, and I am so glad I did! And thus my journey with Piece of Wonder began.

The game starts out with a unnamed man talking to his pregnant wife. They are in some research lab specialized for holding dangerous and messed up specimens. The wife had somehow transformed into a very “beautiful” elf lady prior to the events of the game, and had willing put herself into this lab. After some conversation between you and your wife, the day ends. The next day explodes on you as the wife had transformed into a monster of sorts and is escaping the lab. She reaches outside where is is raining and suddenly stops in her tracks. It was raining the day she first turned into this form…

Regaining her consciousness from her berserk stage, slowly being surrounded by guards, you approach her and both of you conclude it’s for the best and return to the lab.

That ends the prologue of the story. Afterwards the opening credits play, which I wasn’t too terribly impressed by. The song is not very memorable and neither is the animation. The prologue set up the background to the story (supposedly?). It felt a bit cliché to me, but not terribly so. I didn’t find it terribly interesting, but I continued on.

As all good school related visual novels have to start out, our protagonist starts out sleeping in his bed and his childhood friend (who is always a girl and one of the cute/popular ones at school) is trying to wake him up. This friend is Amane Saionji, who you proudly proclaim is the the slightly slow but intelligent girl that you’ve been friends with forever. Typical typical… till you hear crackling. Knowing Amane’s grandfather is a mad scientist, you put two and two together… and come to the slow and sleepy conclusion that crackling could be sparks…. spa.. SPARKS!?!?! Jumping out of your bed, your “friend” decided she would try her grandfather’s invention to help wake you up. It’s an F*ing stun rod! =OO. Seemingly being as slow as you claimed, Amane can’t figure out for the life of her what’s wrong with waking you up with a stun rod =_=;;.

I’m REALLY your friend~~ *evil grin*

After attempting to scarf down Amane’s horrible cooking, you start your walk to school with her, just as you do everyday. On your venture, an old lady in a jogging suit gives you an evil smirk and challenges you to a race via her EYES~~ *hiss*~~. Having a burning desire to beat the old lady into the ground at her own game, your given the choice to begin the race or actually stay with Amane. Being the nice guy I am, and I liked Amane’s character, I decided to stick around with her instead of taking on the nasty granny. Watch it you granny though, on my next play through, I’m coming after you! *shakes fist*

Piece of Wonder continues with quirky characters, some great lines, awesome choice points, and overall great humor. I was pleasantly surprised by my 45 minutes with the game. I met androids, acquired a little sister, socked a lolicon with my fists, gaped in awe from while watching a death ray, and mostly just laughed.

I seemed to have landed myself onto Shouko’s path. Her story is that while waiting I outside waiting outside my school for Amane, I noticed a “very cute” elementary student. In the distance, there was a character from my school that I recognized to be one of them with “strange habits with children”. Deciding to be the hero, I go out and sock the guy before he ever gets a chance to get near Shouko and just leave him lying there on the ground.

That must have been my favorite scene. I don’t know, something about socking a lolicon just made my day. I know, I’m typically the person who likes more of the loli characters, but that didn’t remove any of the fun out of getting the option to sock the guy with my fists or beat him with whatever was inside my bag. Plus the phrasing of the questions were brilliantly done. Example from this scene: “Hit him with whatever is inside my bag” or “No, my bare fists are good enough for Yamada/Tanaka/whatever his name was” XD.

Afterwards, you meet up with Amane and walk around with Shouko. Everyone parts after a bit and heads for their respective homes. The next day, you are “nicely” awoken by Amane actually using her stun stick on you, and frankly pissed off that she put xxxx amounts of volts into your body xD. Then things get wacky as you meet Amane’s new “twin sister” that her grandfather created, Raki Saionji. Not beliveing that Raki is an android, Raki decides to prove it to you by shooting eyebeams and melting an expensive vase that your parents had brought home. One of the most hillarious set of lines must have come from this scene.

Kazuya (you) “So… a death ray, huh?”
Raki “No, actually it was a microwave used to dry hair. I just concentrated it towards one position. I’m actually a maid android”.

Everyday household items like hair drying androids put to good use!

Later that day, giving into dominatrix Raki, you run into Shouko after school and in front of both Amane and Raki, Shouko pop’s the question that is every lolicon’s wet dream:

“Don’t…. don’t you want a little sister?”

Okay, I already though Kazuya was a lolicon before this, but after choosing, “Yeah,” and watching his thought bubbles, I was garunteed of one thing. Either Kazuya is one of the nicest “big brothers” out there and most likely would get payment for his niceness, Shouko is a lolicon manipulator out to get men, or this story is just wacky, way out there, but damn funny! Nevertheless, I had just acquired a little sister, and damn was she loyal to me (ah~~ this is the life~~ =P).

Gao~~ My Japanese sucks when I haven’t gotten any sleep, I’ll fix this later.

Unfortunately, I only got through little more then another day after that before my trial ran out.

From a technical standpoint, the engine PoW ran on seemed fairly simplistic, but got the job done. No fancy effects or what not seeing by higher end commercial visual novel makers, but that is understandable as PoW was made by a doujin-soft group. I found the orange text used in the backlog a bit difficult to read though, and even the normal white text could have used something to make it stand out a bit more. Mabbe if you could change the opacity of the text box, it would have worked out well.

The voice casting was surprisingly good. After having to deal with Coco’s voice in Ever17, I was fearing Shouko’s voice, but Masayo Kurata display an impressive performance by keeping Shouko sounding like a cute little sister, without making her voice whinny, high pitched, or annoying. By far my favorite voice actor though was Ayako Kawasumi who voiced Amane Saionji. You can just feel the slowiness/relaxedness of Amane Saionji through her voice. Without even knowing anything about Amane, just from Ayako’s performance, I could have been able to tell half of her personality. Miyuki Sawashiro deliver also a good performance of the tsundere android for PoW. Props to all the VA’s for their good work on this doujin title.

Many of complained about the artwork just from quick glances at it. I don’t blame them, but I do have a message to reserve their judgement till playing PoW for a little bit first. The artwork really reminds of me Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Very rounded and squished. But just as Higurashi’s artwork grew on me as I delved deeper into the story, so did PoW. It’s a bit different and unusual, but I wont write it off as bad just because it doesn’t conform to modern anime style.

Lastly, the translation itself. I haven’t seen the Japanese text, but Hirameki has always tended to have accurate translations, if not lacking on the English side of things occasionally >.>;;. I am very glad to announce that in PoW, it seem they have finally breaken away from their bad stereotype. I remember talking with Laura at last year’s AX and how she mentioned she was working quite a bit on PoW, and having a native English speaker on staff seems to make a world of differance! Props to you Laura and the Hirameki team for the best translation I’ve seen you guys do to date!

Final Thoughts:
Well, I’ve only got now three hours to sleep before I have to go to work because of PoW and writing this review. Was it worth it? Yes, definitely! The game pleasantly surprised me in its humor and characters. Though I did not get to the main portion of the storyline or any battles, and it does look as if PoW will get darker and more serious, so far I have been greatly impressed by this work. I’m hoping that the 50 on EGS was just one persons grudge on the game, but if PoW keeps up the same amount of quality I’ve experienced so far, then I’ll gladly be the one who goes to EGS and writes up my own review of offset the score!

I am greatly looking forward to buying the boxed copy when it comes out. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to wait a bit till it hits store shelves, but being a collector and all, I <3 my boxes. And with only a $5 difference between the boxed version and the downloadable version, I’ll gladly shell out the extra cash.

Random Musings:
I know this is an 15+ game, but I’m amazed at some of the implied “dirty” otaku humor that I encountered in PoW, mainly involving Shouko’s. Now unless you were a fairly experienced visual novel player or decently hardcore otaku, it could be pretty easy to miss some of the implications, but when Chokkotto Sister flashed through my head after reading some of the lines, I knew clearly who Studio CrossFire was targeting xD. Ah well, I guess its kinda like Wallace and Gromet: The Case of the Wererabbit, as long as everything is only implied, we can still slap a G rating on it =P.

Small Apology:
First, I apologize for is the sudden switch in using “you” to Kazuya somewhere along my review. I couldn’t remember that bastards name for the longest time and I couldn’t reopen the game because my trial ran out… so till it came back to me, I just kept on using “you” everywhere. Second, I apologize if my writing style/review was boring/crappy/poorly written; this is my first time doing something like this, so please cut me some slack ^^;;.

Additional Screenshots:
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Original post by Misuzu, migrated from VisualNews


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