Title: Hello, world
Synopsis: Set in Akihabara in the near future, "Hello, world." is a hearty, feature-length, cyber battle-action/campus-life story about a robot boy and the girls that surround him.
Tremendous progress has been made in technical advances. Various networks have taken strongholds with each new generation. Though not nearly advanced as humans, two-legged robots are utilized in many practical areas throughout the world. Amid worldwide peace, the human race remains unchanged.
Kazuki Tomonaga is a robot made by an entity called "HIKARI" for the purpose of "GLOBAL ILLUMINATION". He's created with ingenuity as precise as that of a human being. Kazuki is commanded to research the concepts of "human emotion". Along the way he meets various girls and has exchanges with them. In their "exchanges" his "curiosity" gradually turns into "affection" and his mission becomes more intense. He gradually starts to build his own philosophy, not knowing he will be forced to make crucially important decisions in the near future.
Structure: Days from October 1st to October 30th
Length: 100+ hours
Game type: Cyberpunk android adventure
Difficulty: Relatively easy, most of choices are just about picking the same girl all the time
Character Design rating: 3/10
Protagonist rating: 6/10
Story rating: 6/10
Game quality: 6/10
Overall rating: 5/10
What? How can "Hello, world" not be a masterpiece - are you even sane? That would be my initial reaction as well, but I have my argumentation. All in its due time.
First of all, I was shocked by trash rating of the game in the most notable Japanese reviewer blog of old games ADVGAMER (1). The reasons for that are quite vague: overextendent, confusing in the second part and as a result a really boring game. But of course I just considered reviewer a weakling who could not understand the gist of the game - and bravely dived into the action.
The first half of the game is surprisingly orthodox despite the fact that protagonist as an android. He explores the world and the girls close to him. There are over 10 events with each girl to pursue with its romantic resolution. Pace is really bad, but curious side-characters and unfamiliar futuristic setting make it tolerable.
But then happens second part which is a set of action episodes with a bit of romance in-between. And it all comes to very simplistic story. There are five girls who have relatives suffered from a certain "evil" corporation. Hacker incidents start to happen breaking out into a full-scale machine rebellion. That's it! There's no sophistication in the plot at all. Of course, there are much more side-characters, every girl has her own circumstances, and there is a series of incidents leading to the culmination, but it does not change the fact that it's all done just to show action scenes, not to really move the plot. But the greatest tragedy of the game is that it lasts for 30 hours on initial playthrough, and subsequent routes need to go through absolutely the same plot, just with different romance events and the very ending. As ADVGAMER puts it, game either must have an unusual setting and take time to describe its details or have a common setting and then adhere to compact structure. But Hello, world tries to present a common setting like something new, and then prolongs it to insane lengths putting reader in the state of the ultimate boredom.
One of the flaws of the game is tasteless character design. Who said that green hair girl should have green eyes, violet hair girl - violet eyes, blue hair - blue eyes and red hair girl - red eyes?! That looks absolutely stupid. Character designs are trashy, and artist work manages to catch such poor angles at times that result looks super-ugly. There is just one girl with the design I like - that's Junko. Cool white long hair with really nice haircut, great black and red suit, mini-skirt and always carrying a gun. Just perfect! But she's not one of the heroines! She's just a side-character to help fight baddies in action scenes! Why-y-y???
The second disappointing feature is "partial voicing", but don't be misguided here, it's actually NO VOICING. We barely manage to hear how each heroine should sound during the first hour of play, then there are 30 hours of NO VOICING. Not in action scenes, not in culmination romantic scenes - just never. That's something really disappointing.
Game really makes the best of 3D rendering from Phantom of Inferno (close-ups on weapons) and Vjedogonia (moving vehicles), but action scenes remain confusing. The air battle between three aircrafts on one side and one modified air fighter on the other side left me really disappointed. Action scenes end with some sudden development rather than being one logical performance.
Routes are composed in one of the worst possible ways. Story is absolutely the same with just romance events changing from heroine to heroine. Then each heroine has her individual end where only she and hero survive as well as the true end where everyone survives. There is just a bit of fresh air in the individual endings of each heroine, but True ending of each heroine is absolutely the same... save for the last 5 minutes that describe heroine 6 years after the main events of the story. That's a real crime to make people try to grasp something new in 30-hour long route and not even giving anything really new. It's the same story, but we hope you have 150 hours to read them all - a horrible move.
The biggest problem with "Hello, world" is the aftertaste and lack of satisfaction. It's not that bad while it lasts for the first time even though pace is terrible, but each new "route" only brings anger and despair. I look back and only see dozens of hours of wasted time. What did I get in return? Nothing. Not a good story, not a good romance. Some flashy action scenes and some nice side-characters are the only things that I look back to without irritation. Game does not respect its readers. Readers should not respect such a disintegrated game.