Critical Point Review

Contributed by Unicorn aka J. Sarunski

Critical Point

This game is a multipath-multiending adventure. In fact, the stories told can be completely different depending on the choices and the events, seen by the player. In this game, the main character or other characters as well may even die, if the player does at certain points the wrong decision (that's, what the name of the game perhaps was meant to tell to the players as well).

Leiji Osumi is a special investigator that was sent to a moonbase to investigate some lately frequent occuring irregularities. Officially, he was sent as a technical advisor, that would help solve technical problems (most of the recent irregularities were of this kind).

Supported by a clumsy, but alway high spirited (not to mention as bright as cute) liaison and a secret third generation android (reminds me of armitage naomi: also called a "third", meaning an artificial human, regarding it's appearance and acting), disguised as a technical officer, he has to find the cause for the problems and to prevent an escalation of the current situation, leading probably to the destruction of the moonbase and perhaps even more.

The game has 25 different endings (or so says the box). Each ending will be concluded with an ending screen, containing a sequence number and the name for that ending. Well, 6 of these 25 are happy endings that all are very different. One ending is the so-called real-ending that may be recognized because of the fact that it has finishing credits instead of the ending screen. All other endings are bad endings and some of them may be only distinguished by the ending screen.

Most of the time, the game simply tells the story. At some points, the player has to make a decision for the main character, how to proceed and after this, the story continues acccording to the selection made.

This time, the soundtrack consists only of instrumental themes and no sung song. Some of them are assigned to charaters and used if they appear, others to express special moods (as for example in dangerous situations). As usual, only female characters have voice-acting and also as usual, this voice acting is original japanese and pretty good.

Again, there are:
a) backgroundgraphics, onto them the graphics of the currently active characters are pasted
b) graphics drawn for special scenes, most of the time even redrawn with different expressions on the faces, in order to display changing moods during conversations in special scenes.

According to the scenery, the backgrounds are usually not very detailed (on the floors and in the quarters anyway), but that emphasizes how unnatural the whole situation is: An artificial environment with only 1/6 of the usual gravity and only some centimeters of walls stand between the crew inside them and sure death in the vacuum on the outside. In contrast to this, some endings contain scenes back at earth and these scenes have a lot of details in their backgrounds (trees with lot of branches, buildings, clouds), so even if the scenes within the base seem to have been less work for the artists as usual, it may also be regarded as a special style to enhance the (almost claustrophobic) atmosphere of the moonbase and should not at all be seen as a reason for complaints.

No Animations, except changing expressions and sometimes sliding of the view on the current graphic.

User Interface:
The engine of Snow-Drop has been reused for this game (at least, it looks like this), so I cut this short:
- The graphics fill the whole Screen
- On top of the graphics floats a transparent window that contains the displayed text
- If decisions are to be made, then the possible choices are displayed in this window and may be chosen by clicking or using the keyboard
- Functions, regarding the current text display are available via the buttons in the title of this floating window: (- scroll backward, - scroll forward, - replay voice, - fast forward to next decision)
- Via a menu, that scrolls in from the top of the screen if the mousepointer approaches the top line of the screen, functions that interrupt the game at the current position can be at every time used: - saving the current position, - loading an earlier saved position, - changing some settings, and - ending the game.

All graphics, seen in the game, are collected in galleries that specialize on the different female characters. That's all. Particularly no possibility to listen to the different themes except playing through the game until they occur.

Special Features:
Limited version
This game was (as a kind of market research about the acceptance of still mosaiced games) released in two different Versions: One Version, limited to 300 copies, with still mosaiced explicit graphics and an unlimited "regular" Version with demosaiced H-scenes. The limited version was released a month earlier than the "regular" version at a price $10 less than the "regular" version. In addition to this, the limited version contained also 3 demos, while the regular edition contained only itself on the CD.

My personal opinion:
This game is a good compromise between "Tokimeki CheckIn!" and "Snow Drop", set in an SciFi-scenery. The story (or rather stories) are well developed, but not as well as the story and characters of "Snow Drop". There are a multitude of paths and possible good endings, but not as much possibilities and not as entertaining as "Tokimeki CheckIn!". Anyway, the manner in which the storyline was affected by the decisions surprised me quite a lot and added to it's entertainment value.

Also, aiming for all 25 different endings gave the game a nice replay value. Nothing much to say about the bad endings. They are, well, painful, but when they happen, the name of the ending almost everytimes contains a clue that points to the mistake the player has made (that's the point for making 18 bad endings and some of them looking very much the same). The good endings are at least fun, two of them (#23 and the "real" ending) are even rivals for beeng the answer to the question, which ending I liked most (I haven't made up my mind yet).

I started liking SciFi-stories with the first season of start trek TOS, I like animes as macross, bubblegum crisis and armitage III, and last but not least, it was the anime "Space Firebird" that got me hooked to manga-styled anime at the first place (and yes, this anime featured also a very cute robot-lady, so it may be regarded as my very first bishoujou-experience). So, I had to give it a try after it was released and did never even regret, that I bought both versions at once.

In fact, this situation gave me the proof, that I do not really mind, if the explicit graphics are mosaiced. If the mosaics had bothered me really that much, I simply would have saved the current position, exchanged the CD and started again with the saved position. However, that never happened. I played the whole game in the "limited version" and reached all ends, before I at last tried the "regular version" (and tried in vain to find some textual differences between both of them. These differences are either a hoax, or thus slight (maybe a correction of a wrong spelled word? never noticed some wrong spellings in the limited edition), that I have no clue about them after all.). After I was sure about this, I even started ordering some original japanese games, that always have to be mosaiced in this places (but that's another story, that may be continued in reviews on these japanese games).