This game is a visual novel, with a slight touch of roleplaying. This means at some points in the story, the player has to make a decision and, depending on how good the decision matches with the character in the story, the story continues or ends at the end of the current chapter.
The story is divided into four chapters that are connected by a main story. The game starts with the main story. At certain points in the main story, the story is interrupted and a chapter begins. Each chapter (and, of course, the main story also) has its own characters, and no direct correlation is visible at first sight. Each chapter itself is a complete story. After a chapter is completed (and the player has not made too many mistakes that would violate the original storyline), the main story continues (sometimes, not at the same point in time when the chapter interrupted the main story).
All stories have one theme in common: A thread of silver that is capable of granting its owner a wish. Because granting a wish usually disrupts the natural order, the owner has to pay a very dear price for getting his wish. This leads almost every time to a very moving, sad (= tragic) story.
Most of the time, the game tells the story. At some points in the story, the player has to make a decision. Reading the story carefully is the key to getting an idea how the story is supposed to continue, and making the appropriate decisions opens the way into the next portion of the main story, and the next chapter. At the beginning of each chapter and each section of the main story, the player has to make a decision if the text of the story should be displayed in the original japanese or in its english translation.
34 themes that express different moods or special features (none of the themes is directly related to one special character) make up one very well balanced MIDI-soundtrack. In fact, I am not really sure if they are MIDI at all, because one of them is sung, making it almost impossible to be MIDI. Voice-acting exists only for the female main characters, but this voice acting has the usual superb quality of japanese voice acting.
In this game, the graphics are divided in Backgrounds, that get the currently present characters pasted on and full-screen graphics, especially drawn for visualizing special scenes (by far not all of them h-scenes). However, the quality of the graphics is way above my standard.
For those who take offense at mosaics, because this game is an original japanese game with an english translation-option (even for displaying the english characters, NJStar had to be running on Win98), the erotic graphics are still mosaiced.
The usual kind of animations, if they may be called this: Changing expressions of the characters, pasted on the backgrounds, and different variations of the special-scene-graphics that are exchanged according to the story.
The screen is split up into two parts: the bigger upper part displays the graphics and the smaller lower part displays the text. If a choice is to be made, the options are also displayed in the text area and the desired option has to be clicked. Loading, saving, returning to the main menu and so on are always available via a menu, that appears after a click on the right mouse button. Some special display options (as windowmode full/window or text speed) are available via the main menu, that appears if the mousepointer approaches the top of the screen.
The usual graphics gallery that fills with the pictures seen in the game is available as "CG" in the special screen, that the option "omake" in the main menu leads to. Also, all themes may be selected directly for your listening pleasure. Some more surprises become available from the omake-screen, when the game is completely played through.
My personal opinion:
The story and characters are very well written. For someone who is not capable of crying, this game would be wasted. However, someone who is capable of feeling with the characters, will surely bawl their eyes out. (I was most moved by the second chapter. This was the only one that I failed to finish with the first attempt, because I opposed almost willingly the plot.)
The soundtrack is the best MIDI-Soundtrack (if it is MIDI, I am still not sure), I have ever heard. Only the CD-DA-Soundtrack of Tokimeki Check-In! may be superior in quality, but not in variety to this one.
This game could be considered as a real masterpiece, if it were not for it's one weak point: The english translation. Some of the sentences look like they were the original japanese text translated by babelfish. This has added at some inappropriate places some unwanted elements of humour. But the stories themselves were very captivating and the general mood usually left not much place for laughters. So, after getting used to this (sometimes really horrible) kind of translation, I also understood them very (sometimes almost too) well and got completely caught in the course of each chapter. Only the last chapter was a bit confusing (I am not quite sure, but there seemed also to be an error in the script of this chapter), because of its two parallel unrelated storylines, while the main storyline in background also waited for its continuation after the chapter.
On the other hand, if it were not translated in this strange manner, it would have remained only a Japanese-language experience, meaning I would have missed this really wonderful experience. Still, a better translation would be desirable to make it a real masterpiece of a visual novel. Also, the surprises that became available after playing through the game had no english translations at all. This could be another possible small improvement for this almost marvellous game.