Kana -Little Sister- Review

Contributed by J. Sarunski aka Unicorn

This game is a storytelling multipath-multiending adventure.

The main character of the story is a brother of a sister. The sister was born with an organ failure and first guesses of the doctors were, she would die at the age of 11. The story tells, how he overcame his hatred in childhood (because of her illness, she was pampered by the paraents, while he felt neglected) by understanding how weak she really was and grew to like and finally love his sister. However, even if medicine advanced and allowed to live her longer than the predicted 11 years, at some point in time, the organic failure has to kick in and has to become live-threatening. The story tells, how both of them feel about it and deal with this by showing their most important common events in the time they have together.

Nothing special: 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 in the chosen way to one of the possible 6 endings.

The soundtrack consists of 13 themes and 3 songs in CD-quality. Each of the themes expresses a special mood and is used according to accentuate the current situation of the story. In addition to it, some environental sounds are added sometimes. Only the missing voice-acting (except in the songs) might be regarded as a flaw.

The graphics, that visualize the story, have a very good quality that comply with the current state of the art of bishoujou in-game-graphics (as in "Tokimekei CheckIn!" and "Snow Drop").

They fall into two categories:
a) Illustrations of certain key events
b) backgrouds, onto that graphics of the currently present characters are pasted. For each characters there are different graphics (showing the current clothing and facial expression of the character).

No real movie-type-animations, but the changing expressions in the b-type graphics as well as redrawn a-type graphics that show the characters in different positions might be taken for animations.

User Interface:
The user Interface is also a usual one: The graphics fill the whole screen and a transparent texwindow floats on the graphic. The textwindow may be moved around or complete hidden from display. If a decision is to be made, all possible choices are displayed in the textwindow and the desired choice has to be picked by clicking. Functions, not related with the actions in the story (loading, saving, skipping already read passages, quitting, ...), are available via a menu, that appears after a right-click on the graphic.

The usual state-of-the-art-extras (graphic galleries, that allow direct access to the graphics, seen in the game and a jukebox for the themes and songs) are available after the game has been played through the firs time. Also, a gallery that becomes filled with the already seen endings is part of the extras.

My personal opinion:
When I started the game first, I already had very high expectations. However, almost all of them were surpassed by the experience this game gave me.

First of all, the story in most games covers a very short period of time in the life of the characters, while here a period of about ten years is covered (from the childhood of the main character in elementary school until his first year in college), showing the development of all characters during this time by focussing on some more or less important events during this time.

Second, it would have been easy to make this a simple forbidden-love-story between a brother and a sister, but the authot of the story made quite more of this: A tragic story of a love under the shadows of the permanently present danger of death of one of them because of her illness plus the problem of the forbidden love, leading to the dillemma, that while their time vanished, they could not simply express their love to the fullest, but had to hold back because of social conventions.

Third, besides the two main characters, there are a whole side-cast of other characters, that grow up as well, as the main characters and add to the depth of the story. Even if the game has no sound-acting, this did not bother me much, because the story and the tunes worked together good enough to make up for it. In fact, it might be even better, to leave the voices to the players imagination instead of hearing them (even though, I myself am a big fan of voice-acting).

The story is almost overloaded with emotions of all kinds (dramatic, tragic, romantic and funny events are all part of the story) and the few sex-scenes are not just eye-candy for voyeurs, but all important parts of the story. So even people who despise bishoujo-games for their sexual content might have to reconsider their position, if they take a close look at this game (if they don't, they would'nt even get to the sex-scenes, they hate so much, at all).

If this game is missing in a collection of bishoujo-games, this is a very BIG hole. I would recommend it to anyone (even if I don't have played through all of its possible endings, right now). However, there is one catch: Most of the possible endings of this story are not just sad, but very sad. The first ending, I got, made me start crying repitively for 12 hours. I had to distract myself from remembering it by playing another game in order to regain control about my own emotions (hint: "Tokimeki CheckIn!" and "Kango Shicyauzo" are nice counterparts).