Foreword: I hope you’re not surprised that this game was pretty much one of the top priorities for me once I came back to VNs. As a fan of Izumi Tsubasu since Mashiroiro Symphony, I always want to fucking kill myself when I see her blogging the stuff she sells in her booth in Comiket for pretty obvious reasons. Legit one of my bucket list includes decorating all part of my room with Izumi Tsubasu/Hisuitei illustration, so my love for this artist is through the roof.
Let’s get to this title, which had some interesting concepts included in it. I actually have not read much of the information regarding it because I didn’t want to spoil myself, and heard it was quite short (which it was!) so there’s that too. I’m going to try my absolute hardest not to be biased for this title due to my insane love for Izumi Tsubasu but I just ask for your understanding that I’m a human too and can be a bit biasOMG MIYAKO IS SO CUTEE AHHHHHHHHHH@*!&@$(@&!##
Please do note there will be spoilers in this game in addition to various hypothesis I’ve made regarding this game! Please read at your own risk
Summary: It would be a normal town until strange things such as its Shrine becomes broken by an earthquake and strange powers called artifacts start to appear out of nowhere. In this seemingly normal town of Shiromitsukawa, Kakeru is involved with all of these incidents whether or not from coincidence, and his meeting with Miyako Kujo will also be one of them.
Story Length: Very short (<10 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Very easy
Comments: So this game has a feature where your first playthrough is a bad end. The second playthrough changes based on your choices and it’s quite obvious which choices you’re supposed to choose sooooooo yeah.
Character Design Rating: 7/10
Story Rating: 3/10
Protagonist Rating: 4/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 4/10
Rating Comments: Okay so I feel like this game needs a bit of commentary. I hope to really do most of the discussion down in the comments section and talk about the most basic and objective stuff here.
Characters are really what makes this game here, with a colorful design of heroines which allow the
bland story to come alive, the humor used in this game is rather intricate and relates to the heroines making it a plus, and you see even heroines who aren’t the focus of this title (i.e. everyone aside from Miyako) getting involved in one way or another, so there’s that. Oh and Izumi Tsubasu
Miyako herself is actually quite charming. As that “ojousama” character who is ironically very conservative about spending her money and instead of fancy limos she rides a bicycle and works part time at 9-Ball. Being voiced by Sawata Natsu who has an absolutely adorable voice only added to this charm and while she herself had a couple of strange design herself, I generally found Miyako to be a very attractive heroine.
And she was designed by Izumi Tsubasu
Let’s be honest that’s some insane bishoujo drawing skills right there
Protagonist is “okay”, though aside from his design of being that absolute supporter to the heroine, he really had no other role. The ending of this game makes heavy implications about this character and if that happens to be the case I’d be pretty disappointed. Again more talk on this later.
Story is what really disappoints me, as the writer really had trouble with maintaining a single theme throughout this title. I’ll definitely discuss this more in addition to some unanswered questions below. To be honest, I think the game shot itself in the foot by only releasing one episode. I mean it might have worked well if everything was good and it was kept a cliffhanger, but as it is players might be a bit more upset things were left unanswered than giving that “omg what happens next?” kind of feeling.
The romance in the game was exactly the same too. Sure it was adorable, but oh god the tropes
Sexual Content: High
Comments: Okay, let’s talk about this game here in detail. Spoilers too, so fair warning.
First, “omg protagonist has powers but we don’t know what it is holy shit it’s such a mystery” trope. Alright, that’s fair you want to take this as a mysterious game right from the start, but there’s already a lot of foreshadow on what his abilities are, and a lot of them are pointing at a single conclusion that his abilities are that of support capabilities; more specifically a magnifying one seeing how the end of the game shows Miyako’s stigma growing larger in size. It’s also presumable that larger stigma = greater abilities as shown by that blonde girl/guy having the stigma covering the side of her face.
Not saying it’s bad, but at least in a good game, the protagonist is the one fighting in the front lines or coming to the rescue in a dire situation. Of course there’s a chance the writers might scrap it and give him some supernatural power in the end, but that would just be a deus ex machina which is poorly foreshadowed too so ehhh.
So make sure you don’t make that mistake, Palette
Second is how conveniently the four heroines and the protagonist are capable of using these abilities and artifacts. That’s pretty much a no-no especially because there’s very little explanation to it. I’m very doubtful this will ever be explained even later on, so until it is, I’m marking it as a bad trait.
Third is the strange introduction of the anime plus the lore of Magatsu and the Snake God, which after hearing I legitimately flinched as a PSO2 player (which features the former as a raid boss), so I guess this is something that I didn’t know there was a lore about… but neither the anime or this lore had anything to do with the story. If at all, maybe the fact that Magatsu is from another world (which is also where the artifacts originated?) and maybe that Sophi doll-like thing is Magatsu itself–I dunno. It was really an incoherent element that was introduced in the beginning and left hanging there without any form of explanation, and that’s just going to leave a bad taste in the mouth.
There are a lot of questionable things such as how Yoichi “accidentally hears” Kakeru and Miyako discussing abilities but never mentioned or hypothesis on how the Evil Eye user was killed… In fact, how the game simply “kills him off” and ends the story there also makes things anticlimactic and something rather frustrating.
All in all, a very incomplete game as it should be. The writer will really need to step it up and start unraveling things with the second episode or the readers will become bored of the ambiguity and leave the series.
Except if you’re an Izumi Tsubasu maniac like me. You’ll stay with this series regardless
Affection for the Characters: High
10/10 Let’s be real here 7/10
Music Score: 8/10
- Great character design and quality humor here and there
- Music and CG are superior for the most part, making this have the bare basics
- The suspense theme was greatly appreciated and was kept rather consistent throughout the game
- Foreshadowing is at least present
- Pretty shit story to be honest, with a mix-mash of various elements which doesn’t work well to present the game to the readers
- Lots of unanswered questions. I know this is supposed to be the first story of a series, but considering how not even the 2nd game is released after 4 months, I’m having a bit of dread for this series already.
- Way too short and doesn’t really have the length to validate the romance between the two characters.
Overall, 9-nine was at least an interesting read to keep me occupied for a couple of hours. While not exactly the best execution, 9-nine has some really interesting concepts that I really hope the writer is capable of pulling off without screwing up. As it stands right now the series is heavily incomplete and more of a nukige seeing consecutive H-scenes back to back, but if refined a bit more and reviewed, I can see this title becoming a valuable jewel to the eroge market.