Review by hooi

"The search for the girl in the sky..."

INTRODUCTION
Sega Dreamcast's Air is released by NEC Interchannel in September 20, 2001. It is a port from the H PC game by Key with all the H part censored and with voice-overs added. There are also new scenes in the DC version, as well.

Air PC First Edition was first released in 2000. The package includes two PC game CDs and a music soundtrack CD (Ornithopter). Air Regular Edition is released a year later without the music soundtrack CD. There is also an Air All-Age Edition, which is the PC edition without the adult part.

During the week of release, Air was ranked fourth selling about 42,445 copies of the game in Famitsu Website (Sep 17,2001 - Sep 23,2001), which is pretty good for a visual novel Dreamcast game.

As with Kanon (the other Key's game), there are a couple of popular voice-actresses in this game, Hisakawa Aya (Kamio Haruko) and Inoue Kikuko (Uraha). Hisakawa-san's popular voice-over roles are Kero-chan of Card Captor Sakura and Skuld of Ah! Megami-sama. Inoue-san's voice-over popular roles are Belldandy of Ah! Megami-sama and Ayame-san of Tantei Shinshi Dash.

BASIC STORY FLOW
There are three scenarios in the game. They are Dream, Summer and Air Scenarios. Each scenario represents a different phase in the story.

In Dream scenario, you played as Yukito-kun. You are a travelling entertainer. You earn money using your ''magic'' to move the doll, which you failed consistently to earn any money. In additional to that, you even have a kid kicking your doll far away at a town near the sea. ^_^;;

The purpose of your journey is to find the girl on the opposite side of the sky, a story that your mother told you about when you are young. After her ''death'', you started the journey.

You will have choices that will later determine which of the three girls' story you will be entering. The girls are Kamio Misuzu-chan, Kirishima Kano-chan and Tohno Minagi-chan.

Misuzu-chan is a girl going to the school at the countryside town near the sea. She is living together with her mother, Haruka-san. She always smiles cheerfully, and in additional to that, a very strong emotionally.

Kano-chan is a girl living at the town's clinic. Both her parents are at the other world. Currently, she is living together with her sister who is working as a doctor. She loves animal and always together with a dog named ''Potato''.

Minagi-chan is a beautiful girl. She appears to never show much emotion. In actuality, she is very warmth and inside her, hides a strong affection for her mother. She is a member of the astronomy club at her school.

Getting all three girls' good endings, you will unlock the Summer Scenario. In Summer scenario, the story is about Ryuuya-dono, Kanna-chan and Uraha-san. It takes place in Ancient Japan and the year is 994 AD. There are NO choices at all in this scenario. Giving too much information might spoil your story, but the Summer Scenario story is very nice. BELIEVE ME! ^_^

There are a lot of mild adult jokes, especially in this scenario. For example, Ryuuya-dono asked Kanna-chan and Uraha-san to pull up their ''skirt'' and Uraha-san called him a pervert for wanting both girls at the same time. :D Anyway, Ryuuya-dono asked them to pull up their ''skirt'' so that they can walk better and faster.

After finishing the Summer Scenario, you will unlock Air Scenario. This time, you will be looking from a crow's perspective. :P The story starts on the day before Misuzu-chan first met Yukito-kun. Most of the time, you will stay together with Misuzu-chan, as she will keep you as her pet.

Even though the crow does not understand what people are saying, he can sense their emotions and as the person playing the game, you can understand what the people are saying. The only thing that is in the crow's mind most of the time is ''I am happy, when I am with this girl''. The funny part is when the crow decided that Haruko-san (Misuzu-chan's mother) and Yukito-san are the enemies. You got a choice whether you want to attack them or not. :D

First, you will look at the relationship between Yukito-kun and Misuzu-chan from Misuzu-chan's perspective, as she told the crow everything. This will explain why Misuzu-chan acted the way she did in the Dream Scenario. Then, you will look at the relationship between Haruko-san and Misuzu-chan, a very touching mother and daughter relationship.

INTERESTING PHASES
Kamio Misuzu
''Watashi mo, isshou ni sagashitai. Yukito-san ga zutto sagashiteru ko. Kono sora ni iru ko.''
[I also want to search for her together with you. The girl who you always have been searching for. The girl in the sky.]

Kirishima Kano
''Mahoutte ne, dare ka wo shiawase ni suru tame ni aru dayo.''
[Magic, it exists to make someone happy, you know.]

Tohno Minagi
''...Okane wo moratte... omamagoto wo surun desu ka?''
[...Playing house... to earn money?]

''...Sono oningyou no mune ni wa... kitto shiawase na omoide ga idakarete iru no desu ne...''
[...Inside that doll's chest... I bet, kept your happy memories, right?...]

Potato
''Piko, piko.''
[I am an alien.]{-- Just kidding. :P

Ryuuya
''Aitsu hodo, karakai gai no aru yatsu wa inai.''
[There is no other person who is more fun to make fun of.]

''Kigae daro. Mitete yaru kara hayakushiro.''
[You are going to change your clothes, right? I will watch it, so be quick about it.]

Kanna
''Anzuru na. Tada no kusemono da.''
[Don't concern yourself about him. He is just a pervert.]

''Kore wa me dewa naku, yo no negai de aru. Ryuuya-dono, shinanai de hoshii.''
[This is not an order, it's my wish. Ryuuya-dono, I don't want you to die.]

GAME SYSTEM
This is a visual novel, so all you have to do is read and make choice, repetitively. Probably the only irritating thing about the game is that the game let you change the name of the protagonist, Kunisaki Yukito-kun, however, if you change the name, the game will become the original mode or the no-voice mode, which is kinda stupid. Let's just say, I am not too fond of the name ''Yukito'', as it reminds me of a specific creepy character in Clamp's Card Captor Sakura.

If you make a wrong choice, you can always ''rewind'' or go backward in the story, a feature that is in several of NEC Interchannel titles, including Canvas ~Sepia iro no Mochi-fu and Sentimental Graffiti 2. I like this feature a lot because it saved me time in loading and saving games. Of course, you should still save once in a while because that feature only save you time if you find out that it is the wrong choice by the response that you are getting after your decision.

GRAPHIC AND MUSIC
The girls are very cutely drawn. However, there aren't too many CGs. In additional to that, there are CGs that are not close-up CGs and there are also CGs of other girls in the four main girls' CG album.

The BGMs are very good and help set the mood for the story. One of the climax BGM sounds as though it has the Kadazan's traditional dance music together with other accompanied musics. It is my favourite BGM in the game.

The songs in the game are very good too, especially the one that is played just before the ending credits in the Air Scenario. The one that is called ''Aozora'' or ''Blue Sky''.

REPLAYABILITY
As usual, the replayability of the game is very low. However, it is usually best to play this type of game at least twice because it will help you appreciate the story more the second time you went through the game, especially Misuzu-chan's story in Dream scenario. You will understand why each characters did what they did.

In additional to that, to enjoy a game like this, you should try as many possible alternatives (choose alternative choices). Of course, it always great to go for the bad endings of this game. The bad ending for Air, where Yukito-kun and Misuzu-chan said 'good bye' to each other is pretty cool.

JAPANESE LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
The Japanese that are used in the game is not that difficult, except in Summer Scenario. There are a lot of not commonly used Japanese words in Summer Scenario. It is due to the fact that Summer Scenario took place in 994 AD. Anyway, I recommend you to have a pretty good Japanese background before you play the game for full appreciation of the game.

In additional to that, there is a section of the game where the small text will just flash by. So, you have to be a fast reader, as well. The irritating part about it is that the text is very small. Or is it because I have a 13'' TV. ^_^;; Okay, in the worst case scenario, you can always tape it.

FINAL COMMENTS
One thing I like about Key's games is the way the story made me ask questions myself concerning the story and eventually, the answers revealed by themselves, well, most of them will be revealed. ^_^;; In a way, it helps the readers/players to be involved in the story.

Anyway, personally, I never expect Air would be this good. After all, I thought, the story in Key's Kanon was already at its best. It is pretty obvious that I have to compare this game with the other Key's game, Kanon, which is not as popular as this game is, but is still very popular.

Both stories are very mysterious, feature very young innocent girls, have flashbacks to the past and has the ''mother is the best'' idea. Personally, I cannot see much difference in term of STYLE of the story. However, the way the story is portrayed is different. It is hard to describe the differences, so you have just to play the games yourself and see.

I don't think Air starts very well. I mean, my first impression of the hero, Yukito-kun, is that he is a jerk. True, he probably is suspicious of the people around him as he traveled a lot before, but the way he acted is way too much. Comparing this to Kanon, Kanon got me drawn immediately into the story with the mysterious setting and the cute exchange between Nayuki-chan and the hero.

However, with the fact that Key created Kanon, I immersed myself into the world of Air and let's just say, I don't want to get out of it. The spellbinding story will bring smiles to your face and tears to your eyes throughout 30+ hours of story telling.

So, I am giving 10 out of 10 for this game. If I have a choice, I would have given it a 20 out of 10. I will be looking forward to Clannad, Key's third game that is just announced recently. The introduction alone that is on Key's website is making me desperate for the game already. ^_^;; It will be released sometimes in 2002 for PC.

Also look out for Kanon TV anime series that will be on air in Japan soon by Toei Animation (January 30 2002). If they can manage to portray the story in the game well, it will be a great anime.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/22/02, Updated 01/22/02


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