Review by Nishizaki
"Fun for a short time, but lacking in substance."
Viper V-16 is a command selection game, and is part of the Viper game and animation series, which has a very strong cult following in Japan and even abroad. This latest offering from developer Sogna is - in point of fact - two games over two CDs, Rise and Imagine.
Rise and Imagine utilize an almost identical game engine, so the following paragraph applies to both games.
Command selection games are not widely renowned for their gameplay, and Viper V-16 doesn't rock the boat. Gameplay largely consists of reading through screens of text, occasionally making a choice, and then reading through some more text. Rinse, repeat.
Rise differs slightly from Imagine in that it features a so-called RPG battle system. This is a slight exaggeration; in reality, the battle system is more akin to rock-paper-scissors, but it does feature HP and turn based battle.
As the outcome of battles in Rise are primarily based on luck, some players may find themselves frustrated at having to redo fights several times to win.
Viper V-16 is relatively intuitive and easy to play, even if you've never played any other game in the series or genre. There is no learning curve to speak of; if you can operate a Windows computer, you can play this game.
Rise is a story about a group of underground people who kidnap three waitresses to bear their children. You play as Akira, a woman versed in several forms of martial arts, and must lead your fellow waitresses - Saki and Karin - to safety.
In Imagine, you play the role of Io, a young Japanese man attending college to learn computer programming. Io wishes that he could meet a beautiful girl, and perhaps even become her boyfriend; trouble is, Io gets more than he bargained for when he meets no less than 3 different girls. Now Io must choose which girl to pursue, and try to win her heart.
The dialogue in both games is rather poorly translated. You can understand most of what is being said without too much difficulty, but it definitely sounds strange, and some conversations are just confusing. Overall, Imagine features much better translation than Rise, but features a less compelling story (in my opinion).
Viper V-16 aims for a flowing, anime style experience, and hits the target resoundingly. Particularly in Imagine, characters and facial expressions are full of life and flow seamlessly. Backgrounds are static and somewhat lower quality, but you don't really notice it since your focus is generally on the characters.
The battle animations in Rise are certainly nothing nonpareil, but they are crisp and fit the game well, and add a nice touch. Rise also features some minor pseudo-3D graphics, which aren't all that impressive, and probably should have been left out.
There are unfortunately some anti-aliasing issues, particularly with hair, that can detract from the otherwise impressive animation.
Character voices are in Japanese, and - while I cannot speak the language - you really get the impression that the voice fits the character, and the voices don't feel wooden or artificial.
Sound effects... by and large, I didn't really notice them. Adequate at best.
Music is somewhat atmospheric. There were a couple of pieces in Imagine I really liked, but aside from that it just sets the mood and doesn't really interfere too much.
Play time/Replay value
Depending on your luck, Rise may take slightly more or slightly less time, but to unlock all 8 endings, I would wager about 50 minutes to an hour.
Imagine only has 6 endings, but is somewhat longer and contains a bit more dialogue. In the end, the play time largely depends on your ability to figure out how to unlock each ending. I'd estimate anywhere from 70 minutes to 90 minutes.
In my opinion, replay value is stronger for Imagine than Rise despite having less endings, as I generally enjoyed the endings of Imagine more than Rise, and hence felt more compelled to unlock them all.
If you're a fan of the H-game genre, you should consider looking into this game. If you're a fan of Viper games, grab a copy. If you're a fan of neither, you're better off passing on this game.
Despite the unusually short gameplay and poor translation, Viper V-16 stands as a decent addition to your H-game collection.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/27/05
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