Page 12, Game 25: AIdol by ebi-hime
Click-n-read “interactive” novel with lovely artwork but atrocious pacing. I’m seriously about an hour into the damn thing, and I can barely tell you what it’s about.
It’s set in a near-future Japan where there are android pop idols — the titular “AIdols.” (Though flesh-and-blood girls are somehow “idols,” too. What’s the difference between android idols and human ones? For as much as the game liked to bludgeon me with text, I’m remarkably unclear on some core concepts.) Our hero, a teen girl named Hana, is obsessed with the most popular of them, Aiko. But one day, she gets a mysterious message — Aiko is in trouble! Something’s wrong! She needs her programmer! She needs help!
After an hour — AN HOUR — of gameplay, I have finally reached the point where Hana believes that this is, in fact, actually Aiko, and she is not being trolled.
The problem is two-fold. First, this author is NOT concise, and is a huge believer in “Tell, don’t show.” No detail is too trivial to get thrown into the narrative — when the protagonist makes a post to a message board asking if anybody knows who Aiko’s programmer is, you get treated to the ENTIRE CONVERSATION, which could be summarized in a single word:
Making the problem exponentially worse, however, is the author’s love of side characters. Before it can build anything resembling narrative momentum, the story just keeps larding itself up with new character after new character after new character after new character after PLEASE STOP I’M BEGGING YOU STOP I have no prayer of keeping track of any of these fuckers and are the two office jerkasses fucking each other GYAH I DO NOT CARE.
It LOOKS lovely. Seriously, someone put some legit time into the original art assets for this thing. (Though some of them are obviously canned. One “coffee shop” was clearly a bar. I would have found the effort to explain this in-universe to be endearing if it hadn’t, like everything else in this game, gone on and on and on and on.)
But that pacing … the game is just a really slow, cluttered novel with illustrations and a soundtrack. After an hour of gameplay I think I made like five dialogue choices. I wouldn’t have minded if the story had been interesting, I suppose, but it wasn’t.
There might be an interesting story here, but the author needs to edit it with a chainsaw before it’s going to have any chance of coming out. Less really is more.
Perhaps this next game will give me the opportunity to save an android in trouble?
Page 5, Game 26: BIT RAT : Singularity by [bucket drum games]
“A hand-pixeled story-driven cyberpunk puzzler”
Fuck me, it just might.