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Crescendo
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 06/30/2005

Description:
You are Ryo Sasaki, a young man who's graduating from high school in four days. There are several women in your life, and the time has come for you to act on your true feelings. Who will you choose to spend your future with? Is it Kaho, your vivacious classmate? Or Kyoko, the pretty freshman who just confessed her love for you? But then there's also the teenage prostitute Yuka, the provocative school nurse Kaori, and your adoptive sister Ayame...
 
Review:
When I first started playing, I thought Crescendo was going to be just one of those usual dating simulations where you play a hormonal young man looking for a girlfriend. It turns out that it's not -- which is good, because quite frankly I'm sick and tired of those pick-a-girl-and-screw-her type of games which don't require any thought. Just keep on clicking the same girl on the menu screen and voila! you get sex, CGs, and endings galore. Crescendo is a far cry from those types of games, since it actually presents us with several well-written short stories instead of several lame excuses to have a f*ckfest.
 
Crescendo literally lets you lead the life of Ryo Sasaki, at the point where he reaches a crossroad. He's about to graduate and leave behind a world he has known for years, and what comes next is up to you. In some ways it's like a book with blank pages for the player to fill, which is something of a novelty considering the fact that majority of visual novel type bishoujo games have next to no plot. Crescendo opens with you (Ryo) fast asleep in the classroom on your desk. A female student wakes you up and you're given two choices: a. stroll through school, or b. go to the library. Typical things to do for a student in your position, but either way unlocks a multitude of paths you can take. Crescendo keeps it all very practical and realistic that it's not always obvious which choice you should make in order to get the ending you want. I was actually able to get a good story and ending with Kaho without seeing a single sex scene during my first run through the game. There's even a secret character you can unlock after you've gone through Kaho, Kyoko, Yuka, Kaori, and Ayame's paths. Bad endings aren't necessarily bad too, it simply means you don't end up with the girl in question.
 
Crescendo's artwork is overall excellent, although the character designs took some getting used to. I initially felt that the characters looked like wide-eyed cats with their exceptionally huge golden eyes, but after a couple of endings I grew to appreciate the artist's drawing style. In fact I now find all the girls pretty, and all the guys pretty handsome -- even those supporting male characters with just bit parts. Sex is depicted very explicitly, as you can probably tell from the screenshots below. There aren't really any kinky activities like S&M and bondage; it's all rather conventional foreplay and sexual intercourse. It's also very rare that I take notice of a bishoujo game's music, but in this case I recognized a few classical pieces such as Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" and Chopin's "Etudes Op.10 3 E-Dur", which were very fitting for the game's nostalgic ambience.
 
Crescendo is hands down one of the most remarkable bishoujo games I've played, mainly due to the perfect harmony between character development, storyline, and sex. After playing through everybody's scenarios, I felt like I actually knew these people.
 
Miscellanies:
Extra features include a CG gallery, a scene recollection gallery, and a music gallery. Those who've played "Kana" will be delighted to find a related Easter egg in one of Crescendo's story paths.

Screenshots
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Review Title:
Crescendo
Alternative Titles:
Crescendo -Eien Dato Omotte Ita Ano Koro-
Released:
2001
Approximate Length:
10-30 Hours
Suitable For:
Adults Only
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Genres:
Drama, Romance, School,
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