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Hourglass of Summer
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 11/12/2004

You are Kotaro, a typical high school boy who has a crush on a beautiful girl named Kaho. While pondering on how to ask her out, you somehow time travel to the near future. The good news is, Kaho has actually become your girlfriend. The bad news is, she's dead because of a freak accident. What happened between the time that you were planning to get to know her and the day you jumped forward to? You have to find out and somehow save Kaho from the tragic fate that awaits her. The problem is, you have no way of knowing what date you'll be transported to when you wake up every morning...
Hourglass of Summer is hands down the best bishoujo game I've ever played in terms of plot. I was intrigued and challenged with the prospect of time travelling and saving Kaho from certain death, which was to say the least a truly refreshing change from all the repetitious and shallow girl-chasing games I've played of late.
In Hourglass of Summer, there are several things you can and must accomplish as Kotaro... aside from steering Kaho away from her doom. You soon discover that in order to make things right, you must help a few other people aside from Kaho... and you can actually become romantically involved with other girls. There's Ai, your childhood friend and neighbor; Tomomi, your eccentric teacher; Mana, your school's best swimmer; and Lee Jane, the "Time Patroller" who eventually aids you in your quest. Each girl's path has its own distinct story to tell, even if preventing Kaho's death is the common objective in every one of them. Let's just say that if plot was all that determined how good a game is, Hourglass of Summer would have gotten a perfect rating.

Game play-wise, Hourglass of Summer is not like the typical "click, save, and reload" bishoujo game -- although there were times I found myself wishing that it was. Hourglass of Summer is an Animeplay DVD game. You can play it on your PC's DVD drive, your PS2 (or any DVD-compatible console for that matter), or any standard DVD player... albeit there are certain compatibility and functionality issues depending on which medium you use to play the game. I found that if I played on my Pioneer DVD player, I could not fast-forward or rewind the dialogues -- but I could when using my PC's DVD-ROM drive. Like the usual bishoujo game, there are decision points in the story wherein you are required to click on an option to proceed. The difference is, there is no save option. You have to access the menu and get a password every time you want to "save" your progress or stop playing. The problem with that was, since the password was generated letter by letter, the game would sometimes hang in the middle of generating the password when played in my DVD-ROM drive. It was especially frustrating if I'm caught a long way off from my last "save". Unless you're the most patient and obsessive-compulsive person in the world, it is near impossible to acquire the password for every single decision you are going to make. It's a tedious system, and it's mainly what's keeping me from giving Hourglass of Summer a 5-star rating. The game is VERY long to boot, not something you can finish in one sitting. It took me days to finish Kaho's path, and the absence of refined forward, rewind, and save functions made it a nightmare to replay the same scenes or accidentally skip new dialogues.
Visually speaking, Hourglass of Summer is excellent. Character designs are attractive for both the male and female characters. There are no sex scenes, and perhaps the most daring CGs in the game are those which show certain female characters wrapped in only a towel or a large piece of cloth. Original Japanese voices have been retained, and all the spoken lines were actually voiced. The music was pretty good as well.
Like I said earlier, Hourglass of Summer has the best plot I've ever encountered in an interactive novel -- and it would have been perfect if not for the clunky game play. It just goes to show that sex doesn't necessarily have to be in the mix in order to come up with a totally involving bishoujo game.
Unlockable extra features include CG and background music galleries. An art booklet is also packaged with the game DVD.

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Review Title:
Hourglass of Summer
Alternative Titles:
Natsuiro no Sunadokei
Approximate Length:
10-30 Hours
Suitable For:
Young Adults
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
0 out of 5 stars
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