Hiiro no Kakera Portable can easily be considered the definitive version of Idea Factory’s visual novel/otome game. It has all of the extra scenes, features and events from the DS version, includes a brief quiz game on each of the male characters, has built in and has Hiiro no Kakera – Ano Sora no Shita built in. The game feels at home on the PSP and, had it had the two DS mini-games somehow included it, it would have been perfect.
As mentioned previously in Siliconera’s coverage of Hiiro no Kakera DS, the story focuses on the female descendent of a princess named Tamaki who returns to her family’s hometown and discovers she must seal the Onikirimaru sword in order to seal away monsters and demons that threaten the world. She isn’t alone in this task, there are also six male “guardians” who are descendents of different mystical creatures named Takuma, Mahiro, Yuuichi, Shinji, Suguru and Ryou. As you progress through the game, you build bonds with the male characters and, with their help, face the mysterious group Logos and eventually save the day.
The first thing I noticed about the PSP version of the game is just how beautiful everything looked. Everything was crisp and clear, and the images appeared incredibly vivid on the PSP’s wide screen. I was taken aback abit by the sound quality and how wonderful the character art appeared on the screens. If you’ve played the PS2 version of Hiiro no Kakera, I’d imagine that Hiiro no Kakera Portable is going to feel very familiar just because of the appearance.
There were also some nice touches when it came to the menus and other assorted game options. When you bring up the menu, instead of shifting to a different screen, a brief menu appears across the top of the screen. You then can save, check the dictionary, adjust options or even return to the title screen. The only thing is, there is a fairly noticable pause when returning to the actual game from the menu. It isn’t really irritating or annoying, but it is there.
I also loved how the quick save and quick load options were handled in Hiiro no Kakera Portable. You simply tap the left shoulder button to make a quick save, and tap the right button to load it. If you happen to make a wrong choice and get a “GAME OVER,” you’ll lose that quick save, but other than that it’s a wonderful option to fall back on – especially if your Japanese isn’t perfect.
The game also remembers decisions you made, just like in the previous version. If you quick save at a branching path and choose one option, decide you didn’t like your choice and reload, the decision you made previously will be a neon green shade. It goes one step further though. If you get an accidental “GAME OVER”, the game will offer the option to save afterward, and when you reload your last save file and reach that branching point again, the bad choice will be illuminated to remind you that you took that way and it didn’t go too well last time around.
There are two new additions to Hiiro no Kakera Portable which may be considered “selling points” for people who already own Hiiro no Kakera DS. The first is a quiz game with different levels for each of the six male characters. When you choose the game and a level, you’ll have to answer 10 trivia questions. This game is definitely NOT import friendly. Many times, the three answers to one of the questions may be identical except for one Kanji character. The second is an unlockable one day date with a character who’s ending you’ve already seen. It’s a very brief, 10 to 15 minute adventure with one new CG scene.
The new additions are really nice, and fun, but if you already own Hiiro no Kakera DS, you probably won’t need to buy Hiiro no Kakera Portable just for those two new extras. If the original PS2 version of Hiiro no Kakera is the only one you own, then definitely Hiiro no Kakera Portable is the perfect reason to upgrade.
There’s only one other thing I seemed to notice. It seems like people whose Japanese isn’t perfect would have an easier time playing Hiiro no Kakera DS than Hiiro no Kakera PSP. I think it is, in part, because of the DS mini-games and the fact that all of the controls and menus you will basically need for the game are on the touch screen.
In all, Hiiro no Kakera Portable is simply beautiful. It is a wonderful game with a fantastic and enchanting story. If you enjoy otome games or visual novels, then this is a game and a story you won’t want to miss.
Images courtesy of Idea Factory.