Galge Review – AstralAir no Shiroki Towa

001_c779719packageAstralAir is not only this month’s most hyped Galge, but also one of the most wanted titles of 2014. FAVORITE is well known for creating decent titles, and this one is sure to please many fans with the elements that made their games famous, such as: Incest, magical lolis, chuunibyou fights and many other bizarre things that make reviewing this game all the more relevant…

Story & Characters

697_YUKI_e02a1Haruna Riku lived in an orphanage in the city of Tsukigasaki, he was very lonely and longed for a family, until one fateful day when he met Yuuki, a strange girl of pale skin. Even though she was afraid of other people, she easily became friends with Riku and the two played together all the time.565_RIKU_e01a2v2However, Riku developed a strange power known as Runes and was recruted by the Chronos syndicate as an Elfin, so he could put his new found abilities to good use. This meant he was forced to be separated from his only friend, but what Riku didn’t know was that he parted from someone else who was also very important for him…583_RINNE_e03aShe was Hotaru Rinne, a girl who shared the same father with Riku. When her mother died, she left a letter revealing Rinne had an older brother who was abandoned. Rinne made into the same orphanage as Riku, but she didn’t had the courage to approach him. However, when Riku became an Elfin, she got desperate and, somehow, was able to acquired Rune powers as well. Thanks to this, she also was able to join Chronos, but Riku had nearly forgotten about her.577_RINNE_e01c2Riku’s specialty was Hypnos, which uses hypnosis to seal a target’s Runes or to make someone’s Runes even stronger. However, the activation trigger was a kiss, and it would only work with those who wholly trusted him. Rinne was the only compatible and this made them become really close, eventually leading the siblings into becoming great partners. Still, Rinne could not bring herself to reveal their true connection because, at this point, she had fallen in love for Riku, thus she was too afraid this could destroy their current relationship.433_OCHIBA_e02aYears later, the two were sent back to Tsukigasaki as a team to investigate recent cases of berserk Elfins and the mysterious winter that has been lasting for over 2 years. Since their boss’s daughters lived there alone, they were to protect them as well. Riku transferred to the same high school as Tachibana Ochiba and was instructed to live with her under the same roof as well, but was instantly rejected by her, until he gained her trust by befriending her younger sister Hadzuki.017_ICHIKA_e01d1He soon became friends with Yunagi Ichika, an earnest and energetic girl who was Ochiba’s best friend. Her older sister was the chief of the Valkyrie Laboratory (shortened as “Valken”), which Riku suspected to have some connection with the recent Elfin cases.325_KOTORI_e04eWorking as a spy for Valken is Mizunose Kotori, a bitter and traumatized girl who believes there’s no place for her in this planet. Ironically, this unstable lady is the 2nd most powerful Rune user in the world, thanks to her unique ability: “Apotsu” – that lets her cut pretty much anything, even things that are not “meant to be cut”. She is completely broken!204_KORONA_e08bValken also has interests in robotics, as they enrolled an android in the same school as Riku: Korona. While most people avoided her peculiar company, Riku accepted her as a friend, which also gave him more opportunities to investigate Korona’s organization.748_YUKI_e09b1Who Riku didn’t expect to find was an unchanged Yuuki next to their special place: The old clock tower. What is Yuuki’s true nature? Could she be linked with those mysterious events?

Routes & Themes

900_ETC_e115aSomething interesting about this title is it’s connection to a previous hit from FAVORITE: Hoshizora no Memoria. It’s not exactly a sequel, being more of a “spiritual successor”. Those who played this previous game will soon notice that Yuuki is the same type of existence as Mea, and the two even share many visual features. Additionally, Riku and Rinne’s eyes color are the same as Mea’s, suggesting some relation.870_ETC_e09b1v3 A Miko from the Seitengu Shrine also makes an appearance here, and she even talks about the beings who materialize through the energy released from meteorites. I don’t think this would be enough to establish the FAVORITE-verse, since there isn’t a connection with their other games (at least, I didn’t notice), but this is interesting all the same.569_RIKU_e02a2Riku is a surprisingly strong protagonist. He isn’t too talkative, but everything he says has a impact. It could get difficult to understand  what’s going on during a scene if you miss just one of his dialogues, this shows he is not as predictable as most Galge protagonists. The last time I saw a protagonist like him was in Hello Lady and Your Diary.850_ETC_e03d3Romantic relationships are handled in a much more decent manner than most Galges, which is pretty refreshing! Instead of making all heroines immediately fall in love with the protagonist for next to no reason, AstralAir has a complex development for each heroine.477_OCHIBA_e10aOchiba eventually falls in love with Riku because of how both wanted a stable family, and they finally found this by living together. But they need to face the fear of losing this connection by taking the next step in their relationship. They never get close to this stage outside of her route, though.328_KOTORI_e05bIn any other route, Kotori and Riku will not be more than acquaintances, but during her own route, Kotori starts to relate with him because of how both share the same feelings about their powers. She challenges Riku to many duels, but she never delivers the finishing blow and Riku refuses to accept defeat. The two keep this little game going on for a while just so they can have an excuse to be next to each other.050_ICHIKA_e06b2Ichika becomes an Elfin during the normal route, and Riku saves her when she loses control. Later, he takes it upon himself to coach Ichika until she can control her powers properly, which leads to Riku filling the gap left by the absence of Ichika’s older sister, who is always busy with work. Those things culminate into Ichika developing feelings for the boy even before entering her route. If you choose any other heroine, Ichika always has to give an appropriate closure to her feelings at some point, instead of pretending her feelings never existed in the first place.589_RINNE_e05a2Riku’s relationship with Rinne is more about self-discovery, as he notices he spent most of his life seeking something he had all along, but it may be too late, as Rinne tries to give up on her feelings and move on.211_KORONA_e09eKorona has to face the very notion of what is to be human and the meaning of romantic feelings as she struggles to forget everything in order to complete her mission.795_YUKI_h01a1Yuuki’s romantic relationship with Riku feels weak, since she is just a magical loli who follows Riku around, and since she is not human, it’s ok for Riku to have snoo-snoo with her, something that reminds me of another game I played recently…It’s only later that both have to face the danger of losing each other forever.726_YUKI_e06dThe routes don’t follow a pattern, which is a big plus, since it’s easier to be surprised and harder to become bored with each story. For instance: Kotori’s route is the only one with a huge-ass epilogue; Yuuki’s route is, by far, the longest one and it even gets an exclusive 2nd opening sequence; And while most routes are full of “Chuunibyou” fights at the climax, the last half of Ochiba’s route is free from any of that, ending as a normal slice-of-life. Ichika, on the other hand, has no fighting scene at all.587_RINNE_e04dOn the subject of battle scenes, they are quite long and most are not very interesting (after all, you will only be reading a description of what’s happening). But the biggest problem is that most of those scenes aren’t really necessary and even feel forced by the writer sometimes…226_KORONA_e20aHowever, those theme variations don’t always come as a good thing. For example, Korona is the only one to get huge story about astronauts, which has little to do with Elfins and Runes. This route can be really uninteresting, since the player will probably not be mentally prepared for this.739_YUKI_e08b2Similarly, 90% of Yuuki’s route features a cute romantic story between a human and a “fairy”, but all of a sudden, it shifts to be all about the inevitable destruction of the planet and the fate of the human race…343_KOTORI_e08e2Unfortunately, there are some really annoying characters that do a lot of stupid and inappropriate jokes (usually trying to provoke Riku). This would not be a big problem, since most Galge players love those kind of characters, but the problem here ceases to be a matter of personal taste when those characters decide to be irritating during serious events. This is just bad writing, since this ruins the atmosphere.AstralAir02How am I suppose to take an event seriously when the character giving me the important exposition is doing lame and immature jokes followed by wacky sound effects? Even when those characters try to act more pleasant in future events, it’s already too late…

Graphics

303_KOTORI_e03b4The art style by Shida Kazuhiro is pretty decent, he uses a moe style full of bright color, giant eyes and girls who never look older than 15 (even when they are supposed to be past their 30’s). Therefore, if this is not your thing, chances are you will not become emotionally invested by dramatic scenes featuring moe-blobs, which turns difficult to appreciate this game.

AstralAir03AstralAir04The art-quality is fairly high, but you can pretty much tell when it’s not the same artist. This is especially true for the backgrounds and sometimes the difference in styles are so uncanny that it can be distracting. The constrast can be so big that it seems like it’s just a wallpaper in background, other times they just bluntly use a photo that was likaly meant to be used only as reference.AstralAir05The poses are very expressive and not ridiculous as many other titles. There are many variations for facial expressions and clothes. The CGs are also plentiful, so you will not get tired from seeing the same graphics all the time.702_YUKI_e03b5This game’s main motif is winter, so you will be seeing white everywhere and many events will have a snowing effect. This is quite a change from the usual “sakuras everywhere” theme for 99% of Japanese stuff.770_YUKI_e13aThose guys sure love some sakura petals, to the point where the first thing that appears when the winter finally ends are the damn Sakura petals!

Voices

035_ICHIKA_e04aThe performances are above average, but since there are not many high level voice actors working here, there are some limitations. For example, when someone cries, you will usually just read a narration explaining that a character is crying. The voice-director probably knew they would not be able to do a convincing crying scene, so he just didn’t record them. This was for the best, but it’s not a very praiseworth thing for a professional game.753_YUKI_e10b2There are many long explanations that are unvoiced, probably to save some money. This happens really often and it feels cheap and half-assed.915_ETC_e401bThumbs up for Midorikawa Hikaru – one of my favorite seiyuus – who plays two super-minor-roles, because his services were probably too pricy. Kadowaki Mai from Atelier Rorona fame also plays the annoying Miko, but she is not “capturable” because this would be more expensive.854_ETC_e04dThe worst possible performance you can listen here is from Ochiba’s father. He is awful when trying to do serious scenes. He tries to do this really husky voice during serious scenes. Perhaps he’s trying to imitate David Hayter, if so, he’s doing a really poor job!

Music

Not half bad! The soundtracks include a good variety of intruments like piano and violin, but there are many digital sounds that are used well and fit with the scenario. The vocal songs are energetic and pleasant to the ears thanks to the skilled singers and good lyrics that doesn’t sound as stupid as most of Galge songs.

Conclusion

687_YUKI_e01a2In the end. This was a good game, but not as good as previous FAVORITE titles. Maybe it’s because Yuuki is a not as charismatic as the main heroines from other FAVORITE games…868_ETC_e08aHey! Did you know this game had a special crossover campaign with characters from Clover Day’s? Those are a series of videos on Youtube featuring characters from both games visiting each other cities. Those can be really amusing for fans, so if you happens to be interested, take a look at the ones who were translated by Pideffu4! When you get there, tell him that I was the one who sent you!  Now that I think about it, those games have a lot in common: Both were very hyped, had a long and promising trial, but in the end, were not able ascend to “Kamige” status thanks to some flaws. Nevertheless, those are still excellent games that I recommend. Well, that’s all for this review. I believe we can see someday again white eternity…

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18 responses to “Galge Review – AstralAir no Shiroki Towa

  1. Really good review about AstralAir no Shiroki Towa there. I’m playing AstralAir no Shiroki Towa and already at the last half of Ochiba’s route., but now I’m sidetracked with Dynasty Warrior 8 and Football Manager 2014 because I just bought those two.

    About AstralAir no Shiroki Towa……..actually I think it’s a “kamige”, but only its music. BGM is great and really fit with the scenario. OP songs, ED songs, and Insert songs are great too. I really like that ED song from Ceui (Snowy After Snow – Shiroki Towa). It’s been a while since the last time I found a really great music in eroge and really enjoy hearing it. Probably since Hatsuyuki Sakura. Depends on how people’s opinion, I’m sure some people will say AstralAir no Shiroki Towa’s music is better than Hatsuyuki Sakura’s music and some people will say otherwise, but for me I think those two are tie. Now I’m sure that AstralAir no Shiroki Towa most likely will win in Bishoujo Game Awards 2014 for Music category

    For art, I almost thought those background in AstralAir are photos if I don’t look it more carefully since it looks really realistic. Still, it’s a really high quality art. Definitely a tough competitor for Sakigake and Koi ga Saku to win Bishoujo Game Awards in Art category.

    Last, so far AstralAir no Shiroki Towa still little far to reach “Kamige” level in overall. Still, it’s a great candidate to win Bishoujo Game Awards 2014

    Well, Nikaidou Shinku (Irotoridori no Sekai) is still the best loli ever!!!!

    • I thought a “kamige” supposed to be a game that is perfect in every aspect, hence the “god” status. At least I would never classify a game as “god-like” when only the music is great. This soundtrack would get a 7/10 from me, though…
      I am pretty sure some of the backgrounds are not only “realistic” but it’s actually just a photo with a photoshop filter. I can do the same thing and get similar results.

  2. I mean only its music that reach “kamige” level (for me). Other aspect still fall short to reach “kamige” level. that’s what I mean there. In other word, it’s still not reach “Kmaige” level in overall. Well, it’s still a really good eroge in overall.
    Also, I can’t say that I’m agree with you about your opinion about “kamige”.

    7/10 for BGM. you’re not being harsh right? Then, what if you include its OP songs, ED songs, and insert songs? how is your score for its music if you include those?

    I’m an amateur when comes to art, so I can’t talk much about it. So what I said there is how I see from my eyes and how I felt about it. Stiil, I think their art are much improved than their previous eroge, Irotoridori no Sekai. btw, I want you to show your result to me if you really can do the same thing with backgrounds up there.

    Btw, I almost forgot about this. I agree with you that there are some connection and similarity between AstralAir no Shiroki Towa and their first hit, Hoshizora no Memoria. Even from beginning I already found some similarity between them.

  3. “I can’t say that I’m agree with you about your opinion about “kamige””
    Sorry if I got that wrong. I don’t really use this word, but since there are some people asking me about kamiges recently, I am trying to adapt by using this term more often.

    “7/10 for BGM. you’re not being harsh right? Then, what if you include its OP songs, ED songs, and insert songs? how is your score for its music if you include those?”
    Harsh? How come? 7/10 is a pretty good score! 5 is mediocre and a 7 is two points above the average. It’s bad when it’s 4 or lower. Scores can be very deceiving, that’s why I don’t use them. BTW: Yes, I am including the OP and ED songs. Whitout those, it would be a 6/10.

    “I agree with you that there are some connection and similarity between AstralAir no Shiroki Towa and Hoshizora no Memoria”
    I wasn’t exactly saying they are just similar, but I was implying they exist within the same universe, like the DC or Marvel universes.

    “I want you to show your result to me if you really can do the same thing with backgrounds up there”
    Is that so unbelievable to the point that you want me to upload a file just as proof? I thought this effect was actually pretty normal for anyone. Rather than an image, how about a video showing the whole process step by step in real time? You can even learn how to do it yourself! GIMP is a free and easy to use program.

  4. I think no eroge will be “kamige” of you use that term. Perfect in every aspect. That’s almost impossible for eroge, unless the term of your “perfect” is different than what I I think.

    Forget about it. looks like it’s only difference our feelings towards it and terms of scoring…….and I’m much kinder in my scoring too.
    So are mediocre = decent for you? if not how score for decent in your terms of scoring?
    Btw, this is my term of scoring:
    10+: GODLIKE!! 9.1 – 9.9: Awesome 8.1 – 9: Great
    7.6 – 8: Really Good 7.1 – 7.5: Good 6.1 – 7: Okay
    5.1 – 6: Mediocre 4.1 – 5: Bad 3.1 – 4: Really Bad
    2.1 – 3: Horrible 0.1 – 2: *facepalm* 0-: RIP
    p.s: If you see me score an eroge 6 or below in overall, my advice is you better avoid it.

    I doesn’t mean that too. Just like the protagonist is a transfer student and 2nd year highschooler, Mare and Yuuki, mysterious girl/woman…….It just kinda hard to explain their similarity, so the only thing I can say is…when you play AstralAir no Shiroki Towa, it will reminds you to Hoshizora no Memoria in a way or more.

    If they really did the same thing like in the video, I really praise them because those backgrounds they worked on are pretty high quality……though I still have some doubt.

    • 5/10 is an average mark. After all, it is right in the middle. This is not a matter of opinion, it just makes sense. Or else there would have more chances to classify something negatively than positively. People always want to see a score above 5 to believe something is good, but a 5 should be enough. BTW: If I was to give scores in my Galge reviews, it would be rare for any to get a 7 at anything…

      “those backgrounds they worked on are pretty high quality”
      Well, even the guy in the video made a better job, because his final results are very different from the original photo, while the work they did in AstralAir backgrounds have almost no change from the original photo. I can’t really praise a half-assed job just because the place from the photo already looks beautiful in real life…

  5. Okay, I will take a note about what you say. So If I see an eroge that get a 7 at anything from you, maybe I should try to play that eroge too.
    btw, 5 still looks bad for me, that’s why my “okay” zone is in 6.1 – 7. I blame my family for that.

    It’s better we stop talking about whether backgrounds in AstralAir are photos or not. It just only make me more confused when thinking whether they’re photos or not.
    Outside the talk about whether its backgrounds are photos or not, I’m still sure that it will ranked in the top 5 at least in Art category in Bishoujo Game Awards 2014.

    Btw, I see AstralAir no Shiroki Towa use Favorite View Point Ver 5.0 White Edition. I wonder if they will make its Black Edition too or not? LOL

    • I don’t give scores in my reviews, though. It’s exactly to avoid this kind of misunderstandings. Scores can be misleading…
      Don’t know what “White Edition” means or how a Black Edition would be like. Maybe some FD? It’s fated to get one at some point, just like every FAVORITE game had until now…

  6. damn it when people talk of kami-ges I think of games with some mythos involved and that’s how I have always classified games as well we all know about nakige, nukige, utsuge, rorige, imoutoge so on and so forth… I wont say this game is bad nor the best but it’s acceptable or my standards… people say that I should rank the music higher but then I was busy haplessly clicking every single line… though Korona’s route… is kind of well… I dunno… and when you talk about Valken I initially read that as Valhalla laboratories… <<__> no seriously I’m not sure if I was seeing shit right… BUT HEY IT’S BETTER THAN A CERTAIN FAIRY OF LOVE RIGHT?! RIGHT?! and then I left to eat dinner while Yuuki’s credit’s roll started rolling, but to me I think Ochiba’s route is a well solidly written route without the Chuuni-ness involved but hey what can I say the writers hail from Clover Day’s hence… the xcross promo and the over all family theme

    • “I wont say this game is bad nor the best but it’s acceptable or my standards”
      Yep! All this talk about “kamige” or “kaminage” is too confusing. Let’s just say the game is far from being a perfect experience.

      “people say that I should rank the music higher but then I was busy haplessly clicking every single line”
      Honestly, AstralAir’s soundtrack is not bad, but when I think about games like Persona, Megaman, Guilty Gear and Legend of Heroes, It’s just impossible to pair AstralAir with them…

      “when you talk about Valken I initially read that as Valhalla laboratories”
      I believe they reveal later it is “valkyrie” because of their “maiden of war project”, but every time they say “Valken”, I think about “Valkenhayn R. Hellsing”!

      “IT’S BETTER THAN A CERTAIN FAIRY OF LOVE RIGHT?! RIGHT?”
      How about a loli fairy of love and snow from SPACE? SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!

      “I think Ochiba’s route is a well solidly written route without the Chuuni-ness involved”
      Ochiba had a chuuni-fight, though. It was an arc to rescue a certain loli. But since it comes early than usual, it’s kinda forgettable. I think Ichika was the one with a route without chuuni-fights.

      “but hey what can I say the writers hail from Clover Day’s hence… the xcross promo and the over all family theme”
      HOLY COW! You’re right! One of the writers (Hozumi Kei) worked on Clover Day’s, now everything makes sense! I should have looked further into this beforehand!

      • the feelz was strong in Ochiba’s route and that’s all I could guarantee Yuuki’s route has… mm has it’s downfalls but if can probably turn a non-lolicon into a lolicon… but SHE’S STILL BETTER THAN A CERTAIN FAIRY OF LOVE and she’s still a SNOW FAIRY FROM SPACE Yes… I know but the use of nordic mythos seems off in this game but what do I care Riku fucked his… childhood friend? to save their kind and by when I mean kind the elfins… Kotori kinda felt a bit weird but… I dunno Korona oohhh god Korona… her route… well ok at least it had closure but man… I have no idea what they were talking about in her route plus spot the inconsistency across all route’s Korona is the worst example of this Yuuki somewhat but at least it had an explanation

  7. I wouldn’t consider this game a kami-ge (although very close to it to be borderline kami-ge) but it is still the best game I have played this year, with Hello-Lady coming close behind. This game’s quality is also top-notch in every aspect so it deserves at least an 8 or 9 score for me in all areas, very few other games can match it tbh, and I am normally very picky with games.

    • Although I like Hello Lady better, it’s true that this one is among the best Galges of this year. But I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement and I have faith that those developers can live up to my expectations, so I hope we can see even better titles that truly deserve to be classified as Kamiges, before the end of 2014!

  8. great review gangrelion. its definitely a kamige in my eyes. really anticipating Favorite’s next game (its probably gonna be an FD for Astral Air) xD

  9. Just finished this one.

    Sorry guys; kusoge from me. Everything is how I DON’T like it, and none of it ever made sense, in addition to the entire story being way too freaking long.

    I think I’m getting an idea at how gangrelion has his standards for galge, and it’s actually quite different from mine. I guess until now, we just happened to get lucky with most of the titles kinda matching up with the small overlapping preferences we held so far

    • (Not to mention that this doesn’t even get the “Best Game” label on Getchu… Says a few things)

      • Yes! This game has many problems! Still, it was one of the more well-written galges I’ve played this year, because things are not going too well for this genre…
        What? slow pacing? Long story? I don’t know what are you talking about! I used my “Hijiri button a lot during this playthrough, so it was pretty fast for me!
        And Yes, of course we have different standards! I never thought we had the same! We have similar opinions, but it’s nearly impossible for two people to have the exact same preferences. It’s not like this is the first time that this happens, either…
        Likewise, I don’t care for or even despise some of the games that you love or even consider to be kamiges. But I don’t care much about that, since the important is to be able to talk about games with smart people. Of course, it’s even better when we just happen to like the same game!
        By the way: I don’t care for Getchu ranks, since most of those “Best Games” are pretty questionable…

      • Touche. Getchu’s Best Games are pretty vague, and I have no idea who the hell gives them out, so point taken. However, in my defense, I just want to say that they’re USUALLY (not always) given to a relatively “good” game, so it’s not a bad idea for a casual player to just pick games to play based on that tag.

        Now I’m curious to why people thought this title was good. (I can actually see why some players may like it, but I just want some confirmation). This will be a topic for another day though

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