By Chris Melchin / October 10th, 2017
DISCLAIMER: While the subject of this review is all-ages aside from some scenes with mild nudity, it links to pages with NSFW content.
|Title||Space Live – Advent of the Net Idols|
|Release Date||September 29, 2017|
|Genre||Visual Novel, Ecchi, Science Fiction|
The market for original English language visual novels (OELVN) has exploded over the past few years, as more creators have realized how easy they are to make and release on Steam. However, Japanese companies are seemingly taking their first steps into the OELVN scene, with Da Capo developer Circus releasing their new game Space Live – Advent of the Net Idols in English through publisher MangaGamer, and developing it specifically for the Western market.
Space Live is set in a future where humanity has given up on living in the real world and has uploaded their consciousness to the internet, known as Net Space. Net Space is divided into several smaller Spaces: Macro Space, Goggle Space, AI Space, Mosaic Space and Luna Space. Every four years, a competition called Space Live is held, where each Space sends a representative to win over followers and dominance over Net Space. The representatives are idols, who built up influence over the history of Net Space until the Spaces were centered around the idols. The competitors in this Space Live are Macro Space’s idol and protagonist Ai E, Goggle Space’s G Chrome, AI Space’s Sarifa, Mosaic Space’s Higitsune, and Luna Space’s Tsukikage.
Each Space and idol is a reference to real-world companies and internet browsers. Ai E is IE or Internet Explorer; G Chrome and Goggle are obvious references to Google Chrome; Sarafi is an anagram for Apple’s Safari; Higitsune is a literal Japanese translation of Firefox; and Tsukikage and Luna Space are a reference to Lunascape, a web browser somewhat popular in Japan but little-known worldwide. There are a number of other references throughout the game, such as Ai E’s Edge form referencing Microsoft’s new Edge browser, Sarafi’s taste for apples and dislike for rooms with lots of windows, and Higitsune and Tsukikage’s Gekkou ability, a reference to Firefox and Lunascape’s use of the Gecko browser engine. There are also smaller references peppered throughout, with the idols’ personalities and capabilities reflecting their respective browsers and companies in more subtle ways.
Space Live follows the five idols through the various competitions of Space Live, including a singing competition, a game in a pool where they try to steal each other’s flags, a confession competition, and a foot race. These events are the entirety of the game, following the antics the girls get up to in the four events. The events are fun to see; the characters each have a lot of personality and chemistry and are entertaining to watch as they go through each competition.
Space Live’s presentation is great. The art is bright and colorful, and while it is clearly different from the art in Circus’ Da Capo series the overall style is similar. The music is also good, although not on the same level as in the Da Capo series or Dal Segno. There’s no voice acting for any of the characters, which makes the whole affair seem oddly cheap for something coming from a successful developer. It uses the same engine as Dal Segno, with all the same modern conveniences.
The game’s biggest flaw is its overall lack of depth. While there was clearly effort put into the world and backstory, the game itself has very little plot, focusing entirely on the interactions between the idols. It’s a kinetic novel, meaning there are no choices or branching paths, and only one ending. There’s just a bunch of stuff that happens, and it doesn’t feel like there’s any coherence or any reason to feel invested in the characters or events. It doesn’t strike me as having a whole lot of purpose; there’s no significant story to speak of, and there isn’t any 18+ content aside from a couple CGs with nipples showing.
As a side note, it’s interesting to see that when a Japanese company creates a visual novel especially for the Western market, the game that would come out of it is a short, linear ecchi game with no particularly serious story. It shows what kind of impression the Japanese industry has of the Western market. It’s somewhat troubling, but hopefully if more major games get official translations the market will evolve.
Ultimately Space Live feels more like a diversion than a full experience. It’s incredibly short, with my playthrough clocking in at just over 3 hours. It seems like a spin-off without a main series, similar to what The Leisure of Grisaia would be like without the core Grisaia series backing it up. While this diversion is a particularly enjoyable one for what it is at $9.95 USD, the lack of substance holds it back from feeling like its own distinct story. I would be interested in seeing more of the world of Space Live in the future. However, as it stands, while what Space Live has to offer is enjoyable to read, I find there’s not enough of it for the game to be an easy recommendation.
Review copy provided by publisher
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