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RELEASE DATE (JP): December 2, 1999 GENRE: Visual Novel
// review by SoyBomb

Serenade me... to sleep.

I started playing this game with zero expectations, mostly because I really wouldn't have the slightest clue what to expect from a name like "KISS Yori... Seaside Serenade". But as soon as I started playing, I knew something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn't playing. KISS Yori... Seaside Serenade crept up on me with the guise of being some cute action game, but alas, it is not. Instead, it's a visual novel, which means two things: a boatload of text to read, and very little else to do.

Some people like the visual novel genre. It's a brisk combination of reading a book and enjoying anime but at the reader's own pace. (And, given how the genre flourishes in Japan, there's often risqué content to keep the eyes busy.) Before I continue, I'd better toss a disclaimer out there: it's not a genre I'm overly familiar with, my experience being limited to Disgaea Infinite for PSP and the scary stories I hear online about the terrors of "eroge" games. So forgive me if I'm not fully enamored by the thought of playing a game without a game in it. Visual novel fans, this could be a product you could really get into, though.

What... is... going... on?

After starting a new game, it began: screen after endless screen of scrolling text without the occasional change in scenery or character. This went on for about a half-hour before I was given two different options mid-conversation on how to respond to a boy. Choosing the first one had the boy in question chat for a while longer before the same options repeated themselves; selecting the second was, obviously, my best choice. It took a while before I finally was given a menu to select from, likely dictating my next option. Unfortunately, the text is entirely in Japanese, so I can't say with expert precision what is happening. Based on the characters I met within the first half-hour (a cute girl, another girl in a bikini on the beach with a boy, a round-headed surfer, and a sleazy-looking mustachioed man), this is possibly a tale of love with some comedic elements thrown in for good measure.

Suddenly a girl popped up into view, and for some reason, they included pixels to emphasize her inherent, uh, chestal protrusions. Hey, I didn't ask for that; it just showed up on my screen.

KISS Yori... Seaside Serenade definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea. Okay, actually, its audience is extremely niche. Unless you love visual novels and can read Japanese, this one won't appeal to you in any way. That is, unless you just like to look at black and white anime characters. (And I'm certain there is at least one person who matches that description somewhere in the world.) I would have appreciated more variety, both in imagery and in music, or at least a higher frequency of changes in either. Hearing the same song over and over again can be grating, as can flipping through page after page of text while staring at the same bright-eyed oaf. A little more pinache would go a long way, especially given the flair of so many other visual novels on the market.

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