View Full Version : The Planetarian Opinion thread

2004-12-09, 01:24
Go ahead and post your opinion of Planetarian here! I even included a poll, since that's the popular thing to do nowadays. Well then, here's my semi-mini-review.

As most of you already know, Planetarian is a so-called "kinetic novel", meaning that you go through the game with no choices presented. Kind of like reading a book, if you will. It costs 1,050 yen, which is pretty cheap, but it lasts about 3-5 hours, depending on how fast you read. This is quite different from Key's previous games, which typically lasted 30+ hours (I estimate) and had quite a few choices along the way.

The setting is in the distant future, where bankruptcy concerning space exploration (somehow) caused World War 3, which caused almost all of humanity to die, and Earth to be a wasteland where it always rains. The game starts with you, the nameless protagonist, who is a "Collector" (屑屋, someone who explores ruins for valuables) entering Planetarian, where he meets Yumemi Hoshino, the "pure robot maid" of this game.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical before playing this game. Will this "kinetic novel" thing work out? Will I enjoy a game with a setting as overdone as a bleak cyberpunk future with a pure robot maid? The answer to me was, yes, this game is definitely worth it. It has Key-type conversations between the somewhat cynical protagonist and the ditzy heroine -- which is basically their specialty -- which are highly enjoyable, and the drama in this game, which is also a specialty of Key, is one of the best.

One of the reasons why I could stomache the archetypical pure robot maid is that, for once, she wasn't completely perfect and human with the only noticable difference some naivete and cheap fan-service, like it usually is with this type of character. Yumemi is quite obviously a computer, and the game makes no pretentious assumptions about this. And that makes her quite likeable; at least to me.

I'm not going to spoil anything about the ending, other than that I found it to be very satisfying. This game's much shorter than Key's other efforts, but that doesn't make the ending any less profound. With that said, don't judge this game until you've finished it! Before the ending I thought it was OK, but after it I was quite impressed with this game.

One more thing for the ones who want to play the Japanese version (until there's a translation available): perhaps it goes without saying, but you should be pretty skilled at Japanese if you want to fully enjoy it. As said before, this game's fairly heavy on technical terminology, and I found some of the Kanji usage kind of confusing*.

*Particularly how 廃れる had furigana, but 壜(びん) didn't. Perhaps it's obvious to a native speaker of Japanese, though.

2004-12-09, 22:47
the poll is unfare for those who can't read japanese (yet), another poll will be need once (if at all) the novell have been translated (since I don't think you are allowed to change your vote).

thanks for the review.... "all humatnity is wiped out" yet the main charecter is there?!... humm... intreasting, make's wander about him :-)

2004-12-11, 10:28
Hey, I voted. And I'm even in the majority. Awesome ^_^

2004-12-11, 10:54
Hehe. I think we're going to find a sizable majority for "hurry up and translate the stupid thing". I know that's where I am :)

2004-12-11, 11:56
Speaking of translation, anyone who's wondering why I haven't said anything more about the demo should check insani.org. They (or possibly "we", since I'm peripherally involved in the programming effort) are hoping to get a release out Real Soon Now.

Random Planetarian-related link: the Zeiss Planetarium in Jena (http://www.planetarium-jena.de/), which is where the machinery in the game comes from.

Comments coming when I've got as far as "hurry up and play the damned thing". ;_;

2004-12-12, 09:08
Woah, I didn't know someone had translated the Haru no Ashioto demo.

Yay for translated demos! Yay for translating the planetarian demo! Hooray hooray! Yeah.

2004-12-15, 05:32
Finally having had a chance to play this game, I guess I'll add my two cents for what they're worth.

I'm not sure whether it was because of Suzumoto's writing or the radically different setting, but to me, the game seemed in many ways like a departure from Key's signature style of game. That's not to say it's a bad game, but it's definitely a very different one from the previous three. The setting and tone is much darker, and in sharp contrast to the quasi-surreal, almost dream-like feeling of the previous games, the atmosphere is a harsh and 'real' one.

Script-wise, I was pleasantly surprised. There's not a lot of comedy (as one might expect), but the dramatic parts are competently written and the action scenes come off surprisingly well. It's packed with a surprising amount of subtext, too, and it wasn't until I had re-read the parts that I had played in the demo that I caught on to some of the ideas and themes.

The only part I didn't really care for (and I'm sure there will be no shortage of people who will disagree with me on this) was the ending. It's not that it was badly written, but I found the dilemma faced by the main character for the last half of the game quite interesting, and it was a little disappointing to see such an arbitrary and (dare I say it) cliche resolution, though admittedly it does tie up some of the themes mentioned earlier quite nicely. I suppose I just can't shake the feeling that somehow it could have been done in a less predictable way.

In any case, it's definitely a good effort for a 5 hour novel, and while it didn't engage me on the same level as their older works, that's probably more to do with length than quality. Those who are waiting for a future translation patch are not waiting in vain, as long as they're not expecting the next Kanon.