Important Importables: Hoshizora no Comic Garden for DS Review

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Hoshizora no Comic Garden

Title: Hoshizora no Comic Garden
Price: $54.90
System(s): DS
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Publisher (Developer): D3 Publisher (HuneX)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero B (12+)
Pros: Incredibly pretty art, interesting premise and unique mini-games that simulate manga creation.
Cons: Its boring. Each chapter of the game is devoted to a guy, so if you save at the right point, you can get all the endings quickly. Structured save points. Not really import friendly.
Overall Score: 6/10

I was excited when my friend announced she had purchased Hoshizora no Comic Garden for two reasons. The first is that I’m a fan of otome (girl’s life/dating sim) games. The second is I’m a big comic and manga fan. So a game revolving around an aspiring mangaka (manga artist) finding love and success sounded like a must-have for me.

I was disappointed though, to find that Hoshizora no Comic Garden felt fairly generic. It didn’t really stand out, was lacking a save anywhere feature other games in its genre possessed and didn’t have the same replay value of other otome games. Its a beautiful game, but looks aren’t everything.
Hoshizora no Comic Garden screenshot

SWF mangaka seeking androgynous, pretty boy model.

In Hoshizora no Comic Garden you step into the shoes of a high school girl who wants to be a mangaka. Well, technically she already is, since she’s working on a manga series with others throughout the game. You meet six men along the way who you can choose to have her pursue as a boyfriend. The game is divided into chapters, with each focusing on one of the guys.

Hoshizora no Comic Garden is more a visual novel than an otome game. This means that the storyline is already pretty much laid out for you. Each chapter focuses on one of the six guys, and you answer questions throughout the game to boost affection. You don’t need to focus on building attributes to win love. So its more like Hiiro no Kakera or Duel Love than Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side or Vitamin X Evolution.
Hoshizora no Comic Garden screenshot

Pretty, but kind-of pointless.

Hoshizora no Comic Garden really is pretty. I mean the character art is just gorgeous. But character and CG sequences don’t make a game.

The storyline is lackluster, and you don’t really have a great deal of motivation. Hoshizora no Comic Garden is a visual novel kind of game. You make decisions and then stuff happens. You don’t really get to personalize your character.

Hoshizora no Comic Garden also has very little replay value. You basically decide which guy you go for at the very end (on Valentines Day), by giving the one you think looks prettiest chocolates. If you save right before that point, you can reload that save over and over to unlock the main five guys’ images and endings.

There’s also no “save anywhere” option. To me, this is a must in visual novels/otome games, so you can be sure to get the ending you want. Here, you have to wait until the game allows you to save. This means that you have to know ahead of time the correct answers. You won’t be able to save, answer, discover you were wrong and reload.

It is also not import friendly. My Japanese is adequate and occasionally atrocious, so I had to rely on my fluent friend in many situations to make the proper decisions because there were words I didn’t recognize.

Honestly, the part I enjoyed most were the manga mini-games. You’d get to draw panels, trace, rub, add glitter, blow away dust and a lot of other unusual drawing things you wouldn’t even think would make an interesting mini-game. It was surprisingly fun to create fake manga, and I genuinely enjoyed every mini-game opportunity.
Hoshizora no Comic Garden screenshot

Interesting attempt, but just another shojo game

Hoshizora no Comic Garden tries. And really, if you consider the basics that make otome games great (attractive character art, interesting premise, entertaining mini-games), it steps up to the plate. After playing titles like Hiiro no Kakera, Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2nd Season and Otometeki Koi Kakumei: Love Revo DS!!, Hoshizora no Comic Garden just can’t compare.

If you’re fluent in Japanese and an otome fan, you may want to pick up Hoshizora no Comic Garden when its on sale. If you’re a passing otome fan who isn’t fluent, stick with the Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side DS games.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Important Portables reviews Princess Maker 5 Portable for the PSP.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Important Importables reviewed four different, import DS stylus options.

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