Friday, May 6, 2011

Maison Ikkoku

Micro Cabin

You'd expect a HuCard digital comic to seem a bit lacking presentation-wise when compared with its CD-ROM peers, and indeed, Maison Ikkoku is as primitive a member of the genre as you'll find on the PCE, at least where audio and visuals are concerned. There's nothing rudimentary about what it requires players to do, though; this is no "click away 'til the end" sort of affair. While the item-finding and puzzle-solving requisites shouldn't prove too taxing for most, interaction with other characters is where matters get dicey and demand delicacy, and prudent management of the protagonist's limited finances is essential.

Ironically, while Maison certainly gives you enough things to worry about at any given moment, and its seemingly wide-open "take a look around and see what you can make of things" realm presents little in the way of guidance, there really isn't all that much that you can do in it. You spend most of your time loitering in the hallways of a simply structured house, where ill-tempered, odd-looking hooligans hound you like Furies until you shoo them away via ramen- or liquor-based bribery. The peace you attain is always only momentary, and though you can periodically escape from the madhouse and set off on brief excursions, shopping at the mini-mart or tutoring a dimwit doesn't make for exciting times.

Consequences for poor decisions can be severe; there are plenty of ways for your efforts to go disastrously awry and land you in unenviable predicaments.

There's no way you'll avoid an unfortunate fate if you can't read Japanese; there's just too much to the menu and gameplay systems to cheese your way to achieving the end goal (which is merely to glimpse at a hidden photo that, believe me, you can do without seeing anyway). An English patch for the game is available, but regardless of how much you'll be able to understand of what's going on, it's unlikely that you'll find Maison Ikkoku particularly interesting or entertaining. If, for some reason, you don't have access to the CD library but yearn to try a digital comic, I recommend the very-cool Chikudenya Toubee over this.

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