Overdrive's ongoing theme of "rock epics" continues with Deardrops, which is the follow-up to the decidedly popular Kira Kira. Kira Kira was quite exciting and pretty popular at that, crossing rock and roll with cutesy J-pop and plenty of girls of all archetypes to chase, as well as raucous rock star dreams. In the case of Deardrops, it's more like crushed violinist dreams, in the case of protagonist Suganuma Shouichi.
Shouichi used to be on top of the world as a revered violinist, renowned all over the globe as a fantastic musician until a certain disastrous incident involving the paparazzi forced him from his throne. Unable to deal with the constant stream of issues, Shouichi stepped down from the fame and moved home to the town he grew up in.
Release Date: March 12th, 2012 [NA]
Of course, like in any good eroge, his old childhood friend was there waiting for him. After coming home to the familiar, he's introduced to the wild world of rock and roll. From there, he's introduced to several other talented musicians who share Shouichi's passion for music. All together, Gondo, Kanade, Yayoi, Rimu, and Riho embark on an adventure that finds them starting a brand new band: Deardrops.
Deardrops is both a different beast than Kira Kira and most eroge in that it attempts to relate a tale that many of us could actually, realistically relate to. Who hasn't dreamt of pursuing an extravagant music-related career at some point in their life? The plight of Shouichi is explored in an entertaining yet respectful way, and by the end of the game his growth as a character is immediately evident. The visions of his painful past are still haunting him in many obvious ways, and without spoiling the story for new players, it's easy to see why. Amidst all the lighthearted performance storylines and the typical buildup to what will eventually culminate in the player's character route, there's actually quite a bit of juicy melodrama to wallow in, especially if you happen to pursue Kanade.
You'll likely have a tough decision to make there when it comes to which girl you want to pursue, as Riho and Kanade are excellent story paths that illustrate two separate personality types as well as hopes and dreams. Riho can always be counted on for tough love and straight-forward assessments of both musical prowess and usefulness as a person, and thus her route is one that instills quite a bit of tsundere, which is what I immediately gravitated toward. She and I aren't so different, after all. Kanade's adorable alright, but I found her route much less direct, though it did encompass most of the emotional impact I wasn't even expecting out of Deardrops.
It's unfortunate that the remaining character paths are nowhere near as engaging, and far less rewarding at that. Rimu and Yayoi are likeable enough, but you're barking up the wrong tree if you believe there's going to be any real payoff there in regard to Shouichi's plight. It's best to explore them on subsequent playthroughs.
The tone is equal parts playful and brooding at times, but Deardrops never forgets what it set out to do, and that' getting players rocking in their seats with the fledgling rock band. There's a pleasant, raw edge to the background music and featured in-game tracks, and many of them including, surprisingly enough, violin! Well, it shouldn't be that shocking, but despite Shouichi's talent with a violin, I wasn't expecting the instrument to show up so prominently within the live concert music.
It's clear that Overdrive put a lot of work into ensuring Deardrops was a worthy follow-up (even if only spiritual) to Kira Kira, and it's obvious from the quality of the character art, the infectiously catchy live concert songs, and the gripping (and obviously canon) romance between Shouichi and that special lady, which we won't spoil here. While a few moments of blandness and lackluster routes prevent it from absolute greatness, Deardrops is still a perfectly serviceable story in its own right, and a great addition to Overdrive's stable. Pick it up if you dug Kira Kira, too.
7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
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