EVE Burst Error is one of C's Ware's first games to make the journey across the Pacific into our hot little hands. Back in Japan, C's Ware is best known for making adult graphic adventure games, and EVE Burst Error, despite not technically being an adult game, is the popular company's biggest hit to date. Its popularity is well deserved; despite coming up a bit short in the gameplay department (as all graphic adventures played by this reviewer have), EVE Burst Error contains a brilliant storyline rivaled by few others.
Like several recent RPGs, EVE Burst Error offers players the choice of one of two protagonists as the game begins. Kojiroh Amagi is a private detective who has certainly seen better days. Working for the high-profile Katsuragi Private Detective Offices, Kojiroh had established himself as the best in the business. Then, one day, he mysteriously threw it all away, leaking information that led to his chief's arrest and resigning from the agency immediately afterwards.
Nowadays, Kojiroh lives in the warehouse district near the docks, where he has set up his own detective office. Business is bad, though, as his shoddy living conditions indicate. Kojiroh's income results mainly from low-paying petty jobs, and he doesn't get a whole lot of them.
Then, one day, a mysterious client offers Kojiroh an exorbitant sum of money to find a lost painting. Although the high price trips off alarm bells in his head (the painting itself does not hold any significant monetary value), Kojiroh really needs the money, so he accepts the job. From here, he's unwittingly pulled into a tangled web of murder and mystery.
Marina Hojo, the other main character in EVE Burst Error, is an international agent respected and feared by terrorists as well as international officials. Marina is feared by terrorists because of her career 99% mission success rate. She's feared by international officials because wherever she goes, she also tends to leave a trail of destruction.
As Marina's scenario begins, Agent Hojo has just returned from successfully completing one of her biggest missions yet. However, Marina has also wreaked no small amount of havoc in completing her assignment, and the heat's on her from most of the higher-ups in her organization. As a result, Marina is relegated to the seemingly dull task of serving as a bodyguard for the daughter of the ambassador of Eldia, a small Middle Eastern nation rapidly rising in prominence.
Although Marina's task appears to hold little excitement, she, like Kojiroh, is pulled into something bigger than she ever expected. Marina and Kojiroh's scenarios intertwine very closely throughout the game, and they even end up assisting each other in their search for the truth.
EVE Burst Error's plot is one of the finest ever written for a video game, and it alone is more than worth the price of admission. The complex tale is full of surprises and plot twists, and thanks in part to exceptional pacing, it remains riveting throughout its lengthy course. EVE Burst Error excels at selectively divulging information, keeping players interested while maintaining its shroud of mystery. Character development is strong; all of the major characters in the game have detailed origins that are slowly revealed as the storyline progresses.
In addition, Himeya Soft has done an admirable job of translating the game. Although the dialogue doesn't rank with that of Working Designs' Lunar: Silver Star Story or Activision's Guardian's Crusade, it is significantly better than the text in most recent US RPGs. The dialogue generally flows very well, like natural conversation, and it's filled to the brim with thinly veiled innuendo, giving it a decidedly humorous touch.
The translation does have a few minor problems, though. Typos and grammatical errors are fairly common, but fortunately, they do little to disrupt the flow of the dialogue. In addition, there's a plethora of pop culture jokes and references to the fact that you're playing a video game. The pop culture jokes, while not especially funny, are acceptable because EVE Burst Error takes place in a real-life setting (1990's Japan). Therefore, they're relevant. However, the references to the fact that you're playing a video game are irritating, as usual.
Finally, Himeya Soft made little attempt to accurately translate a small amount of the game's more unimportant text. These inaccuracies are evident through the fact that nearly all of dialogue not spoken by your current protagonist is voiced over. Although purists will decry this translation decision, nearly all of the major points of the game's plot are translated well enough for players to understand the complex plot.
Like most other graphic adventure games, EVE Burst Error is somewhat lacking in gameplay. The bulk of the interaction in the game is carried out through pointing and clicking with the mouse; however, there isn't even any direct interaction with what's visible. Instead, all of your interaction choices are listed in menu format in a small black box below the graphical display. There is no manual item use in the game; although you acquire items in EVE Burst Error, they're all used automatically when you need them.
What's there of EVE Burst Error's gameplay is done well, though. The interface is solid, and the game also provides a nice twist on the increasingly common dual-protagonist system. Instead of finishing one protagonist's scenario before starting the other's story, players will find that they must make Kojiroh and Marina cooperate with each other. For example, if you play as Kojiroh, you'll eventually get stuck. When this happens, you then have to switch over to playing as Marina and unlock a specific "flag" before you can continue as Kojiroh. This well-conceived approach to the dual-protagonist system adds a lot to the game.
Unfortunately, the switching back and forth between protagonists also causes EVE Burst Error's most significant gameplay flaw. The game's storyline often does a really poor job of letting you know when you have to switch main characters. As a matter of fact, sometimes the only clue that you get is that you're stuck in one character's scenario. Some of the scenario switches are preceded by clues; it would have been nice if all of them were.
EVE Burst Error's control is nearly flawless, as that of most mouse-controlled graphic adventures are. The mouse control is pinpoint precise, and although there isn't much in the way of menus, what's there is well organized. The one slight flaw in EVE Burst Error's control relates to the fact that for you to carry out an action, it must be highlighted in the menu when you press the mouse button. Sometimes there's a lag on the menu command of your choice being highlighted, so you accidentally end up carrying out the wrong command.
Graphically, EVE Burst Error is relatively sparse, but what's there is also done well. Most of the visuals in the game are stills of backgrounds, with the occasional person popping up for you to talk to. The backgrounds are drawn well, but there's nothing spectacular about them.
The few anime movies do look good, though. They're well drawn, fluidly animated, and there isn't a hint of graininess about them. EVE Burst Error's art is similarly impressive. The character designs are beautiful; the women in this game are among the most attractive that you'll find in video games.
In the sound department, EVE Burst Error gets 2 out of 3 facets down near perfectly. The sound effects are extremely realistic; they're clearly sampled and sound much better than those of most RPGs. In addition, the voice acting is top notch. The strong cast features Junko Iwao, one of this reviewer's all-time favorite seiyuu, as Marina, and her work here matches up to her brilliant performances as Shelfaniel in Langrisser IV and Kotori Mono in X.
The soundtrack, however, leaves a lot to be desired. EVE Burst Error's soundtrack consists pretty much of a few MIDIs that tend to repeat themselves over and over again. The individual tracks, while not at all memorable, are reasonably pleasant from a compositional standpoint, but their sound quality is about equal to that of the Sega Genesis. In a recently released game, this is very disappointing.
Like most graphic adventures, EVE Burst Error is flawed in several facets. However, storyline is by far the most important aspect of any game of this genre, and storyline is where EVE Burst Error excels. If you're a fan of graphic adventure games, EVE Burst Error is a must-have. If not, the brilliant plot might make it worthwhile to take a chance on this one anyway. Highly recommended.
Reviewer's Note: Although EVE Burst Error is not technically an adult game, it is still very much intended for mature audiences. The dialogue is full of profanity, and the subject matter is often sexually explicit. Technically, there's no nudity, but some of visuals come very close to it.
If you're having difficulty locating EVE Burst Error, it can be purchased directly from Himeya Soft at www.himeya.com.