Pentium II 233MHz or higher (Pentium III 500MHz recommended)
64MB or higher (128MB recommended)
800x600 resolution or higher, full-color
Requires CD-ROM (CD-ROM version), DVD-ROM (DVD-ROM version), and DirectX 8.0
Full voice for 15+ version (18+ add-on scenes do not contain voice, unless patched with the 18+ voice add-on from Angel's Feather ~Kohaku no Hitomi~)
Wingfield, a kingdom in a different world than the world of humans, was ruled by a race of white-winged people who lived in peace. However, this peace was brought to a halt when a mutation of the race, those with black wings, who had lived under the white wings for years, decided to revolt against them. Using magic that the White-Wings didn't possess, the Black-Wings invaded the castle and killed the royal family.
However, there were a few survivors: the child prince to the throne, who escaped the attack to the world of humans with the lieutenant of the imperial guard, and the King's brother, who had left to the world of humans previously when he fell in love with a human woman. But they were not overlooked by the Black-Wings, who came over to the human world in search of them.
Finding the King's brother, he and his wife are killed, but their infant twin sons survive, entrusted into the care of one of their young guards, who places them into the safety of an orphanage. But the twins, Shou and Kai, are separated as children when they are adopted by different people, and grow up unknowing of their angelic origins.
Years later, Shou finds himself accepted into Yuusei Highschool, where those associated to Wingfield have gathered, both intentially and unintentially. And it is here that several of the Black-Wings have begun their plans to strike again at the White-Wings.
Angel's Feather is considered one of the most popular boys' love games. This shouldn't come as any surprise, as it contains an involved story, great cast of characters, beautiful art, and a non-standard gameplay, all things that are very important to the over-all appeal of a game.
One of the most notable parts of Angel's Feather is how involved the story is, an area that is usually lacking in most boys' love games. The game is even split into ten chapters, similar to what you would find in an actual novel, where it plays out the struggle between the White-Wings and the Black-Wings, the roles and backgrounds of the characters involved, and the relationships between the characters. Therefore, it has very good plot and character development. Of course like most Japanese games that have good stories, it is harder to follow than the more shallow plotlines of other games, which always leaves an impression of wanting to know more details. However, it isn't too hard to at least get the overall gist of the story since it is heavy on CGs and voiced.
The art is the game is top-notch, drawn by the famous artist of Studio E.go! (the ero game parent company to Blue Impact), who is known for her very soft and detailed CG style. There is also a bit of variation, as flashback CGs are done in a bright and simplistic water-color style, making those parts stand out from the present-day story. And there are also /lots/ of CGs, the highest count I've found yet in the games I've played up to the point of doing this review: 212 in the standard version of the game, and if the 18+ add-on is applied, the count goes up to 269. If the 18+ voice-add from the Kohaku no Hitomi (the sequel to Angel's Feather) disk is applied, this also adds a scene at the end of Chapter 1 with three more new CGs (though unfortunately, these are not added into the CG gallery). For those interested in the 18+ CGs, they are very well-done, though admittedly not very varied in content: typically the first love event is always a kiss, the second always a handjob, and the third always anal sex. Even so, they are definitely sexy and nice eye candy. And for those that don't like 18+ material, the main disk of the game is non-adult; the sex is only included when the 18+ add-on disk is applied. This makes it good for a large range of BL gamers; those that only like mild boys' love, and those that like sexual boys' love.
The voice acting in the game is top-notch: the seiyuu do a great job and fit the characters nicely (though admittedly I can't compare the difference between Suzuoki Hirotaka, the original seiyuu of Shion, and Ishikawa Hideo, who is the seiyuu if you apply the 18+ voice add-on from Kohaku no Hitomi, since I only played the game with the 18+ voice add-on applied). However, one of the biggest downfalls is that the 18+ CG add-on for the game was /not/ voiced; meaning as you played the game, it would be voiced, but then anytime it came to one of the added 18+ scenes, the voice stopped, which not only feels sloppy and inconsistant, but is also disappointed since voiced 18+ scenes are more appealing to fans. Blue Impact probably heard some disappointment about this, because when they released the sequel, Angel's Feather ~Kohaku no Hitomi~, they included an option off the install screen to add voice to the 18+ scenes. However, I feel a bit bad about those people that played through the whole game initially (it is a /long/ game) and then would have to play all over again now that the voice add-on is available two years later; plus the 18+ voice add-on isn't available as a separate disk, it is only on the Kohaku no Hitomi CD, so they would have to buy the entire game to be able to add the 18+ voice to the original. However, it is completely worth it: they did an /excellent/ job voicing the sexual scenes. I'm glad I put off playing the game so I didn't have to replay to hear the voice-acting in those scenes; I can't even imagine what it would've been like without them, it truly added to the sexiness of the scenes.
One of my other favorite features of the game: multiple pairings. Instead of having one main character that can be paired with the others, there are several different possible pairings: 17 different character pairings, five of which where the seme and uke positions can be switched, for a total of 22 possible pairings. The downfall of the multi-pairing system is the large amount of replaying that has to be done in order to see them all, since only three can be set up per game, and replaying the game is a bit taxing due to length and repeated battles. Due to the character's roles, the pairings include friends, incest, care-taker, and teacher/student relationships, themes that are often appealing to most boys' love game fans.
But even the best games have their downpoints. One of the things with Angel's Feather is that you will need a fairly decent system to play the game smoothly. Though the game runs in 800x600, which is the resolution of my computer, it was very hard to play on this resolution because when using Ctrl+Alt to minimize it, resuming it then distorted the picture (though clicking the mouse to the next line of dialogue at least fixed this). I also had times where the game locked up on me, especially if something else started running on my system, so it is a little taxing on RAM. It also screencaps the pointer (which most games do not), so you either have to stick the pointer in the lower-right corner (which still leaves a few small black pixels in the shot) or need to be playing in a window to move the pointer off the game screen for screencapturing. Also, the 2D-mode they have included to make the game run better on low-end systems sucks: the graphics on it are horribly pixelated, the characters "float" across the ground since they don't even animate their legs moving, and in many cases the lack of effects and pixelation makes it hard to tell what things are and navigate. I actually prefer 2D games since I have a visual problem with 3D, but it was just impossible to get around in their 2D-mode, which meant some headaches for me from the constant swinging camera during battles (of course this is a personal orientation problem that I have, and the 3D-mode probably would not bother anyone else). I only wonder why they bothered to include a 2D-mode when it looks so bad it is nearly impossible to play in it.
I also was not very happy with their save system. There are only 20 save slots, and for a game this long, there really needed to be more. The techniques for shortening gameplay rely heavily on reloading from specific points in the story, and if you accidentally save over one of them, this can mean /a lot/ of replaying. I found I often had to back up my save folder to make sure I didn't do this, and also keep a written list of exactly what points in the story were saved in each save slot so I'd know where to reload later. Also, when you save in story-mode, when you load you start back at the beginning of the scene instead of when you made the save, another inconvenience.
Also, the game requires a large investment of time in order to win all the endings. While the RPG-mode is appealing at first, it becomes extremely tedious to have to do the areas and battles over, and over, and over to win all the endings; even with using shortcuts to cut down on replays, it takes at least 18 plays of the last level and fighting the last two bosses. I got pretty sick of having to replay all those battles just to get all the endings, not to mention how much time it took. If you are only interested in winning a few pairings, this probably won't be so bad, but if you want full capture, prepare for putting in some major dedication.
Angel's Feather is definitely a game that rightly deserves the recognition it has among BL gamers, since it hits all the major high-points of what makes a really appealing game. Since it is originally non-adult, those that don't like sexual boys' love can enjoy the game, and since there is an 18+ add-on disk, those that like sexual boys' love can enjoy it as well. Well worth a play by any fan of the BL game genre; just be prepared to invest a large amount of time if you want to play through all the possible endings.
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