On the 17th of March, there is a classical strings concert unlike any other in the world. Ninety-six young musicians, divided into twenty-four quartets perform before an audience of the world’s greatest conductors and instrumentalists. Only one group - a single quartet - is chosen form these performers. Success brings prestige beyond imagination and guaranteed entry into any orchestra on the planet. It is a once in a lifetime chance for those striving to perfect the art of music. The ultimate dream… and possibly the ultimate nightmare.
Quartett! is an adult oriented drama game published by Littlewitch in early 2004. This article, for the sake of maintaining a respectable environment, will not display adult material.
Of the hundred of titles I’ve seen and played, in my humble opinion, Quartett! is one of the greatest visual novels ever made. No. Quartett! isn’t just a visual novel. It’s a work of art. Perfection given digital form. Where as other titles rely on an “unrealistic” setting to attain success, this one takes place in the “real” world. There are no bloodthirsty vampire hordes, magically endowed beauties, or technologically advanced alien invaders. It’s a pure and simple romance story. A true return to the original roots of the genre.
The presentation method of Quartett! is wholly unique, and I truly have yet to see anything of its caliber. Unlike other visuals novels, which use static illustrations, Quartett! portrays everything in a vivid and dynamic series of frames; it’s almost like reading a graphic novel that moves images across the screen with graceful finesse: complete with word balloons, rather than the traditional text box. From the start, this alteration is a tremendous eye pleaser, causing one to enjoy how the images are shown, rather than just the images themselves. While this is being done, an incredible soundtrack of classical music - appropriately played by a string quartet - underpins the emotional or comedic moment. If you are fan of the Great Composers, then you will certainly recognize these beautiful pieces; if not, you’ll find new appreciation for what is true music. To top matters even further, ambient background noise - such as a crowd in a plaza, or students moving around in a class - immerses you into believing you are actually “there” in the story… and what a story it is.
They say the greatest tale of all, is life itself. The struggle of being human: our failures and our success. Quartett! is exactly this. It is the story of eight young adults striving to reach their dreams. It questions the definition of friendship, trust, and love. They find delight. They find sorrow. They forge friendships. They face betrayals. How far is one willing to go to find success? How terrible is the tragedy of defeat? Is joy worth the misery of others? Is misery a worth price for seeing others happy? The story seems complex because humanity is complex. When someone feels sadness, you feel sadness. When someone feels joy, you feel joy.
And the character development? My God… its an experience. The eight heroes and heroines are stepping from the innocence of childhood in the glory of full maturity. Sex isn’t a reward in this game: its a story element that underlines when someone has become an adult. You witness what is arguably the most pivotal moment in these individual’s lives, unlocking or denying their true potential. Failing them is like failing yourself. You want to help everyone; but like real life, that just isn’t possible.
So is there a negative to this title? Sadly, there is one: no voice acting. Yet this lack does not weigh down Quartett! like it does so many other titles. So much is done right, to simply use this deficiency as a reason to not own it is inexcusable. Something like Quartett! is a tremendously rare event: an occurrence that happens once every three or four years. It literally redefines the genre. A new standard to which everything must be held against. To miss it, is to miss a pinnacle achievement of a visual novel.
Cast of Characters
The player character and second violin of the string quartet. Despite lacking formal training and practical knowledge of classical music, Phill is incredibly gifted in playing the violin. He was discovered by a professor of Magnolia Music Institute by sheer chance, and upon that, coerced into joining the orchestra. Phill is a cheerful and charismatic individual who always seems to have the best answers when facing adversity. Ultimately he becomes the emotional cornerstone upon which the quartet relies: their one certainty in chaos.
First violin and leader of the string quartet. Since she could walk, Charlotte has been educated in playing the violin. She is incredibly skilled, regularly winning competitions and impressing instrumentalists around the world. Charlotte is rather sensitive about her height, and doesn’t handle romantic emotions very well.
Viola of the string quartet. Juni was born and raised in Italy with her twin sister, Mai. She original was a violinist, but a situation occurred that led her into perfecting the viola; one that only she and her sister know the reasons of. Because of her bright personality and quick humor, Juni is frequently the mood maker of the quartet.
Cello of the string quartet. Li is a quiet and socially withdrawn individual, preferring the role of an observer whenever the situation allows. She has an unusual view with men due to repeating negative experiences.
Phill’s younger sister. Despite her youth, Lina is an exceptionally intelligent girl. She loves her brother, but tends to view him in a negative light due to his frequent unreliability. Not afraid to speak her mind.
Juni’s twin sister and first violin of the rival quartet. Cheerful and energetic, she is a protégée of unequalled potential, widely considered the greatest student the Institute has ever produced. Deeply loyal to her sister; more so than most believe.
Second violin of the rival quartet. Hans a close friend of Phill and an outstanding student. Generally a rather plain and mundane individual - some would even say a nerd - but his passion for classical music can only be described as fanatical.
Cello of the rival quartet. Gizelle is heiress of the wealthy and noble Stolzenberg bloodline. Gizelle’s overwhelming pride tends to unintentionally drag her into troublesome situations… big trouble.
Viola and leader of the rival quartet. Signina is a barmaid who commutes to Magnolia Music Academy. She has a no nonsense personality, and is the kind of person who openly reveals her feelings and opinions.
Story: The greatest visual novel ever told. Words do it no justice. 10 of 10
Characters: I actually cried for them. Seriously. I’m not even the emotional type, yet I cried. Some might laugh at that, but I simply feel pity they’ll never experience the moment. 10 of 10
Graphics: Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It proves that Photoshop and cel coloring are not an industry standard: its a crutch. The watercolor effect is simply divine. 10 of 10
Sound: Voice acting be damned, this title doesn’t need it. Sadly, the structure of my rating system prevents it from getting a perfect, because voice acting constitutes at least half the score. After all, spoken lines are an expected feature in all visual novels and daters. However, this title rates more than just a five: the incredible soundtrack and background effects are truly astounding. 7 of 10
Overall: Perfect. If the sun was going to explode next week, and all mankind could do was launch a rocket into space with digital records of our greatest achievements as the sole proof of our existence, Quartett! would be on that ship… or I’d shoot the damn thing down myself. There’s nothing else to say. Get this. Get it now. 9 of 10
Special Ordering Information
Quartett! Game Demo
Play Guide & Save Data (SPOILER WARNING)
Quartett! Play Guide