Little Busters is a VN I had a copy of way back in 2012, before the anime aired. Back then I only played the Kud route and lost all motivation to continue. Then the first season of the anime came. I watched it and was disappointed by the adaptation. I told myself I’ll finish the VN instead of watching or waiting for Refrain. I never continued back then. Then suddenly, it was announced the LB is coming to Steam. I immediately bought it upon release, and this time, I had the determination and motivation to continue.
Little Busters! is a visual novel created by Key, who is also known for other popular works such as Clannad, Angel Beats!, and Rewrite. Being a work by Key, one can expect the standard Key formula, a light-hearted, comedic common route, then follows a dramatic and emotional heroine/story route. Compared to the original Little Busters!, Little Busters! English Edition is now in HD and includes the three Ecstasy routes.
Little Busters! follows Naoe Riki, who lost his parents as a child, and suffers from narcolepsy. After losing his parents, he fell into depression, but fortunately was saved by being invited to join the Little Busters. After that moment, he has been with them ever since.
The common route of Little Busters is very long. It has period of approximately two weeks, with each day featuring a considerable amount of dialogue. The common route isn’t just about reading text, though. Little Busters! has several mini-games throughout the story, from baseball practice to a battle sequence (RNG-based though). The common route has several choices available. Most of them do not raise heroine flags, but rather, it gives different hilarious scenarios. Even those choices the involve helping a heroine do not trigger a flag. Each heroine, though, has at least one critical choice available in the common route, provided several flags were already selected. These critical choices lock you to a specific heroine arc. Upon completion of the arc, however, the critical choice cannot be chosen again in subsequent playthroughs until Refrain is completed.
The common route also has 2 extras available, one is Unknown Lifeform, and the other is Mask the Saito. In order to have a better chance of completing this extras, you must muster up high stats for the battle mini-game. After each playthrough, Riki and Rin (one of the heroines and an original member of the Little Busters) start with higher base stats. Thus, it is recommended to start a new game after every route rather than continuing from a save point.
The strong point of Little Busters! is with its characters. Majority of the VNs out there focuses only on the heroines, with the male characters acting as support. In Little Busters!, even the male characters are given significant amount of screen time. Additionally, you can see how much they develop from the start until the end of Refrain.
Little Busters! starts out with six heroines, but upon completing Refrain, three more become available. Below is a list of all of them, with heroines 7 to 9 being Ecstasy routes.
- Natsume Rin
- Kamikita Komari
- Nishizono Mio
- Saigusa Haruka
- Kurugaya Yuiko
- Noumi Kudryavka
- Sasasegawa Sasami
- Futaki Kanata
- Tokido Saya
Completing the first six will unlock Refrain, the main scenario of Little Busters!, and the best route of the VN. Refrain is so good that I was able to read through it in one go for approximately 5 hours. Another detail worth noting is that in certain heroine route, there are scenes that are altered/deleted if you completed another route before. The list above shows the order on how I read it. Rin has two scenarios available, Rin1 and Rin2. To get Rin2, you need to finish Rin1 and the next five routes. Completing Rin2 will unlock Refrain. Lastly, Saya’s route is available after completing Refrain; however, you need to complete Sasami’s, and Kanata’s route to finish Saya’s route.
The music of Little Busters! is also good. Each track matches the mood of the current scene. The opening, “Little Busters! – Ecstasy ver.” is sung by Rita. As well as the ending themes for all routes except Saya’s. The ending theme of Saya, “Saya’s Song”, is a favorite of mine, and is sung by Lia.
How long is it? It took me around 50 hours from the start to the end of Refrain. Then to complete the whole game, including the Ecstasy routes and extras, took my total playtime to 69 hours, and I consider myself a fast reader already.
To conclude, Little Busters! is one of the best VNs that I’ve read. It is also different to other VNs out there. It focuses more on friendship rather than romance. Some heroine routes may be noted as lackluster, but Refrain is so good that it makes up for that point.