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Old 03-20-2003, 12:19 AM   #118
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,550
1996 Game of the Year in Japan

Tokimeki Memorial ~ Forever With You - Sega Saturn/PlayStation (both import) - Rating 9
The Romance Simulator is a popular form of gaming in Japan. The idea is simple: Pick a girl you like and you try to win her heart. Sounds easy? Well, just like in real life, some girls are easy and some are hard. Problem is, most of those games were hentai (meaning 'pervert') which featured adult situations with girls (sometimes very young) and would include nudity and sexual content. Well, Konami's Tokimeki Memorial was the first Dating Sim made in Japan and it strayed from the usual nudity/sex that was so apparent in former entries in the genre. Instead, its emphasis is on the social lives of a select set of high school girls and the challenges a guy must confront in winning a girl's heart.
In Tokimeki, you play the role of a teenage boy as he's entering Kirameki High School for the first time. There, you meet Yoshio Saotome and he'll be your friend and 'informer' throughout the entire game (spanning 3 years, from the beginning of high school to graduation). He is also after a girl, and you never know who she is at the start. You meet your childhood friend, neighbor, and love interest Shiori Fujisaki in your class. She's looking out the class window at a tree. The tree that sits outside on the school campus is known as the Legendary Tree which supposedly is endowed with a power which joins two hearts together. It is said that if a girl confesses her love to you underneath the tree and you reciprocate, both you and her will be blessed with happiness forever. Of course, there are other girls in high school and you can try to win their love instead. Know this -- since her standards are so high, Shiori Fujisaki's affection is one tough prize to win.
Throughout Tokimemo you have stats which include looks, athleticism, intelligence, even how much stamina you have, and you'll have to balance these out rather well. In order to do this you are given boxes with different actions that you can select, such as groom (which will raise looks), train (which will build athleticism), and much more. Know that if you emphasize one particular thing too long other stats may drop slowly. Keep a good balance. Looks alone won't get you far. You need to socialize, study, enroll in a special cirriculum (such as art, basketball, computer programming, music, etc.) and to tell the truth it's amazingly fun to do this. However, don't expect to actually PLAY basketball or anything like that; you click and the game shows you performing the activity while your stats build in realtime. By building certain stats faster than others you'll end up 'running into' another high school student of the female persuasion, so if you're after Shiori try and cut down on how many girls you meet (just to be on the safe side). You can save the game every weekend/holiday so be sure to save often in case you screw up something bad (like a date).
Speaking of dating, here's how it works. First, you make sure you have a girl's phone number (Yoshio Saotome keeps 'em all so call him up to get girls' numbers). Also, Saotome keeps track of how happy/mad all the girls are with you so check in occasionally. You call up a girl and set a date up by selecting from different locations and events, such as concerts, stores, the beach, amusement park, library, etc. Be sure to check in on the schedule for event listings (you don't actually have to read it; it automatically updates your repertoire of date locations) for maximum options. Sometimes, you might get turned down, especially if a girl is angry at you or they're studying for exams. Here's another important factor: all the girls gossip about you, so if you make any particular girl angry (usually by ignoring them for an extended period of time) be ready to face the wrath of the female population! See overcast skies approaching? Make up quick! While you're at it, get to know each girl's personality. Take them to places they really like to go and don't say the wrong things to them. They ask questions (all in Kanji) such as "How do I look?". If it's somebody like Shiori, don't say "You look sexy" because she'll get embarrassed (or angry). Instead, settle for "You look cute". If it's a girl like Mira Kagami, feel free to call her 'sexy'. Since the game is all Japanese, you'll probably be playing a guessing game anyways, so if you screw up and you saved you can quick-reset (A+B+C+Start on Saturn) and try again. It's up to you.
The only negative about the game is that getting Shiori takes such hard effort and it bites to have given most of your focus on her throughout the entire game, only to have another girl show up for the ending! ARGH!!! If you perform horribly and all the girls are on bad terms with you, congratulations! You get the loser ending where you're sitting all alone in your room. Ouch.
There's so much Japanese pop culture references in the game it's staggering. There's even games like a 4 stage TwinBee game in Tokimemo. Also worth note is the run-ins with bullies and such which then sets up an RPG fight segment where you issue commands like 'attack', 'defend', and special attacks, and it includes HP (which is based on your stamina). Weird, but cool nonetheless. This game is jam-packed with extras and many Konami game references.
The graphics on the SS/PSX versions are about the same, with colorful backgrounds and characters. They don't really animate, but what's there looks very nice. They dress up different depending on season/location and they have special seqments specifically drawn for each girl if you're in the right place at the right time. The Super Famicom version has much lower graphic quality than the others and is missing a great deal of stuff, so I recommend the 32-bit versions. Also, on the SS/PSX there's a FMV intro with a short theme song (which I could care less about). Just thought I'd bring it up.
The music is nice anime-ish stuff that does the job. The voices (of which there's a TON) are all quite clear and you can skip through them (thankfully). All voice is accompanied with the text. There's nothing to complain about here unless you hate a particular girl's voice.
You can enjoy Tokimeki Memorial even if you don't understand Japanese, but only buy it if you're willing to give a Dating Simulator a chance. Don't buy this game if you're looking for action - you won't find it. If, however, you're looking for a break from the norm (or you just like Shiori too much) get Tokimemo. It won't let you down.

Here's a lot of sites featuring Tokimeki Memorial~
This makes an interesting read ~
~ (And no, there's no porno on this site, I assure you.)
~ (Another section to the first page listed.)
...And how 'bout it? ~
Here is my review on OPCFG which also has vast coverage of more 2D gaming goodness ~

I'm out.

Last edited by Icarus4578; 08-03-2004 at 10:06 AM.
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