This is just a brief review and I won’t write the story since others have done it, and done it better than I could 😀 For a brief summary of all the routes read Sandeian’s post, and for more detailed summaries read Rin’s. My review is… basically just for me to fangirl about this game 8D
Will contain minor spoilers. Avoid reading the “Random Thoughts” section if you prefer to be spoiler-free.
First thing first: this game’s music is awesome. I actually enjoy listening to the BGM song. Each character has his own song, and the song fits the character like a glove. …and this is probably where they milk people’s money. After playing this game, I thought I wanted to buy its vocal CD… then found out out that rather than releasing 1 CD containing the vocal tracks, they released 3 CDs, one for each rival pair and another one just for the S class and A class theme song. The cost of buying all the CDs = a new PSP game. And where’s Cecil’s theme song dammit?!
With regards to the art… I admit the art bothered me a little bit. I didn’t really mind the event CG and its cop-out background… I was bothered by the character sprites. The anatomy looked rather off to me… while playing Masato’s route, I kept on thinking that his body was too skinny, in ratio to the size of his head… was it just me? I was also bothered by how they draw Sho topless… made me feel like a paedophile orz
This game’s story was… probably written for shits and giggles 8D That made this game AWESOME. They managed to fit in some drama, romance and awesome moments in between all the jokes, so the game was never bogged down by too many angst and such. Also, the fact that the routes started branching from the beginning meant that essentially you get 7 different stories with no shared route. And each route was split into months that were basically episodic in nature, and I liked that sort of structure, so… 8D
And this was one game where I liked all the characters. Even Ren, who was difficult to like in the beginning… when his XMas event came along, I COMPLETELY FORGAVE HIM and continued liking him all the way until the ending. Characterisation was pretty consistent as well, except for one oddity where Ren seemed like a sympathetic character in Tokiya’s route whereas he’s rather dislikeable in his own route.
I even liked Haruka as the main heroine… my opinion of her is similar as Natsuki’s: ”か。。。かわいい！ぎゅーってしたい！”
Gameplay is actually quite fun. In-game story runs for 12 months (April-March); unless you’re heading for the Friends ending in which case it’s only 9 months (April-December). Each month you’ll get 5 questions to answer, and the month will end with a mini-game. Picking the right answer to the questions will raise the guy’s affection point, but you can only tell whether you did OK at the end of the month when they show a screen and tallies up the points. The answers are rather similar so it’s difficult to pick the right one… no worries though, there’s always a guide. If not mistaken, getting higher points for the mini-games itself will help to raise the guy’s affection point.
As for the mini-game, there are 4 different types:
- Knowledge Quiz
As the name says… you have to pick the right answer (out of 2) for 10 questions. Depending on how much you can recognise the kanji and know what’s being asked, this might be easy/difficult. Questions ranged from “What instrument does Shinomiya Natsuki play?” to “Which of these was a German composer?” Getting 8 answers right will get you S score.
- Lyricist Test
In this one, you have to fill in blanks in a song’s lyric. For each blank, when you try to fill it in there will be a moving gauge. Stopping the gauge when it’s low means you’ll get 4-5 words to choose the right word from. The higher the gauge when you stop it, the less the number of words to choose from. If you manage to stop the gauge when it’s at its peak, the blank will be automatically filled with the right word.
- Rhythm Test
A bar will scroll horisontally left->right, and when it passes through a symbol you have to press the corresponding button. The teacher will do it first, then it’s your turn. Basically it’s a rhythm mini-game, and pretty easy.
- Song Test
Like above, but harder. In the first half of the game the song will be the class’ theme song (A class or S class), in the latter half it will be the guy’s theme song. Each song has a level as well, Lv1-3. At Lv3… let’s just hope your fingers are fast enough to follow the button rain on the screen 8D
- I played this game straight after finishing the first Patapon game. I thought to myself, I was doing awesome with Patapon so this game should be pretty easy. I was… wrong 😄
- Shining Saotome was EFFING HILARIOUS. It’s worth it buying this game just for him. I was laughing like a maniac during the event where Natsuki was told to fight Shining to save Haruka… but before fighting Shining who’s the “last boss”…
Shining: YOU must fight the mid-boss, Ryuuya-RANGER! (<- I made that up)
Shining: COME OUT! Ryuuya-RANGER!
Shining: …COME OUT! …Ryuuya-RANGER?
Shining: …Ryuuya-san, where are you…?
Ryuuya: *came out from the school building* …man, what a bother. And what’s with that mid-boss…
- The game stated that Haruka had no friend, that music had always been her only friend etc etc. …but everyone in the game said that she’s cute, and I found it puzzling that if she’s _that_ cute, why did she have no friend…? It’s not like her personality’s bad or anything…
- Story summaries in 1 sentence (or more):
Ittoki Otoya: I decided that I like you, so I’ll challenge Shining’s “No Love” rule because I don’t want to lie to myself.
Hijirikawa Masato: We met before and you gave me a reason to live and I like you, but I don’t want you to be expelled from the school because of the “No Love” rule so I’ll give up.
Shinomiya Natsuki: I’ve been betrayed before, and my ero-split personality decided that he’d keep me to himself rather than risk me getting hurt by you.
Ichinose Tokiya: I want to debut as myself no matter what, and the “No Love” rule means I’ll choose my dream over my love for you.
Jinguji Ren: I’m a womaniser who could never truly love anyone so I’ll spend 2/3 of my route being mean to you before I can admit that I like you.
Kurusu Sho: I’m a proud genki chibi, but actually I have a heart condition and might not live for long.
Aijima Cecil: WTFLMAO. …a demon king was let loose accidentally and we have to defeat it or music will vanish from this world.
- Brief personal opinion for each route:
Ittoki Otoya: …umm. Standard otome story? Didn’t impress me much.
Hijirikawa Masato: So adorable. And that 新婚-like dialogue near the end got me squealing like whoa. And I do like this type of story, with the whole “we met before” thing…
Shinomiya Natsuki: That’s a very dramatic route… at the same time, very cute in the beginning. Wished it was still cute when Satsuki came out, but well.
Ichinose Tokiya: …ogod. When he first blushed I thought I’d die of 萌え…
Jinguji Ren: …the one thing that made me unable to dislike him completely at the beginning was the fact that he’s voiced by Suwabe Junichi. Suwabias yay!
Kurusu Sho: …not a big fan of the whole sick-near-death plot, so this route was just OK for me. Hilarious character interactions though.
Aijima Cecil: His personality’s like a puppy that followed you around… realising that he loved Haruka in all the other routes and had to listen to her romantic woes in the other routes made me feel bad. He’s man enough to even give her advice too.
- …thinking about it, there’s no normal human in this game. Except maybe Tomo-chan.
- Speaking of Tomo-chan, I really wished there was a route where Haruka would partner up with her. For once, I actually *like* the best friend character.
- Most WTFOMGLOL route: Aijima Cecil.
- Most LOL character: Natsuki. The way he found small animals and everything else that’s small to be cute… they really took the basic concept and ran away with it 😄 Not to mention how his glasses coming off was pretty much a recurring gag joke in all the other routes except his own.
- Best pair interaction: Natsuki-Sho, hands down. You don’t really see it in Natsuki’s route, but in Sho’s route… the part where they had to run through obstacles and there were scorpions en route? While Sho was screaming in fear, Natsuki just went “Cu… so cute!” <- me LMAO-ed
And don’t forget the part Natsuki was trying to get Sho to go swimming with him, with Sho begging Haruka not to leave him alone with Natsuki (whom, I think, was trying to strip Sho and get him changed)…
- If the anime is going to be as LOL-worthy as the game, I’m definitely watching it. This came from someone who hasn’t been interested in watching any anime since… since… uhh… Fruits Basket…? …at least, that’s the only anime I can remember which I watched from start->end. Everything else I watched after that… I sort of lost interest halfway.
…wait, on second thought, if the quality is going to be as EPIC as TnC, I think I’ll avoid this one…
- Unrelated, but both Garnet Cradle and UtaPri had a guy who could also turn into a cat. …why a cat? Is this just the trend? I want hamster please. Or bunny. Or narwhal.
Ctulhu works too.
- Favourite character: Masato -> Tokiya -> Cecil -> everyone else
- Favourite route: Masato -> Tokiya -> Natsuki -> Ren
- Favourite song: Ren -> Masato -> Natsuki -> Tokiya
- Favourite performance costume: Natsuki -> Masato -> Tokiya
…also, my NaNoRenO attempt was a grand failure 8D Probably because I changed my mind and rewrote the story twice mid-way 😄 still want to actually finish it though.