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Gaming report

2009 April 12
by Cleo Calbot

So, gaming! I spent a good 8 hours on Thursday, and an additional 5 hours today playing an MMORPG called Rohan with my roommate. And then, on Friday I spent 5 hours playing a Japanese dating sim called Tokimeki Memorial. Between the two, I feel like I got quite different gaming experiences.

Rohan, like most MMOs, has you choose your gender and race upon starting the game. You can only choose form the two genders, and believe me when I say that who is male and who is female is extremely apparent. The females are characterized by hourglass shapes and very little clothing. The men are larger and have much more clothing. One of the reasons I do like Rohan is that the player is given a fair amount of customization for both genders, about 10 face styles, and about 15-20 hair colors/styles. And some of them are ridiculous.

My favored character is a female Dark Elf. Class-wise, she’s black mage all the way, and cannot take very much damage. However, when partying with others, I’ve found that she deals the most damage, and as long as there’s a healer nearby, I tend to be fine.

Rohan is fun, beautiful, but there’s a great deal of level grinding. Very rarely do I get accosted by other players asking to party, or for chatting. This is mostly because I play on one of the less populated servers so as to avoid some of this nonsense.

Now, onto Tokimemo:

Basic idea: You have about 12 guys of various age, personality, interest to choose to play for. You can play for your teacher, your younger schoolmate, the basketball captain, the handicrafts club member, the school president, your shut-in next-door-neighbor, etc. Based on an elaborate skill building system, and accounting for your “desired” guy’s stats and preferences, you play through every day of the “heroine’s” three years of high school. The game ends on graduation day, and if you’ve played your cards right, you get a confession scene with the guy you were playing for, and a kiss.

However, this game is also one of the most frustrating I’ve played for a couple of reasons:

It has one of the most interesting uses of the DS system I’ve seen: skinship. The basic idea is this: you are dating/trying to date one of the guys in the game. While out on a “date,” you are given a screen in which you can poke at him with the stylus. If you poke an area that he likes (or that merely doesn’t freak him out), his affection for you grows. Different styles of poking produce different results. For example, sliding your stylus over his arm means the heroine clings to his arm. A side-ways slice across the screen administers a karate-chop to the boy’s head. If you use skinship poorly (or improperly), his affection for the heroine decreases.

There’s another game-play option in that you are friends with a group of 4 girls. Each one of these girls has an attraction to one of the guys you might be playing for. If you are dating/playing for “her” guy, the girl may try to steal him from you, which often leaves you 2 months from the end of the game, hurling terrible swear words at your DS because some animated girl has “sniped your boyfriend.”

Every Valentine’s Day you are given the option to make chocolate (which is recommended). This is also an exercise in stylus-stabbing frustration, because making the chocolate involves an understanding of kanji and the ability to draw a spiral on a small pad with no areas intersecting. If you mess up, you end up making toxic-chocolate. Yay.

On top of that, the more guys you are aquainted to, the more trouble you have. If you are trying for one guy and only go on dates with him, eventually the other males you know will become “jealous.” Once this happens, you get “bombed.” If a bomb goes off, all affection for your heroine is reduced by 1/2, which ruins a lot of chances. And the only way to diffuse a “bomb” is to date the troublesome boy once.

If you get a confession, it DOES feel well-deserved, because a full play-through for one guy takes between 5 and 9 hours, depending on who you’re playing for.

Why do I play it? I want to say it’sbecause the game is entirely in Japanese, and everytime I play I feel a little bit smarter, but that’s only part of it. I enjoy the micro-managing of stats, I enjoy the adorable dialogues the heroine gets with the different males, and the feeling of satisfaction in the end at the confession is worth all the irritation.

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