Okay, first of all, Anime Evolution is back on, except it’s changed revenues to a place that’s far more inconvinent to me. Second of all, I’m having internet problems (this was not written on my computer) and that will explain why I haven’t written anything in a while, third of all, there’s a review and rant about the fourth generation game of the Memories off franchise!
Oh, by the way, Mutio will put this review on visual novels too. And I’ll be putting up lots of vn reviews during the summer. Next to come: Memories off 5, Tomoyo after, parfait chocolat second brew, to heart2 xrated, and maybe, just maybe, remember 11.
The Memories off franchise was first started by the company KID(remember them? they also did the infinity series, which included Never7, Ever17, Remember11 and so on. By the way, I’ve pre-ordered remember11 at a discount price of $51, I will write a review on that as soon as I finish playing) The franchise was met with immense success and a lot of people declared it as the best romance game ever made. However, before the sequel to the fifth generation(which I will also be reviewing) could come out, the company went bankrupt. Cyberfront then bought the franchise and released the sequel, only to then sell the franchise to 5pb games, which is currently developing the 6th generation to the franchise. All the original games have PC ports, however, the same cannot be said about all the sequels, spin offs, and prequels, making this franchise of 14 (14!) games (with the 6th generation and a spin off otome game in the making) hard to keep track of.
By the way, the third generation and the otome game isn’t really talked about among the fan community. Their reputations are kind of like that of the tsukihime anime, the first Haruhi manga or Macross II. Well, they’re not THAT bad, but they are pretty much ignored and forgotten.
Now, notice that I kept mentioning the franchise and generations, this is because all the games has the same setting with a few recurring characters, but the main characters for each game changes, and as the games go on, you can see the recurring characters aging. While I could say that each game is a sequal to the game before it, I’d rather say generations since the games all have their own sequels (it’s just like the relationship between the 2 da capo series.)
The game itself is an all ages bishoujo game in a city whose name I cannot remember. It’s a romance drama with a lot of comedy at the beginning. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the setting.
Okay, introduction over, moving on.
The stories are excellent. the slice of life parts are genuinely funny, the characters are interesting, and the drama is guaranteed to have you thirsting for more. As expected from the makers of ever17, there are many plot twists and foreshadowing in every path, and I am sure that you won’t be able to resist getting to the end of the story. However, I just felt that the story missed something, and that I wasn’t able to really relate to the characters. Maybe that’s just I’m a girl, or maybe it’s because of Shin (see my little rant. it’s little, really!).
- Sagisawa Isshu 鷺沢一蹴
The main character in the game. He jokes around often and is well liked among his many friends; and of course, being a high school guy renting an apartment by himself, is capable of cooking and cleaning and even has a part time job at a cafe. He isn’t particularly good at school but doesn’t really worry about it even though he’s going to gradute in a few months. His girlfriend of over 2 years, Inori, dumps him at the beginning of the game. Oh, and of course, he has a forgotten past.
- Misasagi Inori 陵 いのり
The main heroine and the character with the true ending, Inori is a kind and gentle girl who’s good at piano and great a cooking. She also loves riddles and will often pop up with one at random times. After she dumps Isshu in the very beginning of the game, she’s been avoiding him ever since. I thought her path was well written and the plot twists were shocking.
- Sagisawa Yukari 鷺沢 縁
Isshu’s adorable younger sister who loves animals and is a disaster at cooking. Of course, she really isn’t your blood related sister. Now, before you start thinking that this is stereotypical, it isn’t, well, not by that much anyway. See, she isn’t adopted, Isshu is. Her story was probably the most touching for me, even if I guessed a major plot twist even before it happened.
- Fujiwara Miyabi 藤原 雅
A beautiful, intelligent girl who acts very coldly, she is hated by alot of girls (due to their jealously). However, she’s actually pretty childish and loves sweets. Thus, we have our required tsundere. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of tsunderes, but the ending of this story really was very, very, VERY sweet with an amazing confession that made me cry and laugh at the same time.
- Hanamatsuri Karin 花祭 果凛
A popular model turned idol, she often visits the cafe that Isshu works at since her best friend, Nonohara, works there. In front of her fans, she has the image of a cool, confident, and rich young lady; but in front of her friends, she actually loves to joke and tease and is a very down to earth person. I thought her ending was a bit awkward, but very enjoyable nevertheless.
- Haya Nonohara 野乃原 葉夜
She is your co-worker at the cafe you work at, and she’s a total airhead who defies the laws of nature. She can jump around with a tray of cups and never spill a drop, she can be 7 hours late for work and never realize it, she can talk in a seemingly un-understandable language (in fact, there’s an omake in the game which explains what she says!) Above all, she loves secrets, and she harbors a pretty big one herself. I guessed the ending before I got there, but this path really developed her character.
Rikimaru Sayori 力丸 紗代里
An underclassman who adores Miyabi and loves Shin. She has her own path, but it’s very short and doesn’t really counts a proper path.
- 稲穂 信 Inaho Shin
Shin is a character who appears in EVERY SINGLE ONE of the games in the memories off franchise. He lives in the same apartment building as Isshu and plays the role of the sometimes annoying, overly proud, but at times very useful friend. There isn’t really a proper cg for him so I just used the one above. Shin is the character on the right side who’s getting killed by a wrestling move. To read more about him, please see my rant.
While the art is pretty good, I could tell from the sequel’s art that they could have made it better. I felt that the technique used, which is shadows over a gradient, looked good on some characters like Inori but cheap on characters like Karin. I also have some problems on the scgs. First of all, Minor characters like Saori look very awkward. And second, the proportions on the girls are very awkward, especially on pictures like this. I mean, being skinny only goes so far. That kind of waist with that kind of shoulders just look inhuman, especially compared to Karin.
As you can see from that, the backgrounds are simple and cold, and I dislike them.
voice acting: 4/5
All the voice actresses did a great job, and the cast fit the characters well. All of the emotional scenes were done well, unfortunately, the great acting was a bit ruined by the horrible recording quality that kid used for all their games.
I liked all the ending songs, but while I thought the beginning song was good, it’s not a song that I would want on my mp3 player. Most of the back ground music sounded like it was made on the computer, and that gave it a cold feeling. However, I loved the piano tracks in the game.
This was a bit of a problem for me. See, there are few options, the menus are ugly, and you can’t even play back the voices. But, instead of focusing on the bad base programming, KID threw in a lot of goodies. If you open the game and just stay at the menu, after a short while an monologue by one of the main girls will start to play. There are special cgs that can only be unlocked when you’ve went through every scene in the game (on of those cgs has heavy yuri overtones, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing), and once you unlocked every ending, you can review all the cgs, all the songs, the monologues, and even character designs. The game shows you clearly how much you have cleared, and, as mentioned before, there’s a little omake called Non’s world where Karin explains what Nonohara says when she goes off into her rambling mode. The characters also move their mouths, but it doesn’t match the sentence andis simply the mouth opening and closing at a regular speed. The movement is badly programmed in my opnion, as it always lags behind the sentence and ends half a second too slow. The awkward thing is, even though their mouths move, their eyes don’t blink. Sadly, not every company has the budget of Ef.
Gut feelings: 4/5
While it was very good, I can’t say it’s good enough for a five. However, I will recommend it to anyone who can get their hands on a copy and has enough free time to unlock the true ending.
Review over, moving on to my little rant. WARNING: it has some spoilers on a minor character. Doesn’t really matter, but I’ll warn you anyway.
Shin, Shin, Shin. There was so much stuff involving him that we just don’t get! He gets mysterious phone calls, he got Karin’s signature for someone, he detaches himself from everyone else and we don’t get to see why! There was even this little story about he came to accept the food at the cafe, but it does not make sense for people (like me) who hasn’t played the previous generations beforehand. I mean, there were MANY games that was released before this one, who am I supposed to find the background story about a character from them? Is this a ploy used by kid to try to get us to buy them all? Why do you put in hints about a character if the plot threads don’t get solved in this story!?!?! Geez… having an open plot thread like that is something I really hate in a story, and I really dislike KID for doing that.