While playing Hoshizora no memoria, an odd feeling kept on gnawing at the back of my mind. It was only after I read some Da capo that I realized what it was: the lack of continuity from 1 scene to the next. There are 2 types of plot structures in eroge (at least in my mind): event collection and domino after effects. While it is at different levels, I think that both Da capo and Hoshizora no memoria have aspects of the first category.
When I say event collection, the first thing that springs to my mind is Toheart2 (although many, many others follow the same system, such as the aforementioned Da Capo and more recently, Tenshin Ranman). Basically, when the time comes, you choose an option, and a scene appears due to your choice involving the heroine of your choice. The various choices you make in the game won’t affect any single scene, but the number of scenes chosen and when they were chosen are tallied at the end, and you head into the ending of the girl with the most points. Of course, this is a generalization, and there are also instances of bad endings and whatnot. The important thing here, however, is the fact that the scenes themselves do not change. You could have ignored a heroine and still access a scene of hers later on, exactly the same as if you have been seeing her scenes all along.
Now, the reason that I mention all this is because of the 1 fatal flaw in the event collection structure: it is a collection of SEPARATE events, with sometimes very little common scenes in between. This makes plot somewhat hard to place until you enter a specific heroine’s branch, and it also disrupts the reader’s sense of continuity. Because some events may or may not be triggered, the writers must write based on the assumption that none of the events were triggered for the average scene. It gets so bad in DCPC (especially with all the extra scenes they were trying to squeeze in) that you get the sense it’s actually 2 or 3 separate games that some idiot crammed together by accident, with no flow or rhythm between scenes aside from the most mundane and tasteless commentaries from the protagonist. What’s worse, everything is set in a completely rigid form. Wake up, meet someone in the morning, a short scene of how boring class is, the teacher dismisses the class, eat lunch with someone, repeat the class, except it’s in the afternoon, meet someone in the afternoon, eat dinner, do stuff, set alarm, sleep. By the 7th or 10th description of how the protagonist doesn’t care about class, I was bored enough to come and write out this entire thing. The original Da capo might be better, but the scenes are shuffled and changed, so I can’t exactly compare it directly.
The domino after effects, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. The basic scenes all happen, but they have changes within them due to choices beforehand, sometimes LONG beforehand. Because all scenes are adjusted, and the writers don’t attempt to separate the scenes, the flow is much better. Games with these systems include Fate/stay night, Little busters and ever17 although most games include such a factor. I generally prefer this structure, but Little busters took it to an extreme, with minute changes happening in scenes due to previous choices, including how many paths were cleared beforehand and in what order they were cleared. Much of the things that were changed had little to do with the story, and I can’t help but wonder of that was the writer’s way of padding the script for extra pay…
Of course, I’m not saying that all games must follow these structures, or even that all games with the event collection is doomed in problems, but I do dislike how it was pulled off in DCPC. This lack of continuity between scenes was also why I dislike some parts in Hoshizora no memoria, although I haven’t read enough to see which type it is. Almost as if it was an event collection scenario (even though that part definitely isn’t), most of the scenes involving Chinami and Mare (especially mare) felt detached from the rest of the narrative. While that is understandable, as the the setting where the protagonist sees these characters are different from the rest, Mare’s scenes has something in it which feels like something out of Fate/HA. The characters has met before, their conversation states that they have met before, but the flow of the scene is distinctly separate from the previous meetings. Even though I can’t point out a plot hole, it still feels like on is THERE, if that makes any sense at all.
On an semi-unrelated note, I got Kanae’s bad ending on my first try. Of course, the walkthrough I found only told me that I needed to clear Kotori’s route in an update that was weeks later than when I got it. I have no idea whether this particular requirement should be in the collection or domino category though.