Part 3: Spring 1995, a Tale of Trumpets and Being Bad at SportsChapter 2: Spring 1995, a tale of trumpets and being bad at sports.
Enough waffling. It's time to make a three-year plan and put it into action so that we can fulfill the requirements of Utter Perfection while not falling prey to the horrors of the bomb.
Inspiration came from the works of Jin Yong, the great wuxia novelist. In the latter parts of Return of the Condor Heroes, the protagonist Yang Guo wears a mask so that girls stop falling in love with his hot perfection, which means that he can stay dedicated to his one true love, Xiaolongnu. She's at the bottom of a cave shooting bees at people with her poison kung fu or something, so the analogy kind of falls off there, but the point is that the plan has been proven to work!
This is obviously the greatest and best plan to hide Goon's smoldering hotness.
So here's how it's going to work. Since you only meet girls if you both fulfill their stat threshold and perform the appropriate activity on a schoolday, and because once you meet a certain number of girls, these stat thresholds go up, we're going to choose a couple of stats that are safe to raise and stick to them until year 3, meeting only a couple of girls.
That's the plan. Let's see how easy it is to stick to it.
The journey begins: April 4th, 1995 to June 3rd, 1995
The first step is to remake Goon from the ground up. We want Shiori's birthday to be on March 30th, so that she joins the Concert Band - this club avoids stats that will attract too many girls to us, and is generally pretty safe. If you look at the first post, you may notice some retconning in order to make sure the path of Utter Perfection starts off on the right foot. Also, you may notice that I've started capturing from my PS3 instead of my Saturn, which should hopefully mean vastly improved screenshot quality.
With that out of the way, we can actually begin playing the game! As I mentioned before, the meat and potatoes of the Tokimeki Memorial experience is the building of your character, not the girls or the relationships. Each week, you choose one of the eight basic activities and you perform that action for the next six days, training your stats appropriately. You'll get a graphical representation of how the day went, with a little happy chime for successful training and a game show buzzer for days that went poorly. Every action other than Sleep will lower your Stamina, and most of them will also raise your Stress.
All academic stats start at 40, while General Knowledge, Looks, and Guts start at 32, 60, and 5 respectively. We'll start with some book learning in week 1.
Successful days tend to have stronger effects, and are less likely to raise your Stress level.
Unsuccessful days like this one have a lower impact on your stats, while being more likely to raise your Stress level.
The main way to improve your success rate with an activity is to keep doing that activity - kind of like real life.
At the end of the first week of studying, we have a net of -3 Stamina, +3 Lit, -2 Sports, -1 Looks, -1 Guts, and +4 Stress. Not a great start, but you shouldn't expect miracles in your first week while your stats are low. The important thing is getting to the all-important Sunday/Holiday version of schedule planning.
On Sundays and holidays, more options light up. The six actions at the bottom are:
Call a friend | Go on a date | Read Memorial Spot
Options | Calendar | Save/Load
You'll also note that for the first time, the club activity action is lit up - starting on April 9th, we can join the club of our choice! In this run, Goon has no choice but to join the Concert Band, but we don't have to do it today. In fact, let's go for a run.
Success! The net effect of Sunday is Stam -3, Sports +13, General Knowledge +1, Looks -1, Guts +6. Sundays are vastly more effective than weekdays, making them precious precious resources.
After choosing your Sunday activity, you go back to the regular version of the menu, where we can choose the schedule for the rest of the week. But before we do that... hey, let's go look at one of the main easter eggs of the game. Remember how Shiori lives next door? Well, that's her window right there, and if you set your cursor to mouse mode and click on her window at night...
Shiori: Hmm? Having trouble falling asleep? Then I will count sheep for you!
Shiori: One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four sheep, five sheep, six sheep, seven sheep, eight sheep, nine sheep, ten sheep, 11 sheep, 12 sheep, 13 sheep, 14 sheep, 15 sheep, 16 sheep, 17 sheep, 18 sheep, 19 sheep, 20 sheep.
Shiori: You're starting to get sleepy, right? What? Not yet?
Shiori: 21 sheep, 22 sheep, 23 sheep, 24 sheep, 25 sheep, 26 sheep, 27 sheep, 28 sheep, 29 sheep, 30 sheep, 31 sheep, 32 sheep, 33 sheep, 34 sheep, 35 sheep, 36 sheep, 37 sheep, 38 sheep, 39 sheep, 40 sheep.
Shiori: You're finally sleepy now, aren't you? Still not yet?
Shiori: 41 sheep, 42 sheep, 43 sheep, 44 sheep, 45 sheep, 46 sheep, 47 (yawn) sheep, 48 sheep... 49 sheep... 50 sheep...
Shiori: I've gotten sleepy myself. Sorry... good night.
I am not embarrassed to say that this sound file is how I learned to count in Japanese, which is harder than it sounds because of some utterly random quirks to the language.
Anyway, back to the run! It's time to do some more studying, this time to dabble in some Science! We have to make sure our stats are at least a little decent in order to do well on midterms.
Net result: -4 Stamina, +4 Science, -4 Sports, -3 Looks, +1 Guts, +3 Stress. Not the greatest, but we have plenty of time. We shouldn't just reset the game over tiny stuff like this, or the LP will last forever.
Alright, it's April 16th and we might as well go ahead and join the same club as Shiori! To the Concert Band!
-1 Stam, +1 Science (?!), +3 Art, +1 General Knowledge, +1 Stress. Welp. Time to lay low in the brass section for a while, Goon. Perfection can wait.
Note that the only time we can save is AFTER we've already taken our Sunday activity. This is something of an anti-save scum measure, since calling a girl and inviting her out on a date take an entire Sunday, and if she turns you down, the game wants us to suffer through an entire week again before we can retry. The same goes for choosing the wrong option on a date and making a bad impression - we'll get to that shortly.
Let's hit the books again! Another week of study yields -5 Stam, +5 Lit, +1 Art, -2 Sports, +1 General Knowledge, -1 Looks, and +5 Stress.
Next, let's take a look at Memorial Spot, the magazine that tells us all the local hangouts! This is important to check once every three months since it unlocks new locations, tells us what movie is playing, and says which musical act is in town - all of which will help our hero Goon be successful on dates. We'll have to remember to do it diligently.
In this corner, we will tell you all about the latest hot spots.
Starting next issue, we'll start telling you all about special events. Watch for it!
Current movie playing: None
Concert hall: KNM Symphony (Classical)
And yes, that's an ad for the first Suikoden RPG. It actually came out a few months after the original PlayStation version of Forever With You. Do you feel old? I do.
Goon: This is the latest issue.
Goon: Oh yeah, I can check my biorhythms on the calendar, too.
Oh hey, there's a symphony in town? Didn't Shiori say she liked listening to classical music? Let's invite her to the concert hall!
From the menu, we make sure to call Shiori - calling Yoshio is important later, and talking to Rei only matters if we want the secret, really-boring ending.
Phone: Trrrr... trrrrr...
Shiori: Yes, this is Fujisaki.
Goon: Um... this is Fudo Gunpei.
Shiori: Gunpei-kun? Is something the matter today?
Seriously? You've known each other for how long and you still have to act all formal on the phone? We will have to do better than that, Goon. We'll make a Superman out of you yet.
Anyway, this is a screen we're going to get pretty familiar with over the course of the next three years. We need to pick a date and a location to invite a girl out. Let's ask Shiori to go to the symphony with us on Saturday, April 29th!
Goon: Want to go to the concert hall with me on April 29th?
Shiori: Let me check... yes, that's fine.
Goon: Alright, let's meet in front of the concert hall on that day.
Shiori: Yes, let's. Don't forget, okay?
Goon: No way will I forget. Okay, talk to you later.
Goon: Yes! I can't wait for the 29th.
There's now a giant heart mark on the 29th to remind us of our date with Shiori. Don't forget, or things will get real bad real fast. And that does not suit Perfection!
Sadly, the act of calling Shiori and talking to her for 20 seconds took up Goon's entire Sunday. This is another part of why knowing a lot of girls makes the game difficult - we don't have time to work on our stats if we spend 4 days a month on the phone!
Let's hit the books before our date with Shiori - this week is good for -5 Stam, +5 Lit, -2 Sports, +1 General Knowledge, -1 Looks, and +5 Stress.
From this point on, I'll start glossing over the individual stat gains/losses more, but it's important to note that we probably can't choose to study lit on weekdays anymore, because at 55 we are in very real danger of meeting Kisaragi Mio, who we don't want to deal with yet! Guess we'll have to sneak in our study sessions on the weekend.
Goon: (Today's the date with Shiori)
Yes, we can choose not to go on the date and do something else instead. Yes, this is a very bad idea, though later in this playthrough it can lead to the best part about meeting Ayako.
Goon: (Well, let's go meet up with Shiori at the concert hall.)
Goon: Have you been waiting long?
Shiori: No, I just got here myself.
Goon: Phew, glad I wasn't late.
Shiori: Oh, the doors just opened. Let's get inside.
Goon: Yeah, let's go.
Yes, that building is almost 100% based on the Nippon Budokan. I love that place - it's a very up-close-and-personal venue with a ton of history. For musicians, the Budokan is kind of a sign that you've "made it" - there are much larger and more profitable venues, but the Budokan is sort of like the Hollywood Bowl or Carnegie Hall in that there's a lot of prestige associated with the place. We should probably stop gawking and find our seats, though.
Goon: Hey, Shiori, our seats are over here.
Goon: (The KNM Symphony Orchestra is one of the best orchestras in the country; they've even worked with Mr. Osawa.)
The KNM Symphony Orchestra is a please-don't-sue-us version of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, and we think that Mr. Osawa is a reference to Seiji Ozawa, a world-famous conductor who has a building named after him in Boston.
And here comes the other core mechanic of Tokimeki Memorial. Once per date, we will have to choose from one of three responses. Depending on the response, we'll make some degree of a favorable impression, a neutral impression, or a bad impression on the girl. In general, taking a girl to a place she likes is more likely to produce better impressions or have multiple positive choices, while taking her somewhere she doesn't enjoy can give us two bad answers and a neutral response. When it comes to the stadium, the movie theater, and the concert hall, though, our choices will almost always be:
Choice 1: Wasn't that concert/game/movie great?
Choice 2: That concert/game/movie was kind of average.
Choice 3: That concert/game/movie was boring.
Since Shiori likes classical music, the obvious answer is 1.
Goon: Wasn't that concert great?
Shiori: Yes, it was quite wonderful. I love this kind of performance.
Goon: (Looks like I made a great impression!)
This is the primitive ancestor of "Morrigan approves (+5)".
Shiori: Today was a lot of fun. We should do this again some time, okay?
Goon: Definitely. I'll call you again some time.
Shiori: We should head home, Gunpei-kun.
After this, it's back to playing trumpet in the Concert Band. Note that every once in a while you're given the opportunity to quit a club and join another one if you want to; this is never really a recommended action, but hey, the option's there.
Actions over the next few weeks:
4/30 (Sunday): Concert Band
5/1-5/2: Concert Band
5/3 (holiday): This is our first chance to check out the new issue of Memorial Spot, so let's go!
Memorial Spot June/July/August
Introducing Kirameki Central Park!
Current movie playing: "We're doin' it" (comedy) (based on a Japanese comedy catch phrase; a modern English equivalent would be a movie called "Git 'er Dun")
Concert: Morita Chisa (idol) (Moritaka Chisato was a big-name act in the late '80s through the late '90s)
Events: Starting in August, the amusement park will be holding night parades!
August 6th is Ennichi at the shrine!
Ennichi is kind of a catchall term for a local shrine's festival in Japan, since they're all dedicated to the local Shinto gods. Some shrines have multiple Ennichi in a year, and the commonness of summer Ennichi are behind the huge number of anime episodes that involve people dressing up in fancy-looking yukata and going to their local shrine to play festival games, eat festival food, and at the end of the night, watch a fireworks show. It's one of the highlights of Japanese summers. We'll definitely want to invite Shiori there when it's time.
Also, the Konami ad for the quarter is Parodius. I miss that game sometimes.
5/5 (holiday): Rest
5/6: back to Concert Band
5/7 (Sunday): Preen
I should probably talk a bit about why there are so many holidays back-to-back at the end of April/beginning of March. This is known in Japan as Golden Week - it's basically a cross between Spring Break and the week between Christmas and New Year's, with so many national holidays packed close together that most people just take the whole time off and go on vacation. It's a huge boom for the movie industry and for any kind of travel. For many school kids, though, it's mostly just a bunch of days off really close together - public school kids in particular have to go to school on the 1st and 2nd, which really seems like it sucks.
Goon: (School's finally out. I'm so sleepy...)
Female Student: Oh, I'm sorry!
Goon: Nah, I'm fine.
Female Student: Oh no, I'll be late for the movie!
Goon: What was with that girl?
Hi Yuuko. Thankfully, this doesn't mean that she's officially met us yet. Call it a warning shot.
5/14 (Sunday): Study lit
This brings Goon to 56 in his Lit stat - that means that if we take the Study Lit action on a school day instead of a Sunday, we will meet Mio.
5/21 (Sunday): Preen
5/22-5/27: Concert Band
5/28 (Sunday): Study lit
5/29-6/2: Concert Band
Gotta get ready for midterms while we can! Still dodging Mio like a boss.
Kirameki's taiikusai, or Sports Festival, is another of those super-common annual events in Japan, and almost all schools have them from Kindergarten on up. The Sports Festival is like Sports Days in other countries, where all the schoolkids are compelled to compete in races (potato sack, three-legged, egg-and-spoon, etc.) and other competitive events.
In-game, though, the Sports Festival means one thing: mini-games!
Goon: Which event should I take part in?
Option 1: Egg-and-spoon race
Option 2: Scavenger Hunt Race/Karimono Kyousou
Option 3: Three-legged race
Option 4: Ball-rolling race
I chose Option 2 for this without asking people what they want to participate in, since the other three minigames are pretty familiar to people outside of Japan. However, a Karimono Kyousou isn't something you get much of in the states, so it's nice to be able to explain what it is.
The reason I call it a Scavenger Hunt Race, even though the term literally means "Borrowed items race", is because the rules require all of the racers to run up to a table and open up a sealed envelope. Inside that envelope are instructions to bring a specific item to the finish line. Racers need to run up to one of their friends or classmates and, depending on the rules of the race, they either need to borrow something from them and race to the finish line with the item in hand, or take that person to the finish line with them.
Common items in a Scavenger Hunt Race include hats, umbrellas, "someone wearing glasses", "someone who has traveled overseas", etc.
In the case of Tokimeki Memorial, though?
You're supposed to find girls.
Rules for the Scavenger Hunt Race
Search for the girl listed in the sealed envelope using the D-pad, then bring her to the finish line. Press the Circle button to choose the girl, and then press the Circle button repeatedly to run!
Pretty simple, but almost every Sports Festival mini-game is affected by your Sports stat. With only two months to build stats, the first year's Sports Festival is almost always a guaranteed loss.
It's okay, Goon. Your time will come. Keep that mask on.
Oh look, we're supposed to find Shiori in that crowd of sprites. It sure is a good thing that anime girls have such wildly different hairstyles or colors, that makes this one easy!
Not that this actually helps, with the current state of our Sports stat.
Well, there's always next year!
This seems like a good time to go into the next poll. We haven't met any girls yet, but we're approaching the thresholds for most of them! What should Goon do?
A) Stick to the plan. Let's enjoy more of our high school life and learn more about Japanese culture. There's plenty of time to meet the cast later.
B) Learning about all these events is nice and all, but there's more than enough leeway to stop and enjoy the sights. Let's meet and talk to some of the girls early. It can't possibly hurt, right?
Goon's stats as of June 4th, 1994:
Stamina 67 | Lit 61 | Science 56
Art 57 | Sports 39 | General Knowledge 48
Looks 73 | Guts 9 | Stress 31
The poll closes at midnight Pacific time on Tuesday. The next post will hopefully go up on Thursday!
Next time: Midterms, Ennichi, and most likely a whole lot of reloading saves.