Part 73: Tokimemo 3, Chapter 2: Working the systemTokimemo 3, Chapter 2: Working the system
With the character introductions out of the way, it's time to try and ignore these chuckleheads as long as possible and get to work on the real goal.
Right away we see that they've made a ton of changes to the Tokimeki Memorial formula. For one thing, there are fewer stats, and instead of having a numerical value, they have RPG-style levels and experience bars. On top of that, there are fewer primary stats: there's just Lit, Science, Art, and Exercise. General Knowledge and Looks have been wrapped into other systems that we'll see later.
Stamina, Stress, and Guts are still numerical values for mechanical reasons, and in a fairly welcome move, club XP is now an explicit value instead of a hidden value. Since Goon hasn't joined a club yet, he's a member of the "go home after school" club for the moment.
There's a new option for "extracurricular activities" on the right, which is basically just the option to pick clubs. For now, since we're just exploring the new system, we'll ignore that (we're probably joining the Aikido club, though).
Most interestingly, Tokimemo 3 acknowledges the existence of the Internet, and the Hibikino Watcher of Tokimemo 2 has been replaced by a strange world known as the World Wide Web. We'll see more of this in a second.
A quick trip to the system menu reveals the single biggest change to the game: an inventory screen. Goon starts with an extensive collection of T-shirts, shorts, pants, shoes, and headgear, which are all used to take the place of his Looks stat based on how well-coordinated they are. This system is a source of a lot of grief, as some characters (cough cough Red) have impossibly strange requirements, wearing the same outfit for multiple dates causes the effectiveness of an outfit to decay, and the effectiveness of outfits also changes by season - and the only way to figure out what works or not is to read a guide or use good ol' trial and error.
The good thing is that Serika doesn't mind hanging out with someone wearing jeans and a black T-shirt, so this route isn't so bad compared to the infamous Tuxedos On The Beach characters.
Based on his extracurricular activities, Goon can also find, mail order, or make more items. The four categories of items, from left to right, are: Usable items, Equipment, Decorations, and Presents. Once Goon becomes a good cook, the need for sleep in this game approaches zero, so that'll be a nice perk eventually.
In the absence of a Yoshio or a Takumi (God, Takuo and Masaki feel even more useless now), you have to keep your own notes on girls, and fill out all of these notes one by one through conversations with the girl. That part's fine.
The bigger problem is that there is no way to ask girls out on dates at first. In order to get started, you know, actually playing the game, you have to sit around and stalk them after school until either they or their best friend tell you how to contact them. It's pretty obnoxious, to be honest.
Takuo and Masaki's profiles are included just to show how obnoxious they are, by design.
Enough of that! Let's browse the web!
Oh man, the Geocities/Netscape Navigator era. This is the bookmarks page, which can and will expand based on Goon's hobbies. Right now, the only pages bookmarked are the Moegino Watcher and the weather report.
Going to the weather report brings up the calendar, which shows all of the standard Tokimemo things. Making a return from Tokimemo 1 is the biorhythm calendar, which shows you which activities are more likely to succeed or fail on a given week. There's a new level of success, the double-circle, which awards massive XP boosts compared to the regular old success, so you're rewarded handsomely for committing to activities when that particular biorhythm is high.
The red line affects the success rate of exercising and sports clubs.
The yellow line affects the success rate of art and arts clubs.
And the hard-to-read green line (seriously, a green line on a green grid with a green background? Whose idea was that?) refers to lit, science, and the academic clubs.
This is the Moegino Watcher home page, which is proudly showing off the most exciting parts of Moegino. There's a spread dedicated to the cherry blossoms in full bloom at Hilltop Park, another one advertising a flea market at Moegino Shrine, a quick banner ad for a local ranch that offers animal rides, and two more ads for going clamming at the local beach and some sort of penguin movie.
No, I'm not going to translate each and every one of these, unlike Tokimemo 1 and 2.
The daily representation of how well/poorly you're doing hasn't changed. The smaller 3D models look way better than the bigger ones.
Strangely, the game show buzzer for failed days has been replaced by a splatting sound that reminds me of sitting on a whoopee cushion full of pie filling. In other words, a really wet fart.
Weekends have changed significantly, too. Instead of having the same activities as weekdays, but adding in the ability to call someone or save, Tokimemo 3 lets you fill your weekends by preparing for lit or science class (which raises the success rate of that activity the next time you do it and allows for extra-effective successes), calling someone, or most interestingly, indulging in a hobby. We'll dig in in a second.
You start the game with phone numbers for Yukiko, Takuo, and Masaki. However, calling Takuo and Masaki is pretty much pointless, and that makes Yukiko your primary source of information.
Yukiko: Hello, this is the Makihara residence.
Goon: Hey, Makihara-san, it's Fudou.
Yukiko: Oh? This is a surprise, what's up?
Tokimemo 3 improvement #3: you can actually see the line that you're responding to.
Option 1: Invite her out on a date
Option 2: Ask her about other girls
As time goes on, asking Yukiko for this information becomes more and more dangerous. Plus, she's pretty damn useless on the Serika route. Observe:
Goon: I'd like you to tell me what the other girls think of me.
Yukiko: Uh, sorry, but I don't really have anything to tell you right now.
Goon: No, don't worry about it. Thanks anyway.
Yukiko: Okay. Bye.
Tokimemo 3 improvement #4: calling someone doesn't take an entire day. In other news, we'll have to make friends with Purple/Emi in order to get any meaningful info about Serika. For posterity, let's just call Takuo.
Goon: Hey, Yabe? It's me, Fudou.
Takuo: Oh, it's you. What're you calling for?
Goon: I didn't really call for anything in particular.
Takuo: Oh? Well, whatever, I wasn't doing anything.
Takuo: Hey, did you catch the show last night on TV?
Takuo: Whoa, look at the time. This turned into a long call out of nowhere.
Goon: (It feels like he spent more time talking at me than anything else...)
And with that, the day ends. Urgh. That was a waste of time.
Let's show off what happens when you perform an activity long enough to level up. In this case, it's Exercise.[/i]
Goon: Whew, the morning breeze feels great after a run.
Emi: Good morning.
Goon: Huh? Oh, uh, good morning.
Emi: Oh, excuse me, I should go.
Goon: Oh, okay.
Goon: (Who was that girl?)
Goon: (Well, it's definitely refreshing to talk to someone so early in the morning.)
Leveling up is how you gain the notice of girls in this game, plus how you unlock various story events depending on the stat and the girl. Since we have to talk to both Emi and Serika this game, it's going to be Exercise and sports the whole way. And, about once a week, we can try to leverage that progress in the most annoying way possible.
Goon: (Going home alone is boring, so maybe I'll invite someone to walk home with me.)
Option 1: Makihara-san
Option 2: Shinjo-san
Option 3: Don't wait around
Goon: (I'll wait for Shinjo-san to show up.)
Goon: (Ah, there she is.)
Serika: ...You want something?
When she works her wrist like that, it really feels like she's about to slug someone.
Serika: Say, you look like you've been working out lately.
Serika: Well, it's none of my business, but I think it's nice.
Goon: Hey, thanks for noticing. Do you want to walk home with me?
Serika: I don't have time for that. I have something I need to do.
Goon: (...I wonder if I caught her in a bad mood?)
We have about a half dozen more of these scenes to go before we see any actual progress. Hurray...? And yes, we literally have to wait around at the lockers and hope for people to show up in order to make progress in the game.
This is the Hobby menu, which takes a long time to dig into. Basically, this affects what you can talk about after dates with girls, and takes the place of the General Knowledge stat. Knowing and sharing a girl's interests is very important to the follow-up date portion of the game, where you sit somewhere quiet and chatter about various topics. This also will unlock new web pages, new items, and sometimes, new date spots and activities.
The categories on the left are:
Listening to music
There are 112 possible topics to talk about, and just our luck, Serika only enjoys talking about 10 of them, and one of them requires a 300+ Stamina stat to do.
Well, we're just gonna get straight to it, then.
The first step is to pick up a crafts catalog. For some reason, this takes an entire day.
On the plus side, this unlocks the conversation topic "general crafts," which Serika will eventually like, once she will give Goon the time of day.
We take another day to buy crafting supplies, because who knows, maybe we'll end up having to knit our own date clothes or something. I'm not putting anything past this game.
By the way. Waiting around for someone to head home so you can talk to them has a decently high failure rate. Hurray!
Goon: No one's coming. Oh well, guess I should just head home alone.
Moving on to the Web Surfing activity. Each time you choose the Web Surfing activity, you find a new web page.
This is, by the way, how you're supposed to meet Orange?/Hotaru. You need to find her web page and start talking to her via e-mail.
As you can see, web surfing has added a new bookmark to Goon's hideous home page. I'm going to fast-forward a little bit here and show you the pitfalls of this.
Pitfall #1: you can find dead pages. It's great. Nice to know that you waste an entire Sunday investigating a 404.
Pitfall #2: Takuo's home page/blog.
The increasingly rare cigar-shaped UFO has appeared over Moegino City! I grabbed my camera in time to get conclusive evidence!
*I didn't just catch it by accident because I was taking pictures while peeping on someone.
We're supposed to be FRIENDS with this guy?
Here, this is what happens when you level up in Lit. Green wanders by.
Option 1: Yes, of course you can. (in English)
Option 2: I, uh, I'm a Nihonjin! (in really exaggerated, affected Japanese)
Option 3: Sorry, I don't have time right now. (in Japanese)
Goon: Yes, of course you can.
Okay, Chitose, you lost me right here.
Option 1: Yes, I have. (in English)
Option 2: No, I haven't. (in English)
Goon: Yes, I have.
Chitose: Oh? Is that so?
Chitose: I heard your English scores are really good, so I wanted to talk to you and see for myself.
Chitose: Okay, later.
Goon: Huh? Oh, later.
Goon: (What just happened?)
Chitose speaks in Kansai-ben, which is spoken in the area around Osaka, and translated in all sorts of ways in English - sometimes as a Southern accent, or something else recognizable as an American dialect.
The First Labor of Vibratingsheep: The Nemean Mini-game
Instead of Goon telling you it's the sports festival, the game says it and skips straight to the mini-game choices.
Goon: Alright, time to try my best to win the trophy!
Goon: What event should I enter?
Option 1: The 100-meter dash
Option 2: The three-legged race
Option 3: The tug-of-war
Option 4: Play hooky
By the stream's request, I joined the three-legged race, since that's usually good for some laughs.
Masaki: Hmph. It appears as though we've been partnered up.
Masaki: Make sure you don't hold me back.
I should've known.
Just like in Tokimemo 2, the three-legged race is a rhythmic pressing of L1 and R1.
Unlike in Tokimemo 2, someone at Konami was really goddamn eager to take advantage of the Dualshock 2's fancy-schmancy analog buttons and triggers. Remember when games tried to care about how hard or softly you pressed a face button back at the launch of the PS2? Remember how quickly that trend died because people aren't robots who can regulate the pressure of their thumbs on a button that's raised maybe about half a centimeter if it's excited?
Anyway, the harder you press the trigger, the more you accelerate, and the softer you press the trigger, the more slowly you accelerate.
Because Masaki is awful, pressing the trigger down all the way down (also known as "pressing the trigger" on a Dualshock 2, it wasn't until the Dualshock 3 that they realized that analog triggers needed to be much larger to be usable) caused the two of us to fall over every step.
This went on for just over a minute before the game decided that it was time to pull the plug. 74 seconds of falling over.
Yukiko: ...That was unfortunate.
Goon: (This sucks.)
You know what? Screw this game.
YKWSTG count: 1
After that awful experience, I rummaged through my Japanese PS2 game collection to find something that would make me happy.
Ahhh yeah, that's the stuff.
Okay, I'm good to go again.
Next time: Playing the game for real.
Oh, and for reference, I went back to Tokimemo 3 afterward and tried the 3-legged race mini-game in the extras section, this time with Serika as my partner.
It's an easy mini-game when pressing the button actually benefits you instead of making you fall down!