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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memories Off

So I decided to check out the Memories Off series once 5pb. was kind enough to put a bunch of their PSP titles on a 100 yen PSN sale. Not to mention the fact that I have a stack of these games that I might want to get rid of once I finish them. (I'm running out of room in the shame closet.) There's like a bazillion titles in this series so it must mean they're good right? I mean every Call of Duty I've ever played has been like one masterpiece after another.

Yeah ok fine, COD jokes are getting old. SORRY
Apparently this game was super popular(?) because there's like a bazillion ports and on every possible type of media: manga, anime, novel, and drama CD. The PSP version I played contains the prequel Memories Off Pure and a new! exclusive!! After Story which as the amazingly clever title suggests is a story that takes place after the main game. By the way, I am NOT planning on playing the ponjan spinoff Festa.

2 down... umm 7 more to go?? I'm so confused.
I'm up to my 5th galge (6 if you count Never 7 which kinda is but not really), and I've started to notice that the more recent titles are a lot lazier in the branching path territory. Harvest OverRay has like a total of 3 dialogue choices and bitter smile. even kept a score to show you exactly which girl's branch you were heading for. '&' has a bunch of new choices that pop up as you unlocked certain endings that have nothing to do with the girl it leads to. The common theme I've found is that you have one main branch that you only really play once, then you go back and pick one branch per girl.

Memories Off on the other hand recalled some of the fun of those choose-your-own adventure books back from the day. There's tons of dialogue choices and branching paths all over the main scenario before you enter a girl's route. Even once you enter a certain route, there's plenty of opportunities to derail into the bad ending. However, the game makes navigation simple by showing you an avatar of the girl approving or disapproving of each dialogue option. I enjoyed trying to keep track of the various paths and finding the tiny bits of dialogue that would change just to make the narrative consistent.

31,971 messages... hmm, that's a lot of dialogue but how's the battle system?
Interestingly enough, I happened to get to the True ending on my first blind playthrough in about 9 hours. It's not hard thanks to those avatar hints but usually, the true ending is something you unlock at the very end and I guess the PS version is a lot more difficult to get the true ending. Combined with Pure Story and After Story, I was able to unlock 11 of the 13 endings blind and still spent a bit more time exploring some of the other paths.

I thought the VA was pretty good, except for Ayaka. All the girls were cute and unlike the hentai censored consumer port games I've played till now, they weren't all up in your business for absolutely no reason. (I know it's not actually hentai, I'm just trying to the make it easier for the non-jhipster philistines to understand.) In fact, as crazy as this sounds, it was kinda nice to play a pure game with no obligatory pool or hot spring fan service scenes. I don't think there's a shred of fan service to find in this game.

Almost like a real girl, if you were like umm... 2D n shit. Darn!
As for the additional added content, while the prequel was a nice side-story to fill out some of the details of the main character's past, After Story was pretty meh. Maybe too much time had past to get the original voice actors but there's no VA and no branching paths and the story was a bit silly to boot. I did find it interesting to see the reinterpretation of the character design with a more "modern" look.

Welp, another fine work from the post moepocalypse era

Score: 3 pre-moepocalypse nostalgia out of 5 (34.5 hours to beat)

Overall, I enjoyed Memories Off (I spent over 30 hours on it after all). I thought all the characters were charming, and the illustrations pretty good. The true ending was touching and all the girls definitely had their own story to tell. In particular, Minamo's route was pretty messed up especially since in this version, she doesn't open her eyes at the end unlike some of the other ports.

Looks damn good for a Neo Geo Pocket Color port!
While After Story wasn't much to write home about, the PSP port didn't have any technical issues and had all the necessary features in terms of sound options, etc. Certainly worth the 100 yen I paid on PSN. I'm not sure yet how After Rain fits into the series but I guess I'll figure it out when I get to the pile of PS2 games in my closet. If you're looking for a nice pure story about dealing with loss while getting to know some cute girls, I would say give this one a shot.

The music was just the regular ol' visual novel stuff.

Scale
0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely

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