Or to be precise, Kariya-sempai “happy end” GET! According to the game, anyway. Which suggests there’s a not-so-happy end and maybe even a bad end? Aww, I wanted to see those. This route was too happy happy yay yay, it needed more darkness!
The good news is, Kariya did officially ask me out, shortly after yesterday’s post. Whining on your blog never fails, I tell you. Most otome games end with the grand confession and you’re left to assume they all lived happily ever after. In Hatsukare, however, the couple date each other for about a month after confession, giving you a glimpse of what their relationship would be like. It’s like Storm Lover (same developer) and Love Plus in that respect.
And like those other games, ehhh, I don’t like that part. Sure I’m happy if the relationship goes well, but I really don’t care to see all that lovey-dovey stuff. The process of getting there is the interesting part, the rest I don’t care about. I used to think it would be cool to know what happened afterwards, but now I realize it’s just boring cheesy “I love you”, “I love you more”, “No me”, “No you” teenage stupidity. And like stupid teens they’re always making out on the street corner, in the school courtyard, at the mall, on the stairwell, everywhere under the sun. GET A ROOM kids! Wait, no, get out of the room! No! Aaaaah!!! …I’m kidding. …Barely.
Long story short, the last month of the game was rather boring for me. It’s just day after day of Yui and Yuuji giggling and making out and making googoo eyes at each other. All the family dysfunction and drama I was promised on this route was quickly swept under the carpet and never referred to again. For example, throughout the game Kariya has been hinting about his parents being violent, neglectful ex-delinquents. He has even shown up at school once with bruises from being beaten by his father. But once we start dating the whole narrative changes and now his story is “They’re really nice people once you get to know them.” Uh, really. Uh, okay.
Moreover I was all hyped up to see some drama involving Reiji, but he and his gang just gave up and virtually disappeared once Yuuji and Yui became a proper couple. It seems Reiji was interested in her because his brother was interested, but once she officially became his girlfriend he was too honorable to go there (or maybe he just valued his life). Either way he never bothers you guys again. He even shows up at the fireworks festival to chase away some baddies so Yuuji and I can make out in peace. Thanks bro, I owe you one.
Ah well, Kariya-sempai himself is a nice enough guy. I think my main problem with the dating part was that Yui often says and does things I don’t necessarily think are wise. For example I already mentioned how much of a buzzkill it is on Shun’s route when she keeps whimpering about how little she knows about games. And there’s another scene where she tells a friend all about her brother’s teenage heartbreak. Uncool, girl. Just, uncool. And another scene where she goes to Kariya’s house and falls asleep in his bed. I’m like, is that really wise? Really?
So it’s okay for an otome heroine to have character, but whether that character will gel with the player or not is a hit-or-miss prospect. If the writing is strong enough you can still enjoy the game even if the heroine is a huge idiot (Kanuchi comes to mind) but it’s harder to do so.
Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy Hatsukare Renai Debut Sengen at all. I did. I’m working on Kakeru’s route even as we speak. But I think the best parts are the early bits where you’re just getting to know the characters. The post-confession stage which should be the highlight of the game is meh because you have to watch Yui interact with Mr. Dreamboat. And I don’t really like Yui. I don’t hate her but… nah, I don’t like her. And the game ends on that note so… eh. Well, all’s well that ends well.
That’s it for the mini-review. Next post I’ll summarize the results of my Kakeru and Shun routes and then move on to another game.