Moroboshi Yuumei (moroboshiyuumei) wrote,
Moroboshi Yuumei
moroboshiyuumei

Game Rant: The beginning of Another Days (TH2AD)

In most cases, sequels and spin-offs fail to meet the expectations of the general public. As such, the majority of stories and concepts that fall under this category are seen as mere attempts to milk their respective franchise for everything they're worth. Despite this proven "truth", there are stories that succeed in further developing the ideas brought forth by the originals. Likewise, there are also spin-offs and sequels that can take the original's foundation and take it in a completely different direction, sometimes even mocking the ideas established by the originals. The latter is the case of Leaf's To Heart 2 Another Days.

Game: To Heart 2 Another Days

To Heart 2 Another Days (TH2AD) was released on February 29, 2008, by the softhouse known as Leaf. The game was originally slotted for release on December 17, 2007, but for whatever reason, the game was pushed back.

Much like it's predecessor, TH2AD places the player in the shoes of Kouno Takaaki, a second year high school student living life one day at a time. The story officially takes place sometime after the events of To Heart 2 and assumes Takaaki is on friendly terms with all ten original heroines, but has not gotten romantically involved with any of them. Taking this idea a little further, Takaaki now has a new burden to deal with on top of the usual stuff: he has earned a bad reputation as a gigolo and casanova in school (the girls openly refer to him as such, the boys sigh in envy and even some of the teachers partake in the ribbing).

Though the original heroines make brief cameos, their presence in the story is virtually non-existent. Yuzuhara Konomi and Kousaka Tamaki do appear as prominent side characters in the story, but the spotlight is left vacant for seven new heroines that vie for the attentions of our protagonist.

Heroine: Kouno Harumi

Harumi is introduced as an energetic and very "loving" girl that appears one day and proclaims to be in love with Takaaki. Much to the surprise of Konomi, Tamaki and Yuuji, she claims to have known Takaaki a long time ago, and has been eagerly "waiting for this day". As her route begins, she outright refuses to use her real last name, preferring to use her "Darling"s surname instead. To make matters worse for our protagonist, she will answer to nothing other than Kouno Tsuma (Mrs. Kouno) when in class.

There is, of course, another side to this story. Harumi is not really a girl, but the second in a series of maid robots created with the feature of possessing emotions and a semblance of free will. Her real name is not Harumi, but Milfa (in hiragana, Harumi is technically Milfa spelled backwards). What makes Milfa unique is that her core memories were taken from a pet robot bear that Takaaki used to own, and later implemented into the system of a maid robot. As such, Milfa/Harumi's actions and feelings are heavily influenced by what she remembers of Takaaki from her "former life". She does, however, hate to be reminded of when she was a bear robot.

Heroine: Silfa

Silfa is the third in a series of robot maids created by Kurusugawa Industries (Model HMX-17c). Despite being the "youngest" of the three, Silfa understands her role as a robot and takes her job very seriously.

She was shipped to Takaaki's house in order to take care of the cooking and cleaning while his parents are out of the country. After getting a bad first impression of her master, Silfa becomes very defensive around our protagonist. Should he do something she finds inappropriate or make a mistake, she will not hesitate to smack him and punish him further by not cooking any meals for him.

Though she enjoys being on equal footing with her master, she knows her place in the world is as an object, which is the cause of a lot of heartache for her when she develops feelings for Takaaki.

Heroine: Yoshioka Chie

Also known as Yocchi. She is one of Konomi's two best friends from Junior High School. Of the trio of Chie, Konomi and Michiru, Yocchi is the cheerful and loud one. She is also very passionate about getting Takaaki and Konomi together.

Yocchi enters the story after running into our protagonist at the movie threater (explained in Michiru's section). After spending the day with him, she realizes that he is clueless when it comes to being around women, and vows to prepare him for his "destined" relationship with Konomi. To this end, she does her best to teach him the dynamics involved, as well as what she conciders to be normal behavior for boys. Her plan backfires when Takaaki falls in love with Yocchi, while she tries as hard as she can to ignore her own feelings for him.

Heroine: Yamada Michiru

Also known as Charu. She is one of Konomi's two best friends from Junior High School. Of the trio of Chie, Konomi and Michiru, Charu is the quiet and reserved one. Though she also roots for the potential Takaaki x Konomi relationship, Charu knows when not to force things and usually has to step in to keep Yocchi from overdoing it.

Charu is introduced after her family (a wealthy and respected family in the world of restaurants) tries to arrange an omiai (a type of match-making) in an attempt to find a suitable groom for her. The arrangement is eventually made between the Yamada family (Charu) and the Kousaka family (Yuuji). When Yocchi gets wind of this, she decides to attend in place of Charu (and likewise, Yuuji has Takaaki attend the omiai in his place).

After the first omiai is deemed a failure, the families try to bring their heirs together a second time. Takaaki hears of this from Tamaki and decides to intervene, knowing that Charu doesn't want her life's direction to be chosen for her. In desperation to stop the meeting, our protagonist shouts in front of the crowd present that he is in love with Charu. Since it put a hold on everything, they decide to continue the ruse. This obviously has a backlash and then some, since the day after everyone at school talks about how Kouno Takaaki has finally decided on a girl. Things don't get any easier as Takaaki and Charu develop feelings for one another (not to mention what happens when the jig is up).

Heroine: Asagiri Maako (AKA Maaryan)

Originally introduced as a character exclusive to the PC version of To Heart 2. Maaryan is a former member of the student council with a very eccentric personality. She has returned in order to ensure that the school festival is a memorable one in every possible way. On the side, she meddles with Takaaki's interactions with the other characters.

Maaryan herself is a bit of an oddball, since she changes her speech pattern every couple of sentences, though her main pattern includes "ore-sama" when referring to herself. Aside from this, she gets certain characters to do strange things every now and then (including dressing Takaaki as a girl). In her strangeness, she decides to take over the school and encourages the "resistance" to try to take it back from her. After her defeat, she decides to let Takaaki take her virginity (even though it is actually the other way around).

Heroine: Nanako

Nanako is a girl in primary school that leaves a love letter in Takaaki's shoe locker. She calls him to the park in order to confess her feelings for him, but when our protagonist tells her that she's too young for him (literally tells her that she looks more like a little sister than a girlfriend for him), she insists that he allow her to be his imouto (little sister).

From then on, Takaaki humors her and spends time with Nanako when he can. Tamaki at one point warns him that he is too nice for his own good, and that sometimes telling people what they want to hear only sets them up for deception and sorrow. Takaaki ends up developing feelings for Nanako, but asks her to wait a couple of years before aiming to start a relationship.

This is, by the way, a clean story.

Heroine: Yuzuhara Haruka

Konomi's mother, and very lively for an adult. Haruka appears in the very first sequence of the story, as part of a wet dream Takaaki has.

In general, she obviously knows a lot more than she shows, and is dedicated to her home and family. Since she is a friend of Takaaki's mother, she also worries about him a lot, offering to cook dinner for him and come over to clean up (this is before Silfa enters the picture). Of course, some of her mannerisms mess with our poor protagonist's head as he tries to make sense of what is right and what is wrong in this route.

Personal Comment - In all seriousness, it is VERY difficult for me to tell what the deal is with this woman. It's almost as if she loves to tug at Takaaki's chain when given the chance. There's obviously more to her than meets the eye, since after she decides to crash at Takaaki's house (after getting into a fight with her husband, no less), Silfa develops a deep and unexplainable fear of her. Between the hugs, the kisses, the conveniently forgetting to lock the door to the bathroom and such...yeah...

By the way, this is also a clean story.

Bonus Heroine: Komaki Ikuno

This route is unlocked after clearing the game once.

Ikuno is Komaki Manaka's younger sister. Unlike her quasi-hysteric and shy sister, Ikuno keeps to herself and is calm under most circumstances. Because of this, many call her an "oneesan ko" (little big sister). She is also a frail girl with diabetes.

Ikuno's route actually assumes that Takaaki chose to end up with Manaka, and to this extent covers the less than modest part of their relationship, and Ikuno's reaction to it.

Takaaki agrees to take her out for a couple of outings in order to get to know Ikuno better. Ikuno develops a crush on him, but stops herself, knowing that Takaaki and Manaka are together. Past this point, the route splits. In one ending, Ikuno decides to stay at the Komaki house, only to discover that Manaka and Takaaki have made a habit of using her bed to have sex.

The other ending has Ikuno returning to the hospital, only to meet up with a guy she met online who has the same condition as her. On an interesting note, this guy (who is the same age as Ikuno) is named after the player (the game will ask you for your name when you start Ikuno's route). This is what I got when I entered my name.

Bonus Heroines: Yuzuhara Konomi & Kousaka Tamaki

This route opens up after clearing the game once. As we know, Konomi is Takaaki's imouto-like childhood friend (she's less than a year younger than him) and Tamaki is the oneesan-like childhood friend.

The setting is basically spun off from Konomi's route, but Takaaki finds himself unable to decide how he feels about her. When Konomi decides to tell him how she feels about him, Tamaki takes the opportunity and does the same. Much to our protagonist's chagrin, the girls decide to have a friendly contest to see which of them should end up with Takaaki.

This route plays off a lot on Takaaki's innability to say no to women and his "severely nice guy" syndrome. Things only escalate once our protagonist breaks both of his arms while trying to run away from his "girlfriends" (which leads to both moving in with him to nurse him back to health).

Story Structure and Game Engine

Much unlike TH2, TH2AD does not have an in-game calendar nor does it keep track of the days. The stories are fairly linear in the general sense, but there are choices to be made in order to determine which route the player will get to see. Something of note is that numerous routes feature moments where Takaaki is told that he's too nice for his own good and that it is the reason why so many women are hounding him (he is also made fun of for this staple ero-ge protagonist trait). At the same time, his friend Yuuji rants about how Takaaki is the center of women's attentions and the unfairness of it all (and even lists them by stereotype rather than name).

Engine-wise, the game does away with the visual novel engine of TH2, instead using an adventure/ren-ai game engine. The text log appears on the dialogue box, can be scrolled up with the mouse wheel and clicked on to replay spoken lines. Right-clicking on the mouse will open up the menu in order to do the expected functions (toggle settings, save, load, etc).

Artwork

Leaf's well-known character design team of Amazuyu Tatsuki, Nakamura Takeshi, Mitsumi Misato and Kawata Hisatsu returns for very impressive results. Overall, the artwork is high quality, as one would expect from Leaf's art and CG team.

Sounds, Music and Video

The voice acting is impressive, to say the least. Sound effects were nice, as well. Music is very fitting and appropriate (though it is mostly reused stuff from To Heart 2).

As for video, the OP can be seen here.

Omake

Two routes are unlockable upon completing the game once. There's also two bonus CG that will only appear once the player get's all the endings.

Aside from that, there is a commentary section, where the voice actresses for each of the heroines will talk about the characters of the game and their respective character routes.

Verdict

Much more fun than I expected. The constant use of comedy was a clear winner, and combined with the familiar cast of TH2 it simply creates a great game. For a game that is basically about the side-characters from the original TH2, I would say it is good enough that it leaves me wishing Leaf would do this sort of thing more often. Anyway, that's my two cents on the matter.

-Moroboshi Yuumei
"Konomi's Mom has got it going on
She's all I want and I've waited for so long
Konomi can't you see, you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong, but I'm in love with Konomi's Mom."
Tags: ero-game review
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