Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wonderland Days Sim Date

Author: Pacthesis
Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: Fantasy / Literature
Rating: Everyone
My Score: 4 out of 5

Found At: http://www.newgrounds.com/

In Wonderland Days Sim Date, You play as Alice, who may or may not be the original Alice of Wonderland fame. It's implied in one ending that the book by Lewis Carroll is a separate entity. Anyway, It's your birthday, and when your cute childhood friend goes to fetch your present, you end up following a rabbit down a hole and landing in Wonderland. It turns out the hole is a portal that only opens once a month, so you're basically stuck chilling in a beautiful setting surrounded by cute characters until the big dance at the end of the month. Oh woe is you. ;)

Of all the dating sims I've ever played, this is the best by a far cry. The art is clean and excellent by internet standards, and I'm in love with how Pacthesis handled the writing. Other than "You must find a date in x days", the game contains an overarching storyline of which each character holds a piece. One character will tell you more about what's going on and how you got there, but even he doesn't know everything about this little world.

The game deviates a lot from the book, which may strike you as either a good thing or a bad thing. The characters are given new back-stories and, in some cases such as the March Hare and the Tweedle twins, different genders. (The girls are only extras, by the way; there is no lesbian option.) Personalities are also tweaked according to the genre, but not, in my opinion, too far fetched. There's a lot less madness in this version of Wonderland, but it keeps a lovely sense of fantasy.

My biggest complaint about the game is the Gemini mini-game. Mini-games in general tend to drive me nuts. In this one, you have to dig through a pile of crap looking for a given object. It's not like those Eye-Spy games; you have to *MOVE* all the other items aside in order to uncover the quest object. It's tedious, frustrating, and thankfully not mandatory. It's basically a "job" game to give you 10 gold, but you can earn almost that same amount through Street Performing. Performing is also a minigame, but it's a lot less clicking and grumbling; you basically just choose which act to do for your audience and if you choose right, they tip you. The answers never change, so you can easily memorize the pattern to maximize your earnings.

In short, this is probably the best free, online example of the genre you can find. It adheres to the basic formula, but the writing keeps it from becoming tedious. The worst minigame is avoidable, and there are suprises to be had if you're willing to click around a bit. Also, it's really hard to lose this game. Even if you fail to court any of the Wonderland cast properly, you can still go to bed and wake up with a final chance at finding true love. Not a bad deal, all things considered!

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