Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Festival Days Sim Date

Author: Pacthesis
Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: School Romance
Rating: Teen
My Score: 3 out of 5

Found at www.NewGrounds.com or www.DeviantArt.com

In Festival Days Sim Date, you play a high-school girl who loves to cook and dreams of working in a restaurant. The school's culture festival is in 30 days, and rumor has it that the festival can make a couple's relationship last forever. So, time to find a boyfriend!


The art is anime style, so anime-haters beware. That being said, it isn't as good as the art in Pacthesis' later work Wonderland Days. While there are some nice special effects and decent backgrounds, the people themselves just look wrong. Necks are far off to the side, chests don't quite line up... Some may be able to look past this, but I find it a little distracting.

The setup is a little cliche, but at the same time kind of charming. One of the game's strongest points is the way the characters' threads touch each other; for example, one of the characters is dating an extra in the game, and when you get to the point where they break up, her dialog changes. There's only a little of this, mind you, but I think it's a nice touch. My main complaint, though, is that the game commits the same sin as Dating Sim Academy in having generic "Right/Wrong" responses to conversation options, instead of any specific and meaningful reactions. I realize that doing it that way is a lot more work for the creator, but I think it's worth the effort to tell the player "This is wrong because X" instead of just "This is wrong"; it enhances the game experience on many levels.

The gameplay follows the standard format of other dating-sims listed on this blog; find a guy, talk, give gift, date. You have the option to change your name and choose an astrological sign which determines your starting stats (Contrary to what you are told in the intro, Luck has nothing to do with finding a mate. Its sole purpose seems to be unlocking the bonus feature after the game.), and there are a few cheats and surprises in a couple of the locations.

There is one minigame: the cooking minigame. I actually find it to be quite tolerable, partly because it is not timed as I had first feared, and partly because it's not strictly essential to the game (although it *is* essential for one character's path). It does, however, affect the game to a good degree: Success rewards you with skill to get a better job, and food items which can be eaten for HP, given as gifts, or used to advance the game in certain ways. Failure drains your HP. All in all, I find it to be more than fair. If anything, this minigame is very easy to exploit; making bento costs 25 HP, but eating it gives you 50. Lather, rinse, repeat and you can theoretically max out every single suitor in a day.

So to summarize, this game is cute, charming, and very relaxing to play. The minigame is not stress-inducing. While there are a few elements that could be improved, it's still a nice way to kill an afternoon. :)

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