Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Dance Sim-Date

Author: Solstiyce
Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dating Sim
Genre: School Romance
Rating: Teen
My Scores: (Writing: 2, Art: 2.9, Gameplay: 2)

Found at

In Winter Dance Sim Date, you are Lily. You and your friend Fiero attend a boarding school called Summer College, but when the school mysteriously burns down, its sister school Winter College agrees to board the students. Also, you are invited to Winter College's school dance at the end of the month! Yay!



The writing here makes for a good study of what works for a story and what doesn't. Many people don't quite grasp how difficult writing actually is. Even if you learn what parts go into a good story, making those parts work together is crucial.

In this story, Lily lives with foster parents while her biological parents live overseas. I don't know if this is something that's representative of the author's life and therefore something that Solstyce deemed mundane enough to just mention off-hand (similar to saying "So I was staying at my Dad's for the weekend..."), or if it was a deliberate attempt to give the character unique traits. If the latter, then this is indeed a valid "good writing" technique; the unusual family situation certainly captures my attention. Except...this unusual situation then has no bearing on anything else in the game. It doesn't affect anything. It's thus the equivalent of going to get your taxes done and seeing that the accountant is inexplicably wearing a large fruit hat. What should have been interesting instead becomes distracting and irrelevant.

In general, there seems to be a large disconnect between the story that apparently exists in the author's mind, and the story that plays out in the game. Many of the dialog options refer to information that the player was never made privy to. For example: in one dialog path, you tell a boy that you've been having nightmares since the fire. What nightmares? The time period in which this supposedly happened is covered by the gameplay, and yet we never see any nightmares. The only reason they exist is because we tell the boy they exist. Likewise, there are many bits of personal trivia that we choose to share despite having no clue if we're making the character lie or tell the truth.

That's the problem right there: by not having the necessary information before-hand, the player isn't able to make a true choice. If I have to pick between "Say you like apples" or "Say you like oranges", the choice is only meaningful if I already know that my character hates apples and is an orange-devouring fiend. In that context, choosing to say I like apples is a deliberate lie, and the outcome should reflect that. However, if I have no clue what my character's fruit preference is, then my choice is nothing more than a blind stab in the dark, and it thus becomes unfair when the NPC chews me out for lying. After all: from my end, it was an honest mistake.


I keep wanting to do away with the decimal scores and just have nice, clean intergers wherein '1' is awful, '2' is "I didn't care for it", '3' is okay, '4' is good/great, and '5' is mind-blowingly awesome. Unfortunately, this nice, clean numerical system makes no account for the artistic inconsistencies within a single game. So many of the games on this blog will have something beautifully rendered here and then something poorly drawn there, and then I end up averaging it out and coming up with cockamamie scores like 2.9.

Ranting aside, I wasn't terribly impressed with how the characters themselves were drawn. However, for the most part, the props and buildings seem nice and cleanly drawn, and the more muted coloring scheme is a welcome break from the look of the other flash games I've reviewed. It's clear that effort was put in, but its also clear that more learning is needed.


What is the point of the classes, really? On the one hand, it's nice that the jobs require certain stats in order to work them. On the other hand, it is entirely possible to get through this game without ever working once; or going on a single date, for that matter. Even if I decided to work all the jobs, there's still the do-nothing "wealth" stat. Did I miss something? What the heck is "wealth" for, why is there a class for it, and why does this class actually cost me money?


To sum it all up, the game has quite a few decent elements, but the whole of it just doesn't quite hit the mark for me. It could definitely use some improvement in all areas. Still, it is pretty cute, and doesn't enrage me the way some of these works do. Also, it gets points for having a setting that isn't America/Japan/Fantasialandia, although for the life of me, I'm not sure if it's supposed to be Brittain or Austrailia. Still, it does something different, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rose Destiny 2 Dating Sim

Availability: Free, Online/browser
Format: Dating Sim
Rating: Teen
My Scores: (Writing: 2, Art: 2, Gameplay: 2) out of 5


In Rose Destiny 2, the sequel to Rose Destiny Dating Sim, you are still Rose. This time, your father has gone away and "forgotten" to take you and Adrain. But no worries; he has arranged for you to stay at an all-boys school for demons while he finishes "errands".



Wait...someone please tell me that the main character's last name isn't supposed to be Destiny...*sigh*.

Possible names aside, this game is a lot more cleaned up than its predecessor. Adrian's name is consistent, and we get more hints about what the heck is going on in this world. I actually found myself becoming interested in the suggested story.

In my review of the first game, I pointed out the oddness of a father wanting his daughter to find a boyfriend. In Rose Destiny 2, however, his motivation seems to be along the lines of wanting his daughter to marry into comfort. Much more plausible. Furthermore, I find it intriguing that they are broke and constantly moving while her father tries to wheel and deal. It makes me think exciting things are happening in the grand scheme.

That said, this game is still not perfect. For one thing, the spelling is horrible, and I want to fly into a violent rage every time someone discusses the prospect of "Marridge". M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E! Admittedly, I'm the last person who should be griping about spelling (For years, my attempts at "Scissors" caused pointing and laughing, and even now I still balk), but if *I* can tell that a lot of words are misspelled, then it's time to start using a dictionary.

Also, and this applies to both this game and the prequel, I feel that Adrian should be explained a little earlier on. If he is supposed to be the main character's adopted brother, then this information should be made fairly clear to the player at the beginning, as it is information that the main character knows. That's always a problem when it crops up in writing; how to convey to the audience information that the character already knows and thus has no practical reason to discuss. I think in this case, though, a few words in the intro would have covered it.

Finally, while there are some interesting possible plot threads, questions are not satisfactorily answered and too few explanations are given, leading me to wonder if there actually *is* a plot or if the author is just pulling things out of a hat (to use a polite form of the expression).


I still don't like the art, but at least it doesn't cause physical pain to look at, as in the first game. I can't put my finger on exactly what makes it better, but at least that awful font from the main page is replaced by something prettier, and that eye-straining "notebook style" intro is out. There also seems to be more in the way of backgrounds, and the characters aren't as short and squat as they were in the previous installment.

Also, it's time for me to adress a peeve that many artists are guilty of: If your character has hair covering an eye, we should not be able to see that eye. I think Aurelius from Frozen Essence has this problem, and I forget where else I've seen it, but it looks wrong and annoys me to no end. It's like the character had no eyes, combed their hair down, and then glued eyes onto their face. It's creepy, artists; please stop doing it.


Most of the bugs from the first game are gone, although there are still a couple, such as the fact that choosing "Date" for someone you can't date yet results in repeating the first dialog with that character.

Speaking of dialog, though, let us REJOICE, for the dialog tree has been improved with relevant responses to your choices! Now, when you choose poorly, the character will tell you why this response was inappropriate....sort of. While some of the responses cause me to see the logic at work, others just serve to highlight the arbitrary nature of some of the branches. To give a made-up example:

Choice: "I like pudding" vs. "I like Mustard"

You select: "I like Pudding."

Hottie Responds: "Yay! Me too."

...Nothing happens. Next turn:

You Select: "I like Mustard"

Hottie Responds: "OMG I love mustard too! It is my favorite condiment! <3" (+10 EXP)

Game Progresses.

So....Okay. Now that's out of the way, there was one thing I forgot to mention in the last review, and that's the 10 gold rent charged in both of these games. I actually find it to be an interesting mechanic; it forces you to pay attention to something other than the Talk button, and with some extrapolation and tweaking, could make for a nice balance sim.


To Sum It All Up, we get more story and better flow in this game, though too much is still left hanging. The art is more tolerable, but still needs some improvement. Also, the gameplay is much improved, but still a little buggy. The game and its author show much potential, though, and I think that if a third installment were to come out, I would be interested in playing it.

Do you agree?