Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Sunshine

Author: YavMamemo
Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dating Sim
Rating: Everyone
My Scores: (Writing: 3, Art: 3.5, GamePlay: 2.5)


In My Sunshine, you are Alice. After four years of being separated from your best childhood friend, You have come to Sunshine Harbor to reconnect. Your friend has invited you to a party she is throwing in 30 days, but since it's a couples' costume party, you'll need to find a date!



This game is definitely meant to be light-hearted fluff. There's no major, epic drama going on here. However, the characters knowing and talking about each other still gives this piece a very nice sense of consistency, giving the sense that this is a world and not just a series of unrelated characters and locations. You're in your old town for the summer, meeting up with familiar faces and some new ones, and the game does a good job of getting that across.

I sort of like how the author tried to weave the game instructions into the dialog, having Alexa tell you about the party instead of just sticking a note to the player in front of the game. It's a neat idea, but I don't think it was pulled off all that well; so much of what was said sounded a little bit like "As You Know", though maybe that's just the result of many hours wasted on TVTropes affecting my mind. Regardless, some of the opening dialog just didn't seem quite natural.

Speaking of not seeming quite natural, I'm not quite sure how I feel about the art in this game. It seems to be well done, but the style -- Western, slightly 3D with soft outlines-- just seems a little bit uncanny-valley to me. Maybe it's just the result of getting so acclimated to anime/manga style art in most of these games; I don't know. All I know is that it looks fairly well done, but something about it put me off when I first saw it.


I hate mini-games. Did I mention that I hate mini-games? I do. So here's my reactions when I discovered:

1) Working a job requires earning points on a mini-game.
Me: *groan*.

2)Playing the minigame requires switching from the mouse to the keyboard
Me: "Say wha--?!"

3)After all that, the minigame doesn't even work anyway.

4) #1-3 is true for every. single. job.
Me: ............ (Response omitted)

Yes, this game is broken. What makes the working-bug worse is that unlocking one of the boys requires a swimsuit, which requires money. However, the reason I didn't give the gameplay a 1 is that, despite this bug, the game is still playable; it's relatively easy to find a cheat that will give you $1000, and the other two boys are still available regardless.

EDIT: Apparently, other people are able to play the mini-games just fine. I'll have to see if there's a problem with my computer. In the meantime, an extra half point has been awarded in good faith.

One other thing that annoyed me is that sleeping forces you to wait for 10 seconds before continuing the game. There is a star-moving-around sticker-type thing that you can do while waiting, but I find it to be pointless and not very fun, and having to wait 10 seconds every single time you progress through a day -- for 30 days -- just seems like cruelty.


This game isn't very deep, but it doesn't need to be. It's light and fluffy, but still cohesive and tells a story. It has its flaws, and a major part of the game itself is broken, but regardless, it's still playable, and a fun way to waste an afternoon.

Of course, this is all just my opinion. Feel free to spout your own in the comments. ^_^

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Perfect Date

Author: Unknown
Availability: Free, Online/Browser
Format: Dress-Up Game
Genre: Modern Romance
Rating: Everyone
My Scores: (Writing: 2, Art: 3, Gameplay: 3)


In Perfect Date, you are expecting a gentleman caller to come over for dinner. Everything about this evening must be arranged perfectly in order to win his love.



I hate the premise of this game. Let me just make that clear from the get-go. I concede a 2 to the writing score, because it has an adequately written plot (for a dress-up game) and synopses for the datable guys, but as a modern woman with feminist leanings, I am angered by the ideas this game puts forward and would like to simply give it a 0.

As a hopeless romantic, I can understand the desire to dress up all pretty and make dinner for a guy you like. I can understand wanting everything to be "just so". I get that. But the game makes it clear that failure to do these things will not only sway whether the relationship advances, but whether he realizes that you're even interested in him in the first place!

Men, if a woman invited you to her house for a candle-lit dinner, would you spend the evening wondering if she was interested in you romantically? Would you assume that, because she didn't wear your favorite color that night, that she must be completely repulsed by you? True, men have a reputation for being dense (particularly where matters of the heart are concerned), but this is just stupid.

It suggests an extreme level of shallowness, which is what I find frightening. It suggests that a girl has to be "on" all the time---not even: it suggests that a woman has to cater to her man's every whim and fancy just to be noticed. Is that not a dangerous message to send to young girls? "Do everything he likes, the way he likes it, or he won't love you."

...And who wallpapers their house for a dinner date?!


The art is so-so. It's definitely Western in design, and sort of reminds me of those E-Surance commercials. It seems to be of a professional quality--smooth, clean, okay proportions, etc.-- although it doesn't really seem to have a lot of life in it. Also, the girl and her dates seem to be drawn in two different styles, which is a bit odd. Overall, I give it a resounding "Meh."


Most dress-up games are more like toys than games. Perfect Date does get points for actually having win/lose conditions. There isn't much challenge once you take into account the little red bar that fills up further when you choose a correct item, and some levels have more than one "correct" selection, which gives you a little more choice. There is also a little mini-game involving heating up dinner in the microwave; but be careful not to burn it, Ladies, since no man wants a girlfriend who can't cook!

Admittedly, this game has a lot more substance than most dress-up games do; it has a plot, some flavor text for the guys, and winnability. It's not just a paper doll. Unfortunately, the insane shallowness in the premise makes me lose all respect for this game, and I find myself wondering what is wrong with Western society that this is the only girl-oriented dating game I could find that isn't based on something Japanese.

But then, this is just my opinion. Maybe you'll think I'm over-reacting, and that I shouldn't get so worked up over a light piece of fluff. Or maybe you'll want to see this game tossed into the deepest, darkest pits of the internet. Feel free to speak your mind in the comments.