Genre: School Romance
My Scores (Out of 5):
Romance: 3.5 (“Pretty good”)
In Memento Dears, you are Melodie. You've lost your memory after a mysterious hit-and-run, much to the consternation of your family and friends. As you try to put the pieces back together, you get the impression that something important happened with someone right before the accident...but who was it?
The writing is good, save for a few English errors here and there (such as “I too tired”). It's kind of ironic, considering that an early line of dialog has one character correcting another's grammar. Regardless, the story and characters are good, and the premise itself is very interesting.
What I really like is the strength and cohesion of the theme in this story: Bachelor #1 comes to strongly represent owning or clinging to one's past, while Bachelor #2 represents abandoning the past and embracing the future. It raises an interesting question: how important is the past? Granted, the hidden third Bachelor doesn't really fit as well into this theme; his story-arc is more about fear and bravery, and while one could argue that “bravery is needed to face the past/future, blah blah blah...” I just don't think it meshes all that well.
Also, the back-story does not change based on which course you take. I like that kind of consistency. I also like how different characters and paths contribute different pieces of the puzzle.
The art is anime/manga style and, while not flawless, it is rather decent. I like the quality and variety of the background music, and it's nice how the game uses sound-effects to let you know when something good or bad has happened.
This game seems to perfectly illustrate the saying, “Aim for the moon: if you miss, you'll still land among the stars.” It's a very ambitious game, featuring stats, an explorable game-world, randomly-appearing characters, etc. In some ways, its complexity reminds me a little of Heartstring Bugs, especially since both are centered around a school. That being said, though, I do have a couple of major complaints.
The first and biggest flaw, in my eyes, is the Fake Gay Option. As I've said before: I have no problem with authors keeping it strictly dudes, but it's very infuriating to mislead your players (purposefully or accidentally) into thinking a NPC is obtainable when, in fact, she's not, and in a game this long, it's even more heinous. In the Stats page (more on that later), Suzie's relationship meter looks identical to those of the boys, even being marked with hearts at either end. We have the same talk/gift/invite options for her as we do for the guys, and in one outing scenario, she even asks “Is this a date?” and we have the option to respond “Yes”. What else is an unwary player supposed to think? Yet it isn't until the end of this very long game that we find out there is no ending with Suzie other than “You failed to get a guy. Your friend tries to cheer you up, but it just isn't the same.” At least Heartstring Bugs had a Best Friends Ending with the two girls that, while not romantic in the slightest, still provided a satisfying pay-off to all the time and energy invested in those relationships.
There are at least three better ways that this could have been handled:
- Have a gay option
- Make it clear from the interface that there is no gay option
- Have a Platonic Best Friends ending.
Whatever you do, though, don't make the player completely waste her time.
My second-biggest complaint is the difficulty in finding the Stats and Inventory pages. I eventually found them in the Options tab, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”. The good news is that vital information like your energy-level and today's date are on the main game-screen, plain as day, so you're not completely flying blind.
Finally, I'm a little annoyed with how difficult it is to report back to the parents after I've purchased the items they sent me to get. It's the one instance where the “randomly-appearing characters” feature seems more frustrating than clever. Fortunately, it doesn't actually hurt the game in the long-run, since the amount of money involved is small and hardly missed, and interacting with the parents isn't really important otherwise.
Despite these flaws, I still found this game very enjoyable to play. Please note that it's apparently the first chapter of a series, although it stands alone just fine. I have not yet been able to track down any mention of the sequel, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for it.
Memento Dears has a lot going for it. The writing is good with a cohesive story and a strong use of its theme, the art and music are nice, and while the gameplay isn't perfect, it's still impressive in both what it does and what it tries to do. Overall, I strongly recommend playing this, and since the demo can be played online, you can try it yourself right now and see what you think.
In fact, what do you think? Does this game have a bright future, or is it something best left in the past? Share your thoughts and recollections in the comments!