Niji Iro no Seishun
Here are some comments based on playing the first half of the game.
The character designs are less "cute" than in the original Tokimeki Memorial. Someone (perhaps Hitoshi) mentioned that they'd seen the new version of Shiori, and that she wasn't as cute. They were right, she isn't. On the other hand, that does make the characters seem a bit more "human". It's all a matter of personal preference, I guess. The change doesn't bother me for most of the characters, but it's certainly not an improvement with Shiori.
Most of the original characters, or perhaps all of them, are shown during the opening animation. There is also one new female character. Her name is Minori. She looks a bit like Yukari, only with shorter and slightly orangish hair. She wears little X-shaped hairpins on each side of her head. I seem to remember hearing she's originally from the CD Dramas. She is voice-acted by Tange Sakura, who also did Suzu from Marmalade Boy.
The game takes place in your second year of high school. It is the same game world as Tokimeki Memorial... you attend the same school, with the same legend about the big tree in the yard. The same Tokimemo characters attend your school, and they behave the same way they did in Tokimemo. There are many references to Tokimemo that come up in passing, they seem to have done a pretty good job at giving the feel that you're in the same world as the original Tokimemo game.
You only play for about 17 days, rather than the three years in the original game. The game itself is also different -- you aren't trying to raise a bunch of stats in order to chase the girl you want. Your real goal is to become a Regular on the soccer team. (I think Regulars are the people who always start the game on the field.) The game ends on the day of the soccer team's first match, which is during Golden Week.
On the first day, the list of Regulars is announced. You are not one of them. But rather than giving up, you keep practicing your "free kicks", hoping that you will become good enough to win a spot on the team.
The "free kicks" are basically done as a puzzle mini-game. You have a certain number of soccer balls available. The goal has 4 or 8 'panels' in it, and you are trying to hit all of the panels before you run out of soccer balls. You can change the upward angle of the ball, the side-to-side angle you kick the ball at, and the amount of 'English'/'spin' you put on the ball. You also choose how hard to kick the ball, using a meter that gradually increases to maximum and then starts over at minimum again. (Hit and hold the button to start the meter, then release the button at the strength you want.) There is often a wind that affects ball movement, and there are almost always obstacles blocking parts of the goal, to make your shots more difficult.
You get a better score if you can hit right between two, three, or four panels, thus clearing them all with a single kick. You also get bonus points if you clear a puzzle without ever kicking any balls that completely miss the remaining panels. I don't know how important the scores are, relative to the importance of just being able to solve the puzzles. It's possible to find a "hint book" in the game that gives you a tip for each of the puzzles, and it wasn't terribly difficult to find. On the other hand, it isn't really that useful.
Most of school time is glossed over completely. Each day generally either starts with Lunch, or with After School on that day. It usually starts with After School, unless a special event happens. (I've had Nijino Saki bring me a bentou during lunch, and that was the only time the game let me do anything during lunch.) First, you pick up soccer balls while the starters practice. Then you get to do a little practice yourself. You're given the next Free Kick puzzle. If you solve it before running out of balls, you get the next one too. If you solve that one, and you solved both of them without very many missed balls, you get to try a third one. A cumulative score is kept for all the puzzles you solve on a given practice day, and I imagine that probably affects your chances of getting the "good ending" in some way.
After you finish practicing, you generally go and clean the soccer balls. Then you leave and go to a small shrine where you can practice more Free Kicking. You get to try the next two puzzles you haven't solved yet, so you can figure out how to do them before getting scored on them during club practice the next day. When you decide you've had enough practice, you go home.
At home, you can listen to your CD Player (essentially a Sound Test mode for all the music you've already heard in the game), and you can call other people you know from school. You can make multiple calls in a single evening (maybe a maximum of three). You can call Saotome Yoshio and ask him for the usual info about girls, just like in Tokimemo, except it takes him a day to collect "what does she think about me?" info, and he can only give you info on one girl at a time. So you call him one day to ask him, then call him the next day to find out what he learned. If you just want personal info on a girl, he can tell you that immediately without having to be called back.
When you're not playing a Free Kick puzzle, you're generally looking at a picture. You can move your pointer around in the picture, and click on things. When you click on something, a menu will pop up with your choices for the thing you were pointing at. Most of the time, your only choice is "Look". For people, you also get "Talk". "Talk" can be very complicated. It brings up a menu of several subjects you can ask about, and the menu will change depending on what things you've already (or recently) asked. Some of the subjects have sub-subjects... for example, if you decide you want to ask a girl about herself, it will then prompt you to pick what you want to know. (Full Name, Birthday, Home Room, Blood Type, Height/Weight, Three Sizes, her plans for the future, etc.) Certain choices will prompt the girl to ask you a question, and you pick an answer from three possible choices, just like the Date sequences in Tokimemo. If you're tired of talking to the person, or hanging around in your current location, you can choose to leave.
Some scenes have a time limit, where after you've clicked on a certain number of (not necessarily different) objects, the game continues to the next stage. This usually happens if you talk to someone before going to Soccer Club after school, or when you get home at night and call people before going to bed.
There is at least one more mini-game, the old "mastermind" game.
I think that pretty much summarizes the game play.
There's quite a bit of nice BGM in the game. Some of it is just variants on pieces of Tokimemo BGM. The girls all have their distinct BGM tracks, though the music is slightly different. There are some good "moody" piano tracks. And if you like the BGM, you can always listen to it at night (in the game) through the CD player in your room. :-)
I assume there are probably endings with some of the characters, though I don't think they'll involve confessions of love or anything... that would be inconsistent with the normal Tokimemo game, and they seem to be doing a good job at being consistent. After all, you don't want the girl to confess to you until graduation day under the big tree, right? :-) This game ends more than a year and a half before graduation.
Don't know how much replayability this will have. Guess it depends on whether you can get endings with different characters. It would probably become tedious after a couple of games. I guess that's true of most of these type of games.
Not all of the regular Tokimeki Memorial characters are in this game. The characters that appear in Niji Iro no Seishun are Saki, Shiori, Yoshio, Yumi, Yuina, Mira, Mio, Rei, and Minori.
In general, the game seems decent. Again, I don't know if it'll have any replay value. But there's a strong feel of being in the same Tokimemo world again, other than the slightly modified character designs. The voices are still the same. And more importantly, EVERY DIALOGUE LINE BY A CHARACTER OTHER THAN YOU IS SPOKEN ALOUD. Not just the major lines, but all of them. Even for the male characters. Pretty impressive. (If you ask a question you have already been given the answer to, the answer will not be spoken the second time.)
If you're in the habit of looking up the Japanese text, there may be one problem. In Tokimemo, there was a "hit a button to continue" pause after every screen of text or change in the speaking character. In this game, you only get them after your own lines. Other characters will sometimes babble on for five or more screens of dialogue, at a perfectly normal speaking rate, and the text will go away and be replaced by new text once the girl has finished saying the stuff that's already on the screen. Could be inconvenient. I kind of liked it.
I guess that pretty much covers it. I'm enjoying the game, but I liked Tokimemo a lot, and Nijino Saki was my favorite character. Since she's the star of this game, and is portrayed just the way she was in Tokimemo, I can't help but like this game. :-)
If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. I bought my copy of this game for $49 via mail-order.
There were some very touching scenes near the ending of Niji Iro no Seishun.
> Tokimeki Memorial
> NijiIro no Seishun
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