Let's High School!

So, we watched the introduction to our new high school life at Moegino High last time, but we didn't get to any kind of actual gameplay. And today, have I got some gameplay for you! Well, I hope you like reading about game systems at least. And there are still cute girls, don't worry.

But if you're curious how the game plays, this will cover most of the basics of how the game plays out. So let's get started~

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Here's our save data from where we left off last time. You can see that central window is full of text now :D Basically it just gives the date you saved (the game date, not irl), your name and stuff, and your current stats at the time of save.

Also, I forgot to mention this before but SORRY IT IS SO BLURRY AND UGLY. In order to even get this to run in an emulator I had to do a bunch of crap, including software rendering and blend interlacing, which makes it blurry and cuts the framerate in half, and makes frames do weird things, so sometimes I will take a screencap with like two overlapping frames lolol.

Plus the game is just kind of ugly to begin with -- the resolution of everything but the girls seems horribly low, even when playing on a PS2. I've never tried with S-Video or anything (did PS2 even have S-Video out...?) but the game is blurry and weird there, too. But it's even worse because of my emu settings so sorry T_T

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When you load the game, you have to load your EVS data, too. Well, I mean, you're not forced to, but then you won't have EVS data, and the girls will just skip saying your name. It's kind of tedious, but hey.

Anyway, after loading is done, the screen goes black, and we hear Makihara's voice say good morning, and tell us to do our best today. Like, she's talking to the player :) It wasn't morning when I did it, though, so my PS2 clock must be off XD

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When we last left off, I was debating about what club to join and what to do on the first week of school. In the end, I decided to go with the akido club. No one gave me any suggestions and this seems the most "reasonable" to do, plus I like doing sports clubs, so hey.

The first thing we do is see a little locker room thing and we learn that if we miss two practices we get kicked out, and if we get kicked out or drop out, we have to wait until the next school year before we can join another club.

But then we're on the akido team :D

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That also makes us choose akido practice as our activity for the week. Once you select your weekly activity, you'll go through the week seeing little animations of your character doing the thing. They'll be different depending on if you pass (circle) or fail (cross). You can even get a critical success with two circles!

Each day of activity will update your parameters. Each activity affects each parameter differently, so doing something like akido practice obviously raises your Athletics, but it also lowers your Humanities, Sciences, and Fine Arts. And of course, it decreases your Endurance and Willpower, raises Stress, and gives you club experience.

The four major parameters will get little arrows telling how they changed, and their progress bars will rise or fall accordingly. The stats along the bottom will change color and shrink and grow for a bit. Red means going up and blue means going down. I wish they would have colored them as 'good' and 'bad' rather than 'up' and 'down,' since Stress going up is bad but Stamina going up is good, but both things will show red, so...

Anyway, getting a success on your activity will do more good things than bad (and critical success is even better!) to the point where you might not even lose progress. If you notice in the screencap above, I didn't get any blue arrows on the other three major stats, and didn't accumulate any Stress.

Failing an activity, of course, will do more bad things than good, like raising Stress more, and lowering your stats more, even to the point where you might not get any gain in the desired parameter at all...

Whether you succeed or fail is random, though the chance can be influenced. But there's no little minigame or anything -- once you select your activity, you just have to watch and see what happens.

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After the first week of school, we are at home! It's Saturday, and we get to choose an activity just for the day, not the whole week.

From home, we have a bit more options. You can see on the shelving at the left, we have our studies, though there are no Fine Arts or Athletics options, probably because you have clubs for those, though you can only be in one club at a time, so if you're in a sports club, you'll sacrifice your ability to do any kind of Fine Arts progress at home.

We have the computer, system, club, and rest icons just like at school, too.

But we have two new icons! There's a phone, and a basket of stuff on the bookshelf under the two study icons.

The basket of stuff is your hobbies option. From here you can start new hobbies or partake in current ones. There's all kinds of stuff you can do -- handicrafts and knitting, fishing, writing, drawing, gaming, music, and more. You can even just sit around on the internet. This is a new system to the series for this game, and I really love it. I wish they would have kept it for TokiMemo4.

The first options available for most of the hobbies are to get a catalogue or book about the subject, and once you've completed that task, you can usually order supplies... it kind of goes from there. As you get more into your hobby, new options will appear. But for now, we just have a lot of 'get a catalogue' options.

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The other new icon is the telephone, which, as you can probably guess, is for making phone calls. I hate making phone calls because the phone noise triggers my anxiety/phobia even though it's just a game so I often will turn the volume down during that part hahaha.

Right now, we only have three numbers we can call: Makihara, Yabe, and Shiratori. Of course, this is a game about meeting people and dating, so getting phone numbers is going to be a part of that...

For Saturday, we practice akido some more. Practicing on your holidays will cause your Club Experience to raise much more than practicing on school days. Over the week, we practiced akido every day, and even with three successes for all three days, our total Experience only raised by 3. But from just one practice on the weekend, our Experience raises to 9! That's up by twice as much as the entire week's gains!

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On Sunday, I went into the hobbies menu and ordered an intro to art magazine so we can learn how to draw, since that is my hobby in real life.

When you do a hobby activity, these little green tiles flip over, and then you'll get some happy faces if you succeed, and your progress bar will fill up. Fill up the entire progress bar and you'll complete that task or project.

Obtaining a magazine only takes one time, so the bar fills all the way up and we have an art mag now!

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Back to school on the 16th, we choose another activity for the entire school week. We practice akido some more. I know, sorry XD But! Notice that the progress bar is filling all the way up...

Once you get a progress bar filled all the way...

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You level up that parameter! Once a parameter has leveled up, it's "locked" into that level, so even if you decrease the progress bar all the way, it won't level down. So you can't lose your levels. But if you don't think about what things you participate in, you could end up raising some bars while dropping others, then raising the others while dropping the ones you raised before, making it take forever to level up.

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After leveling up, you will be rewarded with an event. Events also will occur randomly, but leveling up will force them, and some events can only happen by leveling up.

This time, we got one of the random events, which is seeing a friend as you're both leaving school. We see Kawai, and we're given the option to get her attention and ask her if she'd like to walk home together, or to not bother her and go home alone.

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We call out to her, and she compliments us on how we're doing well with sports recently (when you get the 'going home' events by leveling up, you'll get comments like this, which is fun and cute). She says she's been recording the data of our athletic growth. A bit creepy since we just met her last week, but hey. She is cute and has glasses and flaps and stuff.

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Despite being impressed with our physical progress, our stalker doesn't seem to want to go home with us. Well, she says she has something to do.

We head home alone, and the rest of the school week is pretty uneventful.

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This weekend, I want to show you another fun thing about our room. If you access the system menu from your room, you can find a room decoration menu.

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From here, you can choose a spot to decorate from the numbered spots available. We only have 7, 10, and 16 available right now, because those are the only spots where we have an item we can put there. But once we have other types of items, we'll be able to decorate in other spots, too.

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I put our ball cap in spot 16, so now it sits on the shelf between our textbooks and art hobby stuff (which I guess is just a basket with an art magazine in it for now).

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The next week of school, we practice with Fine Arts. This will have us painting after school each day. And we manage to level it up in just one week!

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This time we're given the option of looking for a specific person to walk home with. This is pretty much like the other walking home event, but this time we get to pick who we run into. But there's also a chance we might not find them. In fact, it seems pretty common to not find them...

I choose to look for Makihara, but after waiting a while, we never run into her, so we have to head home alone in the rain. And not much else happens this week in school.

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At home again for the weekend, we decide to study humanities. Unlike studying for the week, though, it does something different when you choose one of your studies at home. Notice the little pink icon below the Humanities parameter at the top. A boost progress bar will pop out of it when you study at home.

A success in the study will fill it half way, and a critical success fills it all the way. I don't think you can fail at it? I'm not sure, but I can't remember ever failing at home study.

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We spend both days of our weekend studying, so now we have a boost bar for Humanities! When this is filled up, we will get better Humanities growth during the week.

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Even though there are only three days in the school week, just getting three regular successes almost fills the bar to a level up! It took a lot longer to level up Athletics for the first time...

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Looking at the calendar, we have a four day weekend coming up, so we need to decide what to do, since we'll get to choose our activities four days in a row!

A lot of guides I see for western players of TokiMemo games suggest cycling through weekly activities to try to get the same amount of experience for each. So like Humanities one week then Sciences the next week...

But this is very bad advice!

In the bottom-right corner of the calendar, you can see your BioRhythm. Exactly the pattern it follows is determined by your blood type and birthday.

The BioRhythm chart shows your chance of success for different types of activities! You can see it has three functions graphed: a red, yellow, and green. The red plot represents Athletics, the yellow plot represents Fine Arts, and the green line represents Academics (both Sciences and Humanities).

The vertical gridlines in the back represent each day of the week. There is a horizontal line through the center that is a lighter color than the other gridlines. This is the important line.

The further away a colored plot is from the horizontal center line, the better your growth in that area for the day. The closer it is, the more your progress will be 'cramped,' and you will have more failure.

So if you look at our four-day weekend, we're starting on the very left with May 3. The red and yellow plots are pretty close to the center, so if we were to practice akido today, our chance of success will not be very great. The green plot is pretty far from the center, so we have a decent chance with Academics -- we could try studying today and maybe get a critical, filling our boost bar immediately.

But if you look at the upcoming school week, the green plot will be very cramped, so we'll likely fail at our studies anyway. Plus if we don't get a critical on our home studying, we'd have to study again to fill the boost bar, wasting half of our long weekend on preparing to boost something that might fail anyway.

But yeah, the BioRhythm system has been in the series since the beginning, but western fans seem to not know about it? It's not in the TokiMemo3 manual at all, so you'd have to know about it from previous games to know what it means. In TokiMemo1, in order to learn about it, you had to play with a mouse and click on your lamp in your room (which just looks like a backdrop object) and you'd find a secret tutorial on BioRhythm.

Though now that I think about it, I can't remember if there is BioRhythm in TM4 O_o??? In the Girl's Side series, it was replaced with a horoscope page that is a lot more obvious and intuitive. But I like BioRhythm because it makes me feel ~advanced~ when I pay attention to it.

Anyawy, the reason I've been succeeding in my activities so much thus far is because I've been following what the BioRhythm favors to do what will give me the best growth for each week.

Since it seems any kind of focus on our parameters today is a waste, let's make a phone call instead! There is a sunny Sunday coming up, so maybe we can get to hang out with someone... It also happens to be Children's Day, which is marked on the calendar despite it having no significance to the game whatsoever.

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When you make a phone call, you just select one of the names from your phone book. At this point, we only have the numbers of Makihara, Yabe, and Shiratori. I'm not sure why we even have Makihara's number since we couldn't even remember who she was, but you always start the game with it. Maybe it's a pity move by the developers.

Anyway, we call Makihara and you actually go through phone sounds and ringing and her answering and everything... She says it's rare to get a phone call from us (uh, this is probably the first time we've ever called her?!) and asks us what we want.

We have two options: to ask her out to do something, or to ask her about other girls. Makihara views us as a childhood friend at this point, and actually is pretty willing to share information about other girls. Like, she'll tell us their birthdays or whatever sometimes, but importantly, how they feel about us, and it will update our profiles list with their current feelings. But she can only tell us about her own friends, not any girls she doesn't talk to, so it's important to learn who is friends with whom.

But we're not going to ask for gossip today; instead, we're going to ask her out!

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Once we choose this option, we're given the calendar again, and we can click on a day to choose that as the day we want to try to make plans. Your own free days will appear as hearts, so you have to make plans only for those days. You can't see your friend's schedule, though, so they might already have plans. For example, sports teams always have major practice every third Sunday of the month. If we asked Makihara for that day, she would decline because she has to attend the baseball team's practice, since she is the manager.

But we have akido practice that day anyway, so we don't really have to worry about remembering it much, since the practices will always be marked on the calendar.

We also can't tell the weather of anything more than a week in advance, so since we know we have a sunny Sunday coming up, we'll ask for then.

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After choosing the day, we get to choose what place we'd like to invite her to. At first, we're shown all the available places in the "hill area," which is the closest to our homes and school. You can press R1 and L1 to change areas, but the further away the location is, the more likely your friend will be to decline unless they are very close to you, since you may even have to take the bus and stuff to get there. So choosing close places is best when you're still new friends.

You can learn about more locations in various ways, but right now we have four locations available in the hill area. I remembered that the hilltop park had cherry blossom viewing, but forgot that it ended last month, so I chose that. Even without cherry blossoms, a park seems like a good place to hang out.

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Sadly, though, Makihara said she had something to do...

And making the phone call took the entire day (hey, that's like IRL for me!)

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With the BioRhythm not really helping us much over this long weekend, we decide to spend the rest of the weekend on hobbies. Now that we have an art magazine, we have a new option in the hobbies menu to get some art supplies. So we choose that, and then a ton of new art options appear. Basically we can work on all different kinds of drawing projects now, like landscapes or still lifes. We can also paint portraits of any of our friends!

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So I decide to work on a Makihara portrait. Even working on it for the rest of the weekend, we don't get too far in the progress of it, so unlike getting magazines or supplies, this project will take a lot of days dedicated to working on it before we can finish it.

The next week at school, we work on Fine Arts again, because the BioRyhthm is favoring it and Athletics, and I want to try to meet some other characters, so I'm hoping we can by leveling up our art skills enough...

Getting Fine Arts to level 3, we get another "look for someone" event, and since Makihara didn't show last time, I try picking Kawai this time... and we actually ran into her! And when I asked her to walk home together... she actually said yes!

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When you do get to walk home, you'll get to see a little moment mid-walk where you can ask your friend a question. You have three options: asking them out somewhere, asking for their number, or just enjoying the rest of the walk home without asking anything specific.

Since we don't have Kawai's number and can't call her, this is the only way we can ask her to hang out. And since we're not very close yet, she will probably get mad or uncomfortable if we ask for her number right away. So we'll need to rely on waking home with her and hoping she accepts our invitations to do stuff together until she's comfortable enough giving us her number, then we can ask for it, and finally it will be a lot easier to make plans with her if we want.

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Since Kawai and we are both nerdy types it seems, I ask her to go to the arcade this coming weekend.

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... And she accepts! So we finally have ourselves our first date, and it's only two days away!

And so we'll leave here for now. Sorry it was so long, but I spent a lot of time explaining everything and wanted to end on this exciting note. Following entries shouldn't be nearly as long unless something big happens.