Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tokimeki Memorial is a popular ren'ai game series by Konami. It consists of 4 main games, Tokimeki Memorial ~ forever with you ~, Tokimeki Memorial 2, Tokimeki Memorial 3 ~ Yakusoku no Ano Basho de ~ (At the Place we Promised), and Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, in addition to a large number of spinoffs. The games are notable in the ren'ai game genre for being highly nonlinear.
Tokimeki Memorial, with its strong focus on dates, is the main example of the dating sim subgenre of ren'ai games. Its relatively high degree of exposure in the West is probably the reason why the term "dating sim" became a label for all ren'ai games.
The gameplay in Tokimeki Memorial focuses on scheduling, dating and stat-building. The player must organize his time between asking out members of the opposite sex and developing his abilities at school and sport (with the long-term goal of becoming more seductive, not out of any intrinsic value). Dates are frequent but very brief, with usually only one multiple-choice question to determine whether your partner's love meter will increase or decrease. One playthrough lasts for a fixed period of 3 years of high school (on the order of 5-10 hours of play), at the end of which the character with the highest love meter confesses their love. None of the games in the series contain erotic elements.
Tokimeki Memorial 1 was first released for the PC Engine in 1994. It became unexpectedly successful, due to its good graphics and voice acting, and was ported to the SNES and PlayStation in 1995. The first game in the series is particularly notable for its "bomb" feature, where neglected, infrequently-dated girls would eventually become angry and gossip to their friends, severely reducing love meters across the board. In the middle game, when the number of known girls was high, these "bombs" became the primary concern of the player, forcing careful planning and strategies like round-robin dating. Although the feature was still present in the later games, it was considerably reduced in importance.
Tokimeki Memorial 2 was released for the PlayStation in 1999. It came on 5 CDs, featuring unmatched graphics and voice acting and a groundbreaking "EVS" voice generation system where the girls could pronounce the player's name. It also became a hit in Japan. Its gameplay followed the same template as the first, but with lesser emphasis on bombs and a greater emphasis on solving unique challenges specific to each girl. As a result, a different strategy had to be devised for every playthrough.
Tokimeki Memorial 3, released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, further pushed the technical limits for ren'ai games, being the first game to have fully 3d animated cel-shaded girls. However, many fans were disappointed by the appearance of the girls, which although well-animated did not look as polished as 2d art, as well as by the simplified gameplay system. The game did not sell as well as expected.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, released in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, was the first serious attempt by a major industry player to expand the market for ren'ai games to female players. It reversed the traditional formula, featuring a cast of bishounen. It also had several "girl-oriented" features like choosing fashion accessories and decorating your room.
Notable among the many spinoffs of the game is the Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series, a series of 3 linear ren'ai games each focusing on a single girl from Tokimeki Memorial 1. The spinoffs also include a brief anime OVA based on the games.
No game in the series was ever translated or officially released in the West, though they can easily be purchased from import game stores.
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