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Name: Happening Journey (77.50% in 4 votes)
Type: SIM
Platform: WINDOWS
Company: Euphony Production
Release date: 1998
Reviewed by: Fukai Hajime

Masaharu is long in love with his childhood friend Yuki, but lacks the courage to tell her his true feeling. One day Masaharu’s friend Takagi asks him to go on a ski trip together, telling him that he would also take Yuki for Masaharu, so that Masaharu would take Miki, his partner in their tennis club, for Takagi. Somehow their plan becomes known to other girls too, who start insisting on joining the trip - so the party now consists of seven boys and girls. Will Masaharu have a chance to tell Yuki his love during the trip?

Story: 40%
I first played the game targeting at Yuki, because of my personal soft spot for ‘a childhood female friend’ in an SLG. After the first gameplay my impression of the game was: `Yuki’s really cute. It was a pretty good game` - a fairly favourable one. I might therefore well have given 85% at that point.

However... As I went on playing the game from the second time, its shortcomings became more apparent, dragging down my initial high rating along the way. The chief reason for this change was the fact that the gameplay turned out to be completely one-sided, with little interaction with the girls. Suppose you promise Yuki to go home with her after school. Then a choice to keep the promise or to go home with another girl, and you choose the latter. At that point you don’t even remember the promise, and only a stupid monologue like ‘I seem to have forgotten something...’ pops up at that night. Furthermore you might also expect some sort of reaction from Yuki next morning to your having broken the promise. Nothing of the kind. And this is just one of many such examples. All the girls just sit back and wait for you taking action, and do nothing from themselves. Even when you’re going for another girl they show no reaction at all. There is none who presses you hard to go home with her, or aggressively makes advances to you as you chat up another girl. In short, they all stay calm and wait for you. So you the main character don’t have to be troubled with choices and dilemmas, and you the player can just play the game idly, with a sandwich or something in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, clicking the mouse with your toes, and looking at easy H-scenes. If that’s all that a gamer expects from an H game, all my comments are just nonsense, and you need not go through what follows in this review.

I believe, however, that: The gameplay of a love SLG entirely rests upon interaction between you and the girls - that is, they should always respond to whatever actions the main character (= you the player) takes. And their response in turn directly talks to your heart, prompting you to take yet another action. A carefully and subtly constructed SLG thus strongly appeals to the player’s heart, and the girls vividly come alive in the monitor. This is what one may call ‘giving life to a mere mass of data’. Without it a game can and should hardly be called a love SLG. This is certainly demanding. Being a scenario writer myself, I perfectly understand that. Yet that is why it’s worth challenging. I will write in the ‘Gameplay’ section why I tend to be so critical towards this game.

H-degree: 66%
Average stuff. Not of a ‘Kichiku (brutal/torture)’ kind.

Graphics: 66%
The characters are pretty enough on the whole. Their busts are especially well drawn, yet their profiles are slipshod. All in all, an average trend of the current H-game making.

Sound: 60%
Again an average, light kind of music. Matches the game at least.

Game Play: 50%
Between 8 Dec. and 26 Dec. the player can choose which girls to meet three times a day (in the morning, in the afternoon and after school), and twice a day after the term exams of 11 Dec. (in the morning and after school). For the rest the story develops by itself, and the player need not hang around in the school and in the town searching for girls. This is a good system, since in an SLG what matters most is ‘to meet the girls’ - in this game the more often you meet, the more ‘good-feeling’ points you score from them. And the subsequent course of events, and who is to fall in love with you, are more or less decided before 27 Dec. So during the ski trip between 27 - 29 Dec. you and the girl from whom you gained the highest points before 27 automatically plunge into love events. A simple and clear gameplay isn’t it.

Yet for this very reason the scenario should at least have been more elaborate. For a simple system means that the player can easily play the game several times, and that he will consequently have to follow the same scenario over and again. This fact requires, therefore, that the scenario of such a game be resilient, made to stand repeated reading.

Extras: 80%
All the ‘omake’ CGs are arranged as thumbnail pics in the photoshop, thus making it easy to choose which CGs to view. There is nothing like ‘a few words from the staff’, but the above photoshop option should be more than enough.

Results: 61%
My score is admittedly harsh. This is because the game was unacceptable in many ways to a scenario writer like me...
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