Galge Review – New LovePlus+ (3DS)

newloveplus+23v2Recently, I felt like I could just throw my life away to try playing the game that has been enslaving thousands of Japanese Otakus: New LovePlus! This 3DS title a sequel to LovePlus – an already equally popular game for Nintendo’s previous portable: The DS. LovePlus is basically the ULTIMATE CHARAGE! You don’t believe me? In that case, believe in Konami instead! When the company responsible for such titles like Castlevania and Metal Gear says it will make the supreme Charage, it will do just that! There is nothing that can be done to stop this giant!

Characters

newloveplus+29v2Takane Manaka (The one to the left) is the perfect girl from the 2nd year in high school who comes from a very wealthy family, has the best grades and is a top athlete, which makes it difficult for others to get closer to her. Kobayakawa Rinko (on the middle) is a playful 1st year student who is going through her rebellious phase, which leads to her being angry and lazy most of the time. Anegasaki Nene is a reliable 3rd year high schooler who is treated like everyone’s big sister.

Themes

newloveplus+20Each heroines is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Even their names give you a hint: Takane’s name can be translated as “the top” or “high level” referring to her nature of being perfect at everything. Kobayakawa uses the kanji for small, because Rinko is not exactly too tall, but her surname also has the kanji for “strong stream lake” which makes sense for how angry she can get. Both the Anegasaki and Nene make reference to the Japanese word for “sister”, and Nene is the “onee-san” type, after all…newloveplus+03But, in the end, LovePlus is a Charage to the core! There isn’t really much of a plot going on. Anything reminiscent of a story is just there to give a reason for why the heroines have certain behaviors. For example: Manaka’s strict father is the reason why she is so perfect and secluded from normal society. Rinko’s problems with her family are just there to justify why she is so sad and lonely all the time. The main character never gets directly involved with those problems in order to solve them. Many times, those things get fixed by themselves and off-screen, which I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because this game has something I usually don’t see in this genre: REALISM!newloveplus+08Yep! These 3 heroines have a good deal of credibility to them (except for Manaka, who is pure and perfect at everything). Everything, down to their character designs (only brown or black hair with brown eyes and no giant breasts!), their gestures, the way they talk, their fashion sense, their conversation topics, even the events happening around them are reasonable and sane. Which means you will not accidently peek on a girl while she’s changing, and they will never talk about how big their breasts are!newloveplus+13Instead, they will talk about topics that real teenagers actually care for, and since these subjects are nicely handled with some very decent writing, they are no less interesting than the bizarre and exuberant stuff from most Galges.newloveplus+11The main character doesn’t need to be a great hero who solves all problems and makes everyone’s lives better. Nevertheless, he never comes as someone inept (except in a certain event during Manaka’s route), he’s able to becomes someone important for the heroines, giving them the motivation needed to grow up.newloveplus+22Although this realistic atmosphere can feel a bit boring for some, it does have some interesting surprises, as these heroines’ circumstances can be unexpectedly complicated. Nene, for instance, has this huge complex about her age because of how she has been always treated like everyone’s older sister and because of an old crush who rejected her (that’s right! She loved someone before who ISN’T the main character, LE GASP!).newloveplus+21Now, she sees herself as an unattractive older lady, and when the protagonist starts to get the attention of other girls, she gets jealous and desperate, because she feels like she doesn’t stand a chance against younger girls, even though they are just one year younger than her. In the end, it is thanks to the protagonist’s feelings for her that she is finally able to overcome this complex.newloveplus+17The character development is also great! Since the setting doesn’t have a bunch of absurd things, the heroines interactions and developments with the protagonist become more convincing and easy to relate with. Rinko is a brat at the start of the game, but she never goes as far as to become a bitch. Right from the start, you can feel she is a nice girl and it’s clear there’s something going on with her. Therefore, when she starts to develop feelings for the main character, her change of behavior doesn’t feel sudden.newloveplus+04There is, however, one thing that I just couldn’t like, and it’s Manaka. I already hate this “perfect girl” stereotype! She easily succeed at everything she ever tries to do, so there’s no challenge to her. But this isn’t the only problem I have with her. Her secluded life made her into the most boring person on Earth! She doesn’t like manga, she doesn’t watch TV or go to the movies, she doesn’t even know any other music genre besides Classical music, the only books she read were fairy tales, she has no hobbies and the only thing she does once she gets home is studying!newloveplus+10To play her route was the dullest experience I had in years! And her route also had the most revolting event in the game: She loses a tennis match for the very first time in her life, because the main character was her partner! By the end of the match, she was super happy, because she actually felt like there was a challenge in her life, but since their adversaries were much inferior to Manaka in both ranks and pure skills, it was undoubtedly the protagonist’s fault. And both knew that! In other words: The only way for the main character to be useful for Manaka is to make her SUCK! (and not in a sexual way!). The protagonist felt like shit after this awkward event, and this also made me feel horrible for him!

Gameplay

newloveplus+07You start the game by creating your protagonist. You choose his name, surname, blood-type, date of birth and place of origin (which doesn’t matter for people like me, since the only options they give you are places in Japan). You can even choose how you will refer to yourself (“Ore” – for more mature or rebel people, “Boku” – for more childish or composed people).newloveplus+02Although the protagonist doesn’t get any type of visual representation, he genuinely feels like an accurate representation of the player. This is done by simply giving the freedom of choice! That’s right! In this game, you truly feel like you are deciding things for yourself! There’s a choice for almost every occasion! And they all have an immediate impact in the game. It’s completely different from the illusion of choice you usually get in Galges and in Telltale games!newloveplus+18There’s no “wrong choice” in this game. When a heroine asks for your help, you can always say “NO”, but it doesn’t mean you will act like an asshole and she will not get angry at you. This only means you will lose one of many opportunities to get closer to this heroine. Maybe you did this so you have free time to help another heroine of your interest.newloveplus+43Even when you meet with one of the heroines by chance, you usually get 4 options: 1- Call her by her name, 2- Just say “hello”, 3- hit her head with a karate chop/kick, 4- Ignore her. Believe or not, “hitting the girl with a karate chop” is not a “bad answer” it just means you are this kind of person. “Being mean to a girl you like” is something a brat would do, but it does work with adults in real life!newloveplus+42This may even change the way how a heroine treats you later in the game! Manaka can become a bit more aggressive, Rinko will become a sweet and spoiled girl, while Nene will be the one spoiling you like a cute child. The results are amusing and cute, but you might as well hit their head just to see how they fall like a rag doll! It always cracks me up!newloveplus+16There’s 2 good reasons for why Konami will probably never make another Tokimeki Memorial: 1- LovePlus sells even more than that series. 2- LovePlus is basically a spiritual successor to that franchise! The system to organize the schedule that you get in this game is like a more simplified version from Tokimemo, changed to become more user-friendly. Now, when you select where you will spend your day, the place you visit will also affect one of your parameters. Going to the tennis club to practice will raise your physical strength, going to your part-time job will raise your social skills, attending to class will raise your intelligence, etc.newloveplus+45By finishing the game, you see the credits roll, but then you find out you’ve only finished the “friendship part”. By doing so, you just unlocked the “lovers part”. This mode is the culprit that has been enslaving all those poor Japanese men! This is basically an eternal real-time mode, which earns the game’s tag line: “An endless tale”. That’s why there is a credit roll when you complete the “friendship part”, since it’s the closest thing to a real “ending” this game will have!newloveplus+12The clock in the game is set to the same hour in your 3DS system. The basic gameplay mechanics keep near the same, but now the number of actions you can take per day gets limited, as to better emulate your limited time in real life. You can also schedule a day to go on a date with the girlfriend of your choice, and you will actually need to wait until this day for the event to trigger. There’s even special events that take place on holydays! But since LovePlus tries to be as user friendly as possible, you can always turn the real-time mode off to play the “lovers part”, and the events will happen inside an in-game calendar.newloveplus+19The “lovers part” also unlocks some new mechanics, like the “skinship system”, which eventually leads to the “kiss system” (both are self-explanatory). Now you can call you and your girlfriend can call each other with the cellphone. When you choose to take a walk, you need to select where exactly on the map you will go. Those new features open more opportunities to trigger a date event, and give a huge variety, but I am not such a big fan of it, since it changes what was a very dynamic and fun gameplay into a convoluted and slow system.newloveplus+31There’s only one thing I really hate about the gameplay: The way how you need to hold your 3DS! It may look good on paper because you will see more of the heroine on the screen, but it’s freaking horrible to hold your 3DS in this position! It was not made to be used like that! My hand hurts from playing this thing! And they don’t let you change this!

Graphics

newloveplus+41The closest thing to LovePlus I can think of is Ciel Nosurge. Since the game made by GUST runs on the much more powerful PS Vita, the heroine Ion can interact with many different objects and characters inside a huge room created with polygons in real-time. In contrast with this, LovePlus runs on the simple 3DS hardware.newloveplus+06Therefore, all the backgrounds are just still images, most objects are invisible, and it’s simply impossible for the system to run a scene with more than one heroine in the same screen, for this reason, the 3 heroines never interact with each other. Still, Konami was able to create a real miracle with these graphics, because taking everything into account, LovePlus still look much prettier than Ciel Nosurge.newloveplus+14 The girls are smoothly animated, and it’s not only the mouth and eyes! Their gestures are just perfect and full of variations. They move like a real human being! It’s so lively! Even the way the hair moves feels natural (and it’s a pain in the ass to animate those things!). The frame rate hardly goes below 60 fps and the textures are very colorful and full of details! This is easily the best graphics I’ve seen running on the 3DS.

Voices

newloveplus+25The heroines in this game are fully voiced by great talents like Hayami Saori, Tange Sakura and Minaguchi Yuuko. Their voice-work is fantastic, there isn’t one single line that was delivered in the wrong way, there isn’t a single syllable that was mispronounced! This is the power of the top-tier seiyuu! Too bad the main character is not voiced, though!newloveplus+44One of the biggest features in the game is how the heroines will (try to) speak your name! I tried to use two “katakana” names in my first two playthroughs, but the system could only recognize the first syllables of those names, so I tried a Japanese name for my third playthrough by making a weird fusion between two characters I like, thus creating Onoda Akira! This time, the girls were able to pronounce this name with perfection! They were even able to add honorifics like “kun” and “san”. Although they only say the name at the start of a conversation, and it’s always at the same voice tone. It doesn’t make it any less impressive!

Music

newloveplus+34Unfortunatelly, if there’s something bad in this game, it’s the music! It’s even worse than the soundtrack of an average Galge for PC! All the BGMs sound like awful .midi files from the 90’s, and there’s a bunch of tracks that gets recycled and slightly remixed to be used in other events!

Conclusion

newloveplus+09If you’re a fan of this genre, I bet you would enjoy LovePlus! If you love the “charage” sub-genre, it’s worth to buy yourself a 3DS just for this game! But if you consider yourself to be a HARDCORE BISHOUJO-GAME PLAYER, be careful! You may end just like those Japanese gamers: playing this game for all eternity!newloveplus+33From now on, everytime I play a bad Visual Novel, I bet I will think about LovePlus for cases like: “I don’t want to do that! I wish I could just say NO to this and go away!” or “I hate this bitch so much! I wish I could just kick her butt!”. Yes! LovePlus is such an awesome game and it’s also most likely the reason for why there isn’t any other Galge for the Nintendo 3DS. How can you compete against a game such as this one? You just don’t! As simple as that! It’s a shame that both the producer Uchida Akari and character design Mino Taro have recently resigned from Konami, which means a sequel may never come, and even if it does, it may lose all the things that made this game so good!

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17 responses to “Galge Review – New LovePlus+ (3DS)

  1. LOL WOW I did not expect you to go through with this one. It’s just so ridiculously targeted towards the Japanese men who have no connections with real life girls and want fake-romance. Although in that sense, it’s an actual “galge” in its full definition and closely resembling a dating sim, which is technically my favorite genre of “visual novels” (quotations around that word due to reasons)

    I only have a 3DS borrowed from one of my friends, and if I wasn’t poor like I was right now, I’d head right over and buy this game for myself. It looks interesting, but only for science; if you know what I mean

    • Don’t let those stories deceive you! This game is target of too much prejudice for the infamous cases where Otakus worship those girls, but as I explained in this review, this game is actually no different than the ones that we are used to play. If anything, I believe LovePlus is much more healthy for the mind than the usual Eroges we are so used to play!
      Yep! This game only got this negative fame thanks to it being made by Konami, which immediately made LovePlus get more attention than any regular Galge. consequently, reviewers and players who are not used to this genre end up playing it too, which was the origin for all that backlash.
      I really recommend this game! Specially for you, who is more into this genre than me. Now that you got a ( borrowed) 3DS, it’s a nice opportunity (if you ever get the money to spare, that is)
      For more explanation on how this game is not as disgusting as people made it look, check this video (the Gunba voice is annoying, though…)

  2. I once thought of the idea of buying a J3DS just for love plus but when I think more about it the cons are really against me to fully “enjoy” the game you need to be living in Japan, yes I played the NDS version but still I live a pirate life region locks are not for me

    • I don’t know what is different about the DS version that you need to live in Japan to fully enjoy it. I was able to use all its features on the 3DS version, except for the StreetPass thing…

  3. Daaaaaaamn, I only have a PS3 and a PSP so I’m stuck until I get one. Yeah, I heard of LovePlus, but didn’t know they had made a sequel! Wow, the way this game is, this does look like a very interesting and entertaining simulation game! I’m a very big fan of these games, I purchased a ton of them from my Japanese psn for the PlayStation, but due to very limited funds, I’m gonna snag Aquaplus’s ToHeart 2 DX and both of the White Album games, each only a little over 2000 yen. I really love simulation/adventure games, regardless of the male protagonist that you play as, whether you name him or just play as him, they make you feel like you are actually in Japan, I have been a fan of these ever since my very first one, I can’t remember which one it was, it was perhaps the TokiMemo series…but now that I have seen this one, yes, this does look a lot more realistic. Wasn’t one of these games notorious for a Japanese player marrying one of the characters? I forget, hahahaha! Very nice review by the way!

    • To Heart 2 & White Album are really good games as well! Nice choice!

      TokiMemo has many similarities with LovePlus, so there’s a chance that it was the one that you’re thinking when it comes to this type of simulation games.

      This game is also the one you’ve seen in those weird news about Japanese Otakus. You know how these guys can be weird when they want, right? Don’t take those stories too seriously.

  4. Now that Tokimeko and Love plus staff do not work for Konami anymore we probably not going to see another game. A sad thing for truly Datim Sim games, I just expect that at least Hibiki continue doing whatever x cation ’cause is the only thing remotaly close to the genre nowadays (that you need stats, do stuff on your free time and date girl of choice)

    I liked Love plus DS but I must admit It was shit embarrased when I had to speak on the mic and I probably won’t do it anymore hahaha the ds one is translated and works well in emulators the problem is the 3DS that is region locked and needs a japanese console so is even more obscure to western fans.

    • I didn’t know that the DS version is translated, that’s great!

      In this newer version, the parts where you have to speak on the mic are limited to when you call the heroine from far away. The way the protagonist refers to the heroine changes according to the name you speak on the mic (if the heroine accepts it. She will ignore you, if you try calling her “bitch”). Nevertheless, it’s still freaking embarrassing!

  5. Oh my GOD! You can do that?! LOL, Oh MAN! YES, that would be hellishly embarrassing! Although in Japan, maybe most people wouldn’t even pay you any attention, as I have seen people do, they try not to approach you or pay any attention to strange things that people are doing…maybe…either way, there is no way in hell I would do that in public. Which hurts, because if this game is using your real time, you have to dedicate yourself to her, after the first half of the game, right…so, in a way…it does feel like you are actually committed to your virtual gal. 😉
    Would be even more cool….perhaps…if they upped it a bit and added marriage as well, and possibly a child or two (I’m looking at you, Harvest Moon…I married Lumina and had a beautiful daughter! Yet my farm was a piece of garbage, I didn’t really pay much attention to the farming and was just wooing girls, all the while my farm is just growing weeds and junk…LMAO.)…but, honestly, that WOULD be a problem. What if your virtual wife divorced you suddenly or what if you divorced HER, to start all over with a new virtual girl/wife? Maybe that would be a bit much to add to a game like LovePlus….but I don’t know if that story was true or not about the Japanese guy marrying his virtual girl (Nene, I think…) or not. Yeah, probably shouldn’t take it too seriously! Yikes, I got off track a bit with the Harvest Moon, though! Really good series, but it does get tedious farming, when you would rather just get a girl to like you and confess your love to her…..buuuuuuuuut, you gotta build your farm up. No girl is gonna marry a broke farmer in a single room house! LOL……*sobbing* ;_;

    • I tried to play Haverst Moon many times before, but I must admit the farming aspect got boring pretty fast for me. At least in Rune Factory I could go on adventures and kill things, which is always cool! Unfortunately, in Harvest Moon, you need to have a huge house in order to have a girl accepting your proposal, or so I’ve heard.

      I think they can implement the remarriage and divorce on the sequel: “LoathePlus”…

      • story of seasons seems to have improved the farming aspect.
        very fast and easy to harvest
        it just came out so you should check it out =D

      • Thanks! I got lots of games to try this year, but if I got the time and the money, I will give it a try (I will probably need to use a walkthrough as well, since I’m a noob when it comes to this series)

  6. Great article! I have bought New Love Plus+ a couple of months ago intending to give it a try. I just wanted to see what the attraction of these games was, if I could play it like a (time) management game, because of course, I’m not a Japanese guy, lol. But somehow I always get sidetracked by other games. I will keep your article as reference though, always feels good to know something of the background, not knowing much of the Japanese language!

  7. i have played the original version and i was not disappointed lol. thanks for the review!

  8. Can’t search this on 3ds reg usa

    Need help…!!!

  9. Pingback: Game Review – Root Letter (PS4/PS Vita) | Otaku Overdrive

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