Review #1 by Donny Chan
Note: Sotsugyou = Graduation
OP animation. What OP animation? AFAIK, Sotsugyou V has no animation files. After the Mycom (Mai-Com = Mainichi Communications) logo screen is the Sotsugyou V title screen. During the title screen, the game plays the song "Happy Vacation," sung by Okamoto Asami, Okada Junko, and Makishima "Maxima" Yuki. If the player doesn't "Press Start," the game re-displays the Mycom logo screen, re-displays the Sotsugyou V title screen, and re-plays the OP song.
OP song. IMO, on first listening, "Happy Vacation" isn't as annoying as the OP song of Sotsugyou II and (presumably) Sotsugyou S. (But the Sotsugyou II OP song grew on me.) At about 3 1/2 minutes long, I presume the Sotsugyou V OP song is the full size, not the game size.
Naming. In the Sotsugyou V title screen, after pressing Start, the player defines the protagonist's name. The name can be one to four kana long, in hiragana and/or katakana. No alphanumerics. The protagonist's name can't be blank, ie, the game doesn't accept no kana, or one to four blank spaces.
(I guess I should be in game debugging instead of in engineering. But except CNC machines, I'm not much into industrial-strength computer programming. 9_9 One day I may build an homepage (and they'll come).)
The protagonist has no default name. (Name definition is a chance for urawaza though; cf SD Gundam G Century and Tokimemo.) For continuity (and lack of imagination), I named my protagonist Hayato, after the Sotsugyou Crossworld protagonist: Shinjou Hayato the masochist.
Prologue. After the game accepts the protagonist's name, it plays the non-animated prologue. Pan-and-scan is the most animation it has. (I was expecting a NOeL-like OP movie too.) In the prologue, the three new gals (Yukie, Ryouko, and Izumi) and the protagonist are at the beach. It's the end of the first week they are at a resort island in Okinawa, and have (reportedly) one month left in their summer vacation. (Reiko-sama apparently financed their vacation leave. If true, reminds me of the F4 in Hanayori Dango.) The four return to the inn and learn from the old innkeeper about a buried treasure on the island, from when the island was a fiefdom called Rekio. Almost all the gals are interested in discovering the treasure; Maki doesn't care. They decide they will divide themselves into groups. Each night, they will report if they find any clue, and declare which Spots on the island they will go on the following day. (Unlike Ryoukotchi (aka Roommate series), I doubt their schedules are random, but see below.)
Chara designs. In Sotsugyou Crossworld, I "disagreed" with Reiko-sama's looks. In Sotsugyou V, Reiko-sama looks better, IMO. Even Mami-chan looks her age, but Yukie-chan complements Mami-chan's boke-ness. Maki looks a bit worse, but acceptable, and speaks more than I expected (she's in a good mood). Misako (don't ask me why her), Megumi, and Maina-chama look most consistent and natural, IMO. (As before, I'm ignoring Shizuka. Flame me.) ^.^
OTOH, does the Sotsugyou V chara designer now hate Yurika and (worse) Saori? T_T
(Hmm, Saori braided her long, shaggy hair.) The portraits are mostly front-left views of the gals. Unanimated too; they don't even blink. Their expressions don't seem as distinct as the portraits in Sotsugyou Crossworld or SRWF.
(BTW, we can presumably use TIMCONV to convert the TIM files on the game CD into BMP files, but I haven't tried that. Else, I failed to find any omake file on the game CD.)
Controls. The game controls are:
Commands. The game options (eg, load/save game and voice on/off) are only available in the protagonist's room (see below). Note Mami-chan and Reiko-sama (non-vocally) explain the voice config, and Maina-chama explains the sound config.
WRT save games, the System File takes one block, and each save game takes one block. Unhappily, the game only allows up to seven save games per memory card. T_T The illust in the load/save game screen depends on whether the player's first save game is in an odd- or even-number slot. One column of the illust changes when the player saves game twice on one game day.
The first icon in the memory card, System File, is a coconut tree. The second is Yukie's head. (Unlike Sotsugyou Crossworld, the animated end-of-page marker in a Sotsugyou V screen isn't chara-specific.) The third is Kiyomi. Ach, I deleted the coconut tree icon by mistake, but the game reads the save games all right.
Game mechanics. IMO, Sotsugyou V is, as advertised, more of an adventure game than a ren'ai sim. Each game day is divided into four periods: morning, noon, afternoon, and evening/night. Each evening, the 15 gals and the protagonist have dinner together. Their seating at the tables seem to be random. (I agree with the game designer they could've named the island Harem. In fact, in the Sotsugyou V radio dramas, Furukawa Toshio (Ataru in UY) voices one of the Sotsugyou V characters, who's not the protagonist or the innkeeper, and probably isn't in the game.) The gals declare which Spots on the island they will go on the following day, but they don't define which period of the day they will go there. (Better begin an Excel file before a good strategy guide arrives.)
The island has 11 Spots. Counting clockwise from the inn, the Spots are: Beach, small island, coral reef, river mouth, river, cave, village, harbour, ruins, and lake. Though the protagonist begins at the inn, he can't go to the inn during the day, not even from the inn to the inn in the morning. (I'm calling the locations "Spots" because that's the term in Sotsugyou Crossworld and Sotsugyou V, not because I'm a 7-Up fan.)
At each Spot, the protagonist meets none to five gals. (Yes, "none," not "one." Eg, the protagonist finds no one and nothing at the River Mouth in the afternoon on 2 August.) One gal is in the middle of the screen, and small illusts of the other gals' heads are on the left and right sides of the screen, up to two gals per side. After the protagonist speaks with the gals, he may choose one of several replies. Each reply agrees with one gal's personality, or with no one's. After the player chooses one reply, the appropriate gal, if any, will react to the protagonist's reply. This presumably enhances the protagonist's friendship with that gal (see below). (My moe chara is of course Kiyomi (long story that goes back to about '83). Behind her is Megumi, then Mika-chan.)
"Otokoban no Kiyomi ka... Sorette sugosou." - Mika "Kiyomi-san tte, sonna ni sugoi no?" - Protagonist "Datte, Kiyomi wa..." - Mika "AHAHA, maa, ORE no koto nante dou datte ii ja nee ka." - KiyomiAfter the protagonist goes to three Spots in one day, he automatically returns to the inn. After dinner, he returns to his room, where the player can load/save game. Later in the game, at night, when the protagonist tries to sleep, he may meet one gal inside or outside the inn. These Events have voices. (Reminder: Sotsugyou series have some fan service (eg, Cindy's carnival costume in Sotsugyou Crossworld for SS), but they aren't Ecchi games. ^_^)
The "Now Loading" screen between scenario screens has a dreary black background. -_-# (Got used to admiring the jigsaw-puzzle illusts during the Voice Dramas in Sotsugyou Crossworld for SS.)
(BTW, don't ask me anything about Graduation for WIN95, the English version of Sotsugyou II: Neo Generation, from Mixx.)
Music effects (see below). Unlike the advertisement movie we can download from the SCEI official HP, the BGMs don't sound too Hawaiian.
Voice effects. As expected, only the prologue, events, and (probably) endings have voices. I'm confident the Sotsugyou Crossworld seiyuu know their trade. The three new seiyuu don't sound bad. AFAIK, their Sotsugyou V chara voices may differ from their Senti chara voices. (It's good that Yukie's short, or her braids will jab someone's eye.)
[Accha, this Sotsugyou V review is already longer than I predicted. I'll comment on the playability and replayability of this game, from a Sotsugyou series fan (at least one who's played Sotsugyou Crossworld) and a non-fan's viewpoints, and the mini-games, in the second part of this review. (Sounds like SRWF for SS.)]
Acknowledgement. Thanks to: Yoshimoto Hirohito, Shimizu Kenji, Nakano Yasuaki (for the kanji logo), Joe Petrow, Doi Hitoshi, Alan Liu, and the operator of the Tidewater Trans Am Club site (for recognising the vintage of Maki's Trans Am in Sotsugyou Crossworld as probably a late '80s Firebird Pro-Am).