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Review of Doukyuusei

SubjectDoukyuusei
Doukyuusei Remake - Download Edition
ByVote: 8quof on 2021-02-26 last updated on 2021-03-10
ReviewDoukyuusei Remake - MILF Hunting Simulator

Doukyuusei is one of those legendary games alongside Tokimeki Memorial that are often mentioned in discussions of visual novel history, but remain largely unplayed by the western community due to a lack of available translations. For this reason I think there are quite a few misconceptions about what kind of game Doukyuusei is, and foremost among them is the idea that it's a dating simulator. In reality, it's actually... a nanpa simulator. (I.e. cat calling, flirting, etc). Even the title "Doukyuusei" is pretty unrepresentative of the game, since only 3 of the heroines are in your grade, and 9 of the heroines are adult women (many of whom you cat-call on the street).

The fundamental game flow of Doukyuusei involves the player character attempting to flirt with and make romantic progress with *every single heroine* in the game at once. If you try to focus on one or even two, then you will generally find yourself stalled early on because you need progress with X girl to unlock a flag for another girl. It's thus why I say that calling it a dating simulator is incorrect: what you're doing isn't working on romancing and dating a single girl, what you're doing is flirting and nanpa-ing every single girl in the game at once, then picking your favorite at the end.

With this in mind, Doukyuusei is interesting and a lot of fun in ways that most modern VNs are not. There's no suffocating conception of "pure love" forcing heroines or events down a narrow tube - some of the heroines have boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, and one is even a flat-out prostitute. The same goes for the protagonist, since you could easily call out his feelings as being "fake" because he's skirt-chasing 14 girls at once, but he actually has a fairly clever response in game to that - in the moment, he loves whichever girl he's speaking to the most. What a beautiful ideal.

Another quite interesting aspect is that, as mentioned, 9 of the heroines are adult women, and quite a number of heroines have boyfriends or are non-virgins. One is even a married woman. But this is all treated so maturely it can actually make you double-take: this game came out before 処女厨 (people obsessed with virgins) really became a thing, so the protagonist doesn't even comment on some of the girls having lost their virginity already. It's treated a completely normal thing that doesn't impact their relationship in the slightest (although drama involving ex-boyfriends might come into play). In a way it's kind of like taking a glimpse into an alternate reality where VN readers aren't supremely sensitive about virginity and restrictive ideas of "pure" love, and personally I quite liked it. A lot of moments in Doukyuusei felt more real to life and in-depth than other VNs which are restricted to a fantasy land of all girls saving their virginity for MC-kun.

All in all Doukyuusei remains interesting and even refreshing despite being such an ancient game. Each heroine is pretty entertaining, and it's hard to get bored while juggling all 14 of them at once. You're always jumping from new scene to scene at a rapid-fire pace. The art looks gorgeous in the remake and it's absolutely filled with CGs - one date to an amusement park has around 8 high-quality CGs dedicated to just it. Truly incredible.

But indeed, it's only the remake that has gorgeous Sumeragi art. How does the Remake compare to the original? Well, I haven't played the original, but I have played the original PC98 version of Doukyuusei 2, so I can provide a bit of insight. I think if one really loves the PC98 aesthetic (visuals and music) then there is value in playing the original, but outside of that niche the remake seems to be the definite way to play. Everything is easy to play, smooth, high resolution (native 1080p), etc.

Gameplay-wise the Remake has a casual and classic mode, with casual mode being on by default. To be frank, casual mode absolutely fucks the game design up the ass. It shows you the flags for each girl in a calender and lets you warp to the events at will. This smashes the core structure of the game to bits and it just doesn't work well - a lot of the events are intended for you to stumble across by chance, for example, or piece together how to unlock, but in casual mode you just zip around from event to event. It fucks the immersion completely and actually breaks some really basic aspects of the game too. One of the protagonist's male friends accosts him the first time he leaves the school, but due to this warping you can go literally the entire game without leaving the school normally. An event intended to happen on Day 1 for every player to introduce a character can be missed for the entire game. That's how fundamentally casual mode breaks the game.

That said, visual novels have gotten more linear for a reason. It's quite difficult and even annoying to "beat" the game on classic mod. You have to make notes about where people are and make a schedule of your own so you can fit the puzzle pieces together and make a "god route" where in you get all the girls at once, or at least most of them. Along the way you'll be frequently confused as to what to do or why you suddenly aren't able to make process with a girl (nine times out of ten, you need to do events with an entirely unrelated girl). A significant amount of your time with the game will be aimless wandering.

So would I recommend casual or classic? It depends entirely on your goals with the game. If you don't mind the dissonance that results from warping and the "game" part of Doukyuusei breaking down, then Casual mode is perfectly fine. You will blast through the entire game in about 10 hours of focused reading, and it's impossible to get bored with things moving so quickly. However, if you want to get the most out of the game, immerse yourself, really simulate the nanpa like God intended, then classic mode is a must. You just may not enjoy a lot of that time. Personally I think most people will have a notably better time on casual, but whatever works for you is best.

As a side note, the short epilogues for each heroine ended up being one of my favourite parts of the game. They go beyond just showing a "happy ending" (so to speak) and show the different ways that different relationships would have developed. Each feels very unique from the others and does a good job of giving the characters some final conclusive development before the send off. Some of them really get your imagination running filling in the blanks of what happened before/after what you see, which is always something I love to see in a stories.

Anyway, in conclusion, I liked the Doukyuusei remake a lot more than I expected. I had a ton of fun and the gorgeous art never stopped being a feast for the eyes. It's lacking in substance compared to modern VNs, but it offers great entertainment and I think is very worth playing for modern VN gamers. It remains interesting despite its age. The only major flaw could be considered how difficult it is to see all the content, but thanks to casual mode if you consider that a flaw then you can make it go away at will, so it all works out.

Just know you're getting into a nanpa simulator, not a dating simulator, and that it's a bit insubstantial from a modern perspective. It took me one day of reading to finish.

Comments

#1 by vninfohata
2021-02-26 at 18:12
< report >Speedy quof
#2 by mrkew
2021-02-26 at 19:27
< report >You didn't talk about the length of the H-scenes mr. Queef. Obviously you didn't use them otherwise you'd die after speedreading through the whole thing, but you can post a sentence or two about them.
#3 by tsumori
2021-03-01 at 00:10
< report >Some of them might be different in the Windows/Remake version, but the original DOS/PC-98 version also had ED sequences with unique CGs for each of the heroines.
#4 by ithoo
2021-03-03 at 22:19
< report >This is a really good review.
I would like to add the enormous weight the protagonist has in questioning the player's actions at some points, where he makes certain comparisons with other characters in the cast to make you wonder if it is "ethical" to do something in a given situation (Subtly makes you show real concern for the heroines).

Do you know if there is a game similar to doukyuusei/Kakyuusei in terms of freedom?
#5 by ecchihieronymus
2021-03-04 at 08:00
< report >That fourth paragraph touched my soul. I've been one of those zealots only 1 to 1 1/2 years ago. I see this behavior from other people today and it's sooo sad.

On the other hand, most of my WL is a MILF-Hunter's paradise now. Thanks for the in-depth no-spoiler review. Definitely know that I made the right decision in wishlisting it.