The latest installment of the once-popular dating sim (the craze seems to have died down, for the boy’s side, at least), Tokimeki Memorial 4 takes place over the protagonist’s 3 years of high school and features 12 capturable heroines–9 normal heroines and 3 secret characters. The main point of the game is to raise your stats, ask girls out, and make one of them confess to you under the legendary tree on the day of your graduation. There may be light subplots in some of the girls’ stories, but other than that there isn’t much story. It’s all about you and your high school life. Drama is on the light side, so this is a fluffly romance pure love game. And by pure love, I mean really pure. Like how high school students today are not.
I was crazy over this game a few months ago and got 9 out of the 12 heroines. A pretty impressive feat for me when it comes to dating sims. I never usually go for all clear when it comes to TokiMemo. I usually only go for the characters I like at first sight when it comes to dating sims, but I actually got most of the TM4 heroines. I wanted to go for all-clear, but towards the end I started playing other games and lost my drive to get the remaining three girls.
This is a menu-based stat-raising dating sim so most of the time you’ll be selecting your command for each week. The commands in the “command circle” are Humanities (raise humanities stat), Science (raise science stat), Art (raise art stat), Charm (raise charm), Sports (raise sports stat), Club Activity (if you have not entered a club, choosing this will let you enter a club, otherwise you do you club activity. You can also quit your club), Rest (decrease stats, but improve body condition), System (Save, Load, Options), and Status (see your items and equipped skills). Using stat-raising commands can also lower some other stats, so balance is key to succeeding at this game.
Other than raising the stats that the girl likes, you will also have to go on dates with her. AKA go spam her with phone calls and go on dates with her as often as possible. Just make sure your body condition isn’t too bad, and keep going on dates. Most of them went to Tokimeki status before the summer of the second year when I went on a date every two weeks. Since this is a very repetitive process (do it for 3 years! Although you can relax more when the girl is at Tokimeki), it’ll only be enjoyable when going after a girl you like. Tokimeki Memorial 4 is very old-fashioned, so despite introducing new things to the series, it doesn’t get as popular as some dating sims with a more modern feel like Love Plus. The 3-year span and repetitive process only feels worth it for a girl you like. There will always be that time during the 3rd year where you already got all the CGs, the girl is at full heart, you’re rich and have high stats, and there is absolutely nothing for you to do other than wait until graduation.
Overall, I’d say that it’s easy to lose motivation for an all-clear. Even if the gameplay is fun at the beginning, the repetition will feel draggy after a few playthroughs. This is especially evident when going for girls that you don’t feel love for. They did introduce skill trees, which is new to the series and has many different effects.
“You (ordinary teenage boy) just entered Kirameki Hig School. Do what you want with your high school life and maybe get a confession under the school’s Legendary Tree.” That’s about it. The game is more about character interaction than plot, honestly. There are varying levels of subplots depending on who you go for, but most of them are just “watch as the girl starts liking you.” If you want an exciting plot, a touching story that will make you cry, or deep drama, then you won’t be able to find any in TokiMemo 4.
Where Tokimeki Memorial 4–and I daresay, all dating sims–shines. There’s 9 regular girls and 3 secret girls to choose from, covering almost all galge steretoypes. Unless you just don’t care for ordinary anime high school girls, you’re bound to find one that strikes your fancy.
Here are the girls:
Hoshikawa Maki – energetic main girl who is ordinary at everything but tries her best at school.
Godo Tsugumi – Tsundere meganekko who is overprotective of her best friend, Maki. Loves books, but hates sports.
Ryukoji Kai – A tough delinquent who is good at fighting, but also scores very high on exams. She is actually an ojou-sama from a high-class family, but is trying to rebel. Her route is more interesting since her two good endings differ more significantly instead of the usual “she confesses/you decide to confess” ends. I liked going for her a lot.
Koriyama Aki – Mature onee-san type who is also a bit playful. She is one year your senior, and holds an interest in science and health. There isn’t much specific plot for her, but I still liked her the best because onee-san is *w* I went for her first, and failed several times OTL.
Yanagi Fumiko – Airheaded cheerful girl who belongs to the broadcast club. She’s got big boobs compared to her height and has two CG events where she falls on top of you XD Her ending was funny, but I didn’t feel much for her.
Kyono Rhythmy – Music genius who is also a kuudere. She went dere too fast though, so I found her really dull instead. I like girls with more challenge, or at least more difference between normal/friendship/Tokimeki states.
Maeda Itsuki – Bokkuko who loves soccer. I didn’t go for her yet.
Elisa Dolittle Naruse – Half foreigner born in Japan. She’s in the kendo club and comes to Kirameki in the second year. Speaks with an accent, which can be either annoying or cute. I didn’t go for her either.
Satsuki Yuu – Student council president, school idol, good at everything, etc. Generally considered the most difficult girl to get. Is very much like Shiori from TokiMemo 1 in terms of looks and difficulty. I didn’t go for her yet.
Okura Miyako – A “secret” character hidden in plain sight. She is the protagonist’s childhood friend, and the “information character.” She will give you the girls’ phone numbers and affection levels when you call her. You can also ask her for a date, but she won’t accept it until you ask 13 times. After that, you can call her regularly like any girl. She is a yandere, and will go into her yan state when she’s supposed to be at friendship level. At that time, if you go on a date with any other girl, you will have to fight a evil bunny. She is the favorite girl for many otaku, and it’s easy to see why.
Mizuki Haruna – The most “secret” secret character. You don’t even see her face until the very end. She attends your school at night and works at a bakery during the day. She sits in your seat at night school and left her diary there. You pick it up, and you two start a diary exchange. She is the only underclassman in the game.
Nanakawa Rui – She is Tadashi’s (one of your males friends) older twin sister, and she sometimes pretends to be him to attend Kirameki High. You can date her after calling Tadashi a number of times and catching her after school several times. I had fun going for her too, since she is an otaku.
The music is mostly atmospheric, and suits the game. Each girls has her own themesong that plays when you two are on a date. I’m pretty neutral towards the soundtracks except for Miyako’s theme, which is really nice. I’ve also fallen in love with the catchy opening song.
It doesn’t take long to see that Konami has put a lot of effort into the graphics. The game uses beautiful CGs, in a cell-shaded style that looks readily adaptable into anime format. The backgrounds are beautiful and detailed, and the character sprites have small movements such as blinking eyes, well-synced moving lips, slight head tilts and they even look like they’re breathing due to the subtle animation in the chest area! As expected, from the company that gave us Love Plus. I didn’t like the art style when I first saw screenshots and trailers because the girls looked masculine, but the in-game sprites are nicer and the chibis are adorable. Everything looks very clean and natural, and they even added extra shadows when there’s a tree in the background to make the feeing of standing under a tree’s shadows more realistic. Each girl has many different outfits – three for each season (depends on affection level) + two swimsuits (normal/friend + Tokimeki) + yukata + New Year’s kimono + sometimes school swimsuit + snow gear + summer & winter school uniforms…I was truely impressed with the graphics.
A beautiful, full-voiced game. There’s many girls to choose from, and although the character designs may look plain at first, it is easy to get used to them. The gameplay will need some getting used to if you’re familiar with more recent dating sims, since the Tokimemo series take place in much larger timespans. There is practically no plot at all, so this is a game only for those who like the girls. It will be fun going for a girl you like, but boring when you go for someone you don’t care about at all.
Character preference: Aki > Miyako > Kai > Rui > Tsugumi > Maki > Fumiko > Haru-chan > Rhythmy (Itsuki, Elisa and Yuu left out since I never went for them)