Spoiler-free review in case anyone is actually interested in playing this decade old game.
Memories Off 2nd is pretty much a mediocre school drama visual novel centered around Inami Ken, a high school senior who likes soccer but quit the soccer team because they lost. He is currently dating Hotaru, but they become more distant due to her practicing for her piano competition and Ken meets some other girls. He can solve his problems with his girlfriend or ditch her and go for someone else. That’s basically it. Most of the routes are like some dragged out shoujo manga from a dude’s point of view, the music is forgettable (except for Minami-sensei’s theme), the art is dull and the character designs are boring. I don’t see why Memories Off became so popular, because it is a pretty mediocre game all around.
The story consists of generic school drama minus the humour in most generic school visual novels these days. Out of all the routes, the only ones that actually had twists were Megumi’s and Tsubame’s. The other ones either felt like forgettable shoujo manga or forgettable dramas. Stuff that no one cares to find because there’s 214234523 stories just like it. I’d recommend Tsubame’s and Hotaru’s routes because they’re the two mains (and you can branch off into Hotaru’s route from Tsubame’s since the events leading up to their routes are the same) and Megumi’s route because the end was a mind screw. Shizuru’s story was boring, and I don’t even see why Takano was even in the game at all other than to stuff in a tsundere that lacks the moe of one but retains the annoyingness. Tomoe’s route is a maybe since I actually like her character, but her story was predictable as hell.
Characters (links go to individual route summary):
Shirakawa Hotaru is Ken’s current girlfirend. She will misunderstand every time Ken talks with a girl, and vice versa. I finally got used to Hotaru and thought she was ok in her route because she suited Ken, but you may not.
Minami Tsubame is Ken’s summer school teacher who is always speaking in philosophical terms in a monotone voice. She actually left an impression on me because her theme song was nice, but it’s up to you whether you feel awkward going for a teacher.
Soma Megumi is the kouhai character who relies on Ken and has mood swings. Kouhais are usually not my type, but her story was interesting and will become mind-screwy for people who like that.
Shirakawa Shizuru is Hotaru’s older sister, but her route was a b0re and she didn’t have the onee-chan feel. Skippable.
Tobise Tomoe is Hotaru’s friend who you can choose to cheat on Hotaru with quite early. She’s a mild tomboy type who is able to chat with Ken easily and in a drama production. Her route is rather predictable and if you watch dramas you have probably seen it already.
Suzuna Takano is the man-hater who is pretty and good at swimming. The game could do without her.
The music is forgettable and the art uses extremely simple shading. The character designs are extremely dull and with the exception of Megumi who has grey hair, everyone else has black or dark brown hair. Dammit, this is galge! At least give the characters appealing designs if you’re gonna make a boring story!
Overall, I’d say that Memories Off 2nd is a mediocre galge. I don’t see what made it so popular as to have so many damn ports to different systems (latest being the PSP and iTouch). Most visual novels are supposed to have either erotic content or deep, emotional stories, but MemOff 2nd is simply pure high school romance where the drama doesn’t stirr up your emotions or keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s also completely clean and free of 18+ content. If lacking the above two, then galge should at least have a variety of cute and endearing girls that are good to look at. Memories Off 2nd consists of unappealing art and dull character designs. Maybe this was pretty good 10 years ago, but I don’t see why it’s still getting ported to PSP and iPod Touch in this day and age. Tokimeki Memorial got popular due to colorful designs and its dating sim gameplay where you have complete control over the main character, but I seriously don’t see the charm of Memories Off 2nd. Maybe the later games are better, but I’ll wait till later to play them if I ever decide to.