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Doushin - Same Heart

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Doushin - Same Heart
Released By: Peach Princess
Released: 5/24/06
Reviewed: 5/5/07

 

Intro
 
        Today I'm taking a look at one of the more innovative games to be released in this country within the last few years.
 
Story
 
        In this game from Peach Princess (created and released in Japan by Crowd) you are in control of the Sugura sisters. The three sisters are made up of the oldest Ryoko who works in an office, then there's the next oldest Maki who is the loud mouthed trouble maker and the youngest Miho who is the studious withdrawn sister. What makes these three sisters unique is that ever since they were children and their parents died, the sisters have shared a special psychic link with each other… whatever one sister is feeling, the other two will feel as well. Naturally this applies to everything which means that if one sister is getting turned on or aroused, the other two are going to feel that exact same thing no matter where they are or what they're doing.
 
Throughout this game you will control the sisters over a period of five days and live through all their triumphs and defeats (and trust me, there will be a TON of defeats) and help lead them towards happiness or heartbreak.
       
Artwork
 
        There are lots of things to enjoy about the artwork in this game but the first thing that really stood out for me was that Crowd decided to move away from the simple still frames that most games have these days and instead added some very little animations such as the characters blinking. It's really such a little thing but it really does make a huge difference in terms of bringing the characters to life.
 
        The hentai level for this game is fairly average with many (if not most) of the hentai scenes being with male characters taking females against their will through emotional manipulation or brute force which I found to be a major turn off for me. I've never been a fan of games that make use of this and I really wish that they would stop but sadly they wouldn't keep making games with this added into the storyline if there wasn't a market for it.
 
        The character designs are nice though which is good. The first character that I was drawn to was the oldest sister Ryoko though I also though that Miho was very well designed. Maki isn't my favorite character design but since she is more the athlete tomboy of the three, her design makes sense. The male characters were designed well (besides 99% of them being lecherous criminals) and I did like that the creators paid attention to other small details such as the evil looks that the male characters would have on their face or in their eyes when they intended to do something evil and perverted.  
 
Translation
 
        There aren't a lot of good things to say about the translation in this game sadly enough. I will say that if I really wanted to choose one good thing to say about the translation though it would be something that I saw during the opening sequence. During the opening animation sequence I had to laugh at the credit that said 'Voices by: Japanese people - duh' joke. Such a stupid joke but well placed!
 
        After that though, the translation became an absolute chore and made this game a terrible experience to get through. As soon as I started I immediately began seeing issues with text being cut off and symbols placed within sentences instead of letters as well as spacing problems, especially with names. On almost every single screen letters and words were running into each other or overlapping which made the game twice as hard to play through because I was constantly having to pause and re-read a sentence to make sure that I had seen it properly.
 
        Then I saw even more issues with redundancy such as "Did you remember to record yesterday's 10 o clock drama yesterday?"
 
        Naturally this is all because Japanese and English are such vastly different languages. Kanji characters take up much less screen space than English words but I really think that there could've been better ways to handle this problem such as moving the words further to the left in the text box or even just re-doing the sentences so that they weren't quite so long. This obviously would've drawn complaints from the crowd that actually speaks Japanese and want to see accurate translations that stay true to what the characters are saying but in this case if I had to choose between the two options, I seriously would've preferred the option of re-done translations rather than accuracy. It would've made for a much better gaming experience.
 
Writing and Story
 
        I will admit that the story is very innovative and engaging. Never before has this idea been done and so it was a very innovative approach. I really liked the idea and I hope that other games in the future will take this approach and really change the atmosphere of these games.
 
        Sadly this is where the writing really stops being that good. One thing in particular that I like about these games is when the characters get to hook up with male characters that aren't such losers. I like seeing likeable male characters that you want to see hook up with the likeable female character(s) so that you can cheer them towards a happy ending. In this case though the male characters are almost entirely made up of complete jerks and evil letches which is annoying to absolutely no end.
 
        Another small complaint that I can't help but make is that the sound effects could've been labeled better. It's normal for sound effects to be labeled for clarity since it's not always easy to tell what sound effect is being made but in this case they were just done poorly which made the game even more of a chore.
 
        I did like how the game is written in a way that really reflects modern Japanese culture and attitudes towards things like work and life. I read about Japanese life constantly (though I am not calling myself an expert) through various blogs and so the things I did like that this game painted something that I felt was at least slightly accurate. While the American audience may not be able to relate as well, I'm sure that the Japanese audience at least related a bit to the sisters and their constant plights including the parts of the game where things like suicide and sexual assault are mentioned.
 
Bad Points
 
        One thing that I found to be a huge annoyance that once again could've been easily fixed was that you can't adjust music volume and so it completely overwhelms the vocal tracks unless you turn it off which I ended up doing before too long. The music in this game is well done and I enjoyed listening to it but if I am going to be playing this game for hours on end, it's going to be repetitive and if I have to choose between listening to the same music loop over and over again or listening to the voice actors, I'm always going to choose the voice actors.
 
        I also found that the new innovation in this game really took some getting used to. Because of the switching from character to character, it's easy to get lost when you switch because they will talk about things that happened to them leaving you wondering what you missed when you were with one of the other sisters.
 
Replay Value
       
        Playing three sisters really makes for a challenge since you're always afraid that you're missing something good with the other sisters. The first time I played through this game I had to start over within an hour because I switching so constantly I got completely confused by all the intersecting storylines and it was then that I realized that even though you have the power to switch constantly if you so choose, less is really more here and I know that many players of this game are going to have to realize that on their own as well.
 
        There are 28 endings and so there are plenty of reasons to go back and play through if you find that you enjoyed it after the first go through. The first ending I got to though really soured me on this game though and so I'm still debating on how badly I want to see some of the better endings and hope that I find something a bit happier.  
 
Overall
 
        This game received a lot of comments from fans and critics alike when it was first released in the states about a year ago. Peach Princess and some of its affiliates absolutely raved about this game and really hyped it as the best game in years to be released and so I became absolutely excited about the game and obsessed with obtaining it and playing it. Now that I've finally obtained it and played it though, I feel completely disappointed. The heroines of this game are likable but the struggles they go through, their reactions and the people around them make this a game that I didn't enjoy. Add in the problems with translation, writing and music and you have a very unpleasant gaming experience.
 
        If you can get past the writing and translation issues, there is a decent game here but it's certainly not anything like I was expecting and in the end, I feel just very let down. More experienced H-Gamers might find something here worth their time but beginners will be absolutely overwhelmed at its complexity and time commitment.
 
        I'm not wild about this game and I really think that you could do much better but as I've said, it's worth at least looking at. If you don't like it right away though, chances are it's not going to get any better as you go on.
 
Final Grade: 71% - C
 



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