The Tokimeki Memorial series began by giving people a chance to follow a young man enjoying his high school years, falling in love with many of his female classmates. As it grew in popularity, its scope did as well. Soon, Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side was giving people a chance to follow a young woman in a similar situation as she sought love with many of her male classmates. It’s reached a point where, since 2007, most Tokimeki Memorial games are part of or related to the Girl’s Side line. The otomes have taken over, and for good reason. It can be easy to fall in love with these romantic life sims.
How does Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side work?
Glad you asked! (Let’s pretend you asked?) The Tokimeki Memorial series is a line of life simulations where players go through three years of high school as a student, setting up a schedule, working at a part-time job and getting close to other characters. In the Girl’s Side line, you’re a young woman who attempts to balance schoolwork, an after-school activity, a job, friendships and a possible romantic relationship all at once.
Each week in Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side begins with you determining a schedule. You choose which activities to focus on, deciding if it’s time to study, paint, attend your club, exercise, look at fashion magazines, work on your makeup, spend time with a friend, or sleep. Each one influences your character’s parameters, improving some and decreasing others. Every potential bachelor in the game has a certain “type,” which means you need to improve those stats to catch his eye. They also like certain clothing styles, which means saving money from jobs to get the right shirts, pants, skirts, dresses and accessories are also quite important. As is saving a little extra cash for special outfits for certain events or gifts for special occasions.
Relationships are quite a tricky thing in Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side. Almost every installment has you balancing friendships with female students alongside potential relationships with male ones. Each girl has a crush on a particular boy, and getting too close to him will upset her. Likewise, each boy could get jealous of your relationship with the other guys. This means you can only really befriend the women who aren’t interest in the man you’re chasing. It might also mean occasionally going on a date with a boy you aren’t interested in to defuse a “bomb” and keep everyone happy. If a “bomb” goes off, your efforts will be ruined and you probably won’t get a happy ending with the guy of your dreams after graduation.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 1st Love
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side was the first entry in the series, originally appearing on the PlayStation 2 in 2002. It’s since received three additional ports, appearing on the Nintendo DS as both Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 1st Love and Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 1st Love Plus.
Each version follows a young woman returning to the town of Habataki to attend Hatabaki High School. As a little girl, she played with a boy in a church and loved a story about a prince and princess that were forced to part. She had to leave town, but comes home as the game begins. Now that she’s back, she has a chance of finding that prince again. She can fall in love with a model classmate named Kei, the studious Sakuya, the athletic Kazuma, the playboy Madoka, the artistic Shiki, the underclassman Wataru, her homeroom teacher, and the school’s chairman of the board. Chiharu is available as a secret bachelor, only unlocked via repeated shopping trips and Jin is an additional bachelor added to the DS ports.
The DS version of Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side is notable for a newly added feature that not only changed the Tokimeki Memorial series, but also influenced Konami’s Love Plus line. Skinship mode allows players to touch their date’s face and upper body on dates, with different sorts of touches offering different results. For example, touching the boy’s lips at a certain point in the game will cause him to register it as a kiss. Using a stylus to brush his hair is akin to running your hands through his hair.
Portable versions of this game also instituted a Best Friends mode with the men. If you attempt to pursue two boys at the same time, it’s possible to trigger a best friend ending with one, rather than a platonic relationship. This can happen after the first boy rejects the heroine.
As an aside, this first Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side game has inspired a number of spin-offs. In 2004, people could improve their typing skills on Windows PCs with Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 1st Love Typing. They could also get out their phones and play Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side Taisen Puzzle Dama.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Kiss
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Kiss debuted as a PlayStation 2 game in 2006, before coming to the DS as Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Season in 2008.
Still set in Habataki, this time the heroine is attending Hanegasaki High School. The legend this time involves a mermaid who had to part with a human she loved. The heroine was very shy as a child and heard the story from a boy at a lighthouse. Naturally, circumstances forced them to part. But now she’s back! As you go through your school life, you can pursue the all-around great guy Saeki, the quiet Shiba, the studious Hikami, the musical Harry, the younger Amachi, your homeroom teacher or a college student named Masaki. Akagi, a student from Habataki High, is the secret character this time around.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 2nd Seasons’ special features are quite similar to the ones found in 1st Love. Two new characters are added, allowing the heroine to romance Komori and Majima when certain conditions are met. Skinship is also added to the game, which lets people get touchy-feely with bachelors again.
Like Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side, the sequel also received a spin-off. Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2nd Kiss Typing was released on PCs in 2007, allowing people to fall in love through the power of typing.
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 3rd Story
Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side: 3rd Story is the first entry in the series whose roots weren’t planted on the PlayStation 2. It first appeared on the DS in 2010, before coming to the PlayStation Portable as Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side Premium 3rd Story in 2012.
Hey, guess what? The third game is set in Habataki too! It heads back to Habataki High School, the setting of the first game. The heroine used to always play with two brothers in a garden next to the church on the school’s grounds. Before she moved, the three decided to heed a legend that said primroses were blessed by fairies and would grant wishes. When the young woman returns, she quickly reunites with the brothers, Ruka and Kouichi, and has the opportunity to romance them, the sporty Arashi, the fashionable Junpei, the kind Tamao, the rich Seiji, or her homeroom teacher. There are three secret characters in the DS version, Taiyou, Kenta, and Shuugo, and the PSP version also adds Tatsuya.
This entry really shakes things up, when it comes to the Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side formula. Fashion is handled differently, as there aren’t set pieces of clothing for each style. You can mix and match to create your own looks that fall into certain categories. You also don’t have to worry about female friends working against you, as you have two best friends named Miyo and Karen. They’ll always be on your side and help you out. There are also love triangle systems, where you can trigger 3P modes. In one, you can date both Ruka and Kouichi, Arashi and Junpei, or Tamao and Seiji at the same time. In the other, you can cause the pairs of guys to fight over your character.
What does the future hold?
Unfortunately, there’s no sign of a Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 4. The last known game in this series was a spin-off known as Tokimeki Restaurant. It was only available on Android and iOS devices. Players would run a restaurant in Habataki. In addition to making and servicing various meals and running the shop, it’s also possible to socialize with six singers from the groups 3 Majesty and X.I.P. The closer you get to them by serving food they like and completing quests, the more events you can unlock with them. Unfortunately, it’s only available in Japan and, since it’s been four years since its release, it isn’t being localized.