Visual Novel Spotlight: Love Pluson February 4, 2014 by Shadocchi
With Valentine’s Day only a week away, I take a look at the dating sim classic Love Plus. With three girls and practically your whole life ahead of you, Love Plus offers you eternal high school girlfriend bliss as the game transitions from everyday dating sim to every day relationship simulator.
As I Love Japanese Games said in a previous post, Love Plus is an easy and only slightly creepy glimpse into dating sims, not unlike the Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side series. Most well known for that one guy who got married to one of the characters, Love Plus follows your high school journey as you study, improve yourself and date one of three girls. Once you decide to pursue the sisterly figure Nene, clingy Manaka or your moody underclassman Rinko and pass 100 blissful days, you get to enter permanent relationship mode where you can switch into dating your video game character of choice in real time. This includes scheduling dates and shouting garbled Japanese into the Nintendo DS microphone.
Perhaps because Love Plus is so hugely popular or because I’m not quite a dating sim veteran, Love Plus plays like any dating sim you’d expect. You increase your stats over time by scheduling your activities throughout the day and succeed or fail based on slight chance (and thankfully not a fatigue or stress stat). Each day gives you a chance to interact with a girl, whether it be while working at the local restaurant, playing tennis with your club or lurking the library after school. As you pick choices that your girl likes and send them messages, you grow close enough to take them on dates and eventually get to touch them.
What’s interesting about Love Plus is that after the stat grinding and sucking up, you’re locked into a permanent relationship that lasts forever. You can speed things up by entering Skip Mode and playing like you have been for the whole time, or you can enter the challenges of Real-Time Mode where if you’re not playing your DS at 1.30 Tuesday afternoon, your girlfriend will be mad at you. There’s nothing quite like returning to your DS to find your virtual girlfriend telling you how mad she is or ignoring your messages. There’s also nothing quite like the Love+ mode where you can talk to your virtual girlfriend and have her answer simple questions. Of course, there are also times in the game when your girl will want to hear your sweet words of affection no matter where you are. You’ll tell her you love her, even on the public bus home, right?
One of the other things you’ve probably heard about Love Plus is the ability to touch your virtual girlfriend with the DS stylus. Certainly, you can poke her eye or grope her chest, but the Love Plus girls are pure and will only respond to gentle stylus strokes in general areas. No boob groping, skirt flipping simulator for you. Of course, if your DS is mis-calibrated, like mine, it can feel like playing Surgeon Simulator where your simple hand holding gestures turn into a punch in the butt. It’s also really hard to judge which girls like to be poked where and can kind of ruin dates if you’ve got clumsy hands.
“But that’s not the important part!” you might say. “What about the girls themselves? I’m not here to just to perv on little girls.” Each of the Love Plus girls have their own personality, ranging from warm and comfortable, to distanced, clingy or kind-of-friendly. While option points can be terribly repetitive, each girl has an incredible amount of (voiced) dialogue options, keeping the many walks home and dates new. Unfortunately, new dialogue is about the only thing you can look forward to, as besides the rare jealousy encounters and main game story, the endgame is mostly repeated stat grinding text, re-used text messages and the same options. It seems that more content was added in the updated Love Plus + game, just not in this one.
Love Plus is a fine dating sim that allows you to get a bit more intimate with your chosen girl. In addition to enjoying the main game’s story, you can enter into a permanent endgame relationship with one of the girls, where you schedule dates and talk in real time. While these options can feel like a gimmick over time, and the repetition of everything besides dialogue makes it dull, the girl’s personalities and the feeling of being in a relationship lasts for years.
Love Plus is available for Nintendo DS, although there’s no official English release of the title.