Foreword: Wow, this game was fairly long too! It’s either that or I was too caught up in playing MMOs recently that took me so long to finish it, and becomes my excuse for not being active in this community in a while.
Let’s get right to the review! With a title which doesn’t even mean anything in a different language, I don’t even know what the heck the reasoning is for naming this game “Hapymaher”. Nonetheless, it’s pretty unique and ya’know…
I’ll be honest: I think they named it because of the term “Happy Nightmare” (はぴーないとめあ), and the first two/last two letters were taken to form “Hapymaher” (はぴめあ)
So apparently, there are a lot of good ratings for this game, but I can’t really see it as such: it was average (5/10) at best, and full of weird psychology that doesn’t make sense. For the reference, I do plan on including spoilers on this review, because that’ll help me explain myself a bit better. (So sucks for you if you don’t want them *evil laugh here*)
And sorry that I’ve been inactive recently! I’ve gotten back into playing MMOs recently, and right now I’m in Tennessee for a family vacation. I’ll be back on August 4th or 5th, so see you then!
Please note that the following review contains INTENTIONAL spoilers! Read at your own risk!
Title: Hapymaher (ハピメア)
Producers: Purple Software
Release Date: February 28, 2013
VNDB Link: http://vndb.org/v10957
Getchu Link: http://www.getchu.com/soft.phtml?id=753262
Game Type: Psychological Novel with themes of Dreams and Reality
Summary: Tooru is a student who has a problem of seeing a lucid dream whenever he sleeps. This dream is often staged a long time ago when he was unable to bring his younger sister out of the forest, and always resulted him coming out of the forest alone with no one behind him, even when he was holding his sister’s hand tightly.
Now this dream is repeated so many times that Tooru becomes tired of it. Being able to remember every single detail of his dream, along with the fact that Lucid Dreams are dreams where the user has conscience within it, this kind of problem has gotten him into hospitals, consultations, and even to the point of taking drugs when he sleeps.
Nonetheless, one day, a dream becomes different. Instead of the usual forest, he is placed into a fancy room with snacks on the table and tea in a pot. A girl appears to him and calls herself “Alice”, who claims that she will save him from his nightmares. This, however, won’t happen until three people around Tooru becomes involved…
What is Maia planning? Will Tooru ever get to rest in peace? But most of all, is this a dream or reality? Such questions haunt all the characters as they are dragged one after another into dreams.
Story Length: Moderately Long (30 hours)
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderate
Comments: So the game is split up into various parts with differing stories depending on the heroine. As a general rule of thumb, you should aim for the three heroines first, and then Alice, then Maia… which is really short anyways (this is the order I finished the game in, without a walkthrough)
Character Design Rating: 6/10
Story Rating: 5/10
Protagonist Rating: 2/10
Game Quality: Moderate
Overall Rating: 5/10
Rating Comments: So pretty much a “meh” game, this stems mostly from the “convenient factors” that the game uses all over the place……… pretty much in every single route. Characters themselves are pretty lovable, but after a while, even their actions become a bit repetitive (such as Saki’s jealousy). I admit though: I really appreciated the characters not disappearing even when you get into a heroine’s route. In a sense, the flow and pacing of this game was excellent.
One of the most memorable scenes when the young Saki literally slaps Tooru with the truth of Maia’s Death
The protagonist on the other hand, wasn’t worth much. Pretty much your normal protagonist with simply a problem with lucid dreams and a trauma in the past, the only good thing about him according to the heroines was that he “takes care of others even before himself”. Even this trait is limited to girls, and on top of his worthlessness, he has a severe sister complex.
Character Summary: I guess this is where most of the spoilers will be, so I hope you’re prepared for it!
As the first heroine I cleared, it’s definitely not because Yayoi is, quoting the characters in game, “金髪巨乳” (a blonde with large breasts), but because she is actually aiming to become a pharmacist, just like I am right now in real life. She is the person who actually smuggles illegal sleep aids into Japan and gives them to Tooru in exchange for his time. Being half European and half Japanese, the game introduces this character to be very intelligent.
However, one of Yayoi’s traits is that she has a double personality: one which is kind and respectful in front of everyone, and her real self which she only shows to people like Tooru. This personality directly relates to her past where she was always left out because of her physical differences and the pains of being near her “family” which wasn’t even her real family.
This soon causes the girl to wonder about the world of dreams, when she is also dragged into the mess by Maia, and transforms into a Super-Yayoi as she takes Maia’s power to control dreams. She plans to create an ideal dream where she’ll run away with Tooru, but as we all know, that’s probably not going to work out well.
Much of Yayoi’s route is relatively decent, except that it was way too convenient during the climax. It involves Tooru having to drag Yayoi back to reality before a time limit using the memories he had with Yayoi, and the game suddenly introduces a scene unknown to the readers, aka “when we met even before we met”. Way. Too. Convenient.
The next is Keiko, who is voiced by Aoba Ringo, but her voice was more of the “I’m always annoyed” type instead of the loli that I wanted to hear. With all my preferences aside, though, Keiko is shown in the beginning to be playing a guitar as shown above, which attracts Tooru for some reason. This causes the boy to invite the kouhai that he met only twice into his room during a rain when Keiko forgot the keys to her house.
This becomes the trigger for Keiko to become involved with the group, and the reader gets a comical relief at this point where Saki knocks Tooru over when she hears that Keiko is sleeping in his room.
Keiko is a character who seems to shine more outside of her route, as she is always the one who pushes Tooru into acting when he’s pretty much too scared to do something. Even in her route, she gets sucked into her “ideal dream” where she’s all by herself, and doesn’t do anything until the climax of the route, where she confronts someone who she hates with a passion: her father.
Next is Saki, an adorable character who seems to be head over heels in love with Tooru to the point she rejects every love letter she receives in school. Even when she calls Tooru “nii-san”, they’re actually not related, and there’s a reason for her to do this.
Saki’s route was most interesting for me, in the sense that it involves the solution of Tooru’s trauma being solved completely, which actually connects with how Saki herself has the same trauma as well. Maia becomes an antagonist in this route, and while the route itself kinda sucks (to be perfectly honest), the layout of the characters and how Saki/Tooru reacts in response to Maia was something I found to be favorable.
It even becomes a bonus after the reader realizes what Maia was planning on doing
Despite this, Saki herself was a relatively annoying character, as she suddenly changes from “I love nii-san” to “I need to keep my distance from nii-san” (during the climax) within her route so rapidly, and her reasoning for the change doesn’t seem to be valid. Then the game never explains why she was in love with him except “Well, they’re childhood friends”
Right let’s move on to Alice (on the left). As the game’s opening shows, this character has something up her sleeve. I mean… the last scenes of the movie involve her eyes glowing red! (for the reference, such effect occurs when there’s absolutely no light to reflect off her face, and even her eyes are not “true light”), and her ability to “cut down roses” in the common route gives the impression that this character has something special. Even during the story, it explains that Alice can’t remember who she is in reality (since she is present only in dreams), and one of the scenes in Saki’s route involves her directly confronting Maia.
With all the factors that point to Alice’s identity, a hospital scene shown in Keiko’s route, as well as the “blue sky” that’s shown in other routes all connect with her true self, who is a character named Toriomi, a frail girl who gave up on life and is running away to her dreams.
Then the game bitchslaps the reader with the “Oh, all the other routes you just saw? THEY’RE ALL DREAMS HAHAHAHAHAHA!!” and then wakes up Tooru to find that Saki is relatively passive towards him and Keiko doesn’t have any idea who he is. So there you have it: the 20+ hours you spent playing through all the 3 heroine routes? They’re all not real.
But at this point, we see that other characters remember their “dreams”, and how they were all lovers with Tooru at one point. This creates a really awkward relationship between all of them, but we can see that Tooru is now in love with Alice, and wants to save her real self from giving up on life. How is Tooru going to do that? Borrow the power of Maia to go back in time (in the base of a dream) and gives the young Toriomi a different answer when she asks “Isn’t life hard?”
Really, Alice’s route is where the “convenience” factor is used extensively and so liberally that I found it to be really horrible instead. There are drama and definitely some nice scenes, but Alice’s route didn’t do so well.
Tooru and his younger sister Maia! The other characters’ comments that the two look a like wasn’t a joke!
And finally, we have our actual imouto who seems like the antagonist for the story of the entire game. With the CV as someone named Tono Soyogi (her actual name is Tae Okajima according to a website though), she actually has a varying role consisting of both extremes: adorable-to-death characters, and the most creepiest ones as well. She happened to voice the character on the creepy side this time, and frankly, I didn’t mind it too much.
The game makes a lot of heavy implications regarding the goal of this character. Alice’s route explains who this girl is, and despite this, the reader is challenged to analyze the actions of Maia throughout the story; remember she knows everything from the beginning, and slaps Tooru’s face with it especially in Alice’s route.
Frankly, Maia’s “route” only consists of her H-scene which is considered to be a bad ending, but it drives the message crystal clear that this girl was actually trying to help her older brother with all the power she had, by acting the villain and bringing the people around him even closer; so he can finally release his own emotions for Maia and live in reality. In fact, Saki’s route was probably considered the “True Ending” because of this implication! As soon as I realized this, I was all in for this character. Give me more Maia!
Admittedly though, Maia DOES look really creepy in this CG
Sexual Content: Low
Comments: So I found it really surprising how a game with The Eroge Trinity (Osananajimi, Imouto, and Kouhai) didn’t turn out like absolute shit. While this is the thing I praise the game for, in addition to having a theme OTHER than school life comedy, the routes were pretty much a mix-mash of convenient plot and contradictory characters (with the exception of Maia). Each character seems to fall in love with Tooru for absolutely no reason at all, and Tooru himself isn’t exactly a protagonist I would consider to be “ideal” or even competent.
Heck, it even explicitly states that Tooru not responding to Saki’s affection or the advances from other characters was his own cowardice, and admits at one point that he’s scared of losing the relationships with the people around him. Simply put, he’s saying he’d rather have his half-assed harem instead of a serious relationship with a girl (or at least that’s how I interpreted it). His reason? Maia’s death.
Really, the game explicitly states that Tooru was in love with his younger sister despite the fact that he and Saki got trolled a lot by her, but the game doesn’t do a good job presenting it: all the beginning scenes involve him being in denial when Maia appears and being frantic about it instead.
So in the end, I guess most of my complaints stem from the protagonist’s lacks, while the heroines’ smaller contradictions seem to pale in comparison to Tooru’s hetare-ness.
On the other hand, did anyone else realize the significance in the heroine’s “alternate” outfits, or does the fandisc do a little more explaining? That was something I had no idea about, in addition to the “sweet burnt smell of honey” that Tooru describes… Come on Purple Software! I know you’re only experienced in charage, but follow up with your elements!
On the other hand, Yayoi just got bad-ass
Affection for the Characters: Moderately Low
CG Score: 4/10. Frankly, I think the CG can improve: I can see too much effort put into selling the characters that the art seems to ignore everything else.
For some reason, the SDCG style looks really similar to the artist who draws SDCGs for Whirlpool games…
Music Score: 7/10. The music matches up very well with the atmosphere created. Definitely a “good” quality of music, which includes the opening which I find very favorable
Conclusion: An “okay” game from Purple Software that should receive praise for going out of the norm. Despite this, just like how someone homosexual doesn’t mean he’ll be accepted well in modern society, the game needs to be “very good” to stand out from the crowd. Purple Software almost achieved that, but each story seemed incomplete; characters occasionally contradicted themselves, and the protagonist was definitely not to my liking.
Despite this, please excuse me as I go through the fandisk just so I can see more Maia.