A blog for reviews… that's really not much of a blog

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 Maia!

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

Addictiveness: Low.

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.

Comments on: "A Story of a Sweet and Happy Nightmare: Review of [130228]Hapymaher" (22)

  1. SomeHobo said:

    I wasn’ really sure if I wanted to play this ‘cuz it’s by the Chrono Clock people.
    So I didn’t know if they learned from their mistakes.

    Apparently, according to your review, not only did they fail to make the game less excruciatingly boring that CC, they also reused the “chars remember their relationship with PC” plot device from CC.

    Also, where is the point in making them dreams if the people still remember?
    And why do so many VN’s have useless protagonists?
    Is this the result of some kind of delusion where girls like guys that can’t accomplish anything?

    Sorry for ranting.

  2. […] I’ve already played games like Hapymaher, I was actually disappointed that this game was relatively similar to that title; I enjoyed […]


  4. Omg yes! Other sites I go to, people only talk about Yayoi,etc, but I’m glad to see someone else loved Maia the best!!!! Not enough Maia scenes…………

    • I agree. I mean, Yayoi didn’t really have that great of a story either, and it’s probably because of her physical body that people were crazy about her in the first place.

  5. […] Small Spoiler: This game contains something very similar to Hapymaher. […]

  6. […] places it’s not… It even goes as far to suggest that it was “all a dream” (Hmm? Where have I seen this before?) as characters are manipulated irrationally to make the story… It almost felt like the […]

  7. My reaction to this game if i had played it “the 20+ hours you spent playing through all the 3 heroine routes? They’re all not real.”

  8. Yeah, my sentiments exactly. The game itself isn’t all too bad (well, the background cg’s are kind of crappy though) but the protagonist just completely ruined it for me. It’s like in Hatsuyuki Sakura where the protagonist basically robbed me of a substantial amount of enjoyment, only that Hapymaher has nothing to compensate for that flaw while Hatsuyuki Sakura has.

    If you think about it, the sad thing is that Hapymaher depends on that shitty protagonist. Just imagine you had a proactive, intelligent one… The story wouldn’t work at all and it kind of pisses me off that the game basically revolves around a plot that only comes into existence because the protagonist is such a kusohetare.

    Oh and a piece of advice, you better keep your expectations low for AstrailAir low. Trust me, you will do yourself a favor…. It was quite a disappointment for me.

    All the other july games look crappy as well and judging by all the trial’s I’ve played, august is also full of either boring, crappy or nonsensical titles -.-

    Well, I guess my only hopes for this year now rest with Aokana and Tsukiyori x.x

    • type03xx said:

      You already finished AstralAir? If you do, that’s fast! But if not, we all know the trend of FAVORITE right? Everything won’t be revealed until Loli’s route. Loli rulz!
      Well as short as I play so far, everything is pretty much FAVORITE trend that I enjoyed since Hoshizora. So while I won’t keep my hopes high just like you suggested, it still enjoyable for me.

    • It’s not like it’s bad, it’s just that it isn’t really good either. For some reason favorite more and more drifts into a “moege” direction. Hoshizora was awesome, Irotoridori was still pretty good and now we have this. A very “light” plot.

      I don’t know why they stuffed 6 heroines into the game either, considering the fact that they obviously lacked good ideas for the respective scenarios. Most likely the game would have been a lot better if they had just focused on 4 routes.

      They use the EXACT same pattern in EVERY route (with the exception of yuki I guess). The protagonist and the heroine keep indecisively spinning around the same problem over and over again until yuki! at last gives riku a push in the back.

      You get your moe, ichaicha and kawaii heroines (I really like most of them) but that’s it. I enjoyed it, but I was still fairly disappointed because I was hoping for so much more than the game in the end offered.

    • For Hapymaher:
      The convenience are kinda justified as there are all, well, just a long dream, where basically everything can be wrapped out by just being a “dream”. Maia is pure win without a doubt (it’s a shame that she doesn’t get a real route, not even in the FD), though the story is kinda half-complete without playing the FD. Hell, you should play it just for Yuuko. Tooru is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea for being hetare but it doesn’t really bother me (I’ve seen worse) considering his circumstances as a “mentally diseased” character (unable to get a good, real sleep without seeing lucid dreams for YEARS will do for you). Still, the game deserves a praise for its theme involving dreams which is unique in a way.

      For AstralAir:
      Disappointment is probably one major issue that will happen whenever you put too much expectation into a game, it means that unless the plot progresses EXACTLY in the direction you want and “exceed” it, chances are you will not be satisfied (getting the feeling that the game could be ‘better’). People’s increasing expectations with each successful game don’t help either. Your playing speed is impressive though, I have yet to finish a route here (though almost at its end) and I am playing non-stop since Saturday (Favorite speaks the truth that the game is going have Hoshizora + FD’s length) Well, you can’t expect a Narita Shinri-level protagonist from Favorite’s games anyway (just look at Irotoridori). Nevertheless, it is still enjoyable to me so far. Also, IMO it is just a matter of difference in taste, just like how I like Irotoridori more than Hoshizora (despite more people think Hoshizora to be the superior game and is really overrated) due to the nature of the plot and the characters.

    • It is pretty long yeah, but 3 days is not really fast. I know dozens of jp guys that were all done with it by saturday evening. Maybe the berserk mode rant text wall I received on skype at saturday is also partly to blame for my rather negative view on AstralAir;p

      The thing is, my expectations were not that high. Some more plot individuality, a little more consistency and a tiny bit more seriousness is all I’d have wanted. Really, don’t get my wrong, it didn’t bore me at any point of time and it certainly was enjoyable, but compared to routes I regard as perfect or almost perfect AstralAir is just way too far away from what you could call a kamige.

      I rated it with 68 right after finishing it, but I’ll likely settle for something between 70 and 80 after consulting my pillow this night~

      Btw, is it just me or did you also find yuki pretty annoying sometimes? (and this is coming from someone who loves lolis >-<)

    • Well, those jp guys probably CTRL-ed most of the story anyway and also pretty much play non-stop. I have a pretty slow playing speed (compared to the majority hardcores out there), admittedly lol as I never skip and is at my own pace at all times (to enjoy the most out of it) I learnt not to think too much of other’s reviews and rants as I am aware people have different expectations (after all, the most important thing is your own enjoyment, not other’s views on its flaws which often contain bias).

      IMO, expecting or comparing perfection (aka kamige level) is considered high already, because not many games can really do that. (I will be lucky if I see 1 out of 10 I play, entering the fact I am also very picky at games) Even if a plot doesn’t really deliver really well, Favorite’s game quality (CG count/resolution, soundtrack, length etc) blows most companies out of the water and that alone deserve a 70+ score for me. If I were to bash it I would be burning bridges and I would feel wasted for all the time I spend on inferior games, or find myself disappointed 90% of the time because I am comparing it with a kamige. Just my 2 cents.

      Can’t say anything about Yuuki yet because she get way too few appearances (to my dismay) as of now and I have a looong way to go. But from the looks of it she is definitely not gonna surpass Shinku, (TBH, no one can surpass Shinku!) but she is nothing like Tina (Sakusaku) at the moment so things are good for me. At this rate it’s gonna take me at least 2 weeks before I can enter her route and see for myself. I blame my busy work. ><

    • It is a quality criterion of reviews that “flaws” are pointed out in an objective way so that everyone can judge for themselves whether that is really a flaw to them. So in that regard, reviews are certainly not useless. When one of the reviewers I trust complains about the protagonist that he is dumb as a bucket of shrimp and a hetare beyond help that alone will mark a strong deterrent for me while other people might be perfectly fine with it.

      But yeah, overall it probably still derserves something between 70 and 79, I’m still unsure with what I’ll settle. Comparing something with a kamige is only natural once it is above a certain level of quality. When you think about it and you get the feeling that “something was missing” the natural point of reference become the games/routes you consider as perfect.

      So that comparison takes place only after you have already “felt” that there are flaws and you want to pinpoint what exactly they are. If that game is a kamige, that comparison will never happen because there is nothing you subconciously (or conciously) find lacking.

      Anyways, take your time and enjoy, it’s not like there’s any other game worthy of one’s time this month ;/

    • I beg to differ against your statement of “not other games worthy of one’s time”. There are actually 3 nukige that I want to play for the 140729 releases (time to get more tissue boxes!)

      On that thought, thanks for the intricate discussion of AstralAir and Hapymaher! christfall definitely has a point by mentioning how our ratings for a game might be indirectly proportional to the expectations we held for it (I mean, even Sakusaku was as such for some players), but akerou also has a definite truth when he states that some factors in a game are objective and cannot be argued against.

      In Hapymaher, it was the hetare protagonist who apparently turns into a girl in his dreams because of that hetare-ness. In AstralAir, it’s just that it’s (apparently) lacking severely in the story department compared to its predecessors. We’ll see how it turns out in my eyes, and you’ll definitely see a review for the game from me.

      I want to last thank akerou for the warning, though, since I generally tend to share the same interests as him, and if he warns me to not have too much expectations on a game, I better as follow his advice.

    • It’s just that I recently found that it’s a better use of time to check out older games… as you know you sometimes find unexpected gems (for instance, just finished Suzukaze no Melt last week since you said it was awesome and it sure was, I’m ashamed of myself that I didn’t play it earlier x.x)

      Which nukige are you going to play? I think I checked out most of the july trials and well nothing got me hooked ;/

      Art and music in AstralAir is as awesome as ever, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Let’s see whether you’ll have similiar complaints about plot/characters as I have though.

      And btw, I finally overcame my weaker self and rated ~2/3 of the games I’ve played as promised ;p

  9. How Nostalgic! I played this before creating my own blog. Therefore, I had no problems in finishing only the routes of the heroines I was interested, which left me only with Keiko and Maia. The rest of the story I got by reading other people’s reviews.
    Yes! Maia is definitely a WIN! I love her personality and her seiyuu is one of my favorites!
    Wait! “adorable-to-death characters, and the most creepiest ones”? Isn’t those the same thing? For me, it is!
    Wait, again! Why is Yayoi posing with that ridiculous get-up while doing cruel things to Maia? Yayoi is dead to me!
    In the fan-disk, there’s a bit more of Maia with her brother when she was still alive, but weirdly enough, she never Trolls Tooru…Maybe that was also a dream…inside a dream…which was inside another dream! Happy Inception!

  10. I REALLY liked the heroines for this game, but felt that the romance was killed quite a bit due to Tooru’s uselessness >____>. The relationships were formed for VERY vague reasons, and lacked the actual feeling of “love”. The game’s story was also all over the place, and as you say, things were often TOO convenient.

    However, unlike Sakusaku, where a supernatural element was random thrown into a game that was mainly comprised of SOL, Hapymaher focuses a lot more on the dream setting. So given that, I was a lot more lenient in the amount of BS I was willing to tolerate compared to Sakusaku.

    Romance is often a side dish in games that focus on story, and as such, I was more forgiving in this regard. Also, I wasn’t really expecting much in the romance department to begin with anyway =p. And again, I loved the heroines for this game =D. Yeah the game had a lot of plot holes, but I felt that they did a good job of “portraying” things. So I found myself engaged in the story, despite the flaws. To be honest, I quite enjoyed the stuff regarding Toriumi, and how it “linked” all the routes. Though I also understand how it can come off as a bitchslap =p.

    So overall, I enjoyed this game, despite its flaws.

    Anyways, enjoy the FD ^^

    • Thanks for the comment! Your comments always help me understand that I’ve analyzed the game correctly (so people won’t be bashing me too much).

      Your points are definitely valid: I actually love how each character was playing a part in Alice’s route, and you’ll have to let me quote your “Romance is often a side dish in games that focus on story” because thinking about it, I couldn’t agree any more.

      (Oh, it was ToriUmi, not Toriomi? Well I’ll be damned)

      P.S. I love how you’re comparing this to Sakusaku. I say this because I really enjoyed your rant (and really saved me the work of ranting too)

  11. type03xx said:

    Dream and nightmare are quite popular theme in VN these days. Oh, and Shinigami…
    What is so screwed for me is “Everything is a dream! Muwahahahah!” So I guess I’ll pass, and I play AstralAir right now too. (Even with so little time I have, real life suck- -)
    PS: Will you write AstralAir review too?
    PS2: Oh, and that bitchslap sure hurt…

    • Yeah, the bitchslap was more of a comedy element, but I’m actually kinda glad that some people decided to avoid this game just with that factor, haha

      AstralAir is definitely on my list! Favorite is a company that I enjoyed, so I’ll be playing the game as soon as I’m back from vacation (Hotel Internet sucks BAWWWWWLS)

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