Love Plus Makes You Care About A Virtual Girl

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

The Love Plus series is infamous for being the most extravagant and popular dating sim out there. Two weeks ago, I took the plunge and set out to gain a virtual girlfriend of my very own in the newest game in the series, New Love Plus+. The outcome? It is a solid, emotion-grabbing dating sim experience.

Good — Love from Humble Origins

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

New Love Plus+ is the story of three high school girls — Manaka, Rinko, and Nene — and you, the player character. After transferring into the school for your second year of high school, you meet each of the girls in some aspect of your daily life.

Manaka is a member of the tennis team like you, Rinko is the president of the library committee to which you belong, and Nene is your coworker at your part-time job. As you spend more and more time at each of these activities — as well as running into the three girls in school or around town — you begin to learn more about each of their backstories.

Good — Forms an Emotional Connection

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

Each of the three girls has her own hopes, wants, and dreams — not to mention more than a few problems to overcome. Rinko suffers from problems at home — i.e., a new step-mother and step-brother. Manaka, on the other hand, has had such a sheltered life that while she excels at both academics and sports, she finds herself socially isolated. Nene is the big sister type that everyone relies on, but who does she have to turn to when problems arise in her life?

As you play, you find yourself learning more about the girl of your choice, and you slowly but surely help her through her problems in the first half-a-dozen hours. This helps establish an emotional connection with your romantic foil. While at first you may only help out of sympathy, soon you are invested in her personal struggles and want to do anything you can to give her the happy ending she deserves.

Good — Falling in Love Is Just the Beginning

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

While most dating sims end with the girl confessing her true love to the player character, in New Love Plus+ that is just the end of the first act. Once you have won the girl of your dreams, you begin a relationship — in real time. Once a day, you can raise your stats and see some events from your continuing school life. Then, on weekends and holidays, you can invite your virtual girlfriend out on a date.

These dates are full of cute scenes and mini-games. You can comment on her clothes and hair, take her out to dinner and a myriad of other date spots, and all the while attempt to get her to show some PDA. As she comes to love you more and more, you unlock new date spots and events. This half of the game is designed for the long haul — to be played over months or even years — and has tons of content to keep you coming back again and again.

Mixed — Stat Building and Time Management

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

Much of the gameplay in New Love Plus+ is simple time management. Each day you plan out your schedule — which classes to work hard at, which school clubs to go to, and how to spend your nights. Each activity also raises certain stats — fitness, intelligence, artistic sense, and charm — while at the same time lowering others. Each girl finds you more attractive based on different stats: Manaka cares about fitness and intelligence; Rinko finds intelligence and artistic sense attractive; and Nene is interested in artistic sense and charm. Thus, you plan your activities around which of the three you are going after.

However, in this game going after just one girl will cause you to miss out on some of the most interesting bits of the story — i.e., the way the girls interact with each other when they are both romantically interested in you.

Of course, there is a bit more to it than simply raising stats. While you attempt to do that, the girls continuously give you special tasks which — when completed — improve your relationship. Of course, these events also take up slots on your schedule and thus prevent you from raising your stats as often as you would like. Moreover, sometimes the tasks of two different girls will both be scheduled to take place in the same time-slot — forcing you to choose one or the other.

In the end, how much you enjoy the gameplay in New Love Plus+ is all dependent on how much you enjoy strategic stat building and time management.

Mixed — Building the Perfect Girlfriend

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

There is lots of character customisation to be found in New Love Plus+ — especially in the second half of the game. The girls try out different hair styles, clothes, and accessories to ascertain the look you most like. One of the most enjoyable parts of the game is seeing all the different ways they can look.

However, the oddest part of the game is that they can also dramatically change their personalities. From time to time, Manaka, Rinko, and Nene will ask what type of girl you like. Based on your answer they will change to match your preference.

When I came across this question during my playthrough, I told the cold and cool tsundere Rinko — out of sheer morbid curiosity — that I preferred bubbly happy girls. The result was terrifying. Basically, by acting nearly the opposite of how she would normally, everything she said felt forced, fake, and like she was covering up a hidden malicious intent. I honestly felt like I was suddenly playing a yandere horror game — that any moment she was going to shove a knife into my chest because she "just loved me that much."

While I understand that the personality change mechanic is all about allowing the player to create an ideal romantic fantasy, it clashes with the rest of the game which is centered around forming an emotional connection to the characters. If your choices for the direction of the plot somehow brought about a gradual personality change, that would be one thing. But changing their personalities like a light switch seems almost like a betrayal of the game's emotional core.

Final Thoughts

Love Plus Makes You Care about a Virtual Girl

As far as dating sims go, New Love Plus+ does a good job of creating an emotional connection and definitely has the longest playtime value of any game of the genre I have ever come across. If you know at least intermediate level Japanese and have a Japanese 3DS, New Love Plus+ is the best virtual girlfriend experience out there. Just do yourself a favour and don't break the illusion by messing around with the personality changer too much.

New Love Plus+ was released on 27 March 2014, for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan. There is currently no word on an international release.


Comments

    The only "Dating Sim" I played was the 4Chan made Katawa Shoujo. And I really really liked it, been looking for another one since. This sounds good, but I already splashed out money on a PSVita so I could play Persona 4 Golden, I'm not sure If I'm willing to spend more money on a 3DS + the Game.

      The game is also in Jp. So unless your fluent w/ Jp you probably won't get as much enjoyment out of it.

        if you have the ability, there is an english-patched version of the original version of this game out there. I downloaded it after the first post in this series went up,and it is pretty flawless and great. You won't get the 'new' stuff from this one, but it is still a lot of fun.

        On the concept of them changing their personality, I think it clashes because it is so sudden. Relationships are about getting to know people, accepting them for who they are, and adjusting in small ways to be compatible. Suddenly having someone change to be 'ideal' out of nowhere is just jarring and, well, wrong. I didn't put in hours of getting to know someone and their backstory to suddenly have them turn into Random Different Person!

    Just curious but why have there been so many articles about Dating Sims lately? This is about the 4th or 5th I have seen in 2 weeks.

      LovePlus was the original, LovePlus+ just released(basically the same thing with a few new bits). The game itself is noteworthy because it's sort of two way. In a normal sim, you just hit the right dialogue branches, eventually you get booty. In this one, you need to work at it - it's possible to never land a girl at all.

      As well, it has no sexy times. More, the main part of the game happens AFTER the sexy times normally would. Normal game, get girl -> end of game. This, get girl -> actual game starts. You play the relationship part more than you do the wooing part.

      Third, and most interesting in my opinion, is after a time, people- from all walks of life - appear to develop actual relationships with the avatar. One directional relationships, of course, but the effects of starting a LP relationship and a RL relationship have been found to be far to similar to just be sad no lifers(despite what the lesser minds have to say on the matter). it raises many questions for virtual avatars, especially in the future. Where does human stop and people start? When is AI just logic branches and when is it actually artificial intelligence?

      The game is kind of a big deal, but it's only in Japanese so I'm not quite sure why it's here, but I'm glad it is. stigma doesn't go away unless attention is drawn to it. Plus, watching certain members make a fool of themselves en masse over this instead of "OMG JAPAN ON A JAPAN SITE?!" is a nice change of peanut gallery.

    I would honestly not mind trying something like this so long as it wasn't overly perverted as I tended to give most things a try once (hey I even tried reading a bunch of /b/ once upon a time).

      In this boat. I was called out for stereotyping dating sims and their players in that last article but if this is one of the most popular franchises... and it looks like this? Yeah, thanks but no thanks. A grown man attempting to bone one of the bevy of fictional schoolgirls available to him would be creepy, no matter what medium it was.

        Yeah, so long as it is not heavily into the echi I don't mind, I mean as a 24 year old it is a little uncomfortable to think about the kind of people that play these with ulterior motives.

        There's a subset of "pure" dating games which are basically PG (no erotica).

        There's also a subset (nukige) which are basically a bit of text, then a sex scene, then another bit of text, then another sex scene, and so on to the end of the game.

        Then there are a whole bunch between these two extremes.

        Know what you're getting into. Some eroge, especially nukige, get pretty extreme. Rape is not at all uncommon in such games. The translated ones often increase the ages of all the females to be over 18, but the actual settings (such as high schools) frequently don't support such an age range.

        If the definition of "relationship building = have sex" is your position then I would understand your opinion completely. And that's not to say thats not the intent of people who play the more "extreme" side of the spectrum

        For most people who play VN's and the like it's really more of an interactive novel that allows you to be involved in the story. It's like reading a romance/comedy novel and doing a Marty/Mary Sue on the story. In this instance it's a high school romance.

          If the definition of "relationship building = have sex" is your position then I would understand your opinion completely.

          Of course not, but the apparent 'end game' for a lot of these games is to basically have sex with the characters. I think that is pretty gross. If people want to play interactive romance novels that keep it PG, then go nuts. It's not my bag, but I won't begrudge you from doing so. It's dating sims like this that make my skin crawl.

            Actually a huge chunk of even "adult" Dating Sims have a PG version =P

            Which is actually the point some people brought up before. A good dating sim will play as a proper "realtionship" game w/o the need for the "sex" reward. If anything the very best of the genre is the one that doesn't even let on there are such "scenes" and work perfectly fine storywise even if the scenes are dropped. The classic To Heart which basically had an "adult scene" and then an "epilogue" on the players life w/ the girl after the game ends.. the ero scenes were dropped on the "All Ages" version and it didn't even impact the game or story if anything they were basically just thrown in because of the way the market was during it's time.

            But yeah I'm cool w/ Dating Sims not being your normal cup of tea. But Just saying stereotyping all VN's as a "bang the girl simulator" is really just as bad as stereotyping all FPS are "murder simulators". Various level of degrees there xD

            EDIT: Btw... as far as I know there's no actual "end game" or "sex scene" reward for LP either. It's basically a pure relationship building sim.

            Last edited 05/05/14 11:22 am

      http://gbatemp.net/threads/completed-love-plus-english-translation-patch.272861/ I'm not sure if there have been new translations since but this is the one I used for the original and it seemed to work fine. It helps if you have an R4i or Supercard DS2 (Personalty I would recommend the DS2).

        I used this one last week and it works great. I have an ancient M3 real and it ran it just fine.

    There are no words to describe how much this recent string of articles on dating sims are creeping me the fuck out.

    Each one is worst than the last..

      No but see guys you are wrong. Society having expectations of what a normal healthy adult mentality is is wrong because Japan.

      Gaming Journalism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWEiccW5l4Q

    I was interested in dating sims (Non-H although I did accidentally play a couple of H games) for a while because of my interest in their approach to representing human relationships. It wasn't long before I got bored though due to the transparent mechanics that meant it was easy to pander to a particular partner and boost their affection rating. It's why I find most morality and choice based systems in games a joke, they're all based around obvious consequences to your choices. I'd like to play a game that implemented proper human psychology and behaviour though I imagine the time and money required to implement it would be more than games companies are willing to invest.

    These games are dangerous to young inexperienced men. They in no way prepare you for the irrationality and unpredictability of real women.

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