Most of the games I’ve played for my Dating Adzuken articles are typically only blips on my radar until I pick them up. I’m very arbitrary in that way. There are a few dating sims in my peripheral that I’m just waiting on a discount to pick up, but most frequently my decision to grab one is very spur the moment.
Not so with True Love. I came across it while researching the dating sim sub-genre. It’s allegedly the first dating sim to have been localized into English. It originally came out in 1995; one year after the seminal Tokimeki Memorial popularized the sub-genre, but didn’t land on western shores until 1999. It was quite a gamble bringing an untested subgenre to the west, a land where the visual novel would forever falter, and it didn’t pay off. The publisher went bust and the game landed in licensing hell until all the rights were finally gathered by hentai publisher, Fakku!, and it was re-released as True Love ‘95.
So, in summary, we’re playing this game for its historical significance. Because, after all, nothing gets me hotter than a little historical perspective.
If you’re new to this series or need a reminder, these articles have me diving head-first into dating simulators and giving a running narrative of the resulting romance. Due to the depth at which I cover these games, there are going to be a lot of spoilers, at the very least surrounding one particular romantic sub-plot. The first heading in the article is relatively spoiler free, so if you’re interested, give it a read and see if the game tickles your fancy. If so, consider playing it along with me. And, as usual, if you have any suggestions for games I should cover in this series, drop me a line.
TRUE LOVE WAITS IN HAUNTED ATTICS
True Love is technically an erotic dating sim. I say “technically” because this was originally released in 1995, so I’m not expecting much in the way of full-frontal nudity. Of course, it’s Japanese, so perhaps all bets are off.
This is what is considered a true dating sim. Sometimes, what I refer to as a dating sim is, in fact, just a romantic visual novel. It isn’t technically a dating sim unless you’re working against a clock while building up your stats. In this case, you’re attending college and your stats are passion, appearance, scholarship, physical strength, and art. You’ll maybe want to figure out where you’re going to focus early, because anywhere you’re not focusing your attention suffers attrition over time (why does my appearance drop whenever I work my part time job?).
You build your stats by setting your activities for each day. College will take one time slot most days, but there’s two more that allow you to work a part time job, upgrade your skills, work on your appearance, or just take a break to lower your fatigue.
“What’s the twist?” you may be asking. There really isn’t one outside its erotic content. I’ll remind you that this was 1995, so the dating sim sub-genre was in its youth and you didn’t really need to mix in demons, vampires, shinsengumi, or birds just to stand out. So the story here is just as it sounds: go to college and pick up chicks.
It’s honestly hard to keep all the girls straight. There’s a whopping ten ladies to romance. Is it practical to list them all? No. Only two of them really factored into my path through the game. Everyone else dropped off the grid as soon as my course was set. There’s Mikae, your childhood friend, and Remi, the vice president of the student council.
Remi is who caught my eye immediately, and she most likely needs scholarship to win her affection, so she’s who I’m aiming for.
I can’t work with this guy. He’s a completely tactless pervert. He has no game, and his only strategy is to comment on the size of a woman’s breast. I could never claim to be an expert on romance, my dating record will speak to that, but I can tell this guy is hopeless. Are some women into hopeless guys? I’m not, but luckily I just have to steer this idiot, I don’t have to date him.
One of the first things the goober does is peep in on the women’s swim team locker room. This is the caliber of gentleman we’re dealing with.
Remi sees something in him, though. I don’t know what it is, but shortly after first meeting the protagonist, she starts to show interest, saying that time seems to just vanish while talking to her. I also meet her dad, who is apparently a rich mogul and kind of scary. She resents her affluent upbringing.
To please my dream girl, I place all my focus on smarts and appearance. There’s no indication that she cares about a guy’s appearance, but I feel everyone prefers their significant other to have some pride in their upkeep.
SOCIAL MUSICAL CHAIRS
I guess in the meantime I’ll sample the local fare. I ask Mikae on a date, then immediately set up a date with Remi for two days after. That’s… normal for single people with a social life, right? Or is that, like, cheating? I haven’t really had to deal with that sort of social situation.
At this point, I have maxed out my scholarship and passion stats. I feel like this is really early in the game, so hopefully that indicates good things for my success.
Both dates go well. Mikae gets shy when I go in for the kiss, but otherwise things go well. Afterward, Remi and I go to the library, and despite falling asleep twice (sounds like me), we have a good time. She makes lunch and cuts the hot dogs up like octopi, so she’s definitely a keeper. However, there’s somebody following her, and I can’t tell if he’s some sort of thug or if he’s, like, her secret bodyguard.
I take back what I said earlier. I feel bad for leading on Mikae when all my attention is on Remi. If the protagonist gives me the chance of doing so without being a jerk, I’ll probably break it off when I get the opportunity.
STUDY, ART LEARNING, FASHION
I’m given a chance after the next exam. Mikae tries to make me jealous by walking home with the school beefcake, and I just… let them go. Hm. Now I feel bad because she’s going to get with that jerk.
I actually wind up seeing a lot more of Mikae and barely see Remi for, like, the next month. Despite my attempts at keeping her at arm’s length, I’m getting the feeling that I may have made a mistake and wound up on her sub-plot. Sure enough, I wind up with another date with Mikae and Remi gets the wrong idea.
Oh, but wait, I manage to ace the mid-terms at the top of the class, so Remi asks me what I think of her. I tell her I love her and we set up a date… the day before Mikae’s. Oh, gosh.
ADZUKEN TO THE RESCUE
The day of Remi and my date rolls around and she gets kidnapped. The tease. So I give pursuit and find her locked in a trunk. A magical man randomly helps me on the street unlock the trunk, and I untie her… until later. Wink.
Before we can make our escape, the kidnapper shows up and threatens us with a gun. Being the hunky tough guy that I am, I stand between Remi and the kidnapper. Doing my best Superman impression, I charge the guy and get shot. However, instead of bleeding out in my beloved’s arms, we find out that it was just an air gun and he was bluffing. I beat the guy, lock him in the trunk, and call the police.
I offer to call Remi’s parents, but she stops me. She’s afraid that they’ll keep her under tight security and we won’t be able to see each other for a while. Our solution is to return to my apartment and go at it like ferrets. I guess I was wrong, there is full frontal nudity. Saucy.
I’M NOT A MONSTER… ANYMORE
So what about Mikae? She stops by the next day and I give her a birthday gift… before telling her I hate her and sending her off crying. I mean, I probably would have softened the blow a bit, but that wasn’t really an option that entered my avatar’s thick skull.
Whatever, I guess. At least I didn’t cheat on Remi.
DAMSEL IN DISTRESS COMPLEX
This game was really a breath of fresh air after my last couple of encounters. There was a sense of danger in the end, but it didn’t cross over into super uncomfortable territory, a few rather crude threats aside.
So, how about my new waifu? I don’t feel I really know Remi well enough to get a feel for what a relationship with her would be like. The game doesn’t give you much to go off of. She’s somewhat soft, a bit shy, and very studious. But what are her hobbies, what music does she listen to, does she like art? In truth, I was more attracted to the braid in her hair rather than any personality trait of hers.
Truth be told, towards the end, my fantasy sort of shifted to Remi’s perspective, rather than the protagonist. Maybe that’s because I’m a woman and relate to other women more readily. Maybe I just couldn’t deal with the lecher protagonist. Or, more likely, it’s because, when most of my female role models growing up could be found in another castle, I wound up developing something of a damsel in distress complex.
Still, kidnapping aside, True Love was exactly as vanilla as I expected. If your fantasies don’t extend far past simple T&A, then you’re getting the full package here, albeit a little vintage. As for me, it was a nice palate cleanser, but I think I’m going to maybe look into something a little more flavourful for my next romance.
This article is based off a PC version of the game purchased from Steam. It was paid for by the author.