ToHeart

It’s now the turn of the third of the Leaf Visual Novel Series (see also, Shizuku, Kizuato).

To Heart is a 1997 game by Leaf, with a PSX port in 1999.

vndb EGS: 1 2 3 4

ToHeart has two main versions, each with several releases. The original To Heart, with H content, and the PSX port (later with PC, PS2, and PSP versions), which loses the H content and instead adds voices, minigames, and expands one route and adds a whole new one. It’s this later version (specifically the PSP one) which will be reviewed here (and there seem to be some script changes with respect to the original version).

Story

Fujita Hiroyuki (nameable) is a normal student finishing his 1st year of high school. He’s usually awaken by his osananajimi Akari, with whom goes to school. There he meets several friends, and does normal high school student stuff.

Review

If the story section seems short, is because there’s not a whole lot of it. This is a very “pure” high school romance game, with most of the scenes being simple, ordinary happenings. This does make the game seem low in the substance department, not having much drama, even advanced the routes in some cases. It may have been intentional, however; especially if the writer wanted to make a contrast with the way darker Shizuku and Kizuato, in which case he succeeded. It also works because the scenes are usually very short, long enough to make their point but no more, so it never feels like a drag. It’s not “fun”, in a comedy sense, but it’s never really boring, and it makes for an enjoyable read.

Witch on the Holy Night

But even if it’s never boring it’s neither terrible interesting. Maybe it was in the 1997, but by now it’s not really outstanding.

I did find the route system interesting, however, and even somewhat novel. Using a map movement system, instead of the usual system of several, mostly irrelevant, scenes with some heroine, confession, and then a linear route with some ichaicha and some drama that is promptly solved, here the map scenes ARE the route, not becoming completely linear until basically the very last scene. Which also makes for an unforgiving gameplay, since missing even one scene can fix you on route to the bad end. And have a walkthrough handy when playing Akari. (It’s also curious that a group of heroines appear a good few hours into the game.)

A reward for Multi

The cast is very nice. The heroines are charming and likeable (the obligatory friend is mostly inconsequential, though), and the voice acting is very good (trivia: this is one of the first major roles for Kawasumi Ayako and Horie Yui). There’s almost zero interaction between the different heroines, however, which makes for little cohesion for the game as a whole.

And as said, there’s not much plot. Still, the routes do have some direction, and some problem trying to be solved (with a few exceptions), so some plot line is not totally inexistent. And though there’s usually some drama, it doesn’t follow the pattern of confession-ichaicha-drama, since here the confession is, generally, actually the final point of the routes (and there are even a couple of cases where said confession doesn’t actually happen). If you would describe this game in few words, it would be the story of falling in love with a girl, and as such it finishes when reaching that point.

A little of drama

So overall, I didn’t find this a waste of time, but if you want to play some chara-ge that has intense drama, you are probably better off playing other, newer, things. Though I do like how it uses the map movement system, and I think that many things (even actual) could learn from the concise writing this has (and also that you can have a bishoujo game without being flooded with food scenes).

And since it was asked, my personal character and routes rankings (for character pics go here).

Characters: Multi > Aoi > Serika, Akari > Kotone, Ayaka > Lemmy > Tomoko, Shiho > Rio

Multi and Aoi are the cutest things ever. I also like the quite, strange type. I liked Ayaka as a strong girl that’s not a tsundere and is neither above or below the MC in their relationship. Tomoko and Shiho are characters the impression of whom can change a lot after their routes (especially Tomoko). Didn’t find very interesting Rio, didn’t like her voice, and her route was very weak, so she gets a solid last place.

Routes: Multi > Shiho > Tomoko > Akari, Kotone, Ayaka > Lemmy, Serika, Rio

Multi’s route is not particularly novel (though might have been in a first place, being apparently something like a prototype for the nakige formula), but is solid, and makes good use of the special setting Multi herself had. Shiho’s route may be actually better, the single case where I’d say it’s actually unconventional, having a particularly bittersweet ending, and also succeeding in making believable a relationship between two characters where it would seem unlikely. Tomoko’s also succeeds there, very important for that type of character, and makes for a very satisfying conclusion. On the other end, Lemmy’s spends a lot of time not really going anywhere, as does Rio’s, which is lacking in conflict. And worse is Serika’s, which has similar problems in spite of having some elements to potentially spice things (ojou-sama/black magic), elements which are severely underused.

EXTREME training

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