If you’ve spent any time in Japan, one of the first things you notice about its pop-culture is its complexity. The plots of Japanese horror (J-Horror) movies, for example, are often quite difficult to follow. Japanese chess, called shogi, makes western chess look like checkers! Then you have the nation’s written language to consider. There are three distinct alphabets; one of which contains thousands of characters to memorize, and another that’s used primarily for words borrowed from other languages!
It’s on this note that we welcome you to our game review for Shiny Days…and I’ll try to get this out in one breath: Shiny Days (2015) is a remake of Summer Days (2006), which is itself the sequel to School Days (2005); all of which precedes the most current title in the series: Cross Days (2010), which is actually a retelling of School Days. If you’re confused now, just wait until you start playing.
Shiny Days tell the story of a high school girl named Setsuna. Looking forward to her upcoming summer vacation, Setsuna is summoned to the sick bed of her friend, Sekai. It seems that Sekai was hired for a summer job as a waitress, but her illness forces her to ask Setsuna to step in as a replacement. The latter is not happy about it, as this particular restaurant requires servers to parade around in skimpy costumes. Setsuna ultimately agrees to take the job on a part-time basis, after discovering that a boy she likes lives near the restaurant.
If you’ve read or watched much manga, it’s not hard to guess what’s coming. Setsuna‘s first customers include an unruly child, a slimy lecher, and possibly the most snooty customer service critic you’ve ever seen. Will our heroine get some reprieve from embarrassment after clocking out on day one? No chance. She trips over another girl on the street, resulting in a clothing mishap that would make even Art Frahm blush! Inexplicably, the two girls are now obligated to become roommates.
The gameplay itself is divided into episodes, which are further broken down into scenes. You can save your game during any scene, and for good measure the game prompts for a save at the end of each episode. The story progresses as a typical graphic novel, competing with Pause, Play, Rewind and Fast Forward buttons. Occasionally, the game will ask players to make a choice as to what the protagonist will say. This can have an impact on the sequence of scenes within an episode, and can actually cause a shuffling effect when rewinding or reloading a past save. For instance, you attempt to return to a certain scene, only to find it replaced with another! The moral here is to save often and pay attention, lest the story changes on you.
By this point, you’re probably wondering about the good stuff! Yes, this game is racy…every bit as much as its predecessors. While the game has plenty of cute moe (mō’ eh) moments, it’s true selling point is a hentai; that absolute “fan service” that signals a rating of “M” for mature…if not higher! With or without its erotic gratuity, this novel successfully serves up its original message; updated and remastered for the modern gamer.
Overall, is Shiny Days worth it? I say yes. If you’re a fan of the “Days” series, then you already know the premise and story arcs of this remake. If you’re new, this title is a great way to introduce a simple “slice-of-life” genre that can only be found amid the complexities of Japanese pop culture.
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