Dating sims have always presented themselves as an example of pure depravity to many people, something for them to laugh at and make fun of. After engaging in, what must be said, is probably the most depraved of any non-erotic dating sim, I can say they’re not wrong; there is definitely a sense of that about the entire affair.
It’s the closest thing to Nietzche’s metaphorical “abyss” I’ve ever come across. I gazed deep into it, and it gazed back into me.
Going back to Konami’s Love Plus directly after being… well… completely cast out by a close friend of mine showed this to me, in the most horribly appropriate way possible.
I’d rather not discuss the personal matters of that event, to protect the privacy of those involved. Let’s just say I ended up listening to a lot of Cab Calloway and Andrew Jackson Jihad after it; that should give you a good enough idea of what went on.
A while before things went down the pooper, I’d been playing Love Plus, a dating sim for the DS. (You know, being a “DS” and all makes it the perfect system to play a “Dating Sim” on.) It’s a fairly standard game at first; you schedule a day, go and hang out with one of the three girls, and, after going through her story, she confesses to you, and you engage in a relationship. After this point, the game becomes… more of an actual “simulator” than most dating sims are. You play in real time, making a daily schedule to boost your social statistics, hanging out with the girl, setting dates beforehand, etc. The depravity increases with the realism.
This new part of the game also unlocks “Love+” mode, where you talk with the girl you’re dating. It doesn’t work especially well if you don’t know Japanese. Sitting in a dark room, muttering into a DS to an anime girl who doesn’t comprehend anything you say is a unique experience, to say the least.
I’d been going about that real time stuff for about a week before the “event”, and I hadn’t touched it in a few days. For some reason, I thought it’d be a good idea to fling myself into Rinko’s metaphorical arms after experiencing that whole thing.
It didn’t work out especially well.
Upon booting my save up, I was in my room, since it was somewhat late that day, around 10PM. My stats were low since I hadn’t played since going out with Rinko (to the zoo and karaoke box) last Sunday.
The first thing I did was select the phone and call her up, to see if she wanted to hang out for a bit. I could use the company after being cast out like that.
She told me that it wasn’t a good time.
I pulled up the game’s “fortune” system, which rates how lucky you’ll be that day by what your blood type is. My character (Samimure Fufuki) has blood type O, so his luck that day was… “Worst Luck”, at the very bottom of the rung, the worst luck one could possibly have in this game.
“Well, this is appropriate.”
Since she wasn’t up for going out, I thought it’d be okay to send her an email, just to let her know that I cared. I chose the “I love you” email, since it seemed appropriate for the time. She never responded, despite the fact that she’s responded to everything I’ve sent her up until this point.
I could see that the situation was getting really poor, so I was just going to save and exit out before it got any worse, but instead I accidentally opened the “Love+” mode. Not knowing what to say, I just made joke sobbing noises into the microphone. She just kept responding with things along the line of, “Oh, we should go here! Wouldn’t that be fun?”
By this point, I was convinced of the game’s hatred of me, so I started trying to say coherent things to Rinko. She’d already told me about her love of the Second British Invasion (referenced by name in-game) so I muttered, “Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark” into the microphone. (Appropriate song choice.) She replied with, “If it’s you, Rinko thinks it’s okay.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say after that, but she asked me where she would go on a date. I said, “Arcade,” hoping that that word would make equal sense in Japanese. She responded with, “Yes, that sounds good we should go there sometime,” in the most vague wording possible.
The presence of the abyss had faded behind Rinko’s anime face and lack of good translation, but I could still sense it, somewhere behind that DS screen.
It’s hard to say if this whole series of events was just a bizarre experience, or if Rinko knows something I don’t. Perhaps Konami has engineered some technological black magic with Love Plus, gazing deep within the souls of its players, getting them to buy pretty nice figures of Love Plus characters.
Either way, it was a hell of an experience.