Wow, this place has been weirdly active recently. I mean, four blog posts within a month? That’s our yearly quota done =D
Anyway, Smee is one my favourite companies, and I’ve really enjoyed their previous titles. Naturally, I had high hopes that the company would deliver another high quality slice of life game with PURExCONNECT. Did this happen?
Not really, but kinda.
Game site: ピュア×コネクト
Release date: May 29, 2015
Hayato has yearned for a heart-throbbing romance for a long time, but instead is bored wasting away time every day. He wishes to fall in love like in an eroge, but everyone around him just makes fun of him for it. But that’s what every guy wants, right? Is it really so wrong to want such a relationship?
In the middle of November, a small chance appeared when he was asked to work part-time at the popular bakery restaurant, La Pivoine. Finding himself in a situation he never imagined being in, he thought to break free of his current norm. He agreed to work there and acquainted himself with the staff: Sora, his osananajimi who has no interest in falling in love; Shiho, the store manager whose lover is her job; Moemi, the moodmaker part-timer who treasures her family over all; Arisa, his kouhai who hasn’t found her ideal partner; and, Ayumi, his cousin who is still early for love.
Finally, he takes the first steps towards his own love.
[Borrowed from Micchi’s blog]
The prologue briefly introduces each character, while the common route is something of a more extended introduction. The common route has 6 chapters, and the main focus is Hayato’s job life at La Pivoine. Within these 6 chapters, each heroine has a chapter where they’re in the limelight. It’s here where we see the heroines display a moment of weakness, and one would think that these moments would spark some permanent change in the heroines. Sadly all sparks of love aren’t really displayed in the other chapters, and are only displayed in isolated events near the end of the common route.
Romantic development aside, I quite enjoyed the Pure x Connect’s common route. The comedy was very solid; loved how asses were something like a mini theme for this game. Another thing enjoyed was how the heroines fit into the chapters even when they weren’t the “star”. Like with most of Smee’s recent titles, our protagonist Hayato has quite the eccentric personality. Perhaps it’s because he’s a university student, but he didn’t display as much of this nature as I would have liked. Overall, I feel the common route “introduced” the characters very well.
During the common route there’s a novelty feature which appears here and there where you can choose to send a short email to the heroines. What you talk about is related to the point you are in the common route, and the heroines will only ever give you a single line response. It’s a nice feature, but not one that’s all that needed because the responses are never all that meaningful.
The main choices for this game that determine which route you follow is choosing who you SMS on a particular night. Now I found this to be grossly lacking in terms of development, and it’s pretty much feels like a small extension of the other mailing system. Call me old fashioned, but real development should happen in person. There are some other choices throughout the common route, such as where you spend your break, but these always involve multiple heroines. Nothing one on one.
When heroines are in the limelight, we see events ranging from the two getting locked in a storeroom to sharing a cup of coffee late at night. There wasn’t anything wrong with these events; if anything, they were good quality. However the quantity of these events is so few that it ends up feeling pretty insignificant.
Take Sora for example. We have a girl who’s been friends with a guy for almost her whole life. I would imagine you would need something with quite the impact to cause a change from friend to lover. Extra points would be gained here if you get scenes where she’s staring at him from afar while he’s with other girls. Yeah I know it’s typical, but that’s’ just what I like. There are lots of ways they could have shown the gap closing between Sora and Hayato, and this gap really needed some awkwardness between the two to really makes things interesting. Sadly, we pretty much get nothing.
So there is almost literally ZERO transition from friend/colleague to lover. All the confession scenes feel out of the blue, and it’s like Smee wanted to change gear from character introductions straight into a full blown relationship.
Your choices determine whose route you follow PLUS if Hayato or the given heroine is the one doing the confessing. Something I praise the game for is having unique confession scenes during the instances where the heroines are confessing. Of course there are differences in quality, but in general I felt these scenes really captured the heroines’ traits quite well. Now this is considering the confession scenes without looking at the fact that there was pretty much zero development leading up to them. The times where Hayato is confessing aren’t bad either, but I’m sure that most would agree that it feels a lot better being the party confessed to.
At the beginning of the game we see each heroine’s view on love when they are introduced one after another. These views on love are pretty much presented one off as facts and aren’t really developed on, which I found disappointing.
Each route contains 11 chapters, with each chapter generally covering events for a single day. So as you can imagine, the routes are quite short. I would say around 3 hours a piece depending on your reading speed. Despite the routes feeling somewhat short, all were very good. Though, I do have mixed feelings with having a set number of chapters for each heroine. On one hand, we get something like a guarantee that heroines will get 11 events. On the other hand, and probably the feeling that hits me more strongly, is the sense that they’re trying to fill a quota. Some heroine might benefit more from having more room for develop, while others might not need so much. However if you’re aiming to hit that 11 chapter quota, you’re restricted in your options.
Pretty much raised alongside Hayato, Sora and Hayato are close to family. Possessing a playful and eccentric personality, Sora doesn’t shy from doing things such as playing with Hayato’s sex toys. She is interested in the love when it comes to others around her, but not when it comes to herself.
Sora was both my favourite heroine, and I really enjoyed her route. Her route does a nice job of maintaining her eccentric character type, while having a nice romance bloom between the two. I would have loved a bit more awkwardness between the two near the start of the relationship given their long history as childhood friends. However I didn’t hold this against the route because of how much development was already skipped. A lot of the humour in her route is from sex related stuff, like how she gets jealous over Hayato’s sex toys, which is the type of humour I really enjoy.
Ayumi is Hayato’s timid cousin who moves into his household due to various circumstances. During childhood Hayato would often tease her, and the two soon fall back into this relationship. Ayumi is an honours student with a very gentle personality, she gives everything her all. She lacks confidence in herself, and believes that she isn’t ready for love yet.
We see a lot more teasing from Hayato once the two are a couple, and this leads to a lot of cute pouting from Ayumi. Through we see Ayumi tear up a number of times during her route due to lack of self-confidence, we also see her get angry in order to stand up for Hayato. I quite enjoyed Ayumi’s cuteness, but overall I felt that a lot of the events in her route lacked impact compared to the other routes. I suppose my reason for thinking this is because she doesn’t really change that much once she’s in the relationship.
Shiho is the manager of La Pivoine, the store where Hayato part times. She’s very enthusiastic about running La Pivoine, and is a strict, but very reliable manager. However outside of work she is a lot more relaxed and playful. To Shiho, her job is her lover.
Shiho remains as mature and cool in her route, and at times I felt like Hayato was a toy boy with how much she was spoiling him. For good or bad, managing La Pivoine still holds a firm in terms of priority. This gives the route a more realistic feel, and even though I would have preferred more flirting, I’m happy that they didn’t crush Shiho’s character. They briefly mention the age gap between the two, but I suppose they felt that they didn’t need to make things dramatic since Hayato is also an adult. Being older than Hayato, Shiho’s a real tease, but we do occasionally see her childish side.
Moemi is the face mood-maker of La Pivoine. She deeply cares for her family and often looks after her younger siblings to lessen the load on her parents. She’s convinced that she doesn’t hold any charm as a woman, and as such, something like love is unrealistic.
After the confession, Moemi gives off soothing feeling; much like a gentle wife would. Her large sense of humility makes you cherish her all the more, and she’s the way she gets embarrassed so easily is just damn cute. Her original character is somewhat crushed by relationship, and we don’t see her goofing around as much. I know they’re a relationship is gonna change you, but we’re talking about the girl who fondles Hayato’s ass during the common route. So it’s kinda strange to see her being acting logical when Hayato is goofing around. However overall, she’s probably my number two.
Arisa has a very serious personality and acts quite hostile towards guys. Like her mother who was a former model, she stunning good looks. However she is severely lacking skills in other areas such as studying and cooking. She thinks people who don’t date seriously are stupid, and she feels that people should wait for their one true partner.
The moment you enter Arisa’s route, she pretty much goes into super amaenbou mode and fawns all over you. The severe degree that she’s in love with you causes her to act very oddly at times, and this adds some nice humour to this route. At the same time, there were times when I found this over-in-loveness to be a tad over the top. Her sharp tongue is seriously toned down during the relationship, so like Moemi, I felt her original character was crushed by the romance.
I was quite disappointed that the jealousy card wasn’t played all that much in this game. Even when it’s there, it’s usually quite under played.Well that’s just a matter of personal preference, but something that dealt a fairly big blow to this game was the lack of epilogues. It made it feel like the game just suddenly ended. So I was left with a sense of incompleteness after each route. If Smee is trying to stir up interests for fandisc, then they have my attention.
Shouko is Hayato’s and Sora’s Uni friend who can’t seem to get hitched. She provides some nice comical relief in Sora’s route, and plays minor roles in the other routes as well. I quite like her as a character, but I don’t know why they decide to show so much of her forehead…
Moemi’s younger brother and sister, Kenta and Kirari, are quite important as side characters given how family oriented Moemi is. There’s a running gag where Kirari keeps yelling at people to show their nipples, and Kenta is often the target of this abuse(?).
Karina is Hayato’s younger sister. She’s lazy, talks badly about Hayato, and isn’t particularly good at anything. I don’t find her cute at all, and though she brings some comical relief at times, she doesn’t strike me as a character that was necessary. Hell, Hayato’s mum and Sora’s mum both don’t have character sprites, but they contributed more value to the game than Karina.
The way Shiho was influenced by her parents is mentioned at times during her route, so her father is probably a necessary addition. He can be hilarious at times, but I don’t feel the need for a character sprite. And I mean, if they were set on giving him one, they should have did a better job. He stands out like a sore thumb.
Most of the workers at La Pivoine literally blend into the background. I didn’t see any reason why Phillip and Hattori were singled out for character sprites. They aren’t particularly interesting, and you barely learn anything about them.
Graphics, Sound, and System
I really like the graphics for this game. I won’t show anything here, but I felt that the graphics for the H-scenes held a better consistency than those of Smee’s previous titles. The addition of blinking sprites is something I really like.
No complaints about the sound for the game. If you choose to use the default name Hayato, then it’s voiced. Naturally it’s not used if you use a custom name like “superman” or something.
The general system of the game is fairly standard. Though I really wish Smee would add a Jump setting so that you can skip all read text in one go instead of watching it fly past.
Overall Score = 70/100
Based off the routes alone, I would score this game something like 80/100. The common route for this game wasn’t bad either. However the lack of a transitioning period from friend to lover makes the game go from something I would call great, to just something I would call good. Hell, I still feel I’m being a bit generous with my scoring, so the EGS score of 83/100 really baffles me. Yeah you can argue that this game is a slice of life game, so we should be more lenient when it comes to flaws. But I’m a guy who pretty much only plays slice of life stuff, so I have my standards.
I viewed the common route as something of a long introduction of the heroines, and then they skip everything in between and jump into full love love mode. The weird thing is that Smee’s previous titles were probably around the same length of this game, but they were able to put in some decent transition into the mix. Fureraba for instance had a horrible decision system in place, but that still was better than the cell phone texting crap in this game. Plus, Fureraba had quite a few development events that led up to the confession. Lover Able probably had the best transition of Smee’s latest titles
I loved all the heroines for this game, and again, the routes are good if you manage to look past the lack of development. The graphics for this game are a small step up from Smee’s previous titles, and comedy was top notch. I definitely enjoyed this game, but I’m a bit reluctant to recommend it to people.