I love the Persona series. I played the first one on my PSP but didn’t really get into it and finally quit playing after 20 hours. At that time my girl was pretty busy writing a paper for her law-studies and I kept her company, lying in the bed next to her desk, playing some handheld-videogames. Being a good boyfriend and all I just started with Persona 3 Portable, lying there without doing anything was not that much fun. And I wanted to be supportive after all. So I started with P3P and loved it.
The graphics were much better, the music was amazing, with a tasteful mix of Hip Hop, Funk and House and there was one part in it that made it one of the best games I ever played: The social links. Inside the game, you had the opportunity to meet up with people in the daytime and spend time with them. Spending more time with one character, you could “level up” your relationship with them which was an integral part of the gameplay as well. It was an absolute necessity to hang out with your in-game friends and level up these social links. I don’t want to go any further with this because otherwise, I would be knee-deep into talking about the unique Persona gameplay and neglecting the actual topic of this article: Dating sims.
To make it short, I just loved hanging out with the cast of Persona 3, talking with them and learning more about their pasts. And just having more or less casual conversations is a great way to improve on your Japanese listening/reading comprehension. Of course, you could just watch some Anime with Japanese subtitles but it’s a little too fast for me and when playing a game, I have the power to exactly control the speed of the conversation. (For tips on more exciting Japanese Vita games)
The Dream Club is a hostess club. You can go there and hang out with your favorite lady, have some drinks, share some laughs and if you’re feeling especially brave, have a banana as well. The premise might not sound too appealing at first but if you overlook that you’re virtually paying virtual girls to have a drink with you, it’s a great way to work on your Japanese skills.
You might know this – each lady has a different taste
And that’s the case in Dream C Club Zero as well. Each one of the 10 girls caters to a Japanese stereotype of a young woman. The cute one, the intellectual one and so on. Depending on which one you fancy, her Japanese might be more or less difficult to understand. Some will talk in an Anime kind of way, some will talk more realistically and the subjects you’re talking about vary as well. I found it a very rewarding experience when I could just listen to what the girls had to say, ask them about their favorite food and why they were so scared of going to the dentist. Rewarding because I could understand what they had to say and even if I didn’t catch some words, there were always the subtitles on which I could rely.
If you’re not afraid of the clichée that goes with playing one of these games, just give it a try and you’ll hopefully have as much fun with it as I do. Of course, all these drinks and dates with the girls are not free. And now between practicing some cute Japanese, we’ll even learn some valuable life lessons: Love is expensive. You’ll have to earn some in-game money in between your visits to pay for all this. It’s a little bit annoying especially because you’re just selecting a job, choosing the length you want to work for (1, 2, 3 weeks) and then confirm it with the push of a button. If you choose one job several times you can sort of level it up and earn even more money.
I’m playing Dream C Club Zero on my Vita. It’s available for the PS3 as well but this kind of game is made for a handheld in my opinion. Especially if you’re not too comfortable with your Kanji reading and still have to look closely on some characters. The bright and clear Vita screen makes it a pleasure to read on it and might give you an advantage over playing it on a TV. At least it gives me one. And to be honest, who wants to play this kind of game on the big screen in the living room?
Unfortunately, screenshots were blocked when you’re talking to one of the girls in the game but the video above should even give you a better impression of what the game is all about.
Love is tough. I know that. To avoid too much frustration in winning over the heart of your favorite hostess you should check out this Japanese guide which provides a walkthrough for each of the ladies. I’m not a completist in games (or in life) but if you want to check out the different “routes” in the game you should have a look into the guide.
About the Vita “The Best” edition
The game is available as a cheap “The Best” edition for just 2,800¥ which is a nice price. If you want to avoid the ugly The Best covers with the big white frame, don’t worry. You can just turn it around and have the original artwork printed on the other side. I didn’t know that and was really happy about it.
Buy Dream Club Zero Portable from cdjapan
(If you buy the game through this link, I’ll get a small referral fee which will be used to buy even more awesome stuff for review.)
What are you thinking about this type of game or maybe you have some experience with other Dating Sims you could recommend? Please let me know, always looking for fun games to play, especially for the ones where I can pick up some Japanese words while playing.