Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Shooter Minigames of Tokimeki Memorial

For a good long while, I'd known about the Twinbee and Force Gear minigames in Konami's Tokimeki Memorial...but what I didn't know is that each of the ports featured different shooter games, and a number of the sequels and spinoffs had their own unique games as well, which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere on the English speaking internet outside of a passing mention on TVTropes. I only found about them by browsing this wiki.

But first, a bit about Tokimeki Memorial - it's a dating simulation that was first released in the mid-90s which exploded in popularity. There's an article for it on the site, although it's much more flippant than the usual stuff, since it was written in the early days, long before it had anything vaguely approaching standards. It is amusingly bitter, at least, but I really don't like the game on the deepest of conceptual levels. I don't care how many different outfits you draw for the girls or how much fluffy music you compose, you cannot reduce the complexities of human interaction into a series of IF-THEN statements. And the whole absurdly romanticized Japanese high school experience is just so far removed from reality that it's almost patronizing.

But oh, what, shooters? Right! The cool thing about the games is that they're absolutely densely packed with content - since there are various girls to chase, various skills to obtain and clubs to join, you can see different stuff each time you play through. Some of these are dumb, like the Track and Field-ish sports competitions. By far the coolest are the shooter mini-games that come with joining the Computer Club. Unlike the mini-games in Legend of the Mystical Ninja (which let you play mini versions of Gradius, XEXEX and Time Pilot), these are standalone titles with title screens, storylines, and unique graphics and music, although many of them heavily reference other Konami games. They also seem like prototypes for Konami shooters that never actually got made. So included here are screenshots, a little bit about them, and save game files to quickly access them. (If you want to reach them yourself, just join the computer club at the beginning of the year and attend it to the exclusion of everything else...after roughly two years you'll unlock all of them. And since that takes a few hours, please appeciate these save game files!)

Twinbee Returns (PC Engine) / Twinbee Time Attack (PSOne / Saturn)

The first games to unlock at your school's cultural festival, these are time trials for Twinbee, where you fly over some generic scenery, fight a handful of bosses, and get your total time tallied at the end. Twinbee Returns is based on the orginal Twinbee arcade game with some slightly enhanced graphics and some scratchy digitized voice. Twinbee Time Attack is based on a combination of Detana Twinbee and Pop'n Twinbee.

PC Engine - Download save states for Magic Engine
PSOne - PSOne memory card Load up game, pick "omake" from menu". From GameFAQs

(Magic Engine saves from this thread at Gradius Home World)

Force Gear - PC Engine Version

Force Gear is a short side-scrolling shooter that blends Hudson's Star Soldier with Konami's Gradius series. Many of the enemies are the same, including large versions of the Big Core and tiny versions of the spinning orb boss from Gradius II. The power-ups are the same orange orbs, giant-sized, and even the font is the same. However, the action is a bit different from standard Gradius games. You play as a transforming mech which can fire multi-directional shots when fully upgraded. After firing for a few seconds, you'll also unleash a powerful laser blast. Like Star Soldier, the backgrounds are filled with destructible tiles, which is important when playing for score. The action is fast paced, and your mech is technically invincible up until the final boss, where you can be killed if you're not careful.

Although it's short, it's an extremely cool, well designed game. The stage starts with your mech fighting alongside several other ships, before transforming into a jet and jumping into hyperspace. The rest of your squadron is taken out, and you're left fighting the rest of the stage alone. When you reach the level boss, you fight it for a few seconds before a huge tentacle comes out of the side of the screen and skewers it, before jumping into view and commencing attack. The same device was used in the first level of Salamander 2, where you begin fighting the Golem (the one-eyed brain thing from the first level of Salamander/Life Force) before it's eaten by a huge snake thing.

Download save state

(Magic Engine saves from this thread at Gradius Home World)

Stardust Symphony EX - PlayStation version

The sole 3D game, Stardust Symphony EX is basically a first person rail shooter. You have control over a set of crosshairs and loose control of your ship as you blow up stuff, get power-ups, and avoid enemy fire. In addition to the standard gun, there are two types of bombs - a huge laser, and a screen-searing bomb. There are three stages - an asteroid field, where you face off against a large mech; a desert, where you end up fighting a three headed dragon; and a generic outer space level, where you fight a robotic octopus. It's ugly even for PSOne level 3D, and it's really a bit boring, but it's largely inoffensive.

PSOne - PSOne memory card Load up game, pick "omake" from menu". From GameFAQs

Psyth - Saturn Version

Psyth is conceptually similar to Salamander 2 - you have two options, which can be released to roam around the screen to do damage, and need to be retrieved if you want to requip them. The major difference is that the options will swirl in formation around your ship, loosely protecting it from enemies and projectiles. Both the formation type and your weapon are determined by your speed, which can be set at three different levels.

The graphics are colorful and detailed, about what one would expect from a full fledged Saturn game. It begins underseas, as you fly into a cave and eventually through a portal that warps you in the sky, before zoom higher into the clouds to face off against a mechanical spider and a huge shellfish robot. There's a heavy Darius vibe throughout, including the laid back Zuntata-ish score. While it's short, it's not a time attack like Force Gear, and you're challenged to beat the whole stage (about 3-4 minutes long) without losing all of your lives. It's pretty good - out of all of the Tokimemo shooters, this is the one most deserving of becoming a full game.

Download save state For SSF

Space Ring Fighter - Tokimeki Memorial 2

The core of Space Ring Fighter lies in a little energy ring which hovers in the center of your ship. It can absorb enemy bullets, but it's so small that it's a fairly lousy defense. Rather, it's slightly more useful for two purposes - it can be used to fire a homing shot, or summon a giant pair of energy swords to crush foes, similar to the super attack from Treasure's Radiant Silvergun. The homing attack consumes 1/16th of your ring gauge, while the sword attack will consume all of it. The gauge replenishes itself over time, but refills quicker if you don't fire. The ultimate goal is to beat the game as fast as possible.

Considering it's part of the name, the ring gimmick doesn't really work, because neither attack is that powerful, least of all the sword attack, which takes far too long to recharge. Coupled with some completely bland graphics that take place against the dull starry background - Force Gear and Psyth looks legions better - make for a pretty lousy experience. The music is boring, although the sound effects are also taken straight from Gradius.

PSOne - PSOne memory card Load up game, pick "omake" from menu"

Melting Point - Tokimeki Memorial 2

Basically a more refined version of Space Ring Fighter, it's essentially the same game, though with a life gauge, and the goal is to get a high score rather than beat it as quickly as possible. There's also a brief jaunt into an enemy base, complete with a cheap looking polygon rendered background before fighting the boss.

PSOne - PSOne memory card Load up game, pick "omake" from menu"

As a side note, if you get through all three years of Tokimeki Memorial 2 without getting a girl, you apparently spend the rest of your pathetic existence holed up in your room playing video games. The game on the TV screen appears to use graphics from Twinbee Yahho!

Strangely, neither Tokimeki Memorial 3 nor 4, nor any of the Girl's Side games, have any shooting minigames. However, there are a couple more in some of the adventure game spin-offs, Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series and Tokimeki Memorial 2 Substories. I haven't gotten around to unlocking these yet because they're even more tedious to play than the main games, though I did find some videos. (The first series runs on the same engine as Policenauts.) If anyone has any memory card saves of these unlocked, please send them in. You owe me, internet!

Star Crasher - Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol 2. Irodori no Love Song, Vol 3. Tabidachi no Uta

A bullet hell-ish overhead shooter. This actually appears in two games in different formats. in Irodori no Love Song (featured in the Youtube video), the graphics all consist of text. In Tabidachi no Uta, the graphics have been redrawn to look like a regular 16-bit video game.

Conquer - Vol 2. Irodori no Love Song

I don't really know anything about this one, because the only thing I can find are videos of the music of the end theme, which apparently people really like. Info coming soon, maybe?

Go Driller! - Tokimeki Memorial 2 Substories 2: Leaping School Festival

Tokimeki Memorial 2 has its own anime-within-a-game, a mech anime called Go Driller! This was turned into an arcade game in this title.


At various points, you can go on school vacation and get attached by bears, at which point it changes to a Final Fantasy-style battle.

The PlayStation version of the first game (and presumably the others too) features graphics similar to the 16-bit Final Fantasy games.

The second game features 3D graphics that resemble a cutesy version of Final Fantasy VIII.

If you lose, this kindly woodcutter jumps out of the bushes, takes out his gun, and...

...shoots a laser which tears the bear to pieces, polygon by polygon. What an odd game.

Have some cheesecake from the first game too. There's a lot more steam in the second game, as perhaps they felt this was all a bit too racy. (These screens are from the Saturn version.)

At certain points you can pick from three steamy windows, one of which has bathing girls. The dialogue says "I got lucky! Thank God I'm alive!" (I also entered my name in the wrong spot because I wasn't paying attention, so it has my first name instead of my last.)


  1. Absolute madness. Please go play something for fun! Still, I have to respect your dedication. Both to the cause and the craft.

  2. Awesome doesn't even cover all of the above. Great to see an English resource for all this online.

    I recall with fondness when InsertCredit covered the shooters in the PC-Engine version, and since Tokimeki was a pack-in with my Duo-R I dug it out and realised: Ha! An actual reason to load this up now.

    Well in truth I ripped it and emulated it on my Xbox with a pre-made save file, but still.

    Odd thing about Force Gear:
    Has anyone cleared the boss? Using hexediting I made a cheat code for infinite health/time (playing it on Mednafenx-pce) so I couldn't die, and spent what felt like an eternity trying to kill it. But it never went down.

  3. Probably invincible because there's only one stage. I think some Goemon mini games worked similar

  4. this is why you're awesome, Kurt.

  5. Congrats through making it through cutesy drama. Which one runs on the Policenauts engine? The first in the drama series?

    Anyways, it's an interesting concept, to say the least. The idea of taking a break from the game by playing a game is strange, but it works in the Goemon games.

    And am I the only one who finds the low polygons and pixalated pixels from PSX games charming now? I don't think Stardust Symphony looks that bad.

  6. Last thing to bring up, but Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodious features a stage that's a parody of the Tokimeki Memorial games full of schoolgirls and penguins and a goofy arrangement of Stranger in Paradise (but considering the game features mostly classical music parodies, it's probably taken from the original Borodin work). This time it's the shooter featuring the dating game.

    Here is the level:

  7. It's taken a while, but there are now more than a handful of English speaking fans who like romance games. Yes, the fandom is still small. But I'm glad to say that in 2011, there's finally more than poorly written porn games. The fan translation scene has provided full patches for games as complex as the first two Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side DS games, and as unique as Littlewitch's visual novel/interactive comic Quartett. Furthermore, English speaking creators have released a lot of creative freeware and indie games, including Hanako Games' life simulation hybrid Magical Diary, and Winter Wolves' western RPG hybrid Planet Stronghold.

  8. Just downloaded the save state for trying out "Psyth" in SSF, but I only get a "Load Error" Message. Any Suggestions??? I would really like to play taht game. Looks great. Please Help! Anyone?

    1. Sorry, I actually tried reloading this same save state and it doesn't work for some reason? This was even using the same version of SSF. I used the actual CD this time but made this save state with the an ISO I'd downloaded. That shouldn't make a difference, but you never know.