Time Stripper Mako (PC) review
"Foster may have been the greatest bishoujo game developer ever, but the English speaking world would never know it. Only three of their products were ever translated, all a part of Otaku Publishing’s mid-90’s attempt to popularize the genre. Two of these were the first insipid installments of the Paradise Heights trilogy. The other, and best by default, was Time Stripper Mako. To be fair, this title does have some superior features: namely multiple endings and some oddball humor. D..."
Foster may have been the greatest bishoujo game developer ever, but the English speaking world would never know it. Only three of their products were ever translated, all a part of Otaku Publishing’s mid-90’s attempt to popularize the genre. Two of these were the first insipid installments of the Paradise Heights trilogy. The other, and best by default, was Time Stripper Mako. To be fair, this title does have some superior features: namely multiple endings and some oddball humor. Despite these qualities, the game suffers from the same fundamental problem as its Foster brethren. Time Stripper Mako is a mechanical sexfest with little else to offer.
The main character in this point-and-click bishoujo game is Shinji Nakayama, a somewhat normal university student. The story opens with Shinji in hot water; he’s on the defensive in a fight with his girlfriend… make that ex-girlfriend. Seems she couldn’t deal with his cheating ways any longer and tossed him over. But our rapscallion of a hero doesn’t panic; he seems able to take shocking news in stride. For example, when a naked girl falls from his ceiling into his room that night, claims to be from the future, and informs him that he must reunite with his incensed girlfriend, Shinji simply drifts back to sleep. The next day, he goes to work and school as usual. This is where the player steps in; you have to navigate Shinji through his crazy existence and try to secure him one special girl.
Of course, with the cast of characters Shinji must deal with in this game, his blasé attitude towards the unbelievable is understandable. First of all there’s his ex-girlfriend Michiyo, who looks prim and proper but has her neurotic side. Kyoko is Shinji’s alcoholic, sex-crazed coworker; her glazed zombie eyes indicate she may have some deeper addictions. Also, consider Shinji’s nemesis Emi, the school’s richie-rich girl who he insists is a total bitch. Ironically, as nice as she acts, it turns out Emi fantasizes about being a bitch, literally. So when the new freakshows arrive, Shinji naturally welcomes them with open arms. There’s Kaori, a present day pop-star. She’s afraid of all men, but they should fear her and her ungodly hairstyle that makes Kaori resemble a mutated butterfly. Finally, of course, there’s our duo of future girls: Mako, who seems levelheaded despite a penchant for appearing only in scenes where her clothes disappear, and Nonn, a scatterbrained moron who will kill and/or screw anyone in the way of her simpleminded goals.
Before you’re frightened away by the wacky crew, realize their madcap behavior is the most engrossing part of this game. The revelation of Emi’s secret leaves you in a jaw-dropping, head-shaking stupor. Watching Nonn try to string two ideas together and fumble around with her all-powerful atomic hammer will make you wince with its lame humor. The penultimate scenes, which you won’t believe the writers of the game dared to explore, involve Mako’s misuse of her hormone injecting hypodermic gun, a mistake that results in a crazy gender-bending sexual romp. The music adds to these unique situations. Normally you hear a serene synthesizer tune, but when events veer out of control, it changes to this weird, fast-paced, and heavy beat that really enhances the excitement. These quirky qualities are infinitely more exciting than the sex itself.
Naturally, though, most people will be playing this game solely for the sex, and those fiends won’t be disappointed, if only because of the copious number of h-scenes included. Individually, these shots offer nothing more than the sight of pale flesh. On every path, the girls will cheaply throw themselves at Shinji, or even each other. Flat, emotionless dialogue only adds to the frivolity of these sexual encounters. All the scenes are short, consisting of only a few pictures each. The graphics for these scenes are of the same quality seen in the Paradise Heights series. There’s a good mixture of the more routine sexual positions, with only a few brief girl-on-girl action with toys to change things up. The outlines of the characters are still rough, and the shading is pixilated enough to be distracting. Only a few pictures escape this problem, and those are actually quite attractive.
While the graphics are similar to the other Foster titles, Time Stripper Mako does break one significant barrier. For the first time, Foster made a game that features multiple endings. That’s right! The decisions you make throughout the game will actually determine whether Shinji reunites with his ex, hooks up with a babe from time beyond, or forgets the whole mess and finds a new girl. Unfortunately, making the right moves to get these endings isn’t intuitive. Ostensibly, you must infer how each decision will affect how each girl feels about Shinji. Some are easy to see. For example, if you want to win Michiyo back you must be considerate of her feelings. For the other girls, however, the game doesn’t really give you much insight into their separate personalities, so it’s hard to surmise how Shinji’s actions will impact their attraction to him. In the end, it becomes like a simple guessing game, and you have to exhaustively explore the different paths to secure all the possible scenarios. You may find it worth your time in the end; the endings are unexpected and more interesting than the majority of the game. It surely isn’t a fun task, though, as you’ll be forced to see the same scenes play out over and over.
Even after the first few times through, Time Stripper Mako will no longer excite you. Watching the shallow characters bump into each other, reading their inane exchanges, seeing them fall in and out of coitus at the drop of a hat; it all quickly becomes bland and boring. The game has no depth, no hook to draw you in, and no character that makes you want to care what becomes of her in the end. If all you want are a few laughs and some quick-and-dirty action, raise your glass and partake of Time Stripper Mako. Otherwise think, and don’t drink.
Community review by woodhouse (May 08, 2004)
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