Tottemo Pheromone (PC) review
"In the past, companies that chose to localize bishoujo games have experienced tragically short lives. Not only does this result in times where fans must survive through periods with a paucity of new releases, it means that series of games frequently fall by the wayside, forever incomplete to the English speaking world. Sometimes, these series begin never to see their rightful end, but more often certain titles, still proudly displaying numerical signs of their heritage, must make a splash with..."
In the past, companies that chose to localize bishoujo games have experienced tragically short lives. Not only does this result in times where fans must survive through periods with a paucity of new releases, it means that series of games frequently fall by the wayside, forever incomplete to the English speaking world. Sometimes, these series begin never to see their rightful end, but more often certain titles, still proudly displaying numerical signs of their heritage, must make a splash without aid from their predecessors. Tottemo Pheromone falls in the second category, but it is not so bold; its name successfully conceals its identity as the sequel to a game called Majokko Silk.
While the title may not be forthcoming, the game's content doesn't have the same luxury, as its plot doesn't just mirror that of the first installment, but also involves some of the same characters. Tottemo Pheromone's protagonist, at least, is brand new, an easy-going college student named Takuya Sakuragi. To be closer to school, he's moving in with his Uncle Takashi and Aunt Silk. This couple is the offspring of the previous game, formed when he, another typically nice guy, helped her, a witch cursed to wander between worlds for all eternity, break the binding spell. Fortunately, these facts are explained in a rather lengthy introduction, necessitated by the appearance of another interdimensional traveler, one who also happens to be named Silk! When she falls right into Takuya's lap, the adult-oriented but lighthearted legacy continues. But even though the game contains otherworldly elements, Tottemo Pheromone draws most of its appeal from the everyday romantic entanglements of this reality.
-- Olfactory Attraction! --
At the outset, it doesn't appear as if history will repeat itself, at least in the love department. This new Silk is determined to return to her home planet, and she has a plan to get there. It seems she's discovered a ritual that, given the right magical ingredients, will take her to her desired destination. Naturally, the mystical components are best gathered from young ladies, and evidently several acquaintances of the Sakaragi's have the power Silk requires. Of course, this magic can only be extracted in a sexual way, and since Silk unfortunately doesn't want to explore her bi-curious side, she picks Takuya for the pleasant duty.
However, none of the girls he must seduce is falling over herself to win Takuya's heart; they all possess an unhealthy crush on the happily married Takashi. In order to raise Takuya's overshadowed appeal, Silk resorts to drastic measures and artificially boosts his pheromone levels so high that no woman could resist the attraction. This results in an interesting problem. Should our hero ignore the girls' feelings and take advantage of them in order to help the witch? Should he bestow thanks or blame on the woman who forced him to make these tough decisions? These seemingly pivotal moments are the highlight of Tottemo Pheromone. They force the player to consider the repercussions of certain actions, but then the story disappointingly fails to follow through with any consequences, retaining a lighthearted feel rather than drowning in a sea of overwrought drama.
The choices made in these situations do determine the outcome of the game; each branch in this command-selection adventure can lead closer to a goal or put it hopelessly out of reach. Unfortunately, picking the correct fork to follow offers no analytical challenge. It only takes common sense to know that kissing a girl rather than blowing her off will increase her affections; it only takes guesswork to decide if using the stairs or an elevator will lead to a happy ending. Neither variety generates much anticipation, and past any twinges of guilt that arise from the illicit escapades, one can easily steamroll through the dozen or so evenly-spaced checkpoints to a happy ending.
-- Gustative Temptation! --
Thankfully, itís also a simple task to become attracted to the characters. Forget that much of the game occurs in a pastry shop; here itís the girls that look tasty enough to devour. Character models are large and surprisingly lively for 2-D cutouts and also feature a variety of uniforms and casual outfits. Takuyaís cute coworker Sana looks as appealing in her proper high school threads as in the all-too-revealing cotton-candy colored dress she sports on the job; Kaori seduces you in her bunny-girl outfit but gives off a more serene vibe after hours in a modest blouse and long skirt.
Each girl will also display an array of cute expressions, ranging from bashfully blushing to a wickedly crossed glare, which is possibly the most hilariously endearing face Iíve ever witnessed in one of these games. The generally cheerful nature is complemented by bright backgrounds, and only a slightly abrasive mesh between the layers of person and scene detract from the wonderful atmosphere.
-- Aural Satisfaction! --
The girlsí personalities, though, are encapsulated more in what you hear, as superb voice acting and vivacious music bring the characters to life. If Ayumi's high-pitched whine isn't enough to tell you that she's the immature one of the bunch, then the playful tune that accompanies her overt mischief will. In contrast, Kumi is more mature and obscures her devilish desires with a demure and steady tone; only a silky inflection betrays her underlying intentions. There's no hiding the jubilance caused by the game's majestic piano serenades, though, as you're deceived into believing that each strong chord is carrying you to a watershed moment. All the songs, both catchy and touching, can even be revisited in a special extras section where chibi versions of the girls serenade you with tiny instruments.
-- Optical Stimulation! --
Naturally, the most important extra provides a complete review of the gameís sex scenes. All of the regular girls have at least five explicit encounters with Takuya, each one lasting about five minutes and revealing a couple of pictures. Oral sex is about as wild as it gets here, though sometimes his partner insists on an excursion in a public place to heighten the excitement. While you may admire the sight of their fine figures, you won't hear too many naughty sounds, only frequent, desperate gasps of pleasure. More disturbing are the strange perspective chosen for some of these CG's, a veritable crotch-level view of a transparent penis achieving penetration. Certainly this technique has been seen in other games, but the view is so close here that it could infringe on your gratification in these crucial moments. Unless you dig that action.
-- Tensile Titillation? --
Ultimately, the degree to which you enjoy Tottemo Pheromone depends on your need to brood. The game sets an excellent trap, making you choose between saving Silk from her curse or betraying four innocent women, and it even drops hints to stir up your good conscience. But then it fails to ensnare you by delving into that conflict, instead dispensing a round of good cheer for all. As a result, even though the title includes some really cute details, it can't provide a significant, powerful moment to captivate your attention. Thatís Trabulanceís trademark fluff, however, most enjoyable when youíre stricken with the mood for a pretty package of little consequence.
Community review by woodhouse (February 25, 2005)
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