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Come See Me Tonight 2 (PC) artwork

Come See Me Tonight 2 (PC) review

"With Come See Me Tonight 2, the developers at Sekilala continue to explore Japanese clothing fetishes. Their choice for the debut was weak, simply casual kimonos, and worn by waitresses no less. This time around they focused on a more distinctive treat, the crisp white shirt and crimson hakama of a traditional shrine maiden. Outfits aside though, the sequel and predecessor have much in common. That's not necessarily a good thing, as the first game wasn't a powerhouse of the adult bi..."

With Come See Me Tonight 2, the developers at Sekilala continue to explore Japanese clothing fetishes. Their choice for the debut was weak, simply casual kimonos, and worn by waitresses no less. This time around they focused on a more distinctive treat, the crisp white shirt and crimson hakama of a traditional shrine maiden. Outfits aside though, the sequel and predecessor have much in common. That's not necessarily a good thing, as the first game wasn't a powerhouse of the adult bishoujo genre. Both interactive adventures chronicle a young man's experiences living in a household of eligible women, all of whom are vying for his affections. Both also manage to make that existence seem unbelievably ordinary, and while it provides the same sweet sensitivity seen previously, CMST 2 takes that sense of normalcy to another level.

Much of that ordinary feel has to do with the cast of characters -- an entirely new group -- and it starts with the leading man. Kensuke possesses no dark need for control, no undeniable urge to rape; he's not even a peeping-tom lecher. Instead, he's the quintessential nice guy trying to live a simple, happy life. Sure, he may sit next in line to oversee the Tsukikage family shrine, evidently a position of high prestige, but he's not even sure he wants the job. However, his opinion has to be swayed a little once he learns the post comes complete with a woman of his choosing. Like Kensuke though, these candidates for matrimony are pure of heart. They're not nymphomaniacs or weak-willed masochists. They're just regular girls, each with her own tender feeling for our hero, and none are giving anything up until his feelings are resolved. Except for the harem ending. Then everyone goes buckwild.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. It takes a long time before you witness a scrap of seductive skin, much less a nude female cradled in vibrant green blades of grass, her slender arms irrationally trying to cover her pendulous breasts while her splayed legs reveal a thatch of fine blue hair. In the interim, CMST 2 asks you to slog through an amazingly mundane scenario, even relative to a genre where 98% of mouse clicks merely serve to advance text. The all-encompassing plot details a contest between the four women (that's one less than the original). Each wants to secure Kensuke's heart, but the competition is embodied in a quest to become the next head priestess of the shrine. So instead of having plentiful opportunities to cozy up to his target, Kensuke's time is occupied watching the girls master generic rituals and perform menial chores.

Not that this is entirely unexpected. The first game, where the main character was an aspiring chef, focused a great deal on his tribulations in the kitchen. But that title held a couple of advantages over this sequel. One: the booming outbursts of the mad mentor Murasaki, who entertainingly exploded at the protagonist's slightest misstep. Two: the interaction with its women, which unfolded in a haphazardly natural manner. In CMST 2, Kensuke's grandfather tries to fill the role of the humorous disciplinarian, dropping hints that his delinquent grandson needs a turn at more rigorous training up in the mountains. But the old pervert isn't even voiced, giving his threats the bite of a toothless octogenarian. As for the interaction, most of it occurs with the full group and follows a fixed structure. It quickly develops a routine feel, and not just because many of the scenes in the first hour are mandatory on every playthrough. Even when you burst through into the final hours, where one girl takes center stage, the different paths are somewhat parallel in design, making each subsequent journey more predictable.

Of course, this repetition doesn't preclude certain bits of material from being a tad cute and entertaining. In fact, it's a great opportunity to explore the characters, but anyone who's played a few of these games will have met most of these girls before. The aggressive hothead continually bent on having her own way. The caring friend who's a little absent-minded yet does her best to support everyone. The oversexed widow who fills her void with bottles upon bottles of sake. Only the cover girl is unique, the prototype of a perfect miko with her straight, jet-black hair and skin like a porcelain doll. Even as she's outwardly sweet and compliant, she can also act like a haughty little bitch. She's just abrasive enough to provide a little bite and make herself stand out from the archetypes represented by the other women. At least they're not all related this time.

Personalities, both refreshing and cliché, aren't enough to carry an entire game, however. No doubt knowing this, the creators laid the groundwork for an engrossing plot. It's clear that childhood friends Sheena(the assertive brat) and Nanao(the considerate friend with indigo locks) are much more interested in Kensuke than securing some prestigious position. The other two girls face the opposite problem, as forming a relationship seems incident to their goals. Minami(the problem drinker) is the incumbent shrine maiden, and she doesn't want to lose the position to an upstart. Koruri(the snob) has trained her entire life for this leading role, but it's questionable if she holds any particular regard for her intended husband or just views him as part of the package. In dealing with these issues, the game focuses on tender interaction between Kensuke and his lover, complete with a soothing background score. As each instance crescendos towards an electrifying conclusion, you keep waiting for those critical points where a tough, game-changing decision will arise.

But it never comes. The most disappointing part of the game is that the drama resolves without your direct intervention. In the beginning of the game you are a veritable god over Kensuke. Not only do you control how interested or indifferent he acts towards each potential mate, but the character selection screens, which repeatedly force you to select a particular girl, remove the uncertainty from pursuing a target. By the second half though, you're leaning towards impotence -- except in the bedroom of course -- and none of your decisions affect the prepackaged happy ending; they just unlock new pictures. Still, the writers deserve commendations for keeping the story mildly interesting by nicely relating some natural emotional elements, but it can’t feel the same when you can’t alter the outcome.

Those who believe the destination is more important than the journey can gleefully disregard the above complaints. If the staff here learned anything from the first game, it's that repeating CG's in separate sex scenes is a major drag. So in the sequel, each girl's fifteen or so pictures are used one time only. The singular attribute of these scenes is not the softer sheen of the girls’ skin, the cute Japanese voices, or their impressive duration. No, it's the fact that the protagonist appears in many of the shots. Not just his lower body either, but his face (girlish as it is), which is still not that common in contemporary localized games. This tends to make the encounters seem more intimate and should translate into greater enjoyment. And most important, the shots are tame and inoffensive, gratifying to all audiences.

Come See Me Tonight 2 certainly is a game you can relish, at least superficially. It features slicker graphics, cuter outfits, and at least as engrossing a story as the first installment. It also has less interesting gameplay and fewer characters, making it pretty much an even comparison. So the sequel is consigned to the same verdict as its predecessor. Initially tiresome, eventually sentimental, but inescapably an evanescent experience. Other games can undoubtedly impress you more. So if you're still waiting till tomorrow to purchase Come See Me Tonight, set this one aside for the day after.


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Community review by woodhouse (April 19, 2005)

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