Pick Me, Honey! (PC) review
"The harem route has become a standard in the repertoire of H games. These raucous paths, where all pretenses are dropped in favor of uninhibited orgies, are now the de facto reward for reading the multitude of monogamous threads to completion. Pick Me, Honey! teases about reversing that equation, providing the protagonist with a cadre of concubines from the very beginning. "
The harem route has become a standard in the repertoire of H games. These raucous paths, where all pretenses are dropped in favor of uninhibited orgies, are now the de facto reward for reading the multitude of monogamous threads to completion. Pick Me, Honey! teases about reversing that equation, providing the protagonist with a cadre of concubines from the very beginning.
No one should be surprised that his temptresses are the main character's best friends. Only poor Reiji Oshima falls shocked as the trio reveals their undying love when he comes of age. In fact, an arrangement has already been reached between his father and all parties involved, except for Reiji himself. If the son can successfully choose a bride, then he can inherit the family business and flourish in wedded bliss. Of course, this is a mere formality -- as is most every aspect of this game -- because the rejected candidates will happily live on as his mistresses. Just to show what a big, happy family they can be, the party moves into the bedroom, and the three fiances watch the elder Oshima's secretary screw Reiji's brains out.
With that random bit of sex out of the way, PMH! can properly begin the standard character expositions. Hazuki the Fighter unleashes some arcane attack whenever she gets embarrassed. She's Reiji's childhood friend. Chihiro the Dreamer lets her imagination run wild, whenever she isn't waiting on everyone hand and foot. She's Reiji's little sister (Adopted!). Mio the Princess acts just self-centered and spoiled enough to be endearing. She's Reiji's cousin (Distant!). Despite their initial collective willingness to share, the girls proceed to show that jealousy is running high and the competition for the groom is on.
Most of the battle is waged in a domestic setting like the kitchen or bath -- the bedroom is saved until later -- where Reiji's wishes are humorously ignored in an overzealous attempt to outdo all rivals. These episodes can be as annoying as they are cute, and are often outdone by chibified depictions of Chihiro lost in dreamland or the devastating effects of a Super Hazuki Punch. Of course, the motivation behind these shenanigans is to distill your favorite from Reiji's bunch, a task accomplished in two ways. It's necessary to score points with the girl by kowtowing to her at the infrequent breaks in the text-scrolling action. These choices are precipitated by the dreaded character selection screen, where ostensibly you can pick any girl to spend time with. Although here the system here is a bit more lenient than in other games of the genre; you can actually select more than one and still proceed to a successful resolution.
PMH! is actually similar to another Trabulance title, Tsukushite Agechau 4, and not just because both detail the positives and perils of overloaded cohabitation. Both open with lively J-Pop theme song, and quality music continues throughout, conveying the right amount of pluck for happiness and humor, and a momentous swell for sorrow and drama. The character designs are similar as well; after all, they were done by the same artist. Mio's properly reserved countenance mirrors Leo's detached stare in TA4. Even both leading ladies wear a ridiculously large bow. And most important, both games plod towards the pivotal moment, when a favorite woman is finally crowned, by piling on inconsequential banter.
But when TA4 gets there, it takes a marvelous turn, introducing fantastic and dramatic plot devices that are gripping even if you find them a little absurd. On the other hand, PMH! plays out exactly the way I feared Tsukushite would, by maintaining the status quo. There's small bubblings in the four-cornered relationship buried under a whole lot of sexual activity, yet the problems are ultimately resolved with a few soothing words and another good rut, before closing to generic happiness.
And those endings must be discussed as well. The girls have two resolutions a piece, achieved through making compelling choices such as:
Choice 1: Slap her a couple of times.
Choice 2: Kiss her to wake her up.
Choice 1: Gently scold her.
Choice 2: Get mad at her.
Now, if you pick correctly enough, then you'll unlock all the special naughty graphics and watch the couple ride off into the sunset. Pick incorrectly enough, and you'll unlock all the special naughty graphics and watch the couple ride off into a slightly modified but equally luminous sunset. Nothing less than pimping her out can break her bedrock of unconditional love, and unfortunately that's not an option here. It's hardly worth auto-skipping through all the identical dialogue to reach such similar conclusions.
These combined factors make PMH! another title that basically relies only on its adult content, and it thankfully nails the essentials. The game's unique angle is its body count; because of the unorthodox arrangement, Reiji often finds himself in the middle of two or three partners. The material itself it quite tame; the wildest it gets involves playing with food or anal sex, since Mio wants to save her virginity for marriage (yet has no problem pledging to be an eternal mistress). As per usual, the voice work is in Japanese, which makes it sound incredibly erotic. Also, in a merciful move, not many of the poses include my own personal bane, the trademark Trabulance Transparent Penis. However, contrary to the group-love theme, the bulk of each girl's path has scenes featuring only her and Reiji, with eight or nine separate episodes individually. There are even a couple of unlockable monogamous paths where Reiji can jettison his crew and hook up with an older woman, either the previously mentioned lusty secretary or his addle-brained teacher (She's Hazuki's sister!). And of course, this game wouldn't be right if it didn't have a wild harem route where Reiji snags all five women.
Pick Me, Honey! is definitely a good-natured game. It's sorta funny, sorta shocking, and sorta tedious, and really only exists to dispense a dose of group sex smut. It's definitely on the low-end of the localized Trabulance spectrum. But with the future of those translation efforts in doubt -- G-Collections may be on permanent break -- Pick Me, Honey! can serve as adequate filler for any slow times ahead.
Community review by woodhouse (July 04, 2005)
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