I'm Gonna Serve You 4 (PC) review
"Among fans of English bishoujo titles, Trabulance is a company known for producing less-than-serious fare. Stick some cute girls in cute uniforms, throw them in a novel environment, and let the sexual comedy ensue. At first, or even second, glance, Tsukushite Agechau 4 looks exactly the same. This impression is certainly supported by the opening theme, a cheerful J-pop tune playing over a movie that immediately focuses on the girls’ obvious physical endowments. It leads the player t..."
Among fans of English bishoujo titles, Trabulance is a company known for producing less-than-serious fare. Stick some cute girls in cute uniforms, throw them in a novel environment, and let the sexual comedy ensue. At first, or even second, glance, Tsukushite Agechau 4 looks exactly the same. This impression is certainly supported by the opening theme, a cheerful J-pop tune playing over a movie that immediately focuses on the girls’ obvious physical endowments. It leads the player to believe that the game is only about frivolous T&A, but Tsukushite Agechau 4 will surprise you. One part comedy, one part drama, two parts romance, and three parts passionate sex, the game succeeds in having the player experience a full range of emotions.
Tsukushite Agechau 4 focuses on Koji Aoyama, a normal high school student. After miraculously surviving a devastating car accident, the comatose youth is shipped off to America in hopes of an equally astounding recovery. Thankfully, after many months of “rehab” with Dr. Playmate of the Year, Koji reverts to at least the picture of perfect health. Feeling revitalized, he returns to Japan and moves in with his uncle for what he believes to be a simple period of recuperation. Instead, he receives the next shock of his new life. Four girls, all acquaintances of Koji’s since childhood, are also moving into his uncle’s house, and the group is going to work together at his restaurant.
Even before the accident, all these girls held dear feelings for our hero. Now, because of his close brush with death, each has resolved to make Koji her own. In this point-and-click adult bishoujo game, it’s up to the player to choose which will capture Koji’s heart. The decision won’t be easy, however, as fabulous artwork and excellent voice acting make you fall in love with the personality of each girl. Himeko, the game’s cover girl, hangs around Koji like an adoring younger sister. Her huge bow, pouty looks, and girlish voice all highlight her childish behavior, but she also carries the weight of responsibility for Koji’s situation, as he was injured protecting her. Chizuru, on the other hand, nags him like an overbearing older sister. Through her often exasperated and teasing tone, as well as her array of winks and leers, she shows her concern for her friend. Takano, the daughter of Koji’s uncle, is very polite and gentle, especially towards her cousin. Despite her foreign features, her soft, demure voice and delicate nature make her the model of Japanese femininity. Finally, there’s Leo, a terse and seemingly emotionless girl with an unknown past. With her overbearing aura of isolation, Leo’s short, monotone sentences and reserved smiles only hint the depth of her feelings. Looking through our champion’s eyes, you will come to know the girls not only through these everyday looks but also in irresistibly cute moments. Wistfully reminiscing with each girl about childhood embarrassments or awkwardly conversing about love will pull you in all four directions.
However, if you desire a little naughty streak, none of the girls will always act chaste and pure. In fact, living in the same house as their crush must have caused some kind of chemical imbalance in the lot of them, bordering on the schizophrenic, as each girl’s actions are incomprehensible to a rational mind. One day, a girl will become a sultry seductress; she may jump into the bath with Koji or wholeheartedly offer her body up for his sexual gratification. Even forgetting any prospective competition, she’ll willingly recruit any of her housemates to break down Koji’s resistance to her charms. The next day, though, all is forgotten, and she’ll act as meek as a naive schoolgirl. The prospect of simply holding Koji’s hand or giving him a kiss on the cheek will make her blush down to her ankles. These mercurial changes in attitude are quite adorable for a time and will definitely keep one off balance. Nevertheless, as this pattern drags on and on, the increasingly tiresome routine leaves the player wondering if any of these relationships will ever grow into anything more serious.
The writers for Tsukushite Agechau 4 anticipated the player’s need something more substantial, though. Just when you begin to lose focus and wish the game would hurry up and end, they violently grab hold and yank you back to rapt attention. Drifting away from Trabulance’s trademark light and fluffy style of storytelling, they added surprising twists into this game that will firmly tug at the player’s heartstrings. The once serene and cheerful music suddenly becomes intermingled with lilting and tragic piano compositions as death, the supernatural, and the mysterious all threaten to tear Koji and his lover apart forever. The turn of events is so sudden it may seem like a cheap ploy, but ultimately the game extinguishes this thought; the passionate, agonizing exchanges between the characters solidify their true devotion to one another. As you’re pulled into the ordeal, even your desire to see the sex scenes becomes subjugated as you frantically click away in hopes of a happy resolution. By the end of the game, you will feel either miserable uneasiness or hopeful joy as the final picture fades away and the credits begin to roll.
It is during the game’s dramatic phase when most of the lovemaking takes place. These scenes are perfectly arousing on their own; after all, the girls’ very curvy bodies certainly are attractive. Each girl has five different sex scenes, all consisting of a several pictures, and the artists do an excellent job of providing balanced perspectives, sometimes focusing on Koji’s first-person view and other times switching to the voyeuristic third-person angle. Admittedly, the sexual content is strictly vanilla, but that is innocently sweet in a game focusing on a budding romantic relationship. In addition to simple visual stimulation, though, the voice actresses once again do an excellent job, convincing you of the heat of the moment. Hearing a girl frantically scream her love in between pleasurable moans can take the player well past the boiling point. More important, though, are the emotions stirred by the charged situations. These characters are showing their love in the face of unbearable circumstances, and you are swept up in the wake of their passion, sharing a small piece of their happiness and sorrow.
As captivating as these sentimental displays are, though, they cannot completely overshadow Tsukushite Agechau 4’s failure as a challenging game. In this point-and-click environment, the endings are controlled by how Koji behaves in certain situations. Each decision involves two choices. One option will increase a girl’s love for Koji, while the other will leave her feelings unchanged. This is a traditional setup for bishoujo games, but two problems plague this game in particular. First of all, the outcomes of Koji’s choices are extremely obvious; many are in response to a girl’s direct question. You quickly learn that the game is perfectly straightforward; there’s no trickery involved in the answer you need to provide. The choices are so often diametrically opposed that there’s no ambiguity to cloud how each reply will affect her feelings. This makes figuring out how to achieve the three endings for each girl much too simple; the built-in hint system is barely needed.
Secondly, in addition to being easy, working through all the endings for a character is a largely repetitive affair, as the events following a decision are usually not greatly affected by your choice. After a few lines of unique dialogue, the branches will converge back to the same point in the story. Once you’ve played through one good ending for a girl, you’ll basically have seen all her scenes, including the naughty bits. While your emotions can remain on edge during these subsequent play-throughs, the excitement will undoubtedly dim as your need for new and unexplored elements goes unfulfilled.
Despite its lack of replay value, Tsukushite Agechau 4 excels for other reasons. Trabulance is able to deliver a large dose of its trademark cute girls and comedy, yet at the same time add a new and unexpected dimension to the game. It’s a complementary contrast and remarkable evolution, considering that this game which ends as an emotional, romantic drama is able to spring from such innocent frivolity. So while you won’t experience the deep stirring of your soul as with stark titles like Kana Little Sister or Crescendo, you will feel a few strong ripples. Any bishoujo game collection would improve with the inclusion of Tsukushite Agechau 4.
Community review by woodhouse (May 30, 2004)
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