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Casual Romance Club
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 04/17/2004

You are a teenage boy in high school. You join the Casual Romance Club in order to meet other people and perhaps find love. There are twelve girls you can approach, each one possessing her own unique beauty and personality. Use your time and efforts wisely and you may just get yourself more than a casual romance...

Casual Romance Club is supposedly along the lines of the bishoujo game "True Love", which is still one of my favorite bishoujo games to date. You are given a month to shop around and win somebody's love, after which you'll ask the girl of your choice to keep seeing you even after the club adjourns. It's a happy ending if she agrees, and it simply means you failed to win her heart if she doesn't. It's somewhat like "True Love" in the sense that you fill each day with activities. You can chat with a girl, ask her out, or make an appointment for a weekend date. But that's about all the two games have in common. Casual Romance Club is a totally different experience altogether.

As I've mentioned earlier, twelve girls are available for your romancing pleasure. Each game day starts at the Starry Sky restaurant, with the club notebook laid out for you. The club notebook has the lowdown on all the girls -- their basic statistics, pictures, horoscopes, likes, dislikes, etc. The girls also record their thoughts and reactions on daily events next to their horoscopes, so reading the club notebook can prove vital to your success. I was able to win the first two girls I picked out, and so I thought that simply concentrating on one girl was enough to end up with her. I was wrong. When I tried to win Shiina / Bridget (the girls all have Western and Japanese names, it's up to you to choose which to use while playing the game), I spent every ounce of my time and efforts on her but was far from getting her to like me by the end of the game. I wound up alone. Casual Romance Club was not as simple as I thought. I proceeded to try and win Ayumu / Paige next, and I mysteriously lost to one of the other guys in the club by the third game week.

If getting a girlfriend wasn't enough challenge, there's also getting 100% of the CGs in a girl's photo album. You can very well get the good ending without ever getting all her pictures. You need to be wary of what you say when having a private chat, from picking the day's topic to responding appropriately to the girl you are talking to. Given the girls' varying personalities, the best topics, questions, and answers are never the same. You really have to keep everything you know about the girl in mind when interacting with her. Casual Romance Club could very well be considered as one of the most realistic dating simulations given this type of game play.

Casual Romance Club's artwork is excellent. Character designs are beautiful, and the CGs are rendered in varying styles. The game images are more solidly drawn and vibrant, while the final ending images (see screenshots below) possess the softer appearance of what looks like hand-blended pastel crayons. Since this is an original Japanese release, the hentai scenes all have mosaics for the lower genital areas. I can honestly say that the mosaics were really quite unobtrusive and did not really affect my enjoyment of the game in any way though. Casual Romance Club is bilingual as well. You can choose to have the character voices in Japanese or English, and both tracks are performed by the same Japanese voice actresses. While their English speaking skills vary, I thought the whole bilingual concept worked very well.

Casual Romance Club is easily one of the best, if not the best dating simulation out in the market today. Since it's very challenging, there's a lot of replay value in store. It's also pretty straight all throughout -- no rape, violence, or sadomasochism ever occurs at any point in the game. It even has the most eye-poppingly impressive game manual I've ever laid eyes on -- hardbound, full-color glossy pages, and bilingual to boot! If you should decide to try out an import bishoujo game, make this one it.

Casual Romance Club is being sold in Japan for a retail price of 8800 yen. It's on DVD-ROM. This is one of the very few straight-from-Japan games that are bilingual.

Casual Romance Club
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Review Title:
Casual Romance Club
Alternative Titles:
After School Romance Club, Houkago Ren'ai Club ~Koi no Cupid~
Approximate Length:
30-40 Hours
Suitable For:
Adults Only
General Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
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