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May Club
Reviewer: Guy Wheatley 10/20/2001

Description:
The year is 2032, and you play the role of Hajime Kudo, a young man who has just finished his studies at Jiyugaoka University. Hajime is enjoying some downtime after graduation before he is scheduled to start his training with a CAT company and enter the corporate world as a "wage-slave". One February afternoon you receive a flyer advertising a Virtual Reality Dating Simulator called May Club, apparently the most advanced human interface unit of this type to be developed. In May Club, you can supposedly act out any desire you wish with other May Club users, a world where "virtually" anything is possible and physically represented, and inhibitions are forgotten. Naturally, you're intrigued, and make it a point to spend your vacation time at May Club hoping to meet the woman of your dreams before starting your new life.

Review:
The cover story I perused on May Club admittedly came off as a bit flaky. The matrix-esque V.R. backdrop of May Club seems a mite contrived; a cute "sim-within-sim" slant makes it seem more novel when chalked up against other bishoujo games. However, it became apparent that the V.R. Interface was more than a ploy to go skirt-chasing, and ultimately, May Club became my favorite bishoujo game to date.

I found the protagonist Hajime Kudo to be an amiable, likeable sort. He knows what he wants out of life (or at least is settling into this one with ease). Hajime presents himself respectably, is fairly confident, and is very adamant about his goal of needing a girlfriend in order to start anew and erase the messy history of past relationships. He isn't your average blundering 19-year-old who stutters whenever he speaks to a cute girl and doesn't pick up on any signals subtler than a slap in the face and a blunt sexual invitation -- which seems to be the stock type in many bishoujo titles. In Hajime's own words, "I don't think I have any defects in looks or personality (well, maybe overconfidence is a defect)."

May Club is a character-driven game more than a story-driven one, like "Three Sisters' Story". Your time in the game will be spent going to May Club and then alternatively sleeping at home. You jack into May Club like any cyberpunk V.R. Interface, and it represents the real-world to the exact detail -- down to sight, smell, touch and taste... as well as your physical appearance. Thus it operates more like one ultra-advanced chat room. There are a number of different girls to target, as in any good bishoujo game: There's Akiho, a jaded "office lady" with an erratic temper and acute resentment towards her job's politics; Keiko, a beautiful singer who works in an expensive hostess club for elite clientele; Kazumi, a wry and insouciant hacker who seems to be engaged in May Club to fool around with the program's limits; Rei, an extremely passive and subdued woman with an unpleasant past; and still many others after that. You will take your time whiling away a session with one of these ladies, usually talking them through their respective personal and work-related problems, and slowly building up a rapport with them until you inch your way into their hearts, and skirts. The Japanese must prize women with dark secrets more than anything else, for each one has a juicy one for you to unearth and discover... sometimes in surprising encounters.

Each of the ten girls has an ending to her name (one has two in fact), but it doesn't necessarily come with merely sleeping with her; some have certain other criteria that have to be met. You have a fair amount of freedom and control in the game, compared to many other "click-n-click" bishoujo titles. Most of this freedom is manifest in how you schedule your day, which includes a morning, afternoon, or evening session at May Club, or sleeping at home in order to pass the time. You have from February 16 to the end of March in order to win the love of your maiden, and they don't merely throw themselves in your lap. You can only afford so many sessions of May Club, and different girls will show up at different days of the week at different times. You may book a session and find there's no one there to chat away with at all... just an empty V.R. Field. For this reason, May Club has a good amount of replay value, retracing your steps to find a different a ending.

Ultimately, I highly recommend May Club for the character depth of its cast and the interesting quirks they have to reveal. The replay value is good, as are the hentai scenes (which are fairly explicit with no mosaics or ghosted out penises). I thought that the game was in a gestalt sense one big metaphor for internet relationships, which are not all that meets the eye, either.

Miscellanies:
The Milky House Memorial Game Set contains two games and one erotic doujinshi collection -- "Nocturnal Illusion", "May Club", and "Borderline 1.0"

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May Club
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Review Title:
May Club
Released:
1996
Approximate Length:
10-30 Hours
Suitable For:
Adults Only
General Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Hentai Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Genres:
Romance, Lolita, Normal Sex
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