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 Post subject: Dividead
PostPosted: March 21st, 2011, 6:07 pm 
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Dividead, published in 1998, is actually less of a game and more of a graphic novel.
While its technical standards can be considered high even today and its storytelling and atmosphere are no doubt compelling I have found it to be one of the most overrated titles I have ever played.

Ranmaru is an 18yo high school student with a depressing past, which he spent mostly in hospitals because he was suffering from a mysterious sickness. Its symptoms have subsided, with the exception of the occasional seizure, so his guardian decides to place him in Asao high school, an educational institution deep in the woods of the Japanese mountains where where he works as the dean. Ranmaru is supposed to report anything strange from the students' point of view, and while the first hints seem to indicate a drug problem the real trouble proves to be much more supernatural.

I'll say that much about the plot. As for characters you also have the usual stereotypes, like the sandbox friend, the child, the temptress, the lady-in-training - you name it. We all know them, no need to elaborate. Let's rather talk about language and game controls.

Language first, because it frustrated me but it's not a central part of the game in the sense that I'm talking about the discrepancies between the original dialogue lines and the given translation in English. The spoken dialogue is great, with good voice acting conveying the characters with their emotions and moods really well. But what the translation totally messes up is the fact that Japanese works on a politer basis. When a character e.g. says "Kono..." he or she actually says "You...", and what is not being said is left to the imagination of the person spoken to. It is completely inappropriate to translate this rather harmless piece of dialogue as "You asshole!" That tells us more about the translator than about the character. Examples of this sort are abundant.

Also abundant are more or less important misconceptions and mistakes that sorta blur your understanding of the story if you're not familiar with Japanese and cannot refer to the spoken lines for comparison. There is one, and only one, character whose surname is Yûki. In the spoken dialogue she is often referred to as "Yûki o-Nee-san", "big sister Yûki", a casual and yet polite way of referring to her as a more experienced member of the same group, i.e. the students of Asao High. The translators, however, systematically turned "Yûki o-Nee-san" into "the Yûki sisters". At first I thought this was a deliberate part of the mystery talk going on, but it was soon clear that it was just a translation mishap.

Last but not least in the translation section is a scene that clearly shows the culturally imbedded preferences of the US American translators: Foulmouthing and violence is okay, but sex is a sensitive topic. There is one scene of non-consensual (or hardly consensual) sex in the game, and where the translation reads something like "Oh yes! Pump me harder!" the actual spoken dialogue states quite the opposite, as anyone who's ever seen and heard subbed Hentai Anime with rape topics will be able to confirm. It's so pointless! There's so much sex and gore going on what does it matter whether there is also a (kind-of) rape scene?

So, about the game controls. Quite early the protagonist draws a map of the surroundings of the school, and you move across the map by choosing destinations on that hand-drawn map. There's the boys' dorm (i.e. Ranmaru's room and the balcony), the toilet in front of the boy's dorm, the girls' dorm, the pathway from the girls' dorm to campus, a tennis/basketball court (later leading to a wooded area), a large sports field, the gym hall, the four-story administration building (first, second, third floor, roof, plus several rooms you can check out), the cafeteria, the three-story classroom building, the library (including a reading room), and later the Anekôji residence beyond the fence. All in all about 23 or so locations.
Here's the frustrating thing if you want to see the six or so endings of the game while having no clue about how to achieve it:
Each day is separated into segments, like morning, noon, early afternoon, late afternoon, sunset, evening, night. Time passes whenever you have an encounter that advances the story. You never know where the next encounter is going to happen, even if the text tells you something like "He walks towards the main building" it doesn't mean you're gonna meet anyone there, even if you go straight there without delay.
So what you, I think automatically, do to keep proper track of your movements and save yourself from confusion is to make rounds across the campus, visiting every single location one after another, again and again, in a fixed pattern because it simply feels more efficient and convenient than erratic jumps. You run in circles all the time - which is dull, to say the least, because this procedure reduces your chances of success dramatically.

Here's the core concept for changing the storyline that makes you want to strangle the author: In order to see this or that end you have to go directly to certain places after certain events but you get no whatsoever hint concerning a favorable destination!
For example, after seeing Mami stand at the pond you must go to the Gym to get points for seeing an "A-type" ending or, alternatively, in order to get points for a "B-type" ending you must go to the Tea Ceremony Club (I'll add the hints I found after playing at the end so you'll know about A and B.) If you fail to collect enough (combined) A and B points you will have a C ending, of which one option is that you die.
Depending on your system of efficiently running laps across campus in order to save time in front of the screen it might just be that you accidently fail to make the A/B points and get a bad ending without ever realizing what you might have done wrong! Which is in fact what happened to me - I followed a fixed pattern "patrolling" the campus and came up with the "Azusa 2" option of the C ending.

Who the f*ck comes up with such a system? How is anyone supposed to know where to go in order to get this or that good ending? THERE ARE NO HINTS! Zero, null, nada, nothing, niente, nichts. Decisions that really stick out as decisions are the one question whether you'd rather help the nurse tidy up her office or whether you'll keep the same promise you made to the librarian and the pretty obvious question whether you'll stay or whether you'll leave (play the game to see what I mean). I dare say that without a walkthrough or an FAQ/hints page the replay motivation is close to nil. Without a solution you can easily skip the dialogues, but you'll still have to maneuver across the map and that still takes time.

What were they thinking??? Did these guys actually expect people would play again and again in a random fashion, faintly hoping to coincidentally get a slightly different story line???
I strongly recommend you use a walkthrough for playing this game, otherwise you might end up frustrated.

The hints that I found are not properly credited because I usually don't bother writing down the name of the author as it is unimportant for my gameplay experience:

Basically there are three major endings, A, B, and the „dead“ ending, call it C, each divided into two further options. The three major endings will differ when you answer the final choice of the game.
The C ending will occur when you had less than 7 As and 4 Bs.

A ending
a) Haruka
b) Azusa 1

B ending
a) Sachiko 1
b) Sachiko 2

C ending
a) just dead
b) Azusa 2

----

1st important choice
During noon of day 1, after talking with Mayumi and going to the tea club, you can either go
1. To the 2nd floor of Ishii Hall.
2. To the roof of Ishii Hall

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

2nd important choice
In the evening of day 1, after the incident involving Sano, Kimihito, and Haruka, when you stumble on Kimihito and Haruka doing their "thing", you have two choices:
1. Spy
2. Stop

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

3rd important choice
During nighttime of day 1, when you look for Mami, when you find the library being locked up, you can either:
1. Go to the Wood field
2. Go to the main building

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

4th important choice
In the morning of day 2, after Azusa got hurt, don't take her straigth to the nurse, go to one of the the following points first:
1. Gym
2. Main Building

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

5th important choice
At noon of day 2, after meeting Nishizaki at the loo, go to the following place:
1. Art room
2. Ishii Hall's roof

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

6th important choice
During the evening of day 2, after seeing Mami at the swamp, go to one of the following places:
1.Gym
2.Tea club

Choose 1 to get the A endings.
Choose 2 to get the B endings.

7th important choice
At night of day 2 who you have sex with also matters:
1. Mayumi - to get A endings
2. Aki - to get B endings

There's also an official help file, as it seems, which can be found here.
I find it just written a little more complicated, but it's more elaborate.

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