Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

A dating / life sim for all tastes set in college http://www.winterwolves.com/roommates.htm
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Lonestar51
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Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Lonestar51 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:51 pm

Maybe I will get hate for reviewing a foreign game in this specific forum, but the two games are the two dating sims I played recently (and of the many games I played, dating sims are only a few...) Also, I have some (possibly) interesting observations on what went well or not. Of course all of it subjective.

In some ways Roommates is a lot better: it starts with the writing - I simply like the light, joking tone of roommates better. The music of magic diary is between uninspired and annoying, here jack has chosen well the band who worked for roommates. And of course, Magic Diary does not support Linux64 even though RenPy should support it since ages. Update the library, Hanako!

However, Magic Diary has some good points as well. The first are the tests, where you need to apply the magic you learned to overcome obstacles. This system has two advantages: It makes the player feel like the student really learned something during the classes, something worthwhile. it also made the tests really like tests, and not just a date by which one needed to achieve a certain stat. And I enjoyed the challenge of finding out how to overcome the obstacle. With several ways how to succeed. Of course, in a magical college something like this is easier to implement, but still: Well done, Hanako.

The second point is the romancing. In roommates it is clear who is a possible partner, in Magic Diary this is less clear. And while Magic Diary seems to have the romance stats in the background as well, these are not shown. Thus it is harder to be sure who might be approached, and who not. This leads to a paradox: In Roommates I started to weigh every decision in terms of: will I get her if I do this. It took the focus a bit away from the (admittedly better) story. With Magic Diary I leaned back and experienced the story. Do something, see where it leads. Here it helped that the obvious love interests where males, and I do not really get much into pursuing males. So if I get him, interesting, if not, interesting too. Just enjoy the story while it unfolds. And the story took a turn which I did not expect. (sorry, Spoiler!)

If the length of the paragraphs gives a wrong impression: I still consider Roommates the better game, *very* subjectivly. However, the points where Magic Diary is better need a bit more explaining than a single sentence, and this is why the praise is so long.

PS: I would not have bought Magic Diary if it were not in the Humble Bundle, and if jack had not posted about it. So maybe I am still on topic :mrgreen:

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jack1974
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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by jack1974 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:40 pm

Hehe will show her the review (I know her well).
In defense of her coder (which I also know well!) that game used a custom version of Ren'Py, and is also older than Roommates which uses the latest version. So I think that's the reason of the 64-bit linux problems.
Regarding the rest, I think the setting of MD offers more possibilities for tests and such. That game is more towards life/raising sim than dating, while Roommates definitely more into the dating part :)

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Miakoda
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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Miakoda » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:09 pm

I love both games equally well, but for me, both are entirely different animals as it were. Roommates is definitely a dating sim, whereas I would view Magical Diary as more of a life sim (and for the record, I would love a sequel to Magical Diary, but Hanako is very averse to making sequels, etc.)

One thing Magical Diary did was remind me of the old SSI Gold Box AD&D games, with the perspective and whatnot (the ones in the dungeon :D) >

Of course, I also look at the age. Magical Diary is much older than Roommates (as you noted given the age of the RenPy version it was using).

I loved the magic system and the dungeons. I thought it was a shame more weren't done with them. Heck, even a chance to skip a class to take a job for money would have been nice.

I do giggle when someone doing a Let's Play says, "Yep this is hitting all the anime tropes." Given the default name of the character, and how other Hanako Games are designed, I think one could tell Hanako was deliberately having fun with those tropes.

I definitely wish Hanako Games was also a tad more prolific. I certainly understand the desire to keep one's vision for one's games...ah well, at least Jack1974 usually has a game or two out in a year to help curb my addiction for his games ^_^
Here it helped that the obvious love interests where males, and I do not really get much into pursuing males.
If you give it another go later on, there are two romanceable females, though they aren't as direct as say Damien or Donald ;)

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Lonestar51
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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Lonestar51 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:23 am

jack1974 wrote:That game is more towards life/raising sim than dating, while Roommates definitely more into the dating part :)
Miakoda wrote:I love both games equally well, but for me, both are entirely different animals as it were. Roommates is definitely a dating sim, whereas I would view Magical Diary as more of a life sim (and for the record, I would love a sequel to Magical Diary, but Hanako is very averse to making sequels, etc.)
Well the setting is very similar, except for the magic aspect of course. You get to the college, you are the first time away from parents, you meet strange new people and maybe fall in love with them. But I agree that the focus of the games is quite different.

For me the biggest difference was that MD is a game where you really learn something. In Roommates, you just get your stat up to 999 to get the best ending, but otherwise you don't care what you learn. In MD you consider what to learn, which spells you might get, how they might be useful in future tests etc. Much nearer to my experience in university: It was the time where I was socialising more than before or later, but still first and formost I was there to learn something.
Miakoda wrote:One thing Magical Diary did was remind me of the old SSI Gold Box AD&D games, with the perspective and whatnot (the ones in the dungeon :D) >
Yes, the dungeon part has a bit of Eye of the Beholder feeling to it. The 3D-aspect when turning was a bit jarring, but well, these are the limitations of RenPy.
Miakoda wrote:I do giggle when someone doing a Let's Play says, "Yep this is hitting all the anime tropes." Given the default name of the character, and how other Hanako Games are designed, I think one could tell Hanako was deliberately having fun with those tropes.
I noticed the default name "Mary Sue". I will take a closer look on next playthrough, but somehow VN and dating sims are the nearest I get to Anime and thus I might not spot everything.
Miakoda wrote:If you give it another go later on, there are two romanceable females, though they aren't as direct as say Damien or Donald ;)
Oh? Now I have to replay it, even though I wanted to try the other games as well.
jack1974 wrote:In defense of her coder (which I also know well!) that game used a custom version of Ren'Py, and is also older than Roommates which uses the latest version. So I think that's the reason of the 64-bit linux problems.
OK, I can see that updating a custom version is a lot more pain... And I could play the Win-Version. But if I list the issues I found, this needs to be mentioned.

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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Rebly82 » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:23 am

Oh! I do enjoy Hanako's games alongside Winterwolves offerings. I bought both Magical Diary and Long live the queen during another sale sometime ago. Hanako games are definitely more otome focused in general, whilst Jack offers different variety and romances.

And as helpfully posted by Miakoda above, there are two female romances. Here are who they are. I wrapped them up in spoilers in case you really don't want to know in advance of playing.
Spoiler:
Romance 1: Ellen - The most direct female romance
Romance 2: Virginia
There is a flirt scene with another female character, if you choose her path, but I will leave you to find that out.
Long live the queen also has female romances, but since the game is a political intrigue first and foremost, they aren't the key point but it does give you different endings.

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Sylrissa
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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Sylrissa » Sat Mar 29, 2014 10:28 am

Rebly82 wrote:Oh! I do enjoy Hanako's games alongside Winterwolves offerings. I bought both Magical Diary and Long live the queen during another sale sometime ago. Hanako games are definitely more otome focused in general, whilst Jack offers different variety and romances.

Long live the queen also has female romances, but since the game is a political intrigue first and foremost, they aren't the key point but it does give you different endings.
Oh?. I actually had no idea about those, I can't get through the game without dying yet xD

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Miakoda
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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by Miakoda » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:35 pm

Lonestar51 wrote: Yes, the dungeon part has a bit of Eye of the Beholder feeling to it. The 3D-aspect when turning was a bit jarring, but well, these are the limitations of RenPy.
It was a nice nostalgic trip to the past, but it definitely makes me glad we've improved beyond that stage :D
Miakoda wrote:I noticed the default name "Mary Sue". I will take a closer look on next playthrough, but somehow VN and dating sims are the nearest I get to Anime and thus I might not spot everything.
Yeah, some of them may not be very noticeable unless you watch a lot of anime. One trope many players love is the whole 'fall in love with an authority figure'. Given your romance preferences, you may not see this route ;)
Miakoda wrote:Oh? Now I have to replay it, even though I wanted to try the other games as well.
Well, Rebly82 gave some spoilers as to who they are. One of them does require a couple levels in stats to advance (but I won't spoil it for you unless you need it later).
Sylrissa wrote:Oh?. I actually had no idea about those, I can't get through the game without dying yet xD
There are three of them, though 2 of them are a bit tough to get :D

I admit, I actually enjoyed some of the backstory going on as well :)

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Re: Comparing Roommates with Magic Diary

Post by canyonaz » Sat Mar 29, 2014 2:17 pm

I loved Magical Diary. For the completionists, there are six full romance paths in the game and a nice kiss scene with a seventh character. You get a lot more of the background story with some of the paths (the girls especially).

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