Really? Really! (henceforth abbreviated to RiaRia) is the third game in the Shuffle! series. Tick! Tack! was the continuation of Nerine’s ending from Shuffle! and this time RiaRia continues from that annoying girl Kaede’s ending.
Of course that’s all a huge lie and the game is really about Asa-senpai and how hawt she looks with long hair. :3
The game starts off pretty normally. You meet your other childhood friend, Sakura Yae, whom you somehow forgot to mention in the previous games. She’s pretty cute, but I have a thing against Aoi Nishimata‘s design in general.
So, ignoring the huuuuge plot hole and the fact that Sakura wants to jump your bones too, let’s talk about RiaRia’s unique point compared to the previous two games. In Tick! Tack! you have to gauge your dialogue options against a clock that shows you Nerine’s current status, which brought some uniqueness to an otherwise plain AVG. RiaRia takes this a step further by introducing a completely new gameplay system.
Well, to explain this requires a tiny spoiler. It shouldn’t detract from the game since it happens right at the start of the whole story.
Due to a magic accident, Kaede loses consciousness. Her memories have been mixed up and she is unable to wake up until they have been restored. Rin and company enter her mind to unravel each memory and to fix the erroneous memories.
Usually two or three memories are available for you to enter at a time. You are free to select which one to enter first, although sometimes you may need to unlock certain paths before others. Memories come in three categories: childhood, middle school (with Asa-senpai!) and high school (present).
After entering a particular memory, Rin and the rest all play the roles of themselves (or how they appear to be in Kaede’s confused memories.) So depending on how screwed up that particular memory is, hilarity ensues to various degrees.
Just like that. This just goes to show what Kaede spends her free time thinking about.
So anyway, how do you repair the memories? This is where the fun comes in.
No, you do not journey through different dimensions collecting feathers. Instead, you look for keywords in the game. A keyword is a piece of information about an event or a person familiar to Kaede. You gain them automatically after progressing through certain parts of the game.
At certain key conjunctions, you will be plunged into the “Really Zone”. This is like the Twilight Zone except less creepy. Basically, when Kaede (in her memories) says something that is factually wrong (such as Itsuki being a girl), you have to correct her by throwing her the right keyword from your collection. The keyword will jolt that memory back to normal. Or as “normal” as Kaede gets.
Not only do you have to use the appropriate keyword at the right Really Zone, you also have to select the statement that you are correcting. Each Really Zone spans several lines of dialogue and you have to scroll to the correct one before using your keyword.
After selecting your keyword, this is where the cheesy “REALLY?” sound clip comes in. Now you know why the game is called “Really? Really!”. Doesn’t this remind you of that detective game?
If you chose the wrong keyword or the wrong line, Kaede DIES!!! Okay not really. You only lose the game after four mistakes. (Or was it five?)
If you know that you don’t have the required keyword yet, you can escape from the current Really Zone and come back later.
Once you have corrected the mistaken memory, a lot of changes may take place. For example, if you corrected a misconception about a certain hawt character’s hair length, then this change will be applied to all the memories where that character appears in.
Because the memories are often (read: almost always) linked, if you hit a dead end in a memory, it means that you should probably try another one first.
Above is how unlocked memories look like. Yeah, you collect cards instead of feathers. :P You can click on a card to playback the memory in its corrected form. You view the memories from Kaede’s perspective this time and Rin’s lines are voiced! (But not by Kyon.)
So basically, that’s what RiaRia is all about. Pretty cool concept.
As you may have guessed, the story focuses on Kaede and Rin’s past, especially the cause of Kaede’s oyashiro mode. Because of the unique gameplay system, the story is not told in a linear format, so some scenes may be confusing if you do not know the context.
I can’t say for sure, but I imagine that RiaRia’s story would be really hard to follow if you have not played at least Shuffle! and preferably Tick! Tack! too. Knowing the right time to throw your keywords requires you to understand the background story of the franchise pretty well. Even if you use a walkthrough, the fact that the game jumps around to different time periods means that it’s difficult to follow the story if you don’t know anything about Shuffle!.
Also because of the new system, there are no alternative endings to the game. (Except the bad ending after you used up all your Really Zone tries.) Some dialogue options will affect the CGs you get, but that’s really inconsequential since you just need three short reloads to get a 100% CG collection.
There are ero-scenes for Asa, Kaede, Sakura, Nadeshiko, Primula and Mayumi. They ALL take place in the same path. All but two of them in Kaede’s mind. This proves that Kaede is a closet nymphomaniac.
Art-wise, RiaRia is pretty darn good. I just love Hiro Suzuhira‘s art. Kaede is still fugly as usual. The Asa CGs are godly.
RiaRia uses pretty much the same sound tracks as Shuffle!, with some additions. The OP theme by YURIA and the song played at the story’s climax are pretty awesome, though.
So all in all, the game is pretty darn awesome thanks to the game system which is actually pretty fun. This has been one of the rare times where I didn’t feel compelled to use a walkthrough and actually tried to figure out the right options on my own. :)
BTW I don’t recommend this game to people new to the franchise or not very comfortable with reading Japanese. The game can often become very confusing if you miss anything important. Try playing Shuffle! first.
Now I’ve ran out of things to say, but I still have a lot of pictures left. Everyone loves pictures, right?
P.S. Am I the only person who thinks that the title “Shuffle!” would have been soooo appropriate for this game?