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RELEASE DATE (JP): April 15, 1994 GENRE: Point-and-Click Adventure
// review by EscapeRouteBritish

I've had enough of these obnoxious aliens, that's for sure!

The Sega CD never had any games? Well, it did have games. Sometimes. Sonic CD continues to stand as a benchmark of clever design, wonderful game progression and soundtrack prowess... but for every Sega CD game worth a hoot, there are about thirty that aren't. You know, games like Urusei Yatsura: Dear My Friends. Yes, it's not "My Dear Friends", that would have made sense. We can't be having sense now, can we. This point-n-click adventure game (or at least I assume that as I didn't manage to get far) is heavy on the spoken dialogue and animation using the Sega CD's extended RAM, graphical capabilities, and CD-DA audio playback. I know what you're thinking, "these sentences really drag on"; well, so what, the game does, too.

This game was designed for the SEGA Mouse, a peripheral that only existed for about two weeks and I've never seen with my own eyes. If you don't have one of those, or you don't know how to enable it as a controller in Gens, you're stuck with the classic Mega Drive controller. That means you're playing with buttons and directions — not even close to ideal for a point-and-click. The A button opens your inventory. Here you can see your character, and whoever is tagging along with you. Sucks to be them. The B button changes your cursor between interact, look and speak — to do these actions, you press the C button. What makes the game more confusing is that you can look, speak to, or interact with items in your inventory.

Good in theory, but every interaction is really ham-fisted. I would unintentionally open the inventory or cycle my interactions by mistake, constantly. Now something as easy as putting a CD in a CD player is made infuriatingly difficult. Surely you just go to the inventory, select the CD and then interact with the CD player, right? No. So I interact with the CD player first? No. What? No, you have to examine the CD player first. That gives us a close-up of the CD player. OK, so now I just put the CD in, right? No. Alright, so I press the Eject button on the CD player, then. No. What do you mean no? The power button of the CD player? OK, now I press Eject. And go to the inventory. And select the CD. And then interact with the CD player. And then throw the console out of the window. And cry.

You have to examine and interact with everything. There are imperative plot progressing items hidden in school lockers, inside jackets, closets and the like. Because I can't understand a word of the spoken dialogue, I have to bash my head against this game until I succeed. I don't know why, but I have to give the purse to the red haired lady in the spaceship, but she won't take the tickets? The person I assume is my brother must want the tickets right? No, then who wants the tickets? ARE THEY EVEN TICKETS? Tickets for what? Maybe I can exchange them for a better game. LET'S EXCHANGE THEM FOR A BETTER GAME.

Do you want some chocolate? How about you? ANYBODY!? Sigh...

Part of this game's true joy is that just about everything is smoothly animated and can be interacted with. All the scenes are nicely detailed, and every line of dialogue is spoken. The little miniature scenes and hidden games make for a break from the "action" (oh dear lord) but it takes an afterlife full of option exhaustion until you finally discover them. All I wanted to do was play the hidden fighting game but apparently that's like defeating the Queen of Cards at a game of Triple Triad — impossible. That brief moment of relief when you realize the cat won't punch you in the face anymore and you can grab that letter from the table (seriously!?) is soon brought crashing back down to Earth by the realization that even after that you STILL don't know where to go next.

It becomes a case of — hey, person I can interact with. Do you want money? Do you want tickets? Do you want caramel-coated nuts? Well, okay. I'll ask the next seemingly sentient character if they do. And if that fails, I'll examine every goddamn pixel in each screen until I get that "final breakthru" that Queen once sang so graciously about. I couldn't be bothered to carry on at a game like that. My opinion will be unfairly painted by my inability to understand what's going on, but hey, I probably wasn't the intended audience for this game anyway.

In terms of specification, functions, the amount of data packed on this CD, Dear My Friends is impressive. Not much of a game though, and certainly not that much fun. Fans of the series would be right at home, and would appreciate the amount of clever ingenuity that went into transferring Urusei Yatsura to the Sega CD hardware. It does contain CD audio but opts for FM synth during gameplay which makes the game run fast. The extra frames of animation and the amount of colours on display, right, it cannot be denied that Dear My Friends is a game with top-notch presentation. I guess it has that, at the least.

That's two Urusei Yatsura games I've had the joy of playing, and I dislike both of them. But hey, it killed an hour and a half before I finally hung it up and like a bruised heavyweight boxer, screamed "No more."

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