Counterclockwise from the top: Nene Anegasaki, Manaka Takane, and Rinko Kobayakawa
"The confession is just the prologue."
Love Plus is a Dating Sim by Konami for the Nintendo DS, and a Spiritual Successor of the Tokimeki Memorial series. The game is split into two parts. The first part consists of fairly standard dating sims fare: the player attempts to woo the affection of one of the three datable girls. If the player is successful in this endeavor (and yes failure is an option), the second part of the game begins.After successfully courting the girl, the player can text her, call her (via the mic), initiate skinship or kiss her when appropriate (via the DS touchscreen), and essentially continue dating her. This part of the game can be played in "real time mode," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: the game (and by extension the girl) become "aware" of the real date and time. Thus, if a player decides to date a girl on next Sunday at a pre-arranged time at the zoo, the player needs to "be there" on Sunday, or she will get mad. "Real time mode" also enables certain special events, including date-based events, such as Valentine's Day, birthdays, and Christmas.The game spawned several Derivative Works due to its immense popularity:
Three iPhone/iTouch/iPad apps (one for each girl) that function a little like Love Plus Mode, where you can talk to your girlfriend via the mic, answering and asking simple questions and playing Rock Paper Scissors with her. Also includes Augmented Reality features via the camera and GPS-enabled features.
LovePlus+: An Updated Rerelease, released Summer 2010. The summer season was chosen due to the large amount of summer-oriented events that can unfold in the second half of the game, such as vacation trips that let you spend two days and a night at the beach, a hot-spring resort, or some other weekend getaway. The vacation will differ from traditional gameplay because it will allow events that occur throughout the entire day, instead of the usual four event per day limit. It will also be possible to sleep with your girlfriend. No, not like that. Just lying in bed and talking with her. Other extras include new daily events, additional outfits and hairstyles for the girls, a new mini-game for Love Plus mode, the ability to exercise with the girls, DLC via special Love Plus hotspots, and the ability to import a Love Plus file to the newer version.
In fact, supposedly, the reason that the summer trip is only two days and one night long is that the developers were worried about the player running out of time in real life.
Five manga that detail the various paths the game can take and gave the main character the name of Wataru Aikawa.
Another rerelease to take advantage of the 3DS's new features, most notably the 3D "top" screen. Unlike the DS version, the 3DS port will be able to tell how you're holding the 3DS and adjust accordingly.
Adaptation Distillation - The manga have been accused of this, especially Nene Days and Manaka Days. Both protagonists have already started dating, essentially cutting out the plot from the first half of game.
Character Customization - Subverted and played straight. Played straight in that through interacting with the girls, the player can affect not only their personalities, but also what they wear. Subverted in that since there is no in-game way of seeing all the possible hairstyle and outfits and it's not entirely clear what will affect a girl's fashion sense, although she will ask for the player's opinion occasionally. Therefore, without a guide, it'd very difficult to shoot for a particular combo. The internal personality values of the girl consistently change with every interaction, although it can only manifest itself as one of three different personalities (per girl).
Also played straight in the player can level up the protagonist's stats any which-way, although certain events will require certain stats, and each girl values different stats.
Chromatic Arrangement - Sorta. The Love Plus protective cases for the DS each feature a character with a particular BG color: Manaka/Blue, Nene/Pink, Rinko/Green. These colors also correspond to different personality types available for the girls.
These colors supposedly correspond to the canon personalities for each character.
Nene Days - By Kugatu Takaaki (a well-known doujin author)
Girls Talk - By Sakura Tasuke (of Kedama Biyori). About the three girls living under the same roof-
Kanojo no Kako (Her Past) - By Wakiyama Hiroaki (of Shuukyuu Shoujo). A side story about Ringo's backstory.
Copy Protection: Apart from the usual Anti-Piracy mechanisms that prevent it from loading on some flash cards, the updated rerelease also ignores the affection levels of the heroines. Meaning there's no way to date them in the first part of the game. This means it's Unwinnable by Design if you're playing it on a flash card. Of course, pirates being as resourceful as they are, they have managed to get past this by patching the AP away.
Dating Sim: With a twist, the game was only made to increase Japan's very low birth rate, and it worked wonders, that and aiming it at high schoolers who are having issues picking up girls and said high schoolers using it as a tool to pick up said girl in real life.
As a side note, some time back, Konami teamed up with many high schools across Japan with a bus trip fundraiser where students who have got their real life girl of their dreams thanks to Love Plus+ put in $365 dollars (in all, which is very cheap for a fundraiser which most school fundraisers tend to cost around $2000 dollars if not more for said fundraiser) for said bus trip fundraiser, which lasted two days and one night. The students got a lot of Konami merchandising (not just for Love Plus but for other Konami Games as well) and spent time together, and when night came the student couples got a surprise visit from their parents to avoid... stuff happening (Japan may have a low birth rate, but that doesn't mean that teen pregnancies are needed).
Hair Decorations - Manaka and her bow naturally; all three can acquire this by changing their hairstyles.
Fan Boy - One fan married Nene Anegasaki... in Real Life. This particular bit of "devotion" was rather unfortunately covered and broadcasted globally by CNN, by a Korean anchor famous for her biased hatred towards Japan. The ceremony is available for viewing online.
There's supposedly even a patch to patch the Chinese fan translation from simplified Chinese to traditional Chinese. Given the resolution of the DS screens, this troper can't imagine certain words being very legible without the proper context.
There's also English and Chinese fan translations of the manga.
First Girl Wins - easily invokable by the player (ridiculous planning can make it to where the other two girls don't ever show up after their initial introduction which is mandatory), however the "first girl" depends entirely on what type of home the player picks.
The title screen shows the first girl that appeared in the last used save file, unless the player goes and becomes lovers with another girl, in which case it shows THAT girl.
Follow the Leader - After Love Plus became a hit in Japan, a company called Teatime created an adult game called Renai+H with similar gameplay.
There's also a doujin company called Grand Cross that releases erotic fangames of popular series but following the game's mechanics. Some examples are Nayru Plus and Yuru Plus.
Going Through the Motions - Played straight and subverted. The 3D models of the girls can show a variety of emotion, especially the faces, doing fairly well considering the difficulty of doing 3D on the DS. However, it's clearly not on the level of Final Fantasy XIII, but the facial expressions are still far better than Never Winter Nights 2.
Hello, Insert Name Here - Played straight and subverted. You can name your character anything you want, but the game offers a much smaller range of possible names that the girls can pronounce.
Also, only the three heroines can pronounce your name, while the other voiced characters will find other means to refer to you.
For the sequel/remake "Love Plus+", the developers sent out a survey to LovePlus players to determine which names were common and to include more of these names into the game.
The protagonist is named Wataru Aikawa in the manga.
Headphones Equal Isolation - Rinko can be seen sporting a pair of headphones fairly often, even at school. In fact, the first time you hear about Rinko, it's when a female student tells her friend how Rinko ignored her greeting and doesn't seem to fit in with the other students.
She's noticeably not wearing one when she started to become closer with the protagonist.
He Who Must Not Be Seen - You never get to see what the protagonist looks like in the game, because well... he's supposed to be you.
Hidden Eyes - Aikawa's eyes have yet to be shown in Manaka Days due to a combination of his hair and constant blushing.
Hot Mom - Rinko's mom (implied by Rinko's prequel manga).
How to Become a Love Interest - The main point of the first part of the game. If you fail to get one of the three girls to like you within 100 game days, you get the "bad ending" and cannot continue to the second part of the game.
Jerkass Fašade - In Rinko Days, the protagonist became this so Rinko will reveal her true feelings about her little brother.
Joshikousei - The three heroines. Although, Rinko seemingly randomly chooses not to wear her uniform in school and to wear her uniform outside of school. You later learn that the latter is partly due to Rinko avoiding her house because of her discomfort with her father remarrying.
Justified Tutorial - Upon reaching the second part of the game, You have the option to practice showing physical affection (not quite that type of affection) towards your girlfriend. Accepting the practice makes you daydream about doing so, and the game will make sure you know every location you can and cannot touch and how to kiss your girlfriend. Unfortunately for those lacking a translation guide, you WILL need to be able to follow the directions on the "top" screen, and non-Japanese players people have gotten stuck in this tutorial.
Leitmotif - Each of the three heroines has her own theme song.
Love Interests - Unlike most dating sims, there are only three datable girls, though this game arguably offers far more depth in these three girls. For example, the personality of a girl may change, depending on the actions you choose.
We learn in the manga that Wataru used to constantly move due to parents' jobs. By the start of high school though, he's living on his own instead of with his parents to avoid the need to constantly relocate.
No Export for You For the first and second games, this is confirmed. Whether or not this will continue into the 3DS version as rumored, is unknown (due to the rumors that Konami is doing "Market Research" for what is presumably a US release for the 3DS sequel)
Save Scumming - Subverted. While you have 3 save slots available, if you suddenly turn off the game without saving, the game will punish you when you try to load a save. This ranges from a simple warning to save next time, to lowering in-game affection levels, to forcing the player to apologize aloud via the game's mic. Multiple times. Additionally, once you start a file, when you save, you cannot choose which slot to save to.
However, depending on your specific hardware, it is possible to genuinely savescum the game without it knowing. Then again, most of the people who do this probably didn't buy the actual game.
Shout-Out - One of Manaka's dream sequences is designed with the classic Tokimeki Memorial: Forever with you game engine and character artstyle.
Small Reference Pools- Subverted. A Japanese dating sim references The Catcher in the Rye. Specifically, Rinko Kobayakawa quotes from the book at one point, referring to the relationship between Holden Caulfield and his sister Phoebe.
It is noteworthy that Kobayakawa herself initally resembles Holden Caulfield in her contemptuous attitude towards society and those around her. Although, she mellows out quite a bit after meeting the protagonist.