Figures of Happiness Review Supplement Pt. 1: Characterization
I wrote a middling 6/10 review of Figures of Happiness on GameFAQs today, but couldn't adequately express my disillusionment with the weaknesses of this otherwise great story without spoiling the story or going beyond the "mission" of a review in praising and critiquing elements of the game.... so I'm doing so here in at least one part, and perhaps one or two more to follow, focusing on plotting and other matters.
Needless to say, THERE ARE SPOILERS BEYOND.
Ryo is presented as having an almost omniscient degree of sexual experience, but every female encountered sexually in the game with the exception of Miss Death and Mio (who lost her virginity to Ryo before the events of the story) is shown as a blushing virgin. This is unrealistic, and quite frankly boring, since the encounters are necessarily pretty bland and repetitive (Strip her! Feel her up! Finger her! Maybe lick her! Do her!) when they do finally come.
If it were my choice I would have confined initial virginity to Mio and Minamo, the two most obvious choices for Ryo's affection. Making both of them virginal fits Minamo's endearingly naive and indecisive nature revealed in the course of the story, and allows a certain symmetry between the two female characters that is absent in the game as currently constructed, since the relationship between Ryo and Mio is already sexual.
In fact, on the first playthrough in which I managed to cross the plot point where Ryo becomes trapped in Satoru's body, the Mio relationship was so much more vital in my thoughts that it never even occurred to me to attempt to pursue Minamo's affections when given a choice, or even to be indecisive; instead, I kept waiting for a juncture that would have Ryo tell Minamo everything, including Satoru's response to her feelings, and see her off to heaven as quickly as possible. There were other plotting factors at fault, but the lack of any symmetry in the prior portrayal of the two relationships was key.
There was no need to make Mio's twin sister Mao a virgin. Drama might have been enhanced, in fact, by having a despairing Mao and Wataru substitute each other for the affections from Ryo and Mio they truly crave.
And the game needn't say anything in particular about Narumi's sexual history except to imply that she has done it in the past. I would have preferred it, in fact, if Narumi's age had been advanced about a decade beyond the other characters, as the game would have benefited from a wider range in age as well as sexual experience.
In the context of the story, I found Kokoro and Izumi were little more than a distraction. I would have preferred it if Izumi turned out to be a part of some deeper mystery, a source of power greater than Miss Death, and the key to an improbably happy resolution to the story... similar, in a relative sense, to the ending of Kana: Little Sister in which the little sister survives. I found Kokoro, on the other hand, to be a completely worthless character, and I hated the nonsensical attempts at humor that she brought to the table, like the fights with Minamo, and her omnipresent hamsters. In her absence, Minamo's foil could just as easily have been a revolving off-screen cast of Satoru's many suitors.