Name: Family Project ~Kazoku Keikaku~ / 家族計画
English publisher: JAST USA
Release date (English): July 2009
Release date (Japanese): November 2, 2001
Related links: Galge, Walkthrough (Japanese), Walkthrough (English)
Family Project is an ADV dramedy about a bunch of outcasts that are linked together by a single person, Sawamura Tsukasa. Soon, they try to create a family out of the group of outcasts who barely know each other. Along the way, they have to discover what a family truly is and how to overcome their emotional baggage so they can make bonds with others.
“There are no answers in life.”
One day at work, Tsukasa finds a mysterious girl collapsed in the alley behind the restaurant. The girl, Chunhua, turns out to be Chinese and is searching for her mother in Japan. She can’t speak Japanese, and Tsukasa decides to take care of her. Like the idiot he is, he finds some pills in her bag and decides to randomly take a bunch. Then stuff happens.
Soon afterwards, Hirota Hiroshi stalks the two of them, and in a turn of events, somehow ends up staying with them.
He then meets Takayashiki Aoba in the park, a girl who dresses in all black and draws pictures for a living. She draws what characteristics she thinks a person has, and the results are not pretty. Her drawings seem cursed. If you try to throw them away, they’ll just come back to haunt you. By using these pictures to scare people to get money, her method of income seems more like extortion than commission.
Kawahara Matsuri is a girl who lives in cardboard boxes in an empty lot. She finds an old house that seems abandoned and decides to live there.
Due to some circumstances, Tsukasa is driven out of his apartment. On the way to finding a new place, he saves Itakura Masumi, who’s trying to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. Tsukasa, Hiroshi, and Chunhua end up finding the same house Matsuri is living in, and they choose to stay there too, not knowing about Matsuri.
Tsukasa then is forced to work in a host club and meets his old friend, Ogawara Jun. They seem to have a history together.
They soon find out the house is Aoba’s. Various things happen, and they reluctantly form a pact to create a family out of all these people who are weakly bonded to each other. A fresh start from the past that many of them want to escape from. All of them are weak as an individual, but can the bonds of a group strengthen them? Can they overcome their trials and become a family? Do they know what family really means?
“There are so many things you can’t do alone but can do accomplish with two people.”
“The only one I trust is myself.”
He seems afraid of commitment and relying on others. He’s scared of being dependent on others, and he can’t see that dependency bringing happiness, so he never tries to get really close to people. Like Jun, he’d rather never get close to people than get hurt by being betrayed.
“I don’t believe in family love.”
She’s a pretty cold and cruel person, more so than the typical tsundere. Her verbal attacks are venomous, and she’s one of the few tsundere I don’t really like. Aoba says some scary things in her dreams.
Since all the people involved in the Family Project are strangers, she doesn’t think it’ll succeed. She thinks they’ll only interfere with her life.
She’s extremely attached to the house since her grandfather left it to her when he died, and her only good memories of her youth was with her grandfather.
Jun is a pretty aloof person. She distances herself from the rest of the family and only shows up when required. For some reason, she can’t seem to get too close to people. When Tsukasa tried to get close to her in the past, she pushed him away.
She never really participates in the meals. Due to something in the past that scarred her for life, she can’t eat food that’s been prepared by others. So all she does is eat Calorie Mates.
Her daily life revolves around money. Everything she does it for money, but there’s no clear reason why she wants it. She charges Tsukasa money for any favor, and Tsukasa seems to have racked up quite a bill. Her specialty is investigating.
Matsuri is your typical super bright, happy, and optimistic girl. The type of girl I don’t like. She’s also constantly apologizing and being submissive to others because she doesn’t want to be alone. Afraid of people abandoned, she tries really hard to win the favor of others.
“You’ve got to try your best, or nothing good happens. That’s what a family is about.”
All those characteristics means she’s a staunch supporter of the Family Projected. She’s the one who convinced Tsukasa to take part.
“As long as there’s a home, and people in it… that’s the place where we want to live.”
I don’t think her voice really fits her character. The age doesn’t seem to match up. She’s really immature and probably young, and the sounds older.
Masumi is an airhead. For example, she often doesn’t have any money on her but goes to cafes because she smells something she wants. Then she gets trapped inside because she can’t pay. She’s really weak and easily succumbs to others. Because of her weakness, she can’t live alone. She needs someone else to be there, and that’s why she was attracted to the Family Project.
“I want someone to need me. That’s what happiness is all about, right?”
As the oldest female of the group, she acts as the mom and tries to take care of the house and everyone. She’s sensitive about her age. It seems like she’d suck the youth out of Tsukasa if she could.
Wang Chunhua / Takayashiki Haruka
Chunhua is her Chinese name, and Haruka is the Japanese reading of her Chinese name. Her special skill is giving orgasmic massages. Like Matsuri, she’s super cheerful, but she’s not apologetic.
I don’t like Haruka at all because she’s pretty dumb. Tsukasa always pampers her, no matter whose path you’re on, which is pretty annoying. The only thing she really does is eat. She’ll even eye a neighborhood dog or two.
Kei was another one of Tsukasa’s classmates. She’s not part of the Family Project, but Tsukasa runs into her on the street one day. She works at a care center for kids, and she drags Tsukasa into helping her. She’s always trying to do her best (as can be seen above). She’s cheerful but not annoyingly so.
She’s not a sexable character.
A crazy salaryman, Hiroshi is the one who came up with the idea of the Family Project. Throughout the game he does a lot of stupid things. Some people may find him funny. I found him annoying as hell.
The assistant manager at the restaurant where Tsukasa works, Lau is more comedy relief. He’s more likeable than Hiroshi. Lau also happens to be bi. I’d say he’s roughly equivalent to the gay friend in Yume Miru Kusuri.
Since the game is quite old, the engine used seems extremely outdated. The save slots are extremely basic with no picture or comments, and there are only 27 save slots. There’s also no quicksave. There’s no ability to replay voices.
One very annoying part of the game is that is pauses when you put it in the background, making skipping text harder than it should be (which will be a lot). It also seems to use up 50% of my CPU on a dual core system.
I think by now most people know some CGs in the game are censored. It makes the scenes make less sense censored since Matsuri’s panic would be too much if she was wearing underwear. There’s less than a year between when she first meets Tsukasa and sex, so censoring because of that doesn’t make sense.
Also, near the end of Matsuri’s route, the text says Matsuri is deciding about what to do about college, but I wonder if JAST purposely added that. Because in the epilogue, it says several years pass and then Matsuri decides not to go to college. It wouldn’t make sense for her to wait several years to make a decision about going to college if she’s graduating high school.
The length of the game is on the shorter side of medium. There are five routes. The common route is long, but on subsequent playthroughs, the common route probably comprises 2/3 or more of the game (with some exceptions). If I were to make a random guess, I’d say Matsuri’s path is canon.
Route rankings: Jun > Matsuri > Aoba > Haruka > Masumi
Oh boy. This is going to be a long one. I played this game with the 1.1 patch. To be concise, it fixes pretty much nothing.
There’s a lack of quality editing in this game. The voices sometimes don’t match the names (e.g. “onii-san” for “onii-chan” and vice versa). Sometimes, within several lines of using “onii-san,” they’ll randomly choose to translate “onii-san” into English. What the hell? I also saw a few cases of the wrong gender being used in lines.
Honorifics are an iffy thing in this game. In the beginning of the game, they’re used most of the time, but in the end of the game, they’re mostly dropped. But it’s not even consistently dropped. They still randomly add honorifics and sometimes “onii-san” is still used. Talk about inconsistency. Hire an editor.
Another inconsistency is the name order. The game starts out with Japanese name order (note: my blog will always use Japanese name order), but it changes back to English name order later. This is very noticeable later on in one line, where Tsukasa accidentally starts to introduce himself as Sawamura. It went something like, “I’m Sawa…. Tsukasa Takayashiki.” Takayashiki is his new surname for the Family Project. HIRE AN EDITOR.
Sometimes Chinese is used in the original voice, and Tsukasa is not supposed to understand it, but the lines still use English (and onii-san!)
Food name translation are also really random. Onigiri was translated to rice cakes. Seriously? That’s more of a translation for mochi than onigiri. But they then later decided not to translate gyuudon. Some consistency here please, people.
There’s also some misuses of they’re/there/their, your/you’re, and to/too. E-D-I-T-O-R.
Name translations can also vary. In one scene, Tsukasa says “Oba-san” before the person speaks. I thought it was some middle aged woman. But it turned out to be Ooba-san (a guy), which the name in the textbox reflected. Come on. Did nobody actually play the game? Lau was also translated as “Rau” one time.
Some of Aoba’s crazy curse bombs are also cut significantly short. The translators were too lazy or something, but it takes away from the ridiculousness of her cursing.
There are quite a few typos and unnatural word choices. There’s sometimes bad wording that makes the line really hard to understand when the line isn’t supposed to be hard to understand.
I’m pretty sure a lot of the game (especially the end) wasn’t translated by a native English speaker. Some telltale signs were particle errors and some ridiculously bad phrasing that no native speaker would ever use. For example, the translators used “wow” pretty much exclusively for exclamations. In most situations, it was an exclamation from being sneaked up on. People don’t say “wow!” in English when that happens. No native speaker would make that mistake. This is one error of the errors I told Shingo about when they asked for errors to fix. They didn’t fix it.
Some other sentences that native writers would not make: “Now that one smarts” and “I didn’t get the taste” (instead of “I couldn’t taste it.”)
One other annoying thing was that they often didn’t use question marks for questions.
They also kept using “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less.” This is a pet peeve of mine. Look at this handy guide I stole from someone. If you think about what you’re saying, you should never make this mistake.
There were also some overly literal lines. For example, “家族、家族なのに” was translated as “Family, but we’re a family,” which is pretty much what it literally says. The repetition of family was more like stuttering, so it should have been translated as something like, “But… but we’re a family.”
Another example is when Haruka is asking why Tsukasa is apologizing. Then when he apologizes, she says, “ぜんぜん悪くない,” which is translated as “You’re not bad at all.” Again, pretty much literal. It should have been something like, “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
Time for visual examples.
Seriously, JAST. This took two years to translate? And then two months to patch? Cross Channel took, what, 3 months to translate? And it’s virtually free of major errors. The scripts are of comparable size. Maybe it’s time to hire some fan translators, JAST. They do better quality work and faster. Cross Channel is not an isolated incident. Look at Mirror Moon once they got their act together. The Fate/Stay Night translation was extremely fast once they were organized.
Hire someone who cares.
“You only regret losing your family once they’re gone.”
Family Project is supposed to be an emotional game about the struggles of a bunch of strangers trying to form a family. They all have something they’re looking for that they hope the others will give them. They all have some issues in their past that they wish to overcome. This should be a great game that I should enjoy.
But I didn’t. I simply didn’t give a crap about any of the characters. The old art probably didn’t help. By the end, I could tell the actual story was pretty good. But still. I didn’t care. Getting the player to sympathize with the characters is one of the most important steps to creating a good story, but the game didn’t seem to try. Each character has a major personality flaw that makes them unlikeable. That may make it more realistic, but it does not make a good game. In fact, I disliked the characters in general so much that this was one of the few games I skipped nearly all the voices.
For other people who may more easily get emotionally attached (it’s quite rare for me to do so actually), this would probably be a great game. It’s emotional and has some decent romance in it.
My scale will probably be a lot different from most other people’s scale. My scores will be from 1 to 5, integer only. I don’t understand why people need to use a 10 point (or shit, a 100 point) scale. Do you really care about the difference between a game that gets a 3 or a 4 out of 10? Can you really tell me the difference between a 8.5 and an 8.6? Decimals are usually assigned purely on a whim. My score also is based on the overall game. My enjoyment of the game is the primary deciding factor. No subscores are given.
I also give games scores based on what they’re trying to be. For example, I won’t ding a slice of life game for not having an epic story. It’s simply not what the game is supposed to be.
The meaning of my scores and their rough equivalent in a 1-10 scale.
5 – Excellent. Must play (9-10)
4 – Good. Play if you’re a fan of the genre (8)
3 – Average. Play if something about the game really attracts you. (7)
2 – Below average. Only play if there’s something about the game that really really interests you. You need to have a die hard fetish for it or something to make it worthwhile. (6)
1 – Crap. Avoid no matter what. (1-5)