The Promise of Haruhi Suzumiya is the first video game of the Haruhi franchise and was made for the PSP. The game is developed by Guys Wear and published by the series producers Bandai. The menu and dialogue are entirely in Japanese so be prepared to learn a little Japanese.
It takes place before the infamous Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya arc. It has the established themes for which the series is known. The game resolves a plothole on who was it that made that movie that was unknown in the book and the show. The story adds in new original stuff from the Runaway arc which wasn’t animated at the time and its mainly filler to keep fans satisfied.
It is not a long game and you could beat in a couple of days or so. The main replay value comes from the endings depending on the choices you made. The main story is really simple and to be honest isn’t that much of a plot as you basically have to find out what were the other S.O.S. members were doing during the time that Haruhi was working on her film for the Kitakousui festival for the school. The story also focuses on a time loop where each day is the same until you interact with certain characters and you find out more about what is the events mean.
I should also note that this does an even better job of being in a time loop than the anime, with the endless 8 arc, since other things happens during the game. It also does a pretty good job blurring the lines between what is paranormal, and what is a very strange coincidence.
The game has a question and asking segment where you have to interrogate certain characters about specific events and depending on the questions you ask, their mood changes. Each topic is different depending on the character you are interacting with. If your conversation ends on a positive note, you could earn a special S.O.S emblem from the character. Because you are in a time loop, each day progresses as the same as before and the only way you could progress is by asking all the right questions. You could view the tutorial on how it works just in case you may get lost.
The art style is really good and the character designs are excellent but get used to seeing the same areas over and over again (because you are in a time loop) The game introduces something that was very groundbreaking for visual novels at the time called “Seamless operation system” or S.O.S. It also has a very unusual feature where the characters are fully voiced which is a very good change of pace for the visual novel genre. This feature in a way set the standard to having fully seamless cutscenes and fully voiced characters in Japanese gaming. It did feel a bit awkward at times trying to imitate realistic animation, but this was the mid to late 2000s so I could live with the limitations. The musical score was monotonous and boring. Thankfully, some of the songs from the anime are present. The game expects you to know what the story is up to this point.
The characters are the same as in the series with the same respective personalities. Haruhi is as extremely annoying as ever, and Kyon is just as miserably toxic as ever. The computer research club in the game, just like in the show, really doesn’t like her and they do their best to keep her at arm's length. The voice cast reprised their respective roles for the game and do a good job.
The story does drag on for a while something shared with the anime. The controls are pretty simple and easy to learn with no glitches to report as many visual novels I've reviewed. You can fast forward and skip through text you already have read. Questions you already asked during conversation sequences will be highlighted in green so it makes it much less of a hassle.
There were some shortcomings to the game. The characters were just cut out and paste on the backgrounds. I noticed the same 3 background characters just copied and pasted onto another background like most visual novels would add different generic background characters but was pretty cut-rate. The store loops like the endless 8 where you have to go through as much dialogue choices and interact with as much characters as possible to reach the next chapter and it’s a real annoyance.
Theres a few mini games to serve as a distraction and you can also look at the cg shots of your playthroughs. The day of Sagittarius is a strategy game where you have to place s.o.s members against each other to conquer the enemy's territory almost like Disgaea. This game is purely for S.O.S Brigade members and it was one of the most boring visual novels I’ve played by far because of slow it was.
It gets about 3 out of 5 stars.
There's a fan translation that took 10 years to finish if that’s the option you want to go to.
I’m going to be planning on doing a review of the “latest” Haruhi video game for the PS3. At least you’ll have more enjoyment playing this game then you’ll ever have watching the Endless 8 arc. All of the Haruhi games are Japan only so online retailers that specialize in imports or amazon is the only choices to get it but this is one of the cheapest ones.