Though the dating simulation genre has enjoyed success for years in Japan, romance and gaming have remained fairly mutually exclusive in the United States. There seems to be a trend emerging, though, and Ubisoft's Sprung is right on the forefront of it. Despite being fairly reminiscent of the text-based PC adventures of yore, there's really not much quite like Sprung on the market. Yet, despite some pretty good writing, catchy music, and nicely drawn 2D art, the experience suffers because of repetitive and oft-frustrating gameplay.
Sprung isn't really a dating simulation in the strictest sense, so it could be more aptly described as a romantic adventure. You can play as either Brett or Becky, two well-toned, good-looking young adults who are each looking for love while vacationing at a fairly upscale ski resort town. Their escapades will take place all over town, including at the ski lodge, in a gondola, at a popular nightclub, and, of course, in a hot tub. The writing in Sprung is actually one of the strongest points of the game, and despite some occasional corniness and a few awkward turns, the dialogue is pretty good, which gives you a good sense of each of the characters, though many of them rely on cookie-cutter stereotypes. The game gives off a real Dawson's Creek kind of vibe, which shouldn't surprise anyone, especially considering that the story was crafted by one of the writers on the pretty-young-things TV drama North Shore. If you don't have the stomach for this kind of melodrama, Sprung won't have much appeal for you.
Each character has his or her own story, and these stories are broken up into series of scenes. These scenes vary in length and complexity, but for the most part, they boil down to engaging in conversation (by way of a standard dialogue tree) and subsequently steering the conversation toward a specific outcome, which usually involves getting involved with a member of the opposite sex, foiling another character's plans, or playing matchmaker for other characters. The interface is simple, so you'll see your character's picture on the lower screen, and the person you're chatting with will appear on the top screen. The game has touch-screen support for all the menu options, but it's just a lot easier to play the game with the D pad and the buttons.