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Found 19 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Hatoful Boyfriend

    Developer: Mediatonic, Hato Moa Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform: PC (GOG, Humble Store, Steam) ESRB: N/A (Teen suggested) Release Date: September 4, 2014 Visual novels are an astonishing genre for experiencing the likes epic adventure, space operas, and beautiful romance. Then, in 2011, developer Hato Moa explored brand new territory - bird“s love. Hatoful Boyfriend made a small splash a few years back (read our original review here), but the game itself was a pain to run on modern OSes. As such, many simply flew the coop before actually experiencing what the game had to offer. Fast forward to now when Medatonic took it upon themselves to cobble the game up in a new engine and present it to a massive audience on Steam and GOG. Now everyone can experience the splendor of Hatoful Boyfriend. But… what exactly is Hatoful Boyfriend? Well, put simply it“s a visual novel focused on a highschooler named Hiyoko who has just been accepted to the esteemed St. PigeoNation Institute. This is great, especially considering the fact the school overlooked her species during the application process. As such, she is the only human amidst a school of birds. Players guide Hiyoko through her time at school to improve her stats but also possibly find love with one of her feathered classmates. As far as visual novels are concerned, it“s not the weirdest thing that has ever happened (see PacaPlus) but still stands as an incredibly unique title based off concept alone. A visual novel tends to live or die by its writing - so how does Hatoful Boyfriend stack up in this department? The writing is a bit higher than average thanks to a witty, silly script. It is certainly not up to par with other big name visual novels but you“ll still find things to chuckle about while playing. Some typos and text alignment issues crop up now and again but it“s not a huge deal. The biggest surprise to me was that the text is basically left untouched from its earlier release. Honestly, any changes would have messed with the pure wackiness that was originally present. It takes about an hour or two to beat the game once depending on your reading speed. However, you could spend far more time playing if you seek out all 14 endings. Some are simple iterations on previous endings with an added scene, but are still worth looking into. Players will have to be incredibly devoted to seeing them all though as the built in options for skipping text are barebones. Fast forward doesn“t stop once you reach “new” text and seems to stop randomly on its own. So mostly you“re stuck fighting to fast forward enough past all you“ve seen but to stop once something new happens. As for other options that might be expected of a standard visual novel, well, they“re not included at all. Simple features such as displaying the CG alone during a scene are not available. You can check out all viewed art from the menu though. There is also no dialogue log. Most problematic to me was a lack of auto advance text function at all. You also are unable to check your romantic status with the various birds on the fly, although a sound cue plays when you do well with one of them. To be fair, that bit was never included with the original game either. All these other features would be super useful and I“d like to think they were possible with the given engine. The weirdest, and perhaps most hipster-ish complaint, is that this is effectively the same game that launched a few years ago. Yes, it runs on most people“s computers now but little was actually changed. There is a new non-protagonist ending scene, improved GUI, and such, but it“s still a port. With that said, the fact that more people can now experience Hatoful Boyfriend in all its odd glory is worth it. Sure, it“s a simple game that relies a bit too heavily on a joke, but it“s a mostly inoffensive, and surprisingly endearing, experience. Pros: + Incredibly unique dating aspect + Goofy writing + Surprising amount of endings Cons: - Lack of features expected from visual novels - Annoying skip button - Grammar and spelling issues apparently left untouched Overall score: 7 (out of 10) Good Hatoful Boyfriend is one of the most unusual games out there that is finally receiving the attention it deserves, although it“s a shame some basic visual novel functionality was ignored.
  2. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

    Developer: Otomate Publisher: Aksys Games Platform: PSP (PSN) Release Date: August 27, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review Chances are, even if you“re reading this review, you“ve never played an otome game before (or only one). Otome games are most generally equivalent to dating sims. Except instead of focusing on a cast of datable girls, you play as a young woman who is surrounding by a bunch of guys. Dating sims themselves are quite the niche, so this genre is a niche of a niche. So far, it seems Aksys Games is the most willing to venture into otome territory. Their most recent otome release is Sweet Fuse: At Your Side by developer Otomate. It“s far from the cute and cuddly title you might be expecting, though. As the story begins, it all seems goofy enough. Your lead character, Sake Inafune, is actually the niece of real life game developer Keiji Inafune. He has just opened up a theme park based around video games and of course you“re excited to check it out during an exclusive opening event. Alongside other curious parties, you arrive, only to see Keiji kidnapped by a strange pig-looking monster. From there, things get weird. This pig guy, named Count Hogstein, is an apparently insane creature who has decided to turn the entire theme park into a massive diabolical game. He requires a cast of seven people to engage in his game and Saki jumps right into the mess. Alongside six men, she learns that the Count is forcing them to solve puzzles as a group. If they fail in their attraction-themed puzzles then they“ll all be caught in explosions rigged to each attraction. The cast of men is pretty varied, even if their presentation harps a bit too much on stereotypical types. There is a musclebound man calling everyone his “bro”, a shut-in gamer with greasy hair, a boy band idol, and a few others. With the vast differences between each character it“s likely that everyone will find one they like more than the rest and wish to focus on. Even if they don“t, the game will eventually push them down the path of whoever they are closest to. Those without interest in the romantic components still have the rest of the game to enjoy, which focuses primarily on the drama of making it through each puzzle alive. One of the most interesting facets about Sweet Fuse is the gameplay. The way Aksys marketed the game made it almost sound like an otome version of 999: Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors. However, there is never a point in this game where you are actually solving puzzles on your own. Instead, it plays purely as a visual novel. Characters will slowly come to conclusions about the solutions to puzzles, and likely you“ll come up with them beforehand, but there“s no way to act on them yourself. That doesn“t mean all you do is read, read, and read some more. As with other visual novels, your interactivity is based on making choices at specified times. These choices tend to be focused on what you“ll say to characters next. You might make someone happy, sad, or start yelling at them. Some of these choices affect very little, but others will put you on the path toward romancing one character over the other. There are also special times in puzzles where you must choose the proper hint to move on. Failure to guess the right hint will lead to everyone“s doom - and a game-over screen. But, for the most part, you“ll be doing a ton of reading. It takes five to eight hours to get through Sweet Fuse on a first playthrough depending on your reading speed. Of course, if you like the game enough to get through it once you“ll probably be excited to go through again. There is a lot of replay value simply for the fact of being able to romance a variety of men. A second playthrough in particular even yields an entirely new romance option. Since there“s not too much gameplay to handle, the main point of interest is the characters and their interplay. Thankfully, the translation is engrossing, even if not completely accurate to the original Japanese. Saki herself is an incredibly strong-willed character who serves as a stable base to the more fiery attitudes of some of her team members. It“s fun to see them play around and all that, although it does come across as a bit odd they would be capable of being silly in such a dire situation. Also, one unfortunate aspect is the amount of typographical errors to come across. It seems likely the game just wasn“t enough of a priority or something as it“s rare to see this much wrong in a published title. With that said, the game and its characters are primarily enjoyable. The puzzles are also pretty neat even if you never get to actually “solve” any yourself. With so few otome games out in the West it would even still be worth supporting if the game were not so great. Thankfully, Sweet Fuse is fun and offers a great deal of replay value. Definitely grab it on UMD or as a PSN download and then get to work with Saki and her crew on PSP or Vita. Pros: + Interesting cast of dateable characters + Multiple characters allow for a bevy of playthroughs Cons: - Fair bit of typos to be found - Puzzle interactivity severely limited Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10) Great With such a small amount of otome games easily available to the American audience, Sweet Fuse shoots up to the top of the top of the list.
  3. You'll soon be able to form relationships with and date your favorite Namco Bandai characters! Yes, this is a real thing in the works from Namco Bandai Games' ShiftyLook, What Pumpkin Studios, and Andrew Hussie (most known for webcomic Homestuck). This crossover dating sim is being called Namco High. As the name suggests, the setting takes place in a high school "just for video game characters." Namco High will be using "cutting edge HTML 5-based technology from developer Date Nighto LLC" that claims to work on any device with a good browser. Why Hussie as the creative director behind it all? Rob Pereyda, NAMCO BANDAI Games' ShiftyLook Producer and Editor-in-Chief, explains: "There is no creator with more of a vibrant originality right now than Andrew Hussie. We are beyond excited to see where he takes these characters and the unique relationships that will literally unfold between them." Namco High will release sometime before the 2013 holiday season.
  4. Have you ever wanted to make your own dating sim? The genre is very underused in the US, but there are still fans of it. Even though we rarely get pure dating sim games localized we have begun to see the acceptance of visual novels. With that said, the growing interest in dating sims as a whole is expanding, and making people hope for even more. This weekend a game jam is being held specifically for dating sims. It's titled The Pulse Pounding, Heart Stopping Dating Sim Jam and is live from April 5th to 7th. Yep, that's this very weekend. Everyone is invited to participate, regardless of skill level, and can interpret the idea of "dating sims" however they see fit. Basically, the event is hugely open-ended and just wishes to see tons of people contributing to this under-appreciated genre. New to game development completely? Thankfully, visual novels are not hugely difficult to create. There's even free software designed to help in the creation of these types of games. Twine, Ren'Py, and Novelty are all good places to look if you need an "easy" solution. Twine outputs stories in a text-based fashion like interactive fiction primarily while Ren'Py and Novelty present a game in the standard visual novel style interface. However, the latter two have a higher learning curve. Are you interested in making a dating sim or is that too strange of a goal?
  5. The only pigeon dating sim out there now has a holiday-themed sequel! Wait... There's a pigeon dating sim?! Yes, the original Hatoful Boyfriend (which released for Valentine's Day last year) allows you to interact with and date pigeons and other birds as a human female at St. PigeoNation's Academy. It sounds absolutely silly and idiotic, but the game actually does feature some story and heart-touching moments. This newly released sequel, Hatoful Boyfriend Holiday Star, expands upon the original game's characters and setting even further as you experience a winter at the St. PigeoNation Academy. If anybirdie is interested in purchasing this fine feathered game, it's available at DLsite for the low price of $4.84. If you would like to try out the demo first, you can download it from the official Hatoful Boyfriend website.
  6. Leah

    Hatoful Boyfriend 4

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Hato-King

  7. Leah

    Hatoful Boyfriend 3

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Hato-King

  8. Leah

    Hatoful Boyfriend 2

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Hato-King

  9. Leah

    Hatoful Boyfriend 1

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Hato-King