Posts Tagged ‘visual novel’

You Can Date Grasshoppers in a New Dating Sim!

Fall In Love With Creatures! Kokonoe Kokoro

There are a host of pretty wild dating sims out there these days. From dating alpacas to birds, it seems like every humorous concept is being tackled. But what about insects? At least one developer decided to tackle this topic for the Nico Nico Jisaku Game Festival 2.

Developer Nostalgia created a game which translates to Fall in Love with Creatures! Kokonoe Kokoro. In this indie dating sim the player can apparently romance a grasshopper. Your younger sister is a bat and your friend appears to be some sort of demonic horror. As for the main character… I’m unclear as to if they are human or something else.

In any case, the game is only available in Japanese right now. Those who can read Japanese are in luck though as the title is completely free. Of course, if a translation ever comes about I’ll be sure to play it!

Nicole Review

Nicole Bachelors

Nicole Logo

Developer: Winter Wolves
Publisher: Winter Wolves
Platform: PC – Direct

Things were supposed to be going great for Nicole. She has just entered her ideal college and is excited to begin her law studies. Her roommate is kind, the school has high standing, and there are copious amounts of cute boys on campus. There’s just one problem… The campus has been the site of three college student abductions. Although each was discovered safely days after, with no memory of their time away, it’s a severely creepy crime that has left the campus with a worrisome atmosphere.

At the beginning, Nicole wants nothing more than to keep these fears at arm’s length. She focuses on classes and making friends, which is where the meat of gameplay comes in. Players must work to increase Nicole’s various stats. They don’t have much bearing on her school performance, but are instead useful for romancing a guy (if you want to). Each fellow is receptive to a certain stat and, if you can figure it out, then he’ll be putty in your hands! It’s not too hard to tell what stats work with who – you just base it off personality. She can even get a few jobs to earn some spending money.

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For all this normalcy, Nicole just can’t leave the disappearances alone. One other stat to take care of is based around conducting an investigation into them on your own. You actually don’t have to discover who is behind it to finish the game, but you’ll want to. Be sure to increase your clue stat to maximum! You’ll also want to have a guy in tow to get the best ending possible. With a handful of variation in end states there are ten endings possible to achieve.

Unfortunately, the receptive bachelors are not particularly endearing. There’s a jock who loves to verbally harass Nicole whenever she’s around. It hardly makes you want to cozy up to the guy. Then there’s a smart science guy, who could be cool, until his personality turns… Perhaps the easiest character to get along with is a “nerd” who obsesses over a Tumblr-like site. Maybe that’s just me, but at least he wasn’t a complete asshole. In any case, there are four guys to romance. You’ll get to increase relationships via choosing dialogue although you can also buy presents for your favorite.

Although the overarching story is enjoyable, it could have handled a tad more editing. There are times that events are described with such detail that it’s just mundane (do we really need to know the subtleties of how Nicole sets up and uses her browser?). Also, despite being a story about college-aged youths, there are some really antiquated flourishes in the text department. This isn’t for one character in particular, but the writing overall. Other times, it is spruced up with more current terminology.

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Despite my issues, I still wanted to see Nicole through to the end. I also really wanted to nab my guy of choice. This was definitely aided by the lovely character art. Everyone is given a great amount of detail and even have different outfits to wear. If only more could have been done with hairstyles so each guy didn’t have a similar mop of hair. CGs are also lovely but there are only a few included.

Play Nicole if you’re looking for some mystery alongside romance. Even if I felt most of the guy choices were icky, at least one or two of the four dateable options are nice. It’s a game that will also last a few hours as you play through Nicole’s first semester of college. In all, it might not be the best showing for an otome game but there was definite effort put into making this a polished product, so give it a look! There’s a free demo of Nicole available on Winter Wolves’ site to see if it’s a game you’ll enjoy.


Score: 2.5

2 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Nachtigal Review

Nachtigal Featured

Nachtigal Logo

Developer: Cyanide Tea
Publisher: Cyanide Tea
Platform: PC – Direct

For many of us, the idea of having a romantic relationship with a vampire is incredibly appealing. Much of this probably comes from the fantasy aspect of the whole equation as vampires don’t actually exist! To have some ageless, handsome being doting on you hand and foot –  yes, I can see why it’s an enticing idea. But what if you simply managed to wander into a vampire’s home on accident one night? Would it still be lovely or would you end up fearing for your own mortality? This is where Cyanide Tea places players as they begin Nachtigal.

You see, it all was an accident on Miranda’s part. She was by herself on a vacation in Belgium, studying the architecture. Unfortunately, without her phone working, she finds herself completely stranded after a day of exploration. She enters into a mansion and is then trapped by two handsome, yet fearsome, vampires. Adrian and Luca don’t kill her though and let her live with them out of curiosity…

As you spend your days in the mansion, either one or both vampires will reveal parts of their history to her. Miranda somehow takes this all in stride even though she expects to die when a caravan of vampires arrive there in a few weeks. It’s odd, but her attitude helps keep the tone from being completely scary. She plays around with Adrian and Luca even though both of them end up feasting on her at various times.

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This is the part that made Nachtigal hard for me to stomach. Miranda is scared – and rightly so – when they begin to use her for feeding. Yet, things quickly take a turn for the romantic as she offers herself to one or both vampires as a way to care for them. It is possibly an attempt to save herself from their anger, but the way it’s written feels icky. At least it did to me, but others will probably enjoy it as 100% fantasy fulfillment.

If it isn’t creepy to you then you’ll also probably seek out all six endings and unlock all the gorgeous CGs. Despite my trepidation, I still wanted to know every tiny bit of the story which caused me to play through multiple times. The art is nice, although it certainly gets bloody on some occasions. In particular, two endings are exceedingly creepy and not particularly befitting to the otherwise light tone. Nachtigal is anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on how quickly you read and if you play through more than once. It’s also available as a “pay what you want” download. As such, take Nachtigal for a spin and see if Adrian or Luca are just the kind of vampires you wish to romance.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Sweet Fuse: At Your Side Review

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Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platform: PSP

Sweet Fuse is an otome visual novel that has an incredibly weird premise.  Your uncle, Keiji Inafune (yes, THAT Keiji Inafune), has built a video game-themed amusement park and you’re invited to its grand opening.  Everything is going swell until the evil Count Hogstein takes over the park and all its staff hostage. It’s up to you and six handsome men to brave Hogstein’s seven deadly games, lest he kills all the hostages and blows up your uncle’s beloved park.

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There’s still time for love, though! All six guys are romanceable at the very start of the game and have their own routes. There’s also a seventh guy whose route is unlocked when you finish Sweet Fuse at least once. To my surprise, I grew to love every guy over the course of my playthroughs (well, except Meoshi). I say it’s definitely worth it to go through every single route that Sweet Fuse has to offer! Even if the romance aspect in Sweet Fuse is minimal, there’s still enough of it to satisfy anyone that is in search of that ooey-gooey stuff.

Sweet Fuse‘s story is surprisingly serious and deep. As you go through each route, you figure out that Hogstein isn’t the nonsensical villain that he’s first introduced as. There’s actually a reason that he’s decided to have all of you participate in his games! All the guys also have some rather interesting backstories that eventually intertwine. I can’t say too much without spoiling the whole plot, though.

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Some of you folks may be concerned that Sweet Fuse is too “girly.” Like I mentioned previously, the romance is kept to a minimum and the game instead relies more on action and drama. It actually feels a lot like Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, if that happens to be a visual novel that you like. Sweet Fuse is an otome game that everyone can enjoy.

I think the only aspects of Sweet Fuse that disappointed me were the rather large amount of typos and the “puzzles.” Before I began the game, I was under the impression that the puzzles advertised would actually be solved by you. Instead, the characters in the game usually come to conclusions for the puzzles themselves (oftentimes bumbling). Sometimes, you’ll get the opportunity to push your group into the right direction by selecting the correct keyword during the “Explosive Insight” phase, but it’s not very exciting. 

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That stuff is easily pushed aside when compared to everything I love about Sweet Fuse, though. What I believed was going to be a silly little visual novel actually turned out to be a very emotional and entertaining experience. If you own a PSP/Vita and like visual novels, then definitely get your hands on Sweet Fuse. 


Pink Score: 5

5 out of 5 alpacas


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4 Upcoming Otome Games to Look Forward To

Hakuoki Featured

Hakuoki Featured

What is an “otome game”? Basically, it is a specific style of visual novel games where you play as a woman and have the opportunity to pursue relationships with other characters. Generally, the other characters will be guys, but not always! In any case, the genre has existed for a long time in Japan but has always been fairly rare in America. All the same, we have seen some publishers brave enough to bring their otome titles to the West (to great response)!

We’ve decided to put together a list of upcoming otome games that we’re personally looking forward to. Some are titles you’ll be able to get on a console, while others are independent PC titles. Regardless of where you get them though otome games are worth supporting. So let’s take a look at four upcoming titles!

Leah’s Picks

Hakuoki Screenshot

Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi

Thanks to Aksys bringing over Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, it has been proven that there is indeed a market for otome games in the West. Now, 3DS gamers will be able to have some fun with the handsome men of the Shinsengumi as well! Memories of the Shinsengumi not only includes the original story of Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, but also expands upon it with six new side-stories. Along with a 3D-viewing mode and a photobooth mode, this makes Memories of the Shinsengumi a must-have if you’re a fan of otome games and visual novels.

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Sweet Fuse: At Your Side

Aksys strikes again! Like the Hakuoki series, Sweet Fuse: At Your Side seems to be very fast-paced and action-packed (it also reminds me a lot of 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward). Its premise is a tad siller, though. Basically, you are Keiji Inafune’s neice, Saki, and you’re visiting your uncle’s brand new theme park. Unfortunately, the evil Count Hogstein takes the famous game developer hostage and incites a “deadly series of games.”  It’s up to Saki and a group of good-looking men to save the day. Sweet Fuse boasts fourteen different endings, puzzles, and a chance at love with the aforementioned guys.

Marcus’s Picks

Backstage Pass Screenshot

Backstage Pass

Developer Sakevisual have been around for a while and already produced a handful of games. With titles like Jisei, RE: Alistair++, and Ripples, you can already get a taste of what they bring to the visual novel scene. Backstage Pass is itself a semi-sequel to RE:A++ and focuses on college student Sian who is trying to balance her job and school life. Thanks to her makeup artist job, she comes into contact with a handful of Hollywood-type hunks. There are four dateable men and sixteen different endings.

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Jacob’s Island

Jacob’s Island is a different sort of game, where the main focus is not on dating, but experiencing the story of Kenna, who is one of the last humans among fantastical beings. As she learns more about herself, players may choose to date one of the multiple characters along the way. This game is being funded through Kickstarter and still requires a few thousand dollars to be a success. If you’d really like to play it then check out the demo and consider helping them out.

Saya no Uta ~ The Song of Saya Review

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Developer: Nitroplus
Publisher: JAST USA
Platform: PC

What a fabulously strange visual novel Saya no Uta is. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I dove into it one night. But, boy, am I glad I did.

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Water Closet: The Forbidden Chamber Review

Water Closet Featured

Water Closet Boxart

Developer: Will
Publisher: Peach Princess
Platform: PC

For all the great games that arrive in North America there are always hundreds (or thousands?) others that are relegated to Japanese-exclusive launches. Western game fans have long since lamented this state of affairs and sometimes even import titles they wish to play most. It’s possible that someone in America really wanted to play Water Closet: The Forbidden Chamber, but it definitely isn’t on most collectors’ radar.

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Dysfunctional Systems Episode 1 Review

Dysfunctional Systems Featured

Dysfunctional Systems

Developer: Dischan Media
Publisher: Dischan Media
Platform: PC

Visual novels are one of the most disrespected genres of gaming out there. Thanks to a real lack of understanding of dating sims and games which are primarily text, you see few mainstream attention drawn to them. Of course, this all denies the previous success of companies like Infocom who attracted PC gamers in the 80s with their text adventures.

Either way, if you’re still new to the whole visual novel world then Dysfunctional Systems seems to be a good starting point. The game, so far, appears to not be a dating sim and features a story not pulled straight from some silly anime series.

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You play as a teenager named Winter who has a new job. She doesn’t work as a waitress or anything though but instead must try to resolve conflicts on other planets. It’s a tough position and one she isn’t even sure she’s ready to fulfill. All the same, she studies (and gets a little too close) to the subject in Episode 1: Learning to Manage Chaos.

I’m not particularly a fan of episodic games but so far this looks like quite the game. The story is surprisingly focused on sociopolitical topics which is rare for visual novels, let alone gaming as a whole. This brave move deserves attention, but it’s unknown yet whether Dysfunctional Systems will attract tons of players. I hope so, as I would love to see this series continue and the only way that will happen is with more purchases.


Score 3:5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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