First off, I feel the need to begin this review by making it clear that I did not buy this game.
But, it is now on my computer, so here you have a gay guy reviewing, of all things, Huniepop.
I am, very much, not the intended audience. From what I have heard, the gameplay is halfway between a visual novel and Candy Crush, and while I have got a few VNs, I’ve never touched Candy Crush.
Also, it heavily features anime girls in various states of undress and possibly lewdness. This is also not to my liking, and I’ve not even started the game yet.
I kinda don’t want to, but I got told to review it, so I suppose I should.
So, in we go. Luckily, it has four save slots, so more than one person can play it without ruining each other’s save games, and you get the choice of playing as male and female. So, that part of it is good, I suppose.
So, you start off in a bar, and a girl comes up to you. It would seem that you start with absolutely no ability to talk to women and then, the next morning, Kyu the love fairy turns up in your room and says she’ll help you get with women.
But … but I’m gay. I don’t want to do this …
The game is voice acted and, so far, the acting is surprisingly good. Kyu’s voice fits her quite well, being cute yet also somewhat dirty. Also, there’s a bunch of swearing in this game, although it’s hardly like that makes it any worse than the lewdness I’ve been told of.
Gameplay is either typical VN ‘pick your response’ stuff, or match-three, with a variety of tokens to match that do a bunch of things, including one sort that you don’t want to match, and another that boosts your score multiplier. So, the gameplay isn’t too basic and has at least some redeeming complexity to it, hopefully. Also, we get gifts which, once we get enough of another token type, we can give to the girl and have things happen to the game board to help us out.
If it wasn’t for the lewdness, this would be a decent game. Possibly one that already exists, but I never looked into this genre before. After the tutorial level, I kinda want to look into other things of this type, preferably without the anime girls.
And then we go meet the girls, two per area of the game, and one thing that, if I had looked into this game, I probably would have found fairly quickly. Leaving aside the usual weird/creepiness common in dating sims, this game has some issues with race and stereotypes. Thanks awfully for mentioning your ‘yellow fever’ upon meeting the Japanese teacher lady, fairy companion. And, of course, the unique gift suggested for her would be chopsticks.
Yeah … some issues here.
Although, Aiko, said teacher lady, is a fairly nice character at first glance. She doesn’t look or act too stereotypically, and has this whole laid-back almost slacker thing going on, which I can get behind.
Anyway, as well as the usual time management element of VNs, you also get two flavours of resource to manage, too. Completing dates gets you munie, which you spend on gifts and food (also drinks, so hooray, you can get the girls you’re stalking drunk) (note: that hooray was sarcastic) and hunie, which you get from giving the girls gifts and talking to them. You can only talk to them when they’re not hungry, so that’s where the food comes in, and apparently the alcohol increases the hunie you get from talking to them and somewhere in this paragraph I started feeling dirty, and not in the fun way. Also, hunie is used to upgrade your character, increasing the points you get from certain types of tokens (or lose from the bad ones) Likewise, each girl prefers one token type and dislikes another, adjusting the points you get for their liked and disliked token types, so it pays to pay attention to that.
I am also amused that, upon giving Aiko the chopsticks, her response was basically to call me (and the game out) for being racist. Not angrily, but jokingly, which I suppose is the feel they were going for.
Also, I accidentally discover that the game makes it very easy to tell what gifts the girls like, with stars being good and hearts appearing by the ones that they like so much that you get given a date gift for use on dates. So, I get a cheap gift that clears broken hearts (the bad ones), thanks to giving Aiko a yo-yo. Since she apparently loves old toys.
If she was a dude, I’d be all for this.
Luckily, it seems that the naughty images take a while to get to, and as I go around and meet more people, I continue to grudgingly admit that the voice actresses they got for this are very good at what they do, and the voices definitely fit the characters, who give you a reasonably standard range of the usual roles. Girl-next-door cheerleader, older and aggressive woman, shy spiritual sort, angry tsundere, laid-back teacher, driven and confident woman, introvert and bubbly young single mother.
Okay, that last one isn’t too standard, which is good and, other than the tsundere, they aren’t walking talking stereotypes.
Gameplay, I am told - and eventually made myself go and see - changes near the end with each girl, requiring rapid matches in order to go all the way, rather than the usual gameplay with limited moves and a failure state. It also includes nudity and distracting noises. I did this once, just to see what happened and that was enough for me, although, again, if they’d been a guy ...
While there definitely are some issues with the writing, and the music is okay but nothing exceptional, I have to say that the gameplay is good, and the voice acting is surprisingly well done.