[Visual Novel Review]: NEKOPARA Vol.1

Nekopara

Developer – Neko Works

Translator – Neko Works, Sekai Project, Denpasoft

Length – 2-10 Hours

Version Played – Steam Release (Censored)

[Review copy kindly provided by Sekai Project]

[Sekai Project have had no input into the content of this review]

NEKOPARA Vol.1 is the first in what I assume will be a series of short visual novels with the aim of making its readers melt with pleasure using a vast and varied array of female, feline, humanoid companions armed with cuteness and, well, catness. One of the first things I realized after starting the VN was that I was most definitely not the target audience for the title, which makes reviewing it a little difficult. While I personally didn’t enjoy the ride, it accomplishes everything it set out to do and does it reasonably well, so I’m going to attempt to cover both sides of the coin to give you an idea of whether this is a story that will appeal to you.

Minaduki Kashou has had enough of his family. Despite belonging to a long line of Japanese sweet makers, he would love nothing more than to open his own bakery, which is what he sets out to do. Just as he is about to complete his goal, he receives two unexpected guests in the form of his sister’s Catgirls, Chocola and Vanilla, couriered to him along with the rest of his luggage. Catgirls are, as they sound, female cats in humanoid form, with all of the cuteness you might expect from the mix. If taught well, they can speak and operate almost as well as a normal person, so in this day and age many people have taken them on as pets. They’re a massive responsibility, though, and Kashou just isn’t sure he can handle the two while opening his new store. However, the Catgirls aren’t going to give up without a fight and Kashou may soon find a place in his heart and his home for the young felines.

Nekopara2

If any of that summary doesn’t sound like your sort of thing, it isn’t. NEKOPARA is a dedicated moege (game intended to be cute) catering to a specific audience and doesn’t aim to appeal to anyone outside of that field. It spends all its energy on the simple goal of displaying cute characters doing cute things, which it does well, so if that’s your cup of tea then it would probably be a fantastic experience. Even though I’m more of a fan of titles with heavy story components I still found myself smiling and laughing during the experience, and I have to acknowledge that the Catgirls are pretty darned cute, so you can be sure that it would be that much more enjoyable to someone who’s into the genre. Speaking of story, there’s really not much to NEKOPARA’s. It’s short, sharp, and doesn’t try to do a whole lot except at the very end in a chapter that seems rushed and anticlimactic. In short, if you don’t think that Catgirls doing cute things are enough to hold up a visual novel on their own, NEKOPARA isn’t for you.

Characterization is as shallow as you might expect it to be, with the heroines showcasing a single personality trait each in addition to the necessary devotion to their owner. That said, there are a range of both humans and Catgirls involved in the tale, with a greater role for the non-main heroines looking likely in future instalments, which is more than enough to accomplish what NEKOPARA sets out to do. I want to take a moment now to discuss the VN’s classification, because it will be important for some potential players. The Steam release that I played is “censored”, meaning that scenes considered R18 have been removed. The odd thing is that borderline nudity, explicit talk about sex and obviously skipped over sex scenes are all still included in the final package. Given that anyone purchasing the Steam version is going to get all that anyway, if you’re after a cute, all-ages moege then that’s just tough, and if you’re after that stuff then why the heck would you buy the Steam version?

Nekopara1 One of NEKOPARA’s major selling points is its visuals and they’re worth all of the hype. Character design is great and sprites will talk, blink, tilt their heads, walk around the screen and more. Allowing the animations to complete was a reason in itself for letting each character finish talking rather than continuing on after reading each line, as it gave a depth to the characters that their personalities didn’t. While most of the dynamic sprite features run smoothly, I noticed a bit of lag when the sprites change to new positions or poses without using animation, which was jarring and a little disappointing considering the overall polish of the visual novel. The voice actors perform as well as is usual for Japanese productions and the BGM is also standard fare. One final feature that I find really cool is that you can choose to play in either English or Japanese, which makes the game a great resource for people wanting to practice either language.

Summary – NEKOPARA Vol.1 isn’t for me but for its target audience it could be a lot of fun. The technologically impressive visuals mix with cute, fun characters to deliver a solid moege. If it doesn’t sound like your sort of thing, however, it probably isn’t, as it lacks any sort of compelling story or character development. It’s worth noting that the Steam release isn’t really “all ages”, so if you’re after something innocent then you may want to look elsewhere also.

My Score: 6/10 – Average

Projected Score for Target Audience: 8/10 – Good

Nekopara3

Advertisements

About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
This entry was posted in Reviews, Visual Novel Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to [Visual Novel Review]: NEKOPARA Vol.1

  1. Overlord-G says:

    As I told King Kai the CGs are all I need from this game. Cuteness in all its glory. Won’t be playing the game but those CGs are adorable.

  2. So the question is how much am I willing to get diabetes from this VN being too sweet, huh?

  3. Kai says:

    I guess it just helps that I already have a positive reception on nekomimi. As a bonus, I also like twintails :p In the end, I think I just enjoyed the visual novel a little more than is normal due to my fondness for the tropes.

    • Silvachief says:

      I’m actually pretty neutral on nekomimi. Tails, on the other hand…

      You’re right in saying (on your blog) that it’s very audience-dependent. Probably more so than most visual novels i’d say. Enjoyment will come from however much you like each individual feature.

  4. lifesongsoa says:

    I appreciated how they just go all in with the catgirls are cats thing. I’m not sure how in the target audience I am. More than the average person I suppose, but then I also spend my time in FF14 as a pink-haired catgirl because I find it amusing. Not my favorite kind of visual novel for sure, but I did think it was cute. I played the 18+ version so I’m very much confused how a clean version would even work. The ero seemed like a significant portion of what Nekopara is all about.

    I think the thing that really amused me about this VN is just how much time I spent thinking about the implications of the world they live in. The idea of humanoid pets that grow up at super accelerated rate and then successfully live normal human length lives sounds like something I would expect from a evil dictator trying to take over the world. And they are all super obedient and honest with their masters and? This must be a plot for world domination. The kind only a mad scientist in Japan would come up with… >_>

    • Silvachief says:

      There were pretty much no hiding that it was intended to be R18. The bath scene was there, and it showed them in bed together after the act, so…
      I actually picked up FFIV a few months ago (after hating the initial release) but then stopped after I realized there was no way i’d be able to keep playing once I got back to Uni >.<

      Apart from the evil scientist thing (I mean, that's the most obvious issue, so i'll skip it for now), NEKOPARA brings up a huge number of issues that I somehow doubt it will ever explore XD I was somewhat concerned by the idea of taking advantage of minors and/or individuals without the capacity to understand the gravity of what they're doing. Then there's the ability to use them for criminal intent, waging war (I mean, I imagine they're born in litters, right?) and all sorts of nasty stuff. Hm…maybe this isn't as innocent as it seems at first glance…

      • lifesongsoa says:

        FF14 is pretty time consuming. I play it with a bunch of guys who work full time jobs/have other responsibilities though. We make it work and are just forced to play at a sort of casual rate. You’re welcome to join us if you ever want to get back into it.

        Every time Nekopara talked about how catgirls work in society I couldn’t help thinking of my trip to Cuba as a teen. “They are only showing you the part of their society they want you to see!” “They are HIDING things!” When the officer was getting ready to arrest the catgirls toward the end I had this brief moment of I KNEW IT! But then the protagonist had to go and save the day, keeping the dark secrets Nekopara is hiding locked away…

        The exploitation thing you mentioned did get my attention. The catgirls mention they are only 9 months old… Outside the context of the story that is super creepy. In universe it’s still weird. The story makes a point out of how they aren’t human and never mature to think the way humans do which. That said… Think about how damn smart catgirls are if they can learn human speech, human emotion and how to interact with human society in only 9 months. If they ever break free from their leash and go to war humanity is doomed! Lets not forget that cats love to kill and maim things that are smaller than them… The darkness lurking around the corner practically writes itself!

  5. I enjoyed this visual novel much more than you did. I hope we get more volumes here in the west. The graphics are very impressive for this type of game.

  6. Pingback: [Visual Novel Review]: The Reject Demon: Toko (Chapter 0) | The Geek Clinic

  7. Pingback: [Editorial]: On Reviewing – A Primer | The Geek Clinic

  8. Mr. Bear says:

    I played the demo and I saw (certain scenes) on other sites enough to get the impression that there wasn’t much in terms of “gameplay”. Perhaps I’m missing how it gets an “overwhelmingly positive” set of reviews on steam, and how a lot of people could have played it for over 1000 hours. I played Terraria for 450 hours and I can say that it was fun till the last hour, yet eventually it had to end. So this, for a thousand hours, really? Am I oversimplifying it by saying it was a string of moving gif files with sound that you could fap to? I must be.
    It looks well made, don’t get me wrong, and I have to admit it is very intriguing how many hours someone could spend on this “game”. One was as high as 10,000 in 2 years that’s like 80 hours a week! It left me knowing that I am missing something important to like this… but I’ll keep my $20 and my steam account free from this I suppose.
    For $20 you would think you could get at least the interaction portion of a game like Sims3 even without building or decorating even leaving the building. I heard you could dress them, but I am speculating that this is hard coded in the paths of the novel. I understand I am completely ignorant.

    Sure they’re cute, but go ahead and troll, I just don’t get it.

    • Silvachief says:

      Thanks for the comment!

      For someone that isn’t used to visual novels, I completely understand your point of view. Rather than having gameplay like normal games (though some do), a visual novel is like a book with character/background illustrations, background music and voice acting. Some newer releases features sprite movement and the like.

      Compared to normal games they can be pretty low tech. They’re a niche product and have lower budgets than AAA or even some lesser known video games.

      Nekopara targets a niche within a niche, and like I say in the review i’m not part of that niche and I also understand why people might consider the visual novel strange. Some people enjoy cute girls (subjective, I realize) doing cute things, and for those people the feline aspect is appealing and interesting. I’m not one of them, but I get where they’re coming from.

      As for the play-times…there’s nowhere near that amount of content in the novel. I imagine it’s been altered somehow for comedic value for the review (or just left open, but that’s still a ludicrous amount of time).

      Basically, they’re books with moving parts and sound. They generally have very little gameplay, and if you’re looking for normal video games you probably won’t be interested in them.

      That said, if you are at all interested in the concept of visual novels i’d advise checking out G-Senjou no Maou on Steam. It features a more serious and exciting plot (mystery genre) and is a pretty good example of what visual novels are all about. That said, it still has a number of Japanese tropes, especially in the beginning, but if you can get past those it’s an excellent story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s