E3 2014: Hatoful Boyfriend (impressions)

by: Chuck -

I'm going to be honest, I'm really not sure what to make of Hatoful Boyfriend. On the one hand I laughed and enjoyed what I saw from the game but I'm not sure I can explain why. Maybe it's the fact that the feature list of the game includes this line:
"Includes 9 romance able birds each with at least one good and one bad ending"

Or that maybe it's because halfway through the demo I was asked what I should wish for and was given these three options:
- Conquer the world by force
- Rule the world from the shadows
- Become a famous artist

Hatoful Boyfriend is a pigeon dating simulator where you play a human girl that is actively romancing/be romanced by birds. I was told that later in the game you are given some hints as to why a teenage girl is attending a school (St. PigeoNation's) full of sentient birds but in the meantime you are left to deal with the raw absurdity of the situation and it's a lot of awkward fun.

The game isn't a straight translation of the original material but rather they are using the fan translation with a few tweaks here and there. For some reason not all of the birds speak English, rather some still speak in coos and squeaks and are sub-titled in the game which further ratchets up the absurdity meter of the game.

The development team lifted all of the original bird artwork from the original game but is created all new backgrounds which look like the hand drawn backgrounds from a real Japanese dating simulator. This is what really nails the game as Mediatonic has gone the extra distance to make the game feel awkward and funny at the same time.

This just isn't a straight port with content as the game will allow you to go back and explore the options you didn't pick without having to play through the entire game all over again.

Hatoful Boyfriend was the most unique game I saw at E3 this year and I'm interested to see how the final game shakes out as this game seems to have "cult classic" written all over it. We'll find out for sure when it's available later this summer.

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