Amaterasu Blog

1Apr/126

Hatoful Boyfriend ~Kibou no Gakuen to Shiroi Tsubasa~ Review

Because I could not locate the full version of this VN in Japanese, I read the free version in Japanese then obtained the full version in English to read the additional routes and endings. As a result, all the screenshots I use here have English text.

As you may or may not be aware, this is a pigeon otome dating sim. In other words, you are a human girl attending St. PigeoNation's Academy and you must make friends with the male pigeons there (and for some reason you have stats).

At first glance it's an ordinary school life comedy with the gimmick that almost every character is inexplicably a pigeon (or some other kind of bird). However, in addition to the extremely goofy parts you'd expect, there's also a surprising amount of serious plot ranging from depressing to bizarre to grimdark (and occasionally it's both silly and serious at the same time). The result is that even after the gimmick's initial appeal wears off, it's still impossible to read this VN with a straight face, which is a good thing.

The problem is that most of the routes have such ridiculously fast pacing (many scenes were less than twenty lines long!) that they simply don't get the chance to have much of an impact. At its worst it feels like just a string of arbitrary choices with bits of text in between. Some routes also have annoying non-endings, and there's often no basis or justification whatsoever for the protagonist's romantic feelings, so these parts of the VN end up feeling more unfinished than anything else. These routes are about a 6 overall.

Fortunately, the murder mystery route (for lack of a better name) has none of these flaws. It also has a ridiculous number of soap opera and b-movie cliches tied together in a surprisingly coherent, multi-layered and well-paced (if utterly absurd) story. And it takes itself one hundred percent seriously the entire time. This is, of course, absolutely hilarious. Easily a 7.5.

Score: 6.5/10

Polarization: (+1.5/-1.5)

For some the entire thing will feel gimmicky (in a bad way) from start to finish. For others the sheer silliness of the experience will render all complaints about "pacing" and such utterly moot.

Routes/Endings Played: All 13 endings.

P.S.: In case anyone wants an opinion on the translation quality: it could definitely use some editing/QCing but it's perfectly servicable.

You can purchase the complete version of Hatoful Boyfriend translated in English from DLsite for only 420 yen (about 5 USD). You can also download the free version along with a free translation patch. Links for both options can be found on this site. Please leave a comment if you choose to buy it.

Comments (6) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Bought it on launch day, along with many many others it seems – it’s currently #1 for non-ero games, and has been there from launch pretty much. It’s got 1200+ downloads, making it as successfull or more as many games by eg MangaGamer. This seems pretty good news to me.

    Unfortunately it has that annoying issue where the game doesn’t fullscreen properly on my PC (like most Ikura GDL games, earlier Sono Hanabira and earlier Valkyria games, among certainly others) which kinda dampened my enthusiasm.

    Anyway, this is awesome and needs to be seen:
    http://okosan.tumblr.com/
    While this might not be safe for sanity:
    http://www.fanfiction.net/game/Hatoful_Boyfriend/

  2. Not sure if april fools, then I saw link to it being released last year. Oh, Japan…

  3. This is the strangest thing that I’ve ever heard of. I was cracking up just from the images you provided….might look into it just out of curiosity.

  4. That was the goal. ^^

  5. Definitely planning to buy the English version of this from DLSite, once I clear my backlog. It seemed too bizarre to pass.

  6. Finally got around to this. Officially the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.


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