After our coverage of what to expect from Aksys’ upcoming otome game releases, I felt that it would be unfair to not give the same treatment to Idea Factory’s Cupid Parasite, set to drop on November 5, 2021. The news is undeniably a massive deal — Cupid Parasite’s release is over four years since the company last brought an otome title to the west themselves rather than going via a third party localiser.
It is cause for celebration for this fact alone, so here we hope to encourage more interest in the title to perhaps push for more sales — because I’ll do everything in my power to make Idea Factory International realise the western market is always hungry for more otome games, especially when those games are being treated with the care and consideration we see here! Let’s get into it.
A fantastic limited edition
First things first, let’s talk about that stunning limited edition! For western otome fanatics, the offerings of limited editions have been few and far between across the years. The best we ever got was with Idea Factory’s limited edition of Amnesia: Memories — despite not actually coming with a physical copy of the game, this did come with plenty of goodies, so I cannot recommend this enough, and indeed it appeared on our list of favourite video game special editions to have on your shelf.
Aksys’ Code: Realize collector’s editions across most of the series were pretty standard offerings, with a mix-up of artbooks, soundtracks, character cards, and keychains coming in one or the other. These tended to be a little easier to find in Europe than overseas, and are worth picking up if you get the chance.
Then there’s the much harder to obtain Collar x Malice -Unlimited- limited edition — that’s a bit of an awkward title now, isn’t it? Stock levels did not last long on this one, and it’s the only limited edition the IP has received so far. It came with a double serving of a soundtrack featuring 40 tracks from across both games, and the exclusive memorabilia pieces of the X-Day coin and Adonis pin.
But Cupid Parasite’s limited edition truly excels with a considerably larger and super high quality limited edition — as well as a cheaper “Day One” edition that still comes with some bonus goodies.
The limited edition contains the Switch cartridge with a reversible cover, lush collectors box, a Steelbook case, a 60-page hardcover artbook, a set of six acrylic keychains, and a two-disc audio drama CD set with a link to English translations. The Day One edition includes six trading cards, a sticker sheet, a double-sided A2 poster, a reversible cover sheet and a collectors box.
We’re being spoiled rotten here, and I couldn’t be any more grateful than I already am. But let’s get to the more substantial information of the game’s contents — even if the prospect of these lovely physical editions is enough for you to get the wallet out!
Yet another exciting depiction of a modernised America
I have been unable to fully express my love for BUSTAFELLOWS here since its developers are extremely keen to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say it currently stands as my stand-out otome of this year despite all of the competition. A major reason for this is due to its engaging depiction of a world not too far off from modern-day America. With gorgeous sights, lush locations, and cosy shops being scattered about throughout its backgrounds and featured during important events, the game’s darker side seen in its action sequences and “criminal” premise gives the whole thing a rather movie-like feel, and fits well in the game’s New York-inspired setting of the fictional New Sieg.
BUSTAFELLOWS is a complete contrast to the rom-com premise of Cupid Parasite, and I know I’m going to love the “Americanisation” even more here for its more laid-back and light-hearted story.
Cupid Parasite is set in Los York, with illustrations borrowing straight from real-world inspirations. Alongside its colourful art style and humorous setup, Cupid Parasite further utilises its American-influenced setting by pulling themes from popular genres depicted in the country’s entertainment across the ages, such as sci-fi, thrillers, and reality TV within specific routes — and then the premise shifts to more fantastical material in its later chapters.
In fact, the island, meant to occupy somewhere between California and New York has a striking resemblance to the iconic image of Marylin Monroe’s white dress caught in the wind! You can expect humorous puns and the playing around with established names and locations from American history and culture, while still retaining plenty of information and lessons to be taught about mythology while we’re at it.
A humorous, out of this world experience grounded in relatability
Speaking of the mythology aspect, Cupid Parasite seems to promise a number of things, and from what we have gathered from reviews of its original Japanese release, it succeeds on all fronts. The premise exudes romcom energy with an otherworldly twist — our very own main character is not of this world. This in itself is a good indicator of how we can expect her to behave as a typical placeholder for the player, with her ignorance to the human world coming into play to explain the basics of the story and worldbuilding to the player.
Thankfully, she has been said to be an engaging and enjoyable heroine, with a hardworking, charismatic and headstrong personality. She also seems to be as hilarious as the other cast members, due in part to her still learning about how our world functions — and what it means for Cupid herself to understand what love is as she begins to experience it for herself.
Additionally, the game has a very appealing take on the main character, with her being a career driven individual. She is the best matchmaker of Cupid Corporation after all, and it is indeed refreshing to see our point of view coming from a main character who is actively involved in not only being a businesswoman, but being the person who sets in motion the story events and the important happenings in the love interests’ lives.
All about the romance
And if there’s one thing Cupid Parasite does have in abundance, it’s romance. It functions as the main plot after all, and is our heroine’s literal reason for existing as the Goddess of Love — and making a living as a human matchmaker, of course. Those who have explored the Japanese version have noted that the game’s narrative routes make a point of avoiding some of the more common tropes of the genre such as miscommunication and misunderstandings — brilliant stuff.
It is also probably worth noting that considering the game has an age rating of PEGI 12, sex in implied in all routes with fade to black transitions and suggestive dialogue, with only a few spicy CGs — but in no way is it the same tier as Olympia Soiree, with Raul specifically having the most suggestive CGs of the lot. Please don’t spoil yourself by looking it up!
Awesome voice actors
As always, I’m especially excited to learn of the voices behind bringing the attractive faces to life, and we have some real gems here. Makoto Furukawa voices the luxury pillow seller of Allan Melville, known for also appearing in Steam Prison as Adage, Fire Emblem: Three Houses as womaniser Sylvain, and Mr Love: Queen’s Choice as Shaw.
Then we have Ryohei Kimura as the meek but adorable Gill Lovecraft, familiar to those who have played the Diabolik Lovers series as Kou Mukami, but most likely best recognised as two stand-out love interests in both Collar x Malice (Kageyuki Shiraishi) and Piofiore: Fated Memories (Nicola Francesca). With both of these love interests being greatly different, it’s going to be exciting to hear how Kimura portrays Gill, as he’s yet another addition to Kimura’s array of diverse character portrayals.
Next, we have KENN, previously seen in BUSTAFELLOWS as its poster boy, Limbo, and as Minakawa Asahi in Gakuen Club. KENN voices the stoic corporate head Shelby Snail featuring a voice that will penetrate our souls, according to those who have played the Japanese version.
Elsewhere, we have Taku Yahiro as the popular lady’s man, Raul; Yahiro has previously been seen in many mobile otomes, including as Doubt! Uncover the Truth as Furuya Shizou, Ikemen Revolution: Love and Magic in Wonderland as Edgar Bright, and Ikemen Sengoku: Romances Across Time as Imagawa Yoshimoto.
Finally, Enoki Jun’ya is voicing Keisaiin F Ryuki, who happens to be the guy I’m most excited about. Jun’ya has been seen in a few notable otomes, such as Ozmafia!! as Hansel; my favourite catboy Dill from Nekopara – Catboys Paradise, and Tachibana Chisato from Collar x Malice -Unlimited-. I am especially enthused about Jun’ya being a love interest because while he was great as Dill in Nekopara, the game fell short and felt more like a prologue of sorts. His voice deserves as much limelight as possible, so I’m excited to hear him as a central love interest after appearing as mostly a side character in the past!
A strong production
Its other staff credentials are most definitely worth being mentioned and noticed. Its art and character designs are done by Yuuya, known in the west for Pub Encounter and Café Enchanté, with the art being standout aspects of both games. It is especially exciting to see Yuuya’s having the opportunity to truly unleash some colourful designs here; they even top the whimsical and bright visuals of Café Enchanté — and those were already an absolute treat to marvel at: sprites, character designs, the whole lot!
Also linked to Café Enchanté is scenario writer Yoshimura Ririka, who was responsible for penning Rindou’s route specifically; this route offered plenty of drama, satisfying romance, and an appealing character arc to the title all on its own, so it bodes well for their work on Cupid Parasite. I find it humorous to think how Cupid Parasite is the opposite of Café Enchanté in its premise with its human love interests and a godly main character instead!
On a final note here, the game has also been frequently complimented for its soundtrack, fitting the “American” theme of it all, and even having many stand-out vocal tracks. Possibly the most appealing part of this is that each of the love interests have their own theme songs with vocals complimenting their character and their unique quirks.
More of the tropes we love while making it its own
While Cupid Parasite subverts some of the common tropes of the genre, there are plenty of familiar elements here. Ryuki is a tsudnere, Shelby is a kuudere and, of course, there’s a cute as heck sidekick in the form of mythical creature Chii.
An interesting element of characterising and labelling Cupid Parasite’s love interests comes through their Parasite aliases — each one indicates why they have failed in romance in the past.
Allan is the Stolen Parasite, a womaniser who aims for taken women only. Then there’s Gill, the Heartbreak Parasite, who is lovesick for a woman and suffers from unrequited love. Keisaiin is the Appearance Parasite, an arrogant and superficial designer who judges others by how attractive they are (fun fact: he sees people in colours hues, and will refer to them as the colour code he assigns them with one look).
Raul, meanwhile, is the Hobby Parasite, who, despite being an up-and-coming actor who is especially popular with women, is far too fixated on mythology to have the time to talk to anyone about anything other than this. Finally, there is Shelby (my personal best boy of the lot for being an ojisan!), who is the Status Parasite, the stoic, work-driven founder and president of Cupid Corporation who finds love illogical, but needs to bag a wife for the sake of his status.
The love interests have been described by some as “trash fires”, with each initially appearing rather dislikeable before experiencing their routes to truly understand their character and complexities. It is easy to see how each does a terrible job of romancing, and their routes explain their unique quirks and questionable attitudes. Furthermore, their routes not only redeem how they might initially appear, but also gives the game deeper meaning and depth.
Its supporting cast members have also been positively received, adding either comedy, drama or both to its routes, and being memorable parts of the story in their own right.
Collectively, the love interests are grouped up as the “Parasite5” and placed into a house to live together for a TV show that follows their attempts to find love despite all odds and past failures. While the set-up may sound like it will give a group dynamic to the love interests and main character, Cupid Parasite jumps right into character-focused narratives with each route, so do not go into the game expecting an ensemble cast dynamic as seen in games like Code: Realize.
A long ride with no bad endings!
The five routes are selectable after the common route, and each range from about 8-10 hours to complete each one. Then there’s a secret route after you’ve completed all the others. The only tip I’ll mention here is that you might want to leave the plot-heavy route of Allan for last!
A very exciting element that is how the game’s “love capture” mechanic works — it indicates a visual cue of a heart for selecting the right answer, and is influenced by a personality test during the common route. It sounds to be in the same vein as what BUSTAFELLOWS pulled to add more compatibility points with a love interest.
Additionally, since a lot of recent otome titles have erred on the side of tragic and depressing bad endings, it’s exciting to see that Cupid Parasite only contains “happy” and “alternate” endings; the latter are not “bad” by any means but instead tend to feature a more humorous take on things and finish in the way we might typically expect a “normal” ending to conclude.
And as my final point, what else can be said other than relaying the information that the game has been well received both in Japan and by Japanese-speaking western otome enthusiasts? Famitsu gave it an overall score of 33/40, and it currently holds a total average score of 8.12 (very good) on vndb, ranking as the best received of all the upcoming commercial otome games we have previously covered.
Considering how brilliant Olympia Soiree ended up being, this fact alone sounds very promising; I think it is safe to say that Cupid Parasite will be a strong contender for otome of the year.
Overall, Cupid Parasite seems to be a light-hearted comedy with a compelling story that goes a lot deeper than you would initially think. Only time will tell if we all agree with the existing assessments of it — but if it wasn’t clear enough already, we’re extremely excited to find out!
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