NEKOPARA Vol.1, the first in a line of kinetic novels about the paradise that is owning catgirls, launched on Steam before the new year and has been holding steady on the platform’s top seller list. While some are decrying the game for it’s sexual content (not unlike Sakura Spirit), others are, well, playing it.
Kashou is the son in a long line of Japanese confectionery makers, but he can only realise his dreams of becoming a pâtissier by moving out suddenly and setting up shop. His plan for a clean break from the family doesn’t go that smoothly when two of his house’s catgirls follow him to his new home and cry until he lets them stay. After accepting twins Chocola and Vanilla, the two catgirls use their charms to help out his patisserie. But with a little sister following closely with four other catgirls, Kashou’s days are going to be anything but quiet.
As much as NEKOPARA looks like the catgirl version of Sakura Spirit mixed with Chocolate’s Delight (you can look that one up on your own), it has a very different feel about it. There’s something cute and fluffy about daily adventures with perpetually bouncing catgirls. There’s clearly a lot of love for the girls themselves as NEKO WORKs takes much time to build up how catgirls came to be, how they’re much like intelligent pets, how they can work and other details like that. Of course, that only makes later events kind of creepy when you realise you own your girlfriends in the literal sense, but everything’s so bouncy and carefree, it’s not hard to just go with it. Is this the true power of a catgirl?
About halfway through the game is when it becomes more obvious that the Steam version has been cut for all-ages, which is kind of weird and maybe absolutely fine, depending on how much you’d miss animated 18+ scenes. The change from the family feeling presented early on – with frequent mentions of Kashou feeling like the catgirls are his daughters or family along that line – is especially weird. It’s not like there’s not a frequent underlying sexual tone, complete with skirt flips, incest jokes and groping, but there’s such an effort to set up catgirls as pets or animal-like daughters. The eventual sexual turn feels weird. This is probably what people mean about NEKOPARA not being for everyone. But outside that, the Steam cut is still all about the cute and fluffy.
Actually smooth gif courtesy of Tsundere-Dragon
As captured in the gif above, NEKOPARA uses the E-mote system, something very similar to what you might have seen when Emofuri took the spotlight on Pixiv and some Tumblr spaces a few months back. The system itself has been around for a little while, but NEKOPARA gives us the first full English release of a game using this system, and it looks amazing. The catgirls bounce around almost constantly and their expressions change subtly as their voice plays while their mouth moves with the dialogue. The system allows us to see tiny movement mannerisms that are lost with static sprites, which is equally interesting for new players or people working on their own visual novel projects.
Of course, the most important thing you’re looking for is how many catgirls you can fawn over at once. The answer is an amazing six animated catgirls bouncing on your screen at once, and one tiny catchild you can fawn over early in the game. There’s no shortage of cat breeds or catgirls and there’s hardly any time that you’re apart from them. Cat paradise? Cat paradise.
NEKOPARA Vol.1 is the introduction to Kasshou’s life with his twin catgirls. The kinetic novel has a cute and fluffy atmosphere with an underlying sexual tone that gets stronger as the game progresses. The game’s use of E-mote means sprites are beautifully animated, adding so much more to the characters and how you play the game. While some of the content isn’t for everyone, it’s an overall cute, light-hearted game.
NEKOPARA Vol. 1 is available for Windows on Steam for $9.99 / £6.99. The 18+ version is also available for $18 / €15 over at DLsite (NSFW link). If you like your hard copies, Denpasoft is handling the regular and LE physical releases of the game for around $20 plus shipping.
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