Andrew in Steamland:
There’s Always More and it’s Always Worse (Nekopara 0)
In the introductory scene of Nekopara volume 0, the protagonist’s sister and a couple catgirls get turned on by smelling his futon. I think that’s what Hell might be like: ambiguously prepubescent blood relatives getting wet grinding against my bedsheets while the cats watch and wait for their turn to jump my dick. Thanks, Max. Thank you for this magical gift. I was suffering from catgirl withdrawal, but you sure fixed me up. Now I feel ready to take on anything, provided that “anything” is defined as watching naked catgirls do naked catgirl things. I couldn’t have done it without your generous contribution.
I was doing just fine. I was doing Tough Break contracts in Team Fortress 2 and finally put together the Engineer loadout of my dreams. Some kind stranger gave me Saints Row IV, which is kind of grindy but at least has gameplay. So Max decided “Nah, can’t have that, better give Andrew some bullshit VN.” There’s no gameplay here, only sadness. I have a 3DS now, too. Did you know that sometimes I buy things for myself instead of relying on the capricious whims of people on the internet? It’s true! After years of holding off on getting one, I bought a 3DS and now I have all kinds of fun games like Luigi’s Mansion and Fire Emblem. Games that aren’t about this:
Well OK then. Fine. You want me to read that? Of course you do, because there’s nothing funnier than mashing fetishistic Japanese shovelware in Andrew’s face until he delivers a full report on how many times a squeaky-voiced Japanese child said “Fuck me, onii-sama.” For everyone out there who was dying to know the finely woven backstory to Nekopara, here’s my review. I’m not sure what I can say that I didn’t in the first review. It’s pretty much the same thing. They still have the jiggle button, at least, so if you want to see catgirls vibrating like your computer’s inside a broken washing machine, this game will provide you with as much entertainment as your body can handle before succumbing to carpal tunnel.
“Andrew, you sound upset. Could it be that you have some kind of history with Nekopara?” Why yes, voice in my head, I do. For anyone who missed my review of volume 1, here’s the condensed version: way back, someone gave me the first Nekopara as a joke, neither of us knowing what it contained. And it starts off looking pretty inoffensive. Our narrator/faceless protagonist is the owner of a bakery, which he runs with the help of his two catgirl servants. I initially wanted to call them slaves, but he does actually pay them, if you consider crimes against nature a form of payment. You see, Nekopara’s catgirls aren’t humans with cat features so much as they’re human-shaped cats, with all the instincts and hangups you’d expect. For instance, they go into heat. Which our hero is only too happy to help them with. So that’s Nekopara 1. This is 0, the prequel nobody wanted. In fact, it could have been a sequel, a spinoff, anything: nothing of importance happens. There’s no reason for this to exist except that the developers felt they could raise some more money by reusing assets. If there’s one thing I can honestly applaud them for, it’s the ruthless efficiency with which they snapped together pieces of the previous game to create something so similar yet still galling in its own way. I can guarantee that if the Nekopara crew were responsible for Mighty No. 9, not only would the game have been released three years ago, but it would actually cater to its audience instead of insulting them.
Oh, but there is one new thing in Nekopara 0: they added a feature that allows the player to pet the cats (plus your sister). Thank God that Treehouse never got their hands on it. No matter how worked up I might get about this game, at least I know that it’s true to the original vision. Thank you, you crazy Japanese perverts, for letting me rest easy knowing “No, it was always bad. There is no good Nekopara.” That’s a load off my mind. Here’s another screenshot. I’ve got more than I could ever need. Let’s go wild. I can slap my keyboard until my fingers are worn down to bloody nubs and I still wouldn’t be able to come up with any description that more accurately represents the inanity and mind-numbing anti-humor of this game than a random assortment of screenshots.
There are more catgirls this time, which must be a godsend for people who enjoy seeing police lineups of anime girls go jouncing around the screen like a super ball. If you liked Chocola and Vanilla, just want until you get a load of Maple, Cinnamon, Coconut, and… Azuki? Isn’t that a type of bean? Way to break the theme, bitch. Then there’s Shigure, the sister, who I’m going to refer to as Sugar Ray because someday, when my life has passed me by, I’ll lay around and wonder why bad games were always there for me. Making a return appearance are the back-to-back reigning champs of ear-melting voice acting, Chocola and Vanilla. Seeing as the only other character is the protagonist (just kidding, he has no character), I took it upon myself to create a definitive Nekopara tier list. If you for any reason ever find yourself in possession of any Nekopara title, please refer to this list and prepare yourself accordingly.
Now that you’re finished scrolling, I’ll get on with the plot. Ready?
It’s slice-of-life. It’s nothing. Nothing happens in this game except line after line of dialogue that feels interminable even though Steam says I’ve only run it for just under two hours. Scene transitions are accomplished by shoving a couple catgirl faces uncomfortably close to the screen and having them announce the time and some mundane thing, like “8pm, watching TV.” And then they watch TV for a while. I want to elaborate, but the only thing of interest in the entire scene was the full cast shouting “Hai!” simultaneously like a horror game jump scare.
At that point in the story, the writer realized there wasn’t enough fanservice for the target audience, so there’s a bath scene. It’s a good thing catgirl nipples apparently generate their own cloud cover, or this might not have been allowed on Steam! “Lately, Master hasn’t been taking baths with us anymore… Why, meow~?” bemoans Chocola, while Sugar Ray perches nakedly in the background like a gargoyle carved by a pedophile. There’s also some fantastic flounder face going on in this scene, I assume because most of the effort on the visual front went into getting the jiggle physics just right. 90% of the stuff in this game was reused from the first one, couldn’t they have put a little more effort into the new content? Anyway, Azuki reveals that Sugar Ray likes to turn the lights off and hide inside the bathtub so she can ambush her brother and force him to bathe with her. Thank you for that, Nekopara. That was necessary information that I’ll love carrying with me the rest of my life.
Nekopara 0 ends with the catgirls swatting at the pull string for a light bulb and trying to squeeze into Sugar Ray’s bed while the protagonist, finally free, spends the night making desserts in the kitchen in what I assume is either pointless filler or brilliant foreshadowing of the eventual plot twist that he’s actually Stu Pickles. Whatever the case may be, I’ve run out of things to say.