Japan has done it again. Hatoful Boyfriend is just like any dating simulator...just...with birds. Yes, you heard me right. No, these are not birds, as in hot chicks. These are birds as in actual chicks. All of the potential dates in this game are some sort of dove or pigeon. Yes, birds. Complete with talons, feathers and beaks.
You may first be asking, why birds? Well, I donít really know. Itís a Japanese dating sim meant for Japanese girls, and as a youtube video put it ďitís for girls who want to date boys, but since boys suck, they replaced them all with birdsĒ. I had to try this game out for myself, it sounded like such a fun joke. Itís in fact, not a joke, and a very touching game.
You may be wondering how these lovely birdies can talk and perform like any other human. Well, in the game, it is set in the future, where birds have obviously taken over the world as the dominant species. Humans are now like animals, few and far between, living like you, feral and in the wild. Hiyoko lives in a cave in the side of a mountain, and survives by hunting and gathering like an animal would. Birds have taken over as doctors, lawyers, athletes, and musicians. The explanation is that a mutation of the bird flu has made all of this evolution of birdkind possible. For some reason, that thought scares me.
The story opens with your character, Hiyoko (but you may rename her whatever you wish), a hunter-gatherer wild woman whom is entering her second year of St. PigeoNation Academy. Itís a school by the pigeon, of the pigeon, and for the pigeon. According to Hiyoko, the school is where all the birdies go that want to learn the arts, maths, athletics, and sciences. All the best teachers and great bird brains gather there. The only thing is, Hiyoko is a human. Why is a human girl going to a school only for male birds? Well....nobody really knows. Hiyoko only reveals one fact about that, and she only says, ďItís a long story.Ē
During your time at the school, you must choose a bird to date. One disappointing factor was that the options for whose story to follow are painfully obvious, taking the guesswork out of it. For instance, my favorite birdie is the fantail, Sakuya. He obviously becomes President of the Student Council, and you are asked early on which activity you want to join. So, for Sakuya, obviously you join the student council! I wish the stories were a bit more involved and harder to ďgetĒ the bird of your dreams.
As for options, you have many. There is Ryouta, your childhood friend, a rock dove that is a bit mischievous, but he is responsible and kind. You might choose to go for Sakuya, the fabulous fantail that is a rich aristocrat with a secret love for music. Or you my fancy his brother, Yuuya, a caring and compassionate guy with a soft spot for any and all women. There are others to choose from as well, such as Okosan, a fantail that is obsessed with pudding and maybe a little crazy, as well as the mourning dove Nageki, the quiet bird that practically lives in the library. Each has their own story to tell, and some may move you to tears.
The graphics are great, except for the actual, real-life photographs of birds they use for the dating candidates. They sort of break up the flow of the anime backgrounds, and anime portraits (if you choose to display them) but add to the fun factor. As for the backgrounds, they are detailed and wonderfully drawn. Everything looked great and gave me the feel that I was actually in the room.
The music is nothing special, but I really liked it. The English version does not have voice overs, so you will have to imagine the voices yourself. Each actor is listed on the characterís profiles, if you can read Japanese. I was slightly disappointed, but it is fun to imagine the voice, too.
This game is available to download for free, but the free version is only a demo, which I played. I definitely plan to purchase the full version, which only costs $5. The full version is longer, obviously, and gives you one more bachelor to date. I played this game as a joke, but it has grown on me. It even spawned a sequel, yet to be released in English, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star. I fully enjoy it, and laugh at it every time. Be careful, these birds may make you grow attached!