The hit doujin game series is back with this latest installment, which has again been released simultaneously in Japanese, Chinese, and English. Bring on the catgirl chaos!
First off, I am a huge NEKOPARA fan, so that fact is going to colour my review. I have a thing for catgirls, what more can I say?
While this newest installment doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it’s a must-play for fans of the series. Vol. 1 focused on Chocola and Vanilla, the youngest catgirls, but in this outing it’s Azuki and Coconut who are the central figures. Personally, I’d been looking forward to seeing more of Coconut since the very first game!
The four-hour story follows the La Soleil gang as they manage the busy patisserie, where business is booming thanks to imouto Shigure knowing how to leverage the appeal of catgirls online. While Chocola and Vanilla go off for their bell renewal test, protagonist (pervy) pastry chef Kashou has a chance to get closer to the other catgirls, particularly Coconut, the clumsy younger sister, and Azuki, the sarcastic older sister. There are fights, misunderstandings, and many, many tears, but ultimately love and affection will conquer all.
It’s a sweet, heartwarming story, but it’s also extremely predictable and follows the same basic pattern as Vol. 1. Most people probably don’t play NEKOPARA for the plot, but if you’re looking for something more than silly slice-of-life, then this isn’t for you. (Also, as usual, you have to put it out of your mind that these catgirls are basically like slaves with the minds of children…like I said, we’re not here to think too deeply.) I would have preferred a little more variation as I feel that the characters lose some of their individuality when their issues all essentially boil down to being head over heels for Master, but their personalities do shine through in their speech and interactions.
As a side note, I also have absolutely no complaints with the English translation of the Japanese. Good job there!
The production quality is as high as ever with gorgeous, vibrant artwork from Sayori-san. Every CG, SD, character sprite, and background is an absolute joy to look at. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any new backgrounds that we hadn’t seen in Vol. 1, which was a disappointment. Other than that, I really can’t fault anything to do with the art. I could stare at Sayori-san’s crisp, colorful catgirl CGs all day long!
The E-mote system is used to great effect to bring the character sprites to life, and the movements and facial expressions are perfectly matched with the speech. Having the characters blink and their hair sway realistically really helps to immerse the player in the game’s virtual world. Vol. 2 also retains the “chest bounciness” slider from Vol. 1 and the “petting” mode from Vol. 0, which are both fun additions.
Voice acting is wonderful as always, sound effects are used well, and the music is lovely, although it is mostly the same as in Vol. 1. There are also two super upbeat new opening and ending tracks!
While the Steam version is supposedly all-ages, it does get quite lewd in places, and I was surprised by just how risque some of the content was. There is no nudity, but some of the conversations and sound effects go beyond being simply suggestive. That being said, the uncut version contains plenty of full-on sexual content. A patch with the H-scenes is available from Denpasoft, and I will have a review of the 18+ version coming soon.
In conclusion, while the fact that this installment follows a familiar pattern means that it probably isn’t going to win over any new fans, it’s another high-quality release that will hit all the right notes for anyone who enjoyed volumes 1 and 0. Spending time in NEKOPARA’s bright, bouncy world is a pleasure, and I had fun getting to know (sometimes quite intimately) Coconut and Azuki better. I’ll have no complaints if the next volume follows the same format for Maple and Cinnamon, however, I would like to see the stories get a bit more adventurous in any further fandisks or additions to the series.