A fantastic and disturbing blend of geek culture and journalism. Shooters, adventure games, RPGs, you name it, there's an engine. The RPG Maker series is very popular, but there are others. Recently, a game being developed in Fighter Maker became notorious for including characters owned by Hasbro and was subsequently shut down by lawyers.
However, if you have permission to use someone else's characters, you're home free. It's a dating sim built using the Novelty engine that features characters from the furry fandom with permission, of course; an auction was held for spots in the game. I will admit this right now that I've never played a dating sim before, so I don't know if Puppy Love should've been my first, but given just how many Japanese-developed dating sims don't make it out of their home country, this New Zealand-developed one is as good as any for me to start with.
So fair warning, I might not be as up on what is standard in the dating sim genre as I am in other genres. The goal of Puppy Love is to aid the main character, Silas, in his sudden, panicked quest to find a date for the Lantern Festival.
He left it to the last minute and has only a few hours to figure out who he'll have the best chance at a relationship with. Along for the ride are his friends, some of whom are romantic options for him, as well as his own personal narrator, whom he just met that morning. I know his narrator was intended by the developer to be female, but I couldn't help imagining her as having the voice of George Takei instead.
Occasionally, I would read out the narrator's lines as I played in as close to a George Takei voice as I could because let's face it, he's pretty easy to imitate. I bet you can't even read that without speaking in a George Takei voice. Something interesting to note about the screen shot above is that there's a meter for Silas's confidence.
Certain actions in the game will lower his confidence and others will raise it depending on whether the outcome is in his favour or not and whether or not he feels guilty afterwards. In my first playthrough, I ended up never lowering Silas's confidence level beyond the unavoidable drop that happens at the start.
In fact, I ended with a full meter, however that happened. Needless to say, I enjoyed a good ending. My second time, I also managed to reach one of the good endings, but my meter was down to a small sliver. It shows you what a difference beginner's luck makes in a game.
One thing I've seen in the furry fandom is that someones good art and good writing don't seem to mix, but that's not the case in Puppy Love. In fact, not only is the art of the game a joy to behold, the dialogue is pretty decent, too. I found myself grinning giddily every time I got one of the pop-culture references. That's one of my rules. That doesn't stop me from grinning at the reference every time someone makes it.
I wish I had also taken a screen shot of the "No! Now the game isn't perfect, but the developer acknowledges this on their website. In fact, some of the glitches can be blamed on the engine used for the game. According to Studio Knockout, the software they used was still in beta, so it is a little crashy. Specifically, some of the things you usually can do with a game, like minimizing it to the taskbar or closing it with the X in the corner, will crash it. Given that it takes about an hour or so to take Silas through his day, I don't mind that I can't do much with the size of the game window like I would've been able to do with the games I download on Steam.
And if an hour seems short, don't worry, there are multiple endings including some "secret" ones to discover. One hour can easily become several if this is your kind of game. In fact, I consider the opening cinematic screen shot above to be a lot better than some of the opening cinematics in many of the DS and PSP games I've played recently.
Short games sometimes lead to short reviews, but I would be remiss to end this without at least mentioning Glue Beasts. Anyway, if you have an afternoon to kill, Puppy Love makes for an interesting diversion. Plus, it's free, so even if dating sims aren't usually your thing, the price is certainly right.
Screen shots captured by author of review and used with permission Categories: