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Game Info:

NEKOPARA Complete + Extra
Developed By: NEKO WORKs
Published By: Sekai Project
Release Date: December 29, 2014 for Vol. 1, July 27, 2018 for Extra (others in between)
Available On: Windows, Switch; PlayStation 4 coming soon
Genre: Kinetic Visual Novel
Number of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: M for Sexual Themes
MSRP: $29.66 for Complete + $4.99 for Extra

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

NOTE: This review discusses more mature/adult topics than our usual fare. It is also filled with spoilers. Please consider yourself warned.

I never had any intention of covering NEKOPARA on Christ Centered Gamer. I thought everyone knew that it was the type of visual novel series that gives the genre a bad name – the naughty kind that has lots of titillating, sexually charged scenes and dialogue, and even has an 18+ version that leaves little to the imagination. But, it turns out, that not everyone does know this, as my wife accepted a code for one of the entries without knowing anything about it, and was going to offer it to my 13-year-old daughter to review! (In her defense, the store page did not have an age gate, and the tags were not yet in place to warn of nudity, either.) I swooped in and nope’d that one, and set out to review what would otherwise be quite an embarrassment to play given pretty much any other circumstance. How many guys can honestly say that their wife told them to play a game about well-endowed catgirls?

I was also surprised at how popular the NEKOPARA series is. I had no idea that these games are some of the top selling visual novels on Steam, with the series surpassing two million in sales. Also, some games in the series have already been released on PlayStation 4 and Switch, with more of them having been announced as on their way. It’s well known that cuteness (and sex) sells, but I had no idea of the market power they represented in the real world. So I guess covering them is valuable after all.

With that out of the way, NEKOPARA (which is a combination of neko, the Japanese word for cat, and paradise) takes place in a not too distant future where geneticists have created the ultimate human-cat hybrid in the form of catgirls. These creatures were created to be the perfect pet: smart enough to be talked to, but cat-like enough to still be cute, purr, and so on. Since many of their feline instincts were intentionally left in place, catgirls are owned, regulated, and treated as pets. A very small percentage of them, generally only the most well behaved, can go through rigorous testing in order to earn a license to be allowed outside of a house alone.

I could not help but draw a few parallels in my mind when I thought about catgirls as they are described in-universe. Having recently watched the Blade Runner series, the parallels to Replicants are obvious. I also thought about the possibilities for exploitation and slave labor, which is lightly touched upon in the story, but never expounded upon at all. The other parallel I drew was analogous to the current controversies over sex dolls and the future of the human race that comes up quite often in articles here and there. If people don’t need to go through the challenging work that is maintaining human relationships, will they?

NEKOPARA Complete + Extra
Highlights:

Strong Points: Art is very well done; visual novel engine is fantastic, with lip and body movement and expressions; sound, voices and music is similarly well done
Weak Points: For several episodes, the plot is very weak and kind of boring; titillation seems more important than story, especially in the early episodes
Moral Warnings: Foul language like ‘b*tch’, ‘h*ll’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, including using God’s name in vain; breasts jiggle and move, and there is even a slider for boob physics; frequent sex with catgirls, including having multiple partners at the same time; lots of sexual humor, including one catgirl who gets hot and bothered from any little thing; each episode has one or more scenes with nude catgirls, including baths, bathrooms, or sex, with only the minimum required nipples hidden or brushed out; while most sex is heterosexual, there is one lesbian scene, and most sex is in the form of a threesome; polygamy is common and accepted by catgirls apparently

In NEKOPARA, you take the role of Kashou Minaduki, who is the oldest child in the Minaduki household. He also has a much younger sister, Shigure. She is very helpful and responsible, though she has a rather odd brother complex where she wants to be intimate with him. Other than that, she is a rather kind and helpful sister who is always looking out for him and her catgirls.

A few years ago, Shigure brought home her first stray catgirl, Azuki. Since then, she brought home Maple, Cinnamon, and Coconut. Not much later, Kashou rescued the twins Chocola and Vanilla. (If you were curious, Azuki is a kind of bean, so they are all named after food.) Catgirls grow up at the same rate cats do, so are fully grown within about a year. Shigure raised them all, and did a great job doing so.

Kashou moved out of his parents’ house suddenly, as he had a dream to start his own Western-style patisserie. His parents run a Japanese-style sweets shop, and he learned that trade growing up, but preferred to branch out on his own rather than take over the family business. As a result, he left quickly and suddenly, without warning.

While unpacking, he was in for a big surprise: Chocola and Vanilla came with him by sneaking into packing boxes! He originally meant to leave them with his sister, but they would have nothing to do with it – they loved him the most as it was he who rescued them, despite spending more time with Shigure since she trained them. Eventually, he gave in to their demands, and they moved in with him, while Shigure continued to take care of the other four catgirls.

I wish I could say ‘and they lived happily ever after, with a litter-full of catgirl hijinks’, and there is certainly some of that. But when Kashou walks down the street, friendly ladies ask if those are his ‘catpanions’, which is a term that means a catgirl who has sex with their owners. Chocola and Vanilla like that idea, which Kashou shoots down, at first. However, it doesn’t take too long before he caves in to the pressure from his sister, other people he meets, and his own catgirls being in heat for the first time, after which he finally makes them his catpanions.

Each of the main episodes, Vol. 1-3, has Kashou getting in bed with some new catgirl, until he has finally made all of them his catpanions by the end of Vol. 3. I can’t even imagine what the announced Vol. 4 could possibly include... will he finally indulge his sister in the incestuous relationship she is begging for? Will he start picking up catgirls off the street to grow his harem even more? It is explained that catgirls do not get jealous in polygamous situations with other catgirls. Supposedly it’s a species thing. Will he actually... *gulp* meet a human girl?

If that wasn’t enough, each episode (even the prequels, like Vol. 0 and Extra) has at least one bath scene, where the catgirls are seen naked, with white puffs and glare covering any nipples or private parts – but otherwise very little is left to the imagination. Vol. 3 even went so far as to have you catch a girl going to the bathroom, and another where two catgirls stimulate each other to climax – though one of them was furious afterwards and promised it would not happen again. They seem to be somewhat slaves to stimulation. One of them has a really dirty mind, and she will interpret anything that sounds sexual in that way, and will start acting all hot and bothered at any possible opportunity.

As you can see, much of the story revolves around sex, sexual feelings, or sexual jokes and innuendos. But not all of it. Each episode does have some story to tell, and I found that as the episodes progressed, the stories got better and better. I played them in release order, and could clearly see that progression happen.

For the record, while I try to be objective with a game and its stories, it is kind of difficult to separate the quality of a story from the negative feelings I get around the sexual content. Part of that is, for example, Kashou’s eventual hookup with Chocola and Vanilla feels incredibly wrong – they are the youngest of them, and even in ‘cat years’, they are most likely approximately equivalent to a teenager, and Kashou appears to be a college graduate. I had a hard time separating out my disgust with my feelings for the story.

NEKOPARA Complete + Extra
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 50%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 0/10
Sexual Content - 0/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

Vol. 1 is the first released game, and revolves around Kashou opening his shop, and the growing relationships between him and his catgirls. While of course it’s important and sets everything up, I felt like overall it wasn’t that strong of a story. The sexual content detracted from my ability to enjoy the story, given that this one is where Chocola and Vanilla hook up with Kashou. Chocola is a young, innocent personality whose innocence needed to be protected in my opinion. Kashou considered himself like their parent, or a much older sibling. Anyway, the strengths did not override the weaknesses for me.

Vol. 0 is a very short prequel view of the characters; a single day at home with Shigure. It was very short and wholly unremarkable.

Vol. 2 is where the story starts to turn the corner and get more interesting. It’s still nothing special, but the writers at least tell a story. The catgirls are a bit older, so it doesn’t feel so creepy, which helps a lot. A few of the characters grow some, which certainly helps.

Vol. 3 is both the best and worst episode of them all. It was worse because it had lots of sex in it, including between two of the catgirls. But as for the story, it was by far the best. There was actual character growth, an interesting plot, and an enjoyable finale. This one touched more on catgirls’ place in society, and how some people outside of Kashou’s little circle feel about them. It also showed how catgirls who worked hard could become something greater than just being a house pet. If the other episodes were this good, my opinion of the series might have been much more positive.

Extra was a cute prequel, where you get to see what they were like when Chocola and Vanilla first joined your family. It was mostly cute, but unfortunately some of the perverted stuff still crept in. The Steam page for this entry does not have an age gate, and I would prefer that it did – there is still a bath scene, with far more to be shown than I would like to see for something without an age gate.

The art and visual novel game engine used here is second to none. I am very impressed with the way the characters move around the screen as they do things, how their lips move, the voice acting, and even the music fits well. When it comes to spit and polish, this is probably the best looking ‘traditional’ visual novel I have ever seen. (I say ‘traditional’ as more VNs have been innovating in style lately, like Danganronpa, but I do not consider them traditional in interface like this one is.) Of course, being the style of game it is, the girls’ breasts have to move as they do, and you can even jiggle them at any time by pressing ‘P’ on the keyboard. There is a breast physics slider in the options as well. You can also pet the catgirls with the mouse, and they meow at you when you do that.

If I didn’t cover everything to worry about with appropriateness in most of this review already, be aware that common curse words like ‘b*tch’, ‘h*ll’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’ are used. God’s name in vain is spoken, and one of the episodes has you and the catgirl twins going to a temple to pray for good luck, where the reader learns that Kashou isn’t really religious, but is superstitious enough to go to temple anyway.

NEKOPARA is a cute visual novel stamped all over by near-constant sexual jokes, innuendo, or outright sex. The storytelling did get significantly better over time, enough so that if all of them were as thought provoking as the last ones, perhaps my opinion of the series would have been much better going through it, making any recommendation a bit more balanced. But at this point, the smut to quality ratio is way too high for me to recommend it to even the most jaded. And most certainly not for Christians. Oh – and avoid the 18+ patch.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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