Welcome to the wonderful world of Hatoful Boyfriend! I will be your guide to seducing an avian lover to make your heart flutter.
Some of you may be wondering why one would need a guide for this unusual game. That is because, based on the demographic of the hosts of Laser Time and it’s other shows, you are statically likely to be a straight white American male, so you will likely find this game just as baffling as Chris and Dave did during the stream. But have no fear: with this guide, you will learn the ins and outs of the mysterious genre known as Japanese dating sims.
There is also a good chance that some of you Statistically Average Laser Time Consumers have some knowledge of dating sims and general anime and mange knowledge. You will still find some valuable knowledge here, as HB is an otome game, meaning that it is aimed at women. So there will be something unique to otome that this guide will help you understand.
Sluts Must Die
This is the most important tip for playing any otome game. Unlike dating sims for males, otome games do not have harem endings, which are when the player ends up with all of the possible love interests. The player needs to pick one and stick to it till the very end. Playing the field and stringing multiple birdies along will only get you killed. And yes, I do mean that literally. If you unsuccessfully romance anybirde, you will be killed by assassins.
There is a small timeframe where the player can sample all the different birds, but that time is much smaller than it appears. The bad ending does not trigger til summer vacation ends, but you can seal your fate before then. In Chris and Dave’s stream, they accidentally spread themselves too thin. Their lack of commitment to one bird caused their gruesome end. To avoid such a terrible fate, there are two tips I can give you.
A) Be okay with getting a bad ending on the first playthrough
Chris and Dave were not impressed and confused why they were executed, but to a veteran of the genre, their error was painfully obvious. They triggered events with almost every love interest, instead of focusing on just one. While that did not succeed at wooing anybirde, their playthrough still had some value. The game does introduce all the love interests during the first day of the game, but that might not be enough time for some people to decide who they want to make a nest with.
While the first day does a good job of introducing all the characters, the other events give the birds more depth. For example, Nageki is rude to the player when they first meet in the library, but later events reveal more depth, like him opening up to the player about his tragic backstory. This additional insight into their character could help indecisive players into following the advice all their mothers have been giving: to stop puttering around and settle down already.
It’s a shame that dating games leave very little room for error, so one cannot take everybirdie out for a test drive, but that is one of the limits of the genre. But getting a bad ending is not that much of a punishment anyways. There is a fast forward text button in the top right corner that stops when you have to make a decision. Since Hatoful’s game play is visual novel-based, with long stretches of dialogue between decisions, it is easy to speed your way through the game towards the bird of your dreams.
B) Pick one and stick to if from the start
Every decision matters in a dating game, so there is little room for error. Not every decision will progress your chosen route at first, but once you get to the fall semester it will lock you into your chosen bird’s path if you have experienced enough events with them. This freeform first half and character specific second half is common in otome games. I have played games where route-locking the protagonist and their love interest were slowly separated from the rest of the main cast for the rest of the game. They got killed off for the protagonist and love interest’s character development as well as giving them ample alone time to fornicate. Hatoful is not that brutal towards the rest of the cast, or at least the normal game is.
Unlike the first half of the game, where you can accidentally mess up on romancing a pigeon and not know it til an assassin is tearing out your throat, if you make a wrong decision when you are route-locked, you get a game over almost immediately. That may sound harsh to you, Statistically Average Laser Time Consumer, but do not fret. It is pretty easy to figure out what option to pick. If your birdie beau asks you to come on a quest to find the great pudding lord, it’s obvious that rejecting him will not get you his good ending of flocking together in a utopia of pudding and will instead get you murdered.
At this point, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. With so many decisions to be made and with the margin of error being so small, how can a beautiful independent reader such as yourself manage to woo anybirde without getting executed? That brings me to my next point.
Internet Guides Are Your Wingman
Some of you maybe calling fowl at this point. Needing external help just to successes at the game may seem like bad game design to you. You do have a point, annoyed reader, especially since some early decisions do not make it clear whose relationship it will grow and when are stats even useful. But while annoying, you should not write off the game entirely because of two points.
A) Guides are not necessary
Playing without a guide will not guarantee you a bad ending; some characters are easier to romance then others. Nageki’s route is the easiest because he is always in the library and he does not require certain stats to be raised. You just have to be nice to him: don’t push his boundaries, and don’t call him paranoid when he opens up to you enough to talk about being ignored by other students.
Most of the birds are not hard to get without a guide, but some of them have two endings: a normal and a full ending. Full ends are very similar to the normal ending, they just add an extra scene after the credits roll. To get the three full endings you need to fulfill the stat requirement for that bird. Each class corresponds to one stat and each bird requires only one stat to be filled. Luckily, the stat system is very basic compared to other games I have played.
B) You use them all the time for other games
If you are still feeling cheated, Statistical Consumer, then read on. The Internet has revolutionized research with powerful search engines and huge databases full of knowledge. Sure, most people use it to fulfill even their sickest sexual desires, but they can uses for other equally important things, like learning if you really can unlock Sonic in Smash Bros. melee by launching the sand bag 420, 000 feet.
Any game with even a smidgen of popularity has its own robust wiki maintained by internet gremlins with My Little Pony memes as userpics. You, Statistically Average Laser Time Consumer have probably used a wiki for a video game very recently, perhaps having one open in your tabs right this moment, next to some violent clown-themed porn tabs.
Any gamer who wants to explore the depth of a game without having to play it game 500 times through trial and error has used wikis extensively. Any serious Dark Souls player will eventually spend half their time on the various wikis and forums for the game, learning builds and researching the best possible weapon, rather than playing the game itself.
Yes, I am comparing Hatoful Boyfriend to Dark Souls. If you are the kind of person who gets upset over that sort of thing, then you should save your self-righteous outrage for the major gaming sites who have been giving HB review scores higher then destiny.
It’s A Joke
As a veteran of the genre, the mainstream games press reactions to the game have been very strange to me. The majority does not seem to realize that the game is a satire of the otome genre. This is odd to me, because you don’t even have to be an expert on otome to get the jokes; even basic familiarization with generic anime tropes (cultural festivals, maid cafés, etc) will be sufficient. But still the main reaction is confusion at the game’s absurdity, and lots of expression on how wacky/weird/screwed up Japan is.
Yes, the game is weird, but that is the point. It’s an absurdist parody of the genre, and you are not supposed to not take it seriously; the game certainly doesn’t. In the base game, there are roughly 100 jokes per minute, and even the darker, more serious Bad Boys Love route still has plenty of humor in it.
A) There is something about Japan
The reason why this game as misperceived is because it is Japanese; Japanese weirdness is a common topic in the western webosphere. All you need are a few pictures, some factoids, and a friend who had a cousin who taught English, and you will be the toast of Buzzfeed/HuffPo/Kotaku. As amusing as those articles are, they always make the presumption that Japan is not laughing at every out-of-context image we are laughing at either, and why wouldn’t they be?
No seriously, search “Japan is weird” on Google images and pick any random picture. Why would the Japanese not find it funny too? Maybe it’s because the websites you visit only cover stuff from Japan when it is particularly strange and interesting. Maybe it’s because we aren’t exposed to the day-to-day normalcy that we see in our culture, so we draw false conclusions over an entire culture over a few funny articles.
Imagine if in America Monty Python clips were shared around the internet as examples at how weird Britain is. Imagine if Japan took American reality shows at face value and used them to write about how weird American is. Hell, American mainstream news is so terrible that it could be used as well. I can see it now: Japanese bloggers exclaiming how weird America is because they will dedicate 24-hour coverage on one subject, spending most of their time making speculations and having to debunk them when they turn out to be false. So weird, guys.
B) No, this isn’t an actual pigeon dating simulator
This point probably should have been number one since I have seen an alarmingly high amount of people think that because it’s a dating game you actual engage in actual sexual relations with actual pigeons. Just scroll through the comments on a review or the Steam forum and you will find plenty of gamer bros lamenting at how terrible the world is for a pigeon sex simulator getting a higher mark then Destiny.
Yeah, you read that right. This is a pigeon dating sim, and you don’t even get to really date them.
Most of the endings are silly tomfoolery, like journeying to find the one true pudding, starting a human-bird biker gang, dismemberment, or riffs on JRPGs. Some are morose, especially Ryouta’s, which ends with a conversation about his impending death thanks to his short life expectancy due to being, you know, a pigeon. The only overtly romantic one where “I love you”s are exchanged is the evil doctor’s route, and that does not end happily–for the player character at least.
This is embarrassing for a number of reasons, but chiefly because not only is there no sexual content in the game, but you don’t actually date the birds.
It seems absurd to me that I even need to explain that you don’t end up kissing any birds. Of course you don’t. That would be absurd, like pigeon biker gangs or literally anything else in this game. That is probably one of the reasons why they chose pigeons in the first place. They are one of the most unsexy animals. How many pigeon fursonas have you seen out there in the wilds of the internet, compared to dogs, cats, foxes and dragons?
Despite its obvious blatant absurdity, many people still think this game is serious. I don’t even know how much more the game could do to demonstrate otherwise. The launch trailer for the HD re-release showcases fake pigeon Let’s Play stream highlights of the game. In screenshots, it boosts ridiculous things like “60 flaps per second” over some silly screen caps from the game.
Do you get it yet? It’s a joke. It’s not serious. You romance pigeons, a bird that has a reputation for being dumb, rats with wings that poop on everything. Poop machines! You romance flying poop machines! How more absurdly obvious is that? I mean fucking really. It’s a joke! IT’S A FUCKING JOKE! HOW DENSE CAN YOU BE! I SWEAR I AM GOING TO FUCKING K-
And that has been your beginner’s guide to Hatoful Boyfriend! I hope these tips can help you succeed at seducing the birdie of your dreams. One quick tip before parting: playing with at least one friend and reading it out loud with different voices is the ideal way to play this game. It will get you more immersed in the story and characters, whether your make the game more jokey or more sincere with your voice acting.
Have fun, everybirdie, and remember to practice safe peaks!
Article by contributor Ash Stewart.
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