The original Hatoful Boyfriend is the kind of game that no one should really like. It’s a dating sim about a high school full of birds. However, in a weird way, it worked. Choosing your bird suitors had a weird quirkiness to it and each character was fairly absurd, not only in their personalities, but in the fact that they were birds. So, because building a world was so difficult, the sequel, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star shouldn’t be nearly as difficult, right?
The first thing you need to understand about Holiday Star is that it really isn’t a dating sim, like the first game. Rather than being a dating sim, Holiday Star is more in line as a “visual novel.” Basically, rather than having a set of branching paths, there are large amounts of uninterrupted dialogue that eventually give you an option. Choosing the correct option means you get to keep going, but choosing the wrong one means…you get to restart from the last point you manually saved (assuming you did, otherwise you have to restart the whole chapter) and choosing the correct option when it shows up.
The game will give you clues as to what the correct option is, but with a wall of text that really all blends together, it can be nearly impossible to remember. Plus, as previously mentioned, getting back to the point where you had to make the choice can be a pain. There is an option to save but with no indication of when you will make the choice, and with no option to save when you actually make the choice, it can mean very little.
There are four main chapters of the game. Each chapter is a smaller part of a larger mystery, involving new mysterious birds showing up, dealing with new enemies and eventually heading to outer space. Honestly, the game tries incredibly hard to be noticed. Cross dressing pigeons, travelling to outer space and birds in tanks all sound like they should be fun.
However, in the context of the previous game it all feels less memorable because there is so little characterization. Without the choice to follow specific characters, you get few chances to have memorable moments. Instead, there are really just memorable images.
The whole game can be completed within an hour or two and even then it feels like it’s dragging. A game like Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star should be more memorable. Instead, it barely feels like a game and it barely feels like a successful sequel.
SCORE: 3.0 out of 10
A code for Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star was provided to Pixel Related for review.