I’m sure this will come as a surprise to no one, but I’ve played through the entirety of Huniepop 2: Double Date already. I had a lot of fun, but that’s not exactly what this is about. I was trolling through the Steam reviews for the game and I noticed a trend in what I was reading in the negative reviews. A lot of criticism was being levied at two aspects of the game in particular: the gameplay changes, and the story. Because I have nothing better to do with my time, here’s my thoughts on both of those things.
With regard to the story, I thought the complaint was strange. The first game has almost no story to speak of. You are a romantically challenged individual who finds talking to women an impossible task. You then meet a magic fairy named Kyu who says she is going to help you gain the skills to woo ladies with the penultimate goal of getting laid. Real classy shit.
Kyu’s lesson is about the match three game that you’ll be playing whenever you go on a date. Instead of navigating a bunch of dialogue and choosing the correct options to progress forward, players are presented with a match three board and play said board as an abstraction of the date. Successful moves are meant to represent you successfully navigating the date and when you reach a certain score threshold within a certain number of moves the date is a success. If you can’t quite reach the required score then neither party had a great time and the date is a failure.
After learning how to navigate a date, it is then on the player to use their sexy match three skills to woo all the pretty ladies. This is the whole story. That is it.
By comparison, Huniepop 2 at least sets the player up with a goal they’re trying to work toward. The premise is entirely outlandish, but it has a self-aware air about it that makes the stupidity laugh out loud funny instead of cringe. You have to sleep with all the pretty ladies so you can eventually defeat some crazy space hookers that are planning to destroy the universe. Okay. Sure. I didn’t really need a reason to justify what I was doing, but if you want to provide one this time around I’ll bite.
I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how people thought the first game had a better story. I think they’re both kind of crap, but concluded the issue is less the story itself and more the framing. In Huniepop you’re framed as being a pathetic loser, but you rise up and get laid. In Huniepop 2 you’re a sex god who needs to use their righteous penis to save the galaxy. In the first game you’re an incel and in the second you’re a chad. I think that’s the real issue. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a portion of the audience was entirely turned off from the get-go because they couldn’t visualize themselves as the player character anymore.
Then we have the gameplay changes.
Huniepop 2 is exactly what I was hoping for from a gameplay standpoint. Huniepop is one of those rare match three games that actually has a tiny bit of depth owing to some smart design decisions. There are eight total token types, but only four of them provide points. The remainder increase your score multiplier, allow you to use powerful items, provide you with extra turns, and the final type lowers your score. As a result, winning a board isn’t just about creating matches of three identical tokens. Players will want to prioritize when and what they match to maximize their score yield from each match made.
Huniepop 2 builds on this foundation by adding systems that increase the mechanical complexity. Instead of dates being one on one, you now need to swap your focus between two women. In service of this a stamina mechanic was added. Each move made against a specific person will drain their stamina and if it completely drains they’ll need to sit out for a few turns to build their stamina back. A stamina token type was also added, which restores stamina to whoever receives the match.
By adding this one mechanic a whole avalanche of new decisions have been presented to the player. They’ll need to manage how many matches they’re making against each participant, when they need to let a girl build up stamina, if there is a good enough reason to let someone’s stamina completely drain, and when to fire off big combos. You wouldn’t think that there would be so many low level decisions to make when playing a match three game, but successfully navigating this minefield is required to win many of Huniepop 2’s more challenging dates.
On top of that the baggage system was added. While I have issues with its name, baggage has mechanical ramifications that are quite interesting. As you learn more about the women you’re dating you’ll pick up on their negative traits. These then manifest as game mechanics that you need to account for while on dates. Some examples include characters blocking token types from appearing, specific token types having no effect on certain characters, or extra stamina being drained on specific types of matches. All of this adds yet another layer to the player’s decision making process and adds considerable depth to the sequel when compared to the original.
Unfortunately, while I like having more depth the same can’t be said for every player. This is doubly true when the added depth came with a cost of dramatically increased complexity. Huniepop had a thimble of depth, more than the majority of its contemporaries, but it was still simple and clear. You didn’t have to micro-manage a bunch of oddly specific mechanics. Unlike the story complaints, I can at least sympathize with the folks who aren’t a huge fan of the changes even though I am. Luckily the easy difficult does disable baggage, so there is a way to at least combat some of the extra complexity for those players who find it too overwhelming.
There you have it. While I may have started this under the veil of looking at the opinion of others I ended up pivoting into talking about the broad strokes of why I think Huniepop 2 is fun as hell. It’s not a game that I’d recommend to everyone because of how offensive it is to…so many groups of people, but if you can look past that it’s pretty fun. Anywho, thanks for reading my thoughts about Huniepop 2.