Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s
Developed By: Ascension Dream
Published By: Sometimes You
Category: Adventure, Puzzle, Visual Novel
Release Date: 08.28.19
I’m pretty new to the idea of visual novels; before I started reviewing for this site, I really only played like one game that was even close to a straight-up VN (Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward, in case anyone cares) but even that had plenty of adventure game/puzzle elements to it. I’ve gotten the chance to play a few VNs since I started reviewing, and I have to say that the more puzzle and adventure elements that get introduced, the more likely I am to enjoy a visual novel. This brings us to Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s for the Nintendo Switch. Structurally, it’s exactly the kind of VN I like; it’s got its story, sure, but more importantly its gameplay actually has some game to play which drives that story forward. I like when my actions drive a game forward; it makes the narrative feel like it has more weight and therefore far easier to invest myself in. But then you get to the narrative in which this game is asking you to invest, and… well.
Kenji… Just… Wow
The game centers around a college student named Kenji who is looking for love. Kenji fancies himself the “Jack of all Trades,” and instead of a regular part-time job he does odd jobs for people around town. Sometimes when he’s on the job, he continues his search for true love if he finds a girl he’s interested in. He has an… interesting… theory that he can learn everything he needs to learn about a potential love interest by examining their panties, so whenever he gets into their apartment he, uh, steals as much of their underwear as possible so he can make definitive judgements about whether he will be compatible with their personality. Yes, really. I actually really like a lot of things about this game, but I just can’t get past the storyline. I realize it’s all supposed to be done in a “fun” way or in jest and I’m not supposed to be so serious et cetera, but good God the base concept is just too frickin’ creepy no matter how you try to rationalize it.
Point, Click, Panties
Pantsu Hunter plays out like any visual novel or point-and-click adventure game you may have played. You investigate areas, grabbing tools you may need for later and using them to solve puzzles elsewhere. It’s a little simplistic in that you don’t have to choose what tool or item to use yourself; if you have it and you click on the right interactive item things work automatically. The puzzles are surprisingly well-crafted anyway and every girl’s scenario has puzzles across a range of difficulties that unlock the various endings and/or panties. All of the different endings and collectible panties also add a high degree of replayability; and the best kind, too, since you’re always getting something new when you try a different path. Each different girl’s scenario is fairly short on its own, but the number of different paths available makes up for that. So overall the gameplay is well-built and offers the perfect range of challenge; I just wish I felt better about the objectives.
Back to the 90s
The game’s subtitle is remarkably accurate; everything about the game’s visual design is straight out of the 90s. The art style perfectly recreates the early-90s shoujo aesthetic. The game takes place in the 90s as well, with small visual cues like VCRs and CRT TVs in the background, in addition to the character’s wardrobes. Visually, Pantsu Hunter is basically perfect. The music is all soft, MIDI-style tracks that wouldn’t sound out of place in a 90s shoujo anime. Most surprisingly, in a good way, the devs went all-out and got some voice actors for all of the female characters! I know it’s not cheap to get voiceover, so kudos to this indie dev for going the extra mile. They snagged some good VAs, too – the performances are all solidly delivered. Whatever its narrative faults, Pantsu Hunter is beautifully crafted in all other respects.
The game doesn’t feature any motion controls, but the exploration elements of the game are a lot better when you use the touchscreen. You can just tap on stuff to see what you can interact with, which makes things nice and simple. Using a controller works, too, and it has one advantage. If you drag the cursor over the room you can see what items are interactive and then decide on an order to check them out. The big problem is that the cursor… moves… so… slowly. This is probably less of an issue in the game’s original PC release, but it’s something that all point and click games suffer from on console. You just don’t have this problem if you use the touchscreen. Add to that the fact that the game’s graphics look just as good on the Switch’s screen as they do on a TV, and I definitely recommend this one for undocked play.
TL;DR: Impeccably crafted point and click adventure gameplay with a VERY HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE narrative premise.
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A game code was provided for review purposes.