Warning: This post may contain mild spoilers.
Last year, I discovered Hatoful Boyfriend, the infamous Japanese bird-dating sim. You can read my thoughts on it at the old blog.
This year, it was time to take on Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star.
What is Holiday Star?
Holiday Star is a sequel to Hatoful Boyfriend. It takes place in a timeline when most of the events from the ominous Bad Boys Love, an extra arc from the original game, never occurred. (For instance, Hiyoko, the main character, lives! That’s kind of important.) Despite that, references to BBL are made in Holiday Star.
So if you’re wondering: Can I play Holiday Star first / as a standalone game?
I would recommend that you don’t. Holiday Star makes enough callbacks to Hatoful Boyfriend / Bad Boys Love that it can leave one who is unfamiliar with the characters and the original story at large feeling lost. Plus, the original Hatoful Boyfriend is an overall superior game; I’ll delve into that later.
Holiday Star‘s main story is divided into four chapters:
Chapter 1 – The Christmas Thieves Attack!: Somebirdies are going around Littledove Hachiman City stealing (and later destroying) Christmas trees. Hiyoko and her flock of St. Pigeonation friends are on the case.
Chapter 2 – Fallen Chronicles – Absolute Zero: St. Pigeonation’s resident Filipino megalomaniac transfer student, Anghel, is an aspiring manga artist. After being noticed by a (literally) big-name publisher at a manga con, it appears Anghel is finally going to get his big break. However, the pressure of making a grand debut is sapping the little blood-breasted birdie’s energy. Literally.
Chapters 3 & 4 – The Day the Night Slept -Dazzling Night on Dreaming Star-: The St. Pigeonation’s Astronomy Club is inviting all students to watch the lunar eclipse from the school’s roof. However, the eclipse puts everybirdie into a deep sleep. Hiyoko and Nageki (the ghost bird of the library) find themselves together on the Holiday Star, a land that’s in an eternal state of dreaming. After completing a series of tasks for the King of Holiday Star, Hiyoko and Nageki prepare to return to the waking world, but no one ever leaves the dreamworld of Holiday Star…
(Side note: The last story reminded me an awful lot of the Sailor Moon Super S movie.)
It’s as zany as ever. Yes, it’s still a story about a human girl living in a birdie world. (She took the midnight train going to Holiday Staaaaaar. Okay, I’m done.) It’s chock-full of bird puns and otaku-approved references, just like the first game. (I, for one, especially appreciated the nods to Phoenix Wright.)
Once again, it has great music. Sure, much of the music is recycled from the original game, but that’s not a bad thing, as I thoroughly enjoy it. I wish I had downloaded the special edition of Holiday Star that included the soundtrack. I’d be playing the Christmassy songs all week!
The final chapter was enthralling. Hatoful Boyfriend does dark stories very well, and part two of “The Day the Night Slept” exemplifies this. For as goofy as Hatoful Boyfriend is, it’s also deep and disturbing.
Extras, extras! In addition to the main game, Holiday Star also includes loads of bonus material. I haven’t looked through all of these extras yet, but I hope to get through them gradually.
There’s the art gallery — like the first game, it becomes more populated with each chapter/arc completed. In addition to that, there’s St. Pigeonation’s Radio, hosted by Ryouta, which features fan mail and guest appearances from other St. Pigeonation’s members. (Oh, and loads of Bad Boys Love spoilers – another reason to play the original game first.) Upon completing all four main chapters of Holiday Star, a series of five short stories become unlocked. (“Listen” to all of the radio shows to reveal a sixth short story.)
What Didn’t Work?
Playing the game = repeatedly hitting a key to advance the plot. Yes, Bad Boys Love was the same way, but that immediately followed a highly-interactive game (by comparison) with multiple outcomes based on a series of choices made by the player. (Plus, it was an incredible story.) I understand it’s a visual novel. Holiday Star definitely fulfills the bare minimum for the genre. Unlike the original Hatoful Boyfriend, you can’t really choose your own adventure — all roads lead to the same outcome. Almost…
SAVE CAREFULLY. However, there are moments, especially in the later chapters, when the player is called upon to make a decision. It’s a fine line between moving forward and having to start all over again. Twice, I selected the wrong answer and had to start the story from scratch. Sure, it’s my fault for not saving my progress regularly, but admittedly, I was on cruise control because there’s so little action required on behalf of the player in the first place. If you’re not bugged by spoilers and would like to plan ahead, click here to see the Holiday Star answer key.
It lacks replay value. Yes, I’d say Holiday Star scratched an itch for me, a fan of Hatoful Boyfriend. Yet, I’d sooner go back and play the original game before ever considering another go at Holiday Star. I’ve been there, done it with Holiday Star. Once I’m through with the extras, that’s it. If anything, Holiday Star makes me want to replay the original Hatoful Boyfriend. I doubt the opposite will ever be the case.
WHERE IS AZAMI? No one is around to tell me to, “Carve it into your soul, kid.” Unless this little yankii birdie shows up in one of the extra episodes, this is a major strike against Holiday Star.
If you’re a fan of Hatoful Boyfriend, you can take or leave Holiday Star. You’ll appreciate the callbacks to the first game and indulge in the franchise’s unique brand of aviary insanity. While the final chapter was gripping, overall, I found Holiday Star to be more boring than its predecessor, mainly due to its lack of interaction.
If you must have the “full” Hatoful experience, by all means download Holiday Star, but trust me when I say you’re not missing out on much if you opt to skip it.
Til next Monday!